May 24, 2020 | Stories
We pray you are doing well. Your congregation loves you and so does Jesus. If there is ever a need or concern, we are here to help. As we walk as a body of Christ, we are called to equip saints for ministry in God's kingdom. We pray that you are growing in the Lord and this devotion and information deepens your faith walk.
We are committed to continually send these devotions throughout the entire pandemic, but Concordia is offering in person worship beginning on Saturday May 30 and Sunday May 31. We affirm either your decision to stay at home during this time or to attend in person worship. We strongly encourage you to care for yourself as we seek God's best. Your pastors affirm your decision to stay at home and read these devotions if that is best for you. But we know that some may return to in person worship. We have designated the Saturday service to be a place for the at risk and vulnerable populations. Both Saturday and Sunday worship services at Concordia will be preregistered events. To ensure proper social distancing and safety precautions you must register prior to worship. Please call the church office to register your spot. We will send detailed information about what worship will look like in a letter next week.
Communion will be offered at Concordia beginning this week on Tuesday from 1-3 and Thursday from 6-8. You are able to drop in at any time and receive the Sacrament. No registration is required. These visits are intentionally brief. If you are not able to come but would still like to receive Communion please call the church office and one of our ministry staff will contact you to set up a time for private Communion.
We are thankful that God's Word is powerful as His truth is communicated in so many different ways. It is our hope that this devotion is one way in which the powerful Word of God brings comfort and consolation as we all grow deeper into the mysteries of the faith. The truth that God bears in our lives never returns void.
Through our digital sermons we are continuing the conversation on "What's next?" This is a question that the disciples of Jesus must have asked as He displayed miraculous signs and wonders. Certainly, the disciples continued to ask this question as they anticipated that Jesus would assert His rule and reign by creating a physical nation to drive out the enemies of God. However, Jesus indicates that His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is a heavenly kingdom where He will be with all Christians.
And this is the good news. Jesus arrives to bring peace and prosperity but not as the world would understand. Jesus brings this peace and prosperity by being glorified on the cross. It is by His death and resurrection that the promises of God find their yes. The world will look at the cross and see ugliness and destruction. However, the people of God look at the cross and see hope and consolation. It is here that the Word of God comes to a climatic fulfillment as all the sins of creation are put to death in the body of Jesus.
This was the same promise that God made in the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Even though these first two humans sinned, God made a promise of redemption. God could have walked away and said I am done with this. He could have punished more severely than He did, but He didn't. In His mercy, God promised to send Jesus to undue the sin caused by Adam and Eve. And after many instances of faithfulness and disobedience of God's people, Jesus arrived and brought about the plan of God.
This is truly what our Bible lesson is about for today. Our reading for this week is from John 17:1-11
After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me. “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me, because they belong to you. All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory. Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.
We see in this portion of Scripture that Jesus prays to God and shows His people how to pray as well. Jesus stands in our place as a priest. He is the one who prays on behalf of His people. He does not want to lose any of the faithful and knows that this will not happen. Jesus worked for the betterment of those first disciples and He is still working for the betterment of Christians today. This Jesus is alive and is still working and living for you!
In this prayer, Jesus also affirms the glorification that God will place upon Him. This will happen on a cross. An instrument of torture used by authorities will become an instrument of God's power over Satan and the forces of evil. Jesus knows that God's plans are not the ways of the world, and Jesus also knows that God's plans are always best.
This is a significant truth for Jesus and it is a significant truth for us today as well. The plan of God was to put His only Son to death because of His love for you. And Jesus humbly submitted to this truth. We never fully know what God's plans are for our lives, but we trust that plans for us are always good. Because it is ultimately God's will and not our will that is done. And God's will is always best. That does not mean that it is always easy for humans to understand or trust because of our sinful nature, but it does not negate the benefit of God's plan and purpose for us.
And to this end, God teaches us in this portion of Scripture the necessity of prayer. Jesus models for Christians what it looks like to pray to God. Today, there are many models and ways to think about prayer. One helpful way to think about prayer is to think about the acronym A.C.T.S. The first letter stands for "adoration" which reminds us to adore God and worship Him by ascribing to Him worshipful and holy words. By saying back to God that He is divine, good, all powerful, and the like because this is who He is. The next letter stands for "confession", and this reminds us to confess our sins to God. We are certainly people who have not lived up the standards which God placed in our lives. We know the Ten Commandments and how often we don't live up to God's expectations. Our prayers lives are not always as robust as they should be. And to this end, we confess our sins and know that God will forgive us. The next letter stands for "thanksgiving" which reminds us to give thanks to God for all of the gifts that He gives to us every single day. His grace and mercy are new every single day. And finally, "supplication", which reminds us to ask for the needs of ourselves and others because we have a God who cares deeply about. While A.C.T.S is a helpful way to think about prayer the most important thing is this, that God desires you to have a conversation with Him. And for all of the times when we don't there is grace because of His love and mercy.
And this is helpful as we reflect on Memorial Weekend. This is the day when we think of so many that are not with us anymore because of their service to our country, laying down their lives in pursuit of freedom and peace. And if we would walk into Concordia by the red doors we would see information indicating previous sons and daughters of the congregation who served in the military and some who even gave the ultimate sacrifice. And we honor them and give thanks to God for their lives by this public information. But for all of those soldiers our congregation prayed. We adored, confessed sins, thanked, and gave supplications on behalf of these soldiers. And at times God protected some of them in this life and for others He called them home to life everlasting. But for all of them we trust in God's answers to those prayers of our congregation as we still continue to pray. Because regardless of how God answers pray, if it is "yes", "no", or "not at this time", we trust that His will is always best for our lives and the lives of others. Sometimes it is hard to fully understand or accept why God does the things He does, but we know we know it is ultimately thy will and not my will that is done.
So, as we close out this devotion today, I encourage you to reflect on pray. To examine your own prayer life and how to continue to develop this gift from God as we dive deep into the faith. Second, to think how Jesus is our priest who stands between us and God and always is working for the benefit of those first disciples and even today for us as well. And finally, to reflect on the glory of Jesus. The glory that is made fully known on a cross which the world will never understand, but we do. Because of our faith, we trust God's will and plan which was the death of Jesus. And that because Jesus lives, we too shall live along with all our loved ones who have gone before us in the faith either because of service to their country or other causes. This is not because of what we could do, but because of Jesus and His love does for us.
I invite you to pray this familiar prayer as live your day in the Lord.
I thank You, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, Your dear Son, that You have kept me this night from all harm and danger; and I pray that You would keep me this day also from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please You. For into Your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let Your holy angel be with me, that the evil foe may have no power over me. Amen.
May God keep you in His mercy and His peace both now and forever more.
Pastor Jacob Schultz