A Moment of Victory – “I Will Live”

Martin Luther was very afraid.  He thought goblins and gremlins lurked in the woods around his town.  He had extremely strict parents during his formative years.  His schoolmasters were so demanding, they were almost tyrannical.  Fear drove him to kabosh his financially-promising path to become a lawyer, and enter a monastery instead.  When he found out his education dollars had been wasted, his father was so angry!  Certainly that was fuel to even more fear.

But none of that compared to his greatest fear.

His greatest fear was that whenever he thought about his eternity, he saw a holy God, on his heavenly throne, looking at his life, overflowing with burning wrath.  When Luther was a youth, he regularly asked himself, “When will you become devout enough in your behavior that you may earn a gracious God?”  And of course, that answer was simple: never.

Martin Luther, to this day, hasn’t done one single thing to earn a gracious God.  And neither has anyone else.  Yet that is what makes grace so powerful.  You see, grace isn’t earned.  Grace isn’t a paycheck or a reward for good behavior.  No, grace is God’s unfailing love for undeserving sinners.  God gives his grace because he wants to, not because we’ve earned it.  Why did God give us his Scriptures?  Why did Jesus teach and preach so patiently?  Why did Jesus die on a cross and rise from the grave?

Because of grace.  Amazing grace.  

Grace alone douses our fears.  Martin Luther, having been touched by God’s grace, now saw a much different future ahead of him.  No longer did he see an angry judge.  Instead, he saw Christ.  He knew that when he died, he’d encounter a gracious God with open arms.  He said, “We receive forgiveness and grace at no cost or labor on our part, but not without cost and labor on the part of Christ.”  Maybe that’s why today’s Bible verse from the Psalms was one of Luther’s favorites: “I will not die, but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done (Psalm 118:17).”  

Why be driven by your fears?  Instead, be driven today by God’s grace!

Prayer: In hopelessness and near despair, I cry to you, my Savior!  My guilt is more than I can bear.  I have not earned your favor.  You know me as I really am – how much is truth, how much is sham.  Why should you heed my pleading?  I tremble as I feel your hand, expecting retribution.  Yet – here no curse or reprimand, but grace and absolution!  With you, there is forgiveness, Lord; you speak the sweet, consoling Word, and I am sure you love me!  Amen

Note – today’s prayer is two verses from the hymn, “In Hopelessness and Near Despair.”  This hymn is  written by Jaroslav Vajda, and is based on Psalm 130.  Vajda’s hymn is also a recasting of Martin Luther’s great penitential hymn, “From Depths of Woe I Cry to You.” 

Nathan Buege
Pastor, Victory of the Lamb Lutheran Church
Katy, TX

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