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Psalm 149
Praise the LORD! Sing to the LORD a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King! Let them praise his name with dancing, making melody to him with tambourine and lyre! For the LORD takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation. Let the godly exult in glory; let them sing for joy on their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their throats and two-edged swords in their hands, to execute vengeance on the nations and punishments on the peoples, to bind their kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron, to execute on them the judgment written! This is honor for all his godly ones. Praise the LORD! (ESV)
Because It Is Impossible
Augustine of Hippo, Pastor and Theologian
28 August 2015
The gospel gives liberty. However, it does not free us to live like pigs. Those who have the gospel are still required to be obedient to the law in their lives. Perhaps it might be said that they have even more reason to exhibit that obedience for the sake of the great gospel of Jesus Christ and the freedom it brings. They are now freed to serve the neighbor in love. Those who abuse the gospel by living immoral lives remind me of the joke about the young monastic novice who is sent to live in a monastic community in Ireland. His spiritual advisor meets him at the airport and drives him through the emerald country of Ireland until they pull up at a splendid gate framing the view of a palatial English manor house. The incredulous novice asks, "Father, what is this?" His spiritual director says, "My son, this is the house to which you have been assigned and where you will be living for the next several years." The excited novice replies, "Father, if this is what our vows mean by poverty, then bring on chastity!" All joking aside, especially the pastors of the church must be focused and disciplined in their day to day lives. They must not be belly servers. Too much is at stake; eternal life, heaven and hell, true joy, the comfort of God's Word, etc.
We Lutherans certainly believe that the Word of God is doing everything to accomplish the world's salvation. But we draw an entirely false conclusion from this incontrovertible fact when we presume that we preachers may be lazy and supine in our office as proclaimers of the Word of God. I have even heard it said that since God has ordained to salvation for those who are being saved, that that relieves us preachers of actually laboring in the fields of the Lord to spread the seed of the Word or to tend His fields. "God will take care of it, don't you know." Yes, he will; even without you, if He must. But woe unto you, if He does do it without you. In due time, such lazy bones will know better. In the meantime we need to exhort one another to a life of love and works. We need to be actively and passionately about proclaiming the Word of God so that through the proclamation of the Word some might be saved. He has commanded you, preacher, to do it (2Ti 4:2). Because God is doing it, you should all the more be motivated to do it; to be His mouthpiece.
Do people complain about their pastors? Yes, of course. We are preaching them to death with the law and to life with the gospel. This is a boundary land of preaching. Of course, it hurts, is traumatic, and causes suffering. And it seems all the people can do is complain about the packages in which the Word of God is delivered to them. It is no wonder, then that some preachers hole up in their offices, fleeing the people. The people also must show proper respect for the office of pastor. "Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you" (Heb 13:7). But the preachers must be ready to die for their people and to live for their people. Sound impossible? Yes, of course. That's what makes it worthwhile. It's worth doing because it is impossible.


Martin Luther

"We, who teach the Word, do not carry out our office with as much care and zeal now in the light of truth as we did when we were in the darkness of ignorance. The more certain we are about the freedom granted to us by Christ, the more indifferent and sluggish we are about presenting the Word, praying, doing good works, enduring evil, and the like. And if Satan were not troubling us inwardly with spiritual trials and outwardly with persecution by our enemies and with the contempt and ingratitude of our own people, we would become absolutely secure, lazy, and disqualified for anything good. In time we would lose the knowledge and faith of Christ, would desert the ministry of the Word, and would look for some more comfortable life, more beneficial to our flesh. This is what many of our men are beginning to do, motivated by the fact that those who labor in the Word not only do not get their support from it but are even treated shamefully by those whom their preaching of the gospel has set free from miserable servitude to the pope. Forsaking the poor and offensive Christ, they involve themselves in the business of this present life; and they serve, not Christ but their own stomach (Rm 16:18), with results that they will experience in due time.
We know that the devil lies in wait, especially for us who have the Word (he already holds others captive to his will), and he is diligent in attempting to take away from us the freedom of the Spirit or at least making us exchange it for lasciviousness. Therefore we must teach and exhort our men with greatest care and diligence using the example of Paul, lest they think that this freedom of the Spirit, imparted by the death of Christ, was given to them as an occasion for the flesh or, as Peter says, "as a cover-up for evil," (1Pt 2:16), but it is given that by their love they might serve one another. 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Galatians, 5.13
Almighty and most merciful God and Father, through Your only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ, You have established Your Church. We thank You that You provide shepherds to feed and serve Your flock in which the Holy Spirit has made them overseers. We humbly implore You ever to strengthen the labors of Your ministers, that through their ministry of Word and Sacrament Your people may increase in Your knowledge and service and grow up into Him who is the head, even Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, be all glory now and forever. Amen.
For Diva Pilli, who will be undergoing therapy for cancer, that the Lord Jesus Christ would grant her strength
For the district presidents of the LCMS, that the Lord would grant them strength in their labor and faithfulness to their Lord
For Charlene Johnson as she undergoes therapy for cancer, that the Lord would grant her strength and healing
Art: Dürer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 

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