Locals Do Not Take It Well – January 25, 2022

“Truly I tell you,” [Jesus] continued, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” . . . All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this.
Luke 4:24,28

Locals Do Not Take It Well

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Daily Devotion – January 25, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 4:24,28

See series: Devotions

When Jesus was growing up, he never sinned. It’s hard to understand how he could go through childhood and teenage years without ever doing anything wrong, but that’s exactly what happened. Jesus was a model citizen. But when he returned to his hometown as an adult to tell the people all about the truths about God, they rejected him. He had never done anything wrong to them, but they were still skeptics. Jesus saw their problem, and he told them, “no prophet is accepted in his hometown.” Did that make them sorry for doubting him? Nope! They were furious when they heard what Jesus told them.

Don’t be surprised if you get the same reaction when you mention anything about Jesus. His perfect life is your righteousness, your ticket to heaven through faith, but rather than marveling at that truth, people remain skeptical. His death took the punishment for your sin, but rather than thanking you for that information, people roll their eyes as if it’s a cliché.

Don’t give up. One famous skeptic in the Bible, a man named Saul, was converted by the power of the word of God. He became one of the most famous missionaries in all of history. He may never have preached in his hometown, but he founded congregations in many other places and trained many other witnesses to the truths of the faith.

You are able to be a witness to the power of the word of God in your life as well. Stick with Jesus until you share the hometown of heaven with him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when people reject what I say about you, forgive them and strengthen me to serve you faithfully all the days of my life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Often a Rejected Savior

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

Was Jesus’ earthly ministry a huge numerical success? Hardly. After his ascension, 120 believers gathered in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15). He was not the type of Savior many expected. He was not flashy enough. He did not offer instant gratification. He said his followers would suffer. As a result, people in Jesus’ time and today often refuse to follow him.

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 1:4-10

When Jeremiah was called to be God’s prophet, how did he react?

He was not interested in serving God this way. He argued that he was too young and not able to speak.

How long had God planned to use Jeremiah as his representative?

The Lord had planned to use Jeremiah as his specially appointed prophet even before he was born.

What promise did the Lord give to this young man?

Though Jeremiah would face much rejection as a prophet of the Lord, the Lord promised him that he had nothing to fear. He would give him the words to speak, “to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Supplemental First Lesson – 1 Kings 17:7-16

Where was Elijah to go?

God told Elijah to go at once to Zarephath of Sidon (well north of Israel). Evidently, his prior pronouncement of no rain made it necessary for him to leave Israel. Authorities would likely have wanted to retaliate against Elijah. Starving people would likely have hounded him for relief.

What did the widow tell Elijah when he asked her for a piece of bread?

The widow told Elijah she had only enough flour and bread to make a meal for herself and her son. Then they would die.

What happened when Elijah told the widow not to be afraid, but to make bread first for him, then for herself and her son?

The widow kept having more and more oil and flour. We stagger at the miracle, but Alfred Edersheim wisely points out: “It is difficult to know which most to wonder at: Elijah’s calmness, consistency, and readiness of faith, or the widow’s almost incredible simplicity of trustfulness.”

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13

What gifts did the Corinthians most desire?

The Corinthians wanted to have those gifts that would most readily put them in the spotlight. They wanted to be prophets, apostles, and teachers. They wanted to perform miracles and speak in other languages.

According to Paul, what is the greatest Christian gift?

Paul argues that the greatest Christian gift is love. It is the gift that we should most desire.

Why does love rate as the greatest gift?

Love is the greatest Christian gift because love is what makes all other gifts valuable. If we have many gifts but do not use them lovingly in service to others, they will be of no benefit to others and will not bring glory to God. Eventually, these gifts will be taken from us and given to someone who will use them wisely. (See Matthew 25:28-30.)

Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 10:18–11:6

Did first-century Jews commonly disbelieve the gospel of Christ because God did not want to save them?

No, God very much wanted to save Jewish people, both in Isaiah’s day (about 700 B.C.) and Paul’s day. All-day long, God held out his hands to them. (Picture it. Imagine the physical weariness/agony.) But they stubbornly refused.

Did God reject his people completely? (See 11:1.)

No, God did not reject his people. Paul was as Jewish as could be. God had chosen to save Paul.

As in Elijah’s day, in what manner did God choose to save anyone? (See 11:5-6.)

God chose ahead of time to save sinners by grace alone. No human merit could figure in, or grace is no longer grace.

Gospel – Luke 4:20-32

When Jesus claimed that he was the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies, what question did the people raise?

The people of Nazareth asked themselves, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” They had seen Jesus grow up among them. They had a hard time seeing him as the promised Messiah.

What did Jesus say that aroused the people’s anger?

Jesus said that “no prophet is accepted in his home town.” He alluded to the prophets Elijah and Elisha, who helped Gentile foreigners because God’s Old Testament people were, for the most part, unwilling to listen to the prophets’ message. Jesus would have much the same experience. “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him” (John 1:10). Jesus was usually rejected as Savior.

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“Good News” Messengers – Family Devotion – January 24, 2022

Read: Isaiah 61:1-6

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn.
Isaiah 61:1-2

“Good News” Messengers

 

Family Devotion – January 24, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-2

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Amelia and her grandma enjoyed spending time together. They went for walks, put puzzles together, and baked cookies. So, one day when Amelia’s parents told her that grandma was ill, Amelia became sad and quiet. She was sitting on her bed alone in her room when her dad came in and saw her sad face.

“Oh, Amelia! Are you sad about Grandma?” he asked. Amelia nodded. “It’s just that… Oh Dad,” she sobbed, “what can I do? Grandma was always so happy and excited to spend time with me and others she loved. But now she’s sick and can’t do any of it.”

Amelia’s dad wrapped his arms around her. “Sweetie, let’s make Grandma a card, reminding her how much God loves her and will take care of her. I have a feeling it will lift Grandma’s spirits, and it will do your heart good too.” As Amelia began to write in the card, she grew excited that she could bring her grandma the good news of God’s love.

By the time of our Scripture reading, God’s people, the Israelites, had already spent years in a cycle of loving and obeying God, then turning against him and doing what their sinful hearts wanted instead. God gave them many warnings. He even caused enemy armies to conquer and defeat them. In a way, you could say the Israelites were really sick. They weren’t ill in their body like Amelia’s grandma, but their souls were darkened by sin. God wanted the Israelites to come back to him. In his mercy, God promised to comfort them. He gave these words of prophecy about Jesus, the promised Savior.

Jesus wouldn’t be born for another 700 years, but God would not leave his people alone in a sin-darkened world. He sent Isaiah to warn his people, but also to be a messenger of good news for his people. Jesus is this good news. He heals broken hearts and souls. He comforts those who are sad. He frees people from behind the prison bars of sin.

Just like Amelia’s grandma needed a messenger to bring her good news and lift her spirits, people today need the good news of salvation to lift their spirits. Listen to God’s words, and then, just as Amelia shared God’s love with her grandma, you too can be a messenger and share it with others.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our Savior from sin. Help us turn from sin. Send your Holy Spirit to comfort us with your gospel and give us courage to be your messengers. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Amelia was sad her grandma was sick. What did she do for her grandma that made her excited?
  • Name two people who proclaim the good news about Jesus to you.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did God send a messenger to the Israelites?
  • How can you be God’s messenger?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate and discuss this statement: We are like the Israelites.
  • Name someone in your life who really needs to hear God’s comforting message. Discuss as a family how you can share it with them.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022

Freedom – Week of January 24, 2022



The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.

