God’s Gift of Love – Week of March 25, 2019


But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8



A gift from a friend shows up on your desk. There is no reason for it. It is not your birthday or a holiday. “Just because…” the note reads. Sometimes those unexpected gifts mean more than the extravagant birthday or Christmas gifts. It was given in love with thoughtfulness, and not because we deserved or earned it. They really knew what you needed, even when you didn’t.

That is what Christ did for us! But his gift was beyond our thinking, more than we can comprehend. While we were miserable, dirty, rotten sinners, he gave his life to save us! We did nothing to earn or deserve it. He did not make us earn it. He didn’t wait until we were ready or asked for it. He just gave it, forgiveness, a gift beyond all understanding. Wow! What an amazing gift! He shed his blood to save us from God’s wrath. We deserve only punishment, yet Jesus took that punishment for us. What a blessing!

Now, because of his life and death, we rejoice in his gift to us. We sing praises to our Lord and Savior. We proclaim his glory! This blessing is for all people, all sinners. He wants all to be saved through his blood. He sends us forth in this world to share that same love and kindness to others. For many of us that starts in our classrooms, our schools, and our communities. Go the extra mile for your families. Take time to learn about them and their lives, needs, and wants for their child. Share Christ’s love with your students and their families. Let your light shine in your classroom, your school, and your community. When the world sees that light, let it reflect the love of our Savior for them.



Prayer:
All are redeemed, both far and wide,
Since Jesus Christ for all has died;
Grant us the will, and grace provide,
To love them all in you. Amen.
Christian Worship 499:4

A Question to Consider: Are there ways you can let your light shine in your community when you are out and about conducting your everyday routines? At the grocery store? At the gas station? How can you share the love of Jesus in your words and actions?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Fourth Sunday of Lent

God’s Amazing Grace is Received by Faith

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

Today we see the sincerity of our Savior’s love. God keeps waiting to show his children mercy. God is ready, even anxious to forgive us. He pleads that we come to him and be saved. Such constant and free forgiveness doesn’t make sense to human logic. But God’s ways are greater than our ways. If his grace were not so great, it could not cover all of our sins. We rejoice in God’s amazing grace which always gives forgiveness for all sins.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 12:1-6

Who alone can save us from God’s anger?

“The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my song; He has become my salvation” (v 2). It is the LORD himself who saves us from his own fierce anger over our sins. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). This is God’s grace, that he has turned away from us his anger (which we deserve because of our sins) and shows us instead his love (which we have not deserved) by sending his own Son to provide salvation for us through his suffering and death on the cross.

What does God’s saving grace do for us?

God’s saving grace drives away all our fears (v 2) and fills us with an eternal joy in Christ (v 3).

What does God’s saving grace lead us to do?

God’s saving grace leads us to express our joy in heartfelt worship. “Give thanks to the LORD…. Sing to the LORD…. Shout aloud and sing for joy” (vv 4,5,6). It also leads us to share the Good News of salvation in Jesus with others—our family, our friends, our neighbors, and people all around the world—so that they too may know the glorious things that our God has done for us!

Supplemental First Lesson – Judges 10:6-16

In this preamble to the story of Jephthah the judge, what do the Jews do again? (See Judges 10:6.)

The Jews again served many other gods besides the LORD. They did not worship the LORD or serve him.

What did God do in his anger to cause the Israelites finally to call out to God for help?

God let the Philistines (on their west) and Ammonites (to their east) oppress them, even crush them, for 18 years. Then they finally admitted their sin as a group.

At first God said he would no longer save his people. They surely didn’t deserve it. How did he feel in the end, though? (See the second half of Judges 10:16.)

In the end, the LORD could bear Israel’s misery no longer.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25

In what way is the message of the cross “foolishness?”

With this bit of sarcasm Paul describes how the world foolishly views God’s amazing grace revealed in the cross of Christ.

For whom has the “foolishness” of the cross now become the wisdom and power of God?

Those whom God has called to faith, who believe the “foolish” message of the gospel, are saved through faith in Christ (v 21). They see Christ for who and what he really is, “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (v 24).

