Wednesday, July 26, 2017

"He comforts the church here"

PS 45:12      The people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts, the richest of the people.
AELW 12 291-292

“Wherever there is a nation and wealthy people, there will be some who adore Christ because of this Word. Though it seems incredible, I will nevertheless give you people from every nation who will come and hear you preach with the greatest joy and will honor the Word.” We see today that even at the courts of godless princes there are many good men who honor the Word in true piety, attend to its ministry in humility, and aid the brethren in every service of which they are capable. That is what it means to confess Christ with external gifts and services. From the outset of this preaching in the church it occurred, and it still occurs today. It is a great comfort that in the midst of tribulations and persecutions the church will also have an external comfort and that the Word will be extended and maintained by the rich, too. So we see that today there are few princes without someone at their courts who fosters the Word and honors it. 

If God were to give no place where the Word could be taught, if He provided no one who loved the Gospel, the church would not last long. Therefore, while the rest raged and the greater part of the world persecuted the Gospel, God raised up David, Josiah, Hezekiah, and even on occasion a king of Babylon (Dan. 3:28), that there might be rest and peace for the ministry and extension of the Word. Necessarily, then, He comforts the church here, that there will not be lacking holy men and daughters of the church, also among the powerful and rich of the world, to maintain and defend the church, so that the statement of the psalm may be fulfilled (Ps. 110:2): “Rule in the midst of Thine enemies.”

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

"In theology one must simply hear, believe, and hold firmly in his heart: God is faithful, no matter how absurd what He says in His Word may appear to our reason.”

Psalm 45:11b: Since He is your Lord, bow to Him
AELW 12:287-288

"Therefore you who devote yourselves to Holy Scriptures should above all be sure of what you must believe in the Christian religion, that you may have the articles of faith defended with good texts of Holy Scripture and have considered them well. Then when either Satan or his instruments, the heretics, wish to dispute with you, hold these texts up to them and let them go, saying: “I do not wish to hear your sophistries and speculations. For this is what the Holy Spirit says. He has warned me to hear and incline my ear. A new and powerful teaching is coming, at which many will be offended:   that we must let all righteousness go and simply confide and depend on Christ alone and His righteousness; moreover, that this Christ is by nature God and must be adored. So I am certain I do not err, and the argument is refuted that is raised from the First Commandment and the Prophets regarding one God.” If they object: “Then you make many gods,” I reply: “I do not make another or many gods, but I say that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one and the same God. There is a unity of substance and one Essence though there are three Persons. I do not want to have many gods, because many gods contend among themselves. Nor can there be many gods. But here is unity. If I do not understand how the Persons are differentiated, it is enough for me that Holy Scriptures say this and call Father, Son, and Holy Spirit by name (Matt. 28:19). If I could grasp this with my reason or senses, what need would there be for faith? Of what use is Scripture revealed by God through the Holy Spirit? If I believe nothing but what I can comprehend by my reason, I must reject Baptism, the Sacrament of the Altar, the Word, grace, original sin, and everything. Reason understands none of these things.” So we see that the Sacramentarians and Anabaptists have given up an of these, for they understand none of them correctly. For that reason this should be the first concern of a theologian: that he be a good textualist, as it is called, and that he hold fast to the first principle of not disputing or philosophizing about sacred things. If reasonable or apparent arguments were in place here, I could distort every article of faith as well as Arius, the Sacramentarians, and the Anabaptists. But in theology one must simply hear, believe, and hold firmly in his heart: “God is faithful, no matter how absurd what He says in His Word may appear to our reason.”

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Psalm 45:11b "Since He is your Lord, bow to Hiim

AELW 12:287

"...the miserable Zwingli first roused his hearers with the thunderclap that it is idolatry to believe the bread is the body of Christ, who is God and man. When the simple minds heard this, they first reflected for a short time and then they assented—captivated by its appearance of truth. For when the devil has taken the Word from our hearts and eyes and has led us to reflect on the articles of faith without the Word, then we are finished. You should say: “I will not be drawn into deliberations as to whether it is true or not, but I simply believe as Christ says: ‘This is My body.’"

