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Monday, August 29, 2016

A Simple Way to Pray # 7

A Simple Way to Pray # 7

~Martin Luther~

The Seventh Commandment: You Shall Not Steal

The Seventh Commandment: "You shall not steal." First, I can learn here that I must not take my neighbor's property from him or possess it against his will, either in secret or openly. I must not be false or dishonest in business, service, or work, not profit by fraud, but must support myself by the sweat of my brow. Furthermore, I must see to it that in any of the above named ways my neighbor is not defrauded, just as I wish for myself. I also learn in this commandment that God, in his fatherly solicitude, sets a protective hedge around my goods and solemnly prohibits anyone to steal from me. Where that is ignored, he has imposed a penalty and has placed the gallows and the rope in the hands of Jack the hangman. Where that cannot be done, God himself metes out punishment and they become beggars in the end, as the proverb says, "Who steals in his youth, goes begging in old age," or, "Stolen gain goes down the drain."

In addition I give thanks for His steadfast goodness in that He has given such excellent teachings, assurance, and protection to me and to all the world. If it were for his protection, not a penny or a crumb of bread would be left in the house.

Third, I confess my sins and ingratitude in such instances where I have wronged, deprived, or cheated anyone in my life.

Fourth, I ask that He grant to me and all the world grace to learn from this commandment, to ponder it, and to become better people, so that there may be less theft, robbery, usury, cheating, and injustice and that the Judgment Day, for which all saints and the whole creation pray, Romans 8:20-23), shall soon bring this to an end. Amen

The Eighth Commandment: You Shall Not Bear False Witness
The Eighth Commandment: "You shall not bear false witness." This teaches us, first of all, to be truthful to each other, to shun lies and calumnies, to be glad to speak well of each other, and to delight in hearing what is good about others. Thus a wall has been built around our good reputation and integrity to protect it against malicious gossip and deceitful tongues; God will not let that go unpunished,as He has said in the other commandments.

We owe Him thanks both for the teachings and the protection which He has graciously provided for us.

Third, we confess and ask forgiveness that we have spent our lives in ingratitude and sin and have maligned our neighbor with false and wicked talk, though we owe him the same preservation of honor and integrity which we desire for ourselves.

Fourth, we ask for help from now on to keep the commandment and for a healing tongue, etc.

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments: You Shall Not Covet.
The Ninth and Tenth Commandments: "You shall not covet your neighbor's house." Similarly, "his wife," etc. This teaches us first that we shall not dispossess our neighbor of his goods under pretense of legal claims, or lure away, alienate, or extort what is his, but help him to keep what is his, just as we wish to be done for ourselves. It is also a protection against the subtleties and chicancries of shrewd manipulators who will receive their punishment in the end.

Second, we should render thanks to Him.

Third, we should repentantly and sorrowfully confess our sins.

Fourth, we should ask for help and strength devoutly to keep such divine commandments.

Conclusion of the Ten Commandments
These are the Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect, namely, as a school text, song book, penitential book,and prayer book. They are intended to help the heart come to itself and grow zealous in prayer. Take care, however, not to undertake all of this or so much that one becomes weary in spirit. Likewise, a good prayer should not be lengthy or drawn out, but frequent and ardent. It is enough to consider one section or half a section which kindles a fire in the heart. This the Spirit will grant us and continually instruct us in when, by God's Word, our hearts have been cleared and freed of outside thoughts and concerns.

Nothing can be said here about the part of faith and Holy Scriptures in prayer because there would be no end to what could be said. With practise one can take the Ten Commandments on one day, a psalm or chapter of Holy Scripture the next day, and use them as flint and steel to kindle a flame in the heart. 

A Simple Exercise for Contemplating the Creed

If you have more time, or the inclination, you may treat the Creed in the same manner and make it into a garland of four strands. The Creed, however, consists of three main parts or articles, corresponding to the three Persons of the Divine Majesty, as it has been so divided in the Catechism and elsewhere.

The First Article of Creation: "I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth."

Here, first of all, a great light shines into your heart if you permit it to and touches you in a few words what all the languages of the world and a multitude of books cannot describe or fathom in words, namely, who you are, whence you came, whence came heaven and earth. You are God's creation, his handiwork, his workmanship. That is, of yourself and in yourself you are nothing, can do nothing, know nothing, are capable of nothing. What were you a thousand years ago? What were heaven and earth six thousand years ago? Nothing, just as that which will never be created is nothing. But what you are, know, can do, and can achieve is God's creation, as you confess (in the Creed) by word of mouth. Therefore you have nothing to boast of before God except that you ae nothingand He is your Creator who can annihilate you at any moment. Reason knows nothing of such a light. Many great people have sought to know what heaven and earth, man and creatures are and have found no answer. But here it is declared and faith affirms that God has created everything out of nothing. Here is the soul's garden of pleasure, along whose paths we enjoy the works of God - but take too long to describe all that.

Furthermore, we should give thanks to God that in His kindness He has created us out of nothing and provides for our daily needs out of nothing - has made us to be such excellent beings with body and soul, intelligence, five senses, and has ordained us to be masters of earth, of fish, bird,and beast, etc. Here consider Genesis, chapters one to three.

Third, we should confess and lament our lack of faith and gratitude in failing to take this to heart, or to believe, ponder, and acknowledge it, and having been more stupid than unthinking beasts.

Fourth, we pray for a true and confident faith that sincerely esteems and trusts God to be our Creator, as this article declares.

The Second Article of Redemption: "And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord," etc.

Again a great light shines forth and teaches us how Christ, God's Son, has redeemed us from death which, after the creation, had become our lot through Adam's fall and in which we would have perished eternally. Now think: just as in the first article you were to consider yourself one of God's creatures and not doubt it, now you must think of yourself as one of the redeemed and never doubt that. Emphasize one word above all others, for instance, Jesus Christ, our Lord. Likewise, suffered for us, died for us, arose for us. All this is ours and pertains to us, that us includes yourself, as the word of God declares.

Second, you must be sincerely grateful for such grace and rejoice in your salvation.

Third, you must sorrowfully lament and confess your wicked unbelief and mistrust of such a gift. Oh, what thoughts will come to mind - the idolatry you have practiced repeatedly, how much you have made of praying to the saints and of innumerable good works of yours which have oppressed such salvation.

Fourth, pray now that God will preserve you from this time forward to the end in true and pure faith in Christ our Lord.