Supplemental Second Lesson – James 4:7-10

Submitting to God does not come naturally. List a few other commands God gives here that we would never obey on our own.

On our own, we would never resist the devil. We would just give in. On our own, we would not come near God; we would try to avoid him and try to create personal pleasure apart from him. On our own, we might apologize for sin, but we would never grieve, mourn, and wail over our sin. Lastly, humility does not come naturally to any of us.

Why would any sinner humble himself or herself before God?

James says that if we humble ourselves before the Lord, he will lift us up. (Note that James doesn’t say when or how; part of our humility is not dictating any terms to God, just trusting God’s promises.)

Gospel – Luke 15:1-3,12-32

What do we learn about God’s grace from the wasteful younger son?

From the younger son in the story, we learn, amazingly, that our sins do not nullify God’s grace. “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more” (Romans 5:20). God gladly receives and forgives every penitent sinner, no matter how many or how terrible our sins.

What do we learn about God’s grace from the “faithful” son?

From the older son in the story, we learn that we cannot earn God’s grace by our steady service. God gives us grace freely in Christ. God’s grace is always ours though faith. (See Luke 15:31.) Therefore, we should not be offended when God gives his grace freely also to another, no matter how notorious a sinner we might consider them to be.

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I AM – March 25, 2019

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”
Exodus 3:14

I AM


Daily Devotion – March 25, 2019

Devotion based on Exodus 3:14

See series: Devotions

How well do you handle change? If you are like most people, you welcome certain changes and dread others. Some changes give us the excitement of a fresh start. Others make us long for how things used to be.

Our world is constantly changing. The way we communicate, travel, and even think is different than it was a generation ago and just keeps changing. And often, we change right along with it.

Sometimes people expect God to work the same way. God, the world is changing. People don’t think and act the way they used to. If you want to stay relevant, if you want to meet the needs of people in the 21st century, you’ve got to change.

But do we really want a God who is always changing? Do we want a God whose love for us changes from one day to the next? Do we want a God who makes a promise one day and changes his mind the next? Do we want a God who listens to our prayers one day and ignores them the next?

God once called himself something that may sound strange to us. He said, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you.’”

When he calls himself “I AM,” he wants us to know that he is a God who does not change. His unconditional love will never change. His promises of mercy will never change. His power to keep his loving promises will never change.

What a comfort that is! No matter how fickle and unfaithful we are to God, he is always ready to forgive our failures and rescue us from the wrath that we deserve. No matter how much may change in our lives, God will always hear our prayers and answer them in perfect love. We can count on him at all times, knowing that he will bless us here on earth and forever in heaven, just as he promised.

Rejoice that, in a changing world, we have a faithful and unchanging God!

Prayer:
Faithful Lord, thank you that your love and promises to me never change. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Short – March 24, 2019

Short – March 24, 2019


If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.
Matthew 24:22




Military Devotion – March 24, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 24:22

See series: Military Devotions

Being short causes mixed emotions. Not being short of stature, but having only a short time before being rotated from a dangerous place back to the States.

Often, such people feel pulled in two directions: excited to think about going home, but worried that something bad might happen before then. Many become superstitious, not willing to even talk about it lest they jinx themselves. They tend to spend those last days worried about what might happen—because they know bad things can happen.

They wish their time in the distant and dangerous place would be cut short.

When we stop to think about it, the Bible tells us that the life of a Christian on this planet is similar. We are away from our heavenly home. We are in enemy territory. This is a dangerous place. We can spot some of the threats, but the deadliest of our enemies are invisible.

The danger is not just that we might lose our earthly life with its disappointments and dangers, but our eternal life with its joys and glory.

The fellow had just retired. He was looking forward to those golden years. Then, one day he walked out of a doctor’s office with the news he had only months to live. His expected time on earth had been cut short.

While he was a Christian, and knew that he would be transitioning to the ideal PCS (permanent change of station), he was not filled with excitement. In fact, there was a fair amount of dread in his heart. He had difficulty wrapping his head around the fact that he was now short.

If we ask, “Who decided this?”, all the evidence points back to the Lord. This child of God would not live one second beyond the time his Creator has chosen, nor die one spilt-second before the time his Redeemer had planned for him.