Luke 4:18



As the children run outside, they’re ready to resume the game they had created. Usually, the game involves lots of running, chasing, superheroes, and princesses. Often someone is taken captive and has to figure out how to escape. At a young age, children already know how important freedom is.

Jesus promised freedom for his people. He was preaching to the people in his hometown of Nazareth when he read these words from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed.” (Luke 4:18). Jesus told the people, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” (Luke 4:21). Jesus declared that he was the long-awaited Savior, the one who would bring freedom.

Who needs this freedom? Isaiah identified them as the poor, the prisoners, the blind, the oppressed. Could that be me? Those words don’t seem to describe me. I’m not poor or a slave or blind or oppressed. Or am I? Perhaps physically, these words don’t apply to me, but spiritually they certainly do. On my own, I am held captive by my sinful nature. Even when I want to do what’s right, I so often fail. On my own, I cannot see a solution to my problem of sin. On my own, I am burdened by the knowledge that I can never live up to God’s demand of perfection.

But I am not on my own. None of us are. Jesus did what no one else could do. He preached the good news throughout his life. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.’” (John 14:6). He freed us from our sins through his perfect life and innocent death. He healed our sin-sick eyes, helping us see how to serve him and others in an imperfect world. He released us from death’s oppression when he rose from the dead. We are free!

What wonderful news! And now we are free to share this news with those around us. In our classrooms, homes, and lives, we point people to Jesus our Savior. We thank Jesus through lives of service to others. And, when our time here on earth is done, we will rejoice in the perfect freedom of heaven.



Prayer

Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way;
Direct, protect, and feed me from day to day.
Without your grace and favor I go astray;
So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way. Lord, when the shadows lengthen and night has come,
I know that you will strengthen my steps toward home.
Then nothing can impede me, O blessed Friend;
So take my hand and lead me unto the end. Amen.
CW21 849:1,3
CW93 439:1,3



Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Rulers Do Not Take It Well – January 24, 2022

You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.”
Acts 4:25,26

Rulers Do Not Take It Well

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Daily Devotion – January 24, 2022

Devotion based on Acts 4:25,26

See series: Devotions

The Bible tells us about a young man named Timothy who was mentored by a famous missionary named Paul. There are even two books of the Bible—1 Timothy and 2 Timothy—named after him. Both books are letters written to him by Paul.

Timothy’s life wasn’t always easy. For example, we know that he was imprisoned for being a Christian. Hebrews 13:23 says, “I want you to know that our brother Timothy has been released.” That’s not commonly talked about when Timothy is remembered, but it shouldn’t surprise us. David, who lived a thousand years before Jesus died, said that kings of the earth rise up against the Lord. Just twenty years after Jesus rose from the dead, rulers banded together to have Timothy and others arrested.

It is still going on today. Whole nations rage against the Lord, rejecting the morality of the Bible and scoffing at the news of forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus.

But not so with you. Like Timothy, who remained faithful to the end, you have no reason to rage or plot against the Lord. Instead, you can take comfort that God is stronger than any nation, king, or ruler. When government officials thought they had put an end to Jesus’ work by killing him, he rose from the dead and demonstrated how God uses even powerful opposition to carry out his purpose.

God’s purpose is to love you. God’s purpose is to save you. No ruler can prevent him from doing that for you.

Prayer:
Lord God, I do not have power over governments, but you do. Grant us a peaceful society where we are free to learn about your love for us in Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 23, 2022

One truth shared: When Jesus went out to preach, what could he expect? When we go out with the gospel, what can we expect? Though we pray for gospel success and hearing, the rule is more often rejection.

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4:28-30

Uncovered Rule

I hate to break it to you, but following Jesus isn’t the easier way. Not everyone will be happy to hear what you tell them about God and his Word. Not everything in life smooths out and gets easier when you believe in Jesus. Your family life won’t suddenly be better. Your struggle with a temptation won’t miraculously go away.

The life of Jesus makes this clear to us. In one of his first appearances as a preacher, Jesus is rejected by his own hometown. They wanted to throw him off a cliff! Jesus started out another day feeding over 15,000 people, and the next day he wasn’t sure if his own disciples were going to stick with him. Remember how his ministry ended? At the cross.

If the life of your Savior wasn’t easy, you can be sure yours won’t be either. You will try to share your faith, and people will push back against it even though it is the truth. The devil will make it difficult for you to follow Jesus. In fact, Satan will do whatever he can, not just to make your life difficult but to turn you against Jesus too. That is his goal and his purpose.

Following Jesus is not the easier way, but it is the better way. It is better because Jesus has already carried your punishment and your sorrows. It is better because you can trust that Jesus is the King who is ruling over your whole life, and he is good. It is better because he promises to always be with you and to ensure that you are never alone. It is better for 1,001 reasons more.

Following Jesus is not the easier way, but it is the better way. Stay close to him and you will not lose.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when the road behind you is scattered with difficulties and hardships, stay close to me and support me. When people don’t hear me when I share the truth about you, assure me how true your Word is. Do not let anything turn me from you no matter how the road of faith may be. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Help for Your Heart – January 23, 2022

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted.
Isaiah 61:1

Help for Your Heart

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Daily Devotion – January 23, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1

See series: Devotions

There are a lot of heartaches in our lives. We would like to have the world be a better place. But doesn’t it seem like things are just getting worse? Our lives get weighed down with many cares and concerns. Sometimes matters are so serious that it just breaks our hearts.

What difficulties are you facing that are almost too much to bear? What troubling circumstances surround the days that keep you awake at night? To whom can you turn for help?

You can turn to Jesus. God sent him “to bind up the brokenhearted.” He knows you; he understands you. And most importantly, he helps you. He came to remove the greatest weight that crushes your heart. He is your Savior who took away the guilt of all your sin. And now, no matter what things are breaking apart in your life, you have a relationship with God that is unbroken. As a result, you can count on God, who loves and saves you, to help you with all the matters in your life that are breaking your heart.

Prayer:
Jesus, I lift up my heart in praise to you because you came to bind up my heart broken by sin. Help me to grow in my trust that as you loved me to be my Savior, you will also be with me every day to help through the difficulties and troubles that I face. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Perfect Timing – January 22, 2022

“Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied, “My hour has not yet come.”
John 2:4

Perfect Timing

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Daily Devotion – January 22, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:4

See series: Devotions

Waiting for the perfect time is what Jesus did throughout his ministry. It didn’t make any difference what the situation was. He waited for exactly the right moment so that everything was done right and according to God’s saving plan.

Jesus said as much when he responded to his mother’s request for more wine at the wedding in Cana. The same concern for timing can also be seen when he taught, when he performed miracles, or even when he raised Lazarus from the dead. Everything was done at exactly the right time.

The same concern for the perfect timing can be seen in his decision to go to Jerusalem. When the time was right, Jesus went into the city. The timing had to be perfect to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies and rescue all people from the curse of sin.

It is Jesus’ perfect timing that provides a double comfort. The first assures that we have been rescued from the punishment deserved because of sin. Jesus went to the cross and offered his body and blood as the sacrifice God required, so we are cleansed of guilt and set free from punishment. The second comforts us every day. Every need, every prayer, and every detail of our life is under Jesus’ loving care, his watchful eye, and his perfect timing. This assures us that everything will always happen for our good and at the best possible time.

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, Jesus Christ, my times are in your hands. Teach me to not only turn my heart to the promises you give me in your Word but teach me also to trust that you will do everything for my good according to your perfect timing. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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How do you do the impossible? – Family Devotion – January 21, 2022

Read: Ephesians 3:14-21

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:16-19

How do you do the impossible?

