May 24, 2015
A MIGHTY FORTRESS IS OUR GOD
Can you say that God is your fortress, strength, and shield? Do you depend on Him to sustain you daily? Can you say, like King David of old , “I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.” (Psalm 91:2 KJV)? Or do you wonder from day to day how you will manage, whether financially, personally, or spiritually? Do you struggle with releasing control to the Lord? There was a time when ordinary church-goers knew nothing of giving their life to Jesus. Because they couldn’t read, and even if they could, they had no Bibles, ordinary folks depended on the local religious leaders to tell them what to do, what penance to pay for forgiveness, or to whom they should have allegiance. They knew nothing of the free gift of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice! Without experiencing the presence of the Lord in their individual, personal practice of faith, all the rituals in the world couldn’t save them.
On my drive home from work, the other day, I was listening to my favorite radio station, KROH Radio of Hope. The narrator was reading from a biography about the great Reformer, Martin Luther. I learned things I hadn’t previously heard about this great warrior for Christ although I have actually sat in the cathedral in the town of Worms where Luther’s final showdown with the Roman Catholic Church occurred! When seated in this beautiful edifice, I observed the devotion of one elderly woman on her knees for over an hour; I could not have lasted fifteen minutes on that cold, stone floor!
Luther’s revelation of God’s grace also came while he was on his knees, but he was climbing the Scala Sanctum on his knees. The Scala Sanctum was a 28 step staircase where the penitent earned indulgences by climbing them on their knees while repeating the Pater Nostres (Our Father) on each step. The church was selling Indulgences, paper stating sins were forgiven for either the person buying it or a loved one in whose name it was purchased! Luther learned that “the just shall live by faith” not by works or money, and he promoted this new theology in his many writings. After his revelation, Luther began preaching and writing about God’s grace and the church of the day became very unhappy with him, to the point where Pope Leo X ordered his execution!
It seems that there were several instances after his excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church where a death warrant was filed against him, all because he promoted the idea of salvation being a free gift of grace through faith! When it was time for him to defend himself at the assembly of religious leaders in the town of Worms in Germany, his supporters didn’t want him to go despite the promises of safety by the emperor. His allies remembered all too well the stories of Haas, another reformer one hundred years earlier, who had also been given similar promises only to be burned at the stake with his ashes strewn in the Rhine River! Luther gave an answer similar to Job’s “…though he slay me…” and traveled to Worms. He was safe, but he barely left the city and another ‘dead or alive’ warrant was issued by the very one that had promised safety, so some supporters ‘kidnapped’ him off the highway and took him to Wartberg Castle where he stayed, involuntarily, for 18 months.
We owe a lot to Martin Luther and the other reformers who brought the European people out of the Dark Ages. Martin Luther used the 18 months of captive safety to write and to translate the Bible, from the Greek and Hebrew, into the language of the common man, German, so everyone could have access to the knowledge, not just priests. It was the beginning of other translations to follow, and after the Gutenberg press made printing more automated, Bibles were no longer under lock and key, away from ordinary people outside the leadership of a church!
Luther also wrote hymns, and one of the greatest songs of the Reformation period in the Christian church history was written by him. “A Mighty Fortress” is based on Psalm 46, and it is my <3 song today. I woke hearing the tune in my mind and the words “…Did we in our own strength confide…” Luther understood the concept of depending on the Lord for his protection and strength. But it was more than just a theory, an understanding; he had an experiential relationship with the Almighty, which is what each one of us must have!
“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 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 Sabbaoth, 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 good and kindred go,
this mortal life also;
the body they may kill:
God’s truth abideth still,
his kingdom is forever.”
“If God be for us, who can be against us? ” (Romans 8:31. Have a blessed day!
ABOUT MY WRITING:
My first two books are available on amazon.com in either paperback, hardback, or ebook formats. they are the first two books in my group called “Journeys of Faith”. Take a look on my books page for “Through the Waters” and “Across the Wilderness”. “Out of the Valley” is coming along nicely. I am hoping to get it to the publisher within the next month or 6 weeks.
Meanwhile, look for several ebooks,not part of the “Journeys of Faith”. One is a compilation of my daughter’s poems, two are related to the grieving process: 1) a personal tribute to my daughter called, “Only in My Dreams”, and 2) an overview of the various ways we grieve other losses in our lives, named “White Crosses Line the Highways of Our Lives”. As they are released through Kindle Direct Publishing, links will be placed on this website.
With the holiday season behind us, don’t let’s forget the less fortunate among us.
Take time to search for somebody in need. Donate time feeding the homeless. Find new, innovative ways to reach out in your community. Most of all, don’t forget the commission in James 1:27 “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.”
Feel free to use the emails on this website to contact
me regarding scheduling a book-signing and/or talk to a reading
group, church group or just a gathering of friends. I am
always open to new experiences and meeting new people.
<>< Jeanne F. Brooks ><>