We can either blame God for determining our lifespan, or we can thank him.

Better to thank him.

The Bible informs us that not only does the Lord God know how long our deployment on planet earth will last, he also knows how long earth will last—because he controls it.

Jesus told his disciples that the date for the destruction of this universe (we might call it, D-Day) has been moved up. Everything and everyone this side of heaven, is now short.

This is not punishment. This was done, not in anger, but in love. When God cuts short the lifetime of one who loves him, or the existence of the entire universe, he acts out of mercy.

He has told us what those last days will be like: “wars and rumors of wars; famines and earthquakes; people of God hated by all nations; false prophets deceiving many; love of most growing cold; and the gospel preached in the whole world” (cf. Mark 13).

Someone might argue that life on this planet has been this way for a long, long time. That’s true. Christians were warned many centuries ago that the signs of the end could be seen—and it did not happen then.

But the condition of the world has only grown worse. It will become so bad that God will need to step in to stop it.

It’s a wonderful thing that the Maker and Redeemer of the world has the power to shorten time!

It takes the worry out of being short.



Prayer: Lord of our life and God of our salvation, it is good to be reminded that time is in your hands. Guide and guard us as we walk the pathways of our lifetime. Uphold and uplift us as our short time on this planet grows shorter still. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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 LORD Cares – March 24, 2019

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey.”
Exodus 3:7,8

The LORD Cares


Daily Devotion – March 24, 2019

Devotion based on Exodus 3:7,8

See series: Devotions

“Nobody cares.” What a terrible thought! Whether it is the teenager who feels he has no one to talk to or the widow who feels that everyone is too busy to bother with her, the thought that no one cares is dreadful. Although the person who feels this way may not be aware of just how much people do care, the most important thing to know is that God cares. He ALWAYS cares. When his people cried out to him from slavery in Egypt—God cared. He was concerned about their suffering, and he came to their rescue. He used Moses to deliver them from their bondage and bring them to the Promised Land.

God cares about you. He ALWAYS cares about you. When you cry out to God in your suffering—God cares. When you doubt that he cares, when the circumstances of your life seem to say that he doesn’t care, just look at Jesus’ suffering on the cross. He went to the cross to free you from your slavery to sin and death. He promises to bring you to heaven one day. The One who cared about you enough to do all of that certainly cares enough to deliver you from whatever other trials you are facing. When you are tempted to think, “Nobody cares,” look to the cross and be certain that the LORD cares.

Prayer:
Thank you Jesus for proving your love for me at the cross. When I am down, when I doubt your care and concern, lift my eyes to your cross and comfort me with your care. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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 – March 24, 2109

Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. … For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
John 9:5,39

I am the Light of the World

“You believe in creation? Look at the scientific proof! Are you blind?”

“Why won’t you have sex with me? Look at what everyone else doing. If you watch The Bachelor, you’ll see that being a virgin is not a good thing for a relationship. Are you blind?”

“You think that just because I don’t believe that Jesus is the way to heaven, I am going to hell? Look at all the good, kind things I have done. Look at how loving I am. I know my loving God wouldn’t send me to hell. Are you blind?”

Do you ever feel blind? Do you ever feel like you can’t see what other people seem to clearly see?

Now let me ask this: is it better to see through the world’s eyes or to see God and view the world through his eyes? Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Jesus is the light of the world. He shows us God. We were walking around in darkness and uncertainty, but he has given us sight. We see the love the Father has for us in Jesus who died for our sins. We see our relationship with God restored so that we are his dearly loved children. We see the gates of heaven opened and the paradise that is waiting there for us. We see our lives in a new way. They aren’t for us to live for ourselves, but to live for God the way he calls us to live. We see everything clearly now. We were once blind, but now we see through Jesus.

