Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Eleven Reasons to Love the Lord's Prayer

"Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).

1. It doesn't take long to pray.

2. It covers everything.

3. It's spiritual.

4. It's practical.

5. It doesn't matter if you're by yourself.

6. It fits any occasion.

7. It never gets old.

8. It makes promises.

9. It strengthens faith.

10. It strengthens love.

11. The Lord Jesus.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Conviction

"But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced..." (2 Tim. 1:12).

Conviction may be defined as "truth of which you are convinced or certain."  ("Convinced" and "conviction" are related words.)  For the Christian, that truth is the Word of God.  So while many today are asking with Pilate, "What is truth?" (John 18:38), Christians pray with Jesus in the chapter before, "Your Word is truth" (John 17:17).  Somebody put it like this: "God said it.  I believe it.  That settles it."  That's conviction!  Conviction is a work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  Through it, the Christian no longer questions God's Word, but uses that Word to question everything else.

Luther: "God's Word alone is the true, abiding rock on which a person can depend with certainty."

Understand that the goal of atheism, for example, is not to convert you to its teachings, but simply to cast doubt on and weaken your Christian conviction.  And a weakened conviction is no conviction.  And a Christian without conviction is no threat to the kingdom of Satan.

The Christian convictions can be summed up in three words: Commandments, Creed, Prayer (Ten Commandments, Apostles' Creed, Lord's Prayer).

Pray the Holy Spirit to come and give you conviction, and He will most certainly do it!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Carry No Moneybag

"Carry no moneybag" (Luke 10:4).

Among the multiple instructions given by Jesus to the seventy-two as He sent them out, this is the first: "Carry no moneybag."  It's important for the pastor to understand.  Paul puts it plainly when he writes that the pastor must not be "a lover of money" (1 Tim. 3:3).  He must still, however, be a lover, but a lover of God's Word and people, and the congregation and Christ.

It must be evident to the people that what is important to the pastor is the salvation of their souls and their love for each other.  I know a pastor who, to this end, asked that his salary be reduced.  I myself make it a point not to touch the offering plates during the Divine Service.

The pastor is dependent on the congregation to take care of him physically, in the same way that the congregation is dependent on the pastor to take care of them spiritually.  It's a beautiful, blessed codependence taught to us in Luke 10.

But money means little or nothing to the pastor made rich by the ministry of preaching and teaching Christ crucified and risen, baptizing, absolving, and serving Holy Communion.  Made rich, in other words, by the chance to love a congregation the way Christ loves the Church.