"Alleluia! Let Praises Ring"
"Alleluia! Let praises ring! Unto the Lamb of God we sing, In whom we are elected. He bought His Church with His own blood, He cleansed her in that blessed flood, And as His bride selected. Holy, holy is our union and communion. His befriending gives us joy and peace unending."
We have all had experience in electing, or choosing; it is something we do all the time. During political campaigns, we choose candidates, we elect national or local officials. Athletic teams choose new players or select particular players to take the field in a game. On a daily basis we make choices concerning various issues—what to wear, where to shop, which restaurant to go to for dinner. There are more important and lasting choices, as well, such as the choice of a career, a person to marry, or just the right name for a child.
Our choices are usually based on traits or qualities within the item, or the person, that we choose. With people, there are characteristics that attract us, perhaps kindness, intelligence, or a sense of humor. With clothing or cars, we may want a particular color or style, make and model. But almost always there is something attractive, something worth having, in that which we choose.
When God, in Christ, chose—elected—us, what qualities or characteristics within us did He find attractive? Nothing. There is nothing within us that made us worthy of His love. Grace is God's undeserved favor for sinners. God chose us to be His own, not because of who we are, but because of who He is. As the apostle Paul explains, God chose us in Christ "before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him" (Ephesians 1:4). Before we were born, before He created the world, God chose us to be His holy people. With His own blood, Christ washed away our sins, cleansing us "by the washing of water with the word" (Ephesians 5:26b). He arrayed His church, His bride, in the splendor of His own righteousness.
Before the foundation of the world, from eternity, God knew His plan of salvation. He sent His Son to be the world's Savior. He created us anew in Baptism. Why? Not because we in any way deserved or earned His love, but because He elected us out of His own love and grace. In presenting his teachings to fellow Augustinian monks, Martin Luther expressed that astounding love in this statement: "The love of God does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it." Or, as a Lenten hymn, "My Song is Love Unknown," describes God's love, it is "love to the loveless shown that they might lovely be."
Jesus—the God who is love, in the flesh—told His disciples, "You did not choose Me, but I chose you that you should go and bear fruit" (John 15:16a). Chosen, loved, cleansed in Jesus' blood, we now bear the fruit of love that reflects the love of Christ Jesus to the world and brings glory to the God who chose us!
THE PRAYER: Jesus, Lamb of God, though we were undeserving of such love and sacrifice, You gave Your life for us. Lead us by Your Spirit to bear the fruit of love in our lives. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Alleluia! Let Praises Ring!" which is found on page 822 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How good are you with making decisions in advance—and sticking to them?
2. Are you familiar with Christ as the Bridegroom and believers as His Bride idea? How meaningful is this scriptural illustration for you in showing how God loves His people?
3. Why would God want any of us to be His people, knowing how fickle and unfaithful we can be?
Today's Bible Readings: Psalms 139-141 John 17
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