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» Devotion - September 18, 2014

Hymn of the Week

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Church’s head,
You are her one foundation.
In you she trusts, before you bows,
And waits for your salvation.
Built on this rock secure,
Your church shall endure
Though all the world decay
And all things pass away.
Oh, hear, oh, hear us Jesus!

(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 536, verses 1)

Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head

Pastor Johann Mentzer (1658-1734) was the author of this week’s devotional hymn. He carried crosses that few can imagine.

During his ministry, his prince in Saxony, Germany, joined with Peter the Great of Russia to wage war against Sweden. The most promising young men of Pastor Mentzer’s parish were being siphoned into the war machine. The military funerals followed.

Pastor Mentzer’s first wife, Eva Maria, died while giving birth to twins. He was left, a broken-hearted single-parent, with six children to raise.

In 1704 he married Anna Magdalena. The infant mortality rate at that time was about 60%. But of the seven children Anna bore him, only one survived. Within three weeks, Pastor and Anna stood at the graveside of four of their children. “Oh, my God,” he prayed. “You allow one painful distress after another only for the high praise of your name!”

It was during this time that Pastor Mentzer wrote his most enduring hymn: “O That I had a Thousand Voices” (CW 194 and 242). Of the 40 hymns he wrote in his lifetime, almost all of them fell under the categories of “Cross and Comfort” or “Praise and Thanksgiving.”

And is it any wonder? Praise and thanksgiving can only come from the unshakable knowledge that the cross of our Savior is our only lasting comfort!

Three hundred years later, our distresses, though perhaps not as severe, are not so very different than theirs. We still stand, red-eye over a mound of freshly dug earth. We turn restlessly on our bed consumed by trouble that belongs to tomorrow. But greatest of all is our guilt before a holy God and our liability to eternal punishment.

It took nothing short of the holy, precious blood and the innocent sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus to pay the price of our freedom from death and raise us to life everlasting! Our praise for the strong medicine of Jesus’ cross is reflected in the stout, biblical imagery and humble, plaintive prayer of that first verse:

Prayer: 

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Church’s head, You are her one foundation.
In you she trusts, before you bows, And waits for your salvation.
Built on this rock secure, Your church shall endure
Though all the world decay And all things pass away.
Oh, hear, oh, hear us Jesus!

From September through December 2014, the Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday are based on the Word of God expressed in a Christian Hymn selected each week. All devotions in this series are located here.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

--Daily Devotion

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