 

Family Devotion – January 21, 2022

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:16-19

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Are you ready for a puzzler? How can you be strong enough to lift a car over your head when you don’t have muscles big enough to pick up a feather? How can you understand something that can’t be fully known or understood? And finally, how can you fit more water into a glass that’s already full to the brim? This isn’t some weird, three-part Mind Trap riddle. This is an illustration of the three things the apostle Paul prayed that God would give to Christians. Read his prayer again in our verses for today. Did you hear it? Paul prays for the Ephesians (and you!) to have ultimate power and strength, deep knowledge, and overflowing fullness.

Whew, these are big thoughts! At first glance, they seem like complete opposites—you can’t be human and have ultimate power; it’s impossible to know something fully that can’t be known; and it’s one thing to overfill a glass, but to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God? But if our devotions this week have reminded us of anything it’s this: when God gives, he gives more than enough in Christ. That’s why the apostle Paul prays the way he does here, because he knows that in Christ, God doesn’t hold anything back from you when he gives.

Are you ready for another puzzler? How could sinful humans like us ever stand in the presence of a holy God? That’s an impossibility, isn’t it? We can’t pay the price for a single one of our sins, let alone all of them. There is nothing in us that can make us pleasing to God; there isn’t anything we could do to earn God’s favor. Because of our sin, we weren’t just spiritually weak; we were spiritually dead. But that’s exactly where God found us and made us alive in Christ.

God goes about the work of doing what should be impossible. He saved you and gave that salvation to you as a gift from Jesus. In Christ, God loved you with a love that knows no limits. On this side of heaven, we just begin to see how wide and long and high and deep God’s love is for us. It’s a love that led God to take on our human flesh and, to do what would seem impossible, die in our place! That’s the Love that found you when you weren’t looking for him. That’s the Love that does the impossible for you and in you, so that you are filled with his power, granted his surpassing knowledge, and filled to overflowing with his perfect righteousness. Give thanks that you have a God who does the impossible, and in Christ, he does it for you!

Closing Prayer:

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did God show how much he loves you?
  • Who is able to do the impossible?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How could sinful people ever stand in the presence of a holy God?
  • Describe one thing you learned about God in today’s devotion that maybe you never thought of before.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What exactly is the answer to Paul’s prayer for ultimate power, incomprehensible knowledge, and overflowing fullness?
  • Name one way you want to grow in your appreciation of God’s boundless love for you.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Rest of the Story – January 21, 2022

What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
John 2:11

The Rest of the Story

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Daily Devotion – January 21, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:11

See series: Devotions

I grew up listening to National Public Radio. It was always on when my dad was driving or in my grandmother’s kitchen. We’d listen to replays of Garrison Keillor on Sundays and during the week, Paul Harvey.

Paul Harvey liked to show how there is often more to a story than what we are aware of. He weaved narratives filled with amusing or amazing behind-the-scenes details about famous people or historic events. Each episode ended with a surprise twist, revealing who or what the story was about. Then he closed with his famous phrase, “And now you know … the rest of the story.”

Without having all the details, people make all kinds of false assumptions about God. They think he is unfair, unloving, angry. He has little interest in us. He doesn’t care about our happiness. The truth is, we can’t possibly uncover who God truly is on our own. God is beyond our reach. But God has made himself known to us in Jesus.

What do you know about Jesus? There are four books in the Bible that give a detailed account of Jesus’ life, but the book of John provides the rest of the story. John doesn’t just give us details about Jesus’ life and miracles. He goes behind the scenes and shows us how each miracle is a “sermon in action.” Each miracle teaches us something significant about God.

When Jesus turned water into wine, he uncovered what God is like. He is good, gracious, and generous. Jesus doesn’t decrease joy; he multiplies it. He wants to share in our joys and solve our challenges. That’s why Jesus came to earth. He came to help us in our need. He came to destroy the devil’s work by his death on the cross. And by his resurrection, he opened heaven to all who believe in him.

Like Jesus’ disciples, may what we learn of him in the Bible cause us to believe in him.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, use what you tell me about yourself in the Bible to cause me to believe that you are my God and Savior. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A stranger here – January 21, 2022

A stranger here – January 21, 2022


Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Mark 1:35




Military Devotion – January 21, 2022

Devotion based on Mark 1:35

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes we might sing the hymn that declares, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”

Had it been written much earlier; Jesus might have sung it.

We easily make the mental transition of Jesus being the eternal God to Jesus in the family of Mary and Joseph. Surely, that change was not as easy for Jesus to make in real life.

We cannot pretend to understand exactly what Jesus thought and felt at any point in his existence. But Scripture reveals some details of what it meant that he was just like us, “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

He became hungry. He became angry. He became tired. He groaned when he saw the people weeping over the death of his friend, Lazarus. When he reached the gravesite, he, too, wept.

Before he came to earth as a human, he never faced hunger; never knew fatigue. He had never been tempted to sin. His life was never in danger.

Certainly, at times while on this earth he must have thought, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home.”

No one on earth understood him. No one knew how hard his mission was to carry out. He came as the Friend of sinners, but he was a stranger to all of them.

A news reporter of his day could have written about the amazing success of a religious leader who had come from the backcountry of Galilee to attract crowds numbering in the thousands.

He might have written: “And no wonder! Eyewitnesses have seen him work miracles! He has cured lepers; stopped fevers; made paralyzed people walk; fed crowds from a handful of fish and bread—and he has raised the dead!”

No wonder crowds flocked to him. Not surprising that he would head out before dawn to find a desolate place to be away from people.

But he did not actually seek solitude. He sought family. He reached out to his Father. He communed with the Holy Spirit.

In a familiar hymn, we are bidden to, “Take it to the Lord in prayer.”

That’s exactly what Jesus did. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

He was a stranger here. Heaven was his home—even as it is ours!

“Alone, Alone, All Alone” is the title of a booklet written for those who find themselves living a new phase of life because their loving spouse of many years is no longer with them.

Others have also felt that way. Some were left as orphans while very young. The college student living away from home for the first time has felt that way. Warriors landing in a distant and dangerous land have learned what loneliness is like.

It’s also true that one can be among loved ones and still feel isolated and forlorn.

Years ago, a hymnist wrote: “When all things seem against us, to drive us to despair, we know one gate is open, one ear will hear our prayer.”

That’s good advice because it is true.

Jesus was a stranger here so that his Father could be our Father. It cost him his earthly life. It won for us eternal life.

He taught us to pray, “Our Father who art in heaven…”

Today, we will sing, “I’m but a stranger here…” just as Jesus was.

But we can add, “Heaven is my home…” just as it was for Jesus.

Because Jesus’ Father is also our Father, we will not be a stranger in the heavenly realms.

We will be home.



Prayer: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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The Best for Last – January 20, 2022

The master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.”
John 2:9,10

The Best for Last

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Daily Devotion – January 20, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:9,10

See series: Devotions

The young girl was in awe. This was the first wedding she had attended. It had been amazing. As she sat at the reception, a server came by to take her plate. She was about to hand him her fork when her grandma, leaning over, said with a smile, “Hold on to your fork.” The little girl looked puzzled. So, her grandmother explained.

In all her years, she had been to many weddings and enjoyed many banquets, and learned one important lesson. As splendid as the main course was, there was always something more. Dessert! “So, hold on to your fork,” she said, “The best is yet to come.”

The master of the wedding banquet Jesus attended had no idea what Jesus had in store. In all his years, every wedding celebration had always served the good wine first. Imagine his surprise when the servants brought him the best wine last. He had no idea where it came from, but the servers knew. Jesus had miraculously turned water into wine.

