Des Lammes

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Psalm 31

 

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me! Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily! Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me! For you are my rock and my fortress; and for your name's sake you lead me and guide me; you take me out of the net they have hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols, but I trust in the LORD. I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love, because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul, and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy; you have set my feet in a broad place. Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away. Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I have been forgotten like one who is dead; I have become like a broken vessel. For I hear the whispering of many- terror on every side!- as they scheme together against me, as they plot to take my life. But I trust in you, O LORD; I say, "You are my God." My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love! O LORD, let me not be put to shame, for I call upon you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go silently to Sheol. Let the lying lips be mute, which speak insolently against the righteous in pride and contempt. Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the LORD, for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me when I was in a besieged city. I had said in my alarm, "I am cut off from your sight." But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help. Love the LORD, all you his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride. Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (ESV)

No Typhoon

Friday of Pentecost 26

22 November 2013

Most of us have seen the devastation caused by a hurricane through various media sources. The recent coverage of the Philippine Typhoon has been horrifying to see. To be in the path of a hurricane is a fearful experience. Some years ago, my family felt the fury of the storm when Hurricane Ike slammed into metro Houston. We give thanks to God that we were far enough from the center of the storm and on the "clean side" of the circulation that we suffered very little damage at our home and church. Yet, watching the trees being whipped about and denuded of leaves we had some idea what the Lord was talking about when he said, "Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock." (Mt 7:24-25). Yet, there were those who still suffered great damage to their property and they are no less righteous than we are. Their misfortune should lead us to repentance, lest something worse befall us (Lk 13:1-5). All we can do is thank God for His care of all people. We must never gloat that we have done something to deserve superior treatment. This is a blasphemy against the graciousness of God.

 

A hurricane is attributable to the ruin we humans have worked upon the creation. No, I don't mean that the myth of "global warming" is causing monster storms and ending the world as we know it à la Al Gore. Instead, the creation has been bent and perverted by our fall into sin. God sends us hurricanes to remind us that His world is groaning in anticipation of the end of the age. It teaches us of the fragility of life when daily bread is no longer easily obtained. God is calling us to repent and to find grace in Him alone. The message of the whirlwind is a resounding and often devastating disclosure of God's wrath. When the fragile props of human life are knocked out from under us, then to whom shall we flee? When we find that government cannot be the savior, who will rescue us? We are forced to confess that our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

 

Since our God is a mighty fortress, we rest secure in Him and in His Christ. He follows the tempest with the still small voice, bringing comfort to our troubled hearts. The word of the gospel speaks peace to silence the maelstrom. He tells us, "Don't be afraid. It is I" (Mk 6:50). If He is our only rescue, then we shall see Him clearly and take courage from Him. No hurricane and not typhoon can separate us from Him.

 

Cyprian of Carthage

 

"Since the Lord warns us, saying, 'You are the salt of the earth' (Mt 5:13), and since He bids us be simple to receive His blessings, and yet with our simplicity to be prudent, what else, beloved brothers, befits us, than to use foresight and watching with an anxious heart, both to perceive and to beware of the wiles of the crafty foe, that we, who have put on Christ the wisdom of God the Father, may not seem to be wanting in wisdom in the matter of providing for our salvation? For it is not persecution alone that is to be feared, nor those things which advance by open attack to overwhelm and cast down the servants of God. Caution is easier where danger is clear, and the mind is prepared beforehand for the contest when the adversary shows himself. The enemy is more to be feared and to be guarded against, when he creeps on us secretly; when, deceiving by the appearance of peace, he steals forward by hidden approaches, from which method of approach he has received the name of the Serpent. That is always his subtlety; that is his dark and stealthy ruse for outwitting man. Thus from the very beginning of the world he deceived; and flattering with lying words, he misled inexperienced souls by an incautious gullibility. Thus he endeavored to tempt the Lord Himself. He secretly approached Him, as if he would creep up on Him, and deceive Him. Yet he was understood, and beaten back, and therefore prostrated, because he was recognized and detected.

 

"From which an example is given us to avoid the way of the old man, to stand in the footsteps of a living Christ, that we may not again be incautiously turned back into the nets of death, but, foreseeing our danger, may possess the immortality that we have received. But how can we possess immortality, unless we keep those commands of Christ whereby death is driven out and overcome, when He Himself warns us, and says, 'If you would enter into life, keep the commandments' And again: 'You are my friends if you do what I command you' Finally, persons He calls strong and steadfast He declares to be founded on the robust security, upon the rock established with immoveable and unshaken firmness, in opposition to all the tempests and hurricanes of the world. He says, 'Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.We ought therefore to stand fast on His words, to learn and do whatever He both taught and did. But how can a man say that he believes in Christ, who does not do what Christ commanded him to do? Or how shall he receive the reward of faith, who will not keep the faith of the commandment? He must necessarily waver and wander, and, caught away by a spirit of error, like dust which is shaken by the wind, be blown about. He will make no advance in his walk toward salvation, because he does not keep the truth of the way of salvation." 

Cyprian of Carthage,
 On the Unity of the Church, 1-2
 
Prayer

O Lord Jesus, send us Your grace, that we might not despair in the midst of trouble, but all the more depend on Your care. Amen.

 

For the people of the Philippines whose earthly homes were badly damaged by the typhoon, that the Lord would be with them as they pick up the pieces and that they would look forward to their heavenly home

 

For all those who are working to help those in need in the Philippines, responding to suffering, keeping the peace, or repairing essential services, that the Lord would watch over them, keeping them safe

 

For the members of the Council of the Presidents of the LCMS, that they might be safe in their travels and have joyful homecomings

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

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