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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

One Little Word

"A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" has been called the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation."  The text and tune are both by Martin Luther.  I wrote this devotion years ago and believe it bears repeating annually.  Someone else said that it bears repeating daily.

Luther's great hymn, "A Mighty Fortress," contains the line at the end of the third verse: "One little word can fell him."  Many know this line, but few may know the one little word Luther had in mind.  What would you say it is?

In a writing called "Against Hanswurst," Luther explained that the one little word is, "You lie."  Luther writes:

"For all such books written against me, even if there were as many as thousands of them written every day and every hour, are very easily refuted with the single word, 'Devil, you lie,' just as that haughty beggar Dr. Luther sings so proudly and boldly in those words of his hymn, 'One little word shall fell him.'"

Now to simplify and make it just one word, we could say, "Liar!"  In John 8:44, Jesus says about the devil, "When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies."  Luther believed that deeply.

We know that Psalm 46 formed the basis for "A Mighty Fortress."  But Luther must also have had in mind the story of David and Goliath.  In the first place, the devil is our Goliath.  In the second place, the one little word (Liar!) is just like the one little stone David used.  And in the third place, that one little word "fells" the giant.  "One little word can fell him."

Now try it, and use it often.  This one really works!  Next time that temptation comes, that discouragement, that fear, reach into your bag for one little word.

Liar!

And spread the word!

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Quality over Quantity

In the study of Holy Scripture opt for quality, not quantity.  Choose to read one verse very carefully, over the reading of many verses and chapters.  A Russian Orthodox Psalter (Book of Psalms) includes the following story about a man who lived in the fourth century.

"Pambo, being an illiterate man, went to one of the fathers who knew letters for the purpose of being taught a psalm.  And, having heard the first verse of the thirty-ninth psalm, 'I said I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue,' he departed without staying to hear the second verse, saying, 'This one will suffice if I can learn it in deed.'  And when the father who had given him the verse reproved him because he had not seen him for the space of six months, Pambo answered that he had not yet learned in deed the verse of the psalm.  After a considerable lapse of time, being asked by one of his friends whether he had made himself master of the verse, he answered thus, 'In all of nineteen years, I have only just succeeded in accomplishing it.'"

Less is more.  Simplify your study of Scripture, and you may just find your spiritual life enriched.

Monday, October 14, 2019

When Things Look Bleak, Remember

"Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead" (2 Tim. 2:8).

On Sunday I preached to my people, "Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, at three times: on Sunday morning, each morning, and when things look bleak."

Sunday morning is the Church's weekly celebration of Easter.  And each morning can be a little Easter: Rise and shine!  But most important is to remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, when things look bleak.

Paul practiced what he preached.  When he wrote these words to Timothy, Paul was soon to be executed.

Do things look bleak for you?  Physically, emotionally, even spiritually, or a combination?

Even on the cloudiest of days, the sun is still shining above the clouds, brightly as ever.  Remember that.  By which I mean, When things look bleak, remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead - the Son who died for you, lives to be with you, and "loves you every day the same, even calls you by your name."

If you are weak, He is strong, but gentle, and turns a bleak outlook into a bright "uplook" the second you...

Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead!

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

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!