With this miracle, Jesus uncovered an important truth about God. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from God. Not satisfied with giving us what is adequate, he insists on providing more and better blessings than we could ever have imagined.

He is, as a matter of fact, saving the very best until last. For all those who trust his promise of forgiveness through Jesus, he promises an eternal, glorious and perfect home in heaven, provided for you by his Son.

God provides us with so many joys in this life. But even if your life is filled with troubles and sorrow, this truth remains: In Jesus, the best is yet to come!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, for all that I receive from your hand—daily bread, forgiveness, eternal life—make me truly thankful. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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What’s in a name? – Family Devotion – January 19, 2022

Read: Isaiah 62:1-5

No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married.
Isaiah 62:4

What’s in a name?

 

Family Devotion – January 19, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 62:4

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Do you know what your name means? Parents put some thought into naming their children. After all, your name is attached to you for life. It’s an important job to give someone a name! Names in the Bible usually have special significance. Eve was named Eve “because she would become the mother of all the living” (Genesis 3:20); Abram’s name was changed to Abraham because he would be “the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4-5); Joseph was instructed to name Mary’s son Jesus “because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). Names mean something.

You probably know how much it can hurt your feelings when someone is mean to you and calls you a bad name or an unkind nickname. Those names sting, because they draw all the attention to some mistake we’ve made, something bad we’ve done, or even something we didn’t have any control over.

The neighboring nations around Israel had some mean nicknames for them. Israel had stopped listening to the LORD. They had been pushed down by enemies and were going to face even more losing battles in the future. They were supposed to be God’s chosen, special people, but it didn’t look like they were. The neighbors called Israel “Deserted,” because it seemed like the LORD had left them all alone. They called Israel “Desolate,” because nothing good could possibly be there. But the LORD had other ideas and new names for his people. The new names sound kind of funny, but they have awesome meaning. The LORD declared that their new name would be Hephzibah, because “my delight is in her,” and Beulah because they would be joined to the LORD like a bride to her groom. The LORD was going to send a Savior to bring his people back to him.

Because of our sins, we deserved to be deserted and left alone by God forever. But God has given us a new name. It’s his name. In the water and promise of your Baptism, the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—put his name on you. You are God’s own. Jesus has claimed you and joined you to himself like a bride to her groom. But he doesn’t stop there. He gives you another name: Hephzibah, because he delights in you! Not because you’ve earned it, but because God has taken away your sins in Christ and has made you beautiful, delightful, and joined to him forever.

Find out what your name means, and maybe you’ll learn something. Rejoice that God has named you as his own, and as he names you, so you are!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, what undeserved love you show us! Even though we deserve nothing from you because of our sin, in Christ you give us everything. Help us always to rejoice that you have placed your name on us in Baptism, and give us comfort to know that you delight in us. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Ask your parents to tell you why they named you what they did.
  • What does the name “Jesus” mean?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the nations around Israel call them “Deserted” and “Desolate”?
  • Who put his name on you when you were baptized?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What do the names “Beulah” and “Hephzibah” mean?
  • What comfort is there in knowing that, in Christ, the LORD’s delight is in you?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Changes Everything – January 19, 2022

His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” . . . Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine.
John 2:5,7-9

Jesus Changes Everything

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Daily Devotion – January 19, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:5,7-9

See series: Devotions

You’ve probably heard about the egg who decided one day to do something rather foolish. He climbed atop a very high wall and sat scanning all he could see. Suddenly he slipped, slammed to the ground, and shattered into a thousand pieces. As he lay there, not even the most powerful creatures in the land could put Humpty Dumpty together again.

When Jesus attended a wedding in the town of Cana, there appeared to be a Humpty Dumpty kind of situation. The wine had run out. There didn’t seem to be any solution. Even the wealthiest guests could not purchase more wine if there was none to be had.

But Jesus’ mother, Mary, knew who her son was. And she knew he could help. So, she told the servants to do whatever Jesus asked.

Jesus told the servants to fill six large jars with water. One moment those jars were filled with water. The next moment, the servers were pulling wine from those same jars. Jesus had changed 180 gallons of water into 900 bottles worth of wine. Just by willing it to happen!

When things fall apart in your life, remember what Jesus is capable of. You don’t need a good bottle of wine to drown your sorrows in. All you need is the power of your gracious and generous God. He can do the impossible.

He changed more than water into wine. By his death and resurrection, he brought light from darkness and life out of death. He can certainly put your life back together. He will work all things for the good of those who love him. Indeed, he can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, remind me that when my life falls apart, I know you can put it together again. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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All In Good Time – January 18, 2022

When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
John 2:3-5

All In Good Time

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Daily Devotion – January 18, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:3-5

See series: Devotions

I was recently in the drive-through of a national coffee shop. The line of cars in front of me snaked all the way around the building. But I didn’t care. I needed my cup of joe. When I finally reached the speaker box to place my order, I saw a sign that read: “Our apologies, we are all out of coffee cups.” That store had a problem.

The host at the wedding Jesus attended in Cana had a bigger problem. The week-long celebration was nowhere near over, and the host had no more wine. This was a huge problem. And Mary desperately wanted the family to avoid embarrassment. She knew who her son was, God’s Messiah. And she believed that he could provide a solution.

In the grand scheme, the lack of wine was a minor issue. Jesus had a global concern—the salvation of souls. Still, Mary believed that—should he so choose—Jesus could help the wedding couple in their time of need.

Jesus can also help us in our times of need. Whether we struggle with shortages of finances, food, physical health, or a friend’s or family’s love, Jesus is able to help. After all, he was able to help us with our greatest need—the forgiveness of our sins against God. The blood he shed on the cross purifies us from all sin and makes us acceptable to God.

Just because we suffer shortages doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. God uses our struggles to drive us to Jesus and ask him for a solution. Since Jesus died and rose again to give us eternal life, he can certainly help us with our daily needs. And in his good time, he will.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, by your death and resurrection, there is nothing that I lack. But when I am in need, drive me to you for relief. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Our Long-Foretold Savior

These are the readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus “going public” should not have surprised his Jewish countrymen. They had known of the coming Messiah for a long time, dating back to the promise given Abraham (Genesis 12:3), even to Eden (Genesis 3:15). Yet, when Jesus finally arrived, “his own did not receive him” (John 1:10). He was not the kind of Savior that many were looking for. That too was foretold: “He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3).

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 61:1-6

Who is speaking in these verses?

Jesus is speaking through the prophet Isaiah.

What would the Savior come to do according to Isaiah?

Jesus would come to proclaim the good news of salvation, particularly to the spiritually downtrodden of this world. (See Matthew 9:13; Luke19:10.)

What promise does the Lord make to Christians in verse 6?

Jesus promises that we will have a part in his heavenly kingdom (priests and ministers) and that we will inherit eternal riches.

Supplemental First Lesson – Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10

In today’s gospel, Jesus opens the scroll of Isaiah and reads. In this lesson, from what books did Nehemiah read as he stood in Jerusalem and opened the scroll?

Nehemiah read from the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. (We are not sure whether he read from all the books, some of the books, or perhaps just the book of Deuteronomy—the last book of Moses.)

How did the people respond to what Nehemiah read?

The people responded by lifting their hands and saying, “Amen. Amen.” Then they bowed low. “They worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”

Why were the people not to weep, but to celebrate?

Nehemiah told them to celebrate, not weep, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, 26, 27

How does Paul illustrate the Christian church and our relationship as Christians to one another?

