Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Okay…It’s morning…or It’s evening. Either way, we want to find those evasive moments wherein we can study the Bible. Sometimes, guilt both overwhelms us and makes us nervous about approaching God’s Word. We may ask little questions: What if we read something that really strikes our conscience and convicts us to the heart? What if a reading or command tells us we were wrong in the decisions we just made on a matter pertaining to our family and someone really got upset? How do we handle those times when we wake up or come home from work and the devotion continues to pile on the pressure so that we feel scared to crack the Bible for a while? I don’t know about you. But, having suffered varying degrees of post-traumatic stress disorder or anxiety throughout my life, such questions have buffeted my conscience. In high school and college, the words of command/law made me scared to get into a regular devotional and prayer life. Did I really want the pounding of do’s and don’ts hitting me all the time? I went to church and heard the beautiful words of promise/Gospel from pastors spoken to me. Why didn’t I see them reflected in my devotions? As I planned to enter Concordia Seminary and engaged in theological discussions with classmates, I saw the reasons for my hesitancy leap before my face. I didn’t know how to study the Bible in its completeness. Facts were easy to understand and gather. Sentimental texts like those read at Christmas, Easter, at funerals, or Confirmation services stood out…in segments. My love for Christian apologetics, the defense of the faith, led me to a series of good points and vocabulary I could slip into my understanding of God’s Word. Then came the day in chapel at Concordia College (now University)-Seward, Nebraska when the leader read from Ephesians 2:8: “It is by grace you have been saved…” That’s when the events of Jesus’ life, ministry, and ongoing service to His Church connected in ways I hadn’t understood since the two years of intensified Christian instruction which preceed the reception of the Lord’s Supper. Grace is God’s favor in Christ Jesus for us who do not deserve it. God shows His favor through the means wherein He reveals Himself as our Savior from our sin.  IN Christ, the Word become flesh (John 1:1-18)  -- In promises from the Old Testament pointing rebellious Israel to the coming Messiah, often appearing in preincarnate ways to His peole—Gen. 3:15, Gen. 22:1-14, Ex. 3:14, Joshua 6, et al.  In Baptism where He knits His Word to simple water (Matt. 28:19, Mark 16:15-16, Acts 2:38-39, Rom. 6:1-14, Gal. 3:26-27, Titus 3:3-7.  The Lord’s Supper where Jesus gives us His own body and blood to eat and drink. Matt. 26:26-28, 1 Cor. 10:16-17, 11:23-26  Preaching: Rom. 10:14-17  Spoken public and private absolution: Ps. 32:5, 1 John 1:8-9 Since Jesus is so much the heart and center of our salvation, then He must be and is the heart and center of His written Word. He breaks through the fog of depression. He consoles us, no matter emotions or addictions we face. And, He brings us to repentance through the ongoing conviction of His Law, that He may comfort us anew with His forgiveness, life, and salvation. (Rom. 10:4, Ps. 130:3-4. With this in mind, approaching devotions, sermons, and Bible classes becomes a regular return to Jesus Himself, drawn by His grace through faith in Him alone. After all, He never leaves nor forsakes us and remains the same—yesterday, today, and forever. (Heb. 13) Even when the Law convicts us of something we’ve thought, said or done—no matter how personal—we need to hear it. No, we can’t improve on the previous day’s disobedience before God. Instead, He uses conviction to fix our eyes on Him and everything He has done for us. (Heb. 12:1-2. There may be days when we forget our daily devotions. We get busy, oversleep, run the kids to every social and athletic endeavor possible. Even so, our Lord guides us back to His Word with His same command and promise, fixing our eyes on Him who is the heart and center of the Holy Scriptures. (John 5:39, 2 Tim. 3:15-17, 2 Peter 3:15-16) Rejoicing in His Word, begin your task each day; lie down and sleep in peace. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8) and in Him remains our help and salvation. (Ps. 46:1-2, Ps. 121:1-2)

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