The Third Article of Sanctification: "I believe in the Holy Spirit," etc.  This is the third great light which teaches us where such a Creator and Redeemer may be found and plainly encountered in this world, and what this will all come to in the end. Much could be said about this, but here is a summary: Where the holy Christianchurch exists, there we can find God the Creator, God the Redeemer, God the Holy Spirit, that is, him who daily sanctifies us through the forgiveness of sins, etc. The church exists where the Word of God concerning such faith is rightly preached and confessed.

Again you have occasion here to ponder long about everything that the Holy Spirit accomplishes in the church every day, etc. Therefore be thankful that you have been called and have come intosuch a church. Confess and lament your lack of faith and gratitude, that you have neglected all this, and pray for a true and steadfast faith that will remain and endure until you come to that place where all endures forever, that is, beyond the resurrection from the dead, in life eternal. Amen

(The End)

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A simple Way to Pray # 5

A Simple Way to Pray # 5

~Martin Luther~

The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Kill

Here I learn, first of all, that God desires me to love my neighbor, so that I do him so bodily harm, either by word or action, neither injure nor take revenge upon him in anger,vexation, envy, hatred, or for any evil reason, but realize that I am obliged to assist and counsel him in every bodily need. In this commandment God commands me to protect my neighbor's body, and in turn commands my neighbor to protect my own. As Sirach says, "He has committed to each of us his neighbor" (Ecclus. 9:14)

Second, I give thanks for such ineffable love, providence, and faithfulness toward me by which he has placed this mighty shield and wall to protect my physical safety. All are obliged to care for me and protect me, and I, in turn, must behave likewise toward others. He upholds this command and, where it not observed, he has established the sword as punishment for those who do not live up to it. Were it not for this excellent commandment and ordinance, the devil would instigate such a massacre among men that no one could live in safety for a single hour - as happens when God becomes angry and inflicts punishment upon a disobedient and ungrateful world.

Third, I confess and lament my own wickedness and that of the world, not only that we are so terribly ungrateful for such fatherly love and solicitude toward us - but what is especially scandalous, that we do not acknowledge this commandment and teaching, are unwilling to learn it, and neglect it as though it did not concern us or we had no part in it. We amble along complacently, feel no remorse that in defiance of this commandment we neglect our neighbor, and, yes, we desert him, persecute, injure, or even kill him in our thoughts. We indulge in anger, rage, and villainy as though we were doing a fine and noble thing. Really, it is high time that we started to deplore and bewail how much we have acted like rogues and like unseeing, unruly, and unfeeling persons who kick, scratch, tear, and devour one another like furious beasts and pay no heed to this serious and divine command, etc.

Fourth, I pray the dear Father to lead us to an understanding of this His sacred commandment and to help us keep it and live in accordance with it. May He preserve us from the murderer who is the master of every form of murder and violence. May He grant us his grace that we and all others may treat each other in kindly, gentle, charitable ways, forgiving one another from the heart, bearing each other's faults and shortcomings in a Christian and brotherly manner, and thus living together in true peace and concord, as the commandment teaches us and requires us to do.

The Sixth Commandment: You Shall Not Commit Adultery

"You shall not commit adultery." Here I learn once more what God intends and expects me to do, namely, to live chastely, decently, and temperately, both in thoughts and in words and actions, and not to disgrace any man's wife, daughter, or maidservant. More than this, I ought to assist, save, protect, and guard marriage and decency to the best of my ability; I should silence the idle thoughts of those who want to destroy and slander their reputation. All this I am obliged to do, and God expects me not only to leave my neighbor's wife and family unmolested, but I owe it to my neighbor to preserve and protect his good character and honor, just as I would want my neighbor to do for me and mine in keeping with this commandment.

Second, I thank my faithful and dear Father for His grace and benevolence by which He accepts my husband, son, servant, wife, daughter, maidservant into his care and protection and forbids so sternly and firmly anything that would bring them into disrepute. He protects and upholds this commandment and does not leave violations unpunished, even though He himself has to act of someone disregards and violates the commandment and precept. No one escapes Him, He must either pay the penalty or eventually atone for such lust in the fires of hell. God desires chastity and will not tolerate adultery. That can be seen every day when the impenitent and profligate are overtaken by the wrath of God and perish miserably. Otherwise it would be impossible to guard one's wife, child, and servants against the devil's filthiness for a single hour or preserve them in honor and decency. What would happen would be unbridled immorality and beastliness, as happens when God in His wrath withdraws His hand and permits everything to go to wrack and ruin.

Third, I confess and acknowledge my sin, my own and that of all the world, how I have sinned against this commandment my whole life in thought, word, and action. Not only have I been ungrateful for these excellent teachings and gifts, but I have complained and rebelled against the divine requirement of such decency and chastity, that God has not permitted all sorts of fornication and rascality to go unchecked and unpunished. He will not allow marriage to be despised, ridiculed, or condemned, etc. Sins against this commandment are, above all others, the grossest and most conspicuous and cannot be covered up or whitewashed. For this I am sorry, etc.

Fourth, I pray for myself and all the world that God may grant us grace to keep this commandment gladly and cheerfully in order that we might ourselves live in chastity and also help and support others to do likewise.

Then I continue with the other commandments as I have time or opportunity or am in the mood for it. As I have said before, I do not want anyone to feel bound by my words or thoughts. I only want to offer an example for those who may wish to follow it; let anyone improve it who is able to do so and let him meditate either upon all commandments at one time or on as many as he may desire. For the mind, once it is seriously occupied with a matter, be it good or evil, can ponder more in one moment than the tongue can recite in ten hours or the pen write in ten days. There is something quick, subtle, and mighty about the mind and soul. it is able to review the Ten Commandments in their fourfold aspect very rapidly if it wants to do so and is in earnest.

~Continued with # 6 - The Seventh Commandment - You Shall Not Steal

Monday, August 22, 2016

Does God Punish Nations Today with Weather?

Last week on our television program Christ in Prophecy, I began sharing a message with you titled, "God, Judgment and the Weather." In that message I looked in-depth at what the Bible has to say about God and the weather.

I pointed out that God has always spoken through signs of nature, and that throughout history God has used signs of nature in two primary ways. First, God has used signs of nature to emphasize the importance of great events, as He did, for example, when He put a special light in the heavens when Jesus was born, or when He caused an earthquake and three hours of darkness when Jesus was crucified.

I then pointed out that God uses signs of nature more frequently in another way. Now more often,God uses signs of nature as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance.

