Neither Jew nor Greek…

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray:

Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We confess: 

O Lord,with heartfelt sorrow we repent and deplore our offences. We condemn ourselves and our evil ways, with true penitence entreating that thy grace may relieve our distress. Be pleased to have compassion upon us, O most gracious God, Father of all mercies, for the sake of thy Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. And as thou dost remove our guilt and our pollution, grant us the daily increase of the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that acknowledging from our inmost hearts our own unrighteousness, we may be touched with sorrow that shall work true repentance, and that, mortifying all sins within us, thy Spirit may produce the fruits of holiness and righteousness well pleasing in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Dobberstein Pg.27

God´s Holy Word for Wednesday in the 6th week after Trinity

For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female —for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.  And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

St. Paul´s epistle to the Galatians chapter 3 verses 26-29

We laud and praise His holy name – God Father, Son + Holy Ghost +

1 All who believe and are baptized
Shall see the Lord’s salvation;
Baptized into the death of Christ,
They are a new creation.
Through Christ’s redemption they shall stand
Among the glorious, heav’nly band
Of ev’ry tribe and nation.

2 With one accord, O God, we pray:
Grant us Your Holy Spirit.
Help us in our infirmity
Through Jesus’ blood and merit.
Grant us to grow in grace each day
That by this sacrament we may
Eternal life inherit.

Thomas H. Kingo 1634-1703
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Behold, to the Lord your God belong heaven and the heaven of heavens.

Our good God is greatest of all and for all:

Again, after the manner of a good lawgiver, Moses impresses and repeats the greatness and goodness of the God who commands. “Behold,” he says, “there are various heavens and various gods; but your God is over them all (almost as Paul says in 1 Cor. 8:5). Nevertheless, from all the nations under all the heavens He has loved and chosen your fathers and their seed.” I note that in Scripture the heavens are distributed, not according to spheres, as the mathematicians are accustomed to do but according to parts of the earth, just as the earth, too, is distributed, as he says elsewhere (Deut. 28:23): “And the heavens over your head shall be brass”; that is, there is to be one heaven for this people and another for that people. But this is the God of all the heavens, that is, over all heavens, ruling in the horizon of all—the God, not of the Jews alone but of all nations. Thus Ps. 115:16:4 “The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth He has given to the sons of men.”

Martin Luther´s Commentary on Deuteronomy 10:14 (LW 9 Pg.111)

He loves the sojourner and takes good care of them:

Look at those delightful promises of God: “Who is not partial”; likewise, “Who takes no bribe”; likewise, “He executes judgment for the fatherless and the widow”; likewise, “He loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing” (vv. 17–18). With these words God clearly consoles all the wretched, lost, and afflicted in the whole world and draws their hearts to Himself, that they may believe in Him and trust in His goodness, as the one and only God demands. If He does not regard persons, I already have something because of which to glory, to puff up my heart, and to be proud against all the kings, princes, rich and strong men of the world. By them I am despised and deserted as poor, mean, and weak. Yet I am certain that I am regarded, sustained, and cared for by Him who is the God of gods and the Lord of lords (as Moses also teems and is magnificent with words here), the powerful one, fearful above all my despisers. What, therefore, would I lack, if some lord of a few servants despises me, while the Lord of all lords and the God of gods deems me worthy of His care?

So if I am a fool, a despairing and despised sinner, or if I have been judged, condemned, and excommunicated as a sinner, heretic, an accursed one, a blasphemer, a servant of Satan—so what? They are holy, righteous, honored, praised, of high repute among the sons of God, and numbered among the stars—so what? Here is the God of gods, who does not regard persons or care for their gifts. He cares for me, a sinner and fool, just as they presume He cares for them. Heavens, if I could hold to these promises in faith, what could happen that could sadden me? What sin could oppress me, what could cause me to despair? Yes, what height, what depth, what present thing, what creature (Rom. 8:38–39) could either puff us up or humble us? Let the heart cling to these words, and nothing will be lacking when all is lost—and nothing will be overly important even when everything is just fine. Only believe that He who says this does not lie, just as He cannot lie; and you shall have a secure and joyous heart in everything and through everything.

See, this is what it means to interpret the First Commandment. This is the commentary of Moses himself. Thus he teaches the understanding of what it means that there is a God, what it means to have God, what it means to fulfill the First Commandment. Oh, what great fountains just these words have been for the prophets! From this source they have drawn whatever they shout forth about the concern of God for the infirm, the lowly, the poor, the sinners, the widows, the orphans, the judged, the condemned, the afflicted, and the wretched; also whatever they thunder against the wealthy, the tyrannical, the mighty, the critical, the violent, the hard, and the proud about the wrath and vengeance of God. For all these flow from the great ocean of the First Commandment and flow back into it, so that no richer consolation or voice is more plainly heard or ever will be heard, yet none harder or severer, than the voice of the First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God.”

And, to proceed to the rest, widows and orphans suffer many things. Who cares for them then? No one, no one at all. But here they shall see with a sure heart, where it is said for their joy: “God of gods, Lord of lords, the great, powerful, and dreadful God—He executes judgment for the widow and the orphan.” This is the source of Ps. 68:5: “The Father of orphans and the Judge of the widow.” He wants this title of glory to be praised and thus to make it evident that out of pure mercy He admonishes tyrants not to do what would force Him to satisfy this title against them. Yet He genuinely frightens them so that they fear to harm widows and orphans, but rather, after His example, do them good and love them. And this is much more remarkable because, whether widows and orphans believe or not, He still executes judgment for them and judges the tyrants, although the unbelief of widows and orphans does not deserve to experience that in this life or while their unbelief lasts. The promise goes on and is fulfilled against the violent and the cruel, even if no one here believes. But it is fulfilled much more powerfully and quickly if the widows and orphans do believe.

