Friday, December 30, 2011

Did Jesus Bring Peace or Division? --- hymn and devotion based on Luke 12:49-59

“I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
He also said to the crowds, “When you see a cloud rising in the west, you say at once, ‘A shower is coming.’ And so it happens. And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, ‘There will be scorching heat,’ and it happens. You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?
“And why do you not judge for yourselves what is right? As you go with your accuser before the magistrate, make an effort to settle with him on the way, lest he drag you to the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer put you in prison. I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the very last penny.”

(Luke 12:49-59 ESV)


The comedian and actor, Jim Carrey, in an interview on 60 Minutes, once said, “I’m a Buddhist, I’m a Muslim, I’m a Christian. I’m whatever you want me to be . . . it all comes down to the same thing.” Jesus would disagree. Jesus has already warned us about hypocrisy and greed in chapter 12, two things that can move us away from our devotion to Christ. Now Jesus warns us about the truth of his ministry in the world, which brings division to the world, not peace. Just as hypocrisy and greed can cause us to fall away from Christ, so too can the desire to get along and be at peace with everyone move us away from our devotion to Jesus.

But didn’t Jesus come to bring peace by reconciling us to God? Yes! But this peace with God comes only to those who receive and welcome his Son as Lord and Savior. The gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection comes to lost, condemned sinners, who must make a decision about Jesus. Thankfully, some receive him by grace, and the Spirit comes to dwell in their hearts. But others do not receive him and so they remain in Adam and under God’s just condemnation. The gospel of Jesus Christ divides the world, and this is what Jesus spoke of when he said, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Verses 1 and 2 of the hymn below, explain how Jesus himself was baptized by fire. Jesus endured a bloody baptism at the cross, bearing God’s fiery wrath that we deserved. He took our place and bore the righteous penalty our sin deserved. The debt we owed, Jesus paid at the cross, even down to “the very last penny” (v. 59), so that we might be released from our debt to God. What a joy it is to be right with God, to have a clear conscience, and have peace with him!

Verse 3 reminds us of the pain and suffering confessing Christ in the world can cause. Confessing Christ in the world brings division, and this division often occurs in families. Although our faithfulness to Christ and his Word may sometimes cause us to lose peaceful relations with our families, the reward of Christ’s favor and life are far more important and valuable.

The last verse of the hymn is a commentary on verses 54-59. We need to understand the times in which we live. All of us are on a journey which will bring us face to face with our Creator and Judge, Jesus Christ. The problem we face is that we stand guilty before this Judge. Our case is hopeless before him, for the law accuses us of not having loved God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. Unless we turn to Christ in repentance and faith, we will experience God's just penalty of eternal death. Therefore, it is imperative that we get right with God before we stand in court to meet him. Thankfully, we can get right with the Judge, because the Judge was willing to be the Savior of those who put their trust in him and welcome him as their Lord and Savior.

Do you know the time in which you are living? More importantly, has the Judge become your Lord and Savior, whom you trust and love. On which side of the divide do you stand?

Praise Our Lord Who Has Accomplished

To the tune: ALLE MENSCHEN MUSSEN STERBEN (click on All men living are but mortal 601). Based on Luke 12:49-59. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Praise our Lord who has accomplished
our salvation, our release.
Fiery judgment He endured it,
so we might have grace and peace.
Baptized with God’s righteous anger,
Christ our Lamb has earned us favor.
Praise the Lord who took our place,
bore our sins and deep disgrace.

v. 2
Why did Jesus have to suffer?
Why was Jesus crucified?
Adam’s pride and deep rebellion
can’t be swept and brushed aside.
Sin brought death and separation
from our God and condemnation.
But in grace the Father sent
Jesus Christ to pay our debts.

v. 3
Jesus’ gospel brings division,
for each person must decide.
All are lost, condemned in Adam,
’til they’re joined to Jesus Christ.
Though you lose your friends and fam’ly,
you will be rewarded amply,
if you come to Jesus Christ,
you will gain eternal life.

v. 4
Know the times in which we’re living:
we’re defendants brought to court.
Christ the righteous Judge is coming,
of His glory we fall short.
But the Judge will be our Savior,
in His grace He’ll grant us favor:
Come by faith, in Him abide,
in His blood be justified.