So you—you stand in the light of Jesus. You clearly see your God, and he sees you. May this truth give you strength and encouragement to stay in the light as you walk through this world of darkness.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are the light of the world. I ask that you give me the strength to resist those things which try to pull me back into the darkness. Keep my eyes fixed on you until that day when I will spend eternity in your beautiful light in heaven. In your name I pray, Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Celebrate Being Debt Free – March 23, 2019

In [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.
Ephesians 1:7

Celebrate Being Debt Free


Daily Devotion – March 23, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 1:7

See series: Devotions

If you are like most people, you are dealing with debt. You have house payments, car payments, and credit card bills. And then there was that furniture you bought last year with no payments due for twelve months. And now the twelve months are over. Debt can be overwhelming. It can feel like a great weight pressing you down—a weight you feel you can never escape.

Whether or not you are like many people when it comes to financial debt, you ARE like every human being when it comes to spiritual debt. You owe God for every sin you have ever committed.

You could try to ignore your spiritual debt. But that would not make it go away, any more than ignoring your credit card bill. You could try to pay off your debt to God, except that you have no currency with which to pay it and with every day you live, you commit more sins and rack up more debt. Spiritual debt is overwhelming. It feels like a great weight pressing you down—a weight you feel you can never escape.

But the Bible has good news for you. God says that Jesus has freed you from your debt. His blood was full payment for your sins. The great weight of your guilt has been lifted. It was placed on Jesus when he hung on the cross, so your spiritual debt never needs to bother you again.

Imagine finding out that someone had paid off all your financial debt—your house, car, credit cards, and even that furniture you purchased. Imagine the weight that would be lifted! Imagine the celebration you would enjoy!

You don’t need to imagine that your spiritual debt to God has been paid. It has. Jesus paid it. So let go of your guilt and celebrate the freedom of your forgiveness!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I know that I could never pay the debt I owe because of my sins. But I also know that you paid that debt for me. Thank you. Keep me from feeling the weight of a debt I no longer owe so that I can be free to spend my life celebrating the forgiveness you earned. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Stubborn – March 22, 2019

I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day . . .
Luke 13:33

Stubborn


Daily Devotion – March 22, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 13:33

See series: Devotions

One hundred fifty-five years ago, during the American Civil War, an army of Union soldiers had become frustrated. For years, this Union army had fought under many different generals. But, no matter who was in charge the result was always the same. They would fight a battle against the Confederate Army, things would get messy and bloody, the Union general in command would lose his nerve and call a retreat, and the war would drag on.

But, then a new general arrived by the name of Ulysses S. Grant. At first, it seemed nothing had changed. Under Grant they had a sharp battle against the Confederate Army. Things got messy and bloody. The next day they received orders to march. “Here we go again,” the soldiers thought.

But, when they arrived at a fork in the road, instead of marching north in retreat, Grant led them south toward their enemy. Ulysses S. Grant was the general they needed. He was a stubborn, determined man. He continued pressing and pressing, attacking and attacking until, eventually, victory was won.

Ulysses S. Grant may have been a stubborn, determined man when it came to defeating the Confederate Army. But, even he cannot out-stubborn Jesus. When it comes to his love for you, Jesus is the most stubborn and determined person in all creation.

Remember that. Remember that when your burdens stubbornly stick to you. Perhaps it’s an ailing parent, a drifting child, uncertain finances, health problems, loneliness, or regrets from your past that you cannot seem to forget. Perhaps it’s just the wear and tear of living in a broken, sinful world.

When your burdens stubbornly stick to you, remember that Jesus is determined to keep his every promise to you. That is what he sealed in his blood on the cross and guaranteed with his empty tomb. He proved his love for you then and he’s not backing away now. Because when it comes to Jesus’ love for you, no one can out-stubborn him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, your goodness and love pursue me with a dogged determination. Move me to see your stubborn grace in my life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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 Walk – March 21, 2019

The Lord Jesus Christ . . . will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21

A Walk


Daily Devotion – March 21, 2019

Devotion based on Philippians 3:20-21

See series: Devotions

Here’s an assignment for you: The next time you visit a hospital, make it a point to take a thoughtful, deliberate walk through that hospital. Look around. Take in what you see.

Behind every door there’s a story, an unfolding drama. There are some who are recovering from accidents and will soon be getting on with their lives. There are others with life-changing injuries. There are patients who are getting treatment for a stubborn bug and will soon be going home. There are others who are undergoing a barrage of tests in hopes of discovering what the problem is. There are families who arrive with balloons and funny cards because a loved one gets to come home. There are families sitting quietly in waiting rooms because they know a loved one is never coming home again.

Such a walk will remind you of one thing. No matter how healthy you are, you are only one bacterium away, one moment’s inattention away, one positive test result away from finding yourself lying in a bed that’s not your own, watching a wall-mounted television, with strange machines beeping at your side. It will remind you that, in this world of sin, each of us possesses a lowly body that’s far more vulnerable and frail than we care to admit.

But such a walk can also remind you of something else. The lowly bodies we have now are not going to be lowly forever. We know this because Jesus has made a promise. He has promised to transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

And so, there it is. The same Son of God who took on a human body to live in our place, sacrificed his body on a cross to pay for our sins in full, and raised his body back to life—this same Jesus has promised that the lowly bodies we have now will not be lowly for long. Disease, accident, age, death—these things do not have the final word on our bodies. Jesus does. And his Word says that when he raises his followers from the dead one day, our bodies will be glorious—no more pain or disease or injury or death. What a transformation!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, for the time being my body is frail and lowly. But not for long. For this I thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Moment – March 20, 2019

But our citizenship is in heaven.
Philippians 3:20

Moment


Daily Devotion – March 20, 2019

Devotion based on Philippians 3:20

See series: Devotions

If you ever want to take on a sobering read, pick up a book entitled, The Gulag Archipelago. The book is a first-hand account of what life was like in a Soviet forced-labor camp during the 1940’s and ’50’s. The accounts of what took place are so powerful and compelling, that in 1970 the book earned the Nobel Prize. Many consider it one of the most important books of the Twentieth Century.

What pulls you into the text, however, is not just the vivid description of what took place. Mixed in with the details of horror, cruelty, and desperation are proclamations of profound insight.

For example, the author unfolds what some Soviet prison guards were willing to do to terrorize and manipulate the inmates. But when he does, he also reveals what the guards feared the most. He says what they feared most is when they dealt with someone who knew that this life is nothing in comparison with the life that is to come—when they dealt with someone who knew that they were only passing through this short life, and that life eternal awaited. Against this kind of inmate, the prison guards were helpless. And because they were helpless, they were afraid.

Think about that for a moment. Through faith in Jesus—who died for your sin and rose from death—you can now look the rest of your life in the eye. And you can do so with a kind of courage that makes the powers of darkness tremble. Will there be days of difficulty in your future? Yes. Will there be days of sorrow? Yes. Will there be days of loneliness, disappointment, and suffering? Yes, yes, and yes.

But our citizenship is in heaven, God’s Word says. Heaven is where we belong. Heaven is where we are going. And because that is true, the passing moments of trouble we encounter—as terrible as they may be—are only that, passing moments.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the troubles I face in this world last only a moment. My life of joy with you will last forever. Help me remember this. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Empty – March 19, 2019

Their god is their stomach . . . Their mind is set on earthly things.
Philippians 3:19

Empty


Daily Devotion – March 19, 2019

Devotion based on Philippians 3:19

See series: Devotions

Perhaps some of you have seen a reality-TV series entitled, “My 600-lb Life.” The episodes follow the progress of individuals who are in desperate need of extreme weight loss. If you have not seen the show, you may quickly discover that you have much more in common with these individuals than you assume.

It could be that you also struggle with health issues related to weight. Whether you do or not, however, is beside the point. What’s striking is how so many of the individuals in the series are struggling with the same deep-seated problem. For years upon years, they have tried to fill an empty place in their lives with food.

That empty place may have come from a tragic death in their childhood, from abuse, or simply from a general sense of brokenness they cannot define. Their choice for filling that emptiness, however, has been food.

With what have you tried to fill your empty place? Maybe you’ve tried to fill it with food, work, or entertainment and recreation. Or perhaps you’ve tried to fill it with approval from others, constant busyness, alcohol, drugs, pornography, social media, politics, or news networks.

