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Opening Devotion

We are Not Alone

“I think it’s arrogant of us to think
that we are alone in the universe.”

So said a network television news reporter
in a discussion of some new discovery in the universe.

That statement is surely one that we would agree with, though not as the reporter intended it. He was not talking about the arrogance of the atheist who says that we are alone in the universe because there is no God. His thought was that there surely must be life somewhere in the universe besides on planet earth; the universe couldn’t possibly be as vast as it is with life on only one little speck of a planet in one galaxy.

It is both arrogant and perverse to peer out into God’s universe looking for evidence that He does not exist, for the heavens declare His glory and the firmament shows His handiwork (Psalm 19:1), even to those who do not have His Word, or who reject it.Read More »We are Not Alone

Refreshingly Uncomplicated

Creation01Aurora_Borealis_EielsonAlaskaI remember the summer I was a tour-bus driver in Glacier National Park. Drivers were taught park history, information, and geological features. It wasn’t any surprise to me that the “geological features” section was full of terms, time frames, and explanations from evolutionary geology. It got old in a hurry. How absolutely refreshing one evening, in the quiet of my room, to open up to Genesis 1 and read the Lord’s simple, straightforward account of the miraculous creation of the heavens and the earth!

In the beginning God created. God said, and it was so.
The heavens, the earth, light, firmament (atmosphere), seas, dry land, vegetation, sun, moon, stars, fish, fowl, cattle, creeping things, beasts. And He made man, male and female. Everything was very good! 

How easy to follow! How simple! The beauties, intricacies, and mysteries of the world, all created by God in six days. Even a child can grasp it!Read More »Refreshingly Uncomplicated

Let’s Talk about God’s Program

ChurchState_artIn the introduction to his Sunday sermon, a pastor referred to the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city and house divided against itself will not stand.” After the service, he was approached by a visitor who said, “When you began your sermon by talking about how ‘a house divided will not stand,’ I thought your message was going to be political.” She was thinking of the political divisions in our country and expecting that the pastor would use his Sunday sermon to address them.

Why is it that our pastors do not use the pulpit, or the church bulletin, to promote a political point of view?

We may find this woman’s expectations about a Sunday sermon troubling, but we probably are not surprised at them. We know that many preachers use their pulpits for political messages. They endorse candidates, comment on legislation, and freely give their opinions about foreign policy.

Why is it that our pastors do not use the pulpit, or the church bulletin, to promote a political point of view? It is because behind these practices lies the idea that the mission of the church is the transformation of human society by means of social reform. But the Bible from beginning to end tells us that the problems of this world, age-old problems such as poverty, war, disease, and injustice, will never be eradicated; we are not to look for a golden age in this world because the world’s problems have their roots in human nature. Read More »Let’s Talk about God’s Program

Happy New Year!

Do you ever wonder what is so new about “New Year”?

Oh sure, we add another number to the counting of years. We will call it 2014 instead of 2013, but does that really make it new?

The world still has the same problems. Our flesh is still plagued with the same sins. A succession of broken resolutions reminds us that we haven’t really changed. We truly ought to have been consumed in God’s wrath long ago.

We remember that Achan was stoned to death because he coveted and took some of the plunder of Jericho for himself (Joshua 7). We think of the man who was stoned because he gathered sticks on the Sabbath Day to build a fire to cook the manna (Numbers 15). Remember how Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5).

Are we any less sinful than they? Because of the many times we have sinned, shouldn’t we have been struck down with God’s righteous judgment? ABSOLUTELY!Read More »Happy New Year!

Using the Reformation

Using a gift is a fine way to express appreciation and gratitude.

The sixteenth century Lutheran Reformation was a great gift from God, for through it God restored to us His greatest gifts. Our full and free Salvation in and through Jesus Christ had been put on the shelf by the Roman Catholic Church, which then substituted works that man himself had to accomplish, and God’s undeserved Grace had been shelved in favor of the notion that God infuses grace into man, enabling people to do His will and thus supposedly merit eternal life.

Those precious gifts were all but lost because God’s Word had been put away on a shelf and all but forgotten, being replaced by the teachings of men.Read More »Using the Reformation

Baptism: Mere Ceremony or a Sacrament?

 Dove_webOur title may seem at first to be a silly question,
but assuredly it is not. 

In the religious world of our day doctrine is no longer a matter of Scriptural integrity but is rather a matter of popular vote. We have seen this for some time and understand well that our Lord says: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…” (2 Timothy 4:3).

Saving faith in Jesus trusts in the Spirit’s clarity, wisdom, and life-giving power. If God says it, that settles it!

Human reason is the driving force behind much of modern theology. Because of it, we see all manner of deadly practices and teachings. Dr. Martin Luther said it well when he remarked that we should poke out the eyes of our reason and hear only what God says. Saving faith in Jesus trusts in the Spirit’s clarity, wisdom, and life-giving power. If God says it, that settles it!

Let us then consider what our Lord says on His precious doctrine of Holy Baptism. “There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism…”  (1 Peter 3:21a).Read More »Baptism: Mere Ceremony or a Sacrament?

Our Spiritual Life Comes From Christ

“I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; 
for without Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

Each spring many of our congregations enjoy the special blessing of observing a new class of confirmands witness to the truth of Christ which abides within their hearts. They join in renewing the baptismal covenant which they entered (most often in infancy). The Confirmation rite is a blessing for the entire congregation because it leads us all to consider anew the blessed covenant of our salvation leading to eternal life.Read More »Our Spiritual Life Comes From Christ

Noah, Daniel, and Job can’t save!

“…Even though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in [the land], as I live, says the Lord God, they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver only themselves by their righteousness.” (Ezekiel 14:20)

What do Noah, Daniel, and Job have in common? Each was well known for his righteousness. We read that “Noah was a just man, perfect in his generations” (Genesis 6:9). Of Job we are told that he was “a blameless and upright man (Job 1:8). And by the time of the prophet Ezekiel, Daniel’s life had also shown him to be a righteous follower of the Lord in the court of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon (see Daniel chapter 1).

And why are these three men in particular mentioned in the book of Ezekiel? For the simple reason that, as our text says, even if they were in the land, they would not be able to save the Jews from the destruction to come at the hands of the Babylonians.

God had sent prophets through whom He warned, encouraged, and pleaded with His people, but still they continued their idol worship. In His loving grace the Lord had shown great patience with them, but the Jews continued to rely on themselves for strength, to depend on their physical ancestry as an “in” with God. Read More »Noah, Daniel, and Job can’t save!