Lenten Devotionals from WTKM
Pastor Dan's six Lenten devotionals are below, with the text available as well. Please feel free to contact the church if you have any questions.
Text of Lenten Devotional #1 from 3/14/16
Hi, this is Dan Hummel from the First Congregational Church here in Hartford. During this time of “Lent,” churches all over the world anticipate the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Lord and Savior for mankind. Many of you recognize Lent and participate in the traditions of Lent. At First Congregational, we certainly remember our Lord's death and resurrection every Sunday, perhaps every single day. Jesus' death and resurrection are the very crux of our faith; and the Bible, from beginning to end, is all about Jesus and His sacrifice.
But some of you think the death and resurrection of Jesus is foolishness, or insignificant. This is understandable, and the apostle Paul even explains this foolishness in the first letter we have that he wrote to the people in Corinth. Paul says “the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the cleverness of the clever I will set aside"” (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Paul is quoting the prophet Isaiah, showing that God's plan has seemed foolish to some wise and clever men from long before Jesus.
Paul says “for those of us being saved [the cross of Jesus] is the power of God.” The truth of our need for a Savior seems foolishness when we live in the success and comforts of this great nation. Our drive and achievements blind us to our inner depravity and ultimate emptiness. Even for those of us who do believe, we have a tendency to down-play our terrible selfishness and destructive nature.
But even with all our abilities as humans, and in this successful country, we still cannot grasp the most important truth: who is God and how to know Him. Paul continues: “For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe” (1 Corinthians 1:21). This word “save” is used often by Christians, because it is of the utmost importance. We are responsible for our thoughts and actions, and all of us fall short of God's standard for goodness and perfection (Romans 3:23). And as foolish as it sounds, God Himself paid for our evil thoughts and actions through the perfect life of the Son of God, Jesus.
More on this topic in my next part tomorrow, or on our website. Search for First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin.
Text of Lenten Devotional #2 from 3/15/16
Hi. This is Dan Hummel, Associate Pastor of the First Congregational Church here in Hartford. In this time when Christians anticipate the celebration of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul's first letter to the Corinthians has much to tell us about the acceptance or rejection of this most significant event in human history. In the first chapter, Paul counters the wisdom of the world with “the foolishness of the message preached” (1 Corinthians 1:21). The wisdom of the world cannot come to know God, but the foolishness of the message preached [of the cross of Christ] saves those who believe.
Paul says “for indeed, Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:22-23). Most “spiritual” people today need feelings to confirm their supernatural beliefs. If they don't receive feelings or signs in their lives, they stumble and forsake belief in God. The intellectuals who have no need for spirituality use their vast education and study to reason away God and His stated truth in the Bible. Anyone preaching about Christ's crucifixion is not accepted because people will not humble themselves and accept God's foolishness, but would rather hold on to unfounded feelings and signs, or wishful-thinking about being autonomous in this life.
This “foolishness of God is wiser than men” Paul says. If God is absolutely perfect and no evil exists in Him at all, like the Bible clearly states throughout, it would make sense that anything God thinks up, no matter how foolish it may seem to man, is going to be wiser than anything man, a being God created, can think up. The good news is that Christ's coming to the earth and subsequent dying and rising again makes a great deal of sense, and is supremely logical. It explains much better than any other creed or philosophy the problem of evil and the whole point of life. As Paul preaches “Christ crucified,” there are many who will stumble over the significance and truth, and many more who will dismiss it as foolishness, “but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Corinthians 1:23-24).
I will say more about this tomorrow, or find our website. Search for First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin. Please join us for Sunday morning worship at 10 am.
Text of Lenten Devotional #3 from 3/16/16
Hi. This is Dan Hummel from the First Congregational Church here in Hartford. As I daily reflect on the death and resurrection of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, I am humbled that what is foolishness to many people, is the very basis for life for me and many other Christians. When the apostle Paul spoke to the Corinthians in his first letter, he pointed out that they were not known for their wisdom or might or noble stature. This may have been hard for them to hear, but Paul explains why he points out their humble circumstances.
He says, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong... so that no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:26-27).
This is the MO of God. God could judge all of humanity and find it very wanting and destroy it. But God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him (John 3:17). Jesus lived the humblest of lives: hence the manger-bed, the poverty, and His horrendous execution. But He is the Resurrection and the Life, and through His ultimate humility and Divine Perfection He achieved the ultimate victory.
During Lent, many attempt some form of humility to please God: abstaining from foods or activities, attending special church services, etc. Sometimes these sacrifices or activities do please God, but only after we have accepted His free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ the Lord. He demands either a perfect life or acceptance of the perfect life of Jesus as payment for our animosity toward God. That's the humility God requires: to admit we can bring nothing nor do anything that will appease God's righteous perfection. The humility of self-sacrifice or good works will not reach God's standard. We must humbly accept Jesus, period.
As we accept His payment for our fallen nature, for our going against God in thought, word and deed every day, we are placed in His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21), and accepted by God, apart from anything we do. And we are humbled that we can do nothing. All we can do is boast in Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord. Hallelujah!
More information on this topic in my next two minutes tomorrow, or on our web site. Search for First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin.
Text of Lenten Devotional #4 from 3/17/16
Hi. Dan Hummel here, from the First Congregational Church of Hartford. Many Christians will seek ways to humble themselves during this time they call “Lent.” God's Word, the Bible, is very humbling as we read it and study it. Paul tells us that our greatest wisdom is but foolishness compared to God's plan.