The Public Reading of Scripture

I found this pretty interesting and a bit depressing given our modern practice.  It comes from Lutheran scholar Arthur Just in his book on the liturgy called "Heaven on Earth."  He writes, "The reading of Scripture in the Word service in the ancient Church could last as long as an hour. (Today, the average length of time for the reading of all three of the lessons is between six and eight minutes! We moderns are in such a hurry.) This is why the Liturgy of the Word was called "the liturgy of the catechumens." Hearing the word of God within the Body of Christ for one hour was a significant act of formation for the catechumens and the baptized."

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Christ's Return and Our Service --- a hymn and devotion based on Luke 12:35-48

“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
Peter said, “Lord, are you telling this parable for us or for all?” And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will set him over all his possessions. But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is delayed in coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and get drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and put him with the unfaithful. And that servant who knew his master's will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.

(Luke 12:35-48 ESV)


This passage contains three parables of our Lord. All of them pertain to his second coming and our service as we await his coming. Once again, but not surprisingly given Luke’s emphasis on table fellowship (food is mentioned in every chapter of Luke’s Gospel), meals are prominent in two of these parables.

In the first parable (verses 35-38) we learn something amazing. At his return, Jesus will serve His people at the heavenly meal, the wedding supper of the Lamb. This is in keeping with the humility of our Lord’s first coming when he came to serve and give his life a ransom for many, and it is in keeping with his continued service of his people through word and sacrament.

In the third parable (verses 42-48), Jesus shows how his people, and especially pastors and elders, are to care for his flock. The church of Jesus Christ is the household of God, and the ministers of the church are “set over his household,” so that they might “give them (his people) their portion of food at the proper time.”

Is it a coincidence that once again food is the theme? No, for Jesus Christ is the bread come down from heaven, and we receive Christ and his benefits through word and sacrament, the very thing Jesus entrusted first to the apostles and then to pastors and elders for the ongoing nourishment of his people.

Although this passage is first of all for the ministers of the church, the passage should also be applied to all Christians as they seek to serve the risen Lord. The Christian life is too high and holy for us to live, however, and this is why we must live in close communion with our risen Lord. Only because we are united to his death and resurrection can we live a new kind of life of service to others --- a life fitting for those who have died to the old life and belong to the new creation. The last three verses of the hymn try to show how the passage may be applied not only to pastors, but also to parents, and to every Christian as they serve the church and the world.

Jesus Christ Will Come Again

To the tune: ABERYSTWYTH ( Based on Luke 12:35-48. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Jesus Christ will come again,
risen King the Judge of men.
Let His servants be at work,
let them not their duty shirk.
Pastors, teach the Word of God,
point to Christ who shed His blood.
Let the little lambs be fed,
nourish them with heav’nly Bread.

v. 2
God the Son eternally,
came in great humility,
took our nature and He served,
died our death though undeserved.
This is love beyond compare,
in His death and life we share.
In His resurrection life,
others serve as shining lights.

v. 3
Christian, in your Lord abide,
serve in strength that He provides;
died and risen with your Lord,
living by His every word.
Humbly serve and imitate,
in the kingdom this makes great;
serve and suffer like your Lord,
He will be your great reward.

v. 4
Pastors, give the Word and meal,
Jesus Christ can sinners heal.
Fathers, give your children Bread,
pray to Jesus they be led.
Catechize the young and old,
who belong to Jesus’ fold.
Plant and water, sow the seed,
for lost sinners intercede.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jesus' Little Flock and the Father's Favor --- hymn and devotion based on Luke 12:22-34

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

(Luke 12:22-34 ESV)


We can learn a lot from this passage by observing how Jesus looks at creation. Notice that he sees his Father’s hand in nature. According to Jesus, the Father feeds birds and clothes flowers. Jesus does not point to the evolution of ravens as an explanation for their survival, nor to evolution as an explanation of the beauty of the lilies. Rather, he sees his Father’s loving hand in creation.