He loves strangers so much that He feeds and clothes them. Heavens, who would now rely on his home or patrimony, even though this is not to be despised either? But if in a certain case he should happen to be a wanderer, let him not lose faith or believe less than if he were cherished in his paternal home; but let him sing with the psalmist (27:10): “My father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord has received me.” Wisdom 10:106 says of the patriarch Jacob: “She [wisdom] led the righteous one on the right way when he fled from the wrath of his brother, showed him the kingdom of God, gave him the knowledge of sacred things, enriched him by means of his labors, and completed his labors, etc.” Who will doubt that this is why more people become wealthy, prominent, and famous among strangers than at home and in their parental circles? For God is the Father of all; He loves the stranger to the point of giving him food and clothing.

Therefore, rejoice and boast: He is your praise; He is your God.

This is a Hebrew expression. In this passage “praise” seems to me properly to mean what Paul calls in Greek καύχησις (2 Cor. 7:4) or καύχημα (1 Cor. 5:6), “glorying”; in German it is Ruhm. The meaning, then is: “Because of nothing, neither of yourself nor your works, shall you be puffed up or boast. But in your God shall you boast, in Him be puffed up, in Him be proud, since you know that He it is who does not regard persons.”

“And He did with you all these great things which your eyes have seen”; as if He were saying: “You have learned through experience that He gave you food and clothing when you were a stranger, that He does not regard persons, that He judges for the widow and the orphan, etc. Therefore you have something to puff you up and make you proud against all tyrants, yes, against every evil, namely, your God, who provides you with all good things.”

And so you see that it is the fulfillment of the First Commandment to have God be the praise, the boasting, the bragging, the pride of our heart in the time both of prosperity and of adversity. For this it is to have God in truth.

Posted in Martin Luther and the Reformation, Saints of the church, Slavery, Theologie, Travels, You comfort me + | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

This prefigured baptism, which now saves you… 1.Pt.3,18-22

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray:

Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.

We confess: 

Almighty and most merciful God, we acknowledge and confess that we have sinned against thee in thought, word and deed; that we have not loved thee with all our heart and soul, with all our mind and strength; and that we have not loved our neighbour as ourselves. We beseech thee, O God, to be forgiving to what we have been, to help us to amend what we are, and of thy mercy to direct what we shall be, so that thy love of goodness may ever be first in our hearts, that we may always walk in thy commandments and ordinances blameless, and follow unto our life’s end in the footsteps of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

God´s Holy Word for Tuesday in the 6th week after Trinity

Because Christ also suffered once for sins,
the just for the unjust,
to bring you to God,
by being put to death in the flesh
but by being made alive in the spirit.

In it he went and preached to the spirits in prison, after they were disobedient long ago when God patiently waited in the days of Noah as an ark was being constructed. In the ark a few, that is eight souls, were delivered through water. And this prefigured baptism, which now saves you —not the washing off of physical dirt but the pledge of a good conscience to God—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,  who went into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels and authorities and powers subject to him.

1. Peter 3:18-22

We laud and praise His holy name – God Father, Son + Holy Ghost +

1. Water, blood, and Spirit crying,
    By their witness testifying
    To the One whose death-defying
       Life has come, with life for all.

2. In a wat’ry grave are buried
    All our sins that Jesus carried;
    Christ, the Ark of Life, has ferried
       Us across death’s raging flood.

3. Dark the way, yet Christ precedes us,
    Past the scowl of death He leads us;
    Spreads a table where He feeds us
      With His body and His blood.

4. Through around us death is seething,
    God, His two-edged sword unsheathing,
    By His Spirit life is breathing
       Through the living, active Word.

5. Spirit, water, blood entreating,
    Working faith and its completing
    In the One whose death-defeating
       Life has come, with life for all.

Stephen P. Starke 1955
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“Battle of nations”: The story of winning and loosing

Well, this time around it was but a day in the park, whereas at the time of war, this was one of the worst calamities to hit Leipzig – this Battle of Leipzig (October 1813: “Völkerschlacht”). It was not the first one of great proportions to befall this industrious city in Saxony. During the thirty-years-war another was fought (1631: “Battle of Breitenfeld” and another in 1642) between the opposing confessions: Catholics versus Protestants even if that might be a serious misnomer according to Golo Mann with his masterly account on Wallenstein. Visiting one of the biggest European monuments, we however, were not reminded of that war, but rather of the even larger conflict between Russians, Prussians, Swedes and Austrians on the one side against the seemingly invincible emperor of the French grand nation, who had the little Saxons on their side too – for starters at least and before they then deserted Napoleon and finally joined the winning side.

Napoleon had passed his zenith, when he had got lost in the Russian expanse and in Leipzig his luck didn´t return either. He made serious errors of judgement, some due to misinformation and others because of the sheer size of this confrontation. That the Saxons deserted him, was more of a sign of changing times and result of his failing star, than the cause for his demise as the French would have liked to believe. Still, Napoleon got away with damages to fight another day, yet he was no longer invincible. That was obvious – and probably part of the beginning of the end.

In Germany this battle was used extensively in Prussian propaganda. The Saxons were not shunned for their initial opposition, but rather taken up into the German fold with great exuberance. The story told, was that Germany had withstood their archenemy from across the Rhein, but it really was a united effort with huge help from Russians, Austrians and even the small number of Scandinavians must have counted for something.

