REBLOGGED FROM: Rev. Alan Ludwig’s LCMC-MISSION LETTER 40
Pastor Ludwig serves in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia at the Lutheran Seminary
REBLOGGED FROM: Rev. Alan Ludwig’s LCMC-MISSION LETTER 40
Pastor Ludwig serves in Novosibirsk, Siberia, Russia at the Lutheran Seminary
YES, AT OUR WEDDING THIS WAS READ! IN 1992…
13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
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(Compendium: REBLOGGED WITH PERMISSION)
Daily Devotions from Lutheran Hour Ministries
May 30, 2017
Colossians 2:8 – See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
My mother used to say that every day a person ought to learn something. Now that “something” doesn’t have to be a big something; it just should be something. Today I am pleased that I have learned the definition of a term — a term I had never heard being used before. Now, if you haven’t yet managed to learn something today, let me share that knowledge with you.
The term is “slack fill.” Would you like to take a guess as to what slack fill means?
No, it has nothing to do with a pair of jeans which, having been washed in hot water and thrown in the dryer, are overly tight.
Slack fill is the term various industries use to explain why their big boxes of stuff are only half-filled with product. Did you ever buy a box of breakfast cereal and, having opened it, found you needed a flashlight to see where the contents began? That’s slack fill in action. Manufacturers say slack fill happens two ways: it can happen accidentally when the product settles, or it happens deliberately because a product needs room to breathe.
No matter how you look at it, slack fill means you have more container than product.
This is a fact not lost on a Missouri man who is suing Hershey’s Chocolate for the small amount of candy he received when he bought a box of Reese’s Pieces and Whoppers. The man, Robert Bratton, says his Reese’s® Piece’s box had about 29 percent empty space, and the Whoppers had a, well, there’s no other way to say it — it had a whopping 41 percent of empty.
As of right now, nobody knows what the outcome of the suit will be. Hershey’s wants legalities to cease immediately since everybody understands the idea of slack fill, and the amounts of candy are printed on the box. Mr. Bratton says that everybody does not understand slack fill, and he wants the court to decide how much empty carton is too much empty carton.
I’m sure the court will eventually decide those differences. Sadly, there is no earthly court with the authority — or ability — to rule on the differences between the Lord’s truth and Satan’s slack fill.
When the devil tempted Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, his promises were slack filled. He promised they would be just like God, that they would be just as smart as God, that the Lord’s warnings about the forbidden fruit were ridiculous and could be discarded without any negative repercussions or ramifications.
It was a fancy package that Adam and Eve bought. In doing so they bought a fancy package that failed to deliver on its promises and enticements.
In contrast, we have the words of the Faithful, Holy Lord. What He says is — you should excuse the expression — the Gospel truth. When He says, the soul which sins will die (see Ezekiel 18:20), you can believe it. When He says faith in the Savior is the only path to heaven, you had better trust Him. Maybe that’s why the Bible says, “Thy Word is truth” (see John 17:17) rather than “The Bible is slack full.”
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, it is one thing to be deceived by half-full boxes; it is quite another to buy into Satan’s pseudo-truths. Let my faith always be placed in and centered on the Savior whose life was spent taking away the sins of the world. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
The above devotion was inspired by a number of sources, including one written by Michael Hartorne for Newser on May 20, 2017. Those who wish to reference that article may do so at the following link, which was fully functional at the time this devotion was written. Please click here.
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REBLOGGED FROM : PASTOR SCHROEDER
2 Chronicles 32 is part of the narrative of the Assyrian armies attacking Israel. King Hezekiah was one of few good Kings of Israel who destroyed idolatry and lived by God’s Word. Sennacherib was the Assyrian king and in the media of their day: he wrote letters (vs. 17) “to cast contempt on the LORD…” and he even had his soldiers shout their contempt on the LORD, “…with a loud voice in the language of Judah”(verse 18). Again, Sennacherib used the media well. His argument was simple: all the other gods were ineffectual in saving them so what will be different about Israel’s God? He will also be ineffectual to save.
We are living in a Sennacherib world in which daily, hourly and minute by minute on TV, the internet, blogs, radio, printed world with a loud voice saying your God won’t save you. The Assyrian King tried to demoralize Israel. The Sennacherib world does the same. Hezekiah encouraged Israel. What did Israel do? “Then Hezekiah the king and Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, prayed because of this and cried to heaven.” (vs. 20). Can we do less when so surrounded as was Israel by the mocks, taunts and lies of our Sennacheribs? The LORD delivered Israel then. He is strong to deliver His saints in His Church. The LORD will deliver.
REBLOGGED FROM PASTOR REEDER
“Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 1:13, NKJ)
In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
How easy it is to be distracted from the things of God to the things of men, to neglect the One thing needful, and to take for granted God’s grace and favor!
St. Paul, writing to Timothy, writes the words above (2 Timothy 1:13), because, as he indicates in v15, “all those in Asia have turned away from me.” In other words, “those in Asia” ceased listening to Paul and stopped following the words that Paul preached.