Then, notice, how Jesus applies this to those who are his disciples through their faith in him. Jesus sees the Father’s care for the birds and the flowers as an indication of God’s love --- a love which we should apply to ourselves, who have a far higher status than birds and flowers! If we believe in the Son of God, then we too are sons, adopted children of Jesus’ Father, and we can count on his tender love. If the Father is loving to little flowers and little birds, then surely he will love and care for us, His Son’s little flock!

The emphasis of Jesus on food and clothing in this passage about the kingdom is instructive. How do we enter into Jesus’ kingdom? We enter through baptism and faith, and baptism is likened by Paul to being clothed: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:27). Once we are clothed in Christ and have entered his kingdom, how are we sustained in his kingdom? We are sustained as we feed on the Bread of life, whose body and blood are true food and true drink.

Although Luke 12:22-34 is teaching us that our Father will clothe, feed, and care for all our physical needs, even more, the passage is pointing to our Father’s spiritual care of his children. The hymn below emphasizes both, but it especially focuses on the Father’s tender favor and delight in giving us the kingdom his Son has won. After emphasizing these truths in the first five verses of the hymn, the last verse focuses on our response to the Father’s grace to us in Christ.

Don’t Be Anxious Little Flock

To the tune: CANTERBURY. Based on Luke 12:22-34. Words: William Weber, 2011.

Don’t be anxious little flock,
in the Father’s favor walk.
Baptized, clothed in Jesus Christ,
at His meal you’re given life.

v. 2
Don’t be anxious little flock,
in the Father’s favor walk.
In the Son we now abide,
clothed in Him and justified.

v. 3
Don’t be anxious little flock,
in the Father’s favor walk.
In His Son He will provide,
food and drink to satisfy.

v. 4
Don’t be anxious little flock,
God, His Son, He spared Him not.
Gift of love beyond compare,
trust Your Father’s gracious care.

v. 5
Don’t be anxious little flock,
to the Father you belong.
He will clothe and He will feed,
He will care for all your needs.

v. 6
Seek the Father and the Son,
and the kingdom He has won.
Give your wealth, in heav’n invest,
then you will be truly blessed.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

No Sex Please, I'm British - Reformation21 Blog

No Sex Please, I'm British - Reformation21 Blog

When God Calls You a Fool --- hymn and devotion based on Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Man, who made me a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
(Luke 12:13-21 ESV)


This is a profound parable. God calls the man in this parable a fool because he lived for the wrong things. This man thought that the purpose of life was the accumulation of wealth and possessions, but the purpose of life is to live for our Creator and Redeemer---to know the Father and the Son, for this is eternal life (John 17:3). There is great irony in this parable. As Philip Ryken says, “How ironic that a man who gives not one thought to God must still answer to God for his very soul.”

Verse 1 of the hymn echoes Jesus’ warning against greed. O how we must guard our hearts to make sure that we love the Father above the things of this world! Only by the Holy Spirit’s help can we make it the goal of our lives to live for Christ and not ourselves or the things of this world.

The man in the parable made possessions and riches his goal, but God created us so that we might be rich toward him. Because of sin, only Jesus can make poor sinners rich. Our identification with Christ makes us spiritually rich, for in Christ we are not only forgiven, but we are also justified, sharing Jesus’ status and favored position with the Father.

Verses 3 and 4 of the hymn contrast the wise and foolish. The foolish live for themselves; but the wise live to glorify God and serve others. The foolish live only for this passing life; but the wise live for the life to come and the prize of the resurrection. The foolish forget God and live every day as if he did not exist; but the wise seek to know the Father and Son, spending time each day in the Word and in prayer. The foolish are spiritually dead even as they physically live; but the wise find life in their union with the risen Christ, and they seek to share his life and love with others every day.

