31 October 2009
Scripture Readings: Matthew 5:33-37; 1 Samuel 16; Ephesians 4:15, 25
Question 112. What is God's will for us in the ninth commandment?
Answer. That I do not give false testimony against anyone, twist any one's words, or gossip or slander, or join in condemning anyone without a hearing or without just cause. Rather, in court and everywhere else, I should avoid lying and deceit of every kind; these are devices the devil uses, and they would call down on me God's intense wrath. I should love the truth, speak it candidly, and openly acknowledge it. And I should do what I can to defend and advance my neighbor's good name.
For discussion and reflection:
What are we still tempted to lie and how do we deal with that?
29 October 2009
28 October 2009
The very fact that several different positions may be bound to Scripture means that we cannot assert one interpretation of Scripture over another but are called to respect consciences in the community of faith on this matter. The emphasis of "conscience-bound" is not on declaring oneself to be conscience-bound; rather it is that we recognize the conscience-bound nature of the convictions of others in the community of Christ. With those words, the presiding Bishop of the ELCA, Mark Hanson, took his stand on the homosexuality issue that the denomination voted on recently. However, as we read in Al Mohler's post from Monday, Luther had a very different view on a bound conscience:
The concept of being bound by conscience goes directly back to Martin Luther, the great Reformer who established what became known as the Lutheran tradition. On more than one famous occasion, Luther publicly took his stand and held his ground, claiming that his conscience was bound by the Word of God. He most famously made this case as he stood on trial before the Diet of Worms on April 18, 1521. Before the impaneled church leaders and the Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, Luther declared:"Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason ..., I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience."
Of course, Luther was not merely claiming to be bound by conscience. He was specifically claiming that his conscience was bound by the word of God. Luther, unlike the ELCA, believed that the Scriptures offer a very clear presentation of the Gospel and of moral and theological teachings. Luther affirmed the inspiration, authority, sufficiency, and clarity of the word of God and he took his stand on the authority of Scripture alone. The Word of God bound his conscience by its clear teaching.
How disappointing but not totally unexpected. Another denomination bites the dust. We live in a world of compromise and what's worse is that it seems "Christians" take the lead and show the world how to compromise with our deepest beliefs - the Word of God. May our consciences be bound completely and exclusively by the Holy Scriptures that the Lord has so graciously given to us. Read the entire article here.
27 October 2009
26 October 2009
24 October 2009
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 25:13-16; Ephesians 4:28; 2 Thessalonians 3:6-15
Question 110. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?
Answer. God forbids not only the theft and robbery which civil authorities punish, but God also labels as theft all wicked tricks and schemes by which we seek to get for ourselves our neighbor's goods, whether by force or under the pretext of right, such as false weights and measures, deceptive advertising or merchandising, counterfeit money, exorbitant interest, or any other means forbidden by God. In addition God forbids all greed and pointless squandering of his gifts.
Question 111. What does God require of us in this commandment?
Answer. That I do whatever I can for my neighbor's good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.
In what other ways an we describe "pointless squandering of gifts"?
How far should we go to "share with those in need"?
21 October 2009
1. Grab them with passion
2. Win them with love
3. Hold them with holiness
4. Challenge them with truth
5. Amaze them with God
Ultimately, if we're not oozing with passion ourselves for the Lord, we won't engage them. He concludes, If we are to grab the next generation with the gospel, we must grab them with passion. And to grab them passion, we must be grabbed with it ourselves. The world needs to see Christians burning, not with self-righteous fury at the sliding morals in our country, but with passion for God. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones put it, “I’m not looking for someone to set the world on fire. I want to know that if I dropped you in Thames it would sizzle.”
20 October 2009
So what's the outcome? Over half admit that they were "neglecting important areas of their life" due to spending too much time online. Over 12 percent believe that they are addicted to some form of electronic activity. 21 percent felt that their level of engagement with electronic activities at times caused a conflict with their Christian values.
Interesting stuff? How much time do you & I spend on Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or blogging or some other means of social networking? We need to ask ourselves this question and then ask ourselves if the time we spent was biblically wise or foolish. Are we wasting time or being productive for the Kingdom?
19 October 2009
17 October 2009
Scripture Readings: Romans 1:24-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-7; Philippians 4:8
Question 108. What is God's will for us in the seventh commandment?
Answer. God condemns all unchastity. We should therefore thoroughly detest it and, married or single, live chaste and decent lives.
Question 109. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?
Answer. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids everything which incites unchastity, whether it be actions, looks, talks, thoughts, or desires.
For study and reflection:
What can you eliminate from your life to reduce "looks, talks, thoughts, or desires" that would lead you to break this commandment?
16 October 2009
15 October 2009
13 October 2009
12 October 2009
10 October 2009
Scripture Readings: Genesis 9:5-7; Matthew 5:21-26, 43-48; Romans 13:1-7
Question 105. What is God's will for us in the sixth commandment?
Answer. I am not to belittle, insult, hate, or kill my neighbor not by my thoughts, my words, my look, or gesture and certainly not by actual deeds and I am not to be party to this in others; rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge. I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either. Prevention of murder is also why government is armed with the sword.
Question 106. Does this commandment refer only to murder?
Answer. God's prohibition of murder teaches us that God hates the root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness. In God's sight all such are hidden murder.
Question 107. Is it enough then that we not murder our neighbor in any such way?
Answer. No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to show patience, peace, gentleness, mercy, and friendliness towards them, to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.
For study and discussion:
Does this commandment forbid all killing? What would be an exception?
Should convicted murders sill be put to death? How about a pedophile?
08 October 2009
No wind can make it drive;
It lies where Thou art landed, Lord,
And where we shall arrive.
Poor sinner, the night is near, and appearances are very gloomy on the face of sea and land. The sea and its waves are roaring. Men’s hearts are beginning to fail them for fear(Luke21:26). The whirlwind which the Son of man is to send over the earth, as the herald of His coming, seems ready to burst forth. At present there is an ominous stillness — the stillness that precedes the thunderstorm. Are you meditating to flee? Is your hope this, that the storm will blow over at last? Alas! Alas! It never will; for the Living God will never die. Is it your hope that perhaps you may be drifted on the shores of heaven, though you were not directing your sails thitherward? This, too, is vain; for this storm is sent forth in order to drive vessels to the shoals of hell. Do you hope that you may brave it out, because you are not so heavily laden as others? Ah! But it is too true that one sin attracts the lightning, and one stroke of the thunderbolt will make way for the rushing flood. Oh, flee to the hope set before you! Flee from the wrath to come! Anchor on the sheltered shore! Rest on the Savior, who rests on the Father’s bosom! Return through Christ to God; and then, returning sinner, you will be welcomed to the Father’s bosom with the very welcome thatmet the returned Savior!
May we observe Bonar's call to flee the wrath to come and Anchor our souls on the sheltered shore!
06 October 2009
05 October 2009
04 October 2009
03 October 2009
Scripture Readings: Ephesians 6:1-9; Romans 13:1-7
Question 104. What is God's will for us in the fifth commandment?
Answer. That I show honor, love, and loyalty to my father and mother and all those in authority over me; that I submit myself with proper obedience to all their good teaching and correction; and also that I be patient with their failings, for through them God chooses to rule us.
For study and reflection:
How do we honor our parents if they are not believers?