Thursday, October 5, 2017

Devotion 10.4.17

“But, after a person has been justified by faith, there then exists a true, living “faith working through love” (Gal. 5:6).  That means that good works always follow justifying faith and are certainly found with it, when it is a true and living faith.  For faith is never alone but is always accompanied by love and hope.”  - Epitome of the Formula of Concord, 3.11
The above quote was actually written by Martin Chemnitz, not Martin Luther.  Chemnitz was often referred to as the “Second Martin” and was very much part of the writing of the Formula of Concord, one of our confessional books.  It is a great quote nonetheless that I believe is a good reminder to us all.
“Cheap grace” is what this quote warns us of.  Ever heard of “cheap grace”?  It is the thought that because of Jesus’ unrelenting and unconditional love, that we should just let sin flow from us freely.  God will still love us after all.
Paul states in Romans 6, “shall I continue in sin so that grace may abound?  By no means!”  That is the reality of our faith… it is never alone.  It never desires sin, accepts sin, is comfortable in sin.  Faith desires more.  It desires a change of life, a change of heart, a change in attitude and behavior.  Faith desires to love God, to love and serve our neighbors, to do good works. 
Rev. Eric Hiner

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Devotion 10.3.17

For the next month, we at Hope Lutheran Church will be focusing on some of the thoughts and truths that the Lutheran Reformation focused on.  Both in sermons and Sunday morning Bible studies, we will the reformation and the theology of Martin Luther.
“For all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls but the word of the Lord remains forever.” – 1 Peter 1:24-25

One may or may not have seen this symbol before.  It stands for Verbum Domini Manet in Aeternum.  If that doesn’t help you, it means “The Word of the Lord stands forever”.  And this was the motto for the Lutheran Reformation.  Based on 1 Peter 1:24-25, this motto was a foundational theme for all who supported the Reformation.  For Luther, it was a truth that brought him the comfort and the courage that was needed to spark the reformation. 
When he refused to recant, or take back his writings, it was the foundation of the word that gave him the strength to refuse despite the deadly consequences.  He spoke boldly, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture and plain reason – I do not accept the authority of the popes and councils, for they have contradicted each other - My conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not recant anything for to go against conscience is neither right nor safe.  God help me.  Amen.”
Imagine speaking these words knowing that the last person (John Huss) who made such a stand was burned at the stake.  Then again, imagine a world where everything you thought was good, everything you relied upon, everything that was foundational to your life turned out to be bad, dangerous and condemning.  Luther’s was dedicated to the church.  He was a monk of monks devoted to his order.  He was a theology professor dedicated to his work.  But then he found out the church was corrupt, looking out for self and not the people they were called to serve.  Everything crumbled around him, except for the Word of God.  It remains forever.  It is amazing how true this is for our lives as well.
Rev. Eric Hiner

Monday, October 2, 2017

Devotion 10.02.17

This is the continuation of a series of devotions inspired by Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, Creation and Fall.  Why?  Because what better place to begin than with creation itself.  As they say, let’s make first things first.  No need to read the book to understand though you’re welcome to order a copy.

One of the common sins we see in our world is worship of creation rather than Creator.  It’s something that we can distance ourselves from if we like.  Thousands of years ago they worshipped the sun, the crops, bulls or other creatures, even other humans.  Today we’re rather distant from those concepts in our scientific world.  And yet as the picture below points out, sometimes our idols aren’t all that much different.  We worship money and the pursuit of money instead Dagon, a god meant to bring prosperity.  We worship enticing images instead of Asherah poles focused on fertility.  We worship our tvs and phones, sources of entertainment rather than Marqod, the god of dance. 
Image result for modern idols
Now don’t get me wrong, creation and created things are good.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.  And God said, “Let there be light….”God creates for a reason and he doesn’t want us to think of created things as evil, as lesser, or inferior to “spiritual things”.  Instead, he wants us to see created things as gifts from the One True God, and turn to the Creator of all things and give our worship to him.  Take a moment to look at the things in your life, examine your attachments to them, and put them in the right order.  God has created all and all the worship returns to him.

Rev. Dan Borkenhagen