Barren Beginnings, Part 3
2 hours ago
"O Lord Jesus, shine in my heart, mind, words and actions. I do not want to obstruct the window of my devotion willfully.Valerius Herberger. p. 91
Dearest Lord Jesus, let my heart flourish with sunflowers and way-white blossoms that face and turn toward the sun. Let my heart face You at every moment."
Concerning Holy Scripture
A. It is of divine origin
1. Hebrews 1,1-2. After God had spoken to the fathers at various times in various ways through the prophets, he has also spoken to us, at last, in these days, through the Son. This Son, through whom he has made the world he has made the heir of everything.
2. 2 Peter 1, 21. Never has a prophecy been brought forward out of the will of man but holy people of God have spoken as moved by the Holy Spirit.
B. It serves our salvation
3. Hebrews 4:12. The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword. It penetrates as to divide soul and spirit, bone and marrow, to judge the thoughts and meanings of the heart.
4. Romans 1:16. I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ because it is a power of God to save all who believe it.
5. 2 Tim. 3:15-17. Since you have known holy scripture since your childhood, it can teach you for your salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. For scripture inspired by God is useful for teaching, showing sin, improving, for discipline in righteousness, so that a believer in God be perfected and useful for every good work.
C. It must be used in the right way.
6. Deut. 6, 6-7. You shall take the words to heart which I command you today. You shall diligently teach them to your children by speaking about them when sitting in your house and while travelling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
7. John 5,39. You search the scriptures because you think that you have eternal life in it. And indeed, scripture testifies to me.
8. 2 Peter 1:19. We have a firm prophetic word, and you do well that you look to it as to a light which shines in the darkness until the day comes and the morning star rises in your hearts.
9. Psalm 119, 105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light on my path.
Luther spends more time on the First Commandment than on any other portion of the Catechism, explaining how essential it is to know, trust, and believe in the true God and to let nothing take His place. He was convinced that where this commandment was being kept, all other commandments would follow. A right relationship with God produces right relationships with fellow human beings.Very nice. So help us God.
You shall have no other gods. What this means: You shall have Me alone as your God. What is the meaning of this, and how is it to be understood? What does it mean to have a god? Or, what is God? Answer: A god means that from which we are to expect all good and in which we are to take refuge in all distress. So, to have a God is nothing other than trusting and believing Him with the heart. I have often said that the confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol. If your faith and trust is right, then your god is also true. On the other hand, of your trust is false and wrong, then you do not have the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God [Hebrews 11:6]. Now, I say that whatever you set your heart on and put your trust in is truly your god.It strikes me that we don't usually think of having a god, in this way. This is probably because we don't have much faith. It moves me that God has been so faithful in calling for this faith and love. Where others see a tyrant for demanding such allegiance and having such rules, I see only a lover, a fortress. It is his ultimate condescension that he wishes to have our heart.
The purpose of this commandment is to require true faith and trust of the heart, which settles upon the only true God and clings to Him alone. It is like saying, "See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never seek another." In other words, "Whatever you lack of good things, expect it from Me. Look to Me for it. ad whenever you suffer misfortune and distress, crawl and cling to Me. I, yes, I will give you enough and help you out of every need. Only do not let your heart cleave to or rest on another."
So you can easily understand what and how much this commandment requires. A person's entire heart and all his confidence must be placed in God alone and in no one else. For to "have" God, you can easily see, is not to take hold of Him with our hands or to put Him in a bag, like money, or to lock Him in a chest. Instead, to "have" Him means that the heart takes hold of Him and clings to Him. To cling to Him with the heart is nothing else than to trust in Him entirely. For this reason God wishes to turn us away from everything else that exists outside of Him and to draw us to Himself [John 6:44]. It is as though he would say, "Whatever you have previously sought from the saints, or for whatever things you have trusted in money or anything else, expect it all from Me. Think of Me as the one who will help you and pour out upon you richly all good things."
See, here you have the meaning of the true honor and worship of God, which pleases God, and which he commands under penalty of eternal wrath. The heart knows no other comfort or confidence than in him. It must not allow itself to be torn from Him. But, for Him, it must risk and disregard everything upon earth. On the other hand, you can easily see and sense how the world practices only false worship and idolatry. For no people have ever been so corrupt that they did not begin and continue some divine worship. Everyone has set up as his special god whatever he looked to for blessings, help, and comfort.So, people of all times and places have always had their "gods". This is practically normative. He gives examples from the Roman gods. "Heathens make their self-invented notions and dreams of god an idol. They put their trust in that which is nothing."