In a beautiful way, St. Paul compares the Christian church to our bodies. As our bodies are made up of many different but essential parts, so also the church is made up of many different but essential parts. We all work together to form the body of Christ.

What encouragement does Paul give to us as Christians?

Paul encourages us to work together in unity as a body. Just as our own bodies wouldn’t work well if the eyes, ears, or feet decided not to work anymore, so also the church is thrown into disarray when one of its member parts becomes divisive and schismatic.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 4:23-31

When Peter and John were released from imprisonment, the believers in Jerusalem responded with prayer. Why did they begin by reminding God of all he had made?

The believers did not need to help God with his forgetfulness; he is not forgetful. By mentioning all God had made, they were praising him and reminding themselves that God is all-powerful, so he could handle their frightening situation.

Why did the believers turn next in their prayer to what God had said in Psalm 2, about a thousand years earlier?

When the believers quoted Psalm 2, they were praising God and reminding themselves that God always keeps his promises. He fulfills his Word. What he had done in the past, he would do again in the future.

Were Herod and Pilate helpless pawns on God’s chessboard?

No. Herod and Pilate were not helpless pawns on God’s chessboard, though they did what God had decided ahead of time. They conspired against Jesus. (The fact that God runs all things, yet people are responsible for their own evil deeds, will always mystify us.)

Gospel – Luke 4:14-21

What Scripture did Jesus read in Nazareth’s synagogue?

In his hometown’s synagogue, Jesus read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 61.

What amazing words did Jesus use to conclude his reading?

After Jesus read from Isaiah 61, he explained: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, Jesus was emphatically declaring that he was the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah, that he was our long-foretold Savior. The people who first heard Jesus make this claim were furious” (Mark 4:28-29).

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Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022

Prayer – Week of January 17, 2022



And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Ephesians 3:17b-19



Did you pray for me when I was home sick? Can we pray for my mom? She cut her arm yesterday. Will you pray that I have a safe trip when I go visit my grandparents? It doesn’t take long for children to appreciate praying together. They aren’t afraid to ask for things that are important to them.  Paul, who wrote this letter to the Ephesians, also prayed for important things for all of God’s people.

Paul prayed that God’s people would have power. This power is spiritual strength given to us through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit planted faith in our hearts and continuously works to strengthen that faith. We pray for power too. We ask God to bless our efforts as we teach our students about Jesus and what he’s done for us. We pray that no matter what our students may face, they trust in Jesus’ love and guidance. And we ask that God grant us that same strength as we carry out our mission in our schools, homes, and lives.

Paul also asked God to grant his people knowledge, specifically that we might “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:18). We need this enormous love of Christ. We were born in sin and continue to live in sin each day. We cling to the promise of our salvation through Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection. We pray that our students, as they spread their arms out wide to show how big Jesus’ love is, hold onto that knowledge. We pray that we trust in God’s love and show that in every moment of each day.

Finally, Paul prayed for fullness. Imagine pouring a cup full of water and not only letting the water fill the cup but overflow. God pours out his love for us. He hears and answers every prayer in ways that are better than we can imagine. So let’s be bold and ask for great things for God’s kingdom. Let’s pray that God’s Word is spread throughout the world, that everyone will believe, and that God might use us to help spread the wonderful news of salvation.

My prayer for each of you, dear readers, is that God fill you with spiritual strength and knowledge to share Christ’s love with your students and family and all those around you. And I know that you’ll pray the same for me.



Prayer

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds, help us grasp the heights of your plans for us,
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time, that will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises, and by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, till your Church is built, and the earth is filled with your glory. Amen.
CW21 633:3
CW Supplement 735:3



Early Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Jesus gives more than enough – Family Devotion – January 17, 2022

Read: John 2:1-11

Jesus said, “Fill the jars with water;” so they filled them to the brim… and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine… This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed at Cana in Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.
John 2:7,9,11

Jesus gives more than enough

 

Family Devotion – January 17, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:7,9,11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“There isn’t enough.” Usually, we say that when there’s a good thing, but not enough of that good thing to go around (think yummy pie for example). We always find ourselves wanting just a little bit more… but then, Jesus shows up! Have you ever noticed that when Jesus gives something, there’s always more than enough? Think of Jesus feeding the 5,000 and the twelve basketfuls of leftovers, or when he fed another crowd of 4,000 and the disciples collected seven baskets afterward. Jesus is more than generous, and he always gives more than enough.

When Jesus went to the wedding at Cana, there was a problem. As the bride and groom planned the wedding, they didn’t buy enough wine to last for the whole wedding feast—sometimes several days’ worth of eating and drinking. This wouldn’t be the end of the world, but running out of wine for the feast would be pretty embarrassing for the couple. Jesus’ mother, Mary, seemed to want to spare them this embarrassment, so she urged Jesus, “They have no more wine.” But Jesus had bigger plans; he wanted to pull back the curtain and show his disciples who he is—the Son of God who has come into the world. To meet the need at the wedding at Cana and to show himself to be true God, Jesus called for six large jars to be filled with water. When that water was drawn out and taken to the master of the banquet, it had become the finest wine—and not just a little, but enough to fill 600-900 bottles. Jesus gives more than enough!

At first, the way in which Jesus goes about this miracle looks a bit odd. They ran out of wine, so Jesus asked for… water? Here’s where it’s good to know something about Jesus. He knows the end already at the beginning. He knows the best way to give his generous, more-than-enough gifts to people who need them. Sometimes, we’re tempted to think that Jesus is holding out on us. We wish he’d give us more of the things we want, when we want them, and how we want them. We wish he’d make a bigger “splash” and show us his power and his love. But Jesus still knows the end at the beginning, and he knows how best to give you his generous, more-than-enough gifts.

Before you leave the wedding at Cana today, don’t forget to take this party favor: through the good news of the gospel, Jesus promises you that he has forgiven not just some, but all of your sins. In the water of your Baptism, Jesus clothes you, not with a clean shirt that’s too small, but a robe of his own perfection covering you. Thank God, Jesus gives more than enough!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for always giving us more than we could ever ask or want. You know exactly what we need and when we need it. Thank you for providing for the needs of our bodies, but above all we thank you for the gifts of forgiveness, life, and salvation you lavish on us. Lead us to realize this and to receive all your gifts with thanksgiving, Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did they run out of at the wedding at Cana?
  • Who asked Jesus for help?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How many jars did the servants fill with water?
  • What did the master of the banquet think of the water that Jesus turned into wine?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • When are you tempted to think that “there isn’t enough”?
  • How does Jesus go about giving us his generous, more-than-enough gifts?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Be My Guest – January 17, 2022

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding.
John 2:1,2

Be My Guest

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Daily Devotion – January 17, 2022

Devotion based on John 2:1,2

See series: Devotions

One of our favorite family activities is attending a family wedding. It’s always guaranteed to be a joyful occasion. The whole family drops everything to be there. But the one thing that ties it together and makes it truly joyous is that Jesus is there.

The first wedding (we know of) that Jesus attended was in Cana. His presence is hugely significant. He had just begun his earthly ministry and chosen his first disciples. Three days later, in an unexpected move, Jesus went to a wedding. It was unexpected because time was of the essence. It was time to get down to business and focus on his mission.

So, why take time to go to a wedding? Because his mission was people, and there would be plenty of people at this wedding. But a wedding was also a perfect place to begin to reveal his true nature as God and God’s true desire for people. By attending this wedding at Cana, Jesus uncovered a wonderful truth about God.

