Let It Burn!
Thursday of Pentecost 14
25 August 2016
When all that is useless has been destroyed by the consuming fire of God (Lk 12:49), when all our false gods have been knocked over and smashed by the living God, all that is left is Christ's holy gospel for the church and her children. Christ's word is delivered to the church on the lips of the preachers and it is used by God to burn down all that is useless on the day of judgment. We are left only with what the Lord counts as truly worthy. There is no doubt that such a process is filled with hurt, brings suffering, and even becomes a sign of the final judgment, which is yet to come. And yet this must be undergone.

The apostle Paul was thinking of this Word from the lips of his Lord when as a warning to us he wrote: "For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw-each one's work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work that anyone has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.  If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1Co 3:11-15). You will be saved, but only just through fire. You will be saved, even though you have lost in the burning fire much that surrounds you. It is only hay and stubble, and straw in comparison to the one thing needful.

Look at the suffering of Job. What did God leave untouched by the cleansing fire clearing out the life of this man? His wife: who counseled that he curse God and die. A few friends who were sure that Job had done something to deserve the destroying fire that consumed family, wealth, status, and home. What was left? Nothing worth keeping was left. Finally, through much soul-searching and agonizing Job recognized that that is where he needed to be. He knew he had a Lord. He confessed that he had a living Redeemer, who would defeat death itself. He could face suffering and every loss knowing that that Redeemer would Himself suffer under the same wrath and worse. Since God has permitted His wrath to burn over His beloved Son, it can burn over us unto no avail. Let it burn!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

Martin Luther
"It is the special wisdom and teaching of Christians, who should be so stouthearted that no evil can happen to them to prevent them from glorying and triumphing. For they have the Word, absolution, baptism, the remission of sins, and the promise of eternal life. And whatever adversity must be borne either in death or in hell--no evil is excepted, whether it is an evil inwardly or outwardly--they should say: 'I triumph and am proud, because I am lord over death, sin, hell, the world, and all evils, so that for a Christian there is no difference between life and death, wealth and poverty, disgrace and fame. Consequently, he becomes a lord powerful in battle and has been placed above the horror of death, hell, and all adversaries. To be sure, this is not our own doing, because nature cannot accomplish this. But it comes to pass because our Savior, our Lord and Conqueror, the Son of God, sits at the right hand of the Father. He frees, defends, and governs us. Therefore, let death terrify us, and let Satan drag us off to hell! What then? My Lord and my Redeemer lives!'" 

Martin Luther, Lectures on Genesis, 45.3
Luke 12:49-53

"I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (ESV)
Lord Jesus, You have set fire to all that is unimportant and burned it down. Grant us Your Spirit, that we might not long for that which will not save when it is taken from us. Free us from the love of the things of this world, that we might not be bent by desire for the earthbound. Grant us the courage to triumph in Your gifts alone; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

For all those who are engaged to be married, that they would look forward to the union which God will work in their lives that they too would be one flesh

For all seminary students who are traveling and settling into new homes and ways of life, that they would be conformed to the gospel

For all those who are working in medical research, that their labors would lead to therapies to help those who suffer
Art: Durer, Albrecht  The Adoration of the Trinity (1515) 
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2016
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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