"For the world sees that those who trust in God and not in Mammon suffer care and want, and that the devil opposes and resists them. They don't have money or favor or honor, and besides, can scarcely support life. On the other hand, those who serve mammon have power, favor, honor, possessions and every comfort in the eyes of the world. For this reason, these words must be understood to speak against the appearance of such things. And we must consider that they do not lie or deceive, but must come true. Reflect for yourself or investigate and tell me: those who have used all their care and diligence to gather great possessions and wealth what have they finally gained? You will find that they have wasted their toil and labor, or even though they have amassed great treasures, they have been dispersed and scattered. So they themselves have never found happiness in their wealth, and afterward, it never reached the third generation. (42,43)He says we will find many such examples in scripture and zeros in on Saul and David.
The First Chief Part: The Ten Commandments.
The first commandment:
I am the Lord, your God, shall have no other gods beside me.
What does this mean?
We should fear, love and trust in God above all things.
We, Maxilian Joseph, King of Bavaria, by God's grace:
On December 26 of the previous year, we authorized the introduction of a new hymnal for all the protestant congregations in our kingdom. Now we also wish to grant the rights to said hymnal to a yet to be established foundation for pastor's widows. Similarly all of the liturgical writings yet to be published for the use of the church, as well as all of the protestant books of religion for use in the instruction in the schools will be used to further the establishment this institution for the widows and orphans of pastors.
Therefore, we grant to this foundation for pastor's widows the sole right to publish, print, distribute and sell the above mentioned books in order to achieve the best sales price and the necessary uniformity. It may distribute these through its own network in the entire kingdom.
As a consequence we prohibit all the subjects of the kingdom, especially all printers and distributors of books, from permitting the printing of these books and writings for any reasons whatsoever. Such action will meet our very highest condemnation and a fine of one hundred ducats. One half of this fine will go to the public treasury and the remaining half to fund the pastor's widows.
At the same time, we empower the administration of the fund for pastor's widows, in order to enforce their rights, to take measures against any infringements upon them, to have illegal editions confiscated, and to deal with the according to received instructions. For this reason, also, all writings published by the pastor's widows fund shall bear a particular stamp.
We have signed this document in our own hand, attached our own seal and announced the measures in our government newsletter.
This is an edict from our capital city of Munich on the fourth of August, 1811, in the sixth year of our reign.
Max Joseph, Duke of Montgelus.
The GOSPEL WITHOUT ADJECTIVES
After I rattled around on this path for a few years, I knew I needed to recalibrate my life with the real Jesus. I had to ask myself a question: Was the Christian life actually the "victorious" Christian life I was faking? Was it supposed to be vibrant, electric, dynamic, supernatural, awesome, and___? (Insert your adjective of choice.) Or was the Christian life different? simpler? more honest? This journey led me toward the discoveries that I will be sharing in the next few chapters. The Christian life is an expression of the gospel. If your preferred gospel is Your Best Life Now, then your Christian life will be something like "discovering your awesome, unique destiny."
If your gospel is "God wants you to have a dynamic experience every day!" then your Christian life will be a constant amusement park of dramatic divine interventions.
If your gospel is "Jesus Christ is our salvation. He gives life to those who come to him by faith," then your Christian life will look like the joy of the rescued and the humility of the undeservedly graced.
If your gospel is "Jesus is for losers, and there's no need to lie about it," then your Christian life will be "Hello. My name is Michael, and I'm a big sinner with a bigger Savior."
Martin Luther let me know that I was not qualified to receive the victorious-Christian-life merit badge. He also let me know that I wasn't a very good Christian. I'd been reading the reformer's works in a course taught by Dr. Timothy George... I could stop looking for the secret key, and I could ditch the quest to demonstrate that I was a Christian hero. I was humbled as I looked at a universe of grace that filled my empty should with the love of god in Jesus. He did it all. he traversed the separation. He brought together the unreconcilable. He had paid the debt and had become the necessary sacrifice. He had loved me to the uttermost. He had given all this to me as a gift. I had nothing to offer, nothing to contribute, nothing to do but simply stop ignoring his gift and receive it. I was a drowning man whose rescue depended on stopping all efforts to swim and trusting someone who was not going to make me a better swimmer, but who would drown in my place.
... In seeking to be a good Christian, I was deserting the truth that there is no gospel for "good" Christians, because the Lamb of God was nailed to an altar for those who are not good and who are no good at pretending to be good.