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Special Edition: Eurasia Blog Wednesday Devotion: “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” Around the Eurasia Region

Today, October 31, 2014, is the 497th anniversary of the day when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Town Church in Wittenberg. We celebrate this because God used His servant, Martin Luther, to place the Gospel of Jesus Christ back into the center of belief and practice. Today, the Eurasia Region celebrates Reformation Day with a reflection on Luther’s hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”  Below you will find a short devotion, as well as a sampling of the first verse in many of the different languages found in the Eurasia Region. Truly, all nations sing in praise of what God in Christ has done for us! *This piece ran last year, and we are rerunning it this year again in celebration of the Reformation.

Image Credit: http://www.pilgrimlutheran-westbend.org/img/lrose_stainedglass300.jpg

Image Credit: http://www.pilgrimlutheran-westbend.org/img/lrose_stainedglass300.jpg

“A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” Lutheran Service Book 656

1. A mighty fortress is our God,
A trusty shield and weapon:
He helps us free from ev’ry need
That hath us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe
N0w means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might
Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

Martin Luther begins by declaring that God is our mighty fortress, shield and weapon, and that He helps us in every need. After laying this foundation, he goes on to speak of “the old evil foe.” Satan is indeed the “old evil foe. He is so old, in fact, that he goes all the way back to the very beginning. It was Satan, of course, who twisted God’s words to Adam and Eve, causing them to doubt and question. “Did God actually say…” (Genesis 3:1 ESV). To be sure, Satan is still trying to use his guile to fool us. He is still asking “Did God actually say…”

…”You shall have no other gods before me”?

….”Honor your father and your mother”?

….”You shall not commit adultery”?

….”You shall not murder”?

….”You shall not covet…”? and so on, and so forth?

Maybe he said something more like: “You shall have  no other gods before me, but money, success and whatever else your heart desires don’t count as “gods.” Maybe what He meant was: “When you’re really little, you should honor your parents, but when you get older you will probably know a lot more than them, so you can roll your eyes at their old-fashioned beliefs and do things your way.” Maybe He said something more like: “Well, that was for then, but this is now. As long as your relationship is committed, who really needs an actual marriage?” “Murder, that’s an easy one. You’ve never actually killed someone, so all is good. You can think all the evil thoughts you want about your brother, but as long as you don’t lay a hand on him to harm him, you’re good to go.” “You’re not really coveting that which is your neighbor’s; you’re only setting a goal for yourself, and besides, your neighbor doesn’t really deserve all he has.”

“Did God actually say…” It’s the oldest trick in the book. Satan used it on Adam and Eve, and he uses it on me and you. It may take the form of those questions above, or it may take more pious forms. It may put us at the center of our salvation. If we pray hard enough, if we work hard enough, if we hold up our end of the bargain THEN God will be merciful to us. Did God actually say that we are “justified by faith, apart from works of the law” (Romans 3:28 ESV)? Well, He may have said that, but He didn’t really mean it, did He? After all, there has to be something that you, the rotten sinner, does to deserve such grace. This is the biggest beguilement of all: Jesus didn’t really do it all for you, you’d better strive harder. And your striving, well, it appears to be so GOOD. This little lie, this little twist of the tongue, crushes you with the Law. It makes you responsible for your own salvation. It makes you think you have to be like God Himself. It makes you reach out your hand, pluck off that forbidden fruit, and take a bite.

But Satan tried his dirty little trick on someone else. He tried it on Jesus. And Jesus didn’t fall for it in the least. When Satan misquoted Scripture, Jesus quoted the truth of God’s Word and flung it back in Satan’s face. He used God’s own words to slay the old evil foe. He did not just slay Him for Himself, but for all of us, as well, so that his lies cannot overpower us. Though “on earth is not his equal,” yet we are not alone in this fight. As Luther put it:

With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is,
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever (verse 2).

