Johannes Eichorn 1511-1564
Lord Jesus Christ, to you be laud, honor, and thanks forever, here and in eternity, that you have so graciously quickened me, a poor, miserable sinner, with Your true body and blood. I pray You from the bottom of my heart that You would now be and remain powerful within me, and regard and receive me, Your poor little worm, with gracious eyes. Never again allow me to fall out of Your hands of grace. From henceforth so rule, lead, and guide me by Your Holy Spirit from in my calling and my whole life that I might not think, carry out, speak, or work anything against You, but instead at all times might look up to You, Your Word, and Your holy will. Even in the cross that you lay upon me grant me to be patient and willing and not murmur against You, nor against my neighbor, but instead let it remain as hard upon me as You make it and as it pleases You, while I await the gracious redemption and the eternal joy which you will give to all believers who trust in You and build upon You. Help, Lord Jesus, that my faith be strong and firm within me, and preserve me in the true doctrine and confession of faith, in humility, patience, and hope, until my final breath, that I may laud and thank You here and in eternity, You who are, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, true, almighty, eternal God, from eternity to eternity. Amen, Lord Jesus! Amen.
Ev. Luth. Gebets-Schatz
Oh my most heartily beloved heavenly Father, whom I love with my whole heart; O You righteous judge of the world, how awfully have I, a poor sinner, sinned against You! Oh, what have I done! How have I so completely and shamefully forgotten your holy commandments, your good deeds toward me, your hard threats against sins, Your terrible, secret judgment, that I have committed this great sin, over which I now fear day and night! Oh God, how frightened Is my soul, how my heart trembles, how must I now be ashamed of myself in my own conscience before You! What a deep abyss of sin and damnation I see before my eyes!
Now, Lord my God, oh dear Father, in this my anxiety I take refuge in childlike trust in your unfathomable, unmerited mercy, and pray You through Jesus Christ for grace. Oh, how many are my sins! How great is my debt, so very great that I can never, even in eternity, pay it! Still have patience with me, a poor sinner, and pay for my misdoings according to your superabundant mercy for Christ’s sake, who also has paid for me.
I have indeed done wrong and sinned very terribly. But it pains me to my heart, and on account of it I suffer daily, as You, O knower of hearts, see in me. Yes, now, O dear God, you will not cast out such a terrified and crushed heart. Yes, You are near to them who are of a crushed spirit, and you help those whose hearts are broken. Oh, then also do not cast me out! Heal, Lord, my stricken heart, my wounded conscience! Help me, a poor sinner, for the sake of Christ, and bind up my wounds. Yes, You are my Father, my Creator, and You know what kind of strength I have; you know that I am weak. Yes, Your Son Jesus Christ also has come into the world to save poor sinners, and His blood cleanses us from all sin. Oh God, thus do not allow the precious merit of Christ to be lost on me, a poor, sorrowful, repentant sinner.
Yes, you have promised that you do not desire the death of the sinner, but instead that he be converted and live. Now, dear God, I desire from my heart to repent by Your grace. You are acquainted with my heart and know that the sin I have committed is truly painful to me, and that I desire to improve myself. Oh, give me life and convert me, Lord, and I will be converted. Indeed, do not enter into judgment with me, and let me not perish in my affliction. Oh God, I am so shaken at times because of my sins that I don’t know where I should go and what I should do. O Lord, cast me not away from your countenance, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Free my feet from the net. Please forgive my misdeed, and let me receive joy and gladness through the power of Your Spirit, that the bones which You have broken may rejoice.
I find now that, as light as Satan previously made out the sin to be, in order to cast me into it, now so terrible and hard he makes it in my conscience in order to bring me to despair. O my God, forsake me not in such hard struggle. Let Your power be mighty in my weakness. Arm me with the power of your might, that in it I might stand against the cunning trials of the devil. Enlighten my eyes also, that I henceforth walk carefully and protect myself from similar sins.
Oh God, when You give joy to my heart with Your grace, how gladly I will to thank You, how diligently I want to improve my life through Your grace, how gladly will I teach other transgressors your ways, that sinners be converted to You. It shall be a warning to me, dear God, and I will protect myself from such plague of conscience for the rest of my life.
I hope in this, my God, that You are gracious, and my heart rejoices that You so gladly help and cast no one out who comes to You. Therefore I come to You now and pray You, be gracious to me, a poor sinner, for the sake of Your most dear Son, my only Savior and mediator Jesus Christ, who has promised that what we will ask in His name, the same You will also give to us, and who has commanded us to pray: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
(Riegisches Gebetbuch, 18th century)
from Ev. Luth. Gebets-Schatz
St. Peter Lutheran Church, Joliet, Illinois
St. Luke 14: 15-24
June 29, 2014
“Excused from the Kingdom of God”
Jesus is at a Sabbath dinner hosted by Pharisees. For our Lord this isn’t just an opportunity to eat bread but to break and distribute the bread of life, God’s Word. It’s natural for Him to talk about the Kingdom of God at a dinner, because the Kingdom of God is a great banquet, according to Isaiah 25:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. Is. 25: 6-8
But they don’t understand what Jesus is teaching. They don’t understand the feast of God’s kingdom is in their presence right at that very moment. So one of the people at the table starts talking about how great it will be for everyone who gets to eat at the dinner of the Kingdom of God.
