Great news: God is not going to be fair to you. He's going to take all that is HIS and declare it to YOU now.
Sign Up Here to receive the Daily Devotions via Email!
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory.”
“Lord God, almighty, immortal, invisible, the mysteries of whose being are unsearchable: Accept our praises for the revelation which you have made of yourself, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons and one God; and mercifully grant that, ever holding fast this faith, we may magnify your glorious name; for you live and reign, one God, now and forever. Amen.” (John Dowden, Book of Common Prayer, Scotland; Suter, The Book of English Collects, p. 34.)
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Gracious and almighty Father, thank you for sending us the Spirit of truth, your Holy Spirit. There are plenty of lies surrounding us and within ourselves… all sourcing from the father of lies. Repent me and my brothers and sisters of giving any of them our ear. By your Spirit, make our ears hungry for and attentive to all that you have to declare to us… that we may delight in such an immeasurable heritage as is ours in your Son, Christ Jesus the Lord. Amen.
(We will once again present Luther's Preface. This is a long document and will be presented in parts. The current-day part will be in black font and the previously shown parts will be grayed out but still readable for the sake of continuity.)
Martin Luther, to all faithful and godly pastors and preachers: grace, mercy, and peace be yours in Jesus Christ, our Lord.
The deplorable, miserable conditions which I recently observed when visiting the parishes have constrained and pressed me to put this catechism of Christian doctrine into this brief, plain, and simple form. How pitiable, so help me God, were the things I saw: the common man, especially in the villages, knows practically nothing of Christian doctrine, and many of the pastors are almost entirely incompetent and unable to teach. Yet all the people are supposed to be Christians, have been baptized, and receive the Holy Sacrament even though they do not know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, or the Ten Commandments and live like poor animals of the barnyard and pigpen. What these people have mastered, however, is the fine art of tearing all Christian liberty to shreds.
Oh, you bishops! How will you ever answer to Christ for letting the people carry on so disgracefully and not attending to the duties of your office even for a moment? One can only hope judgment does not strike you! You command the Sacrament in one kind only, insist on the observance of your human ways, and yet are unconcerned whether the people know the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the Ten Commandments, or indeed any of God's Word. Woe, woe to you forever!
Therefore dear brothers, for God's sake I beg all of you who are pastors and preachers to devote yourselves sincerely to the duties of your office, that you feel compassion for the people entrusted to your care, and that you help us accordingly to inculcate this catechism in the people, especially the young. If you cannot do more, at least take the tables and charts for catechism instruction and drill the people in them word for word, in the following way:
First, the pastor should most carefully avoid teaching the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, the sacraments, etc., according to various texts and differing forms. Let him adopt one version, stay with it, and from one year to the next keep using it unchanged. Young and inexperienced persons must be taught a single fixed form or they will easily become confused, and the result will be that all previous effort and labor will be lost. There should be no change, even though one may wish to improve the text.
The honored fathers understood this well, and therefore they all consistently used one form of the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, and the Ten Commandments. We should do as they did by teaching these materials to the young and the common man without altering a single syllable and by never varying their wording when presenting or quoting them year after year.
So adopt whatever form you wish, and then stick with it at all times. If, however, you happen to be preaching to some sophisticated, learned audience, then you certainly may demonstrate your skill with words by turning phrases as colorfully and masterfully as you can. But with young persons keep to a single, fixed, and permanent form and wording, and teach them first of all the Ten Commandments, the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, etc according to the text, word for word, so that can repeat it after you and commit it to memory.
But those who refuse to learn are to be told that they are denying Christ and do not belong to Him. They are not to be admitted to the Sacrament, accepted as sponsors at Baptism, or allowed to exercise Christian liberty in any way. They should instead be simply directed back to the pope and his functionaries, yes, even to Satan himself. Moreover, their parents and superiors should refuse them food and drink, telling them that the prince is of a mind to expel such rude persons from his realm, and so on.
Of course we cannot, and we should not try to, force the Christian faith on anyone. Yet we should steadily keep on urging people toward it and help them know what is considered right and wrong in the society in which they want to live and earn their living. A person who wants to live in a certain city and enjoy its privileges should know and observe its laws, no matter whether he believes in them or is at heart a rogue or scoundrel.
Second, after they have well memorized the text (of the catechism), then explain the meaning so that they understand what they are saying. Do so again with the help of these charts or some other brief uniform method of your choosing; adhere to it and do not change a single syllable, as said above concerning the text, taking your time with it. For it is not necessary to teach everything at once, but one thing after the other. After they understand well the meaning of the First Commandment, proceed to the Second, and so on, otherwise they will be too overwhelmed to the point of remembering nothing.
Pastor Paul has written a helpful guide on learning the Small Catechism. Read it here!
“Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.”
—(II Peter 1:2,3)
* There are many patterns for devotions. This pattern has been followed by God’s people for centuries.
**The TRIP approach to prayer is based on the way Martin Luther prayed and taught others to pray. It was later developed by Walter and Ingrid Trobisch and then adapted by Mount Carmel Ministries (Alexandria, MN www.dailytext.com). The method is founded on scripture and easy to remember:
Yes, there are fish in Texas!
Reading a biblical text and then applying this method gives one a sound, simple way to form one’s prayers...not to mention that it helps one learn how to faithfully reflect on God’s Word and talk to God.
*** "Regret" is actually a very solid word, means deep sorrow, sorrow that makes one weep (the root word is “to weep”). Regrettably, I believe that Americans today have lost this sense of the word and for the most part – though not always – they use the word casually. To "repent" is to be turned around by God. "Repent" means "to have your mind and heart changed, to be converted". Luther recognized that scripture speaks of repentance both as the specific acts we change, and the deeper way God changes or "repents" us. Though our acts/works of repentance are certainly important, he still called them "little stuff, kinder (as in kindergarten) repentance". The big BIG work, the work that Christ brings about on and in us, is more lasting and goes deep, all the way to the heart, mind, and purse; he called this "anfechtung" the suffering & death of our will...so that Christ can raise us anew in HIS will. Lost sheep aren't very good at getting themselves found again...it takes the Shepherd to go after 'em and turn 'em around. So when it comes to repentance, our work might be good, but the work of the Master Carpenter Jesus is the BEST and most lasting...that's why I pray "repent me." This is also why we confess "I cannot, by my own understanding or effort believe in Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him; but the Holy Spirit calls me and does the work" (For you students of language and grammar: "repent" can ultimately not be a reflexive verb. God alone is the author of our repentance).
Scripture quotations are from NIV ©1978