“What a burden to engage in ministry by my own strength, to strive by my own power to instill faith and its fruits in myself and others!” But how liberating to know that God feeds our faith and makes it fruitful by his Holy Spirit through the Word.
In this season of resolutions and self-help, where we focus so heavily on ourselves, let’s delve into idolatry - putting something (or someone) else in the place of God.
These seven weeks are brought to you by Pastor Ricky Jacob, who serves the Native community of Winnebago, Nebraska.
Greetings to you in the Name of our Triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit!
I have been reading a book by Michael Lockwood, entitled 'The Unholy Trinity.' Now, just who makes up this Unholy Trinity? The Unholy Trinity is 'Me, Myself, and I.'
'The best way to detect a forgery is to be intimately acquainted with the original, so you can tell the difference between it and a fake. The same is true with idolatry. The best way to recognize an idol is to know the true God.'
Each and every person has been born with a natural knowledge of God, however this truth does not inform one of who God is. This knowledge comes from only one place: the Sacred Word of God. And yet, man's natural knowledge of God attempts to form God in a way that is similar to his/her Creator.
Throughout these weeks we will learn:
The idol of the Self and Providence. God the Father is the one who provides us with all good things; all who think they can provide for their own creaturely needs apart from him are idolaters.
The idol of the Self and Love. Our heavenly Father calls us to love him above anything else; all who love themselves more than him are idolaters.
The idol of the Self and Justification. Jesus Christ just justify us sinners with a righteousness that is not our own; all who attempt to justify themselves are idolaters.
The idol of the Self and the Worship of God Incarnate. No one can know or come to the Father except through his incarnate Son, who comes to us now through the means of the Gospel; all who devise their own path to God or worship of God apart from Christ incarnate are idolaters.
The idol of the Self and God's Word. The Holy Spirit reveals God to us through his Word; all who bypass the Spirit-breathed Word and attempt to know God by means of their own reason are idolaters.
The idol of the Self and Repentance The Spirit must free us from our idols and create true faith in us; all who think they can produce true faith and its fruit without relying at all times on him are idolaters.
This has been Pastor Ricky Jacob of Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Church and preschool, of Winnebago. I close with the words from the third chapter of Proverbs: “'Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight" [Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV].
This devotion series is brought to you by Pastor Ricky Jacob, serving the Winnebago people at Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Church and Preschool. (Need to go back to week 1, click here.)
You can read the devotion below, or listen to it here.
Throughout this series, I have been addressing those who are the head of the family and their God-given calling and responsibility to instruct their household in spiritual matters. The basis for our reflection today is on one or two of the commands that Creator God inscribed in stone and first gave to Moses.
Today we will focus on these words: "You shall not covet your neighbors house, nor his wife or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor."
First, a definition of coveting is in order: Coveting is the sinful desire in our hearts to acquire for ourselves anything that belongs to our neighbor. It is also the desire to draw away from our neighbor for our own benefit anyone who is important to our neighbor.
A songwriter once put this command to music, here are the words:
"You shall not crave your neighbor's house nor covet money, goods, or spouse.
Pray God He would your neighbor bless As you yourself wish success."
Have mercy, Lord!
[LSB #581 These Are the Holy Ten Commands ML]
The opposite of coveting is being content. Are you content with the gifts that God has given you? or do you want more? When you have one desire fulfilled do you immediately set your heart on something else? The millionaire or billionaire is seldom content, he or she either craves more and more, bigger and better, or he or she lives in fear that others are out to get what they have.
Dr. Martin Luther taught his flock this simple explanation of this command of God:
We should fear and love God so that we do not scheme to get our neighbor’s inheritance or house, or get it in a way which only appears right, but help and be of service to him in keeping it. Nor should we entice or force away our neighbor’s wife, workers, or animals, or turn them against him, but urge them to stay and do their duty.
Being content with the blessings of what one has is a gift from God. When Job lost most of his vast earthly possessions he declared: "The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord!" In the Lord's Prayer, Jesus taught that we should pray for our daily bread, not our daily lottery or power ball winnings! The believer in Christ is more than content through faith in Jesus as Savior and the hope of life everlasting!
This has been Pastor Ricky Jacob of Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Church and preschool, of Winnebago. I close with the words of God: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love." [1st John 4:16b-18 NIV]