A Lenten Devotion

A Lenten Devotion                                                                                                     February 2016

                            Wisdom. Unworldly Wisdom.  Wisdom from the Spirit.

Among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away. 7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him”— 10 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. 11 For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.             I Corinthians 2:6-13


It’s not surprising that our non-Christian friends are unable to comprehend our apparently unreasonable faith in and loyalty to an unseen God. While they have some understanding of what fuels cars, powers the internet, or energizes our human faculties, they can’t be expected to understand what fuels the Christian and gives him or her the hope and joy that keeps that person steady even in the midst of the uncertainty and instability of life in this disjointed world.

The faith of a Christian is secured by an unworldly wisdom, a wisdom that is beyond that of the great intellects and talented people who inhabit this planet. It’s the “secret and hidden wisdom of God” imparted to His children by way of His Spirit. But it means that even the uneducated Christian possesses a wisdom that may be superior to that of the most renown scholars. The Christian may know little about science or history or economics or medicine but, being in touch with the Creator, is being in touch with the eternal and the infinite. While he or she may not be able to communicate with more educated people, the Christian possesses a far more profound and important experience and knowledge than anything the earthbound creatures of this world can assimilate.

We will probably not impress our more intellectual and talented peers with our comprehension of worldly activities and events. We may, however, by our attitudes and actions reflect something of God’s divine love and power to people in need and this especially in God’s wisdom & love to send “His only begotten Son into the world, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life…. …that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17)


(Let us pray:) Eternal and ever-loving God, while I seek to know, experience, and preserve the beauties and mysteries of this world, may my life embrace and reflect Your love and wisdom revealed through Your Son, Jesus Christ, this world’s crucified and risen Savior. Amen


The Innkeeper


“There was no place for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7


Scores of persons, who were the descendants of David, were converging on Bethlehem to comply with the census order of Emperor Augustus. Soon all the rooms in the inn were filled. And people kept coming, we surmise. What should the innkeeper do? Today he’d turn on the “No Vacancy” sign, lock up, and go to bed that evening.

Sometimes people condemn the innkeeper as heartless because he turned Mary and Joseph away in the hour of their need. His plight was similar to that of a present day motel operator when a blizzard blocks the main highway and all the stranded travelers want a room. It happened to us as we became stranded in Des Moines, the 1st real snow storm, in November.

Have you ever considered that perhaps the guests were selfish because they didn’t give their room to Mary, “being great with child,” ready to deliver her 1st born? Neither the innkeeper nor the guests could realize that this young woman would that night give birth to the Son of God! Mary and Joseph were just another couple, and Mary was just another expectant mother to them.

The innkeeper didn’t want to disturb the paying guests, and put them into the barn, and those who had rooms weren’t about to give up their comfort for the sake of an unknown couple.

Unconcern for people in need is the same today as it was on that 1st Christmas night. How much suffering and want could be prevented if people wouldn’t be so wrapped up in themselves. Even when you all it “non-involvement,” it’s still plain selfishness.

If I had been a guest in that Bethlehem inn on Christmas night, would I have given my room too Mary and Joseph, while I slept in the barn? You don’t have to answer the question. For it was God’s way of bringing His Son into our world… not with pomp and celebration; not with parades and bands playing; but in humble quietness. This was God’s way for us even in Jesus, who was rich, becoming poor for us that we might receive the richness of God, His righteousness.

That came about in full fruition in His suffering and death for us on the cross, -again God giving to us from His point of view rather than ours or that of the world. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”    (John 3:16)

I’d like to think that I’d give up my soft bed for people in need and want; and especially, I’d like to think that I’d give my bed, my home, my all to Jesus even if that meant that I would be sleeping in the barn! But God made it possible that I didn’t have to. Still, I pray that Jesus, my Savior, may live in my heart and make it a chamber fit for Him.


“Who is Our Christmas About?”


“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self….”             2 Timothy 3:-2

What a birthday party it turned out to be! Each of the guests gave himself a present, but the little boy whose birthday was being celebrated got nothing. When refreshments were served, the children ate all the ice cream and cake and the birthday boy got nothing. Everyone congratulated himself and wished himself well, but the little birthday boy was ignored!

Are we about to celebrate Jesus’ birthday party like that? People give Christmas gifts to themselves, their families, their friends. They entertain their guests and enjoy themselves. But what about Jesus? Where does He fit into their doings?

You might think it “tis the season to be selfish.” And, selfishness often characterizes the observance of the most unselfish act of God –the giving of His one and only begotten Son.  Some churches no longer have Christmas services because “people have other things to do on Christmas morning.” But what could be more important than to worship Christ on the day of His birth? What is more timely than loving God with our whole heart?

