“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints.” (Ephesians 1:15)
Ephesians chapter one is St. Paul’s prayer for Christians, that we would truly know the greatness of God’s grace and glory that He has in store for us His saints! He introduces this prayer by telling the Ephesians that he is well aware of their faith in Christ and of their love shown to their fellow members of Christ’s body, the church. That’s the Christian life in a nutshell! First, trusting Christ alone – our hope is built on nothing less and on no one else than Him! This is our faith: that Christ is our Lord and our Savior and our Redeemer who will come again! Because of everything that Christ has first done for us, we respond by demonstrating His love to His people around us. Jesus said that the world would recognize us as His disciples by seeing our love for one another (John 13:35). May that be the case among us!
Lord, through Your Word and Sacraments, strengthen us in faith toward You and in fervent love toward one another. Amen.
I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. (Philippians 3:8)
How would your life be different if you focused on what truly counted, what was really worthy of your allegiance and commitment? Too often we cling to things that are fleeting and unsatisfying. We’ll work our fingers to the bone for things that do not last. What if it were all taken away? That’s the scenario Martin Luther famously unfolds in his great hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”. Were they to take our house, goods, honor, child, or spouse, though life be wrenched away, they cannot win the day. The kingdom’s ours forever. In his list appear some tremendously valuable and cherished items. Yet the absolutely best we have in this world is of no comparison to the gift of knowing Christ Jesus and being known by Him. To Himself, He calls us by the power of the Holy Spirit through Holy Baptism to be where He is forever! In this one best gift, He sorts out and cares for the myriad other gifts, such as those listed in the hymn. You are His cherished!
Lord, you are all I need. Thank you for all the other gifts you still give. Amen.