The victory was commemorated with one of the largest monuments in Europe for this “Battle of the nations” “Völkerschlachtdenkmal” finished a hundred years later paid for mainly by citizens of Leipzig, who had borne the brunt of the battle in the first place.  It was inspiration for the “Voortrekker monument” in Pretoria (1949). Ernst Moritz Arndt initially suggested this monument. It was his idea and part of his nationalistic ideals for a united Germany as formulated in his poem: “What is the German fatherland?” way back in 1813.  

 

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Spiritual pride demolished in 3 steps

In this chapter Moses selects another occasion for transgressing the First Commandment, an occasion called spiritual pride because it boasts of its righteousness and merits. This is trust in one’s own works, and no plague and opponent of faith or trust in the mercy of God is more destructive. Therefore Moses demolishes it here with many words throughout the whole chapter. It robs God of His glory, for these two cannot stand side by side: to glory in God and His mercy, and to glory in ourselves because of our righteousness and works. He disproves this righteousness with three strong arguments.

Martin Luther on Deuteronomy chapter 9: LW Vol.9, Pg.102-105

1. Those Gentiles deserved to be expelled on account of their godlessness.

He says this: “For not because of your righteousnesses or the uprightness of your heart will you go in; but because they dealt godlessly, the Lord cast them out” (v. 5). With these words we, too, should be instructed if we see others smitten either by ourselves or by others. It does not follow that since you or others smite that man, therefore you or others are more righteous than he. Otherwise the tower of Siloam, which fell on many in Jerusalem (Luke 13:4), would also be regarded as just. But it is God who smites the godless, as he says here. Whether He does these things through a tower, fire, water, beasts, your hand or another’s, makes no difference. Nothing else takes place there than that the just God has smitten the godless.

Furthermore, you should fear this example. The godless one is smitten that you may be terrified, just as Christ explains in Luke 13:5, saying: “You shall all perish this way.” And Paul says in Rom. 11:21–22, as he forbids the Gentiles by means of the same argument to be proud over the ruin of the Jews: “See to it that He spares you; otherwise you, too, shall be cut off”; and Rom. 2:3: “Man, when you judge those who do such things, and you do the same, do you think that you shall escape the judgment of God?”

Outstanding is also the statement of St. Gregory: “When we see anyone sin, we should first weep over ourselves in their calamity, because we have either fallen like them or we can fall.”2 

Someone has summed this up in the following lowing verse: “We either are, have been, or can be what this man is.3 

A person recorded in The Lives of the Fathers said, when he had heard of the lapse of a brother: “He yesterday, I today.4 

Hence when someone else is smitten, this should be our thought: “It is your business when the neighboring wall is on fire.”5 Yes, with a feeling of pity and sympathy the godless are to be destroyed or struck down by us as we remember that we are the instrument of God and are ourselves perhaps to be cast as a whip into the fire after we have blasted the evildoers.

2. The second argument is the authority of the divine promise.

The Lord cast them out “that He might fulfill His oath and Word which He promised to your fathers” (v. 5). Nothing stronger could have been said against trust in one’s own righteousness. For where were the sons of Israel when God promised the land of Canaan to their father Abraham, who up to that time was sterile and hopelessly childless? If they receive and occupy the land through the promise of God, therefore, it is not because of merits or their own righteousness but from the simple grace and goodness of God, which He poured out over the unworthy and those not yet born.

Why does He promise? Perhaps because those who would come after 430 years would deserve it? Far from it! He who promised out of goodness alone also fulfilled His Word out of mercy alone.

Paul uses this argument in his letters to the Galatians (3:2 ff.) and the Romans (4:1 ff.), when he proves most powerfully that righteousness has to come about by the mercy of God once promised, not by works.

3. The third argument is experience itself.

He says: “Since you are a stiff-necked people, etc.” (v. 6). By such a neck they had not deserved even to come close to the land; for God was so incensed that He would have rather destroyed them than the Gentiles in the desert. Just as the psalm says (106:26): “And He stretched out His hand that He might cast them down in the desert” and would have turned His promise elsewhere, namely, toward the descendants of Moses (Num. 14:12). Finally He laid them all low in the desert to the last man, except Joshua and Caleb, so that neither Moses nor Aaron entered the land. Hence that they should enter the land by their merit was so far from being the case that the very opposite should much rather have happened to them—as it also turned out—if they were to be dealt with according to merit. Paul also uses this argument in Rom. 4:14 ff., where he says: “If the inheritance is by the Law, faith is void, the promise is abolished; for the Law works wrath.” So you see that both Moses and Paul use the same dialectic of the spirit against the righteousness of works and on behalf of the grace and mercy of God.

The conclussion thus is: Evil is well deserved, whereas good is but due to God´s goodness and his most gracious promises long ago:

Therefore all these things are also written for our learning (Rom. 15:4), that we may learn that if any evil comes upon the godless, it comes indeed by their merit. As for the rest, if it does not break in upon us but we enjoy good things, this is due not to our righteousness but to divine goodness, by which such things have been provided and promised for us from eternity; for we deserved the very opposite. Hence the verdict stands: Not on account of our righteousness is any good thing given to us, but in order that God may fulfill the Word which He willed from eternity, lest we be puffed up and make an idol out of our righteousness. We are to know that we have one God, from whom we freely receive all things, through His sheer goodness poured out over the unworthy. So also the patriarch Jacob confesses (Gen. 32:10): “I am too small for all Thy mercies,” that is, not only for a mercy which may be large but for any at all, however small and slight it may be.

