My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. (John 10:27)

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Symbolics Devotion

Brothers, our text for consideration today comes from Paul's letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2 verses 1-3. We read "As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

Paul, in this letter, pulls no punches when delivering this harsh condemnation to the members of the church there. You might wonder as to what brought on such a stern message to the church in Ephesus. A look at the verses preceding points that out nicely. Chapter 1 Verse 20 states: "which [referring to God's mighty strength] he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms." Paul speaks in such harsh terms to the Ephesians because he is drawing a comparison, that is...What Christ is, they were not.

We are all aware that the Word of God is a vibrant and living thing. It speaks as much to us today as it once did to the Ephesians. Therefore it stands just as true that what Christ is...we are not. Listen carefully again to the words of Paul.

"As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sin... Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath."

As this Word of God speaks to our hearts, it is not dulled in anyway. It describes us as totally dead, a state in which we cannot do anything to help ourselves. Where as Christ was empowered by God to be raised from the dead, we were the exact opposite, we were completely totally and utterly dead in our sins. And not only were we powerless to do anything pleasing to God, in fact we were diametrically opposed to God. Everything we did was in defiance of him. Instead of following God's laws, God's will, God's ways we followed our own will and ways. And what’s more, we followed the ways of this sinful world and the devil, whom Paul refers to as the "ruler of the kingdom of the air."

We can so often paint this picture of the human race, that God looked down and saw these cute little cuddly humans and decided to save them. Something innate in what God had created that he would love us so much. Paul is quick to paint another picture, a true picture. We were objects of wrath. When God looked at mankind and at its sin his anger burned against them. Against you and against me. Paul explains further in his letter to the Romans about this wrath. "But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed."

Unrepentance is exactly what we've been speaking about this whole time. A constant desire to disobey the will of our loving father, and rather follow the desires of our world and our sinful flesh. We all constantly have this at work in us. There is nothing in us worthy of love, worthy of compassion, worthy of forgiveness.

Yet we are loved, and we are forgiven.

Notice the wording of the verse again, "As for you, you WERE which you USED to live, when you FOLLOWED....All of us also LIVED among them AT ONE TIME....We WERE objects of wrath. As this verse can be used in one breath to convict the wicked of their sin, it can also be used to point out that we are no longer bound by that sin. This verse leads up to some of the sweetest and most beloved gospel in Ephesians 2:8 and 9 "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, this not of ourselves it is the gift of God-- not by works so that no one can boast." The condition of sin is a condition under which we do not have to live any longer. We are free to follow the will of our God because we are no longer dead in our sin, because we died with Christ and were also raised up with him. Luther spoke of such things concerning also baptism...

"Baptism means that the old Adam in us should be drowned by daily contrition and repentance, and that all its evil deeds and desires be put to death. It also means that a new person should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever. "

Brothers, we often speak so eloquently about objective justification. We are quick to point out that Christ died for all sinners. We even tail off at the end of our sentences because we've heard and said them so many times. We forget all too often to absolve one another personally of the sins we commit daily. As if sin was just some utility bill that Christ paid for and we have nothing to do with. No, my brothers, as much as we confess that Christ's sacrifice was for the whole world, we must in the very next breath confess that is for you and for me, it is a personal gift.

From time eternal, each and every one of you was in the heart of your father. His omniscience was never once blinded. He knew what you, what mankind would become. He knew the awesome debt and the sacrifice that would be required to satisfy his own wrath. He knew there was nothing you would ever do to please him. He knew your days would be filled with temptation and disobedience and darkness. God thought of all that, saw your face, and said "Let there be Light." Thousands of years later on a cross on Mt. Calvary, God's very own son, the anointed one, Christ Jesus would look up to heaven, forsaken by his father for your sake, would see you and say, "It is finished." A short time later he would look out over those closest to him, yet you too were in his thoughts as he said. "And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age." That very same God, Jesus Christ is your good shepherd, he has borne you on his shoulders and is carrying you home to be with him forever, to a home he has prepared for you. Yes, my friends, let us always reflect this love, a love that has loved us so greatly, when we were not loveable. A love that has redeemed us when were were not worth redemption. A Love that loved us before the worlds were made. A love that will love us both now, and in time eternal.

