- Amazing Grace Lutheran Church - http://aglcigh.org -

Devotionals

Join us for a new devotional each Wednesday as we prepare for the upcoming Sunday’s worship.

As part of this time of Letting Go & Moving Forward, Amazing Grace members have shared videos with thoughts and memories from the past that witness to how God is preparing AGLC for the future he is creating for you. Enjoy this week’s video by the Malamens
As part of this time of Letting Go & Moving Forward, Amazing Grace members have shared videos with thoughts and memories from the past that witness to how God is preparing AGLC for the future he is creating for you. Enjoy this week’s video by Pam Rutton.

Devotion for AGLC – Oct. 21, 2020

Submitted by Katie and Bruce Klopfleisch

Scripture: Isaiah 43:18-19

18 Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.  19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

Reflection:

As most of you know, Bruce had cancer at this time last year.  This church helped us in so many ways, such as meals, yard work, and prayers.  The church has celebrated with us when Bruce received the good news that he was in remission.  There is no question we experienced God’s presence through the hands and hearts of this faith community.  However, we would like to focus on a part of our lives many of you may not know.

When we were first married, we lived in Morris, Minnesota where Bruce worked as an attorney and Katie taught at the University of Minnesota-Morris.  We thought we would spend the rest of our lives there – we had great friends and were heavily involved in the community.  When the recession hit in 2008, Bruce lost his job.

We knew we would have to leave Morris because there were so few jobs in that part of the state even in good economic times. We couldn’t believe our luck when we both got teaching jobs at the community college in Alexandria, Minnesota – only 45 minutes from Morris.  We decided to put our house up for sale in Morris and look for one in Alexandria.  To our shock and horror, our new jobs in Alexandria didn’t work out.  We were let go due to budget cuts.  We found out about our job loss the same day we signed a purchase agreement to sell our home in Morris!  Overnight, we had lost our jobs and our home.  Bruce’s friend in his hometown of Ironton (near Brainerd), had a vacant apartment and said we could live there.  We packed up our horse, two cats, and a dog and headed north.

God made a way for us in the wilderness – we both got teaching jobs at Central Lakes College in Brainerd.  We bought a home in Baxter, made friends again, and joined a church.  We had to trust that God was “doing a new thing” otherwise we couldn’t have let go of our past lives in Morris.  For Bruce, God certainly was doing a new thing – he had to change his career.  Katie had an opportunity to earn another degree.  If we hadn’t come to a sense of peace about losing our jobs and our friends in Morris, we wouldn’t have been able to embrace our new life.  We went through it again when we moved from Brainerd to Inver Grove Heights for Katie’s new job.  Bruce found a new job and God led us to Amazing Grace.

While God doesn’t expect us to totally forget the past, we shouldn’t dwell on it.  We may miss seeing the new things that God is doing in our lives, whether as individuals or as a church.  If we keep looking in the past, we cannot see where we are going.  We must trust that God will show us the way out of the wilderness, as he did with us – twice.

Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:

Most gracious God, we hold the past in fists closed tight as flower buds.  You are the sun, the storms, the wind that calls us to open – to bloom, to scatter seeds.  Help us to see the new things You have in store for us as a church and as individuals.  Keep us focused on moving forward to accomplish what You have called us to do.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Devotion for AGLC – Oct 14, 2020

Submitted by Jeannie Hultman

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11~13

11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. (NIV)

Reflection:

Originally, I concentrated on Jeremiah 29:11 only. It was a comfort knowing that God has a plan for my life, even though I may not. Especially in times of trial, it was a comfort to know that God not only has a plan for me, but also gives me hope and a future.

The hardest time in my life was when my previous husband of thirty-six years, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer that metastasized to his brain. Three and a half short weeks later he died. We did not even know he was sick.  As I wrote on his caring bridge site, I always tried to find the positives in everything happening. My focus was on God having a plan for us, not how this was all going to play out. I am not going to pretend that all this was easy, because it was truly the hardest time in my life. Focusing on God and knowing that He only wants what is best for me, helped me to get through my husbands’ illness and his death. I had to move on in life without my husband. I had to find out who I was without him.

I came to Amazing Grace shortly after marrying my husband Vern. I was looking for a Church that I would feel at “Home,” A Church that gives back to its community and helps abroad. I found that at Amazing Grace! I know that together we can get through this tough time and move on to the plans that God has for our AMAZING FUTURE!!! Because God gives us hope and wants what is best for us ALWAYS.

Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:

My dearest Lord and Savior. Thank you so much for always being here for us, in the bad times as well as the good. Help us Lord at this difficult time that we are all going through. You know what each one of us needs, even more that we ourselves know. Help us to trust in you, that you know what is best for us and already have plans for our future.

Devotion for AGLC – October 7, 2020

Submitted by Charlotte Gronseth

Scripture: Hebrews 13: 1b-2a

Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.    