Be Careful of All Kinds of Greed

To the tune: AZMON. Based on Luke 12:13-21. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Be careful of all kinds of greed,
our Lord and Savior taught.
For life is not in what we have,
in things that can be bought.

v. 2
For Jesus is eternal life,
who makes us rich toward God.
In Him are sinners justified,
forgiven through His blood.

v. 3
The foolish man lives for himself,
and only for this life;
forgets the God who gives all things,
his withered soul has died.

v. 4
The wise man will be generous,
his soul is satisfied.
He finds his life in knowing God,
he seeks the heav’nly prize.

Knox/Robinson for today | The Briefing

Knox/Robinson for today The Briefing

This article is about the Knox/Robinson view of the church.  I became familiar with Knox's writings six or seven years ago.  Given the problems that we continue to have with denominations in our country, and that many of us have experienced firsthand, the Knox/Robinson view is worth exploring.  I believe they are absolutely correct in their assertion that denominations, by strict biblical definition, are not churches, and when we accord them this status, as we often do (listen to how we speak of denominations as "the church") local churches are damaged.  While I don't agree with every aspect of the Knox/Robinson view, I believe their view, which originated in Australia, needs to be considered in the United States.  If you read the article, you will also find in Knox's understanding of the trinity, a needed corrective for the view of Piper, who at times presents a view of God that strikes me at least, as a bit narcissistic.  Another wonderful aspect of Knox's view is his understanding of the church as a heavenly assembly gathered around the risen Christ.  This New Testament understanding is very much lacking among us, and deserves attention.  I hope many of you will take the time to read this article which summarizes the view, and maybe even go on to read more of Knox, who saw things in Scripture that many of us have missed.  --Bill

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

God as Your Treasure

“When the Lord divided Canaan among the tribes of Israel, Levi received no share of the land. God said to him simply, `I am thy part and thine inheritance,’ and by those words made him richer than all his brethren, richer than all the kings and rajas who have ever lived in the world. And there is a spiritual principle here, a principle still valid for every priest of the Most High God.

The man who has God for his treasure has all things in One. Many ordinary treasures may be denied him, or if he is allowed to have them, the enjoyment of them will be so tempered that they will never be necessary to his happiness. Or if he must see them go, one after one, he will scarcely feel a sense of loss, for having the Source of all things he has in One all satisfaction, all pleasure, all delight. Whatever he may lose he has actually lost nothing, for he now has it all in One, and he has it purely, legitimately and forever.”

- A.W. Tozer (1897-1963)
taken from: The Pursuit of God

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Leaven of the Pharisees --- Hymn and devotion on Luke 12:1-12

In the meantime, when so many thousands of the people had gathered together that they were trampling one another, he began to say to his disciples first, “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. Nothing is covered up that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
“I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.
“And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God. And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”

(Luke 12:1-12 ESV)


Hypocrisy is a foolish sin. It cares more about pleasing men than it does about pleasing God. It cares more about outward appearance than the condition of the heart. It forgets that we all must give an account to God, who sees the condition of our hearts just as readily as He sees the work of our hands. Verses 1 and 2 of the hymn below address this topic that we see in the first three verses of our text.

The third and fourth verse of the hymn deals with the anxiety we feel over our sin when we realize that our secret sins will be revealed for all to see on the day of judgment. In order to survive that day we need a Savior, and his name is Jesus Christ. All who trust in the Son and confess him before men are given assurance from our passage, that God is their Father and Christ is their Lord who will acknowledge them on that day.

Verse 5 of the hymn deals with the reality of hatred and persecution that we meet in the world if we confess his name before others. Ultimately, all men can do is kill the body, and death has become for us in Christ an entrance into the life of the age to come. This eternal life will be far better than this poor life on earth, where sin has wreaked so much havoc and men live in defiance of the true God.

The last verse of the hymn picks up on verse 12 of the text. In order to live a courageous life for Jesus in a world that is set against him, we must live in the power of Christ’s resurrection life. His risen life comes to us through the Holy Spirit, who lives both in heaven and in our hearts by faith. He is able to join us to our risen Lord and his life in heaven even now. Here is our help in our weakness for living a new kind of life during our short sojourn here on earth.

