These past 95 days were a reflection on the statements that got Martin Luther into trouble. When he posted them on the door I am sure that he did not think that they would be printed and circulated in German to everybody and start a whole new Denomination.
Thank you all for reading these devotions on Luther, it is still the 500 th year until next October31st. If you or your congregation would like to use these devotions you may go to the website Lutherdevotions.com, each day’s devotions are published as a post. You may download the complete set as a pdf or fill in the e-mail subscription form which will allow you and others to receive them daily for 95 days beginning again beginning at day one.
This was only the beginning of Luther’s writing, he went on to translate the bible into German and wrote the major confessions to which Lutherans subscribe today. He also wrote the large and Small Catechisms and a Treatise on the Pope. You can find all of these writings in various places and all are worth the time it takes to read them.
I have gotten many emails saying just how much you have enjoyed receiving these daily devotions. Therefore I am going to continue to send out a daily devotion. These will be a slow and complete read through the Bible. I will start with the Gospel of Matthew. I have divided the Book of Matthew into short readable sections and each devotion is designed to be just 15 minutes long. Everyone who has been getting the 95 Theses Devotions will automatically receive these new devotions and if you do not want to receive them daily please use the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email.
Yours in Christ
Pastor Paul Hoyer
95. And thus be confident of entering into heaven through many tribulations rather than through the false security of peace (Acts 14:22).
Imagine that you were trying to climb up the side of a steep mountain for the first time. Someone gave you a harness and had it attached to a rope and they said, “don’t worry if you fall we will catch you.” You would go up that mountain without fear and you would take the dangerous jumps and small footholds and grab the slippery rocks, because you know that you have the safety harness in case you fall. Then your friend starts shouting at you be careful don’t take those chances because there is no one on the end of the rope to catch you, it just looks like a safety harness it is not really safe.
That is what Luther was trying to do for the people of the church of his day when he wrote the 95 Theses. He was shouting that the indulgences that they were trusting in had no one on the end of the rope. It was not a safety harness at all. He told them instead that the true safety rope for their life was tied off in Christ and His work on the cross. He said that you can be sure of your salvation and your eternal life, but not because of an indulgence that you bought from someone who said it was signed by the pope. Your security is to be found in the cross of Christ.
Today there are many people in the church that would have us put our trust in a person or a special teaching of the church. That this person or teaching is a great secret that only a few know about but you can depend on this for salvation. They may even say that the cross is important but this is more important. We need to follow the urging of Martin Luther from 500 years ago and cling solely to the cross of Christ for nothing else will save you.
Dear Heavenly Father I thank you for the many gifts that You gave to Your people on earth through Your servant Martin Luther. I pray that the security of the cross that he reminded us of will fill my heart and mind. In Christ Jesus, Amen.
94. Christians should be exhorted to be diligent in following Christ, their Head, through penalties, death and hell.
When Jesus was leaving His disciples to go back to heaven, he told them that they should not expect their life to be easy; He said that if He had to suffer while he was on earth they should expect the same or worse. Luther says here that Christians should expect that to live their life in following Jesus would also be hard. God never promised anything else. But following Christ through the troubles of this life will lead to a glorious and joyous life without end with God in heaven.
A life lived following Jesus is a life where we show love to all those around us and we look for ways to serve others with all our days. Living our life in this way does not earn us the gift of the Holy Spirit. Instead living our life in that way is the result of God giving us the free gift of His Spirit. Because living this way is not easy, Luther says here that we need to give people ongoing encouragement that living a life for Christ is the proper result of the faith that is within us that trusts Jesus for our salvation.
Today that new life in Christ is no easier than it was in the days of Luther; we still need to encourage each other to live a life worthy of our Lord. Not because we have to but because we got to!
Dear Father, I have to admit that the good things that I want to do with my life, those are the things that I do not do and the bad things that I wish to avoid, those are the things that I do. I know that with the power of Your Spirit living in me I have the power to lead the life I was created for. In Jesus name. Amen.
