Monday, September 25, 2017

Waste Not, Want Not

"He told His disciples, 'Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost'" (John 6:12).

The Society of St. Andrew estimates that, as of this week, over 97 billion pounds of food have been wasted in our country since January 1.  The Small Catechism makes it personal by instructing us to ask the question, "Have I wasted anything?" (see under Confession).

The Feeding of the Five Thousand is recorded by all Four Evangelists.  On the one hand, we learn a lesson about trusting God to provide.  On the other hand, we learn a lesson about not being wasteful.  And these two hands should be folded together in prayer.

Luther preached, "Our Lord desires waste as little as He wants despair and worry, desiring that we opt for the middle course, that is, trust Him and carefully husband what is left over.  The well-known proverb still obtains: Waste not, want not!"

It applies to other things too, such as money, mind, talent, time, and God's Word (most of all).  Gifts of God not to be wasted!

But focus, as does our Lord, on food.  I asked my mother and sister to write down some fun tips on how to waste not.  Let me give three of them to get us thinking:

Don't throw that Hershey's chocolate sauce bottle away.  Fill it halfway up with milk, shake, and pour yourself a nice glass of chocolate milk.

Old bread or crusts?  Toss it in a bag and put in the freezer.  Take it to the park to feed the ducks.

Buffet night.  Before your weekly grocery shopping trip, pull out the bowls of leftovers from the fridge, that last apple, the box of crackers that's almost gone, and get creative.  Top it off with a special, not leftover, dessert!

And I would add that children should be taught to clean their plates, and to throw nothing away from their school lunches.

In so doing, we learn to remember that our heavenly Father feeds us out of love, and not to take that for granted but to thank Him for it from all our hearts.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Right Attitude

This week's devotion is by Richard Wurmbrand.  And the big news is that a movie is coming out about him in March.  For information and to watch the trailers, visit www.torturedforchrist.com.

"...that they may all be one" (John 17:21).

The British publication New Society has conducted a psychological survey of players in symphony orchestras.  This shows that brass and string players usually have bad opinions of each other.  Woodwind players, especially oboists, are considered as neurotics by their colleagues in the orchestra.  Violin and viola players have uneasy, mutually deprecatory attitudes.

The wonder is that people who tend to be mutually hostile to each other can produce an effect of order and harmony.

The moment the conductor lifts his baton, all these emotions are set apart.  Only one thing counts now: the success of the concert.

The children of this world sometimes are wiser than the children of light.  It is unavoidable that Christians, men and women of such different background, temperaments, experiences of life, cultural levels, nations, races, and social classes should disagree in many things and feel even, however slightly, some hostility toward each other.  We are not only partakers of the divine nature; we are human, too.  But the human side should be put aside for the common worship and the common action in the service of the Lord.

Ask yourself what is greater: the cause which we serve in common or the matter in which we differ?  Then you will have the right attitude of love.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Cross

This devotion is in honor of Holy Cross Day on September 14.  It was Luther who said that Christians could be called "Crosstians."

"...the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus" (1 Tim. 1:14 and 2 Tim. 1:13).

Think again about the cross.  Think specifically about its shape.  It moves in two directions: up and down, and side to side.  Vertical and Horizontal.  One without the other is not the cross.

What does it mean?  Our Lord could have died in other ways.  He chose crucifixion.  Could it be that He chose it in order to make a lasting picture of His entire teaching?  For He taught us to love and trust in God (vertical) and to love and serve our neighbor (horizontal).

But it is not only the wood of the cross that moves in two directions.  It is, really, Christ Himself.  He is our peace with God (vertical) and with each other (horizontal).

Next time you hear the words of the Post-Communion Collect ("in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another"), think of the cross - the cross of Christ.

Monday, September 4, 2017

One Great Hope

"...the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7).

The Apostles' Creed ends with the words "and the life everlasting.  Amen."  In discussing "The Life Everlasting," the Explanation of the Small Catechism reads, "God gives eternal life to me and all believers in Christ," and then goes on to make three important subpoints.  Not one, not two, but three.

(1) Eternal life is a present possession (John 17:3, John 3:36).

(2) At the time of death, the soul of a believer is immediately with Christ in heaven (Luke 23:43, Phil. 1:23-24).

(3) At the Last Day the believers, in both body and soul, will begin the full enjoyment of being with Christ forever (Matt. 25:34, 1 John 3:2).

Now each one of these is a distinct promise, and yet the three are inseparable.  They behave something like a trinity.  Perhaps one could even say (as we do in the Athanasian Creed) that the first is a hope, the second is a hope, the third is a hope; and yet there are not three hopes, but one hope.

One great hope of eternal life - into which we have been baptized!