Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

30 March

So now as dear children of God be followers/like Him and live in love, just like Christ has loved us and gave Himself up for us as a gift and offering, as a sweet smelling incense to God. Ephesians 5:1-2.

It’s as if He wants to say: Here I myself am, He who was given up for you, this treasure I give to you. What I have, you too shall have; if you are lacking, I also shall lack; here, you have My righteousness, life and salvation, so that neither sin nor death, hell nor misfortune shall overpower you; as long as I am righteous and live, so long you also shall remain pious and alive.  –  We must in turn speak such words to our neighbors, namely like this: Look my dear brother, I have received my Lord; He is mine, and I now have plenty left over and have all fullness; so you also now take what I have; it shall all be yours, and I will place it there for you; if it ever becomes necessary that I should die for you, I will also do that. 

Thank you Lord for enabling me to also translate this one!  If it be Your will, please sooth my physical pains so that I now may take a pre-lunch nap. O Holy Spirit grant me grace to live my life in Christian love also for the welfare of my neighbors. I ask this in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

In Christ,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

29 March

Lord, be kind to me; for I am weak. Heal me, Lord; for my bones are frightened, and my soul is very frightened. Psalm 6:3-4(a). [vv. 2-3(a) in English Bibles]

Have mercy, Lord, for I am weak; heal me, for my bones are frightened … I know what I’m talking about. It most certainly is true that nobody obtains God’s mercy who does not intensely hunger and thirst for it, like the Psalm (42:2 ff.) states: Like a deer cries out for fresh water, so my soul thirsts for You, God. No satiated and bored soul dare hope to be satisfied by God; for He fills up with good things only the hungry ones. How less so will He give eternal life to the bored souls, who of course despise it in favor of this temporal life. Only to those who most fervently and with inexpressible groaning sighs seek it, request it, and knock on His door for it, shall He give eternal life. Since we however in this life amidst a quite/peaceful life do not do this, God then lays all kind of afflictions and death upon us, the pressures of which shall drive us to seek mercy and life. 

My body cries out in physical pain, but my soul rejoices that God enabled me to complete this difficult translation. I’m confident that I did it fairly correctly.  I once did a woodblock print of some deer beside a stream of water, entitled: “So longs my soul for Thee.”

Longing for Christ – even so come quickly,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

28 March

You must succeed with Your majesty. Enter in for the good cause of truth and uphold the miserable with justice, thus Your right hand shall manifest wondrous things. Psalm 45:5.[verse 4 in English Bibles]

Therefore let us open our hearts and look at Priest Christ in His majestic garment. With your eyes you will not find any majesty on Him; for you probably see how pitifully, miserably and shamefully He hangs there [on the cross]. However look at Him with your heart; there you will find such a majestic garment and treasured jewel, for which you will never be able to thank Him enough. For first of all He is decorated/cloaked with the great glorious obedience towards His Father, that to honor Him He allows Himself to be spit upon, be whipped, martyred. It is impossible that we in this life would actually be able to see such a majestic garment. Yet we still are able to see enough, so that all pearls, velvet and gold-embroidered garments are nothing compared to this one. The second garment is His great love towards us, that the Lord would have such little regard for His life and suffering, and would instead first pray for us rather than for Himself. Who then will ever be able to adequately comprehend such love, that the Lord has such a heart towards us, so full of fieriness that He places Himself amidst His greatest suffering as if He saw or felt nothing; instead He only thinks about, sees and is concerned about your and my misery, hardships and heartaches. 

Wow, I never before have looked at Psalm 45:4 as such a Messianic prophecy. It was soul-warming for me to translate the above thoughts. It has me singing Paul Gerhardt’s hymn: “O sacred Head now wounded” (T L H #172) and “Jesus, Thy blood and righteousness;   My beauty are, my glorious dress;   Midst flaming worlds, in these arrayed,   With joy shall I lift up my head.”  (T L H #371).

In Christ,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

27 March

It was also proclaimed to us just like to them, however the Word of the message did not help those who did not believe the good news they heard. Hebrews 4:2.

When I hear that Jesus Christ died for me, took away my sin and won heaven for me, I am hearing the good news. The words soon disappear as one preaches them; however, when it falls into the heart and is seized with faith, it then can never fall away. No creature is able to overturn this truth; the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. And if I were to get stuck in the devil’s throat, I can seize the Word, thus I have to be released and remain where the Word remains. 

This one has me singing Luther’s “A Mighty Fortress is our God …..v. 3:

“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.”

Clinging to Christ by faith,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

25 March

Day of the Annunciation to Mary

Mary said: Look, I am the Lord’s maid; let it happen as you have said. Luke 1:38.

The Blessed Virgin would never have received the Son of God, if she had not believed the announcement of the angel, had it not happened that she said: Let it happen to me as you have said, – like she praised Elizabeth: Blessed are you who have believed, for it will happen to you what has been told you from the Lord. It’s a miracle that this virgin’s heart could believe this unbelievable (announcement),that she of herself, i.e., without a man, was to become a mother, indeed a mother of such a great King Who is the Son of the most High, and that she despised herself and was quite miserable about how could she understand this? But the Holy Spirit overshadowed her. “Look, I am the Lord’s maid.” I consent to you in this matter. As soon as she said that, she became a mother, and something unusual happened to her like to no other woman. Such power of faith that could believe the words of the angel is no less a wonder than the incarnation of the Word Himself.