Both the Bible and history attest to the fact that God has a pattern for working with nations. First of all, the Bible teaches beyond a shadow of a doubt that God is the one that raises up nations, and He is the one who sets their boundaries, and He is the one who gives them purpose. And, when a nation begins to rebel against Him, the first thing God will do is raise up prophetic voices to call the nation to repentance.

When I say prophetic voices, I'm not talking about people with supernatural knowledge about the future. I'm talking about the gift of prophecy as it operates today, where God gives to certain individuals the supernatural ability to take the Word of God and apply it to contemporary events. When you find a person who can take the Word of God and preach about abortion or the national debt or same sex-marriage — that's the gift of prophecy. There are people who have that gift, and so, God raises up these prophetic voices to call a nation to repentance.

These are the people who look at the Word of God and then declare that the nation is in violation of God's moral law. They know from the Word of God what's going to happen, not because they have supernatural knowledge of the future, but because they know that God deals with nations according to a certain pattern. He will deal with a nation when it doesn't repent. So, people with the gift of prophecy today call nations to repentance.

If the nation refuses to repent, then God sends remedial judgments.He will send one after another after another. These judgments can take many forms. It can be economic calamity. It can be a military defeat. It can be a weather phenomena. God will send remedial judgments in any of those ways.

Finally, if the nation sets its jaw against God and refuses to repent, God will then deliver the nation from judgment to destruction. The Bible over and over uses a very special term when it says that God judges when "the wound becomes incurable." That term is used by nearly all of the prophets. When the wound becomes incurable, that's when God moves a nation from judgment to destruction.

I proceeded to give many biblical examples of God using natural calamities as remedial judgments to call nations to repentance. I then shifted to our own nation as an example of God responding to rebellion with remedial judgments.

The 9/11 Judgment

Our own nation is a good example of what I'm talking about. We have been blessed like no other nation that has ever existed, except for the nation of Judah. Only America has been blessed by God like Judah was. And yet, in the 1960's, this nation began to thumb its nose at God. A cultural revolution was launched, and very quickly we descended into a cesspool of sexual promiscuity, drug abuse, abortion on demand, legalized gambling, rampant blasphemy, and a flood of pornography. The lifestyle of hedonism swept across our nation and we ended up calling good evil and evil good.

God responded by raising up prophetic voices to call this nation to repentance. One of the most important was the voice of Dave Wilkerson, the pastor of Times Square Church in New York City. In the early 70's, Wilkerson began to speak out very forcibly about the sins of this nation and warned that if we did not repent God was going to send judgment after judgment after judgment. He didn't have any supernatural knowledge of the future, he just knew the Word of God. He knew that when a nation was blessed like ours and rebelled against God that God was going to place judgments upon it.

When we ignored the prophetic voices, God responded by sending remedial judgments like the Vietnam War, like the AIDS epidemic, like the plague of sexually transmitted diseases, and like the outbreak of homosexuality. God also inflicted our nation with natural disasters such as quakes, floods, tornadoes, and even an incredible volcanic eruption.

All of these judgments culminated, I believe, in the attacks of 9/11. I believe9/11 was God's major wake up call to this nation to repent of its immorality.

Have you ever stopped to think that the United States is a far greater threat to the world than the Soviet Union had ever been because we are the moral polluters of planet earth? Everywhere on this planet, when you turn on the TV set, you're going to see the most immoral and the most violent American movies and American television shows. We are the moral polluter of planet earth, and God is going to hold us responsible for it!

I don't think it was any accident that on 9/11 what was attacked were two symbols of American pride. What is it that America takes pride in? The two symbols of money and power were attacked. God sent us a wake up call and, unfortunately, we are like the guy who is very sleepy and when the alarm goes off we just rolled over and hit the snooze alarm. Soon after 9/11, we went right back to sleep spiritually.

The Israel Factor

On this week's episode of Christ in Prophecy, I want to focus on a new factor that I believe is producing remedial judgments upon this country. It is our mistreatment of Israel which began in the early 1990's. We as a nation have failed to realize that since 1991 many of the judgments that we have experienced have been related to our mistreatment of the nation of Israel.

The Bible says two very important things about this. Genesis 12:3 states, "I will bless those who bless you and I will curse those who curse you." That is part of the Abrahamic Covenant, an eternal covenant that God made with Abraham. I'm going to bless those who bless the Jews and I'm going to curse those who curse the Jews. In Zechariah 2:8 we learn, "For the Lord said, 'He who touches Israel touches the apple of my eye.'" Those are very serious statements and history attests to the truth of it.

Weather's Message

I believe the message of God using weather as a judgment is that God is on His throne. God is in control. He cannot be mocked. He will not tolerate the division of His Holy Land, nor will He tolerate gross immorality that mocks everything that is moral and decent.

God loves our nation. He has blessed us more then any other nation. But, the Word of God says to those to whom much is given, much is expected. The Word of God also says He disciplines those whom He loves.

Another point God's Word makes clear is that when He sends discipline, the fundamental purpose is never to punish. God's fundamental purpose is to call us to repentance so that we might be saved. Here is the way Isaiah puts it in Isaiah 26:9, "When the earth experiences your judgments, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness."

Lincoln Understood

No public official in our history has yet to see the spiritual implications of a disaster as clearly as did Abraham Lincoln when he evaluated the cause of the Civil War. In a proclamation which he issued on March 30, 1863, the President called for a National Day of Prayer and Repentance. Lincoln made this comment, "Insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishment and chastisements in this world. May we not justly fear that the awful calamity of Civil War which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a people."

Lincoln continued by saying, "We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown." But, Lincoln added, "We have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied, enriched, and strengthened us." Listen to this, "We have vainly imagined in the deceitfulness of our hearts that all our blessings were produced by our superior wisdom and virtue."

President Lincoln then ended with these words. "Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to fill the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to God who made us. It behooves us to then humble ourselves before the Offended Power to confess our national sins and to pray for clemency and forgiveness."

That's the kind of proclamation we need today! The sad thing is, we have become so secular and so pagan that if our President were to issue such a proclamation today, I have no doubt that someone in Congress would issue an indictment of impeachment for the violation of Separation of Church and State.

We as a nation have set our jaw against God. We are tempting Him to move us from judgment to destruction.

Our God is merciful. He is patiently sending us one wakeup call after another. He never pours out His wrath without warning.