God wants to be with us. He is not impersonal and uncaring. He longs for us to be a part of his family and for us to give him a place in our lives. He is invested in our lives. He is interested in sharing our joys and carrying our sorrows. And he is never too busy to decline an invitation.

Accepting this invitation was Jesus’ first public act of ministry, and it is the final prayer of the Bible. In the Lutheran tradition, we often say a prayer when we sit down to a meal. “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, and let these gifts to us be blessed.” It is an invitation for Jesus to join us at our table. It is an acknowledgment that everything we have, from daily bread to eternal salvation, is a gift from his generous and loving hand. It is a prayer that his presence among us and his gifts to us are a blessing. Isn’t it wonderful to know that when we ask Jesus to be our guest, he accepts!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, be my guest as I go about my day and stay with me when it is evening. Grant that all you enable me to do be a blessing to me and pleasing to you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 16, 2022

As children of God, we have access to God through our prayers. What is the power of those prayers? Better yet, what power does God have in answer to our prayers?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Uncovered Prayer Potential

Prayer works. It really does. It truly makes a difference. Do you believe that?

It can be hard to believe that, can’t it? We say that prayer is a conversation of a believer with their God. But it’s often not much of a conversation. We speak and God listens. But what does he say back? This seeming silence makes prayer difficult.

Sometimes the way that God seems to respond to our prayers also makes it difficult. We pray for someone to be healed, but they don’t get better. We pray for blessing, but it never seems to come. God’s answer to our prayers makes prayer difficult, especially when he seems to say, “no.”

Paul wants to encourage us to pray with confidence. Why?

We pray because God so loved us that he sent us his Son. His love was born in manger and nailed to the cross. We can barely begin to understand how long and wide and deep and high God’s love for us is. This truth alone inspires prayer. How can you not speak with One who loves you so much that he left heaven to be with you on earth?

We pray because God knows stuff. Like the best kind of father, God knows exactly what is good for us. He knows how that one thing isn’t good and how that other thing is eternally good.

We also pray because he has power, so much power! “Imagine!” That’s what Paul encourages us to do. God has power to do more than we could even ask for, more than we could even imagine. Not only does God delight in doing good things for us, but he has the power and the ability to do it.

Fathers love their children and like to do good things for them. But even fathers are limited in what they can do. God our Father has no such limitations. Imagine! Then pray away!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to know the power of praying to you. You have opened yourself up to me so that I can pray to you at any time. Help me to pray with confidence. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Growing up Strong – January 16, 2022

I pray that out of [the Father’s] glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power together with all the saints to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.
Ephesians 3:16-18

Growing up Strong

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Daily Devotion – January 16, 2022

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:16-18

See series: Devotions

Eat your vegetables! You can probably hear echoes of your mother giving you that advice. Maybe you have even spoken those words to your own children. It’s important that children eat the right kinds of foods so that they will be healthy and grow up to be strong. If left to themselves, children would try to survive on a diet of candy and soda. That might work for a little while, but such an unhealthy diet would soon make them weak and sick.

Too often, we try to survive on spiritual junk food. The world offers a candy store selection of ways to make ourselves happy. We feast on vices and vanity and even though the world promises otherwise, they offer us absolutely no nourishment. With a lot of heart ache, we find out eventually just how shallow we’ve been and how foolish our spiritual diet has been.

Our heavenly Father ensures that we receive the best nourishment for our souls. Instead of leaving us to be sin-sick, facing death for our faults and failures, he provides a rich feast of his love and forgiveness. He feeds our spirits with his Word so that Christ may dwell in our hearts through faith. He gives us strength through his Holy Spirit so that we might serve him and bring glory to his name every day. He gives us power and ability to grasp the enormity of his love for us—his immeasurable great love that saves sinners like us through Jesus and through faith in our Savior gives us eternal life.

A healthy diet makes your body strong, but even more important than that is the food of God’s soul-strengthening Word. Feast daily on his Word that fills you full of the great love that he has for you in Jesus.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for causing me to be strong in your love through the power of your Word. Continue to build me up in faith and the fullness of Christ’s wondrous love. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Placing Labels on People – January 15, 2022

[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5

Placing Labels on People

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Daily Devotion – January 15, 2022

Devotion based on Titus 3:5

See series: Devotions

Placing labels on people—that’s something the world loves to do. Some labels are encouraging: “You’re a winner…a natural leader…a hero.” Some hurt: “You’re a loser…ignorant…lazy.” In fact, labels can cause all sorts of problems by making some feel arrogant and others feel insecure. But those labels are based on someone else’s opinion, and it’s foolish to let the opinion of others determine how you feel about yourself.

However, when it comes to the opinion of God, that’s different. God, our Savior, has placed a label on you. “Mine,” he says. That’s not just an opinion, it’s a fact because he has done everything necessary to make it true. He has washed away your sin with his precious blood. He has wrapped you in his righteousness. He not only created you, but he also purchased and won you from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Even the faith you need to believe that saving message is something the Holy Spirit freely provided.

For those times when you wonder, “Could this really be true?” When the devil accuses, and your conscience agrees: “God could never love a sinner like you!” That’s when the Holy Spirit reminds you of a most precious blessing: baptism—the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. By the power of God’s Word, baptism connected you to Christ. God the Holy Spirit placed a “label” on you. “Mine,” he said. “You belong to me.”

Some labels should be ignored but through baptism, the Holy Spirit has placed a label on you worth pondering every day. You are his own. There is nothing in this world more important and more comforting than knowing that you belong to God, your Savior!

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, thank you for the priceless gift of baptism. Through this washing of rebirth and renewal, you have made me your own. Constantly remind me of this glorious truth. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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He Saved Us – Family Devotion – January 14, 2022

Read: Titus 3:4-7

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his great mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior.
Titus 3:5-6

He Saved Us

 

Family Devotion – January 14, 2022

Devotion based on Titus 3:5-6

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Reread the first three words of our verse for today: “He saved us.” If you wanted to sum up the whole story of the Bible, those three words do it: God saved us. God doesn’t just leave us with a three-word sentence. On every page of Scripture, he explains why he needed to save us. Our problem is sin. It’s so serious that we can’t save ourselves. Salvation wasn’t a team effort with you doing your part and God doing his. Forgiveness of sins isn’t if you’re sorry enough or say it in just the right way. God didn’t choose to save you because you were so bright and shiny and beautiful. He did it because of his great mercy. God wants to show you his genuine kindness. Those three words sum up nicely what he decided to do for us—He saved us.

Where do we see that perfect rescue of God most fully and beautifully? In Jesus our Savior. From his conception to his birth to his baptism by John in the Jordan all the way to the cross and empty tomb, Jesus took our place and our sin. He even died to pay for them all. Because he rose from death to life, he could give us his new life. That’s the good news He saved us!

But wait, there’s more! God attaches that good news to you in a wonderful way—through the water and Word of your baptism. In Holy Baptism, God doesn’t just make a promise, he makes a promise to you! He connects you to Jesus and all that Jesus did to win salvation. Now you know how he saved us. Now you can live a new life, because the Holy Spirit gives you the kind of life your mom never could when you were born. That’s why you can live as a person made brand new in Christ. Now you live with a righteousness that is not your own, but the perfect righteousness of Jesus covering you from head to toe, body and soul. Even though you may look like any other person, your baptism tells another story about you. “He saved us,” Paul said. How do you know? Because God brought you into his family through water and the Word: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for pouring out your Holy Spirit on us through the washing of rebirth and renewal, connecting us to Jesus our Savior through Holy Baptism. Help us always to cling with faith to the simple promise that, in Christ, you have saved us from sin, death, and the devil’s power. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who saved us?
  • Why did he save us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the most important message of the Bible?
  • How is Jesus able to give us such wonderful gifts in Baptism?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Look again at the focus verses. Can you find a reference to each person of the Trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit)?
  • What does it mean to have “rebirth” and “renewal”?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Dreading demons – January 14, 2022

Dreading demons – January 14, 2022


Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an evil spirit cried out, “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
Mark 1:23-26




Military Devotion – January 14, 2022

Devotion based on Mark 1:23-26

See series: Military Devotions

Demons are to be dreaded because they are dreadful.