And so the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth!  Nine month’s from this day we’ll joyfully commemorate the birth of our Savior – Christ the Lord!  He even came to save a wretch like me! O Holy Spirit, grant me such a faith like Mary’s!

In Him, 

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

22 March

The rule of the Spirit, that makes alive in Christ Jesus, has freed me from the rule of sin and death. Romans 8:2.

These words are full of comfort, with which you can respond to law and conscience when they say:

You have sinned, by saying: It is true, I have sinned.

So now, that’s why our Lord God will condemn and punish you.

No, not so!

But God’s law says so, it surely would not lie to you.” 

What does the law matter to me?

How can that be possible?

Because I have a different law, namely freedom, which forces the other law to keep silent. 

What kind of freedom?

Christ’s Freedom; for by Christ I have been made free of the law. Therefore also the law which the godless have and try to keep, is no law to me, instead freedom is my law, it binds the other law that wants to condemn me. And thus also the law, that for a time held me captive and in bondage, is now again taken captive by the grace and freedom which from now on has become my law and says to the other law, which  accuses me: You will not bind this person nor take him captive, much less so will you condemn him, instead I will take you captive, bind up your feet, so that you won’t be able to do anything to this person who lives in Christ and is dead to all your things.‘”       

A tough one to translate; I put in some quotation marks to help us get through it. My faith was well nourished at church yesterday through Word and Sacrament.  God grant yours was too.  

Grateful for Christ’s freedom from the rule of sin and death.

Living in Christ,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

21 March

We are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. Ephesians 5:30.

Just like any married man can be united with his wife, faith unites me inwardly with Christ. That’s why one should properly teach about faith this way: namely, through faith you become united and are made one with Christ in such a way that you and He become one Person. You cannot divorce nor separate yourselves from each other.  Instead, you constantly cling to Christ, and with all joy may confidently say: ‘I am Christ’ – of course not personally, but rather Christ’s righteousness, victory, life, and everything that He possesses is my own. And Christ also says, “I am this poor sinner, i.e., all his sins and death are My sin and My death, since he by faith clings to Me and I cling to him – indeed, I actually live in him!”

Feeble mindedly my fumbling fingers (all 3 of them) punch out another translation. 

United in Christ,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

20 March

By the Law I have died to the Law, so that I live for God. Galatians 2:19. 

The Scriptures give our Lord Christ so many lovely names, calling Him our law, sin, death, even though He Himself is nothing other than freedom, righteousness, eternal life and salvation. However that is why He became a law against the Law, a sin against all sin, a death against all death, in order to redeem us from the curse of the Law, make us righteous and alive from sin and death. So then Christ is simultaneously Law and freedom, sin and righteousness, death and life.  For by the fact that He allowed the Law to accuse Him, sin to condemn Him and death to devour Him, He at the same time took away the Law, in turn condemned sin, devoured death, and made us righteous and just. So then Christ is a poison, from which Law, sin, and death have to die, and at the same time He is a curative medicine, from which the believers are not only freed from all misfortune, but from which they also become righteous, alive, and blessed.   

Thank You Lord for again enabling my feeble mind and frail fingers to iron out the wrinkles of my translation of page 86.  Luther has some very edifying words of comment here.  God grant that you find that to be the case for you too.  So,

By the Law I died to the Law, to live for God (cf. Romans 3:28),

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

19 March

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. 2 Corinthians 5:17.

I have frequently said that one must with diligence distinguish between a pious person and a Christian. We do of course also laud a person for being pious, and there is nothing praise worthy on earth that is not also a gift of God, just as are the sun and moon, corn and wine and all creatures, however so that one does not mix and brew them together, but instead leaves the praise of a pious person up to the world and says: A pious person indeed is an excellent person on earth, yet he still is not a Christian; for he could also be a Turk or a heathen (like those in previous times have been), as it can be no other way that among so many evil ones there must be found a pious person. However, be he as pious as he may be, with such piety he still is and remains a child of Adam, i.e., an earthly man under sin and death.  

After untangling a translation like this one, I’d normally be sweating – but in anticipation of the cold front that may bring me some snow, there’s not a drop of sweat on my brow.  There however is gratitude in my heart for God’s gift in my Baptism of faith in Christ Jesus, “whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but has eternal life.”

By God’s grace a new creation in Christ via God’s Word and Sacraments,

Elmer H.

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Luther’s "Christian Guide for Each Day"

18 March

What was impossible for the Law to do (since it was weakened by the flesh), God did and sent His own Son in the form of sinful flesh and condemned sin in the flesh through sin. Romans 8:3.

When I feel that sin is biting me in my conscience, I then lift up my eyes and look at the bronze serpent on the cross, my dear Lord Christ; there I find another ‘Sin’ against my sin – Who then accuses me and wants to devour me. This very same ‘other sin’ however is Christ, my Lord, Who was made sin for us, even though He knew of no sin, so that in Him we would become the righteousness which avails before God. That very same ‘Sin’ is so powerful that it condemns my sin and rips it away and devours the sin of the whole world. Thus also my sin is condemned through that ‘Sin’, i.e., through the crucified Christ, so that it can ever condemn me. Then I also find death in my flesh, which martyrs and kills me; I however have another ‘Death’ against this death, Who is the ‘Death’ of my death, He also once more crucifies and rips away my death.

Amidst a host of life’s pains and trials, the completion of this translation has me rejoicing with a consoled soul – may the Spirit do the same for you.

In Christ who is ‘Sin’ to my sin and ‘Death’ to my death,

E. Hohle

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