Leaven of the Pharisees

To the tune: NUN KOMM, DER HEIDEN HEILAND. Based on Luke 12:1-12. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Leaven of the Pharisees,
is the sin, hypocrisy.
Caring more how they appeared,
Sov’reign Father, be our fear.

v. 2
For our hearts will be revealed,
nothing on that day concealed:
Christ the Judge upon His throne,
every secret will be known.

v. 3
Fear the Lord and trust His grace,
for He came to save our race.
Though our sin is very great,
Jesus’ death propitiates.

v. 4
Fear the Father, not mere man,
even sparrows in His hand.
He who gave His Son for us,
is a God that we can trust.

v. 5
Tempted to our Lord deny,
how we cling to this poor life.
But the life to come is best,
in His glory we’ll be blessed.

v. 6
Jesus, send the heav’nly Dove,
He who joins to You above.
In our hearts Your life begin,
help us speak Your name to men.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Responsibility of Christian Ministers --- A Devotion and Hymn Based on Luke 11:45-54

One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”
As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.
(Luke 11:45-54 ESV)


When Adam was placed in the garden, he was a priest and king unto God. He lived in a temple-garden, and like a good priest, he was supposed to guard the temple from defilement. He also was a king, who ruled for God on earth. He was given the responsibility of judging between good and evil. But Adam failed to judge and cast out the serpent who invaded the temple of Eden. Adam failed in his role as priest and king.

This understanding of Adam’s role, which we glean from Genesis 1-3, but also other places in Scripture that comment and allude to these beginning chapters, are vital in understanding Jesus Christ’s work. Jesus is the final Adam, the Priest and King who judges Satan and his seed. When he pronounces woe on the false teachers of Israel, he is doing the work of judging that Adam failed to do as God’s priest and king. Verse 1 of the hymn below sings of Jesus in his role as the last Adam.

Verse 2 of the hymn applies the teaching of Jesus in our text to the teaching office of the church. James 3:1 say that teachers will be judged more strictly than others. Ministers of Christ must be willing to suffer, even as the prophets and apostles suffered. They suffered because they were God’s spokesmen. Jesus Christ, of course was the Prophet, Apostle and Teacher above all others, and all true teachers follow in his path of suffering, hatred, and persecution. If ministers preach and teach the law in all its severity, and the gospel in all its sweetness, then they too will experience some measure of opposition from the world, which, sadly, is found even in the church!

The final verse emphasizes the truth that Jesus is the key that opens up Scripture’s meaning, and thus, eternal life. A religious teacher’s responsibility is to open God’s kingdom to their hearers. If they fail to do this then they fall under Jesus’ woe, which he pronounced upon the religious teachers in his own day. Jesus is the eschatological (end times) Prophet that the Old Testament promised, and as such, Christian teachers must listen only to Him as they point only to Him, who alone can give eternal life.

A Woe to All False Teachers, the Son of Man Pronounced

To the tune: PASSION CHORALE O Sacred Head, Now Wounded. Based on Luke 11:45-54. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
A woe to all false teachers,
the Son of Man pronounced,
departing from the gospel,
which God the Son announced.
For Christ, the final Adam,
must judge the serpent’s seed,
for Adam failed to cast out,
but Jesus Christ succeeds.

v. 2
For to a higher standard
must ministers adhere;
and heed God’s Word that’s written,
and live in godly fear;
and like their Lord and Master,
must follow suff’ring’s way,
the path of all true teachers,
who teach both law and grace.

v. 3
All praise to our Lord Jesus,
who opens heaven’s door.
For He’s the Key unlocking,
salvation for the poor.
He is the final Prophet,
God’s Wisdom from on high.
In Him apostles, prophets,
proclaimed eternal life.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Giving those Things that Are Within --- A Hymn and Devotion Based on Luke 11:41

But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. (Luke 11:41 ESV)


The comparison between giving all that is within us, our intellects, our desires, our wills, with the way we give our offerings is intriguing. The problem is that because of the original sin which still clings to us, even if we are born from above, all that is within us is so far from what it should be. Perhaps, then, we should give our hearts to our Father who heals us with the expectation that he will give them back to us changed by grace and conformed more and more into the image of his Son.

