"Freedom to Appreciate"
November 13, 2013
... the Lord Jesus on the night when He was betrayed took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, "This is My body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me." In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." 1 Corinthians 11:23b-25
We human beings have any number of serious shortcomings.
One of those shortcomings has to be the fact we often take things for granted. For example, most of us aren't thankful for the gift of health until we come down with some serious and protracted illness. We're often not thankful for a good night's rest until insomnia makes the night last forever. Most of us aren't grateful for a car that runs, a phone that calls, a freezer that freezes until those things break down and cause us trouble.
Of course, this devotion has nothing to do with those things; it has to do with the Lord's Supper.
Right now, most of the folks reading this Daily Devotion are freely and regularly able to take Communion at their church. The Sacrament is listed on your congregation's monthly calendar, and it probably is a natural and reoccurring part of your worship life.
Not so in Iran where a court in Rasht recently said four members of the Church of Iran should receive 80 lashes.
Now I have seen pictures of what a person looks like after receiving 50 lashes. The body is covered by black and blue marks. There are raised welts and the pain will last for weeks, if not months.
Now if you are wondering what crime these believers committed to receive such a punishment, I can tell you. Your brothers drank from the cup of alcoholic wine which had been offered at the Communion meal. You see, the consumption of alcohol is forbidden in the Qur'an.
The Iranian court, by taking this stand, is doing its best to stop Christians from practicing their faith. Not surprising. Since 2010 more than 300 Christians have been arrested and dozens of house churches have been closed by the authorities. These laws, along with the one which allows the death penalty to be placed upon any Muslim who converts to Christianity, make it most difficult for believers to worship the Savior.
Even so, they worship and they commune. Their commitment to the Savior who gave His life to win their forgiveness and salvation is that precious to them.
And, of course, it should be that precious to us, as well. Perhaps, more so, since for us, the Lord has added freedom of worship to His other Christian gifts. Now there is nothing we can do to make worship or Communion more special than it is. Jesus has already done that.
On the other hand, we can be more thankful that God's gifts to us are not just freely given, they can also be received most freely, too.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, may the Holy Spirit strengthen those who are persecuted for their faith and those who must fight against an apathy which takes Your many gifts for granted. This I ask in Jesus' Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries