"Speak, O Lord, Your servant listens, Let Your Word to me come near; Newborn life and spirit give me, Let each promise still my fear. Death's dread pow'r, its inward strife, Wars against Your Word of life; Fill me, Lord, with love's strong fervor That I cling to You forever!"
There is a war going on and it is not a war between nations, although we know our world sees far too much of that kind of conflict. This war will not make the morning news, but it is a battle that has been going on for a very long time. Satan, the ancient serpent of Eden, started the war. From the beginning, the serpent hated the Word. He wants nothing more than to destroy God's work and His Word. What did the subtle serpent first ask Eve in the Garden of Eden? He suggested that she should doubt the Word, asking her, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden?'" (Genesis 3:1b). It was a clever question, and it worked. Eve, and Adam with her, ate the fruit forbidden to them. Like our first parents, we too fall victim to the same deadly question. We may doubt the promises of God's Word or turn away from His commands to follow our own desires.
However effective Satan's question may be—and we know from sad experience that it works against us too—ultimately the ancient foe is fighting a losing battle or, rather, a battle that is already lost. His downfall was foretold in the beginning. The Offspring of the woman would come to do battle with the serpent. Both would fall in battle but as we now know, only one would rise! Jesus, the Word made flesh, the woman's Offspring, came to fight for us: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8b). By His death and resurrection, Jesus defeated Satan, who had held the power of death. Now Jesus, who is "alive forevermore," holds "the keys of Death and Hades" (Revelation 1:18b). All authority belongs to our risen Lord!
Although his battle is lost, the ancient serpent fights on, warring against the Word of life. Still caught up in the struggle, we pray in our hymn, "Let Your Word to me come near ... let each promise still my fear." We trust God and His Word, and through the study of the Word we become more aware of the ancient serpent's tempting lies. When we fail and fall, we repent and hear again the welcome word of forgiveness through Jesus our Savior. We cling to our Lord and His triumphant, enduring Word: "'The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the Word of the Lord remains forever.' And this Word is the Good News that was preached to you" (1 Peter 1:24b-25).
WE PRAY: My God and Lord, I cling to You and to the promises of Your Word. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Speak, O Lord, Your Servant Listens," which is number 589 in the Lutheran Service Book.
1. When do you feel a "war" going on inside you most?
2. What does it mean to you that Jesus holds "the keys of Death and Hades"? How did He get them?
3. What promises of God do you rely on when things are difficult for you?