Based on Luke 4:42-5:11
In our dealing with congregations which may be in conflict, experiencing tension or are simply “stuck” and stagnant, the first question we ask is, “What is your current reality?” It’s not helpful to ignore or dismiss the reality of one’s situation. The second question is, “What do you believe is God’s intended future for you?” Does God intend you to decline and finally close your congregation? Does God intend for you to unite with another congregation nearby to strengthen both ministries? Does God intend for you, as individuals and as a whole to become mobilized for mission and ministry, to revitalize your congregation through the Word and Holy Spirit at work among you? And then the next step is to ask, “How are we going to get to God’s intended future? What are the actions steps we need to take to move forward?”
Without a doubt, our current reality in North American Lutheranism is that we have lost the urgency our Lord exhibits in our reading for today. The people would have detained Jesus, wanting Him for themselves, but He said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well; for I was sent for this purpose.” He then gave to the fishermen, a sign, as He directed them to put out into the deep, for one more catch — and the haul was so great that the boat began to sink. And then He called Simon (Peter) and James and John to follow Him, participating in His ministry of “fishing” for men and women and people of all ages.
Somehow, someway, we became “church members,” rank and file members of the institutional church, rather than followers of Jesus, concerned always with the spread of the Good News. What are the action steps we need to take to get back to the simple mission — of being disciples and making disciples? It’s a worthwhile question, as we seek a turnaround in this season of Lent.
Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, make of us, again, your disciples and followers. Amen.
Lenten response: Learn more about Life-to-Life Discipleship at nalclifetolife.org.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 3:1–17
3:1 Solomon began building the Lord’s temple in Jerusalem on Mount Moriah, where the Lord had appeared to his father David. This was the place that David prepared at the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. 2He began building on the second day of the second month of the fourth year of his reign.
3Solomon laid the foundation for God’s temple; its length (determined according to the old standard of measure) was 90 feet, and its width 30 feet. 4The porch in front of the main hall was 30 feet long, corresponding to the width of the temple, and its height was 30 feet. He plated the inside with pure gold. 5He paneled the main hall with boards made from evergreen trees and plated it with fine gold, decorated with palm trees and chains. 6He decorated the temple with precious stones; the gold he used came from Parvaim. 7He overlaid the temple’s rafters, thresholds, walls and doors with gold; he carved decorative cherubim on the walls.
8He made the Most Holy Place; its length was 30 feet, corresponding to the width of the temple, and its width 30 feet. He plated it with 600 talents of fine gold. 9The gold nails weighed 50 shekels; he also plated the upper areas with gold. 10In the Most Holy Place he made two images of cherubim and plated them with gold. 11The combined wing span of the cherubim was 30 feet. One of the first cherub’s wings was 7½ feet long and touched one wall of the temple; its other wing was also 7½ feet long and touched one of the second cherub’s wings. 12Likewise one of the second cherub’s wings was 7½ feet long and touched the other wall of the temple; its other wing was also 7½ feet long and touched one of the first cherub’s wings. 13The combined wingspan of these cherubim was 30 feet. They stood upright, facing inward. 14He made the curtain out of blue, purple, crimson, and white fabrics, and embroidered on it decorative cherubim.
15In front of the temple he made two pillars which had a combined length of 52½ feet, with each having a plated capital 7½ feet high. 16He made ornamental chains and put them on top of the pillars. He also made 100 pomegranate-shaped ornaments and arranged them within the chains. 17He set up the pillars in front of the temple, one on the right side and the other on the left. He named the one on the right Yakin and the one on the left Boaz.(NET Bible)
71:1 In you, O Lord, I have taken shelter.
Never let me be humiliated.
2Vindicate me by rescuing me.
Listen to me. Deliver me.
3Be my protector and refuge,
a stronghold where I can be safe.
For you are my high ridge and my stronghold.
4My God, rescue me from the power of the wicked,
from the hand of the cruel oppressor.
5For you are my hope;
O Sovereign Lord, I have trusted in you since I was young.
6I have leaned on you since birth;
you pulled me from my mother’s womb.
I praise you continually.
7Many are appalled when they see me,
but you are my secure shelter.
8I praise you constantly
and speak of your splendor all day long.
9Do not reject me in my old age.
When my strength fails, do not abandon me.
10For my enemies talk about me;
those waiting for a chance to kill me plot my demise.
11They say, “God has abandoned him.
Run and seize him, for there is no one who will rescue him.”
12O God, do not remain far away from me.
My God, hurry and help me.
13May my accusers be humiliated and defeated.
May those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace.
14As for me, I will wait continually,
and will continue to praise you.
15I will tell about your justice,
and all day long proclaim your salvation,
though I cannot fathom its full extent.
16I will come and tell about the mighty acts of the Sovereign Lord.
I will proclaim your justice—yours alone.
17O God, you have taught me since I was young,
and I am still declaring your amazing deeds.
18Even when I am old and gray,
O God, do not abandon me,
until I tell the next generation about your strength
and those coming after me about your power.
19Your justice, O God, extends to the skies above;
you have done great things.
O God, who can compare to you?
20Though you have allowed me to experience much trouble and distress,
revive me once again.
Bring me up once again from the depths of the earth.
21Raise me to a position of great honor.
Turn and comfort me.
22I will express my thanks to you with a stringed instrument,
praising your faithfulness, O my God.
I will sing praises to you accompanied by a harp,
O Holy One of Israel.
23My lips will shout for joy. Yes, I will sing your praises.
I will praise you when you rescue me.
24All day long my tongue will also tell about your justice,
for those who want to harm me will be embarrassed and ashamed.(NET Bible)
4:42 The next morning Jesus departed and went to a deserted place. Yet the crowds were seeking him, and they came to him and tried to keep him from leaving them. 43But Jesus said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns too, for that is what I was sent to do.” 44So he continued to preach in the synagogues of Judea.
5:1 Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. 2He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. 3He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. 4When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” 5Simon answered, “Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets.” 6When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. 7So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink. 8But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” 9For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, 10and so were James and John, Zebedee’s sons, who were Simon’s business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people!” 11So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
In [Luther’s] writing, Concerning the Papacy at Rome against the most famous Romanist at Leipzig, which appeared toward the end of June , we read: “I merely contend for two things, the rst, I will not permit men to posit new articles of faith and scold, defame, and judge all other Christians as heretics, renegades, in dels only because they do not submit to the Pope. It is enough that we let the Pope be Pope (in which sense this is to be understood he clearly states in the foregoing) … . The other, everything that the Pope claims, makes, and does will I receive in this wise that I will first examine it according to the Holy Scripture. It must remain under Christ and be judged by Scripture.” (18)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.