I want to call our nation to prayer. Pray that our eyes will be opened. Pray that our hearts will be melted. Pray for a national revival. Pray, too, for the hearts of our leaders to be open to the significance of Israel in Bible prophecy.

~David R. Reagan~

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

There Is A Fountain Filled with Blood

There Is A Fountain Filled with Blood

~William Cowper~

There is a fountain filled with blood
drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.
Lose all their guilty stains,
lose all their guilty stains;
and sinners plunged beneath that flood
lose all their guilty stains.

The dying thief rejoiced to see
that fountain in his day;
and there may I, though vile as he,
wash all my sins away,
wash all my sins away;
and there may I, though vile as he, 
wash all my sins away.

Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
shall never lose its power
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.
Be saved, to sin no more,
be saved, to sin no more;
till all the ransomed church of God
be saved, to sin no more.

Ever since, by faith, I saw the stream
thy flowing wounds supply,
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.
And shall be till I die,
and shall be till I die;
redeeming love has been my theme,
and shall be till I die.

Then in a nobler, sweeter song,
I'll sing thy power to save,
when this poor lisping, stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave. 
Lies silent in the grave,
lies silent in the grave;
when this poor lisping,stammering tongue
lies silent in the grave.


O God, Our Help In Ages Past

~Isaac Watts~

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of thy throne,
still may we dwell secure;
sufficient in thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting, thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages, in thy sight,
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night,
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever rolling stream,
bears all who breathe away;
they fly forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come;
be thou our guide while life shall last,
and our eternal home.

A Simple Way to Pray # 4

A Simple Way to Pray # 4

~Martin Luther~

The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep it Holy

The Third Commandment: "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." I learn from this, first of all, that the sabbath day has not been instituted for the sake of being idle or indulging in worldly pleasures, but in order to keep it holy. However, it is not sanctified by our works and actions - our works are not holy - but by the word of God, which alone is wholly pure and sacred and which sanctifies everything that comes in contact with it, be it time, place, person, labor, rest, etc. According to Paul, who says that every creature is consecrated by word and prayer, I Timothy 4:5, our works are consecrated through the word. I realize therefore that on the sabbath I must,above all, hear and contemplate God's word. Thereafter I should give thanks in my own words, praise God for all his benefits, and pray for myself and for the whole world. He who so conducts himself on the sabbath day keeps it holy. He who fails to do so is worse  than the person who works on the sabbath.

Second: I thank God in this commandment for His great and beautiful goodness and grace which He has given us in the preaching of His Word. And He has instructed us to make use of it, especially on the sabbath day, for the meditation of the human can never exhaust such a treasure. His Word is the only light in the darkness of this life, a word of life, consolation, and supreme blessedness. Where this precious and saving word is absent, nothing remains but a fearsome and terrifying darkness, error and faction,death and every calamity, and the tyranny of the devil himself, as we can see with our own eyes every day.

Third, I confess and acknowledge great sin and wicked ingratitude on my part because all my life I have made disgraceful use of the sabbath and have thereby despised His precious and dear word in a wretched way. I have been too lazy, listless,and uninterested to listen to it, let alone to have desired it sincerely or to have been grateful for it. I have let my dear God proclaim His word to me in vain, have dismissed the noble treasure, and have trampled it underfoot. He has tolerated this in His great and divine mercy and has not ceased in His Fatherly, divine love and faithfulness to keep on preaching to me and calling me to the salvation of my soul. For this I repent and ask for grace and forgiveness.

Fourth, I pray for myself and for the whole world that the gracious Father my preserve us in His holy Word and not withdraw it from us because of our sin, ingratitude,and laziness. May He preserve us from factious spirits and false teachers, and may He send faithful and honest laborers into His harvest [Matthew 9:38), that is, devout pastors and preachers. May He grant us grace humbly to hear, accept, and honor their words as His own words and to offer our sincere thanks and praise.

The Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Your Mother

The Fourth Commandment: Honor Your Father and Your Mother

First, I learn to acknowledge God, my Creator, how wondrously He has created me, body and soul, and how He has given me life through my parents and has installed in them the desire to care for me, the fruit of their bodies, with all their power. He has brought me into this world, has sustained and cared for me, nurtured and educated me with great diligence, carefulness, and concern, through danger, trouble, and hard work. To this moment He protects me, his creature, and helps me in countless dangers and troubles. It is as though He were creating me anew every moment. But the devil does not willingly concede us one single moment of life.

Second, I thank the rich and gracious Creator on behalf of myself and all the world that He has established and assured in the commandment the increase and preservation of the human race, that is, of households and of states. Without these two institutions or governments the world could not exist a single year, because without government there can be no peace, and where there is no peace there can be no family, without family, children cannot be begotten or raised, and fatherhood and motherhood would cease to be. It is the purpose of this commandment to guard and preserve both family and state, to admonish children and subjects to be obedient, and to enforce it, too, and to let no violation go unpunished - otherwise children would have disrupted the family long ago by their disobedience, and subjects would have disorganized the state and laid it to waste for they outnumber parents and rulers. There are no words to fully describe the benefit of this commandment.

Third, I confess and lament my wicked disobedience and sin, in defiance of God's commandment I have not honored or obeyed my parents; I have often provoked and offended them, have been impatient with their parental discipline, have been resentful and scornful of their loving admonition and have rather gone along with loose company and evil companions. God Himself condemns such disobedient children and withholds from them a long life; many of them succumb and perish in disgrace before they reach adulthood. Whoever does not obey father and mother must obey the executioner or otherwise come, through God's wrath, to an evil end, etc. Of all this I repent and ask for grace and forgiveness.

Fourth, I pray for myself and for all the world that God would bestow His grace and pour His blessing richly upon the family and the state. Grant that from thistime on we may be devout, honor our parents, obey our superiors, and resist the devil when he entices us to be disobedient and rebellious, and so may we help improve home and nation by our actions and thus preserve the peace, all to the praise and glory of God for our own benefit and for the prosperity of all. Grant that we may acknowledge these His gifts and be thankful for them.

At this point we should add a prayer for our parents and superiors, that God may grant them understanding and wisdom to govern and rule us in peace and happiness. May He preserve them from tyranny, from riot and fury, and turn them to honor God's Word and not oppressit, nor persecute anyone or do injustice. Such excellent gifts must be sought by prayer, as Paul teaches; otherwise the devil will reign in the palace and everything fall into chaos and confusion.

