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Psalm 71:1-8

  

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame. Rescue me and deliver me in your righteousness; turn your ear to me and save me. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Deliver me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of evil and cruel men. For you have been my hope, O Sovereign LORD, my confidence since my youth. From birth I have relied on you; you brought me forth from my mother's womb. I will ever praise you. I have become like a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.

(ESV)

 

 

Actually the Word of God

Monday of Pentecost 6

6 July 2015

Everything is by grace for the church and her teachers. If the church has the gospel preached in it, it comes by the grace of God. If the teachers of the church are proclaiming the message of forgiveness to poor sinners that comes through Christ Jesus, it comes by the mercies of God. This was certainly true for the Apostle Paul and the churches founded by him. He claimed no authority of His own, but attributed to the grace of God the message he delivered to the apostolic churches. He took no pride in the proclamation as his own, but spoke only the oracles of God as they came from God. He expected his readers to listen and obey, not because he was Paul, but because he was an apostle appointed by Christ and mouthpiece of the Spirit to the churches. He spoke as He was carried along by the Holy Spirit (2Pt 1:21). He was saying "It is not my word that I am speaking, but a word from God."

 

If the preachers, like Paul, proclaim a word that is not their own, they have no room for pride in it. What of it is not a gift? What proclamation of mercy is their own? What have they done which will redound to their own credit? Not a thing. All is and remains God's. This gives great comfort to the hearer, that he is not hearing mere human opinion, but the Word of God. It also keeps humble the proclaimer that the proclamation is not his own invention, but a divine gift. Who boasts in a gift? One can only humbly acknowledge the mercy and grace of the giver in the use of the gift. Self-effacement is the order of the day when we speak for God. For what do we have that we have not received?

 

The humility of the apostle was calculated to inspire humility in his hearers. He sought to generate faithful reception on the part of those who heard the divinely-given proclamation. It is also a self-effacing act to appropriate the divine Word as it is; a wonderful, comforting speech of God. We must confess ourselves in need of this speech. Our spiritual weakness demands that God speak to us, for we cannot know His mind apart from His gift of the Word of God. The acceptance of the Word of God always demands humility. "I will be quiet so that God can speak." "I will submit my will to the judgment of the divine Word, because this is truly the Word of God." Elsewhere Paul exults over the appropriation of the Word of God by his readers, "We also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe" (1Thess 2:13). The apostolic word is actually the Word of God full of grace for the humble.

 

John Chrysostom

 

"'For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned' (Rm 12:3). After saying above, 'I beseech you by the mercies of God' (Rm 12:1), in this passage he says again, 'by the grace.' Observe Paul's humility. Observe a spirit quite subdued! He means to say that he is in no way worthy to be trusted in such an exhortation and counsel. However at one time he takes the mercies of God along with him, at another, His grace. He is saying 'It is not my word, that I am speaking, but one from God.' He does not say, 'For I say unto you by the wisdom of God,' or, 'I say unto you by the law given by God,' but, 'by the grace,' so reminding them continually of the blessings given to them, so as to make them more submissive, and to show that even on this account, they were under an obligation to obey what is said here. 'To everyone among you,' means not to this person and to that, but to the governor and to the governed, to the slave and to the free, to the unlearned and to the wise, to the woman and to the man, to the young and to the old.

 

"Paul says, 'Not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think.' Here he is bringing before us the mother of good deeds, which is humility, in imitation of his own Master. For Christ, when He went up to the mount and issued moral precepts, took this for his beginning, and made it the foundation, "Blessed are the poor in spirit" (Mt 5:3). Paul too, as he has now passed from the doctrinal parts to those of a more practical kind, has taught us virtue in general terms, by requiring of us the admirable sacrifice; and being on the point of giving a more particular portrait of it, he begins with humility at the top, and tells us, 'not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment.'"

John Chrysostom, Homilies on Romans, 20
 
Prayer

Lord Christ, you sent the humble apostle to inspire humility in us. Grant that we might receive his divinely-given proclamation. Help us to see it as it is; a wonderful, comforting speech of God. Our spiritual weakness demands that You speak to us, for we cannot know Your mind apart from Your gift of Your Word. Silence us that we might hear Your Word alone. Amen. 

 

For Don Christian of Concordia University Texas, that the Lord Jesus would be with him in his labors

 

For Cantor Janet Muth, that the Lord of the church would grant her strength and understanding of the church's needs as she considers a call to St. Peter's Lutheran Church, Hemlock, MI

 

For those who are attending the seminar of the Alliance Defending Freedom, that they would be encouraged in their confession of the truth in the face of the intrusions of government into our freedom to exercise our religion
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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