"Almighty Father, bless the Word, Which through Your grace we now have heard. Oh, may the precious seed take root, Spring up, and bear abundant fruit!
"We praise You for the means of grace, As homeward now our steps we trace. Grant, Lord, that we who worshiped here, May all at last in heav'n appear."
"We praise You for the means of grace." In our hymn, we give thanks and praise to God for the means of grace, that is, for the Word and the Sacraments. These gracious gifts of God are the means, or channels, through which His forgiveness comes to us. Water will flow from a greater source—perhaps a reservoir, lake, or river—through a canal, pipeline, or channel to irrigate thirsty crops in a field. By God's grace, the forgiveness that Jesus won for us on the cross flows into our lives through channels of the written and spoken Word and through God's created, earthly gifts of water, bread, and wine in Baptism and Holy Communion.
The water rushing through irrigation canals and pipelines brings life and growth to fields planted with crops and orchards full of fruit. Rushing through the channels of His grace, God's generous, restoring forgiveness fills our lives, creating and nourishing faith in Christ Jesus and giving growth to the "abundant fruit" that springs from faith. In the means of grace that is Baptism, by the work of the Holy Spirit in the water and the Word, faith was created in our hearts as the Gospel seed took root in our lives. Our faith is nourished through God's Word and through the forgiveness we receive as we partake of Jesus' body and blood in His Holy Supper. Faith grows and bears fruit, the rich fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23a).
Our hymn is one that is often sung at the close of a worship service. We have gathered with brothers and sisters in Christ to hear the Word of God, to receive His forgiveness through the Word and through the gift of Jesus' body and blood. Having offered up to God our praise for His grace and His gifts, we leave worship as "homeward now our steps we trace." In our churches, in our homes, with our families, among our neighbors, in schools, and at our places of work—in every place where we carry out our daily callings—the abundant fruit of the Spirit is expressed through our words and actions. Through that fruit, Jesus' love is reflected in the love we show to others. The Holy Spirit is at work in our words of witness, as the seed of the Gospel is sown among them.
In our hymn we pray that we who have worshiped together on earth will one day meet again before God's throne. There we will enjoy different fruit, invited "to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God" (Revelation 2:7b). That blessed tree has its own irrigation source, "the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (Revelation 22:1b).
THE PRAYER: Almighty Father, we offer our thanks and praise for the means of grace. By the power of Your Holy Spirit, help us to share with others abundant fruit of love and service, in Jesus' Name. Amen.
This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Carol Geisler. It is based on the hymn, "Almighty Father, Bless the Word," which is found on page 923 of the Lutheran Service Book.
1. How do you take advantage of the means God gives us to grow in His Word?
2. Is going to Communion important for you? What benefit does it bring you?
3. Reading the Bible with others is a great way to grow in your faith? Do you do that with your family, a friend, or in a Bible study group?
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