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness

Psalm 45:6  Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. The scepter of your kingdom is a scepter of uprightness;

AELW 12:237

"Plato and Cicero come to the conclusion that kingdoms cannot be administered without injustice and lying. But in Christ’s kingdom there is no offense, there is no wrong; injustice is not tolerated, not even in a little point. In the kingdoms of this world these injustices take place not in little points but in great heaps. There we see infinite oceans and monstrosities of injustices that cannot be avoided, not even by those who rule well

To state the matter briefly, it is impossible for people in power not to sin; neither are they able to administer justice to everyone. The reason is that the magnitude of affairs and Satan’s artfulness exceed their strength. It is enough, however, if they do not sin willfully and intentionally, but have the will to administer their office faithfully. What takes place accidentally other than they intend is wiped out as though by a sponge and absorbed by the remission of sins. Otherwise who would be willing to undertake the administration of public affairs? But we are commanded in Sacred Scripture to forget and cover the sins of those in authority, and we are forbidden to see these specks in the eyes of princes (Matt. 7:3)."

Thursday, July 6, 2017

If the devil wants to cast you into sorrow and destroy faith, then rise up in faith and say to him:Go away satan, and be quiet. My Christ lives.

Psalm 45:66. Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever.

AELW 12:233-234

"...we must read the Word, hear and meditate on it, go into our chamber and pray on bended knee. That is really what it means to suppress sin, which keeps springing up, fighting against us and taking us captive. Therefore a Christian must fight back this way. If we do not fight back this way, but are lazy and denounce neither ourselves nor others, we cannot find out whether we really believe or not. This is the sign that Christ is exercising judgment and is active among us, that the voice of reproof and reprimand is heard, the voice that rebukes the devil, the voice that distresses and overthrows the sects, the voice that impedes and restrains scandals. These thunderbolts proceed from Christ’s throne and are sure indications that Christ is present and judging. Faith and the other fruits of faith grow through this judgment which Christ exercises in us.

Therefore learn to open your eyes, to recognize the church, and to believe that it is holy. All wise men today are offended by this aspect of the church. Since reason hears that the church is holy and without spot, it thinks that Christians are spotless.

For that reason it is necessary to state here definitely what “holy” means. The church is not called holy because it has no sin. Paul says (Rom. 6:12), “Do not let sin reign,” namely, “that you obey it.” He confesses that there is sin and lust in Christians, and he admonishes them not to let sin reign. Therefore the church is holy, and it is called holy according to its first fruits, not according to its tithes and fullness. It is holy through faith in the name of Christ, in whom it has purity. This it does not have in itself, but because of His name it is holy. Sins lie hidden in the saints, but these are sins that have been brought into subjection, not sins that rule. From time to time they break forth, to be sure, so that even the saints are disturbed by impatience, sorrow, or despair. These are the desires of sin, but not its lordship. Although they attack me, I still lay hold of Christ. I stamp this impatience and sorrow under foot and hold in check the remnants of sin. The church, therefore, is holy in Christ, its head, and it is pure in Christ’s name. It is not holy and pure in itself, in its hidden and roaring sins, which are like chained beasts roaring and threatening. For our sin is bound in chains and imprisoned. Indeed, it would like to be released from chains and free, but we must battle against it. If the devil wants to cast you into sorrow and destroy faith, then rise up in faith and say to him: “Go away, Satan, and be quiet. My Christ lives."

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Psalm 23:1 I shall not want

AELW 12:158-159

"I am sitting in the midst of the wolves, I am not sure of my life for a moment; but I do not see any shepherd who would protect me.” Again: “Why does He permit the devil to harm me so greatly with terror and doubts? Besides, I find myself quite unfit, weak, impatient, still laden with many sins. I feel no security but only doubt, no comfort but only fear and trembling because of God’s wrath. When will He ever begin to manifest in me that He is my Shepherd?”