With this love in mind, dear redeemed children of God, I leave you with the prayer and the wish that Paul left with the Romans "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amen

We bow our heads in prayer:

Lord Jesus, by your precious blood, you redeemed me a lost and condemned creature, and called me to be your very own. You, O Lord, know all things. You know that I love you. You know that my renewed heart desires to serve you in righteousness and holiness, to cast aside the sin that so easily entangles me, and to run with perseverance the race set before me. I repent O Lord, that I have so often failed to do what you have asked me. So often I have refused to follow you, and rather chose to follow the paths of the devil the world and my own sinful flesh. In me there is no good thing. The good I would do, I do not; The evil that I would not, that I do. I am so wretched! Who will deliver me from this body of death. To you, my Savior and loving friend I flee: Uphold me by your willing spirit. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit with in me. Purge every evil desire and thought from my heart and mind, and fill me with a pure love for you and your will, a reflection of your love for me. Whether I live or die, may I be yours alone and forever, Amen.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Devotional Thought on Ephesians 4:5

"One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism" (Eph 4:5)

Now, so as we said before. "Whosoever will be saved must above all else cling to the true Christian faith." So thats it, our sinful nature says. We must be better than everyone else. Or worse yet, we WELS members will be the only ones in heaven...everyone else is wrong and therefore won't be saved. Not so fast my friends. Jesus condemns that very attitude when he describes the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. Was the Pharisee morally better? By the world's standards, certainly. Did the Pharisee know more about the law? Positive. Yet which was considered the more righteous before God? The man who humbly laid himself at the feet of his merciful Father and pleaded for his grace and favor.

We on earth live in the church militant, which is a far cry from our home in heaven which is described as the church triumphant. There will always be wars and rumors of wars, even in the Christian church within and between the varying denominations. Let us never speak about who is "better" or "best" But rather, preach Christ crucified. The Holy Spirit will not create false faith, and will not strengthen the unbelief of the apostate. Rather than focus on who is wrong or who is right, simply preach the Word in its truth and purity, and the light which guides our path will reveal himself, much more perfectly than we ever could.

"I believe in the Holy Christian Church, the communion of saints..."

We have a church that is much more important than the earthly church we are members of. We have the Holy Christian Church that spans across humanity wherever the Word is taught correctly and the sacraments rightly administered. It knows no denominations, and no schism. There, there is only unity...for there is One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Another hymn from the CW Supplement

I've procured the lyrics to another hymn from the Upcoming Christian Worship Hymnal Supplement; How I get them? Do not worry about this, I have my connections.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

About "Plan B"

Earlier in a comment concerning my review of the Schroeder Presentation --( an MLC student asked about "Plan B" here is what President Schroeder had to say:

The special offering being planned will address the synod’s capital debt of $22.4 million. Currently, we are budgeting nearly $3 million to make payments on that debt. If the debt is retired, we will have $3 available for missions and ministry. If the debt is not retired in full, we will continue to budget whatever is necessary to make payments on it.

There are plans under discussion right now to consolidate and restructure that debt. This step will reduce our payments by about $500,000 per year and will pay the debt off in ten years (this assumes that we receive NOTHING in the special offering.) So that is the first step of “Plan B,” if one is needed. On the spending side, we will be looking at many other possible solutions, including increased efficiencies in the way that we do things, potential staffing reductions where possible. On the income side, we have already seen a number of very positive signs that the support for the synod’s work is increasing dramatically. Early reports of congregational mission offerings are very positive. Gifts from individuals are running well ahead of projections. And gifts for the debt offering are already coming in, even before we have begun organized debt reduction efforts.

In other words, even as we plan for the offering to be successful, alternatives are being considered and plans put into place. Those plans will develop and change as more information comes to us during the next several months.

