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By Faith

By Faith


A long time ago there lived an inventor.  He had a wonderful idea that would change the world, though he did not know it at the time.  I am speaking of Johann Gutenberg.  When Gutenberg did his studies as a boy, he learned from books much different that what you and I read.  These books were written by hand. They were called manuscripts, which means “hand-written.”  Later on in Gutenberg’s life books began to be printed on a printing press.  However, these still weren’t like what you and I are used to today.  It was what is called block-printing. The printer first cut a block of hard wood the size of the page that he was going to print. Then he cut out every word of the written page upon the smooth face of his block. This had to be very carefully done. When it was finished the printer had to cut away the wood from the sides of every letter. This left the letters raised, as the letters are in books now printed for the blind. The block was now ready to be used. The letters were inked, paper was laid upon them and pressed down. With blocks the printer could make copies of a book a great deal faster than a man could write them by hand. But the making of the blocks took a long time, and each block would print only one page.

As you can see, this process took a long time.  And it began anew with each book—even each page– that needed to be printed.  As a result, only the wealthy could afford to even have books.

Gutenberg wanted to change this, and so he went to work.  In his quiet workshop he patiently tried one experiment after another, often feeling very sad and discouraged day after day because his experiments did not succeed. At last the time came when he had no money left.

A man named “Fust” was interested in Gutenberg’s work and gave him the money to continue his experiments.  Eventually, Gutenberg came up with the moveable type printing press, made of little metal blocks with a single letter at one end. The new types were movable so they could be set up to print one page, then taken apart and set up again and again to print any number of pages. This worked much better, and Gutenberg was progressing well toward the completion of the first book ever printed by movable type: the Bible in Latin.

However, Fust grew impatient and greedy.  Through the court system he stole everything Gutenberg had, including his invention.  Fust used Gutenberg’s moveable type printing press to print the Latin Bible.  He took all the wealth that came along with this invention and new industry.  Gutenberg got nothing, zilch nada, zip.  Ironically, the inventor of the most important invention in history never profited from his invention and died in poverty… though the proceeds from the sale of just one single leaf from his Bible in today’s market would have provided Gutenberg with enough money to live out his last years comfortably.  While Gutenberg sadly went without reward for producing the machine that changed the world, history recognizes him as holding this honor. Without his invention, the Lutheran  Reformation might not have been possible.

The Lord used Gutenberg for His good purposes, to reform His Israel, His Church on earth.  Yet, Gutenberg never realized that his work would lead to such a tremendous Good for the world. 

          By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. 12 And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore. All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. 14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. 15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.

 And so it is with us today.  We toil and suffer, and the Lord tells us “My grace is sufficient for you.”  But we can’t see that with our eyes.  We are always told that God works all things for the good of those who love Him, but we can’t always see that. Sometimes it’s hard to believe, and we are little bit like Abraham, who disbelieved at first that he would have a son in his old age.  Sometimes, like Gutenberg, people die before they even know what the fruits of their labors will be.

 By faith, we know that we are in His hands, that He loves us, and that He always hears our prayers, even if He doesn’t give us what we want.  And so we long for That Day when all things will be revealed and we WILL be able to see with our eyes all that we have hoped for.  We yearn for the Day of the Lord when we join the martyrs under the altar who cry out, “How long, Yahweh God, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”

 And yet, That Day has already come, and is yet here.  That Day when the world was judged happened on the cross.  Jesus was judged and God’s wrath was poured out on him.  That Day is still here with us, we just can’t see it yet.  Christ is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart.  When That Final Day comes, and our bodies are resurrected, then all things will be revealed, and we will see that which is already ours by faith. 

Until then, God leaves us tangible gifts to feed us, strengthen, and preserve us in the one true Faith.  He is here today with His body and blood which we can see, touch, and taste, for the forgiveness of our sins.  He is here in His Word, which we can hear with our ears, which gives of life and salvation. 

Abraham and Sarah toiled and waited many years for that promised son.  And Isaac did come eventually, because God keeps all his promises.  Israel toiled and waited many years for their Messiah, THE Son, and he did come eventually, because God keeps all His promises.  And today, we toil and wait for the final revealing of the Son, because we know God keeps all His promises.  Until then, by faith we know that Jesus, THE Son is still right here with us, bringing us His good gifts. 

When you are tired, sick, frustrated, depressed, remember that God loves you and keeps His promises to you.  He provides all you need, and when you are weak, He is strong.

 Wait for the Lord.  Be strong, take heart, and wait for the Lord.

Luther Rose (2)




Mary has chosen what is better.

Luke 10

Some people come to church.  They arrive.  They say hello.  They sit in their pews.  When church is over, they get up, they say their good byes, they leave.  They don’t stay to socialize very much.  You never see them again until next Sunday.  They aren’t there when work is needing to be done around the church.  They don’t volunteer to help with the youth activities.  They aren’t at the ladies’ meetings.  They’ve never attended any kind of rally or friendship night.  They didn’t attend the last church picnic.  They don’t show up at spring cleaning time, nor do they help mow the lawn during the summer.

Don’t they care?  Who’s going to work with the kids when it’s time for a Christmas play?  Who’s going to take the youth on field trips?  Who’s going to come early and set up for potlucks?  Who’s going to stay late and clean up afterward?  Who’s going to keep the lawn looking decent?  Perhaps they’re just not as serious about their faith as others.  Maybe the Church doesn’t mean as much to them as it does to others.  Maybe they’re not aware of how much work others had to do to keep the building running so that they could come sit in a clean, air conditioned church for an hour each Sunday.  Maybe they just don’t care?  What can we say to these people to help them become more active?  To participate and contribute more to our congregation?

 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What is the job of the Church?  When Jesus established the Church he said “After you have left here, make disciples of all nations, by baptizing and teaching all that I have commanded you.”  He told his sent ones—his ministers—that “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

You see, the people who come each week to hear God’s Word have already chosen the better thing.  The very reason the Christian Church exists is to forgive sins.  That is our business.  We come to church each week to be convicted in our old Adam, and to be raised again a New Man.  That life-giving Word flows to us when we sit here and do nothing but listen to it.  It flows to us when we do nothing but hold out our hands for the body and blood of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.  We are raised to life again as we sing the words of Scripture in our hymns and liturgy.

What then?  Should there be no auxiliary organizations?  Should we quit with the building upkeep and youth activities?  Not necessarily.  But consider first that we are all one body.  Each person is gifted with his own talents and vocations in life—or callings.  In the body of Christ not everyone is an eye.  Nor is everyone a leg.  To expect someone to be an eye just because you are an eye is not helpful.  The first duty of a Christian when he has left this building is to tend to his first vocation—his family.  Then he tends to his job, that which he uses to support his family.  After that he may come back to this building and participate in other things as he has time.

We give thanks for those who have the gifts and desire to be the eyes or the ears which come and make things happen for the congregation.  We also give thanks for those legs and hands which are busy in their own God-given vocations outside this building.

 ALL of you here today have chosen the better thing.  Give thanks to God for that!

Jesus always chose the better thing.  He kept on choosing the better things right up until he chose to go to the cross for you.  He chose to save you and me, and he chooses to be here with us in a special way this morning.  He chooses to give us forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  Deo gratias!  Thanks be to God!


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