Zambia Devotion: August 12

Made Alive in Christ as We Move Forward in Faith

This devotion is an excerpt from an article written by Pastor John Hogenson, from St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church. (St. Andrew’s is the church that started Mission Jamaica and continues to hire Jeff Peterson to manage it. Pastor Hogenson is now deceased – he was the Pastor at St. Andrew’s when Mission Jamaica was founded approximately 20 years ago).

But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:4 – 5, 10

Years ago I was watching a documentary on the History Channel about the five most influential people of all time. One of the people they featured surprised me. See if you can guess who this person is. Did you attend a public school? If so, you can thank him, because he believed that everyone should have the right to an education, not just the elite ruling class. Do you speak English? Because if you are able to read this, you can thank him, as well. He believed that everyone should be taught to read and write in their own native language, not just Latin, which was the universal language of the time. Do you enjoy reading scripture? If so you can thank him again, because he believed that everyone – not just priests — should be able to not only read but read and interpret the Bible for themselves.

The last hint – we are celebrating the 500th anniversary of an action taken by this person that started the Reformation. Martin Luther!

Luther loved the Catholic Church and never wanted to start a new church; he only wanted to reform the church he loved. That is why those who followed him were called “reformers” which is where we get the word “Reformation.” They were also called “protestor” which is where we get the name “Protestant.” At the heart of the Reformation was Luther’s firm belief that we are not saved by good works, indulgences or inventions of the church. Rather, he believed that we are saved, “By grace through faith.”

Luther had been consumed with a sense and fear of his own sinfulness and a belief that God found him unacceptable. He once wrote, “Vile wretched disgusting worm of a man that I am. How disgusting am I in God’s sight.” What does one do when they are sure that God finds them unacceptable? Luther tried to become holier. He prayed more. He read scripture more. Luther fasted for weeks at a time, took a whip and very literally tried to beat the devil out of him. The harder he tried to become holier, the more sinful he felt.

At a time of ultimate despair, when he had lost all hope, he was reading Ephesians and realized that God had already done what he had been trying to do on his own (“For by grace you have been saved through faith”). Luther realized that while he had been trying to save himself, God had already done so with the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. From that moment on, Luther spent the rest of his life trying to spread the Gospel of grace. Thanks to Luther you cannot only read and write, but even more importantly, you can be assured that because of God’s grace — God’s unconditional love for you — “you have been saved through faith.” God is in control and in charge of our world. Our job is to love Him and trust Him each day as we move forward in faith doing His work.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father,
We pray for our Christian family here in Zambia and ask that each may know and feel the joy and peace of your
grace each day. May you strengthen them and each of us with Your power so that Christ may continue to dwell
in each of our hearts as we continue to do Your work. In Jesus’ name we pray – AMEN.

 


Optional exercise

Do you agree or disagree with this statement?

Faith and learning belong together and knowledge is limited when one is used without the other. Faith needs learning and learning needs faith. Faith without assumptions tends to study the trivial. Christians should strive to integrate faith and learning and thus improve their ability to know truth. The learning process in school is never an academically unbiased process; one’s learning is always affected by one’s worldview.

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