An Open Heart
Friday of Pentecost 19
20 October 2017
We can never sufficiently extol the benefits and blessings that come to us sinners in the Word of God. This is the speech of God. He has condescended to reveal Himself to us in human language. While in Greece, I visited Delphi where in ancient times the oracle offered answers to questions proffered by pilgrims. The illustrious men of Greece sought the opinion of the god Apollo from the lips of the Pythia, the priestess who was kept in a basement chamber in Apollo's temple there, seeking enlightenment. The answers given to the questions were famous for their ambiguity. Croesus, King of Lydia (6th c. B.C.), sought the advice of the oracle by asking if he should go to war against his eastern neighbor, Persia. The answer was: "If Croesus attacks the Persians, he would destroy a great empire." Unfortunately for him, the empire destroyed by Croesus was his own. People have always sought to know the mind of God and His will for their lives.
 
The true God has not left us to consult some priestess in a dark basement to know His will. He sent holy men of God carried along by the Holy Spirit to speak for Him (2Pt 1:21). He spoke not in riddles, but in the clear and simple speech of a gracious God who wants His people to know Him. His prophets and apostles preached in public the good news that Christ had given Himself into the hands of wicked men to suffer and die and on the third day rise, so that life and immortality could be brought to light through the gospel. Christ Himself defended His teaching at His trial by claiming, "I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret" (Jn 18:20). The Word of God is a great light that has shined all over the world. God's Word hides nothing except from those who are in the darkened basement of their own depraved ignorance.
 
To our shame, we have not treasured this Word of God. We have often acted as though we would have preferred the riddles of the Pythia to the clear Word of God. The clarity of Scripture makes it a target for human contempt. God has laid open His heart to us in the text of Scripture, so that we have constant and easy access to it. The Bible is by far the most printed book in the history of the world. The New York Times "best seller list," which systematically ignores religious books, is really no such thing. The Bible is the number one best seller week in and week out, year in and year out. Yet, God's great love for us in giving us this Word has been met by our hard-heartedness. When have we treasured this speech of God, read it, studied it, and memorized it? Haven't we found a thousand excuses to treat it as a coffee table book rather than the book of life? We should pray fervently that God would not withdraw His Word from us and repent of our neglect of it.
 
When I was courting my wife, we sent love letters to each other (this was long before email!). I read them eagerly when they arrived, as do all lovers. Scripture is a love letter from God. Yet we find it a burden to read it, let alone study and treasure what it says. I know my wife's letters are all preserved in a storage box. I am not sure where. But it might be enjoyable to see what was written long ago in the springtime of our love. The Lord would love to rekindle the love affair we have with Him through a renewal of the Word of God among us. Let's open the heart of God once again by opening Scripture. 

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"The Scriptures assign many different names to the Word of God because of its many virtues and effects. It is indeed all things and all-powerful (Heb 1:3; 4:12). It is called 'the sword of the Spirit' (Eph 6:17), with which we combat the devil and all spiritual enemies. It is termed 'a light' (Ps 119:105), 'the early and the late rains' (Jas 5:7), 'a heavenly dew' (Zech 8:12), 'gold and silver' (Ps 119:72), medicine, garment, ornament, and the like. Similarly, it is also called bread, since it nourishes and strengthens the soul, which grows strong and fat on it. The term is not to be understood in its narrow sense. Just as Scripture uses the physical bread to designate all sorts of precious bodily food, so also the spiritual bread encompasses the innumerable kinds of food for the soul. There is a diversity of souls on earth and each has its own need and requirement. Yet the Word of God satisfies the needs of all and of each individually. If the food of all kings who ever lived and who ever will live were gathered in one heap, it could not in the least be compared with the smallest word of God. Therefore, Christ in the Gospel likens this to a marriage feast, etc. (Mt 22:1-10), and Isaiah to a costly, choice, and magnificent banquet (Is 25:6)."
 
Martin Luther, An Exposition of the Lord's Prayer for Simple Laymen
2 Peter 1:16-2:3

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain.
 
And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
 
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 
(ESV)
Prayer
Lord Christ, You have set Your Word into our hands through the writing of the prophets and the apostles. Grant us Your Holy Spirit that we would eagerly open that text, study it, set it on our memory, and share it with others, that they too might know the kindness of Your heart opened to us. Amen.

For President Lawrence Rast of Concordia Theological Seminary, that he would be strengthened to lead the faculty and staff of the seminary in the ways of the Word
 
For Rev. Dr. Christopher Ahlman, who will be installed as Director of Parish Music and Associate Pastor of Memorial Lutheran Church, that he would be strengthened in his labor and office
 
For Millie Johnston, who is gravely ill, that she would cast her cares in the hands of a gracious God
 
For Georgia Buvinghausen, that the Lord Jesus would give her a full recovery
Art: Albrecht DURER, The Adoration of the Trinity (1511)
Memorial Lutheran Church
smurray@mlchouston.org
http://www.mlchouston.org
© Scott Murray 2017
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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