For remember, who You are and where You come from – even though through God´s grace and goodness, You have now been saved and brought to a new life in IX:

Then Moses administers a healing antidote to this pestilence, for this monster of one’s own righteousness is so formidable that it cannot be sufficiently restrained. He sets before their eyes all the former misdeeds of the people and commands them to remember such things; and forcibly, before all, with great power of words, he recalls their sin at Mt. Sinai, when they worshiped the calf. What can heal the sickness of this pride more promptly than to remember former godlessness and crimes?

What does this people have except what makes it ashamed to lift its eyes to heaven? Just as Paul says to the Ephesians: “Of which you are now ashamed.”6 Hence He also permitted David, Moses, Peter, Paul, and other great men to fall, that they might be humbled, become ashamed before God, and rely on His goodness alone. Therefore Peter (2 Peter 1:9) sharply lashes out at those who forget the forgiveness of former sins, become smug and cold, and then stiff-necked and proud.

So, in the end, what reason do we have to boast? None! Therefore, we can but laud and praise God´s grace and goodness, who is willing to forgive and grant life even to those deserving death:

Finally he closes: “You have been rebellious against the Lord from the day that I knew you” (v. 24). What a worthy commendation, what merits, what righteousness of a holy people, namely, disobedience to the divine voice! Go on now and boast, brag, be puffed up, saying that the land has been given to you because of your righteousnesses, you who do not deserve to hear anything but that you are a stiff-necked people and always disobedient to the Lord! Indeed, do such merits deserve such royal wealth and not rather a thousand deaths and crosses? What more dreadful a thing can be said than to be disobedient to the Lord? Nevertheless, that celebrated and blessed land is given to this disobedience. What does Israel have left here to be proud of? Should it not rather put its face into the dust and say: “I am worse than all the Gentiles, and great and undeserved is Thy grace, that I receive that land”? Furthermore, if that holy and special Israel is such a people before God, what are we Gentiles and sinners?

In the end it is but God´s most Holy Name, Honor and Glory that He pardons sinners and saves those lost:

See in how many words Moses here accuses the people in this very prayer which he prays for them as he says: “Do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin, lest the land from which Thou didst bring us say, etc.” (vv. 27–28). Nothing is told here about the people except things for which they deserved death. The one salvation was this, that their destruction would endanger the name of God. Hence, that the name of God might not be blasphemed, pardon not otherwise to be given is conferred on them. They would have been destined for total destruction if the glory of the name of God, which was called out over them (Jer. 15:16), could have been saved. From this place many others, especially David in the Psalter, took this safe and dependable argument (Ps. 25:11): “On account of Thy name, Lord, have pity on my sin, etc.”; and Joshua (7:9): “What wilt Thou do by Thy great name,” by which we are called?

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It´s God´s Word, which we trust

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you,
and formed you:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.”

Isaiah 43: 1 (Watchword for the 6th Sunday after Trinity)

We pray: “Almighty God, beloved heavenly Father, through Holy Baptism You have made us Your children and heirs of Your kingdom, grant us Your Holy Spirit, so that we, having died to sin, may live faithfully in a new life with Jesus Christ, who together with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns for ever and ever. Amen.”

For we too were once foolish, disobedient, misled, enslaved to various passions and desires, spending our lives in evil and envy, hateful and hating one another. But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life.”

Titus 3,3-7

How can water do such great things?

It is not the water indeed that does them, but the word of God which is in and with the water, and faith, which trusts such word of God in the water. For without the word of God the water is simple water and no baptism. But with the word of God it is a baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of regeneration in the Holy Ghost, as St. Paul says, Titus, chapter three: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghostwhich He shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christour Saviorthatbeing justified by His gracewe should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. This is a faithful saying.

Luther´s Small Catechism: The Sacrament of Holy Baptism Question 3

1 Baptized into your name most holy,
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, tho’ weak and lowly,
among your seed, your chosen host.
Buried with Christ and dead to sin:
your Spirit e’er shall live within.

2 My loving Father, me you’ve taken
fore’er to be your child and heir;
my faithful Savior, me you’ve given 
your righteous, holy life to share;
O Holy Spirit, you will be 
a comfort, guide, and help to me.

3 My faithful God, your word fails never,
your cov’nant surely will abide;
oh, cast me not away forever,
should I transgress it on my side!
Though I have oft my soul defiled,
in love forgive, restore your child.

4 Yes, all I am and love most dearly
I offer now, O Lord, to you.
Oh, let me make my vows sincerely,
and what I say, help me to do.
Let naught within me, naught I own,
serve any will but yours alone.

5 And never let my purpose falter,
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
but keep me faithful to your altar,
till you shall call me from my post.
So unto you I live and die
and praise you evermore on high.

Johann J. Rambach (1693-1735)

The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with You +

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It´s still all about the 1st commandment…

Do we love God as such or rather just as a means to an end? Well, trials and temptations go a long way to reveal that as Moses explains:

First Moses says that the nation was afflicted and tried by God in the desert for forty years in order that what was in its heart should become known, namely, whether it loved God with a sincere mind or for the sake of the belly.

For even we ourselves do not understand our heart (which is always open to God) very clearly, whether it serves God for the sake of the belly or not, unless we are tested by want and evils.

The faithful heart loves, believes, and serves while it struggles with want and evils just as it does in the midst of wealth and goods. The unfaithful heart, however, believes when wealth is present but draws back when evils rush in, as Ps. 78:36–37 says: “Their heart was not right with Him, and they lied to Him with the tongue.”