93. Blessed be all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Cross, cross,” and there is no cross!
Luther thought that the false prophets of Jeremiah were telling the people to look for peace hoping that they might find peace. In this Thesis he says that the preachers that point people toward the cross of Christ for their peace and salvation are to be blessed because the cross brings true peace.
The cross was a horrible instrument of the Roman government for torture and death something that we would avoid at all costs. Yet because God turned it into the instrument of salvation it is something that we cherish. The cross that brings anything but hope has become the symbol of hope for all those who believe.
The devil thought that when Jesus died on the cross God had lost the battle for the people of this world. But the truth was that when Jesus went to the cross rather than showing His defeat Jesus was ascending the throne to rule His new kingdom of faith.
Luther had rediscovered the truth that it was the cross that was our hope for a life in heaven, not the church that was our hope for heaven.
Jesus Christ my Heavenly King, I give You thanks that You have given me Your Holy Spirit so that I may know and believe that because of Your death on the cross I will have eternal life. In Your name I pray. Amen.
92. Away, then, with all those prophets who say to the people of Christ, “Peace, peace,” and there is no peace! (Jer 6:14)
In the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament Jeremiah was speaking the Word of the Lord to the people of Israel. He was chastising them for not really following His ways. He talks about the priests who were preaching for money and were more concerned about their own wealth than the condition of the people of God. He said that it was the bad prophets who knew the people wanted peace, so they spoke “peace, peace”, even when they knew there was not peace, they just said it to make the people feel better. They thought if they said it enough the people would feel like there was peace.
So Luther is now comparing those priests to the priests that were selling the indulgences. He feels that they are just saying what they think the people want to hear, not what they need to hear. They think if they say that the indulgences are great and necessary often enough the people will believe it. In the time of Jeremiah it was nothing more than the word of a false prophet, there was not real peace from them. So Luther says that the forgiveness and salvation that the indulgence selling priests are speaking to the people about is only the words of a false priest and not really what the people needed. There is no real forgiveness to be found there.
So Luther felt that those who bought the indulgences were not going to know the true forgiveness of God. They are not going to feel the peace of forgiveness. Today there are some who claim to be speaking for God and they are giving people just what they want to hear. They too are often false prophets who speak peace where there is not peace! We need to avoid those people.
Jesus You are my Prophet, You speak the Word of the Lord to me every day. I know that Your word is true because I see the power of that word in my life. Fill me with the joy and the peace of Your forgiving love O Lord. Amen.
91. If, therefore, indulgences were preached according to the spirit and intention of the pope, all these doubts would be readily resolved. Indeed, they would not exist.
Martin Luther still chooses to believe that the pope has the best interests of the people at heart. He believes that if it were not for the preaching of the indulgence salesmen that indulgences would be good for the people of the church.
After reading these Theses it is hard for me to come to that same conclusion. It seems obvious that the pope was also totally corrupt and completely consumed with greed. As a person who has been a part of the organized church for his entire life I am more than a little disappointed in the church leadership of that day. Looking at the history of the church that Luther ended up piloting I am also disappointed in how that church has responded to the needs of their communities. Certainly the church needs leaders and the bulk of the people in the church are ready to follow those leaders. But it seems that we could do a better job of leading in the ways of the lord. That we could be guided by His love and mercy rather than our earthly tendencies toward pride and selfish ambition. We see church leaders falling into the same sins over and over throughout history.
So I choose to follow Luther’s lead and put the best construction on everything, giving every leader of the church the benefit of the doubt. I choose to focus on the great many wonderful things that the church here on earth has done and the great many people who have had their lives changed forever, by the true gospel preached by the true church here on earth. To God be the Glory!
Lord do not let me get bogged down looking at the shortcomings of Your church leaders now and throughout history. Instead give me an extra measure of Your Spirit that I may see Your hand piloting Your church throughout history. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.