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Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Become a Thief

On Sunday we heard and believed the last Holy Gospel of the church year - Luke 23:27-43.  Among other things, it led me back to this devotion.

"According to Your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of Your goodness, O Lord" (Ps. 25:7).

One time on a nursing home visit, I sat and talked with a Christian man who realized he was losing his ability to remember.  He was scared and requested some bit of spiritual advice.  You may know a person who is struggling with the same thing.  As he talked, I listened, and as I listened, God gave me an idea.

When it was my turn I simply said to him, "Become a thief.  Become a robber.  That's what you're to do."  I stopped.

"I could never do that, Pastor.  You know that.  I would never do that," he replied.  But he also knew I had a reason for saying it.

Without even opening the Bible, together we remembered the crucifixion and how there were two thieves.  And how one of them had a change of heart and prayed a most beautiful prayer: "Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom" (Luke 23:42).

"Now," I said, "you become that thief.  You ask Jesus to remember you.  For so much of your life you have remembered God and His Word.  You have remembered the Sabbath day.  You have taken Communion in remembrance of Jesus.  Now let Him remember you.  He will never forget you!  Never forsake you!  Until the day comes when He says, 'Today you will be with Me in Paradise' (Luke 23:43)."

Do your best to remember God.  But know this: Should you ever lose that ability, He will remember you!

Thursday, November 21, 2019

Home Is My Heaven

Thought it might be a good time to republish this one.

"You shall write them on the doorposts [in Hebrew, "mezuzoth"] of your house" (Deut. 6:9).

The Jewish mezuzah refers to a parchment bearing the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 and rolled up in a case or tube that is attached to the doorpost of the house and other rooms.  It is affixed diagonally, owing to the fact that authorities disagreed on whether to place it horizontally or vertically.  So they compromised!

The doorpost of your house signifies the dividing line between the goings on of the world and the sanctuary of the home.  God means to make of your home a little heaven on earth.  A place of faith, hope, and love in the midst of trying times.

How so?  His Word.  Luther wrote the Small Catechism as a way to fill the home with the blessing of the Ten Commandments, Creed, Lord's Prayer, Sacraments, Prayers, and an understanding of our Duties.

Reclaim your home as a place of peace.  Guard against strangers and "strange teachings" (Heb. 13:9) entering your home through the television and computer.  Make certain a cross or crucifix occupies a central location.  Invite the pastor over to give a house blessing.

And petition God to make your home your little heaven!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Finishing the Sentence

"And He said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, "I am has sent me to you"'" (Exod. 3:14).

What if I told you that a certain Biblical statement took 1500 years to complete?

In Exodus 3 the Lord instructs Moses to refer to Him as "I am."  Now technically "I am" is a complete sentence, having both a subject and a verb.  On the other hand, it sounds rather unfinished.

Finishing the sentence would have to wait until the Incarnation and the teaching of Jesus.  The Gospel of John records seven "I am" statements of Jesus, listed below.  The number seven in the Bible denotes completeness.  The Lord Jesus completes the sentence He began back in Exodus 3.

"I am...
the bread of life
the light of the world
the door of the sheep
the good shepherd
the resurrection and the life
the way, and the truth, and the life
the true vine."

So when Jesus says from the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30), He could have been talking about the sentence.

"I am," by itself, is difficult to understand.  It is a lofty idea.  But Jesus brings it down to earth and makes it, and all of God, perfectly understandable.

See if you can memorize the seven I am's from John.  No other words were ever worth such a long wait.

Where to find the I am's in John: 6:35, 8:12, 10:7, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1.

Monday, November 4, 2019

I with You Am

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).

Many Christians are more than familiar with these words of Jesus in the final line of the Gospel of Matthew.  It ranks among the greatest promises of God and gives much comfort and assurance to Christians.

While in English it reads, "I am with you," the word order in the original Greek is this:

"I with you am."

It is a kind of word picture in which believers are protected in Christ.  And it gives new meaning to Paul's statement that we "have been baptized into Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:3).  It helps visualize Philippians 3:8-9: "...in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him."  Or Psalm 139:5: "You hem me in, behind and before."

God introduced Himself as I AM all the way back in Exodus 3:14.  But the name reaches its final form in Matthew 28:20: I with you AM.  For in Christ, incarnate, crucified, and risen, God opened Himself up and has taken us in!

He is with you today, tomorrow, and all the days.  Better still, you are safely within Him.