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Psalm 126

 

When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.  (ESV)
  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Power!

Jerome, Translator

30 September 2013

Some years ago, I saw a BBC report about two men who pulled a train car in some of publicity stunt. The men had legs each about as large as my whole body. Nonetheless, they were putting significant strain on their bodies as they inched that train car along. Obviously, they weren't going far. While I understand that diesel fuel is not cheap these days, it would be far more efficient to move a train car with a locomotive rather than manpower. The difference between the locomotion power of the two men pulling the train car and the train engine is huge. Their strength enabled them to move the car a few feet at a very slow speed. The car was not loaded, so they did not move anything even those few, painful feet. This was a pure stunt. It had no practical value, except to get on the BBC for a few seconds.

 

It is only a stunt when we humans crow about our goodness apart from the source of all goodness, our Lord Jesus Christ. We humans are attempting a public relations coup in which we convince others that we are really quite spiritually powerful: "Look at our enormous spiritual muscles!" We yank on the train car of good works, but by our own power we are unable to pull the car at all. Perhaps, if we unloaded the car of our good works we might be able to move it a few inches after much grunting and groaning, like the muscle-bound stunt men in the BBC report. Then what good would it do to have burned up all that energy? What real good would be accomplished? If our sin still has dominion over us we will accomplish nothing that is truly good, despite all the spiritual grunting and groaning we can generate.

 

Our God does not leave us with the enormous task of pulling our own load of good works. Through Christ, God has relieved us of the oppressive dominion of sin and death in our lives (Rm 6:14). Since we live under grace, not under law, Christ Himself becomes the power of locomotion. You can load up all the good works you want on that train car, but you have the power for all those works, which is Christ Himself. A trainload of good works without the power to move them is quite useless. This is why faith in Christ is necessary so that we might live as slaves of "righteousness leading to sanctification" (Rm 6:19). Only Christ's life frees us from the dominion of sin and death, empowering us to live for Him. The power is all His.

 

Martin Luther

 

"Through faith in God's Word I say that if sin is present, it does not matter to me. I have been forbidden to evaluate either myself on the basis of my own feelings, or the church on the basis of external appearance. I have been commanded to judge by the Word of promise. The gospel says and teaches something different from my senses. It says that there is One who 'committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth' (1Pt 2:22). In Himself He has conquered death, the world, and sin. He has said: 'Take heart; I have overcome the world."' (Jn 16:33); 'Sin will have no dominion over you' (Rm 6:14); and similar statements in Holy Scripture. Him alone I know, and this I know, too, that He has been appointed the Bridegroom and has conveyed to His bride, the church, all that He has. I am a part of His church. For I have sure signs and pledges, namely: baptism, the gospel, the eucharist, that witness to the fact that I am a member of Christ.

 

"This comfort and knowledge is so great that it cannot be understood so quickly as I wish it could be. If we could grasp it completely, we would never be stirred by any sense of death or sin. Our failure to understand this fully makes our conscience vex us, dangers disturb us, the remembrance of death and afflictions frighten us. This failure lies in our comprehension; it does not lie in Christ. It is like a man who has fallen into the middle of a stream. He catches the branch of a tree somehow to support himself above the water and be saved. So in the midst of sins, death, and anxieties we, too, lay hold on Christ with a weak faith. Yet this faith, tiny though it may be, still preserves us and rules over death and treads the devil and everything under foot."
 
Martin Luther, Lecture on Psalm 45, 9 
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, save me from the midst of the stream of sin and death, catching me up in Your loving arms. In the midst of sins, death, and anxieties help me to lay hold on You with my weak faith. Yet this faith, tiny though it may be, still preserves me and rules over death and treads the devil and everything under foot, because it is faith in You and Your power to save. Amen.

 

For all those who are suffering inclement weather, that the Lord would send good weather so that He would bless us with the fruits of the earth

 

For Jordan and Taylor Listi, that they would be kept in passionate care of their Lord Jesus Christ and be strengthened in their life together

 

For all those who are shut in, that the Lord Jesus would keep them in the palm of His hand

Art: Eyck, Jan van  The Adoration of the Lamb (1425-1429) 

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