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Monday, September 30, 2019

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Luke 16:19-31 is called "The Rich Man and Lazarus."  Without even reading these verses, a great lesson is revealed just by carefully considering the title: "The Rich Man and Lazarus."  Take a moment to think about the difference, in this title, between the two men.

The difference is, only one of them has a name.

The rich man has no name.  No name, that is, known to Christ.  He had and enjoyed many things: lovely home, fine clothing and food, position of honor, places to go.  Just not a name before God in heaven.  His money could not buy that.  I'm sure they knew his name at the bank, the car dealership, the club.  But not in heaven.

Lazarus, by contrast, had and enjoyed very little.  But he is the true rich man in the story.  Because what he did have was worth far more than all of the rich man's things put together.  Lazarus had a name known to God.

"I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isa. 43:1).

The death of Jesus redeems the whole world.  But only those who put their trust in Him, and Him alone, have their names written in the book of life and on the heart of the Shepherd: "He calls His own sheep by name" (John 10:3).

God has blessed you in many ways.  But nothing compares with knowing that your name is known to Him!

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In reflecting on this devotion, written several years ago, I'm thinking about the first time God called me by name.  My Baptism.  The pastor (my father) said, "Matthew, I baptize you in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit."  My name and God's name in the same breath!  Wow!  That's Baptism!  Take a moment to think about your Baptism in this way.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

That's Why I Pray

I came across this song and video by the duo Big & Rich.  It's a very honest yet hopeful look at our time.  I'll let it speak for itself, but do watch/listen for several key things: a crucifix at 0:55, the personal confession beginning at 2:43, and the sudden change at 3:09.

And be reminded that we "ought always to pray and not lose heart" (Luke 18:1).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjJyZfDCa88

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Sunday School and Home

I write the following for the Sunday School teachers at Faith Lutheran, and for the parents.  The children must be taught to say this word for word.  And let us teach them with joy, that they may learn with joy!

Luther's Small Catechism has six parts and one heart.

The six parts are:

The Ten Commandments
The Creed
The Lord's Prayer
The Sacrament of Holy Baptism
Confession
The Sacrament of the Altar

And the one heart is Christ!

God bless you, teachers!  God bless you, parents!  God bless our children, and God bless us all!

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Holy Cross Days

The Ground Zero Cross must be remembered.  It tells of a God who suffered for us, and who suffers with us.

"...the cross of Jesus" (John 19:25).

September 13 and 14 should share the name Holy Cross.

To begin with, September 14 has long been called Holy Cross Day.  On that day in the year 320 Helena, the mother of Constantine, is believed to have discovered the cross of our Lord on which He died.  It is one of the earliest Christian feast days, and points to the centrality of the death of Jesus in the Christian faith.

Enter September 13, one day before.  On this day in 2001 an excavator named Frank Silecchia discovered, amid the rubble of the World Trade Center, a cross.  A T-beam weighing thousands of pounds had the unmistakable shape of a cross, and had fallen into a perfect upright position.  It was carefully removed, blessed, and stands today.

I confess, I don't know for a fact whether Helena found the actual cross of Christ.  What I do know is that Frank Silecchia did.  And he found it where the true cross will be found: right smack in the middle of human tragedy, suffering, and death.

To bring us through.


Monday, September 2, 2019

A Very Small Devotion

In Jesus' name.

If you want to change the way people act, change the way they think.

And if you want to change the way they think, change the way you act.

And if you want to change the way you act,

confess your sins,

receive the Word of forgiveness,

and set out to serve,

"even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).

Amen.