The Bible tells us that they are a deadly threat. It warns that those who place their faith and hope in the Lord God are the primary targets.

Demons, also called devils, have supernatural powers because they are angels. Their rebellion cost them the blessing of their Creator, but it did not yet strip them of their capacity to wage war against the crown of God’s creation, those we call humans.

Tragically, we come into this world as loyal subjects of the kingdom of darkness. The deadly virus of sin infected us at conception. We were born with a sneer in our hearts towards anything holy, and a raised fist of defiance toward any rule laid down by the Holy One. Our look of innocence is soon lost as we grow old enough to express in words and actions our enmity toward God.

It took a miracle to change us from enemies of God into children of God. The Holy Spirit did this using Holy Baptism with the Word of God.

Demons strive day and night to reverse this. They aim to reclaim those who have escaped their domain. The apostle Peter, who briefly lost a battle with the old evil foe, compares Satan to a lion on the hunt.

No doubt, the memory of his fellow disciple, Judas, now listed among the fallen, was often on his mind.

It’s easy to forget that because we do not see them. Their weapons of deceit and rebellion are camouflaged as fun and success. They promise a good life. They deliver sin, shame, and death.

We watch as Satan tempted Jesus at the beginning of his ministry on earth. We see how cunning evil can be. We cannot outsmart demons.

We will live our lives dreading them. They are the great enemy.

But they are not all-powerful. Jesus showed us that the one effective weapon against demonic force is the Word of God.

We rightly sing of Satan, “one little word can fell him!”

That word is, “Jesus!”

We might dread demons, but demons dread the Son of God and the result of his victory over them.

They are terrified by the knowledge that they are doomed forever. They know that one day, together with those they have deceived, they will be “thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:10).

“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth” the demon screamed. “Have you come to destroy us?”

Those were words of abject fear. This demon dreaded what is to come—and still does.

We need to remember why. Humans may forget that one day this existence will end, and the Son of God will return on his throne of glory and say to those who rejected him: “Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

Demons do not forget that. They cannot ignore that. The dread is inescapable.

Jesus died. Jesus rose. Jesus conquered sin, death, and the devil.

The Holy Spirit created a new spirit within us. We recognize a heavenly Father who loved us enough to rescue us. We look forward to being with him in glory.

That day will bring rejoicing to his people. Jesus tells us: “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world’” (Matthew 25:34).

One day, we will need fear demons nevermore.



Until then, we sing:
My soul, be on thy guard; ten thousand foes arise,
And hosts of sin are pressing hard to draw thee from the skies.
Fight on, my soul, till death shall bring thee to thy God;
He’ll take thee at thy parting breath to his divine abode. Amen.



Written by Rev. Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Eight Is Enough – January 14, 2022

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.
1 Samuel 16:10-13

Eight Is Enough

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Daily Devotion – January 14, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:10-13

See series: Devotions

Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. That usually means, “You’re out!” But our God has a different way of counting. When the prophet Samuel went to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king, Samuel got all the way up to strike seven. And yet, he still wasn’t out. When son number eight walked in, the Lord commanded, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

Number eight was “the one.” Why was David able to be one of the most successful kings in the history of God’s people? Why would David be called “a man after God’s own heart?” Not because of his handsome features. Rather, from the day that Samuel anointed him, “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully over David.”

Sometimes we forget that about ourselves, don’t we? We so easily can rely on our talents, our health, or our handsome features to navigate life. But talents, health and handsome features will all fail eventually. God’s Holy Spirit won’t. God’s Holy Spirit, who comes to us through the words of the Bible, connects us to our heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus. That connection assures us of God’s forgiveness and eternal life. Unlike talents, health, and handsome features, God’s Holy Spirit will never fail us.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for pouring out your Spirit on me. Lead me to rely on him as I live for you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Messengers of Peace – January 13, 2022

Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.”
1 Samuel 16:4,5

Messengers of Peace

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Daily Devotion – January 13, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:4,5

See series: Devotions

I used to have an office across the hall from a preschool. More than once, I overheard a parent at pick-up time say to their child, “You better behave, or you’ll have to go to the pastor’s office.” I cringed whenever I heard that. First, I didn’t personally want to get involved about how a preschooler should hang her coat up on the hook. But more importantly, I didn’t want that little preschooler to view the pastor as only a disciplinarian. “If you misbehave, you have to go see the pastor.”

It’s sad how Satan works, isn’t it? While it is true that sometimes God uses his church and its leaders to confront sin, the primary purpose of his church is to proclaim the good news that Jesus paid the price for their sins. The primary purpose of the Lord’s church is to echo what the angelic messengers proclaimed just a few weeks ago at Christmas, namely, “Peace.” And yet, Satan would have us see God’s messengers as anything but messengers of peace. We may stay away from worship where God’s messengers share God’s message. And the result? We are robbed of the very thing that brings us lasting peace.

Don’t listen to Satan’s lies. The next time that you drive past that place of worship and your guilt prevents you from going in, hear what the Lord decrees, “I have been sacrificed for your sins.” The next time you wonder if Jesus came for you, know that he did. Through Jesus, you have peace with God.

Prayer:
Lord, let the peace of your forgiveness overcome my guilt. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The LORD Chooses – Family Devotion – January 12, 2022

Read: 1 Samuel 16:1-13

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7b

The LORD Chooses

 

Family Devotion – January 12, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:7b

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If you’re the captain of your kickball team at recess on the school playground, whom do you choose first? Someone who can kick the ball the farthest or run the fastest and help your team play the game well. It’s easy to judge people based on what you can see on the outside—how fast they can run, how big they are, what kinds of clothes they wear, what color their skin is. These are all the things that our eyes can see, but what if your eyes don’t see the whole picture? “You can’t judge a book by its cover,” means that outward looks don’t tell us the full story of what’s inside.

God’s people needed a new king. Sadly, King Saul turned away and wasn’t listening to the LORD anymore, so the LORD sent the prophet Samuel on a special mission to anoint a new king. He would take a container of special oil and pour it out on the head of whomever God chose to be the next king. This was God’s way of setting this person apart for the special job of ruling over his people. Samuel saw seven of Jesse’s sons—strong looking men—and he thought each of them might be a good king for Israel. But the LORD didn’t choose any of them. Instead, the LORD chose the youngest son of Jesse, named David. David didn’t look like he’d be the best choice, but remember: Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

When the LORD looked at David, he could see everything in his heart. That’s why David prayed, “Create in me a pure heart, O God.” David knew he was sinful. What does the LORD see when he looks at you and your heart? A heart that always gladly listens to God’s Word and obeys my parents? A heart that always keeps God first in life? No! God sees all the ways we haven’t lived and loved like he tells us. So, we pray, “Create in me a pure heart, O God.”