And Jesus says, “Let me tell you a story. There once was a man who made a big dinner, and he sent his servants out to say to the people who were invited, ‘Come, because everything is already prepared.’ But everyone who was invited started to make excuses about why they couldn’t come.”
Jesus is saying, “You have asked to be excused from God’s kingdom for the sake of earthly possessions, but God is gathering the poor, crippled, broken, and sinful to eat at His spiritual banquet.”
Jesus knows that the Pharisees would agree with the idea that you should give some of your wealth to God and to help the poor. They’re big on sacrifices and tithing and keeping the letter of the law about providing for the poor. But it’s possible to do those things and still have an unchanged heart that loves earthly goods more than God and one’s neighbor.
That’s just the problem for the Pharisees.
Lord, merciful and gracious God, because only those enjoy the goodness of Your house and are citizens of Your kingdom who were built on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone, and because You bless with grace only those who walk in Your light, therefore I pray You: Let Your word create it that here and there there is a crowd that hears the voice of Christ and listens to Your Word, that is everywhere one and holds to the commandments of God and the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. By Your Word may the believing community grow and increase more and more, and the chariots of God be many thousands of thousands, which enter the gates of righteousness to live in Your house, and therefore depart from unrighteousness, serving You alone in holiness and righteousness, as is pleasing to You. O Lord Jesus Christ, You who are the author and perfecter of faith, and mighty in the assembly of the saints, rule through Your inward grace in the hearts of men, so that they are converted to You. Give to Your thunder, that is, to the preaching of Your Word, power. Let it succeed in that for which You send it. Enlighten and strengthen the hearts of men that they may not cut themselves off from your congregation, but rather would rejoice in the midst of the throng where Your Word and Holy Sacraments are repeated and distributed pure and unfalsified. Even if it is a little flock, a poor, weak people, exposed to the elements and finding comfort almost nowhere in the world, still Your little flock shall not fear, because it is Your good pleasure to give it the kingdom of Your glory, and there to take away the reproach of the people, and to draw all those that have remained with you in Your trials, that they should eat and drink at Your table in Your kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Do not give rejoicing to the devil, who is the enemy of You and Your Word, who wherever He can causes offense so that Your Word may not be heard and believed. Glorify Your name, that many souls be added to the number of the elect, which live in Your house and praise You there forever. Amen.
Georg Schimmer, Pastor at Wittenberg (1652-1695), Biblical Soul-Jewel.
In Evangelische Lutherische Gebets-Schatz
In Memoriam + Shirley S
Woodlawn Funeral Home
Psalm 108:12 (Job 19:21-27, 1 Cor. 15:51-57, St. Matthew 27:45-54; 28:1-6)
June 23, 2014
“Vain is the Help of Man”
Shirley’s relatives and friends,
Members of St. Peter:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
God’s word for our comfort this morning are these words from Psalm 108, which Shirley had underlined in her Bible:
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
What a word for this woman of few words to leave behind!
What a marker to leave behind for us on the journey which she has now completed!
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
I wish I could preach a sermon on this text to all the people I know who have wandered away from God and His church, considering Christianity no longer relevant to them, perhaps. A distant memory from their youth that can no longer be reclaimed.
I wish I could preach this text to them all. Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man. I know that while Christianity may no longer seem relevant to them, they still have trouble. Sometimes they are even conscious of having trouble that is beyond human power to help.
They may not be able to imagine sitting in church or going to Sunday School anymore like they did when they were kids. But who that has known trouble and pain is beyond wishing that there is a God who can be counted on to hear prayer and to help in trouble?
Most of us endure many troubles while we are alive. Shirley had some. She wasn’t one to talk about them a lot, I think. But the old spiritual we heard at the close of the visitation is a quiet witness to the fact that she endured her share of trouble on earth. Just a few more weary days and then I’ll fly away. To a home on God’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.
We can fly away from many of the troubles we experience in this world into the company of loved ones or into the bottom of several stiff drinks. But those troubles are just shots across the bow. Today God reminds us of a trouble that we all have from which we can’t fly away. If we avoid facing it today, it will be back to visit until, finally, it comes for us.
The great trouble we share is death. It’s a trouble that no human power can help. Nothing makes it go away. No human power can make it tolerable. The best we can hope for from the help of man is that we forget about it for awhile. But it remains. It is a relentless reminder that we live in this world under God’s judgment, that we must reckon with God.
Give us help from trouble: for vain is the help of man.
