141102 Psalm 46:1-11

Last Updated on Monday, 03 November 2014 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Psalm 46:1 – 11
Theme: Listen as the LORD Lifts His Voice!
1. He Comforts You with His Presence
2. He Assures You of His Victory

Did you listen to the news this week? More specifically, did you listen to what Pope Francis said about God and creation? This past Monday, the Pope told a group of scientists, "The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creating, but rather requires it...When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining God as a magician, with a magic wand able to make everything. But it is not so." Did you catch what the Pope is saying? He is saying that the almighty God is not able to "make everything"! This is in direct conflict with what we read in God's Word. In Hebrews chapter 11 we read, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." And in Exodus chapter 20 we are told, "For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them."

Just like today, back at the time of the Lutheran Reformation, the Pope and other church leaders were teaching things that are not found in the Bible; specifically that forgiveness of sins could be earned and bought simply by buying a piece of paper known as an "indulgence". Dr. Martin Luther knew this wasn't what the Bible teaches. Luther's goal was not to start a new church, but that the church would return to the true Word of God; to listen only to what the Lord has to say in the Scriptures: that we are saved by grace alone and enjoy the forgiveness of sins only through faith in Jesus Christ as our one and only Savior. So today, as we give thanks to the Lord of the Church for the work of Martin Luther and the other Reformers, we open our Bibles and listen. LISTEN AS THE LORD LIFTS HIS VOICE! As he does, the LORD comforts you with his presence and he assures you of his victory. I invite you to listen again to the Psalm of the Day, Psalm 46:

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire. "Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

On October 31, 1517, Martin Luther made his 95 Theses public. After that he quickly had many enemies both inside and outside of the church. Some wanted to see Luther kicked out of the church. Others wanted to see him dead. With all the opposition that he faced, you might think that Luther would be tempted to give up. If Luther had to rely on his own strength to fight against his enemies, the battle would have been lost. In his hymn, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God", Luther himself wrote, "With might of ours can naught be done; soon were our loss effected." But Luther did not rely on his own strength. Rather, as he listened to the voice of the Lord, he was comforted by the Lord's presence. As we read in Psalm 46 before us, "God is our refuge and strength, an ever present help in trouble...The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."

So, whether Luther debated his opponents face to face or with his pen, whether he stood before an emperor on his throne, or had to be hidden away in the Wartburg Castle, he was confident that, as we read in Psalm 145, "The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth." Luther's well-known hymn which we just sang is based on Psalm 46 and reflects his confidence in God's powerful presence:

"A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from every need That has us now o'ertaken."

Today, your comfort and mine is the same as that of the writer of Psalm 46 and of Dr. Martin Luther. When we look at our hearts in the mirror of God's Law, you and I see our sins and the great need we have for a Savior. You and I are tempted to think that there must be something we have to do to pay for the great debt of our sins. But, as we listen to the LORD lift his voice in the message of the Gospel, you and I are assured of his loving presence and the forgiveness of all sins that Jesus purchased and won for you and me. When troubles, sickness or disasters are all too real for us, you and I are tempted to think that we have to go through these times on our own. It is at those times that you and I open our Bibles and listen as the LORD lifts his voice. As we do, you and I are comforted by his presence. You and I have comfort knowing that we are not alone, but rather our Savior-God is watching over us day after day. And that no matter what we face, as Luther writes in his hymn:

"And do what they will - Hate, steal, hurt or kill -
Let these all be gone, Our victory is won;
The kingdom's ours forever!"

As we read through the history of the Old Testament, we read of time after time when the Lord God used his almighty power to win victories for his chosen people in battle after battle. No wonder the people of Judah could sing in the words of Psalm 46, "Come and see the works of the LORD, the desolations he has brought on the earth. He makes wars cease to the ends of the earth. He breaks the bow and shatters the spear, he burns the shields with fire." Yet God's greatest victories weren't the victories over the political enemies of his Chosen People. As the LORD spoke to his people, he promised to send a Champion who would defeat their greatest enemy, Satan. That Champion is the Father's one and only Son. In the words of Luther's hymn:

"You ask, 'Who is this?' Jesus Christ it is,
The almighty Lord. And there's no other God.
He holds the field forever."

History tells us that the organized church of Luther's day owned about 20% of all the land in Europe. The church had its own army. It had a great amount of money. It enjoyed a great deal of power. You might think the church would be able to squash Luther in defeat. The enemies of Luther worked hard at stopping him and the Reformation. But, as Luther listened to the Lord lift his voice, he was confident in God's victory; not a victory that would wipe out his opponents, but the victory of Jesus Christ over sin and Satan. Luther rejoiced in that victory when he wrote:

"Tho' devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpow'r us.
This world's prince may still Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none. He's judged; the deed is done.
One little word can fell him."

And that one little word is "Jesus". Because of Jesus Christ, today you and I are assured of the Lord's victory as he says to you and me, "Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth". When someone says you are foolish for believing that all of the Bible is true, be still! When you feel the guilt of your sins pressing down on your heart, be still! When someone makes fun of your faith in Jesus as your one and only Savior, be still! When life becomes hard or difficult, be still and know that the LORD is God. He will be exalted. He gives you and me the eternal victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

October 31 is just one day out of the year. But one day is not enough. One day is not enough time to praise God for his loving presence and for the great victory he freely gives to us through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So today, next week, the week after that and every day of his grace the Lord gives to you, listen as the Lord lifts his voice. Listen, as he comforts you with his presence. Listen, as he assures you of his victory. Then, confidently join your voice with Martin Luther and the writer of Psalm 46 in saying: "The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress." Amen.

 

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