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Psalm 119:105-112


Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to keep your righteous rules. I am severely afflicted; give me life, O LORD, according to your word! Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD, and teach me your rules. I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law. The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts. Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart. I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end. (ESV)

The Word Says So


22 September 2014

How hard it is to hear of illness, weakness, and death when they attack God's people. Yet people who suffer such things are closest to the kingdom of heaven. God is always "turning over" things on us, making a mockery of our expectations. All too easily we think that the best and brightest have a right to the kingdom; it is theirs by reason of their talent, ability, and shining righteousness. Nothing could be more wrong. For those who are beloved by God are loved for Christ's sake, not because of their own attainments. And though they appear rejected by God and outcasts from the world, they are the exact opposite. They are treasures of God purchased by the cleansing blood of Christ and sons of God by adoption into God's family through the word of God's Son.


How easily our heart gets us down, though, when confronted by our own weakness and the tribulations that we face on a daily basis. I am a perfectionist in many ways, and I feel the pressure of my own inability to control my situation when I am not able to manage things as perfectly as I want to. When my office is a wreck, I feel frustrated and wonder how I have failed to manage my life so that it can be kept as neat as I would like it. I wonder how others have the time to keep their offices as well organized as they do. I wonder, "What's wrong with me?" Perhaps you have felt the same way, and while it is not a big deal that my office is a bit of a wreck, it still points out to me that things can't be as perfect as I want them to be or try to make them and that others seem to be able to do what I long to accomplish.


Here we need to retreat from our experience to the Word of God to seek the comfort that Luther elsewhere calls contraria: the contraries. God exercises our faith by setting before us our own weakness and telling us that the weak are blessed. We feel no such thing in our hearts! So where are we left? Not depending on our hearts, but depending entirely upon the objective Word of God. He promises that those who do not have a deed will inherit the promised land, like our forefather in the faith, Abraham. He promises that those who do not bear children, will be mother of uncounted myriads, like Sarah. So when we see that we have not and do not, then we should confess that we are truly blessed, purely because the Word says so. What we have is Christ. He has done everything.


Martin Luther


"Paul cites (Gal 4:27) this passage, which is entirely allegorical, from the prophet Isaiah (Is 54:1). It is written, he says, that the mother of very many children, who has a husband, must grow weak and perish, while on the other hand, the barren one, who does not bear, must abound in sons. Hannah sings the same way in her canticle, from which Isaiah took this prophecy: 'The bows of the mighty are broken, but the feeble bind on strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger. The barren has borne seven, but she who has many children is forlorn' (1Sa 2:4-5). It is an amazing thing, she says: the one who was prolific will be barren, and the one who was barren will be prolific. Those who were mighty, satisfied, alive, righteous, blessed, rich, and glorious will be feeble, hungry, sentenced to death, sinful, condemned, poor, and shameful; and, on the other hand, the feeble and the hungry will be mighty and satisfied.


"With this allegory from the prophet Isaiah, Paul shows the difference between Hagar and Sarah, that is, between the synagogue and the church, or between the law and the gospel. It is as though he were saying: 'The law, the husband of a prolific woman, that is, of the synagogue, gives birth to very many children.' For men of every age, not only the ignorant but those who are the wisest and best, in other words, the whole human race with the exception of the children of the free woman, do not see or recognize any other righteousness, not to say any more excellent righteousness, than that of the law. Now under the term 'law' I am including all laws, both human and divine. Therefore if they follow the law and perform its outward works, they think they are righteous. All such men are slaves, not free men, because they are sons of Hagar, who gives birth into slavery. If they are slaves, they do not share in the inheritance but are cast out of the house. 'The slave does not remain in the house forever' (Jn 8:35); in fact, they have now been thrown out of the kingdom of grace and freedom. 'Whoever does not believe is condemned already' (Jn 3:18). Therefore they remain under the curse of the law, under sin, death, and the power of the devil, under the wrath and judgment of God."

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 4.27

Lord Jesus Christ, send us Your divine Word, that through it we might know Your heart. Amen.


For the Presidents of the LCMS Districts, that they might uphold the ministry of the congregations by encouraging the pastors under their care


For those who are suffering inclement weather, that they might be kept safe in the midst of fall storms


For missionary recruitment, that the Lord of the church would call laborers into His fields white unto harvest
Art: Crucifixes  Uppsala Cathedral (medieval)

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