"The Growing Seed"
June 4, 2017
Matthew 13:32 - (Jesus said) "It is the smallest of all seeds, but when it has grown it is larger than all the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches."
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
The salvation story of Jesus Christ reaches around the world. So that the readers of our Daily Devotion may see the power of the Savior on a global scale, we have asked the volunteers of our international ministry centers to write our Sunday devotions. We pray that the Spirit may touch your day through their words.
In Christ, I remain, His servant and yours,
Kenneth R. Klaus
Speaker Emeritus of The Lutheran Hour
Lutherans all over the world are celebrating the Reformation's 500th anniversary. That's 500 years of hard work because the message of the cross is foolishness to the wisdom of the wise and to the understanding of the prudent (see 1 Corinthians 1:18-19).
An atheist professor of physics denied all sorts of divine power working in nature. He maintained that physics is the basis of everything moving in this world.
Pastor Jonathan, a LHM-Madagascar volunteer, explained to the professor that he's very wrong. He said, "Look, professor, can you calculate the physical force that supports the planet earth hanging in the emptiness of space?
How did this happen? Science cannot create; it can only report on what has already been created."
One day the professor came to meet the pastor and said, "I now know that science has a limit and cannot explain everything. I understand that only God's hands can maintain our world in order. I was wrong."
From that day, Pastor Jonathan taught him the truths of the Bible.
His teaching was based on Psalms 8 and 146. Thanks to God's saving grace, the professor was converted, baptized, and became a Christian. Before he passed away, he asked Jonathan to give him the Lord's Supper.
Nobody is a Christian from the womb of his or her mother. It is only by the Holy Spirit's work that the seed of faith is placed in a person's heart and grows. Thus, the Gospel of our Lord Jesus is the very mustard seed that when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree.
Jesus' Gospel was introduced for the first time in the southwestern region of Madagascar on September 7, 1874.
Ten years of hard work showed the conversion of only four people. But the Gospel is a very tiny seed in the beginning, but it grows in the hearts of those who are being saved; thus it is the power of God.
Today, there are more than 150, 000 Christians in the above mentioned region and almost four million Lutherans all over Madagascar. It is not unusual to see thousands of people come early to our large churches. There, hours before the service, those thousands raise their voices in praise to the crucified and ever-living Savior.
These, my friends, are ones who became Christians because of God's saving grace. These are the birds that come and nest in the branches of Jesus' Gospel. They find peace for their souls, under the shadow of the Crucified One's amazing grace.
Today, I and many others give thanks for LHM-Madagascar's holy mission dedicated to bringing Jesus to the people and bringing the people to the church. The number of students enrolled in Bible Correspondence Courses increases year after year. With God's Gospel, Lutheran Hour Ministries is throwing out a large net, and many "fish" are being caught.
These 500 years of Gospel proclamation makes us Lutherans proud of the work of the Holy Spirit. Even so, we recognize that a lot of work is still standing in front of us. To do that work we ask the Lord to give us strength.
THE PRAYER: Thank You, Lord Jesus, for Your amazing grace that Madagascar, our island at an end of the earth, has been reached by Your Holy Gospel. Empower LHM and be always with us, your workers, even to the end of the age. In Jesus' Name. Amen!
Biography of Author: Today's international devotion was written by Reverend William David Zoulder, a graduate of the Lomonwaossov State University in Moscow. The Malagasy Lutheran Church appointed him as a French and philosophy lecturer at their Graduate School of Theology. Pastor Zoulder is also a graduate of the School of Theology in Natal, South Africa. At the opening of Lutheran Hour Ministries' center in Madagascar in 1999, he was asked to translate our Bible Courses into Malagasy and French. Now Pastor Zoulder participates in radio programs as an LHM volunteer. He is married to Virginie, and they have three children.
Madagascar is a developing country where the greatest number of people live in poverty, with social insecurity and political instability. This situation does not stop the work of LHM in propagating the Word of God throughout the island. Our focus remains on using the radio in reach into the rural communities. We also have developed a strategy to target urban communities by using the Government's Education and Health Departments. We have also started our plan for a holistic program aiming at women and children.
In this country of more than 24 million people, LHM-Madagascar (known in-country as Voice of the Gospel) utilizes radio as the most efficient means of reaching the citizens living in this island nation. A 30-minute weekly FM radio program addresses cultural, spiritual and emotional topics, offering a Christian perspective to listeners. Through outreach conducted in both French and Malagasy, this ministry center -- established in Antananarivo in 1993 -- connects with rural communities through rallies and film showings, which often draw hundreds. Young people in high school and those serving time in detention centers also benefit from these films. As a way to strengthen believers' ability to share the Gospel, Equipping the Saints (ETS) workshops provide relational tools, material resources, and trained instruction in conveying the Good News of Jesus Christ. More than 5,000 participants are active in its BCC program too.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries