Dear Heavenly Father, you turned your back on your only Son when He suffered and died on the cross. You forsook Him so that all who place their faith in Jesus as Savior would never be forsaken. By your Spirit, draw us near to you, for Jesus’ sake, Amen.
“If someone wants to describe adequately the usefulness of pious, earnest prayer, he will, in my opinion, surely find a beginning more easily than a conculsion. Pious prayer offered in faith is familiar conversation with God.” (Johann Gerhard)
These opening words are of Johann Gerhard in answering the question: What is prayer? In the following seven, short devotions, we will be reflecting on the various teachings of Gerhard written roughly 400 years ago on the topic of prayer.
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].