Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Individual and Family Devotions

Pastor’s Window for November, 2007

Individual and Family Devotions

Beloved in the Lord,

Don’t underestimate the importance of daily individual and family devotions. The Word of God should be the daily focus of meditation for the Christian. God speaks to His Church through Moses: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” (Deut. 6:4-9; ESV). The Psalmist declares, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). In our hymn of the month at Epiphany, we confess concerning the gifts Christ freely gives: “The gifts are there each day The holy Word is read; God’s children listen, hear, Receive, and they are fed. Christ fills them with Himself, Blest words that give them life, Restoring and refreshing Them for this world’s strife” (Lutheran Service Book 602:4).

“Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by ever word that comes from the mouth of the LORD” (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4; Luke 4:4). Scripture is the daily spiritual bread that keeps our faith in Christ alive. I suggest the members of our parish meditate on the Holy Scriptures every single day. Allow me to make a few practical suggestions.

While individual devotions are important, don’t neglect regular family devotions. Remember that parents have a God-given responsibility to teach the Word of God to their children. Each chief part of the Small Catechism begins with the words, “As the head of the family should teach it in a simple way to his household.”

Have a structure for your devotions. I recommend using the hymnal. Pray the offices of Matins and Vespers or Morning and Evening Prayer (LSB pp. 219, 229, 235, and 243 respectively) or use the orders of Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families (pp.294-298). Lutheran Service Book also offers two orders for Responsive Prayer (p. 282 and 285) as well as the Litany (p. 288). Finally, don’t forget to utilize the “Prayers, Intercessions, and Thanksgivings” section of the hymnal (pp. 305-318) and sing the hymns. Portals of Prayer also offers an order for devotions in the front part of the booklet. Whatever order you use, set aside a regular time (or times) each day for meditation on Scripture and prayer.

Daily devotions should always include both meditation upon Scripture and prayer. There are several very good resources you can use to guide your individual and family devotions. Of course we should always use the Catechism. I have also been promoting a book during my pastoral visits called The Lord Will Answer: A Daily Prayer Catechism, which offers meditations on Scripture and the Catechism. Another good book is called God Grant It: Daily Devotions from C. F. W. Walther, which includes excerpts from the sermons of this founding father of our Synod. Both of the above books are available from Concordia Publishing House (http://www.cph.org/). Also available from Concordia is the updated edition of Lutheran Book of Prayer, an excellent resource for your prayer life. And as always, Portals of Prayer magazine is available for free in the narthex. These are handy not only for personal and family use, but for handing out to friends and neighbors.

There are several good online resources for devotions. A daily lectionary is available from our seminary in Fort Wayne at http://www.lifeoftheworld.com/. Portals of Prayer is available online at www.cph.org/cphstore/pages/forms/portals.asp. Some of you may remember a book by F. W. Herzberger called The Family Altar. An update of this devotional classic is now available online at www.illinoislutheranconference.org/daily-meditations/tym10%20calframe.html. The youth organization, Higher Things, offers a daily devotion called “Reflections” which is sent directly to your email. You can subscribe to reflections at http://www.higherthings.org/.

Our Lord Jesus freely gives us His gifts in so many ways. He desires to give His gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation, along with every grace and blessing, to you each day through the daily use of His Word. In Christ, you have a loving Father, who desires to speak to you in the Scriptures and hear you in prayer. Take God up on His daily invitation. Be in the Word. Teach your children. Talk about the Word when you are sitting in your house and when you are walking by the way, when you lie down and when you rise. God grant that His Word be a fixture in every home in our congregation. Amen.

Pastor Krenz

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