Guess what, God heard our prayer! Jesus gave us his pure and sinless heart that loves God above all things and serves our neighbor in love. God chose you and set you apart—not with oil poured on your head, but with the water and Word of your baptism. Even though you might look weak or feel unimportant on the outside, when God looks at you, he sees a pure and dearly loved child. Because of your baptism, there’s more to you than meets the eye!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for choosing me to be your own. Please forgive my sins, and help me always remember that you have given me your perfect heart. In your name I pray, Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What special job did the LORD give to the prophet Samuel?
  • The LORD didn’t look at David’s outward appearance; where did he look? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was King Saul not a good king anymore?
  • What does God see when he looks at you?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How did God choose you and set you apart?
  • Think of at least one reason why it’s good not to judge people based just on what they look like outwardly.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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No Fear – January 12, 2022

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to theLORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
1 Samuel 16:2,3

No Fear

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Daily Devotion – January 12, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:2,3

See series: Devotions

Years ago, there was a TV show called “Fear Factor.” The premise was that contestants would face such daunting challenges that they couldn’t go through with it. Whoever could overcome the “fear factor” first would win the grand prize.

You may not be asked to drink blended rats, but the “fear factor” is not limited to TV shows. Fear still has a way of paralyzing people from moving forward or thinking clearly. Even if the danger causing our fear isn’t real, the fear is real. Sometimes, what causes such fear is that our eyes are focused on the wrong thing.

That was the case with Samuel. God had asked Samuel to do an important task. He had to anoint someone to be a king. What sounds like a festive occasion was a fearful occasion for Samuel. You see, there already was a king on the throne. So by anointing a new king, Samuel thought his life would be in danger. That word, “thought,” is the keyword. What we think will happen does not always match what God knows will happen. What we fear is not always God’s reality.

Consider the situations in your life. God commands us “to do” a variety of things. God commands that we honor those in authority and follow his direction for marriage and sexuality. He commands that we honor him with our wealth.

Why do we struggle with such commands? Sometimes it’s simply that we are afraid to do the right thing. We are afraid the task may be too hard or that it may hurt. With Samuel, we may ask, “How can I go?” (1 Samuel 16:2). When facing a fearful task, take comfort in God’s direction, “I will show you what to do” (1 Samuel 16:3). There is no fear factor when there is a God factor.

Prayer:
Lord, erase my fears as you keep my eyes focused on you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Who Is in Control? – January 11, 2022

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
1 Samuel 16:1

Who Is in Control?

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Daily Devotion – January 11, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:1

See series: Devotions

“It’s been three years.” That’s what the mature churchgoer mourned at a recent gathering of his church friends. Church was the center of this man’s life, but it had been three long years since they had a consistent voice in the pulpit of his congregation. And it wasn’t for lack of trying to fill the void. One pastor after another was given the opportunity to serve this congregation. But each answer was the same, “No.”

Pastoral vacancies or leadership vacuums are never fun. If there is an empty seat at church, in the home, or around the conference table at work, we can flounder as we are directionless. Worse than directionless, we may even find life to be chaotic. Or we can find ourselves trying to drive forward while looking in the rear-view mirror instead of the windshield. “Oh, I wish dad was still here.” “Remember how good it was when our old boss was at the helm?” “Remember when…”

Your eye maybe sees that an aspect of your life is leaderless. But that’s not what God sees. When there is a void in leadership, it may just be God’s way of reminding us that he is the ultimate leader. God is still in control. He knows your needs and how he will meet those needs. That was the lesson God gave the prophet Samuel. Mourning the downfall of a king, Samuel had a hard time moving forward. But then God had to open his eyes, “How long will you mourn for Saul . . . I have chosen one of [Jesse’s] sons to be king” (1 Samuel 16:1).

“I have chosen.” What beautiful comfort we can find in that little pronoun. When we mourn the past or are fearful of the future, find comfort in God’s leadership. “I have chosen you to be my child… I have a plan for your future… I will work all things out for your good.” Find comfort in knowing that no matter what your eye sees, the Lord still decrees, “I am King.”

Prayer:
Lord, open my eyes to see that you are in control. Then give me confidence in your leadership. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Our Miraculous Savior

These are the readings for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

In today’s Gospel, Jesus performs his first miracle: He turns 120 gallons of water into wine. Jesus doesn’t touch the water. It’s no trick. It’s a real miracle. He does it because the Father now wants him to go “public” and reveal his glory. As a result, his disciples trust in him as the Son of God.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 62:1-5

Who is speaking in these verses through the prophet Isaiah? For instance, who’s the “I” of verse one?

The pre-incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is the speaker.

For whose sake would Jesus do what he did as our Savior?

Jesus says that he would speak “for Zion’s sake” and “for Jerusalem’s sake.” (In the Old Testament, “Zion” and “Jerusalem” often represent the people of God, the Church. That is the case in these verses.) In other words, Jesus serves as our advocate; he speaks on our behalf before his heavenly Father. (See 1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34.)

What is the result of Jesus’ gracious work for his people?

No longer are we estranged from our heavenly Father because of our sin. Instead, the Lord delights in us (Hephzibah), and we are “married” (Beulah) to him. All this is a result of Jesus’ work as our gracious Savior.

Supplemental First Lesson – Exodus 7:14-24

Why did God demand that Pharaoh let his people go? (See Exodus 7:16.)

God demanded that Pharaoh let his people go so they could worship him in the desert (east of Egypt).

What else besides the Nile turned to blood?

Besides the Nile, the water in streams, canals, ponds, and reservoirs turned to blood. So did the water in buckets and jars.

Did the great miracle convince Pharaoh?

No, the miracle did not convince Pharaoh. His heart stayed stubborn.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

What subject does St. Paul begin to address in these verses?

Paul begins to address the subject of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian Christians were extremely gifted (1 Corinthians 1:5-7), but they were not putting their gifts to use according to Christian love, which is the greatest gift (1 Corinthians 13).

Who is the giver of all Christian gifts?

No matter what gift we have, the Holy Spirit is the gracious giver of that gift. Christians have many different gifts, but the Holy Spirit is the giver of them all.

For whose sake does the Holy Spirit give us gifts?

Christians are not to use their gifts for their own selfish gain or benefit. Instead, Paul explains that all gifts are “given for the common good.” In other words, each Christian is to use their gifts to benefit their fellow Christians.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 3:14-21

Jesus came to visit a wedding in Cana. What does Paul pray for the Christians in Ephesus, by contrast? (See 3:17.)

Paul prays that Christ may not just visit but dwell in the hearts of believers through their trust in Christ.

Nobody knew how Jesus turned water into wine. Likewise, what does Paul want Christians to know? (See 3:19.)

Paul wants Christians to know the love that surpasses knowledge, the immense love Christ has for us. (Note the irony. How do you truly know something that surpasses knowledge?)

How much is God able to do? (See 3:20-21.)

God is not just able to do what we ask. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Gospel – John 2:1-11

What problem arose at the wedding in Cana to which Jesus and his disciples were invited?

The wedding had run out of wine. It was customary in Jesus’ day for weddings to be celebrated several days. It seems clear that the wedding hosts had not adequately prepared.

How did Jesus react when Mary told him that they had run out of wine? Why did he react this way?

Jesus wondered why Mary involved him, stating, “My time has not yet come.” Jesus seems to be suggesting that it wasn’t yet time for him to publicly reveal himself as the promised Savior through his miracles. As it was, the forthcoming miracle seemed to be performed quietly.

What did Jesus do to resolve the problem?

Jesus changed water into wine. Although his disciples trusted in him, it seems his miracle went otherwise unnoticed. (Note also the wondrous kindness of Jesus in performing a miracle that was not necessary but improved a celebration. What a Savior we have, one who loves to do more than he promises and more than we need!)

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