When the devil tries to attack and beguile you, remember that you are not alone. The valiant One, Jesus Christ, fights beside you, deflecting all the snares of the devil. And you need speak only “one little word” to “fell him”: Jesus. His name says all.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, You watch over us with daily care and protection, grant that we may be able to stand against the devil’s guile and might with the help of Your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Below please see the first verse of “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” in many of the different languages used in the Eurasia Region. These were sent in by the missionaries of the Eurasia Region to share with all of you! 

German:

1. Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott,
ein gute Wehr und Waffen.
Er hilft uns frei aus aller Not,
die uns jetzt hat betroffen.
Der alt böse Feind
mit Ernst ers jetzt meint;
groß Macht und viel List
sein grausam Rüstung ist,
auf Erd’ ist nicht seinsgleichen.

Kazakh:

Құдай біздің алдараспан, қорған , қалқан, берік қамалымыз:
Бізді барлық бәле-қателерден Оның Киелі аты сақтайды.
Біздің ескі үскірік жауымыз біздің отанымызды абалатады,
Сұм ашумен барлық жасақтандыруларымен-бізге қарсы
Құдай біздің қорғанымыз!

Hungarian:

Erős vár a mi Istenünk, jó fegyverünk és pajzsunk,
Ha ő velünk, ki ellenünk? Az Úr a mi oltalmunk.
Az ős ellenség most is üldöz még,
Nagy a serege, csalárdság fegyvere,
Nincs ilyen több a földön.

Czech:

Hrad přepevný je Pán Bůh náš,  zbroj výborná i síla;  onť nás chrání když satanáš  své proti nám vysílá.  Ten starý nepřítel  zkazit by nás chtěl moc a mnohá lest hrozná zbraň jeho jest, v světě nemá rovného.

Slovak:

Hrad prepevný je Pán Boh náš,
zbroj výborná i sila,
z moci diabla vytrhne nás,
ak by  nás zachvátila:
ten starý nepriateľ
zničiť by nás chcel,
veľká moc a klam
strašná je jeho zbraň,
v svete nemá rovného.
Russian:
1. Господь нам крепость и оплот,
Он щит и меч надежный
И нас спасает от невзгод
В сей день и час тревожный.
Враг древний зло таит,
Себя высоко мнит,
Своим лукавством он,
Как в латы, облачен,
Царит он над землею.

Lithuanian:
Tvirčiausia apsaugos pilis
Yra mums Viešpats Dievas,
Varguose skydas ir viltis
Pagalba tik Jis vienas.
Sielos priešas vis
Tyko kaip angis,
Baisi jo galia,
Smarkumas ir klasta,
Jam nėr lygaus pasauly.

Finnish:
Jumala ompi linnamme
ja vahva turva aivan,
on miekkamme ja kilpemme
ajalla vaaran, vaivan.
Se vanha vainooja,
kavala, kauhea,
on kiivas, kiukkuinen
ja julma, hirmuinen.
Vain Herra hänet voittaa.

 

Polish:
Warownym grodem jest nasz Bóg, orężem nam i zbroją. Wybawia nas od wszelkich trwóg, co nas tu niepokoją! Stary, chytry wróg czyha, by nas zmógł; swych mocy złych rój prowadzi na nas w bój, na ziemi któż mu sprosta?

Tamil (spoken in India and by expatriates living in this region):
கர்த்தர் எங்கள் துருக்கமும்
அரண் பலமுமாமே;
உண்டாம் இக்கட்டனைத்தையும்
போக்குவார் அவர் தாமே.
பொல்லாங்கனின் சினம்
இப்போது மா விஷம்,
துஷ்டமும் சூதையும்
அணிந்து உறுமும் –
நிகர் புவியில் இல்லை.
Chinese (used by expatriates in this region):
上主是我堅固保障,永不動搖之保障;上主是我隨時幫助,使我脫危難恐慌;歷代仇敵撒但,仍欲興波作浪,他奸狡又勢強,殘忍毒辣非常,無比兇惡真難防
  • Give thanks for Martin Luther’s rediscovery of the pure Gospel.
  • Pray that the teachings of Christ Alone, Faith Alone, Grace Alone and Scripture Alone would continue to be the legacy of the Lutheran Church around the world.
  • Missed last week’s Eurasia devotion? You can read it here.

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