Though many do the same thing concerning the very Word of our Lord, and though many view such diversion from the truth as of little significance, for the Christian, the Word of God has more than importance. The Word of God is life (John 6:63, 68; 2 Timothy 3:15-17), and directs towards Christ Jesus. The Law shows us our sin. The Gospel shows us our Savior, Jesus Christ. Only Christ saves from sin and hell. The believer believes this, and desires, seeks, and strives to remain in this faith.
The text from this past Sunday speaks about the challenges of being a disciple of Jesus (Luke 14:25-35). “Holding fast” is such a challenge, for we, of ourselves, are not strong enough to do so. We are sinners. But “holding fast the pattern of sound words” is continuing to believe in the Jesus who saves and not in our strength that falters.
God gives strength to remain “in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus” by means of His Word and Sacraments. God has not forsaken you. Rather, He continues to call you, preaching His Word of forgiveness and salvation through the death of His Son. So hear, and hold fast to, Christ, who holds you even more strongly (Philippians 3:12).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, direct us ever to Your Holy Word which gives life, that we live and not doubt, nor reject Your forgiveness and mercy won for us on the cross. Keep us fast to you, that we live confidently in and by Your grace alone. Amen.
REBLOGGED FROM PASTOR REEDER
[NOTE: THIS BOOK AND OTHERS ARE AVAILABLE FROM CPH.ORG]
“For Luther, a proper distinction between Law and Gospel opened the door to a right understanding of God’s Word and, therefore, a right understanding of God’s will for humankind and our salvation. Throughout its history, the Lutheran Church has continued to maintain that rightly distinguishing between Law and Gospel is absolutely necessary in this regard. The Law shows us God’s will and reveals our sin; the Gospel proclaims our salvation in Christ. To confuse these two doctrines is to remain confused about ourselves and about our God. To misunderstand them is to misunderstand the reason for the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Christ. In short, Law and Gospel are the means by which we can rightly understand the whole of the Christian faith.” [Edward Engelbrecht (ed.), The Lutheran Difference (St. Louis: CPH, 2010), p40-41)]
(Reblogged from Rev. William Willenbrock, Pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church, Medford, NJ)
The village of Nain—the backdrop for today’s story–is about 10 miles from Jesus hometown of Nazareth, that’s about from here (Medford) to Pemberton or here to Cherry Hill. It’s nestled at the foot of a small mountain. Nain in Hebrew means charming, beautiful, lovely. You’ve driven through a charming little village before haven’t you, they’re not the biggest or the greatest towns, they’re just quaint—lovely. That would be Nain on any other day… But on this day, Nain has lost it’s charm, all of it has fallen into the casket of this widow’s son. Not only has this woman buried her husband, now she has to bury her one and only son as well. A whole village is moved by this grief upon grief. Verse 12, “a considerable crowd from the town was with her.” Are you not deeply moved when someone you know has just one tragedy after another after another. That is this woman. What you have to understand is it’s not just her son who is lying in that casket…that is unspeakably tragic in itself. But her 401k is also in that casket, her assisted living facility is lying in that casket, her police department is lying in that casket. Her housing remodeler, her plumber, her repairman is lying in that casket. Her Netflix, her 8 o’clock evening news, her comedic sitcom is lying in that casket. All these things and many, many more were done by a woman’s sons. How would a retired woman eat? There is no Bank of Galilee with a ride through ATM. If you will eat when you are seventy you had better have a son to break his back in the fields or on a boat and this widow now has none. Her all her past and all her future is gone with the death of her son…
“And when the Lord saw her, he σπλαγχνίζομαι. If you joined us Thursday night for Bible study you know what this word means. Σπλαγχνίζομαι comes from the Greek word σπλαγχνα the Greek word for guts. The internal organs around the stomach were seen as the seat of compassion, affection, emotion. When you first met you spouse your σπλαγχνα were all jittery or when you see someone in pain don’t you feel it in your σπλαγχνα. When Jesus sees this widow it is gut-wrenching for him, he σπλαγχνίζομαι. Isn’t that amazing? God feels pain…that’s what compassion or sympathy literally mean. Com means “with”, passion means suffering in Latin, that’s why the movie is called the Passion of the Christ… Sym means together, a sym-phony literally means together sound, well symPATHY means together feeling. Jesus is feeling this woman’s pain together with her. Are we compassionate, are we sympathetic? Don’t we often we hit the mute button. We try to shut down or numb ourselves from feeling compassion and sympathy…why? Because it hurts…to be compassionate means you are going to join their passion—their suffering and that hurts, it’s burdensome, it’s annoying and so what do we do? We hit the mute button, we don’t let out minds or our hearts or our splagchna take on their pain, we turn a deaf ear, we keep an emotional distance. We’ve become really good actors. When someone shares their pain we put on a compassionate face we furrow our eyebrows to convey concern all the while thinking about what we’re going to make for dinner and hoping the conversation is over soon. One of the most loving and comforting things we can do for people is have authentic compassion. We know the difference. Do you know what young people are athirst for? Authenticity. Why do so many in their twenties and thirties not come to church? The church is seen as inauthentic–fake. We may be inauthentic, but our Lord is not. Our lord, σπλαγχνίζομαι. He suffers with the widow.