What you already know, however, is this. These things never fill the empty place. They never work. No matter how much you consume, the empty place always returns.

The frightening truth is that you and I, in the loneliness of self, are far emptier than we dare to fear. And that’s why we desperately need Jesus.

When Jesus came to this earth, he came to do far more than simply pay off the outstanding debt of our sin as if it were some abstract equation. In living a holy life on our behalf and then taking our failures to the cross, Jesus reshaped our entire relationship with our Creator. Now, through the power of the gospel, the Holy Spirit fills us. Jesus fills us. He fills us with his promises and his living, breathing Word.

And as he does, he fills your empty place and mine as nothing else will!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me. Forgive me for all the ways I have tried to fill my empty place with things that do not satisfy. Fill me with your Spirit. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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 is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019

He is Strong – Week of March 18, 2019


My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:26



It has been a very busy morning. The children are having a hard time adjusting after the weekend. You have many goals for the children to complete today. There are fellow faculty members out sick, so your staffing is stretched thin. You begin to feel flustered and anxious. Then one of your little two year olds begins to sing, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong!” (You take a deep breath.) Jesus loves me. He is strong when I am weak.

That young child just reminded you of an important lesson. That simple truth is a most valuable fact. God will not fail. He will not disappoint. He will make you strong, even when you do not feel that you are. Sometimes the hardest thing for us as adults is to trust in those promises. We do not need to do anything. God has done it all for us!

We get busy. We forget to complete tasks. We run out of time at the end of the day. We can get overwhelmed by all the tasks and responsibilities of being an early childhood educator. The list of tasks seems endless. We may even at times get frustrated with the children or our co-workers. These are some of the struggles of our work and our sinful nature which easily cause us to lose sight of what’s truly important. But when God’s strength is our comfort, the psalmist says that we also remember he is our portion forever. Remembering what God means for us now and forever helps us keep the important tasks at the forefront. He has asked us, commanded us in fact, to share his love with the little ones in our care. He has promised to be by our side as we share this message. Hold on to that. Let him be your strength. Let him guide your interactions, your tasks, and your words. Even when your flesh and heart are weak, remember God is your strength! Let him be your “portion forever.”



Prayer:
Dear Father, give me strength as I go about my day and my time with the children and families I serve. Help me focus on your strength and fill my heart with joy.
In your name I pray. Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Third Sunday in Lent

God Offers Deliverance to Sinners

These are the readings for the Third Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

Today’s lessons encourage us to take heart and trust in the Lord. We also view numerous examples of people who lost their hold on eternal life because they gave in to their fears and doubts. However, in his grace, God promises deliverance from whatever difficulty he may lovingly allow to come our way. Thank God!

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 3:1-8b, 10-15

How old is Moses when God calls him to deliver Israel? In light of this, react to the statement, “I’ve done my time; it’s the younger generation’s turn to take the lead.”

Moses was 80 years old (40 years in Egypt and 40 years as a shepherd) when God called him to deliver his people—Israel—from Egypt. Initially, Moses heavily resisted God’s call. He was comfortable where he was in Midian and was very willing to live out the rest of his days in relative peace and quietness. Yet, God had other plans for him. He had been training Moses all his life for this monumental task to which he was being called. Very few (if any) others would have been ready for such a task as this. May each of us also realize about ourselves, “I am God’s work in progress—a clay pot of my God who is constantly molding me for works of service now and in the future.”

What is a more accurate translation of “I Am Who I Am,” and what’s the significance?

“I Is Who I Is.” Though grammatically terrible, it is accurate. There is no God besides the Triune God because “God just IS” and “IS” forever. And he is our promised deliverer.

Supplemental First Lesson – Numbers 16:23-40

When Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against Moses’ authority, what did Moses say would be the proof that the Lord had truly sent him and put him in charge? (See Numbers 16:30.)

The proof would be the Lord doing something totally new and making the earth swallow up Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their families.

Why did God tell Moses to tell Eleazer the priest to hammer a bronze cover over the altar? (See Numbers 16:35-40.)