Martin Luther on Deuteronomy chapter 8 (LW 9, Pg.92)

He humbled you and fed you with manna, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone.

Mannah: Bread from heaven

By the gift of manna man is shown to live by the Word of God.

What is the connection? Is manna perhaps the Word of God? By no means; but he sets forth rather amply what he had said about poverty, namely: “Before He gave you manna, He let you first suffer hunger. This He did in order to show you that even if manna never came He could nevertheless sustain you by His Word, by which He had promised that He would be to you a God who would not forsake you, who could sustain you just as He did sustain you. For faith in the Word of God, even in the midst of hunger, nourishes not only the soul but also the body, that is, as he says here, the whole man. It is impossible for one who has faith in the Word to perish, even if he eats or drinks nothing for the body. Although God does not truly forsake, since finally, in His time, He gives bodily nourishment, as He fed Elijah by means of the ravens, as He fed the widow of Zarephath, and as here He fed the fathers with manna.

Therefore when He shows that man does not live by bread alone, this pertains not only to the manna but to both conditions, namely, both to the affliction of hunger and to the abundance of manna. Thus the meaning is: God wanted to show you this goodness of His through your own experience, that in hunger you might learn to believe the Word of Him who promised, be sustained by it in hunger and not perish, and then finally by this faith receive the satisfaction of your bodily needs. All this He does in order to remove from you the idol of your belly and to teach you that the life of man does not rest in this, that the belly is provided with its bread, but that both parts belong to it, namely, soul and body. This you would never learn if your belly were always satisfied and you never learned through the Word to trust in God while your belly is in need.

Iwan Nikolajewitsch KramskoiChrist in the desert (1872) 

In this way Christ quotes this passage in Matt. 4:4, when Satan holds before Him the care of the belly alone. Christ says: “Not by bread alone does man live,” not denying that man lives by bread, but saying that it is not solely by bread. For if bread is lacking, then he lives through the Word. When he has this by faith, then the bread must follow, even if it has to be produced from rock, or, as here, sent from heaven. Therefore when he says: “He afflicted you with famine, and tempted,” he calls them away from the belly and the care of the belly, to teach them in the midst of hunger to trust in and live by the Word. When he says: “And He gave you manna,” he shows that bread will not be lacking for those who by the Word survive in hunger. You see, therefore, that nothing but faith is taught by these words. By it we hold onto God and believe that we “have God,” as the First Commandment says.3

He commands, however, that they remember how they have been nourished in the desert both by the Word and by bread, as though he were showing and foretelling that at some time in the future they would be harassed by a similar trial of hungers. When this happens, the consolation of this example should raise them up to faith. They should know that however hunger may rage, they will be fed if only they believe the Word of promise in the First Commandment, by which God promises to be God to them, just as He says also in Ps. 37:1925: “And in a time of hunger you shall be satisfied. For it is impossible that the righteous be forsaken, or his seed seek bread.” He may hunger indeed, but he will not die of hunger; for hunger exercises his faith in the Word, but then faith gains food also for the body. Therefore the splendid word of Moses stands: that God deals with His own by testing them with hunger and exercising them in His Word, and then feeds the believer from the midst of heaven if it cannot be done otherwise. Thus they are to learn by experience that they should not be concerned for their belly, and that life does not lie in the things we possess or in bread but in the Word by which we become rich toward God, as the Gospel says (Luke 12:15). For while we live by the Word in the heart, we force God, as it were, to feed the belly too.

But just as He promises food to the believers, so He promises clothing too, and then also good health of the body; as He adds here, soon after the manna: “Your clothing has not failed with age, and your foot did not swell during these forty years” (v. 4). With these words He would teach them that nothing is lacking to those who live by the Word and believe, but that we shall be under the care of God in all things and through all things, just as Peter says (1 Peter 5:7): “Casting every care upon Him, because He Himself takes care of you”; and Ps. 34:10: “Those seeking God shall lack no good thing.” To understand these and similar wonderful and faithful promises of God is truly to understand the promise of the First Commandment, in which He says: “I am the Lord your God.” “Yours, yours,” He says, “who will show and display Myself to you as God and will not forsake you, if only you believe this.” All such promises depend on and flow from the First Commandment. On the other hand, not to believe them is indeed not to understand the Commandment but to have other gods.

Moses, however, applies this teaching of faith to future use in the midst of abundance, just as I said at the start of the chapter.4 In abundance they are to recall how once in the midst of want they were nourished by the Word with manna; they are to ponder this example and teaching again, and learn to trust in God for some other reason than that they have enough, are satisfied, and their belly is well provided for. Trust based on that is not a trust in God but rather in wealth and gifts which have been received. Because of such trust they forget both true trust and the Word of God, and never learn to have faith in God when they are in want. As I have said, it is a great thing and the work of a rich spirit not to forget God when affairs prosper, and to conduct yourself, with Paul, as if you had nothing, to use the world as if you did not use it (1 Cor. 7:30–31), to know how to endure want and to abound, to know how to be low and to be high (Phil. 4:12), and, with the prophet, not to attach the heart to wealth when it abounds, and not to become vain (Ps. 62:10) but to cling to God alone.

This is what Moses treats in this chapter as in the midst of abundance he sets up and presents the example of manna which was given in the midst of want, in order to call them back from the belly to the Word. Therefore he also repeats at the conclusion, after he has described future prosperity: “He brought streams forth for you from the hard rock and fed you with manna in the desert, which your fathers did not know, to chasten and try you, and afterward do you good, so that you would not say in your heart, etc.” (vv. 15–17). Is this not a stronger example—that He gave drink from the hard rock and manna in the desert—than what Christ teaches in Matt. 6:28 about the lilies of the field and birds of the air, which are cared for by God? For what would you less expect from a rock than water and drink? What less in the desert than bread and food? Why did He not give water from some green tree or cloud of the sky? Why not food from branches or roots or herbs? Why did He do this?