If you are a father or mother, you should at this point remember your children and the workers in your household. Pray earnestly to the dear Father, who has set you in an office of honor in His name and intends that you be honored by the name "father." Ask that He grant you grace and blessing to look after and support your wife, children, and servants in a godly and Christian manner. May Hegive you wisdom and strength to tain them well in heart and will to follow your instructions with obedience. Both are God's gifts, your children and theway they flourish, that they turn out well and that they remain so. Otherwise the home is nothing but a pigsty and school for rascals, as one can see among the uncouth and godless.

(continued with # 5 - The Fifth Commandment: You Shall Not Kill)

Friday, August 12, 2016

A Simple Way to Pray # 3

A Simple Way to Pray # 3

~Martin Luther~

It is of great importance that the heart be made ready and eager for prayer. As the preacher says, "Prepare your heart for prayer, and do not tempt God" (Ecclus. 18:23). What else is it but tempting God when your mouth babbles and the mind wanders to other thoughts? Like the priest who prayer, "Deus in adjutorium meum intende. Farmhand, did you unhitch the horses? Domine ad adjuvandum me festina. Maid, go out and milk the cow. Gloria patti et filio et spiritui sancto. Hurry up, boy, I wish the agu would take you!" I have heard many such prayers in my experience under the papacy; most of their prayers are of this sort. This is blasphemy and it would be better if they played at it if they cannot or do not care to do better. In my day I have prayed many such canonical hours myself, regrettably, and in such a manner that the psalm or the allotted time came to an end before I even realized whether I was at the beginning or in the middle.

Though not all of them blurt out the words as did the above-mentioned cleric and mix business and prayer, they do it by the thoughts in their hearts. They jump from one thing to another in their thoughts and when it is all over they do not know what they have done or what they talked about. They start with Laudate and right away they are in a fool's paradise. It seems to me that if someone could see what arises as prayer from a cold and unattentive heart he would conclude that he had never seen a more ridiculous kind of buffoonery. But, praise God, it is now clear to me that a person who forgets what he has said has not prayed well. In a good prayer one fully remembers every word and thought from the beginning to the end of the prayer.

So, a good and attentive barber keeps his thoughts, attention, and eyes  on the razor and hair and does not forget he has gotten with his shaving or cutting. If he want to engage in too much conversation or let his mind wander or look somewhere else he is likely to cut his customer's mouth, nose, or even his throat. Thus if anything is to be done well, it requires the full attention of all one's senses and members, as the proverb says, "Pluribus intentus, minor est ad singula sensus" - He who thinks of many things, thinks of nothing and does nothing right." How much more does prayer call for concentration and singleness of heart if it is to be a good prayer!

This in short is the way I use the Lord's prayer when I pray it. To this day I suckle at the Lord's Prayer like a child,and as an old man eat and drink from it and never get my fill. It is the very best prayer, even better than the psalter, which is so very dear to me. It is surely evident that a real master composed and taught it. What a great pity that the prayer of such a master is prattled and chattered so irreverently all over the world!

How many pray the Lord's Prayer several thousand times in the course of a year, and if they were to keep on doing so fora thousand years they would not have tasted nor prayed one iota, one dot, of it! In a word, the Lord's Prayer is the greatest  martyr on earth (as are the name and word of God). Everybody tortures and abuses it; few take comfort and joy in its proper use.

Praying the Ten Commandments: A Garland of Four Strands

If I have had time and opportunity to go through the Lord's Prayer, I do the same with the Ten Commandments. I take one part after another and free myself as much as possible from distractions in order to pray. I divide each commandment into four parts, thereby fashioning a garland of four strands. That is, I think of  each commandment as, first, instruction, which is really what it is intended to be, and consider what the Lord God demands of me so earnestly. Second, I turn it into a thanksgiving; third, a confession; and fourth, a prayer.

The First Commandment: You Shall Have No Other Gods

I do so in thoughts or words such as these: "I am the Lord your God, etc. You shall have no other gods before Me," etc. Here I earnestly consider that God expects and teaches me to trust Him sincerely in all things and that it is His most earnest purpose to be my God. I must think of Him in this way at the risk of losing eternal salvation. My heart must not build upon anything else or trust in any other thing, be it wealth, prestige, wisdom, might, piety, or anything else.

Second, I give thanks for His infinite compassion by which He has come to me in such a fatherly way and, unasked, unbidden, and unmerited, has offered to be my God, to care for me, and to be my comfort, guardian, help, and strength in every time of need. We poor mortals have sought so many gods and would have to seek them still if He did not enable us to hear Him openly tell us in our own language that He intends to be our God. How could we ever in all eternity thank Him enough!

Third, I confess and acknowledge my great sin and ingratitude for having so shamefully despised such sublime teachings and such a precious gift throughout my whole life, and for having fearfully provoked His wrath by countless acts of idolatry. I repent of these and ask for His grace.

Fourth, I pray and say: "O my God and Lord, help me by Thy grace to learn and understand  Thy commandments more fully every day and to live by them in sincere confidence. Preserve my heart so that I shall never again become forgetful and ungrateful, that I may never seek after other gods or other consolation on earth or in any creature, but cling truly and solely to Thee, my only God. Amen, dear Lord God and Father. Amen."

The Second Commandment: You Shall Not Misuse the Name of the Lord Your God

Afterward, if time and inclination permit, the Second Commandment likewise in four strands, like this: "You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain," etc. First, I learn that I must keep God's name in honor, holiness, and beauty; not to swear, curse, not to be boastful or seek honor and repute for myself, but humbly to invoke His name, to pray, praise, and extol it, and to let it be my only honor and glory that He is my God and that I am his lowly creature and unworthy servant.

Second, I give thanks to Him for these precious gifts, that He has revealed His name to me and bestowed it upon me, that I can glory in His name and be called God's servant and creature, etc., that His name is my refuge like a mighty fortress to which the righteous man can flee and find protection, as Solomon says (Proverbs 18:10).

Third, I confess and acknowledge that I have grieviously and shamefully sinned against this commandment all my life. I have not only failed to invoke, extol, and honor His holy name, but have also been ungrateful for such gifts and have, by swearing, lying, and betraying, misused them in the pursuit of shame and sin. This I bitterly regret and ask grace and forgiveness, etc. Fourth, I ask for help and strength henceforth to learn to obey this commandment and to be preserved from such evil ingratitude, abuse, and sin against His name, and that I may be found grateful in revering and honoring His name.