And he suffers with you. Do you think that Jesus’s compassion is limited to the people who lived around 30 AD in the area of Judea? Of course it is not. In the midst of your pain, your loss, your death, a promise rings true…his last promise in the Gospel of Matthew… “lo I am with you always even unto the end of the age” We think during the most difficult and tragic moments in life that God is far off, learn from today’s Gospel reading that this is not so. God, σπλαγχνίζομαι.
But that is not all he does….”and [he]said to her, “Do not weep.” The God who said let there be light and there was light now says to this widow’s heart, and to yours as well, “do not weep”. Why should widow’s heart not weep? Why should your heart not weep? Because of what he does next. “Then he came up and touched the bier, and the bearers stood still. And he said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” 15 And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.”
This is a foreshadow of what Jesus comes to do on his bier. He comes to trample down death by death. Death is the greatest enemy because it takes everything from us. If ever there was a time to weep it is in the midst of Death, but as St. Paul says we do “not grieve as others do who have no hope.” As our Lord says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”. Wipe away your tears…death has been vanquished. Christ will say to you arise. He will say to your loved ones who have died in him arise. Is this not true? If it is false there is no reason to be here. But indeed it is true. So we are right to have hope even when we meet tragedy like this widow……..
Can you imagine what this would have been like? A man lying in a casket becomes alive again?!?! I’m not sure we can. But the peoples’ reaction is recorded in today’s text, “Fear seized them all” it says. Why are they afraid? Because they realize they are in the presence of the ultimate power, the power over life and death. In the sight of such power one realizes their powerlessness and that is scary. Then they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!” That second statement is more true than they realize. Jesus is not just a prophet. You might think Jesus is just doing the same trick Elijah did in our Old Testament lesson, right? No, there is one big difference… “Elijah stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord, “O Lord my God, let this child’s life come into him again.” 22 And the Lord listened to the voice of Elijah.” Jesus does not pray…he does not petition God to raise this widow’s son, he says arise and the widow’s son obeys. In today’s text you see Jesus for who he really is to again quote St. Paul, “in Jesus the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”. That is who we worship this day, that is who is in our midst even as I speak this sentence, that is who comes to spiritual heal us this day like he physically healed the widow’s son. And if we have not rejected spiritual healing from this good physician we will certainly participate in a resurrection even greater than this widow’s son, we will be raised to eternal life in God’s kingdom which has no end. That is the good news—the hope of Christ and now may we do as the people of Nain. Verse 17. “And this report about him spread through…all the surrounding country.” Amen.
Used by permission; all rights reserved by the Int’l LLL (LHM)
April 26, 2015
Give Your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern Your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this Your great people? 1 Kings 3:9
When I graduated from seminary, I knew what I was supposed to be: a college campus chaplain. Now more than 40 years later, I realize that even though I received more than 40 calls in the course of my ministry, not a single one ever came from a college campus.
From this I have figured out two things:
1. The Lord didn’t want me on a college campus and
2. I didn’t have the gift of prophecy or the ability to discern what was best.
How about you? Has your life turned out the way you dreamed it would 10 or 20 years ago? I wonder, are your days filled with peace, or have bad decisions and unfulfilled dreams left you with a gnawing in your stomach, an emptiness in your head, a knot in your neck, a fear in your conscience, a desperation, despondency, depression that just doesn’t go away? Do you have the ability to discern what is best?
A moment ago I said that life has taught me two things. That’s not exactly right. The Lord has taught me a third. He has shown me the more a person aligns Himself with the Lord’s will, the better his life will be. Conversely, the further an individual wanders from the Lord, the more hollow and empty he will find his days. In short, good, Christian discernment means putting yourself, your decisions, your life into God’s hands.
Discernment: that’s what St. Paul was talking about when he wrote, “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ” (Philippians 1:9-10). Godly discernment is what Solomon was praying for when He asked God for the wisdom to discern between good and evil when ruling over the Lord’s people. He knew that without God’s guidance He would never have the wisdom to govern and make decisions in a God-pleasing manner.
Now there are all kinds of people you can go to for help, assistance, guidance and advice. You can go to your friends; you can consult the experts, go to the gurus, and test all the theories. If you go that route, you will soon find you are dealing with all kinds of human opinions … opinions which are often contradictory and at cross-purposes. This is why the Bible says if you really want to discern what is best, go to the Lord and ask Him for guidance. You see, He who gave His Son as the ultimate Ransom for your redemption has a vested interest in us.
With Spirit-given faith, He calls us out of the world and creates a new heart within us. That heart is one which knows that no matter what happens to us, no matter what negative situation or counter-productive circumstance might arise, we can have the peace of God, which the world cannot receive or understand. With Sprit-given faith we will, like Paul and Solomon let the Lord set our path. And if that happens, we will have discerned what is best.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, give a new and deeper meaning to our prayer, “Thy will be done.” May we discern Your will, not ours, is best. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours, Pastor Ken Klaus Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour® Lutheran Hour Ministries