This self-giving through the life and grace the Father imparts via the Spirit is a daily exercise. We won’t be perfected until we see Jesus as he is and our original sin is removed from us completely. Yet we should not be discouraged by the daily struggle to give our hearts to the Father, for Jesus’ risen life is available to us through the Spirit he has given us. Through his grace and the Spirit we can make this daily offering.

The hymn below fits well in a church setting as we give our offerings. Our financial giving should be preceded by the giving of ourselves, and then our financial giving will be accepted as pleasing in the Father’s sight. But if our giving of alms is preceded by the giving of our hearts, the giving of our hearts is preceded by the Father’s giving of His Son. It is in view of God’s mercies that we give ourselves to him, and this, says the Bible, is true worship!

Our Father, Now, We Off’rings Make

To the tune: WINCHESTER OLD. Based on Luke 11:41. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Our Father, now, we off’rings make,
a token of our love.
For every good and perfect gift
comes down from You above.

v. 2
Before we give these gifts to You,
we first would give our hearts.
As alms we give the things within,
though grace that You impart.

v. 3
Our hearts are not what they should be,
please breathe in them Your life.
You’ve given precious promises,
they’re yes in Jesus Christ.

v. 4
The Gift of gifts You’ve given us,
no price could e’er afford.
O may our alms of hands and heart,
in love to You be poured.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Qualified to Eat with Jesus? --- Hymn and Devotion Based on Luke 11:37-44

While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.
“But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

(Luke 11:37-44 ESV)


In verse 38, the Pharisee is amazed that Jesus did not wash his hands before the meal. Although the Old Testament nowhere required people to wash their hands before eating, this was a requirement the Pharisees had added to God’s law in their oral tradition. They thought a man would be unclean if he did not wash his hands before eating. Jesus appears to deliberately break the Pharisees’ tradition in order to expose their false teaching.

The Greek word for wash in verse 38, is the word baptizo, the word we use for baptize or baptism. Although the point is subtle, Luke’s use of baptism here indicates that before a man is ready to partake of communion with the Lord, he must first be baptized with the Spirit, who alone can cleanse and wash our hearts. Verse one of the hymn below makes the point that all people are like the Pharisees, for we are born as sinners, and our hearts are full of greed and wickedness. We need to be baptized and washed by the Spirit, who clothes us in the righteousness of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:27: “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.”). Only through this washing and work of the Spirit are we enabled to dine in fellowship with the Father and the Son.

A key verse in this passage is verse 41: “But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.” J. C. Ryle interprets this verse this way: “Give first the offering of the inward man. Give your heart, your affections, and your will to God, as the first great alms which you bestow, and then all your other actions, preceeding from a right heart, are an acceptable sacrifice, and a clean offering in the sight of God. . . . Give yourselves first to the Lord, and then He will be pleased with your gifts.” Verse 3 of the hymn speaks of offering our hearts to the Lord, but also recognizes that we cannot make this offering apart from the Spirit, who joins us to Jesus and his risen life.

The irony in our passage is that the Pharisees, who strived in their own strength for outward cleanness, were, in actuality, according to Jesus, unclean and sources of uncleanness to others. Contact with a grave in Numbers 19:16 rendered a person unclean for seven days, but Jesus says the Pharisees are unmarked graves. Not only are they unclean, but their teaching makes others unclean as well!

The final verse of the hymn looks at the positive side of this teaching, for Christians who are made clean in Jesus and have the Spirit can be sources of life to others through their witness to Jesus. The verse makes allusion to John 7:37-39: “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

Have Mercy on Our Fallen Race

To the tune: VATER UNSER IM HIMMELREICH (click on Vater unser). Based on Luke 11:37-44. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Have mercy on our fallen race,
O Jesus, Lord, send saving grace.
Our hearts are full of sin and greed,
disqualified with you to eat.
Baptize and wash and clothe we pray,
to live, commune with You always.

v. 2
The weighty matters of the Word,
God’s love and justice we have spurned.
Our pride and place is our concern,
His Way and Truth we have not learned.
Forgive us, Father, we repent
of hearts that are impenitent.

v. 3
The Spirit, Father, to us give
to share Your life and truly live.
Our hearts we offer unto You,
to give the worship You are due.
Without the Spirit we are dead,
who joins us to our living Head.

v. 4
Our Head is Jesus, risen high,
who gave His life a sacrifice,
and by His blood He makes us clean,
His Spirit pours for us to drink.
So from our hearts the waters flow,
that Father, Son, the world might know.

