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Devotion for AGLC – September 16, 2020
Submitted by Norm Beckman
Scripture: Genesis 9:8
As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants.
In this verse, God was speaking to Noah and his sons. His covenant was a promise to never again have such a flood to cut off all flesh and living things. God established a bow (rainbow) in the clouds to show his promise.
I was very fortunate to be born, baptized and confirmed into a Christian family on a farm in southwest Minnesota. The church we attended is a rural Lutheran church which is still very active. One of the things the members still do in the summer is to load their lawn mowers in their pickups and while the ladies fix supper the men mow the lawns around the church, the parsonage and the cemetery. Yes, the members still believe in God’s covenant.
Scripture: Deuteronomy 4:20
But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron smelter, out of Egypt to become a people of his very own possession, as you are now.
After my 18 years in southwest Minnesota, I attended college and met the love of my life, Arvilla Mueller. Our first date was a ‘blind date’, going to the Northrup Auditorium for a Christmas concert –and I fell sound asleep. But again God’s covenant remained. We were married and now have four children, four in-laws, 10 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Scripture: Isaiah 32: 25
I am He who bloats over your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.
During our marriage, we joined with fellow Christians in forming Peace Lutheran Church, now Amazing Grace Lutheran Church. We are all now at a very different time in our lives with many different situations that we never experienced before. We all need to look ahead, not to the past, and let God lead us as he has done since he gave us his promise through his covenant.
Scripture: Hebrews 12: 1a
And let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.
Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:
Dear God, we thank you for your grace, your forgiveness and your salvation. We need to forget the past and take a step into the future which will continue to change. We ask you to guide us in our journey. Most of all, we thank you for your Son who died on the cross that we might live. Amen.
Devotion for AGLC – Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Submitted by Helen Yotter
Scripture: Acts 1:6-11 The Ascension
6 So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9 When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10 While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11 They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Have you ever been guilty of any of the following? Setting unfair expectations, impatience, confusion, uncertainty as to your path, wishing for a lightning bolt of inspiration, feeling love, hopefulness, awe and fear combined? If you’re human, a ‘yes’ was in there for at least some of the above. For me, the answer was all of the above. 2,000 years after the disciples experienced the Ascension, we’re still working things out.
Many of you have heard the stories I’ve shared after each of my visits to our companion church in Tanzania. The Amazing Grace community has blessed my life immeasurably in supporting the blossoming of my faith and spiritual confidence through this relationship and these trips of accompaniment. So wrapped up in my everyday life here, it took traveling half way around the world to create room in my heart and mind to hear and feel the power of the Holy Spirit. Four trips so far – and each brought a different type of awakening and a broadening perspective from self to others to the wider community.
In one trip, God presented his power in a quiet sentence uttered by my 16-year old daughter that gave me the courage and strength to come home and break free from my work addictions and embrace a brighter future. I knew the Holy spirit would be there to help me make a different life and the courage to witness to His grace and power. I didn’t know exactly when or how or why, but I was gifted with a strength of certainty that was so real I could almost touch and feel it. God doesn’t typically work in lightning bolts – he works through 16-year olds and you and me – and by extension Amazing Grace.
Like the disciples, Amazing Grace needs to strive for the ‘Ascension attitude’ – we need to witness to the awe and power of redemption in Jesus Christ, pray and prepare ourselves to be receptive to the Holy Spirit among us and embrace a new thing knowing that we are never without Him as our guide and strength. We must stop staring up to heaven with our mouths agape and leave behind the upper room’s habits, comfort, and predictability. Jesus has given us work to do – starting in our familiar community but directing us also to the ends of the earth. As Mother Theresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Amazing Grace’s direction will continue to evolve as we boldly bear witness to Christ’s love.
Letting Go & Moving Forward Prayer
Gracious and loving God, we come before you with humility and gratitude for all you
have given us – as a people – and as your church. We thank you for Amazing Grace and
for the great cloud of witnesses who have enabled us to become members of this church
body. We are grateful for faithful leaders, including pastors teachers and musicians who
have nurtured our faith.
(Pause to reflect on what you’re grateful for)
We pause now in the midst of these unprecedented times to ask your guidance. Help us
as a congregation – and as individuals – to let go of the past that binds us. We do so
knowing full well that unless we release what has been, we cannot open our hearts to
become the church you want us to be.
(Pause to reflect on what you need to let go)
Lord, we know you have great plans for us. We pray for courage to face the future with
confidence. Energize and revitalize us as your people. Grant us the gift of discernment
that we may know and do your will. Be with us and strengthen us for the journey that
lies ahead, trusting in your steadfast love to guide us.
(Pause to pray silently for the future of Amazing Grace)
We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus, Amen