I repeat here what I previously said in reference to the Lord's Prayer: if in the midst of such thoughts the Holy Spirit begins to preach in your heart with rich, enlightening thoughts, honor Him by letting go of this written scheme; be still and listen to Him who can do better than you can. Remember what He says and note it well and you will behold wondrous things in the law of God, as David says (Psalm 119:18).

continued with # 4 - (The Third Commandment: Remember the Sabbath Day to Keep It Holy

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Simple Way to Pray # 2

A Simple Way to Pray

The Second Petition: Thy Kingdom Come

The Second Petition: "Thy Kingdom come." Say: "O dear Lord, God, and Father, Thou seest how worldly wisdom and reason not only profane Thy name and ascribe the honor due to Thee to lies and to the devil, but how they also take the power, might, wealth and glory which Thou hast given them on earth for ruling the world and thus serving Thee, and use it in their own ambition to oppose Thy kingdom. They are many and mighty; they plague and hinder they tiny flock of Thy kingdom who are weak, despised, and few. They will not tolerate Thy flock on earth and think that by plaguing them they render a great and godly service to Thee. Dear Lord, God and Father, convert them and defend us. Convert those who are still to become children and members of Thy kingdom so that they with us and we with them may serve Thee in Thy kingdom in true faith and unfeigned love and that from Thy kingdom which has begun, we may enter into Thy eternal kingdom. Defend us against those who will not turn away their might and power from the destruction of Thy kingdom so that when they are cast down from their thrones and humbled, they will have to cease from their efforts. Amen."

The Third Petition: Thy Will be Done

The third petition: "Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven." Say: "O dear Lord, God and Father, Thou knowest that the world, if it cannot destroy Thy name or root out Thy kingdom, is busy day and night with wicked tricks and schemes,strange conspiracies and intrigue, huddling together in secret counsel, giving mutual encouragement and support, raging and threatening and going about with every evil intention to destroy Thy name, word, kingdom, and children. Therefore, dear Lord, God and Father, convert them and defend us. Convert those who have yet to acknowledge Thy good will that they with us and we with them may obey Thy will and for Thy sake gladly, patiently, and joyously bear every evil, cross,and adversity, and thereby acknowledge, test, and experience Thy benign, gracious, and perfect will. But defend us against those who in their rage, fury, hate, threats, and evil desires do not cease to do us harm. Make their wicked schemes, tricks, and devices to come to nothing so that these may be turned against them, as we sing in Psalm 7:16.

The Fourth Petition: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

The fourth petition. "Give us this day our daily bread." Say: "Dear Lord, God and Father, grant us Thy blessing also in this temporal and physical life. Graciously grant us blessed peace.Protect us against war and disorder. Grant to our dear emperor (President or Ruler of the Country)  fortune and success against his enemies. Grant him wisdom and understanding to rule over his earthly kingdom in peace and prosperity. Grant to all kings, princes, and rulers good counsel and the will to preserve their domains and their subjects in tranquility and justice. Especially and guide our dear prince N., under whose protection and shelter Thou dost maintain us,so that he may be protected against all harm and reign blessedly,secure from evil tongues and disloyal people. Grant to every estate-townsman or farmer - to be diligent and to display charity and loyalty toward each other. Give us favorable weather and good harvest. I commend to Thee my house and property, wife and child. Grant that I may manage them well, supporting and educating them as a Christian should. Defend us against satan and all his wicked angels who would do us harm and mischief in this life. Amen."

The Fifth Petition: Forgive Us Our Trespasses

The fifth petition: "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us." Say: "O dear Lord, God and Father, enter not into judgment against us because no man living is justified before Thee. Do not count it against us as a sin that we are so unthankful for Thine ineffable goodness, spiritual,and physical, or that we stray into sin many times every day, more often that we can know or recognize. Psalm 19:12. Do not look upon how good or how wicked we have been but only upon the infinite compassion which Thou hast bestowed upon us in Christ, Thy dear Son. Grant forgiveness also to those who have harmed or wronged us, as we forgive them from our hearts. They inflict the greatest injury upon themselves by arousing Thy anger in their actions toward us. We are not helped by their ruin; we would much rather that they be saved with us. Amen." (Anyone who feels unable to forgive, let his ask for grace so that he can forgive; but that belongs in a sermon.)

The Sixth Petition: Lead Us Not Into Temptation

The sixth petition: "And lead us not into temptation." Say: "O dear Lord, Father and God, keep us fit and alert, eager and diligent in Thy Word and service, so that we do not become complacent, lazy, and slothful as though we had already achieved everything. In that way the fearful devil cannot fall upon us,k surprise us, and deprive us of Thy precious word or stir up strife and factions among us and lead us into other sin and disgrace, both spiritually and physically. Rather grant us wisdom and strength through Thy Spirit that we may valiantly resist him and gain the victory. Amen."

The Seventh Petition: But Deliver Us From Evil

The seventh petition: "But deliver us from evil." Say: "O dear Lord, God and Father, this wretched life is so full of misery and calamity, of danger and uncertainty, so full of malice and faithlessness (as Paul says, "The days are evil" (Eph. 5:16) that we might rightfully grow weary of life and long for death. But Thou, dear Father, knowest our frailty; therefore help us to pass in safety through so much wickedness and viliainy; and, when our last hour comes, in Thy mercy grant us a blessed departure from this vale of sorrows so that in the dace of death we do not become fearful or despondent but in firm faith commit our souls into Thy hands. Amen."


Finally, mark this, that you must always speak the Amen firmly. Never doubt that God in his mercy will surely hear you and say "yes" to your prayers. Never think that you are kneeling or standing alone, rather think that the whole of Christendom, all devout Christians, are standing there beside you and you are standing among them in a common, united petition which God cannot disdain. Do not leave your prayer without having said or thought, "Very well, God has heard my prayer; this I know as a certainty and a truth." That is what Amen means.

You should also know that I do not want you to recite all these words in your prayer. That would make it nothing but idle chatter and prattle, read word for word out of a book as were the rosaries by the laity and the prayers of the priest and monks. Rather do I want your heart to be stirred and guided concerning the thoughts which ought to be comprehended in the Lord's Prayer. These thoughts may be expressed, if your heart is rightly warmed and inclined toward prayer, in many different ways and with more words or fewer. I do not bind myself to such words or syllables, but say my prayers in one fashion today,in another tomorrow, depending upon my mood and feeling. I stay however, as nearly as I can, with the same general thoughts and ideas.It may happen occasionally that I may get lost among so many ideas in one petition that I forego the other six. If such an abundance of good thoughts comes to us we ought to disregard the other petitions, make room for such thoughts, listen in silence, and under no circumstances obstruct them. The Holy Spirit himself preaches here, and one word of his sermon is far better than a thousand of our prayers. Many times I have learned more from one prayer than I might have learned from much reading and speculation.

~Martin Luther~

(continued with # 3 An Eagerness for Prayer

A Simple Way to Pray # 1

[this will be in installments since is quite long.]

A Simple Way to Pray


Early in the year 1535, Peter Beskendorf, a barber and an old friend of Luther's asked Dr. Luther for suggestions concerning prayer. Luther responded with an open letter titled, "How One Should Pray, for Master Peter the barber. This letter fills the following pages.

Luther's instructions for prayer can be boiled down to this: pray the catechism. It has been said that the Small Catechism is the only catechism in the world that can be prayed, and this is exactly what Luther intends. The catechism is not just an instruction book, but as Luther says of the Ten Commandments, a "school text, song book, penitential book, and prayer book.

By this Luther would sink the words of the Catechism into both our minds and hearts, that the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostle's Creed would always be on our lips whenever we talk to God or to our neighbor. The parts of the catechism mold the way we think and act and speak and pray.

Luther gives advice and instruction for taking up each petition of the Lord's Prayer and expanding them. He shows how the Ten Commandments can be woven into a garland of four strands of teaching, thanksgiving, confession and petition. The three articles of the creed are woven into the same beautiful strand. For Luther, prayer is bound to meditation on the Lord's Word. Studying and meditating on the Scriptures where to Lord refreshes us with His gifts of life, salvation and the forgiveness of all our sins. The Lord speaks to us in His Word, and we respond, speaking to Him our thanks and making known our requests.

May this letter of Luther, written almost 500 years ago, encourage us to pray, asking God as dear children ask their dear Father for all that we need.

Pastor Wolfinueller

A Simple Way to Pray

I will tell you as best I can what I do personally when I pray. May our dear Lord grant to you and to everybody to do it better than I! Amen

First, when I feel that I have become cool and joyless in prayer because of other tasks or thoughts (for the flesh and the devil always impede and obstruct prayer), I take my little psalter, hurry to my room, or, if it be the day and hour for it, to the church where a congregation is assembled and, as time permits, I say quietly to myself and word-for-word the Ten Commandments, the Creed, and, if I have time, some words of Christ or of Paul, or some psalms, just as a child might do.

It is a good thing to let prayer be the first business of the morning and the last at night. Guard yourself carefully against those false, deluding ideas which tell you, "Wait a little while. I will pray in an hour, first I must attend to this or that." Such thoughts get you away from prayer into other affairs which so hold your attention and involve you that nothing comes of prayer for that day.

It may well be that you may have some tasks which areas good or better than prayer, especially in an emergency. There is a saying ascribed to St. Jerome that everything a believer does is prayer and a proverb. "He who works faithfully prays twice." This can be said because a believer fears and honors God in his work and remembers the commandment not to wrong anyone, or to try to steal, defraud, or cheat. Such thoughts and such faith undoubtedly transform his work into prayer and a sacrifice of praise.

On the other hand it is also true that the work of an unbeliever is outright cursing and so he who works faithlessly curses twice. While he does his work his thought are occupied with a neglect of God and violation of his law, how to take advantage of his neighbor,how to steal from him and defraud him. What else can such thoughts be but out and out curses against God and man, which makes one's work and effort a double curse by which a man curses himself. In the end they are beggars and bunglers. It is of such continual prayer that Christ says in Luke 11, "Pray without ceasing," because one must unceasingly guard against sin and wrong-doing, something one cannot do unless one fears God and keeps his commandment in mind, as Psalm 1:1, 2 says, "Blessed is he who meditates upon his law day and night."

Yet we must be careful not to break the habit of true prayer and imagine other works to be necessary which, after all, are nothing of the kind. Thus at the end we become lax and lazy, cool and listless toward prayer. The devil who besets us is not lazy or careless, and our flesh is too ready and eager to sin and is disinclined to the spirit of prayer.

Praying the Lord's Prayer

When your heart has been warmed by such recitation to yourself (of the Ten Commandments, the words of Christ, etc.,) and is intent upon the matter, kneel or stand with your hands folded and your eyes toward heaven and speak or think as briefly as you can:

"O Heavenly Father, dear God, I am a poor unworthy sinner. I do not deserve to raise my eyes or hands toward Thee or to pray. But because Thou hast commanded us all to pray and hast promised to hear us and through Thy dear Son Jesus Christ hast taught us both how and what to pray, I come to Thee in obedience to Thy Word, trusting in Thy gracious promise. I pray in the name of my Lord Jesus Christ together with all thy saints and Christians on earth as he has taught us: Our Father who art, etc., through the whole prayer, word for word.

The First Petition: Hollowed By Thy Name

Then repeat one part or as much as you wish, perhaps the first petition: "Hallowed by Thy name," and say: "Yes, Lord God, dear Father, hallowed be Thy name, both in us and throughout the whole world. Destroy and root out the abominations, idolatry, and heresy of the Turk, the pope, and all false teachers and fanatics who wrongly use Thy name and in scandalous ways take it in vain and horrible blaspheme it. They insistently boast that they teach Thy word and the laws of the church, though they really use the devil's deceit and trickery in Thy name to wretchedly seduce many poor souls throughout the world, even killing and shedding much innocent blood, and in such persecution they believe that they render Thee divine service.