Here is the beginning of my post. And here is the rest of it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Two Hymns Based on Luke 11

Human Hearts Are Ever Wand’ring

To the tune: GALILEE. Based on Luke 11:14-28. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Human hearts are ever wand’ring
’til in Jesus they find rest,
’til His Spirit dwells within us,
promised Gift that is the best.

v. 2
Jesus came the Mighty Victor,
Satan’s works for us destroy.
Transfers sinners to His kingdom,
gives to them eternal joy.

v. 3
Safety only found in Jesus,
He is stronger than our foe.
For our Shepherd holds us firmly,
never will He let us go.

v. 4
Jesus sends the Holy Spirit,
raises sinners to new life.
For with Him we’ve died and risen,
and to live is Jesus Christ.

v. 5
Jesus, come and make Your dwelling
by Your Spirit in our hearts.
With Your Word our rule for living,
Risen King Your life impart!

The Light of Christ is Shining Bright

To the tune: GERALD. Based on Luke 11:29-36. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
The light of Christ is shining bright
upon this darkened world.
He died and rose to men a sign,
a summons to return.
Return to God, Creator blessed,
the Father of our Lord.
For Jesus is the way to Him,
the way to be restored.

v. 2
Incarnate wisdom has appeared,
a King who’s just and wise.
The end time Prophet has arrived,
His name is Jesus Christ.
He speaks the words that give us life,
He is the Son of God,
but humbly He assumed our flesh,
the Lamb without a spot.

v. 3
O church of Jesus Christ the Lord,
lift high the gospel light.
Lift high the cross, His saving death,
lift high His risen life.
Do not obscure or hide the light,
which gives eternal life.
In Word and sacramental sign,
exalt your Lord and Christ.

v. 4
O church proclaim the Word of God,
and stay away from error.
And pray for eyes that light receive,
for worship unimpaired.
Two means of grace are giv’n to us,
that Christ to us convey.
In faith we come to feast on Him,
His blessings to partake.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Great Quote from Luther on Preaching

"I preach as though Christ was crucified yesterday, rose from the dead today and was coming back tomorrow." (Martin Luther)

Freeing Our Lips from Their Awful Silence --- A Hymn Based on Luke 11:14-28

Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled. But some of them said, “He casts out demons by Beelzebul, the prince of demons,” while others, to test him, kept seeking from him a sign from heaven. But he, knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and a divided household falls. And if Satan also is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand? For you say that I cast out demons by Beelzebul. And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges. But if it is by the finger of God that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you. When a strong man, fully armed, guards his own palace, his goods are safe; but when one stronger than he attacks him and overcomes him, he takes away his armor in which he trusted and divides his spoil. Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

“When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, and finding none it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house swept and put in order. Then it goes and brings seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there. And the last state of that person is worse than the first.”

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

(Luke 11:14-28 ESV)

In this passage, Jesus cast out a demon. The demon had caused this poor man to be mute. This was an awful fate, for we were created as God’s image bearers to reflect the character of our God, and as it is abundantly clear in Scripture, our God is a God who speaks, unlike the mute idols that say nothing (Ps. 115:4-5). We were created to speak to God in prayer and praise, and for God to our fellow men.

Sadly, many of us are like this mute man, saying little to our Lord in prayer, praising Him seldom with our lips, and rarely speaking and singing the Word to others (Col. 3:16; 1 Pet. 4:11). But Jesus can change us and open our mute lips, just as he changed the mute man in Luke 11. The key to unlocking our mute lips is to enter into the kingdom Jesus brought by his death and resurrection. We enter this kingdom by hearing and believing the word of the gospel (Luke 11:28).