Paul culminates his presentation in his first letter to the Corinithians by showing that our humble belief in Jesus as Savior and Lord, enables us to have God's wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Let's examine these four concepts individually from the Bible. Wisdom from God is the eyes to see what Jesus has to say in His Word: the Bible. As we read and study the Bible, if we humble ourselves to God, we become wise unlike any in this world.
What is the righteousness Paul mentions here? When we accept that we need a Savior and that Jesus is God and our Savior, we “become the righteousness of God” in Christ Jesus, as Paul explains in his second letter to the Corinthians: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Nothing we do, Jesus did it all, and we are seen as perfect and righteous before God the Father, having put on the perfection and righteousness of Christ. Hallelujah!
And when we believe in Jesus for the salvation He provides through His death and resurrection, God sets us apart for His work here in this world. This is the meaning of the wonderful word: sanctification. We become more like the perfection that Jesus is as we love God and learn about Him from His Word, the Bible. Ultimately, we will be fully redeemed, paid for by Jesus, and be with Him in Heaven for eternity. Hallelujah!
So when Paul says “by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,” you now know he has said a mouthful.
If you are one to participate in Lenten sacrifices or activities, please remember that Jesus' sacrifice for us provides everything we can ever need, and nothing we do or can do will ever appease God, nor do we have to, because Jesus did it all for us.
For more on this topic, listen to my message tomorrow, or check out our web site by searching for the First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin.
Text of Lenten Devotional #5 from 3/18/16
Hi. This is Dan Hummel from the First Congregational Church here in Hartford. This week I have been glancing over Paul's writing to the Corinthians as he exhorts us to not trust in the wisdom of the world, but to accept God's Word, no matter how foolish it may seem. The world's wisdom makes up things we have to do that have nothing to do with the truth found in God's Word. And many of us forget the central message of Christ crucified for us, because it seems like foolishness.
Many people at this time of “Lent,” hold on to traditions and take solace in them. Traditions can help us remember truth, but too often traditions take the place of the truth they were to remember. This was the grievous error of the Jewish Pharisees during Jesus' time on earth: they knew the truth and the source of truth, but they added on their traditions and then believed in them. Why do you believe what you believe?
I swim 100 miles every year in the Hartford Rec Center pool. My friend Jack told me the pool is actually shorter than the 25-yards they say it is. I have been afraid to actually measure the pool, because that would mean all the swimming I have been doing all these years may not have been 100 miles a year. Perhaps that's how some of you are about what you believe to be true: you are afraid to examine it, for fear the foundations of your life will crumble. Not swimming 100 miles a year is one thing, but missing out on God's plan is too dangerous. When we turn to God and humbly seek His truth, He will bless us with finding out the truth. That's the kind of humility God rewards, not the made-up traditions of Lenten sacrifice and denial of pleasures.
My father never wanted to believe in God because he equated God-belief with the religion he had been forced to adhere to as a child. He abandoned that religion as soon as he could, and I don't blame him. For those of you who have dismissed Jesus and His crucifixion as foolishness, perhaps you find it foolish because of the traditions you see that you assume are prescribed by God in the Bible. Please, read for yourself, and see the amazing power of God in His Word, with no man-made additions to it. The Bible has strong internal and external evidence that it is the very Word of God. To examine that evidence, find our website by searching for the First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin. Or you can email or call us with questions or comments. Please also consider coming to worship with us on Sunday mornings at 10 am.
Text of Lenten Devotional #6 from 3/19/16
Hi. This is Dan Hummel, Associate Pastor from the First Congregational Church here in Hartford. As I read through the first chapter of Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, Paul wonderfully develops the theme of God's plan that Jesus would live a perfect life, and die and rise again. Though this plan is not something that can be accepted by the wisdom this world provides, Paul makes the case that by accepting that plan, we have the power of God, we are saved from a just sentence of separation from God forever. Please, take time to find a Bible and read this first chapter of First Corinthians. Go to the church's website by searching for First Congregational Church of Hartford, Wisconsin, and find my notes on this chapter.
Lent is a time when many think they will appease God by sacrificing favorite foods or pleasurable behavior. Paul clearly states that “no man may boast before God” (1 Corinthians 1:29). God's plan is God's plan, and Jesus crucified is the center of that plan. That work by God on the cross is infinitely more than any work we can do. We can only obtain wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, by believing in the message of Jesus crucified and risen again. No matter how foolish the simple message of Christ crucified for us seems, and no matter how wise our self-sacrificing seems, God's truth is the truth, and we must humble ourselves before Him, and accept the work of Jesus for us.
God tells us through the Bible that not only do we act against His perfect will, our thoughts are also all tainted and against His will as well. Some of us have known a murder victim. What can appease the situation of a lost loved-one at the hands of an unrepentant murderer? Life in jail? The electric chair? Nothing can. Jesus said when we are unrighteously angry, we are committing murder. A perfect and just God rightly judges our evil thoughts and deeds, but God is willing to put the penalty on Jesus, and Jesus is willing to take it, because God loves us that much!
Because it is all God's work, Paul makes his final statement in this presentation: “so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord”” (1 Corinthians 1:31). This Lent, learn what God has done for you through Jesus, and then boast in the Lord Jesus and His work upon the cross. Amen.
Please feel free to attend our worship services on Sunday mornings at 10 am, or our Prayer Meetings on Wednesday evenings at 6:30.