Such strange thoughts and many others will come to you if you fail to heed His voice and Word. But if you hold fast to them, you will be tempted neither by the devil’s wile, the world’s disfavor and raging, nor by your own weakness and unworthiness. You will go straight forward to speak freely: “Let the devil, the world, or my own conscience oppose me as violently as they may. I will not for that reason grieve myself to death. It must be so and it shall be so, that whoever is the Lord’s sheep will surely be assailed by the wolves. Be it with me as it may, let them boil or roast me, it shall be my comfort that my Shepherd has given His life for me. Moreover, He has a sweet, kind voice, with which He comforts me and says that I shall never perish, neither shall any man snatch me out of His hand; I shall have eternal life (John 10:28). And He will keep this promise, no matter what happens to me. If because of my weakness some sin or other fault by chance is still found in me, He will not reject me on that account. For He is a friendly Shepherd, who watches over the weak sheep, binds up their wounds, and heals them. And so that I may be all the more sure and not doubt, He has given me, as a token, His holy Sacraments.”

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Psalm 23:1 The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.

AELW 12:153-154

"It is the function of a faithful shepherd not only to supply his sheep with good pasture and other related things, but also to keep them from suffering harm. Moreover, he takes good care not to lose  any of them. But if one of them should go astray, he goes after it, seeks it, and returns it (Luke 15:4). He looks after the young, the weak and the sick very carefully, waits on them, lifts them up and carries them in his arms (Is. 40:11) until they are grown and are strong and well."

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Luther's introduction to Psalm 23 - Sighing for the Means of Grace

AELW 12:151-152

"If they are not far from places where God’s Word is preached and the Holy Sacrament is administered according to Christ’s command, they may, of course, travel to such places and make use of that treasure—as indeed many do and, on that account, are punished in body and possessions by their godless governments. If they live far away from such places, let them not stop sighing for the means of grace; and our Lord Jesus Christ will surely hear their sighing and in time restore their fortunes. But unhappy and more than unhappy are those that have this treasure at their doorsteps in abundance and still despise it. In the case of such the Word of Christ will be fulfilled (Matt. 8:11): “Many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven”; in the case of others: “The sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness."

Monday, June 26, 2017

Psalm 23:1-6

Psalm 23
1. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.
2. He feeds me in a green pasture and leads me to the fresh water.
3. He restores my soul, He leads me in the right path for His names sake.
4. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow, I fear no evil; for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.
5. Thou preparest a table before me against my enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil, Thou pourest my cup full.
6. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Expounded One Evening After Grace at the Dinner Table
by Dr. Martin Luther

"...whenever God’s Word is preached properly and purely, it creates as many good things and results as the prophet here gives it names. To those that hear it diligently and seriously—and they are the only ones whom our Lord acknowledges as His sheep—it is pleasant green grass, a cool draught, by which the sheep of the Lord are satisfied and refreshed. It keeps them in the paths of righteousness and preserves them from suffering misfortune and harm. And it is to them an ever happy life, in which food and drink and all kinds of joy and pleasure abound. In other words: these sheep of the Lord are not only instructed and guided, refreshed, strengthened, and comforted by God’s Word; but they are also continuously kept on the right path, protected in body and soul in all kinds of distress, and finally they conquer and overcome all tribulation and sorrow, of which they must endure only as much as verse four mentions. In short, they live in complete safety as men whom no sorrow can befall, because their Shepherd tends and protects them."

Friday, June 23, 2017

Psalm 19:14 - Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.

AELW 12:144

"That is: If I do not give approval to the ungodly and they do not overcome me, I shall keep the Word of God; then my preaching, worship, and my other conduct will please God....

... May God, the Father of all grace and mercy, grant this for the eternal comfort and salvation of us all in this perilous time.
To Him, with His only Son, our dear Lord and Savior Christ Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, be thanks, praise, and honor forever. Amen."