Everything God did at Christmas was unselfish. Jesus didn’t commandeer the best accommodations in Bethlehem; He stayed in a barn to be born in a manger. Birds and animals had more than Jesus, for He did not even have a place to lay His head. The words of Holy Scripture tell us that He borrowed the Palm Sunday donkey colt to ride into town; He rented the upper room where He instituted the Lord’s Supper. When He was arrested & put on trial, He had only the clothes on His back. He was crucified –not for His sins but for ours; He was buried in a borrowed grave. He lived for others; He died for others; He came to seek and to save; He came to serve.

It’s time again to put Christ back into Christmas and to celebrate Jesus’ birth. Because of our love for the One who loved us first, we will put Jesus first and worship Him unselfishly in our words and actions, not only on the day of His birth commemorated, but daily & every day that we have breath and opportunity. And God grants it to us for Jesus’ sake.

“Did He Get In?”

This Sunday begins the Advent Season, approaching the promised coming of Jesus Christ. The Apostle John in his Gospel text tells us that Jesus would come into the world -that He was in the world, and “the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God….”       John 1


A Devotion for the 1st week of the Advent Season:       

 “Did He Get In?”

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock.”    Revelation 3:20

In the well-known picture of Jesus knocking at the door, the artist has skillfully arranged the lights and shadows to form the outline of a heart, indicating that Jesus is asking entrance into the heart. When a little girl saw this picture, she asked, “Did He get in?”

Today many people refuse to answer their doorbell. Perhaps they are fearful of what stands on the other side or they’re simply too busy to bother. The executive is often “out” when he doesn’t care to see a visitor. We don’t want our privacy invaded. We tend to isolate ourselves from others… and sadly, our highly sophisticated technology allows us to do just that!

When Jesus knocks at the door of men’s hearts, He often finds that people don’t want to let Him in. St. John speaks of this in the words of his Gospel: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own people did not receive Him. But to all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God.” (John 1:10-12)

If Jesus were a meddler, an obnoxious person, a bore, a persistent salesman, or a nuisance, we might understand why some people might refuse to open their hearts to Him. But, my friends, He comes with blessings! He comes to bring peace, joy, and life to those who let Him in –who open their ears to His Word, their mouths to sing His praise, and their hearts that He may live therein.

This is Advent. Christ is coming -whether that means we celebrate His birth to a virgin mother or stay alert to His coming in the clouds with great power and glory. This is Advent and Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Will He get in?

The Psalmist sings a song that we may join in singing: “Lift up your heads, O gates! And be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in! Who is this King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty…. The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of glory.”  (Psalm 24:7-10)

The coming days are a time of joyful anticipation. Christ is coming! Already He knocks at the door of your heart that He may come in and be your Savior.

We pray:        Come into my heart, Lord Jesus, it is completely Yours.   Stay with me and bless me. Amen.

THE CHRISTIAN CREEDS: The Athanasian Creed

“Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith. Which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly.

And the catholic faith is this, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; Neither confounding the Persons, nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one: the glory equal, the majesty coeternal. Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreated, the Son uncreated, and the Holy Ghost uncreated. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet they are not three Eternals, but one Eternal. As there are not three Uncreated nor three Incomprehensibles, but one Uncreated and one Incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty. And yet they are not three Almighties, but one Almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods, but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord. And yet not three Lords, but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by Himself to be God and Lord, So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say, There be three Gods, or three Lords.

The Father is made of none: neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son: neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this Trinity none is before or after other; none is greater or less than another; But the whole three Persons are coeternal together, and coequal: so that in all things, as is aforesaid, the Unity in Trinity and the Trinity in Unity is to be worshiped. He, therefore, that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.

Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe faithfully the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the right faith is, that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God and Man; God of the Substance of the Father, begotten before the worlds; and Man of the substance of His mother, born in the world; Perfect God and perfect Man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His manhood; Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but one Christ: One, not by conversion of the Godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; One altogether; not by confusion of Substance, but by unity of Person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and Man is one Christ; Who suffered for our salvation; descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead; He ascended into heaven; He sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give an account of their own works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting; and they that have done evil, into everlasting fire. This is the catholic faith; which except a man believe faithfully and firmly, he cannot be saved.”

The Athanasian Creed, 6th century A.D. document, is a Christian statement of belief focused on Trinitarian doctrine and Christology. The Latin name: Quicunque vult, is taken from the opening words, "Whoever will". It is the first creed in which the equality of the three persons of the Trinity is explicitly stated and differs from the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds in the inclusion of anathemas, or condemnations of those who disagree with the creed as in the case of the Arians who denied the co-eternity and co-essentiality of Christ with God, the Father.