He did this that the immeasurable care of God for us might be praised. He is a God to us and dispenses everything bountifully also when everything is most hopeless. He is willing and able to turn a rock into your drink, a desert into your food, nakedness into beautiful clothing, poverty into wealth, death into life, shame into glory, evil into good, enemies into friends—and what not? He can give and change everything from everything, everything into everything, everything from nothing, everything into nothing. Only be concerned that you believe, and where want prevails, do not break down or be concerned. And again, where abundance prevails, do not be puffed up or carelessly forget God. Whether everything is on hand or everything is lacking, cling to your God always with the same heart, knowing that He who gives plenty will give it even when want bears down upon you. See, therefore, how fittingly and aptly Moses uses this miracle of God to explain the meaning of the First Commandment.

17. Beware lest you say in your heart: My power and the might of my hand, etc.

This he appends in order to describe the nature and source of forgetfulness about God. For when wealth abounds, the godless heart of man feels: “I have wrought these things with my own efforts.” Nor does it notice that these are simply blessings of God sometimes through our efforts, sometimes without our efforts, but never from our efforts and always given out of His free mercy. As we have taught above, He uses our effort as a mask under which He blesses us and dispenses His gifts, so that there is a place for faith.6 Otherwise we may think that our possessions have been produced by our powers or efforts; or, as he says here, we may think that “we have achieved this wealth” by the strength and vigor of our hand. But we are to remember the Lord God, that it is He Himself who grants the powers for achieving this wealth, not through our merit but because He has promised to do so.

This, then, is an outstanding passage, from which have flown many excellent sayings, such as that proverb (Prov. 10:22): “The blessing of the Lord makes rich”; likewise the psalm (136:25): “Who gives food to all flesh”; and the whole psalm of Solomon (Ps. 127:1): “Unless the Lord build the house.” The psalmist completely denies that anything is achieved or preserved by our powers, just as here, too, Moses denies that wealth is produced by our strength or the power of our hands; it is produced by God as He blesses and provides power to make the abundance, that is, wealth and substance; for this is the meaning of the Hebrew word חַיִל. Therefore the highest interpretation of the matter and the true understanding and fulfillment of the First Commandment is a faith which is neither elevated by prosperity nor cast down by adversity.

19. And if you forget the Lord your God.

Just as the promise of grace is set before believers, so is the threat of wrath before unbelievers; from both sides he draws and urges them to faith. Unbelief makes a judge and enemy out of God and the Father, just as he says here: “I testify to you that you will perish altogether.” Faith makes a God and Father out of an enemy and judge, as he said shortly before (Deut. 1:31): “Just as a man bears his son, so the Lord has borne you.” Again you will note here especially that the nation of Israel is wholly indistinguishable from those Gentiles who are to be destroyed, except for the distinction of faith, just as he says here that they will perish like those Gentiles whom the Lord will destroy before them. Therefore they have nothing of which to boast against the Gentiles—not the Law, the righteousness of works, the blood of the fathers, the miracles of God, the divine sayings, the priesthood, the kingdom, or anything else. The sentence stands: If they forget God and worship other gods, they shall perish, as if all this were nothing and they themselves were Gentiles too. For he who does not believe will be damned (Mark 16:16). But it has been said enough: “To worship strange gods is to be unbelieving and to oppose the true God.”

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It´s like building towers & planning for war

Let us pray: 

O good and gracious God, heavenly Father +

Grant us Your Spirit of Truth and Peace, that we may understand Your holy Will and follow Your Directions and trust Your Promises from the bottom of our heart all our life.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit – one God – now + forever. 

Amen

Now large crowds were accompanying Jesus, and turning to them he said, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother, and wife and children, and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.  Whoever does not carry his own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. 

For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t sit down first and compute the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish the tower, all who see it will begin to make fun of him. They will say, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish!’

Or what king, going out to confront another king in battle, will not sit down first and determine whether he is able with 10,000 to oppose the one coming against him with 20,000? If he cannot succeed, he will send a representative while the other is still a long way off and ask for terms of peace. In the same way therefore not one of you can be my disciple if he does not renounce all his own possessions.

“Salt is good, but if salt loses its flavor, how can its flavor be restored? It is of no value for the soil or for the manure pile; it is to be thrown out. The one who has ears to hear had better listen!”

Gospel of St. Luke 14:25-35

1 Jesus Christ, my sure defense
And my Savior, now is living!
Knowing this, my confidence
Rests upon the hope here given,
Though the night of death be fraught
Still with many an anxious thought.

2 Jesus, my Redeemer, lives;
Likewise I to life shall waken.
He will bring me where He is; 
Shall my courage then be shaken?
Shall I fear, or could the Head
Rise and leave His members dead?

3 No, too closely am I bound
By my hope to Christ forever;
Faith’s strong hand the Rock has found,
Grasped it, and will leave it never;
Even death now cannot part
From its Lord the trusting heart.

4 I am flesh and must return
To the dust, whence I am taken;
But by faith I now discern
That from death I shall awaken
With my Savior to abide
In His glory, at His side.

5 Glorified, I shall anew
With this flesh then be enshrouded;
In this body I shall view
God, my Lord, with eyes unclouded;
In this flesh I then shall see
Jesus Christ eternally.