Dear Lord God, convert and restrain them. Convert those who are still to be converted that they with us and we with them may hallow and praise Thy name, both with true and pure doctrine and with a good and holy life. Restrain those who are unwilling to be converted so that they be forced to cease from misusing, defiling, and dishonoring Thy holy name and from misleading the poor people. Amen"

~Martin Luther~

continued with # 2 - The Second Petition: Thy Kingdom Come

Thursday, August 4, 2016

I Can Do Anything Through Christ (and other devotionals)

I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13 NLT)

Christ's spirituality was not that He was remote from what was practical in everyday life. It was that He was bringing heavenly forces and resources to bear upon the practical matters of everyday life. You can wash doors, or clothes, or floors, or do any of these ordinary domestic things, in spirituality. People seem to think that spiritual work and ordinary work, household work for example, are two different things. They talk about the spiritual work and the other work. Now, you can bring heavenly resources in to do anything that is legitimate, and the doing of those things may be a testimony.
The majority of people have no occasion to draw upon heavenly resources for a platform ministry. For the most part their work is of some regular, daily kind, and very often they feel utterly unable for it, and they are tempted to think that if they had some spiritual ministry to fulfill, if they had to go and take a meeting, or speak to some souls about spiritual matters, they could make a claim upon the Lord for help and He would carry them through. For the trivial round and common task such a thought is all too often wholly absent from the mind. Now, exactly the same resources have to come into the ordinary work as into what we call spiritual work. It has all to be done on a spiritual basis, and therefore to be a testimony. To get through an ordinary day's work often requires something more than ordinary human resources. Spirituality consists in our doing everything as out from heaven. Let us be careful how we draw a line, lest we make a distinction between the spiritual and “the rest.”

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Let love be your highest goal!

(George Everard)

"Let love be your highest goal!" 1 Corinthians 14:1 
Love is the most beautiful of all graces. 

Love comes down from above, for love is one of the first-fruits of the Spirit. 

Love is a plant of Paradise. 

Love is a breath of celestial air. 

Love is a beam from the countenance of a God of love. 

Love is the golden belt, the bond of peace, that knits all heavenly virtues in one. 

Love is full of humility, forbearance, and patience. It is slow to anger, but quick to support and comfort those in trouble. It is full of tender consideration for the sorrows, trials, weaknesses, infirmities, feelings, of those around. Be clothed with love.

Now be honest about this point. 
What is your religion worth? 
Is it a sham and a pretense--or a reality?
Are you daily waging war against these three deadly sins--sloth, self-will, and selfishness?
Are you shining as a bright lamp in your own home? 
Are you careful about common, every-day duties? 
Are you mindful . . .
   to curb the tongue,
   to watch against vain and evil thoughts,
   to be considerate of the feelings and needs of those around you? 
Are you ever ready to seize an opportunity for doing good, to lighten the burden of another, or to help a fellow-pilgrim on the way to Zion?

"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you--so you must love one another." John 13:34

Our Number One Goal

"Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed."

—1 Samuel 2:3

I was born in the generation known as the Baby Boomers. Our children are now called the Millennials, also dubbed the Me Generation. My generation thought the problem with the world was low self-esteem. Therefore, a lot of emphasis was given to, and a lot of money was spent on, the self-esteem movement. (This was never the problem, by the way, because it never has been a problem for us to learn to love ourselves. The problem is that we love ourselves enough already.)

As a result, a sense of entitlement—the idea that you don't have to work hard and that everything should be given to you because you're so wonderful—is now a big problem in our country. If you don't believe me, then just watch some auditions for American Idol. People with no ability whatsoever are completely oblivious to it. And when a judge has the audacity to tell them that singing is probably not what they should do with their lives, they get upset.

Consider these statistics from a Time magazine article in 2013: "The National Institutes of Health found that for people in their 20s, Narcissistic Personality Disorder is three times as high than the generation that's 65 or older. . . . Millennials received so many participation trophies growing up that 40 percent of them think they should be promoted every two years—regardless of performance."

Not long ago, a group of 18 to 25 year-olds were asked what their goals were in life. The number one goal cited was to get rich. The second most-mentioned goal was to be famous. These are people who have their priorities out of order.

Our number one goal should be to know God . . . and then to find His plan and purpose for our lives.
~Greg Laurie~
What the flesh wants is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit wants is opposed to the flesh. They are opposed to each other. (Galatians 5:17 ISV)

These two are in age-long conflict, in antagonism. It is ever so. When you have a fresh experience of the Holy Spirit, the next thing you find is that you are in a new conflict against the old flesh-life in yourself. This rising up of the flesh within is provoked by the devil because he sees the inheritance in view, for when the Spirit comes, the inheritance comes into view. He has come to bring to the inheritance. So do not be surprised if after an experience of the Spirit the next thing you have to face is this conflict with the assertion of the flesh across the path to hinder your going into possession.
It is only when you have received the Holy Spirit that you know the conflict of the flesh and what is the withstanding of the flesh. Those who have not the Spirit have no such conflict of flesh and Spirit; they are not in that realm, but wholly in the flesh realm. The Holy Spirit has come in relation to the end, and the end is the inheritance in Christ, and flesh moved by Satan rises up to frustrate that end, and to rob you of the inheritance. The peril is that having begun in the Spirit, you might turn aside to make some compromise with Amalek, because of the hardness of the way, the greatness of the cost, by reason of the conflict and forgetting God's word - "utterly destroy Amalek" (1 Samuel 15:3). "Walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).

~T. Austin-Sparks~

Don't be the slave of worldly amusements!

(George Everard)

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind." Romans 12:2Be separate from a world that lies in wickedness. 

Of course in some measure you must mix in the world, while you live on earth--but let it be evident that you rise above it. Don't be the slave of worldly amusements! God loves that His people should be cheerful and happy--but there is little true enjoyment in the excitement of the theater, the race-course, the ball-room, the gambling-table, and the like. Choose something higher and better.

Consider how such things check the growth of true piety. 
If you err, let it be on the safe side. 
Do not ask, "How far may I go, and yet be guiltless?" 
Rather ask, 
  "How may I walk more closely with God?" 
  "How may I enjoy most of the love of Christ?" 
  "How shall I best glorify my Father in Heaven?" 

Whenever you stand in doubt as to whether it is right or not to go to any place, bear in mind the old rule. Ask yourself, "Can I kneel down and with a good conscience ask the Lord to go with me?" If not, be sure that it is not safe for you. 

Above all, bear witness for Christ in the world by a very holy and consistent life. 
Manfully resist sin in every shape and form. 
Watchfully guard against the least approach to youthful lusts. 
In thought, word, and deed--be pure, be chaste. 
Regard the least allusion to anything impure, as the poison of the old serpent which is death to the soul. 

Keep a very tender conscience. 

Don't make light of little sins
, as many think them. Little acts . . . 
  of dishonesty,
  of selfishness,
  of neglect,
  of indulged vanity,
  of pride and self-conceit,
  of the love of dress, 
  of petty deceits and half-untruths--
who can tell how much harm is often done by these things, and to what far greater evils they often lead?

Do not judge of sin by the standard of those around you
, but . . .
  in the light of God's Word,
  in the light of the cross, and
  in remembrance of the day of judgment.