Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do Not Be Distracted from the One Thing Needul

But Martha was distracted with much service.... the Lord answered her: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled concerning many things, but of one thing there is need.
Luke 10:40a, 41-42a

The familiar story of Mary and Martha is illuminating how many things in our world we can and do get distracted from the one needful thing: time in God's Word. Like the young boy whose mind is not on his schoolwork but on dreaming out the window, all of us get our spiritual vision blurred with so many other things that are not as beneficial and motivational to our life in Christ when not fully supported and fueled by our constant consumption of God's Word.

We are not what we eat physically, but what we consume spiritually! So we have need to constant be eating the best of God's Word correctly understood and applied. As Jesus stated in Luke 4:4 (quoting Deuteronomy 8:3) that we truly live on not physical bread "alone" but on every word that proceeds out of God's mouth. This is the needful thing and yet so many skimp, if not starve with so little of study of God's Word in their regular diet.

For sure better nutrition should be for everyone, that we intake the proper foods to keep our bodies functioning as created. So how much more should we not be concerned about spiritual nutrition?

Find a Bible Study in your midst where faithful, true pastors who are constantly in God's Word feed you. They constantly sit at Jesus' feet like Mary (Luke 10:39). Divinely served in this way, they in turn are in position to serve Jesus in their vocations and calling.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Divine Warning on Getting it Reversed!

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own sight! Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of his right! There, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root will be as rottenness, and their blossom go up like dust; for they have rejected the law of LORD of hosts, and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel."
Isaiah 5:20-24

God warns each of us: Don't get it confused, good and evil and your own innocence and arrogance and self-esteem. But the argument always comes from the unbelievers, how does anyone know what is good and evil? The answer easily and clearly is from the Holy Bible.

Confusion and distortion of God's truth comes clearly from a person's rejection and despising of God's Scriptures (verse 24). They don't like the truth, they don't like their evil exposed! See John 3:16-21, especially verse 20. When one no longer believes in a final individual judgment there is a turning away from any clear moral distinctions. Do what you want in love they cry! Don't judge lest you be judged, they incorrectly throw Matthew 7 at us.

Evil is each of us, naturally the sinful humans we are. We cannot do the good demanded by God to be in His Holy presence, Leviticus 19:2. Thus, we need someone who can meet the demands of the law for us and also be the sacrificial punishment. This is none other than "the Holy One of Israel, Jesus Christ"!

Praise be to His Holy Name, that we who are by nature evil are declared good because of Christ's goodness! We hear of such marvelous Good News in the hearing of His Word. How sweet and rich it is to our ears! Don't get it confused!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Selective Forgetfulness of God's Word

Righteous are you, O Lord,
and right are your rules.
You have appointed your testimonies in righteousness
and in all faithfulness.
My zeal consumes me,
because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried,
and your servant loves it.
Psalm 119:137-140

Certainly we all can relate to moments when we practice "selective listening," hearing only the things we wish to and ignoring or neglecting the intolerable. In the same vein, people are "selective remembers." They choose to remember only the parts that they can agree with and be supportive of, and forget the disagreeable.

So it was with the Psalmist here in Psalm 119. His zeal for God's Word is stated because of God's attribute of righteous as well as the words which He revealed to mankind. He reflects that there is a class of people which will always be irritated by God's Word and thus they practice "selective remembering" of it, ignoring what doesn't sit well with them and contending against God's thoughts and ways.

Even in spite of this opposition to God's Word, the Psalmist declares that the testing of God's Word is like refined metal ("well tried" verse 137) and thus is even more precious to him, thus inspiring and motivating even more intense study, trust and application of God's Word in his life.

These verses were in last week's Introit made me remember just how precious and refined truth God's Word is, even bringing forth opposition from its enemies, which does not discourage God's people, but like the Psalmist increases our "zeal" for it, because at the heart and center of all of God's revelation is the marvelous salvation found in Jesus Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, made flesh. Even more reason why we diligently, faithfully are into God's Word, inwardly digesting, studying, applying and sharing its precious truths!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Is There Chance? Not in Salvation!

And take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you return to Him as a guilt offering in a box by its side. Then send it away that it may go. And watch, if it goes up by the way of its own territory to Beth-shemesh, the He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it was not His hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance."
1 Samuel 6:8-9

Does anything happen outside of sheer chance or coincidence? Is there a divine force behind anything? Both of these positions surely have their supporters in our day. In Samuel's day, the diviners of Philistine tested this concerning getting rid of the captured Israelite ark of the covenant and its subsequent rash of tragic events, i.e. the shattering of their god Dagon and the tumors which occurred with wherever the ark was placed. So they devised this test to determine if these results were from Israel's God Yahweh (the LORD) or just by chance. Take some cows never yoked before and yoke them to wagon holding the ark and let them take whatever path they choose. If they go back to Israel via Beth-shemesh, then we will know that this God Yahweh is behind everything. If not, then it is sheer chance. The cows went straight to Israel territory.

Whether chance is an active agent in the world can remain an open discussion but not where salvation is concerned. God doesn't leave this to chance! He is always active in the world to confront, convict and convert humans of their idolatry to trust and believe in His plan of salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. This story from 1 Samuel demonstrates that God is serious about God's holy things, in this case the ark of the covenant. In our time, holy baptism and the Lord's Supper might be examples of where individuals do not give them their proper reverence as the holy things of God by which He saves people and keeps them saved. God took no chances in sending Jesus to be the ransom for our sins and paying the complete price for them. He also takes no chances in sending preachers to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of these sins in Jesus' name!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

The Word of the Lord Grows!

And the word of God continued to grow and to be multiplied.
Acts 12:24

This is one of three times Luke uses this phrase in Acts, the other two being 6:7 and 19:20. Many of us pastors likely were touched by this in reading Martin Franzmann's famous book: "The Word of the Lord Grows" whereby he uses this theme and Acts to navigate the New Testament. So, I know of no more fitting way to unload what this phrase means than the opening words of that great book:

"The word of the Lord grew"---three times in the Book of Acts Luke uses this sentence to sum up a period of the history of the first church. These words are a telling expression of the Biblical conception of the divine word. Our Lord Himself compared the word with a seed that is sown and sprouts and grows: "The seed is the word of God" (Luke 8:11). The word of the Lord is a power and is active; it "prevails mightily," as Luke puts it in one of the passages just referred to (Acts 19:20). Paul speaks of the Gospel as "bearing fruit and growing" (Col.1:6), and Peter speaks of the "living and abiding word of God" as an "imperishable seed" (1 Peter 1:23).

This "living and active" word (Heb. 4:12) is therefore a force in history; it "speeds on" in the world and "triumphs" there (2 Thess. 3:1), in time and place and among men; itis enmeshed in events, tied up with the world, and it involves people. The word of God is God in action; for God is not a lecturer but the God who is "working still," as Jesus said of His Father, and of Himself the Son (John 5:17). God is the Lord of all history, reveals Himself by His mighty acts in history, and the word which He gives to His prophets to utter interprets those acts and makes them an enduring force in the world. "

May this wonderful, powerful, salvation granting Word of God grow in each of us, then may it multiply and spread from us to all parts of this earth for His kingdom's sake., that repentance and the forgiveness of sins be proclaimed in Jesus' name. Amen.