6 Then take comfort and rejoice,
For His members Christ will cherish.
Fear not, they will hear His voice;
Dying, they shall never perish;
For the very grave is stirred
When the trumpet’s blast is heard.

7 Laugh to scorn the gloomy grave
And at death no longer tremble;
He, the Lord, who came to save
Will at last His own assemble.
They will go their Lord to meet,
Treading death beneath their feet.

8 O, then, draw away your hearts
From all pleasures base and hollow;
Strive to share what He imparts
While you here His footsteps follow.
As you now still wait to rise,
Fix your hearts beyond the skies!

Otto von Schwerin (1616-1679) translated by Catherine Winkworth (1827-1878)

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Don’t be afraid… you are mine.

Getting ready for Church this 6th Sunday after Trinity, which commemorates our Holy Baptism and with that God most gracious election and sure providence, his merciful preservation through all calamities over the ages and His faithful perseverance throughout. The Introit puts that into long-term context of how God chose us even well before he created us well before conception in secret places and how He leads us to our eternal salvation in His faithful and everlasting ways.

O Lord, you examine me and know me.
You know when I sit down and when I get up;
even from far away you understand my motives.
You carefully observe me when I travel or when I lie down to rest;
you are aware of everything I do.
Certainly my tongue does not frame a word
without you, O Lord, being thoroughly aware of it.
You squeeze me in from behind and in front;
you place your hand on me.

Your knowledge is beyond my comprehension;
it is so far beyond me, I am unable to fathom it.
Where can I go to escape your Spirit?
Where can I flee to escape your presence?
If I were to ascend to heaven, you would be there.
If I were to sprawl out in Sheol, there you would be.
If I were to fly away on the wings of the dawn,
and settle down on the other side of the sea,
even there your hand would guide me,
your right hand would grab hold of me.
If I were to say, “Certainly the darkness will cover me,
and the light will turn to night all around me,”
even the darkness is not too dark for you to see,
and the night is as bright asday;
darkness and light are the same to you.

Certainly you made my mind and heart;
you wove me together in my mother’s womb.

I will give you thanks because your deeds are awesome and amazing.
You knew me thoroughly;
my bones were not hidden from you,
when I was made in secret
and sewed together in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw me when I was inside the womb.
All the days ordained for me
were recorded in your scroll
before one of them came into existence.

How difficult it is for me to fathom your thoughts about me, O God
How vast is their sum total.
If I tried to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
Even if I finished counting them,
I would still have to contend with you.

If only you would kill the wicked, O God!
Get away from me, you violent men!
They rebel against you and act deceitfully;
your enemies lie.
O Lord, do I not hate those who hate you,
and despise those who oppose you?
I absolutely hate them;
they have become my enemies.
Examine me, O God, and probe my thoughts.
Test me, and know my concerns.
See if there is any idolatrous way in me,
and lead me in the everlasting way.

Psalm 139

The Old Testament lesson from the great prophet Isaiah underlines His divine ways as He continues to lead and guide His chosen people through thick and thin and from the very ends of the earth to the promised fatherland prepared for us in heaven.

Now, this is what the Lord says,
the one who created you, O Jacob, and formed you, O Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, for I will protect you.
I call you by name, you are mine.

When you pass through the waters, I am with you;
when you pass through the streams, they will not overwhelm you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not harm you.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your deliverer.
I have handed over Egypt as a ransom price,
Ethiopia and Seba in place of you.
Since you are precious and special in my sight,
and I love you,
I will hand over people in place of you,
nations in place of your life.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.
From the east I will bring your descendants;
from the west I will gather you.
I will say to the north, ‘Hand them over!’
and to the south, ‘Don’t hold any back!’
Bring my sons from distant lands,
and my daughters from the remote regions of the earth,
everyone who belongs to me,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed—yes, whom I made.

Isaiah 43:1-7

The Holy Gospel from the evangelist St. Matthew emphasizes this godly mission and clarifies, that He works salvation through His divine means of grace – which effectively creates, grows and flourishes justifying faith not just among the predestined Jews, but includes gentiles from all nations, races and tongues around the globe and to the very ends of the earth in the holy destiny of God´s selected people. This is the awesome and amazing work of the triune God, who lives and reigns – today as He did yesterday – and tomorrow too. Peace be with You + Therefore, don´t be afraid. He is with us always until the very end of the age.

So the eleven disciples went to Galilee to the mountain Jesus had designated. When they saw him, they worshiped him, but some doubted. Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Gospel of St. Matthew 28:16-20

The sermon on the Old Testament lesson from Deuteronomy 7:6-12  stresses, that this selection and predestination to be a people holy i.e. belonging exclusively to God is not on account of our merits, net-worth, size, numbers or other capacities, works or deeds, but rather is determined solely by God´s gracious election, His undeserved love for us and His ongoing compassion for us and all people – just as He promised our Fathers – Abraham etc. Israel´s ancestors, whom He delivered from slavery in Egypt and all tyranny of Pharao and kept them throughout the years of wanderings – until He brought them finally to the promised land. He is a sure and faithful God – who keeps His promises for thousand generations – way better and far beyond our wildest dreams.

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. He has chosen you to be his people, prized above all others on the face of the earth. It is not because you were more numerous than all the other peoples that the Lord favored and chose you—for in fact you were the least numerous of all peoples. Rather it is because of his love for you and his faithfulness to the promise he solemnly vowed to your ancestors that the Lord brought you out with great power, redeeming you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. So realize that the Lord your God is the true God, the faithful God who keeps covenant faithfully with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations,  but who pays back those who hate him as they deserve and destroys them. He will not ignore those who hate him but will repay them as they deserve! So keep the commandments, statutes, and ordinances that I today am commanding you to do. If you obey these ordinances and are careful to do them, the Lord your God will faithfully keep covenant with you as he promised your ancestors.

