Have you ever heard the story about the three trees and their dreams? This is how it goes.
Once there were three trees on a hill in the woods. They were discussing their hopes and dreams when the first tree said, “Someday I hope to be a treasure chest. I could be filled with gold, silver and precious gems. I could be decorated with intricate carving and everyone would see the beauty.”
16 I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17, NIV84)
You didn’t choose me, but I chose you. I have appointed you to go, to produce fruit that will last, and to ask the Father in my name to give you whatever you ask for. John 15:16
A fierce battle has been raging in this world since the very beginning. Cain wanted to choose God on his own terms. He wanted God to value his work and his offering instead of his brother’s. The world has followed Cain’s example from that day until now. The world always wants to turn this verse of John around and say, “I don’t want to be chosen by God, I want to choose him first.” But God cannot and will not tolerate this. He turns their words back around and says, “You cannot and should not choose me. I must choose you. It won’t happen the way you imagine, but the way I want it to. I want to be your Lord and Master. I don’t want to be mastered by you.” That’s why throughout Scripture God condemns and throws away this type of choosing that goes against what he commands.
Even Paul condemns this vice. He says, “Let no one who delights in [false] humility… tell you that you don’t deserve a prize” (Colossians 2:18). Likewise, he says, “These things look like wisdom with their self-imposed worship, [false] humility, and harsh treatment of the body. But they have no value” (Colossians 2:23). With these words, he describes those who practice useless, self-chosen worship and justify it by saying, “I mean well and am doing it for God and to honor him. It will please him, and so he will be merciful to me.” These people are twice as bad as God’s enemies. God called the Israelites out of Egypt and gave them the Ten Commandments, telling them what they should and shouldn’t do so that they wouldn’t invent ways to serve him. In the same way, God wants to tell us what it means to serve him.
This devotion comes from By Faith Alone a devotional book based on Luther’s writings. It is the devotion for September 1st. If you are interested in reading more of these devotions please speak to Pastor Frelitz.
46 “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? 47 I will show you what he is like who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice. 48 He is like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. 49 But the one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The moment the torrent struck that house, it collapsed and its destruction was complete.” (Luke 6:46-49, NIV84)