Arius & his followers argued that God is an abstract “monad,” alone unbegotten, without equal, eternal, unchangeable, ineffable, transcendental, and removed from the world by an impassable gulf. He could not create the world directly because of the total transcendence and inaccessibility of God. To bridge the chasm, Arius held that God created out of nothing, “before all times and eons,” an intermediate being, exalted above other creatures, thru whom He made the world and all things. This being is called the Son of God, the Logos, but he is not true God, true power (dynamis); he’s “not eternal,” but “dissimilar” (anomoios) in all respects from the essence of the Father. He is a perfect creature, yet not inherently sinless, but was capable of moral progress, choosing the good and continuing therein. He did not “fully know the Father nor his own nature.” In time this imaginary being assumed a human body, but not a human soul & redeemed humanity by showing how, as free moral agents, men might choose the good and become sons of God.

The formula of faith proposed by the Arians was summarily rejected and today, we adhere to the dedicated words of the Athanasian Creed and commonly use it once a year on Trinity Sunday to declare our faith in the Triune God: one in essence but three persons : Father , Son, and Holy Spirit. In Lutheranism, the Athanasian Creed is—along with the Apostles' and Nicene Creeds—one of the three ecumenical creeds placed at the beginning of the 1580 Book of Concord, the historic collection of authoritative doctrinal statements (confessions) of our beloved Ev. Lutheran Church.

The Shield of the Trinity, a visual representation of the doctrine of the Trinity, derived from the Athanasian Creed. The Latin reads: "The Father is God, The Son is God, The Holy Spirit is God; God is the Father, God is the Son, God is the Holy Spirit; The Father is not the Son, The Son is not the Father, The Father is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the Father, The Son is not the Holy Spirit, The Holy Spirit is not the Son."

Finally, The Athanasian Creed was popular among monks of the Middle Ages who considered it well adapted to meditation and memorizing. In the time of Charlemagne it came to be used as a canticle at Prime. Luther called this Confession the grandest production of the Church since the times of the Apostles.

Do you know what LWML stands for? The Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. They use the following words as a Pledge stating their Mission and Purpose: “In fervent gratitude for the Savior’s dying love and His blood-bought gift of redemption, we dedicate ourselves to Him with all that we are and have; and in obedience to His call for workers in the harvest fields, we plege Him our willing service wherever and whenever He has need of us. We consecrate to our Savior our hands to work for Him, our feet to go on His errands, our voice to sing His praises, our lips to proclaim His redeeming love, our silver and our gold to extend His kingdom, our will to do His will, and every power of our life to the great task of bringing the lost and the erring into eternal fellowship with Him.”

The Nicene Creed

I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.    And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made. Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.     And I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life; who proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets. And I believe in one holy Christian and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen.

The origin of the Nicene Creed goes back to AD 325, during the Church's Council of Nicaea. It was during this period that Arius attacked the church's teaching saying that Christ is not true, essential, natural God, of one eternal divine essence with God the Father. Arians say Christ is only adorned with divine majesty inferior to, and beside, God the Father.

To set the record straight, the Council of Nicaea studied the matter of Christ's divinity with the Father and professed that the Father and Son were both co-eternally and co-equally God. Hence, the Nicene Creed confesses that Christ is God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God being on one substance with the Father.

In the 16th century, during which time the Christian Church was under The Reformation and seeking to return to its orthodox roots, The Augsburg Confession, a statement of what Lutherans believe & teach, opens with the following: Our churches teach with common consent that the decree of the Council of Nicaea about the unity of the divine essence and the three persons of the Trinity is true. God is one divine essence.

The Council of Nicaea began in June of 325 with 250 church bishops gathered together from the empire and continued for over a month. The opening address was delivered by Constantine, who advised the delegates to put away all strife and discord. The Christian Church regards the resolve and profession of the Council of Nicaea as the most important event of the 4th century.  It forms an epoch in the history of doctrine, summing up the results of all previous discussions on the deity of Christ and the incarnation. It also put an anathema on Arius & his followers.

But all was not satisfied in 325. In 451, The Council of Chalcedon gathered to make minor changes in the Nicene Creed regarding the Third Article by asserting the true divinity of the Holy Spirit. The resulting document was called The Constantinopolitan Creed.

But then a third document was introduced which differed from the two former ones by including the word: filioque and the Son. In concerns the fact of the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son. The Apostles' Creed begins the 3rd Article saying: I believe in the Holy Spirit. To this the Constantinopolitan Creed added, who proceedeth from the Father. Now this third revision of the Nicene Creed read as: who proceedeth from Father and the Son. This addition however, made a permanent schism between the Roman Catholic Church “the Western Orthodox Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church wherein the Greek Church excludes and the Son“ holding to the sole rule of the Father and the single procession of the Spirit.

The Nicene Creed is more theological and polemical than the Apostles Creed and echoes the sharp distinctions (i.e., co-equal; co-eternal; begotten, not made) drawn by the orthodox against the heresies of the time.

Next time we will look at the Athanasian Creed, the 3rd Ecumenical Creed of the Christian faith.

In the meantime, I welcome you to come & worship with us. Hear the message of God's great love for you, a dying/risen love, an unconditional love, and everlasting life-giving love.