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Saturday, May 30, 2020

We Must Eat

Editor’s Note: Pastor Scott Peterson is sharing daily devotions written by some of his favorite authors. These current devotions are written by Arndt Halvorson on the writings of P.T. Forsyth. Their biographies and any notes by Pastor Scott are listed at the end of the devotion.

by Arndt Halvorson

“It is safer and better to pray over the Bible than to brood over self. And the prayer which is stirred by the cross is holier even than that which arises from the guilt which drives us to the Cross.” –P.T. Forsyth

There are always those in the church who grow impatient with written prayers, with the ritual of church worship, with the liturgy. They complain that such routine forms of worship are not personal enough, and apparently, not “spiritual” (whatever that is!) enough. We tend to expect every religious occasion to be what we call “soul-stirring,” a memorable experience.

This attitude can cause great trouble. Sometimes we just don’t feel like praying, or worshiping or Bible study, or receiving the sacrament. If this feeling becomes the norm, we are in grave danger of spiritual shipwreck. We may lapse into “brooding over ourselves,” dwelling on our problems and sins. Many a person who says, “I couldn’t sleep last night,” must in all honesty, add that it was because he/she was brooding over self,’ and this is always fatal.

No–far better to have and keep a practice of a daily devotional time when the Bible is read, regardless of how we feel. Far better to keep inviolate the practice of regular, weekly (at least) worship with the congregation and using written prayers. As we say to sick people, “You must eat.”

For God is always calling always seeking us-and he uses the words, his word, to do this. This word says he went to the cross for us. He chose to do this. Sometimes we forget that.

“Attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have. Practice these duties, devote yourself to them” (1 Timothy 4:13,14 15).

So, my savior God, remind me this day to listen to you through your book. Help me never to ignore your cross. Create in me this day a hunger for your word of love, so I may hear it again, and enjoy your company on my way. Amen

Peter Taylor Forsyth was a theologian, pastor, and educator whose fiery preaching and provocative writing stirred Great Britain from 1874 until his death in 1921. For a number of years after his death he was forgotten, but since 1940 he has been “rediscovered” and has been studied by many of today’s church leaders and theologians. Born and educated in Scotland, he combines Scottish toughness and gentleness, practicality and mysticism, with an openness to the world outside–mainly German, Scandinavian and French thought. Since he was a pastor for 25 years, he does not write to systematize his thought, but to apply it to our daily lives. Thus, his theology has a personal “bite” which gets us involved as participants, not spectators. His writings seem current, addressing the great questions of our time–such issues as authority, how to read the Bible, prayer, the cross and its significance and the call to holiness by a Holy God.

Arndt L. Halvorson (1915 – 2006) was my preaching professor at Luther Seminary where he taught homiletics (preaching) for 24 years.  When Arndt dressed-up he wore cowboy cut suits, with a string tie and cowboy boots.  He had a passion for the gospel and his bluntness in communication was engaging.  One day in my preaching lab Arndt said, “Some of the best sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.  And, all of the worst sermons I ever heard were preached without notes.”  –Pastor Scott