Once we have entered Jesus’ kingdom by faith, his kingdom life begins to work in us, for by the Spirit we are joined to the resurrected King. As we worship Him, we are conformed to his image, so that we become like him, for Psalm 115 teaches us that we become like the one we worship (Ps. 115:8). If we worship mute idols, then we will have little to say to the true God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ or little to say on his behalf. But if we worship the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit, then our lips will be opened to become what we were created to be---men and women who glorify God with their whole being, including their lips. May the resurrected Lord deliver us by His Spirit from the prison of our silence, even as he delivered this poor, mute man in Luke 11.

Father, Open Lips to Speak

To the tune: SAVANNAH. Based on Luke 11:14-28. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Father, open lips to speak,
for Your glory we would seek.
Free from idols that are mute,
may our mouths for You bear fruit.

v. 2
We were made to give You praise,
glorify You all our days.
But the devil longs to halt
mouths that Christ the Lord exalt.

v. 3
Just as Jesus opened lips,
freeing men from Satan’s grip.
So we pray to speak God’s Word,
that to Him men might return.

v. 4
By the Spirit Jesus won,
now His kingdom has begun.
Blessed are all who enter in,
kingdom life in them begins.

v. 5

What we worship we become
like the Lord or idols mum.
Hearing, speaking Lord, we seek,
ears to hear and mouths to speak.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Hymn about the Father's Generosity through His Risen Son --- Based on Luke 11:5-13

5 Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ 8 I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity[e] he will surely get up and give you as much as you need.

9 “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for[f] a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

(Luke 11:5-13)


Praise Our God the Gen'rous Giver

To the tune: NETTLETON Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Based on Luke 11:5-13.  Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Praise our God the gen'rous Giver,
hallowed be His bless-ed name.
Giving gladly to His children,
who by faith His blessings claim.
Ev'ry benefit and promise
finds a yes in Jesus Christ.
Boldly go then to Your Father,
ask and seek and you will find.

v. 2
O how loving is our Father,
longs to bless us through His Son.
For His Son is resurrected,
kingdom blessings for us won.
Risen life is found in Jesus,
through the Spirit that He gives.
Pow'r is given to His brothers,
so by faith and prayer we live.

v. 3
O how weak we are by nature,
born in Adam's sinful line.
But in Jesus we are transferred
from the darkness to the light.
Now as children of the Father
live in resurrection pow'r.
Live by prayer and by the Spirit,
near the Son in this last hour.

v. 4
Praise the Father for His kindness,
sparing not His only Son.
Praise the Son who won the kingdom,
sent the Spirit in His love.
Praise the Spirit who unites us
to our resurrected King,
for in Him is life and power,
that our Father we might please.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Hymn Based on Luke's Version of the Lord's Prayer

Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.” And he said to them, “When you pray, say:

“Father, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread,
and forgive us our sins,
for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.
And lead us not into temptation.”
(Luke 11:1-4 ESV)

Teach Us to Pray, Lord

To the tune: ADELAIDE Have Thine Own Way, Lord. Based on Luke 11:1-4. Words: William Weber, 2011.

v. 1
Teach us to pray, Lord,
teach us to pray:
honor Your Father,
hallow His name,
seek first His kingdom,
learn from His ways,
trust and adore Him,
all of our days.

v. 2
Father, You blessed us,
giving Your Son,
we are adopted,
through all He’s done.
Help us to trust You
for daily bread,
teach us in Jesus
to be content.

v. 3
Father, forgive us,
sin is a debt,
reaching to heaven
’til it is met.
But Your Son, Jesus,
canceled our debt,
put in our ledger
His righteousness.

v. 4
Father, forgiveness,
we would impart,
sign of a gracious,
justified heart.
No sin against us,
great as our own,
but in Your mercy,
Jesus atoned.

v. 5
Father, protect us,
’til we arrive
safe in Your kingdom,
through Jesus Christ.
Send forth the Spirit,
in whom we cry,
Abba, our Father,
gen’rous and kind.

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