Rev. Schroeder

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Devotional Thoughts on Romans 12:9

"Love must be sincere, Hate what is evil, cling to what is good."

Among well-intentioned sayings that creep in unwanted to the Christian faith is one particularly noxious one. It goes "Hate the sin, but love the sinner." I quick survey of Christians, even Lutherans, may turn up that many among the faithful believe this to be a Bible verse. A quick googling of the phrase turns up many Christian sites both for and against the phrase. The person to whom the quotation is ascribed? Ghandi. A decent human being for sure, but not the best Christian.

King David, a man after God's own heart, put it another way "But all sinners will be destroyed;
the future of the wicked will be cut off." (Psalm 37:38)

We are a squishy people. As a generality, and in specific, we do not handle God's holy and efficacious Word with the reverence it demands. We treat God's law as if it was a hot potato and we cast it aside as soon as it gets uncomfortable. Yes, it seems, some may dawdle a little longer and tempt the heat but sooner, rather than later, everyone gives up to the lack of comfort one finds in the mirror of the law.

Who are we to tell others that they're not good people? Its just not done! Its not right! God says to love everyone doesn't he? It certainly doesn't seem loving to tell other people they're wrong.

Revelation 3:19 "Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline, So be earnest and repent"

We are no one to tell others that they are doing wrong. However God's law is a immutable rule that cannot and does not have room for love in it. Those who break the law are not to be shown love, the purpose of the law is to cut...and sharply. CFW Walther wrote that Law and Gospel are not properly distinguished when they are co-mingled. It is true that when we as humans try to blunt the law with "But it's ok, you're still saved" It only leads the listener only farther down the path of licentiousness which eventually leads to destruction. Unrepentant sin will always tear down and destroy faith.

Repentance is not saying you're sorry, it is not trying to be better, or even promising to do good. Repentance is not an act that we can even perform for ourselves. Sin will only lead to more sin, and God hates sin. Therefore, God through his holy Word and Sacraments works repentance in us. He turns our sinful hearts of stone and shows us a better way, a way that leads to him. Yes it is true to say that God hates sin and therefore God hates sinners. But it is just as true and so much more blessed to say God loves all people and desires that they be turned from their lives of sin to live with him forever.

And they say confessional Lutheran hymnody in the WELS is no more!

Father, God of Grace, You Knew Us by: +Paul Eickmann+/ Tune: Lauda Anima (+John Goss+)-Copyright 1999 WELS

Father, God of Grace, you knew us, Chose us, named us as your own,
Through eternal ages planning to redeem us in your son.
Praise the Father, God who loved us; ere creation was begun

We your creatures sinned against you, and our guilt was crimson-red.
Son of God, you came incarnate, Crushed the crafty serpent's head
Died our death, now live triumphant: Praise the Firstborn from the dead!

Counselor, you bring as promised from the Father and the Son
Righteousness fulfilled accomplished, Free forgiveness, Heaven won.
Praise the Spirit! He assures us Our salvation's work is done!

Lord your changeless Word has fed us, spanning time, transcending space.
Water, bread and wine sustained us, when the darkness hid your face.
Keep us with you, faithful Shepherd, by your saving Means of Grace.

Forward, lead us; Christ we follow, drawn by Word and promise true:
"To all nations, preach the gospel; I am evermore with you."
Keep us faithful, then Lord Jesus, Quickly Come! Make all things new!

Praise the Father, great Creator. Praise the Son, who took our place.
Praise the Spirit, sanctifier, God of free and faithful grace!
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! Amen!

Dr. John Brug on Inerrancy of Scripture

Devotional Thought on Deuteronomy 4:2

From the Athanasian Creed:

Whosoever will be saved must above all else cling to the true Christian Faith, for unless a person keep this faith whole and undefiled he will undoubtedly be lost forever.


"Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you." (Deut 4:2)

The above statement from the Athanasian Creed is a stong statement. It says that if you do not believe every little part of the Christian faith, you will perish forever. Our modern political correctness shrinks away from this. We recite this on Trinity Sunday and look around, hoping that some visitor didn't pick that day to finally show up. We wonder if we ourselves know EVERY part of a faith that we never seem to truly grasp or understand. What about all the Christians out there that know Christ, but don't understand the sacraments? Do they also perish?

In contrast, the statement of the LORD in Deuteronomy 4:2 is just as strong. He has given us his Word and it is a completed work. We are not to alter it in any way, neither by adding or subtracting.

Now which part of the Christian faith is saving? Surely that is an easy question for even the earliest Catecumen to ponder. That Christ lived a perfect life and died for our sins. If this is sufficient then we are left to ponder what of the rest? Could the thief on the cross enter paradise without understanding the Trinity, but we are left to wander?

"Ma'am, when you understand the Trinity, come back and tell me...and i'll excommunicate you on the spot" (Rev. David Sellnow )

No, we are not to understand everything completely, but we are not to say to the Word..."I do not understand you, you cannot be true." For when we reject any doctrine of Scripture we detract from the glory and majesty of God. We abuse the sacraments rather than honor them. We make Jesus out to be not who he says he is. And if Christ is not who he says he is, then he is not true man and true God and did not come to redeem the world. No, this cannot be! The Word of God is his Christ. It is to be revered and honored and not altered. Whosoever will be saved, must hold to this one true Christian faith.

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Rev. Irwin Habeck on Good Works

Devotional Thoughts on John 5:28-30

John 28"Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice 29and come out—those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. 30By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.

Did you hear what he just said? Who could have been talking in that passage? Justification by works? Was the Roman Catholic Church around back then?

No friends and future colleagues, those words were spoken to us by our Messiah, Jesus. Those words are his. Those words are echoed from the Father.

As I may do often, as I am mused by different sources, I will piggyback my own thoughts to those of a chapel speaker, speech in Hebrew or Greek, or in this case symbolics class where we are currently learning about the Athanasian Creed. Which says:

(Et qui bona egerunt, ibunt in vitam aeternam; qui vero mala, in ignem aeternam.)
And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. (Athanasian Creed-concordia triglota)

Sounds familiar huh? So what is this business about salvation through works. I thought we were saved by grace through faith. Yes you are!

But a judgment will always be rendered on the basis of evidence. What is the evidence of faith? Works. So often we, even as confessional Lutherans, make works to be the goal of our life here on earth.


Faith in Christ saves. This is why when Christ looks on the last day he will see all of the fruits of your faith in full array. Meanwhile he will look to his left and see those who thought they had done good here on earth, but had done so without the blood of the lamb covering their offenses. We have the ability to please God only through the merits of his son Christ Jesus. Let us never give up doing so. Salvation is full and free for all believers, let us rejoice and praise him who won it for us.

More Athanasian Creed to come!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

President Schroeder visits MLC

President Schroeder was on the MLC campus for a Q&A. Synopsis tomorrow.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Dr. David Scaer on Prayer

Its a long one, but useful!

Personal note: Weekend's delays in publishing

Fear not faithful readers (all two of you), I will try to continue my effort of posting each day. It was homecoming here at MLC and I had a busy weekend. I did the radio broadcast on saturday for the football game (accompanied with pre and post-game tailgating). And I was busy that night. Sunday I spent all day in the cities doing a radio broadcast accompanying the Packers/Vikings game. I interviewed Aaron Kampman and met Brett Favre (and shook his hand)

I will commence posting. Lord's blessings to all.

Devotional Thoughts on Ephesians 6:18

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints."

If there is one thing that Christians lack in (although there are many), I would guess that it is prayer. It is so easy to confess, to know...but how often can we trust. We claim to believe in an all-powerful God, but we do not ask his help for the simplist of things. Prayer is not a trite matter, but we should not worry to pray for things that may be trite. If it is true we do everything with the Lord's help and protection, why do we not ask his help and direction in all things?

Praise be to God who does all things for our good, even without our prayer!