Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Mighty Fortress is Our God!

"God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear..." (Psalm 46:1,2a).

That word is is, present tense, an immediate, right-now conviction that there is help and hope. The verse doesn't delineate the trouble (this is where faith enters); it only tells us that help and hope are there when they are so acutely needed. Hope–which should be a Christian frame of mind–is one of God's greatest blessings to man. It is Christian hope that helps us to bear the burdens of life. "...Jesus Christ, who is our hope..." (1 Timothy 1:1), a this-moment confidence that all is not lost the instant we think it is. "In the presence of trouble, some people grow wings; others buy crutches" (Anonymous). A legend is told of the time when God placed wings on the backs of the feeble birds and they protested loudly to Him, "Must we be burdened with this weight?" The Lord smiled and asked them to wait a week. The next day a strange thing happened. A force of some kind lifted them heavenward and the birds found themselves flying and floating, and enjoying a sensation they had never felt before. When the week passed they reappeared before the Lord and humbly acknowledged the wisdom of their Father. "These very wings which we ridiculed as unnecessary burdens we now cherish. They enable us to soar into the loftiest heights!"

We may be at the end of our rope, and that is exactly when God reaches down and pulls that very rope–and us–up to Him. It is said that when Luther and his friends became discouraged, Luther would cheerily say, "Come, let us sing the forty-sixth Psalm." Luther had a special affinity for this Psalm and for good reason. When he said, "Here I stand, I cannot do otherwise," he knew that his resources were immediate and unfailing; he need fear no man on earth. "A mighty fortress is our God!" So let us grow wings to soar beyond and above earth's sorrows and diseases of psyche and physique.

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.

And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.

That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.

Gracious Father, our Hope and our Fortress, we thank You and praise You!

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