God has answered that prayer of David the Psalmist which was also Shirley’s prayer. He has given us His help where the help of man is vain.
It is help that relieves in the distress of death. It not only gives relief to the soul, as it did to Shirley as she was dying, but it gives release from death itself.
It is the help of God that overcomes and destroys death and sin. It was pictured before us in the Gospel reading today. God’s help from all trouble is the death and resurrection of Jesus.
What we sang about as children in Sunday School is God’s help from the trouble of death. When we grew up and became strong we turned to human strength to save us. We put our trust in the help of man, whether it was money, or career, or love, or possessions, or pleasure. But these turn out to be vain.
Then there is Jesus’ agony and death on the cross. The sky is dark and He cries out, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” That doesn’t seem like any kind of help at all. It seems worse than simply dying. And the people who stand looking on can’t understand it. They believe that if God is going to help Him he must have to come down from the cross, even if it’s at the eleventh hour. They fill a sponge with sour wine and sit and watch to see whether Elijah will come down from heaven and save Him.
Elijah doesn’t come. Jesus cries out one final time and dies. There is an earthquake. It looks like God has utterly abandoned Him.
He has. That is God’s help for us, as strange as it seems. That is the help that melted the hard Roman soldier so that he said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”
Jesus was abandoned to death. That is God’s help for us. There death’s power over us was broken. That’s why Paul in the Epistle reading gloats over death: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?
That’s why Job, in the midst of his agony, says, I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God.
Jesus was abandoned for us. He tasted death for us. And then death let Him go, because it could not hold Him. Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Death let Him go. The place He lay is empty. And now death has lost the power to hold us, for we are flesh of Jesus’ flesh, bone of His bone.
Vain is the help of man. All of man’s attempts to make death not so bad, to escape from the shadow it casts over our life, are vain and empty.
But this is not the help of man. It is God’s help.
He gave this mighty help to Shirley when she was baptized into Christ.
He strengthened her to believe in Jesus’ victory for her by preaching His cross and resurrection into her ears and into her heart. He strengthened her heart by giving her the very body and blood of Jesus that destroyed death.
Today He also gives His help to you in your trouble, as you grieve and walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He proclaims Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and His rule over all of our trouble.
Soon He will return to destroy death entirely, the final enemy. The same word He speaks today will summon those who are in the graves to rise and live as He arose and lives forevermore.
While we wait for that day He speaks life to us and declares our sins forgiven, so that even while we are dying we live. He declares life is yours as a free gift through His suffering and His resurrection.
Man’s word might give temporary consolation, but this is the word and help of the living God. Man’s word delivers no one from death. But this is God’s Word that created life, that is life. It declares you free and it frees you from the trouble of death. Because of it Shirley rests with Jesus Christ. And one day soon in her flesh she also will see God.
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Soli Deo Gloria
We have a firm prophetic word, and you do well to pay attention to it as to a light that shines in a dark place until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 2 Peter 1: 19
Almighty God, merciful and good Father, since all our salvation depends on this, that we have a right understanding of Your holy Word, so grant to us all that our hearts, freed from worldly affairs, hear and cling to Your holy word with all diligence in true faith, that from it we might learn rightly to know Your gracious will, and follow it with all seriousness, to Your praise and honor, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Johannes Eichorn (1511-1564)
Spiritual Armory and Treasury
St. Peter Lutheran Church
St. Luke 16:19-31
June 22, 2014
“The Great Chasm”
Lord, let at last thine angels come
To Abram’s bosom bear me home
That I may die unfearing.
I was at the hospital, visiting a lady who had been a member of St. Peter at one time. She was busy with the doctor, so I was packing up my books and getting ready to leave when the doctor turned to me and said, “What denomination are you?” I told him, “Lutheran.” He asked me, “Do you believe in my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?” I said, “Yes.” Then he asked me if I would like to lead them in prayer. So we prayed: the doctor, me, the lady, and her family, holding hands in a circle. Before I left, the doctor said something about being saved three years ago. I said, “That would be an interesting story I would like to hear sometime.”
So he proceeded to tell me the story right then.
The story was that he had a co-worker who had been trying to convert him to Christ for twenty-five years. But he was an atheist. He said that three years ago they were discussing death in reference to a patient. He said, “Well, we’re all going to the same place, after all.” The “same place” he meant was the dirt and then—nothingness. His colleague looked at him and said quietly, “No, we’re not going to the same place.” “What do you mean?” he asked her. She said, “Doctor, you’re going to hell.”
He said the statement was like an arrow through his heart. He began to be terrified at the thought of spending an eternity in anguish without a loving God. He began to read the bible. Soon after he told his girlfriend he had to go to church, at which he made a public confession of faith in Christ and was baptized.
What is striking about this doctor’s story is the same thing that is striking about Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus. Jesus paints a very clear picture of what happens after death. We are not all going to the same place after we die. There is a great chasm fixed between people after death.