Deuteronomy 7:6-12

Together with the Christian Church and all saints and forgiven sinners we sing His glorious praises – here in somewhat low key, but there in all His perfection and promised glory to come:

1. All mankind fell in Adam's fall,
        One common sin infects them all;
        From sire to son the bane descends,
        And over all the curse impends.

        2. Through all man's powers corruption creeps
        And him in dreadful bondage keeps;
        In guilt he draws his infant breath
        And reaps its fruits of woe and death.

        3. From hearts depraved, to evil prone,
        Flow thoughts and deeds of sin alone;
        God's image lost, the darkened soul
        Nor seeks nor finds its heavenly goal.

        4. But Christ, the second Adam, came
        To bear our sin and woe and shame,
        To be our Life, our Light, our Way,
        Our only Hope, our only Stay.

        5. As by one man all mankind fell
        And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
        So by one Man, who took our place,
        We all received the gift of grace.

        6. We thank Thee, Christ; new life is ours,
        New light, new hope, new strength, new powers:
        May grace our every way attend
        Until we reach our journey's end!

Posted in Gottesdienst, Hymns, Lectionary etc, Lutheran Order of service, Trinity (The church season after Pentecost), You comfort me + | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

God stands by His promise

It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set His love upon you and chose you.

Deuteronomy 7:7

Dr. Martin Luther continues with his running commentary on this great book Deuteronomy. He writes concerning Moses:

See what a careful expositor of the First Commandment Moses is.

Above he had taught the true worship of God in faith, fear, and love of the Spirit; here he has come to the outward work.

But first he issues a salutary warning, lest they complete in the flesh what they had begun in the Spirit, and be puffed up by their own work. Then, when the godless and the idols were outwardly destroyed, they would themselves become more godless and would set up worse idols in the heart, namely, trust and glory in the deed (as the flesh is wont); and thus a beautiful work would cause them to sin more gravely against the First Commandment than the very Gentiles whom they had slain.

So he keeps them at the rightful use of the Law by wholly removing boasting and trust in works, and he calls them to trust in grace alone, saying: “Not because all the nations, etc.” as though he were saying: “The fact that God uses your sword does not happen because He needs your power or because He cannot do it without you, since you are very few in number. The glory of the work is not yours, but His, who by using your small number destroys such a great multitude. Otherwise, if He had wanted to conquer with a multitude, He would not have chosen you but other peoples who are much more numerous than you.”

What, then, is left in this work about which you can boast? Nothing of yours; but “because the Lord [he says] chose you and kept His oath, etc.” (v. 8). You see that nothing is held out to human trust in any work but the undeserved love of God, by which He is moved to approach us with His Word and promise even before we are born. It is out of the question that He should requite anything after we are born or begin to serve Him.

And this is the pure and unalloyed meaning of the First Commandment: We should deem ourselves to be nothing as regards our merit, but to have, receive, and find power to do everything only by His mercy and love, to His glory—mercy which He first promises by His Word and then also confirms afterward by a work which He does through us, as by a sign, just as here He cites the Exodus from Egypt and the destruction of the Canaanites.

LW 9 Pg.84-85

He continues in verse 17 and 22: If you say in your heart: These nations are greater, etc.

Moses takes away another occasion for transgressing the First Commandment, namely, mistrust, which arises from the weakness and infirmity of our power, if it is compared with the work and the Commandment. That is how those spies sinned who frightened the people away from entering the land, which they claimed contained giants, called the Anakim, and walled cities, as we saw above.

But here Moses teaches again how the Commandments of God are to be kept, namely, not by our powers but by the divine strength that is promised to us. With one word he quenches at the same time both the trust and the presumption of our power and the mistrust and the despair of our infirmity—presumption by this, that he shows that greater things are commanded than we can do, so that here he admits that the Gentiles whom He commands to destroy are more numerous and powerful than Israel, their destroyer; despair by this, that through them the Lord will do everything He commands them.

If, therefore, the Children of Israel had looked at their strength and compared it with the strength of the Gentiles who were to be destroyed, they would have despaired completely and paid no attention to the commandment of God. Now, however, that they may carry out everything by faith, He will promise that God will stand by.

To the promise He adds the example of His previous mercy, by which He freed them from the hands of Pharaoh and the Egyptians, in order to hearten them by word and deed to the faith by which they would destroy the Gentiles at the command of God. Hence He also declares with a new promise that He will send hornets, that you may see how much is involved in the strengthening of faith.

For through faith God is served; through faith the commands of God are fulfilled; through faith we deserve having the divine power stay by us in all our works, as Christ rightly said (Mark 9:23): “To him who believes all things are possible.”

LW 9 Pg.86-87

And he comes to a wonderful conclussion in verse 22:

How persuasively and paternally He invites them to faith!

He anticipates even their future weak thoughts of faith, so that when the promises of God begin to be fulfilled—because the Gentiles have, in large part, been destroyed, and others are left—they should not constantly imagine that they are forsaken or deceived by the promise.

Everything is happening for their good, to enable them to take over the land more firmly and fully and to prevent them from being forced to bear even crueler beasts in place of the godless people who were destroyed. But this very postponement is given also for the converting of the Gentiles, that those who wish may come to their senses.

LW 9 Pg.88
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