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“I cannot choose but adhere to the Word of God, which has possession of my conscience; nor can I possibly, nor will I even make any recantation, since it is neither safe nor honest to act contrary to conscience! Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise, so help me God! Amen.” ― Martin Luther
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 own 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 Sabaoth, 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 goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
--Martin Luther (words and music 1529)
Known as the "Battle Hymn of the Reformation," A Mighty Fortress is Our God has been a balm of comfort and a confidence-in-our God-inspiring melody for countless believers suffering hardship, difficulty, persecution, and temptation over decades.
Written by Martin Luther in the 1500s, "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" was based on Psalm 46. It delivers a powerful message of courage in and through our great God and strength to stand in Him against the wiles of the devil.
Luther was by no means a perfect man, but he was a man who trusted in the Lord with his life, a man who turned from the the joyless journey of extreme ascetic Roman Catholicism to embrace the living Savior. A man who was illuminated by the Holy Spirit, a man who realized that he would never be saved through the "works of the law," but rather through faith in Christ.
He was a man who faced extreme persecution, who feared for his life, who narrowly escaped death as a Christian martyr, who stood on the Word of God, going against the grain of the culture in which he lived and speaking against the unscriptural assertions in his day at the risk of losing his life.
Luther struggled with depression and with Satanic attacks, both mentally and physically, to the point of extreme exhaustion and distress. And yet, by the grace of God, he stood on the Promises. It is no wonder that "A Mighty Fortress" has been used by the Lord so greatly in the lives of believers to strengthen them in times of trial; Luther's own words ring true --"The pen is mightier than the sword," and so it has proven with this precious hymn.
How is this hymn meaningful to believers, past and present? I remember as a little girl, hearing this hymn sung by Steve Green on a cassette tape. Even then, it had a powerful effect upon me, though I did not at that time understand the deep significance and implications of the hymn, nor the extent of the persecution that Luther faced on a daily basis. But I remember my mom playing this song loudly in our home, and it would overwhelm me with the majesty and power of God, even at that young age. We live in perilous times. Our freedoms are slowly being stripped away. The noose of persecution tightens, ever so slightly, day by passing day. We have a choice. We may either run and hide, choose to ignore the chaos around us (for as long as we can), or we can stand on the unchanging Word of God. We can yield to the pressures of this world, and cave beneath the deluge of Satan's lies, or we can stand -- in the evil day, stand. Holding the promises dear to our hearts, teaching our children to be strong in Him, training them to hide His Word in their hearts. Speaking while we may still yet speak. Trusting Him all the while and being willing to suffer persecution and be identified with Him. Counting the cost, because the way of life is costly. What will we choose? Our enemy is already defeated; our God is strong within us. May we not be afraid of those who can kill the body but not the soul, and may we stand in Him -- our Mighty Fortress.
the former shall not be remembered or come to mind.
be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
her people a joy.
will rejoice in Jerusalem,
joy in My people;
voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
the voice of crying.
The water was almost warm, delightful on our feet, its spray grasping the edges of our rolled up pants.
We laughed and we watched a great kite soar over the expanse and the seagulls swooping low in the soft blanket of sky above, and the waves licking the salty sand, reaching and then drawing back.
And then we sat on the ocean's sand and ate doughboys and licked sugar and sand from our fingers and delighted in the swiftly dipping sun casting golden shadows over the melting day, the delicious air cooling us off and playing with the ends of our humid-sticky hair.
There, all of a sudden, a thought came. I had completely forgotten about a project that I had been working on. A project that was taking time and energy and that I was fretting over at times. I had completely forgotten about it in these delightful moments soaking in the beauty of the Lord's creation and majesty.
I had forgotten.
Another day, and I was sitting on the porch swing, taking a short break from the heat with my 1-year-old on my lap while my 2-year-old daughter and my mom threw crumbs of bread to the sparrows sweetly hopping around on the grass.
A little group of sparrows drew my eye. There they sat, a happy gathering in the golden afternoon sunlight, basking in the provision and protection of our yard, chirping and enjoying the beauty and peace of the late afternoon day. Thinking of nothing but their present contentment and safety. Forgetful of fear.
These isolated incidents, these cherished moments reminded me of a truth in the Scriptures and brought me comfort and joy.
The truth of forgetfulness.
Of the day that the Lord will wipe away every tear from our eyes, when we will behold Him in beauty and majesty and light . . .
When we will no longer be able to remember the things that brought us sorrow and pain and suffering.
When we will be like Him, gazing upon Him, worshiping Him, delighting utterly in Him.
Death will be swallowed up in victory.
The former things will be remembered no more . . . no longer will they come upon the heart. (Isaiah 65:17)
Free to worship. Free to praise. Free to know Him completely and without the distraction of sin and its effects.
And forgetful. Of hurts and tears and sighs and losses and sorrows and tears. Remembering His mercy, and delighting in His love for all eternity.