Reflection:

During the ten years since I moved to Inver Grove Heights, I have experienced God’s presence greatly through the ministry of Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.  Sunday worship services as well as Lenten services and others have nourished my life in Christ, and provided rich Christian fellowship.  All this in addition to Bible studies, choir, celebratory meals together and more.

A key attraction to me was AGLC’s outward reach to a world in need—many within our area but also globally—Tanzania and Guatemala and then adding China.  AGLC was reaching out to three continents besides our own!

AGLC’s generosity with their hearts and wallets and busy hands to the ministry of China Service Ventures has touched me deeply.  Twice we celebrated Chinese New Year together, and in preparation for two trips to China, those making the journey gathered monthly beforehand to learn about Chinese culture and the church in China.  In addition, AGLC welcomed two Chinese teenagers for benefit concerts for their father’s Bible-teaching ministry in China.  (The younger, Nita, has been invited to solo with the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra.)

AGLC has contributed significantly to ministry among China’s direly poor in Henan Province, bringing hope into the lives of many who before had no hope.  In spite of (increasingly severe) governmental restrictions, many have come to faith in Christ—a total reversal of the atheism routinely taught to all since infancy.  In our sharing of both material help and the Good News, the Holy Spirit has been present, working in spite of and within human restrictions.  Praise God!

But this is only one aspect of AGLC’s outreach.   AGLC’s vision has all these years included many, many others suffering nearby, such as our current outreach to Neighbors during this difficult time.  AGLC’s strengthening of faith in her members through worship and fellowship and through witness to God’s love—near and far—has been a continuing inspiration to me.

Now as we face the future, we must keep looking to Jesus as we persevere in this “race set before us.”

Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:

Dear God, thank you for your presence among us, and for the gift of a loving relationship with you. Open our senses and our hearts to those—around us and far away— who are in need of you as their friend, as well as of many material necessities. Give us all at Amazing Grace the vision, the love, the will and the strength to give of ourselves to them—and thus more fully to you. Help us to persevere in this race which you have set before us. Amen.

Devotion for AGLC – September 30, 2020

Submitted by Bill Bleckwenn

Scripture: Zechariah 7: 9-10

This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another. Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. Do not plot evil against each other.’

Reflection:

In these challenging times, we appreciate those around us who help us maintain our strength and our moral commitments.  It is those people who are important to us, to look out for each other and help spread God‘s word by being helpful, considerate, and devoted—the very basic tenants of Christianity to me.   These are the wonderful strengths of the Amazing Grace community.  We are blessed to be surrounded by others who provide such a compassionate and giving community to reaffirm our faith.  When we see in the outside world those who resist practices to keep all of us safe during this health crisis, we continue to provide comfort and safety in pursuing our spiritual growth. 

This caring aspect of our Amazing Grace community was so apparent from my very first visit.  It is a community that truly loves everyone regardless of who they are, and demonstrates that love in everything it does.  The sincerity of that love allows us to prosper spiritually in times when we are bombarded by confusing messages.  

Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:

Dear Lord Almighty, please help us be able to discern misinformation and keep us on our spiritual paths.  We pray for the good health – in body, mind and spirit –  of all of our members, and ask that you continue to bless and guide our church community. Stir in us mercy, compassion, and goodness – for each other and for your world.  Amen.

Devotion for AGLC – September 23, 2020

Submitted by Pastor Dave and Darlene Wold

Scripture: Romans 12:12 (NRSV)

Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer….

Reflection:

In the fall of 2013, after thirty years of life and ministry in Arizona, we moved back to Minnesota and began a new chapter in our lives – the retirement years. It was a time of change.  Our new home was in an Independent Senior Living Center, and along with the many other goals before us, one of them was to find a new church home.

On our first Sunday in Minnesota we were invited, by dear friends, to visit their church, Amazing Grace Lutheran Church.  We were welcomed so warmly by the people there.  The music was uplifting, the worship was meaningful, and the sermon was inspiring and spoke to our hearts.  We knew we didn’t have to look further. We had a new church home!

The months and years that followed have been filled with abundant joy and blessings, but they’ve also seen overwhelming sadness and heartache.  No one could have imagined our world as it is today!  We’re living in a time of unrest and transition in our lives, in the church, and in the world!

We’re living in a time of the Covid-19 pandemic, mask mandates, social distancing, virtual worship, and creative and unique ways of staying safe. We all need   to pray earnestly for God’s leading as we move into whatever the future might hold.  He hears those prayers, and we can “Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer…”

We must set our eyes on Jesus, let go of the past, and move on with peace and the assurance that He will see us through.  Our family has adopted a motto from our son’s pastor in California, which we share often:  GGT (God’s Got This!) 

 Prayer for Letting Go and Moving Forward:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for your faithfulness and guidance in these unsettled times.  We pray for AGLC, our Church Council, our Pastors and Staff, and the Transition and Interim Prayer Teams, as we prepare to call a Lead Pastor to join us in being Your Church in this changing world.  Amen.

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.

Reflection:

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.

Reflection:

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.

Reflection:

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.”

Reflection:

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.

 Prayer: 

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