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Sțckhardt for Trinity 7 РMark 8:1-9

by pastorjuhl ~ July 15th, 2010

George Stöckhardt’s Trinity 7 sermon from “Gnade um Gnade” (Unending Grace) is fantastic. Here are some paragraphs from the sermon.

“Man has to provide not just for his body but above all else for his immortal soul. And this concern is his highest, his most sacred mission in this life. For what good is it were man to have his fill of bread and gain the whole world and yet lose h is own soul? And the bread, the nourishment for the soul is God’s Word and preaching. yes, God’s Word, the Gospel of Christ, satisfies, strengthens, upholds and refreshes and renews the soul. Therefore, however man gets his daily bread, he should concern himself above all else with spiritual times. It reads: Come, buy and eat….come, buy…without money and without price (Isaiah 55:1 NKJV)! As man daily, regularly, in due course, enjoys earthly bread, thus should he before anything else become engrossed in God’s Word, should eat and drink, regularly, in due course, hear preaching Sunday after Sunday, daily read his Bible so that his soul will not become famished and waste away. As the father of the home daily lays before the members of his family earthly bread, so should he daily provide and renew them with the bread of the soul, with the bread of life, God’s Word. This is the first and the best to which the Lord draws attention.
We may and should ask and thank God for earthly bread, but in the right way and order, so that we leave the fourth petition [of the Lord’s Prayer] in its proper place, in fourth position and first beseech God for the kingdom of heaven, that through his grace we believe His Word and live a godly life here in time and there in eternity. We should acknowledge that God does put daily bread into our hand and mouth, that it is the same God who rules in the Kingdom of Grace and in the Kingdom of Creation and who here as well as there has reserved everything for his might and his goodness. And when God now gives daily bread also to the wicked who do not ask him for it, our attitude should still be that we would not receive a bit of bread were we not to call upon God for it.

Jesus taught his disciples to lift up eyes and hands to the heavenly Father before they began their day’s work and after the day’s work was done to give Him glory because everything had gone well. Through His example prayer especially at mealtime is consecrated and appointed by the Lord.

It appears to be a formality when Christians before and after meals stand at table for a few moments, fold their hands, and say a short prayer. And indeed it is a worthless ceremony if it does not come from the heart. But that very table-prayer is a definite characteristic of Jesus’ disciples. When one enters an unfamiliar home, he is from the able at once to determine whether Christians or Gentiles live in it. As a rule very spark of faith and religion has been extinguished in those who sit at meat and rise from table without saying grace. They know nothing of Jesus nor of the Father in heaven. Those who have any kind of a relationship with the Father and the Son pray and give thanks even for daily bread. And a living, zealous Christian realizes better and better every day that prayer is half the battle.
As long as Christians walk upon earth, in their sinful, mortal body, they are to eat their bread in the sweat of their brow and bear the heat and misery of the day. Thus the first disciples, the fishermen on the Sea of Galilee, often worked day and night. And Paul, even when he became an apostle, still worked through many a night with his hands and earned his daily necessities and through this work presented himself to Christians as a type and example.

Were a christian actually, as the world says in it stupidity, to pray all day long and sit on his hands and let God do the providing, that would be foolishness, fanaticism, presumption, tempting God, something that convicts itself. But also when a Christian, as often happens, regards and speaks of his earthly work in a contemptible way, performs this work only out of need and compulsion and does not consider it worth the effort, exertion, self-sacrifice, he is in this particular instance judging and dealing in a very unchristian way and is treading a slippery, deceptive course.
Many a Christian has had similar thoughts: Had I not chosen God’s Word as my guiding principle, instead of with a Christian congregation had I rather become associated with a lodge or some other club, I would be more successful upon earth, I would be able to take care of things better, then I wouldn’t have to shy away from any ways and means for obtaining food and money. But we are not to think like this. We hear in our text that the Lord Jesus did not let a single one of the thousands who followed and remained with him for three days, not a single woman or child die of thirst or hunger, but before the need had peaked, He gave of His help in time and saved them all from starving. And His power, goodness, and faithfulness are new every morning.

The miracle in our text, the miracles of deliverance, preservation, assistance which we already have experienced are an admonition for us. We should firmly believe that God the Father, Jesus our Redeemer, controls even the little things, also has our destiny in His Hand, that He who has given the greater, namely, eternal life, will also bless us with the little things and will keep body and soul together until our life-span has run its course.

Our God is a God of order. When people are taught to maintain order in matters earthly, to keep an account of receipts and expenditures, to be economical with money and time, that there’s a right time for everything, including daily prayer, that they are to take care of what is theirs, to deal carefully with all great and small gifts of God, not to squander what they have but to gather up and save what is left over, this all sounds like so much plain, blunt moral preaching. Such instruction appears to be out of place within Christianity. But our text teaches that what is laudable and virtuous before men is also laudable and virtuous before God, and that Christ has no pleasure in a dissolute, wild, disordered existence. Propriety, discipline, good breeding, good behavior are becoming a Christian also. And when one keeps all things in order, he will also have something left over for the poor.

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