Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Labor Relations

Are you a person who, at your place of work, has a supervisor, boss, one to whom you are accountable?  Perhaps you are the supervisor.  Some of you are both at the same time.  The Small Catechism points to Ephesians 6:5-9 to show what ought to be the relationship between workers of all kinds and those who supervise.  I wrote the following two hymn stanzas in order to learn, and help teach others, the lesson.

To Workers of All Kinds

Your supervisor is a lord;
Obey him as you would the Lord;
Do more for him than what you must;
Be true to him and earn his trust;
The good you do for him today,
The Lord tomorrow will repay.

To Employers and Supervisors

The same applies: Do not be stern,
But for your workers show concern;
As is the Lord, impartial be;
For good, use your authority;
While diff'rent duties here remain,
To Him on high we are the same.

Now imagine what the workplace could be like if both worker and supervisor were to act in these ways!  God help you to be such a worker or supervisor, or both.

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Width of Narrow

"Strive to enter through the narrow door" (Luke 13:24).

Jesus describes the door to heaven as narrow, and by the end of the Gospel it becomes possible to measure it exactly.  The narrow door is the exact width of the holy cross.  As I put it to my congregation on Sunday, the narrow door is fourteen words wide: "God, be merciful to me, a sinner" (Luke 18:13).  And: "Take heart, child, your sins are forgiven" (Matt. 9:2).  Pray and hear these words before the cross and you will enter through the narrow door.

But why does He say, "Strive (struggle, strain) to enter"?  The Greek word is "agonize."  Because it's going to be a fight.  Jesus is calling you to a life of repentance and faith in Him.  This is the life for you.  But to live it will mean a fight against the devil, the world, and the flesh, all of whom want you to live for now, and not for heaven.  But the Holy Spirit will aid you in the fight.  The Holy Helper!  And He will help you by the Holy Word and Sacrament!

Despite public pressure, don't be afraid to be narrow-minded in your faith.  It is necessary in order to enter through the narrow door.

Let your faith be narrow, and let your love be broad!

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Author of Our Faith

"...Jesus, the Author and Completer of our faith" (Heb. 12:2).

The Letter to the Hebrews is the only New Testament book to assign no author.  We don't know who wrote it.  Guesses include Barnabas, Luke, Clement of Rome, and Aquila and Priscilla.  Luther suggested Apollos, mentioned for the first time in Acts 18:24.  "But who wrote the epistle," said Origen of Alexandria, "God only knows certainly."  But from this, two things may be said.

One is, isn't it something that the only book not to say who its author is, is the one book to say who the Author of our faith is?  That's the authorship that matters.  "Let us, through endurance, go on running the race set before us, looking to Jesus, the Author and Completer of our faith."  And for the perfect commentary on "Author and Completer," use Philippians 1:6: "He who began (authored) a good work in you will bring it to completion."

Two is, humility.  Whoever wrote Hebrews had a lot to be proud of: understanding, eloquence, heart.  It is said that the letter displays the finest Greek in the New Testament.  And yet they wanted to remain anonymous.  T.S. Eliot wrote: "Many are engaged in writing books and printing them.  Many desire to see their names in print."  When was the last time you saw the most beautiful book but without the author's name?  Answer: The Letter to the Hebrews.

Seek to do beautiful and blessed things, but to receive no earthly credit.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Oyeoflittlefaith

This is the first small devotion I ever wrote, back in 2009.  In fact, the idea of a "small devotion" was inspired by the idea of a "little faith."

In spiritual matters, there is a danger of hearing God scolding us when He is really not.  Of thinking that He is disappointed in us when, in fact, He is speaking to us so very gently and kindly.  Such, I think, is the case with "O ye of little faith."

Sermons on this concept tell us that we should have more faith.  But evidence points to a Lord who has come up with a loving nickname for us: Yeoflittlefaith.  English hides the fact that in Greek it is only one word.  It is used only by Jesus and it is unknown outside the Bible.  It has the look and sound of a nickname.  More than that, a term of endearment and affection.

If you look at the occasions when Jesus uses the term, His followers are anxious, fearful, or confused.*  What kind of Christ would scold people already in this condition?  No, a more tender name for us Christians cannot be found.  He is saying how much we need Him.  Little faith doesn't need more faith.  A little faith needs Christ.

In a way, "O ye of little faith" is a promise that He will never leave, based on the fact that He never could!  And in a mystery, it is a little faith that holds all of Christ.  But perhaps it is more true to say that He holds our little faith as a precious thing to Him - guarding and protecting it.

Remember the little children brought to Jesus?  Bring your little faith to Him.  He will take it, bless it, and say, "To such belongs the kingdom."

Rejoice to be called "Oyeoflittlefaith."

*Matt. 6:30, 8:26, 14:31, 16:8, and Luke 12:28

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Prepare for Heaven

"Fool!  This night your soul is required of you" (Luke 12:20).

How many years of life do we still have?

A king gave to his clown a marshal's baton and told him, "I nominate you as marshal of the fools.  If you ever find one who is more foolish than you, hand it to him."

Years passed.  The king was on his deathbed.  The clown asked him, "Do you know where you go?"

"No," answered the king.  "I know only that I must die."

"So there is a 'must' for kings, too.  Did you store for yourself some riches in the world beyond to which you go?"

"I never thought about it."

"You knew that you would have to die and, notwithstanding, you made no definite choice?  You did not prepare for heaven?  You did not avoid hell?"

"I never took time even to ponder deeply about these things."

The clown took the baton from the sleeve in which he had hidden it, and returned it to the king.  "Now I nominate you as marshal of the fools."

Remember that you will die, and that you do not know when this will happen.

The above is from Richard Wurmbrand, and to it I add only this: The one who is prepared to die by faith in Jesus Christ is the one prepared to live on this earth for however long, and according to the law of love.