Monday after Trinity 16

1God is our ref- | uge and strength,*
         a very present help in | trouble.

2Therefore we will not fear though the | earth gives way,*
         though the mountains be moved into the heart | of the sea,

3though its waters | roar and foam,*
         though the mountains tremble at its | swelling.

4There is a river whose streams make glad the cit- | y of God,*
         the holy habitation of the | Most High.

5God is in the midst of her; she shall | not be moved;*
         God will help her when | morning dawns.

6The nations rage, the kingdoms | totter;*
         he utters his voice, the | earth melts.

7The LORD of hosts is | with us;*
         the God of Jacob is our | fortress.

8Come, behold the works | of the LORD,*
         how he has brought desolations | on the earth.

9He makes wars cease to the end | of the earth;*
         he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots | with fire.

10“Be still, and know that | I am God.*
         I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted | in the earth!”

11The LORD of hosts is | with us;*
         the God of Jacob is our | fortress.
               —Psalm 46

Additional Psalm: Psalm 54

Old Testament Reading:
Nehemiah 4:7–23
[Opposition to the Work]
7But when Sanballat and Tobiah and the Arabs and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem was going forward and that the breaches were beginning to be closed, they were very angry. 8And they all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and to cause confusion in it. 9And we prayed to our God and set a guard as a protection against them day and night.

10In Judah it was said, “The strength of those who bear the burdens is failing. There is too much rubble. By ourselves we will not be able to rebuild the wall.” 11And our enemies said, “They will not know or see till we come among them and kill them and stop the work.” 12At that time the Jews who lived near them came from all directions and said to us ten times, “You must return to us.” 13So in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in open places, I stationed the people by their clans, with their swords, their spears, and their bows. 14And I looked and arose and said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “Do not be afraid of them. Remember the LORD, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes.”

The Work Resumes
15When our enemies heard that it was known to us and that God had frustrated their plan, we all returned to the wall, each to his work. 16From that day on, half of my servants worked on construction, and half held the spears, shields, bows, and coats of mail. And the leaders stood behind the whole house of Judah, 17who were building on the wall. Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. 18And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built. The man who sounded the trumpet was beside me. 19And I said to the nobles and to the officials and to the rest of the people, “The work is great and widely spread, and we are separated on the wall, far from one another. 20In the place where you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us.”

21So we labored at the work, and half of them held the spears from the break of dawn until the stars came out. 22I also said to the people at that time, “Let every man and his servant pass the night within Jerusalem, that they may be a guard for us by night and may labor by day.” 23So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand.

New Testament Reading:
1 Timothy 3:1–16
Qualifications for Overseers
1The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church? 6He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. 7Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.

Qualifications for Deacons
8Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain. 9They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. 11Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. 12Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. 13For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The Mystery of Godliness
14I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:

He was manifested in the flesh,
         vindicated by the Spirit,
         seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
         believed on in the world,
         taken up in glory.

Now, as often happens, those who covet preeminence, seeking support for their own cupidity, take advantage of the Apostle’s statement when he says: “If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.” Yet, while praising the desire, the Apostle forthwith qualifies his praise by adding a reason for fear, promptly adding, as he does: “But it behoveth a bishop to be blameless.” When he proceeds with an enumeration of the necessary virtues, he explains what this blamelessness is. He, therefore, approves the desire, but warns these people by his precept, as though he plainly said: “I praise what you seek, but acquaint yourselves first with what you are seeking, lest by neglecting to take the measure of your own fitness, you become the more blameworthy and detestable, in that you hasten to be seen by all on the pinnacle of honour.” The great master in the art of ruling urges subjects on by approving of their desire, but deters them by fear, in order that he may restrain his hearers from pride, and by praising the office sought, may dispose them for the kind of life required.…

Wherefore, that man gives testimony against himself that he is not desiring the office of a bishop, if he seeks the glory of that honour, but not the ministry of a good work. For a man not only fails completely to love the office, but he is ignorant of it, if, yearning for supreme rule, he feasts on the subjection of others in the hidden reveries of his thought, is glad to hear his own praises, feels his heart surge with honour, and rejoices in the abundance of his affluence. It is, therefore, worldly gain that he seeks under the guise of that kind of honour, whereby worldly gain should have been destroyed, and when the mind thinks to grasp the highest state of humility in order to cherish its own pride, it changes the intrinsic nature of what was exteriorly desired.
               —Gregory the Great

Anoint them prophets, men who are intent
         To be Your witnesses in word and deed,
Their hearts aflame, their lips made eloquent,
         Their eyes awake to ev’ry human need.
               —God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets’ Sons (LSB 682:2)

Prayer of the Day
O God, You led Your holy apostles to ordain pastors in every place. Grant that Your flock, under the guidance of Your Holy Spirit, may choose suitable men for the ministry of Word and Sacrament and may uphold them in their work for the extension of Your kingdom; through Him who is the chief Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ, our Lord. (121)

Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
Apology of the Augsburg Confession XIIa (V) 68–82

By Rev. Michael Mayer

Lutheran Pastor of two small Lutheran Churches in rural SW Ontario.