The Festival of the Reformation
Text: Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
It smelled like a combination of a zoo and a butcher shop. It was dark, damp, and downright eerie. As he shuffled to the corner, he stumbled over several stray ribs and a jawbone. Then came the blast—a deafening cacophony of primal roars that nearly shattered his old eardrums and almost blew the last few gray hairs off his head. The beastly pride circled closer. Featherlike whiskers gently brushed against his arms, temporarily masking the dagger-like, fang-filled jaws. Cowering in the corner, there was nowhere to go and nothing to do . . . except one of the things he did best. Pray.
That’s how Daniel got there in the first place. Persian king Darius was duped by his administrators to publish a decree that for 30 days no person could pray to any god or man except to him. Sure! Why not make the decree? He was the king and he thought of himself as a god anyways. Sounded like a fun decree to make for a month! Unfortunately Darius forgot about one of his righthand men—Daniel. Daniel was that faithful, noble Jew that had served the Babylonian kingdom and now his Persian kingdom for more than 60 years. He was the one man who always seemed to help and never seemed to fail. Daniel was the one man he could always count on. But he was also one of the men that would not stop praying to the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no changing a law of the Medes and Persians, so Daniel had to go in the lions’ den. Darius hoped Daniel’s God whom he served could rescue him. Read the rest of this entry
Justified by Faith
Text: Romans 3:19-28
Go ahead. Go ahead and try to please God. Isn’t that what we all want? We are simple, small, frail creatures, but we all want the same thing. We want a right standing in God’s presence. We want a mighty, holy God to be happy. We want God to be pleased with us. We don’t want a God who fills the universe to look on us like a colony of ants and squash us with his divine boot. No. We want to be in a right relationship with God and we want him to be pleased. So go ahead. Try and please God. See what happens.
Martin Luther tried. He tried really hard. When Martin Luther was living in a monastery he would beat himself and starve himself, punishing himself almost any way he could think of. Why would a person ever do that, you might wonder? Well Martin Luther took God seriously. He took his relationship with God seriously too.
So when Martin Luther read the Scriptures he found that God says things like, “Be holy, because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” He knew of the descriptions of heaven in the Bible, where God is seated on his throne and surrounded by angels who are singing, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
As he found these things about God in Scripture, Luther became terrified. God is holy, mighty, and fills the earth with his glory. So how could Luther possibly please God? His life was filled with sin. Yes, he lived in a monastery. Yes, he was studying to be a priest. Yes, he studied Scripture daily. But he still wasn’t even close to holy. The more he learned about God, the more he learned how terribly he was falling short. In desperation, he resorted to attempts to literally beat the sin out of himself. But he couldn’t do it. Read the rest of this entry
Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel? . . . and Luther? . . . and Me?
Text: Daniel 6:10-12, 16-23
538 B.C. A man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Daniel. Daniel is a Jew living in exile in the land of Persia (formerly Babylon). Daniel is so distinguished among his peers though that Persian king Darius planned to make him second in command over the entire Persian Empire. This didn’t sit well with the Persian leaders.
So they concocted a plan to schmooze king Darius and convince him to make it a law that no one in the land could pray to any god or man except him. Unwittingly, Darius signed the dotted line. Now Daniel knelt in his upper room praying as he always did, yet this time he did so with his future in doubt and his life on the line.
2,059 years later. 1521 A.D. Another man is alone in his upper room. He’s kneeling. Humbly he implores his God to give him strength and courage. Dutifully he thanks his God for countless blessings. The man’s name is Martin—Martin Luther. Martin Luther is a German living in Germany which was part of the Holy Roman Empire—the empire ruled by Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. Luther was also living in the midst of the equally powerful empire of the Roman Catholic Church and Pope Leo X. Read the rest of this entry
Devotion Text: Revelation 14:6-7
A lot of people make a lot of money on trying to interpret the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Actually, a lot of those people make a lot of money convincing people they have some sort of secret to interpreting the book. In reality, while there are many crazy images and tons of vivid language in the Bible’s last book, the story is the same as the 65 previous–Christ is victorious and we will be victorious with him.
This is also the message of the Lutheran reformation. At that time, the Roman Catholic church had shuttered the Word of God from the people of God. By not allowing the Bible to be written in the native language of the people (all Bibles were in Latin the official language of the church), by not teaching what worship is (services were in, you guessed it, Latin), and by withholding forgiveness as something only a priest could do, the people were lost.
The message of the Reformation was that the Word of God and the forgiveness of God were for all people. The knowledge between the covers of the Bible should not be foreign and the blessings of God are not for sale–they are freely given to every “nation, tribe, language and people.”
So we, children of God and heirs of the Reformation, proclaim that message today. The end is near, brothers and sisters, and the time to work is short. So, with the angel depicted in Revelation and with the earnestness of Luther we “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come…who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” We spread that message of glory to others and we boldly confess the good news of the Gospel.
Prayer: You came to us in darkest night to make us children of the light; to make us in the realms divine, like your own angels, who around around you shine. Hallelujah! All this for us your love hath done; by this to you our love is won. For this our joyful songs we raise and shout our thanks in ceaseless praise. Hallelujah! –Martin Luther
Text: Mark 13:5-11
It’s one of the signs of the End Times that Jesus gave. People will be persecuted because of their faith. The walls will continue to feel like they are closing in on Christians. It won’t be easy.
Lest we fear or fret about our current situations in this country, we first must remember and give thanks for those who have endured such persecutions in the past. On this day, October 31st or Reformation Day, we take time to remember Martin Luther and the others who pioneered the Reformation of the Church.
We cannot fathom how difficult it was to face all the power and pressure of both the Roman Catholic Church and the Holy Roman Emperor. Jesus surely fulfilled his words with them:
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
So on this day we can give thanks for those who boldly stood for the truth of God’s Word. Even facing death and disaster, Martin Luther and others proclaimed: Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen.
As much as we might face persecution and pressure these days, it certainly is not as bad as it was in days past. However, it still is difficult and challenging today. Though the persecution is slightly more subtle, it is every bit as public with media and social media today. It can quickly feel like we are surrounded with nowhere to turn.
So our prayer on this day and every day is that God continues to send us his Holy Spirit to give us strength to speak and words to share that his good news and his truth might be clearly proclaimed to all!
Prayer: Holy Spirit, Comforter and Guide, continue to fill us with strength and courage to boldly proclaim the truth of your word. Give us the words to speak when we are sharing our faith. Help us to preserve the truth of your word for ages to come. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.