Daily Devotions
 

We are thrilled to once again be sharing a daily devotion with you for the season of Advent. These inspiring devotions have been written by YOU the members of Good Shepherd.  A sincere “thank you” to everyone who opened their hearts to share a small piece of their faith journey with us.   As we journey toward Bethlehem in this season, take time each day to walk with God and experience the stirrings of the deep love that took on flesh to walk with us.  

During the four week Advent season, each Wednesday our devotion will be a video reflection by Dr. Kevin Seal, Director of Worship and Music at Good Shepherd, as he shares a teaching about the Words and Music of Advent.

Each new day’s devotion will go live directly on our webpage, goodshepherd.com at 6am, (look under the worship tab at the top right of the front page) or you can follow the link that will be sent out later each morning in an email from Good Shepherd.  


Daily Devotion by Pr. Heidi Johns
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church

Daily Devotion by Pr. Heidi Johns

Your Name is “Friend”

I have been serving parttime on the Southern Ohio Synod staff the past two years as the Campaign Manager for “Thrive! Equipping a Vibrant Church Together.” It is a mission campaign designed to help the congregations and leaders of our synod grow in their abilities and, thus, grow the Church. Good Shepherd has been benefiting from it by taking part in one of the Thrive! initiatives: Stewardship for All Seasons.

I was recently blessed in my role by being reconnected with a friend from seminary who I lost track of after graduation. He represented his eastern Ohio congregation at this year’s Synod Assembly, saw a presentation I made, and shortly thereafter reached out to me. It is an incredibly good feeling to be reconnected, and it has made me think about what it means to be a “friend.”

Who are your closest friends? What is it about your relationships that makes you friends? Is it shared values? Similar experiences? The assurance you can talk about anything without being judged or rejected? 

Are any of your friendships based on obedience? I ask because, in John 15:14, Jesus said: You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

I don’t know about you, but no friend has ever asked obedience from me, other than Jesus. Oh, friends may ask me to trust them, but not obey them. It makes me think there is something different – something special – about the relationship Jesus is offering, which makes me think of the challenging words from Dietrich Bonhoeffer pertaining to friendship with Jesus: “Only those who obey, believe. Only those who believe, obey.” (The Cost of Discipleship). It also makes me think of something else.

Do you recall how we began this week’s devotions? It was with this reminder from St. Paul:

Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)

If Jesus is Lord, then nothing else is, neither job, country nor family. Lords are to be obeyed. Earthly varieties will use coercion to get their way and heaven help you if you refuse to obey them. Jesus, on the other hand, uses love. He becomes one with us (Emmanuel) and dies for us to prove his friendship (“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13). His resurrection shows he is worthy of not only being our friend, but our Lord, as well. He is a true friend because he frees us from the sin and death that had enslaved us. He is a Lord worthy of obeying because his way leads to salvation and life. Striving to obey him, even should we falter, is our way of saying he is, indeed, our friend and Lord.

Salt, Light, Branches, and now, “Friend.” Nice nicknames from Jesus. I hope you, like me, find it feels incredibly good to be known that way.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being the friend who gave everything for us that we might have everything you want for us; the one Lord we have the privilege of obeying because you are the way, the truth, and the life. Amen

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