Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,
at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water,
the flint into a spring of water. Psalm 114:7-8
When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so. Joshua 5:13-15
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, gave alms generously to the people, and prayed continually to God. About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God come in and say to him, “Cornelius.” And he stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” And he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. And now send men to Joppa and bring one Simon who is called Peter. He is lodging with one Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” When the angel who spoke to him had departed, he called two of his servants and a devout soldier from among those who attended him,8 and having related everything to them, he sent them to Joppa. Acts 10:1-8
Out of His immense goodness and mercy, God provides for the public preaching of His divine eternal Law and His wonderful plan for our redemption, that of the holy, only saving Gospel of His eternal Son, our only Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. By this preaching He gathers an eternal Church for Himself from the human race and works in people’s hearts true repentance, knowledge of sins, and true faith in God’s Son, Jesus Christ. By this means, and in no other way, (i.e., through His holy Word, when people hear it preached or read it, and through the holy Sacraments when they are used according to His Word), God desires to call people to eternal salvation. He desires to draw them to Himself and convert, regenerate, and sanctify them. [The FORMULA of CONCORD SOLID DECLARATION ARTICLE II.50 FREE WILL, or HUMAN POWERS]
In a word, enthusiasm dwells in Adam and his children from the beginning to the end of the world. Its venom has been implanted and infused into them by the old serpent. It is the origin, power, and strength of all heresy, especially of that of the papacy and Muhammad. Therefore, we must constantly maintain this point: God does not want to deal with us in any other way than through the spoken Word and the Sacraments. Whatever is praised as from the Spirit–without the Word and Sacraments–is the devil himself. God wanted to appear even to Moses through the burning bush and spoken Word (Exodus 3:2-15). No prophet, neither Elijah nor Elisha, received the Spirit without the Ten Commandments or spoken Word. John the Baptist was not conceived without the word of Gabriel coming first, nor did he leap in his mother’s womb without Mary’s voice (Luke 1:11-20, 41). Peter says, “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man; but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21; [Acts 8:39-40]). Without the outward Word, however, they were not holy. Much less would the Holy Spirit have moved them to speak when they were still unholy. They were holy, says he, since the Holy Spirit spoke through them. [SMALCALD ARTICLES Part III, Article VIII.9: CONFESSION]
DAILY PRAYER for THURSDAY
O Lord Jesus Christ, true King of heaven and earth, You promised to Your Church that the gates of hell would not prevail against her, and You still cause Your Word to be preached and Your Holy Sacraments to be administered among us. But ah! O Lord, the sins of Your people obscure the majesty of Your bride. Your holy vineyard is trampled and Your blessed sacrifice stands neglected. Many think themselves strong and despise the life-giving food that You have ordained for Your holy people, for the forgiveness of their sins.
Pardon all our arrogance and do not come to us in wrath to remove the lamp of Your Word from before our eyes! O Lord, we pray You: visit this vine, which You once established for Yourself, and renew us with the sun of Your mercy and the water of eternal life.
Give us a great hunger for the food of Your true body and blood, and let all Your faithful people ever be found in the apostles’ doctrine, in the fellowship, in the breaking of Your bread, and in the prayers.
We implore You, O Lord, for our altar; that it may ever be a place where the medicine of eternal life, the forgiveness of our sins, strengthens us in body and soul; that disbelief and impenitence may stay far from all who come there so that they may not eat and drink to their own judgment.
O Eternal High Priest, let the fruit of Your Spirit grow in us, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and chastity. Cause us to live in holy conduct toward one another to the glory of Your holy name, here in time and hereafter in eternity; for You live and reign with the Father and the same Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.