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 were 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.'
I begin today with this quote from Lockwood: “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!”
“[Martin] Luther insists that the life of faith is purely passive. By this he does not mean that faith is inactive, since he also insists that faith is ‘a living, busy, active, mighty thing.’ What he means is that it is receptive. On the one hand, it receives from God a righteousness that is not its own but comes through the merits of Christ. On the other hand, the very faith by which it receives this righteousness is also a gift. A person must receive it through the working of God's Spirit. (211) …
“In order to create faith in us and build the church God must carry out a twofold work. He must put to death the idolatrous sinful self, and plant in its place a new believing self. (212) … Note well: that God does the verbs or the action words of putting to death and planting. Luther refers to this as God's alien and proper work, and attributes both to the Holy Spirit. God's alien work is the work of his Law, by which he puts to death our idolatrous sinful nature. (212) …
“Luther talks about four ways in which God instructs us toward salvation: he terrifies by threats, comforts by promises, admonishes by afflictions, and attracts by benefits. This is an elaboration of the alien and proper work of God. … [God's] proper work is to work life and salvation by creating in us the kind of faith that grasps hold of God's mercy. This faith is a new work of creation. We receive this faith simply by hearing the Word.  … Faith in the true God brings with it hope and love.” 
I end where I began: “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.
This has been Pastor Ricky Jacob of Jesus Our Savior Lutheran Church and preschool, of Winnebago. I close with the words from the eighth chapter of the Gospel according to John: “To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31–32 (NIV84)