Dear Fellow Children of God,
How committed are you to Jesus? Do you want to live for Him? Are you willing to die for Him? Is it your intent to work to grow in faith in Jesus as your Savior? Is it your intent to follow Jesus, keeping The Ten Commandments by loving God and loving others?
I ask these questions because last Sunday was Confirmation Sunday at St. John. Five young people shared with the congregation their faith in God and their plans to live for Him. They also promised to “forsake all, even to be willing to die, rather than to fall away from Jesus.” They promised to “forsake all, even to be willing to die, rather than to fall away from God’s Church.” I talked at length with the class about the importance of these historic vows they were about to take. So, how committed are you to our Lord?
I remember my confirmation day. On March 27, 1967, I shared my faith in Jesus publicly in front of the members of First Lutheran Church in Gainesville, FL. I also remember that when the whole worship service was concluded my grandfather pulled me aside. He told me, “I’m proud of you. I hope you do a better job of keeping your vows than I have done keeping mine.” This statement from my grandfather surprised me. I saw him in worship each Sunday. When I struggled in my early life, he was not the one who scolded me, but the one who encouraged me. Yet, he was confessing his failures to me and praying for me in my walk of faith with Jesus. His words stuck with me.
For many years 2 Corinthians 5:15 has been one of the major verses in Scripture which I have shared with my confirmation students. There God speaks to us and says, “And he [Jesus] died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
God wants us to live for Him and not for ourselves, but we all struggle with our sinful desires. There were times in my grandfather’s life that he did not live as He knew a child of God should live. I remember my grandfather’s wishes and prayers for me, and I know I have failed at times. I am a sinner. I need a Savior. There is no one who has lived perfectly. We all need Jesus!
Praise God that when we have been weak, God is strong. Thank God that when we have sinned, He is loving and forgiving and faithful. Even though we have rebelled against our Creator and lived with selfish hearts and selfish actions, God sent His Son to live and die and rise for us. He calls us daily to faith and trust in His love and forgiveness for us. God calls us daily to lives lived for Him because of His faithfulness to us. No one can always live for God, but He is always there for us. And because Jesus died for us and rose again we want to live for Him.
By the way, when the confirmation students made these historic vows they did not vow to live for the Lord on their own strength. They promised to live for Jesus “by the help of God,” and “by the grace of God.” They did not make these vows trusting themselves. But knowing that Jesus was willing to die and rise for them, knowing that He is with them always, knowing God’s strength in the face of their own weakness, the students promised to live for God as they trust Jesus.
How committed are you to Jesus? When I look at my own life I know my weakness and sin. But when I look at the perfect and faithful love of God for me in Jesus, I want to live for Him, even to the point of being willing to die for Him. How about you . . . ?
A Child of God, Wanting to Live my Life for Jesus,
P.S. Here are some pictures from Confirmation Day, 2013! https://plus.google.com/photos/114993745799525883148/albums/5871323018153008369?banner=pwa
ABOUT ‘THOUGHTS FROM THE PASTOR’ - I am sending these e-mail messages, hopefully weekly, to all St. John members and friends whose e-mails I have. (I am always adding new names of friends and members – in case you are just receiving this e-mail for the first time.) However, if you don’t want to receive this e-mail, please let me know, and I’ll gladly leave your name off my list for this message. . . Or, if you know someone who would like to receive one of these e-mails, please send me their e-mail address.