Not only had the earth swallowed the rebels and their families, but fire had come out from God and eaten up the 250 men allied with Korah who had been offering incense from bronze censers. The bronze overlay was to remind the Israelites that no one except a descendant of Aaron was to act as a priest before the Lord and offer him incense, or they would suffer the same fate as Korah and his followers.

Isn’t God full of mercy and patience? How could he do something like this?

God is full of mercy and patience. He is also full of wrath against sin. (See Numbers 16:46.) We must not test God’s patience. In the Bible God gives us many examples of his judgments to warn us about taking him and his commandments lightly.

Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 10:1-13

What are the main dangers in being spiritually lazy or careless?

Some of the main dangers of spiritual lethargy are: a) going through the motions in worship; b) losing focus on God-given goals (heaven, living to thank God, encouraging fellow believers in their faith, sharing Christ with unbelievers); c) main goals turning into “being comfortable” and “getting ahead.”

What is wrong with this statement? “I can handle anything because I have a strong faith.” (See 1 Corinthians 10:12.)

Thinking we can handle anything due to our strong faith is dangerous, for one, because we are focusing on ourselves, not on our faithful and powerful Lord. (See 1 Corinthians 10:13.) Only through a watchful, childlike trust in him, his promises, and his protection can we live and die securely.

Gospel – Luke 13:1-9

What kind of judgmental words are we tempted to say when bad things happen to people?

When bad things happen to others, it is tempting to say, “They must have done something bad to deserve this.” In pride we assume that we have not experienced something similar because somehow, we are better.

How is Jesus’ answer different from what his disciples thought?

Jesus visualizes every situation within the spectrum of pure grace. As God in the flesh, he reveals horrible situations, not as punishments for specific sins, but rather as God’s tools (real-life illustrations) to call people to repentance. Jesus wants all people to turn away from sin and to place their trust for forgiveness and salvation in him. He is the one who has promised to deliver them. They can’t do it.

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Conflict for Christ – March 18, 2019

As soon as Jeremiah finished telling all the people everything the LORD had commanded him to say, the priests, the prophets and all the people seized him and said, “You must die!”
Jeremiah 26:8

Conflict for Christ


Daily Devotion – March 18, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 26:8

See series: Devotions

Many years ago, Steve Turner and Frank Weed teamed up to author a book entitled, Conflict in Organizations. The book is a how-to manual on dealing with conflict in the workplace. As they detail how various individuals react to conflict, Turner and Weed describe one specific group as “Concealers.” Concealers are willing to do a great deal not to experience conflict at all. According to the book, there are three basic types of concealers. First, there are the “Feeling-swallowers.” Feeling-swallowers will smile even when a situation is causing them great distress. Second, there are the “Subject-changers.” Subject-changers transition the conversation to a less confrontational subject as soon as possible. Third, there are the “Avoiders.” Avoiders will go far out of the way to put distance between themselves and any potential conflict.

Many of us can see ourselves in these descriptions. Conflict, after all, is unpleasant. Avoiding the unpleasant, therefore, is understandable.

Avoiding the unpleasant, however, is not a solution. It’s not a solution in the workplace. And it’s not a solution when it comes to serving as a witness for Jesus and his Word.

Let’s be candid, here. There have been all kinds of moments you and I have allowed to slip away—moments that were opportunities to share the message of Jesus with someone else. We let them slip away, however, because we just didn’t want to be bothered. We didn’t want to be bothered with a potential “awkward moment”—a potential conflict, with all the unpleasantness it might bring.

And that’s how my old sinful self often works. It doesn’t openly rebel against my Lord. It just finds a reason to put things off.

It’s time to come to repentance. It’s time to recognize how often I have put my needs ahead of someone who desperately needs Jesus. It’s time to find healing in the forgiveness that Jesus has purchased for me at the cross.

What’s more, it is in that very forgiveness that you and I will find fresh courage. We will find fresh courage to risk conflict and confrontation for the sake of Jesus and his gospel.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive the many times I have given in to my fears. Wash me clean. Give me fresh courage to live and speak for you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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I Must Keep Going – March 17, 2019

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Luke 13:31-33

I Must Keep Going


Daily Devotion – March 17, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 13:31-33

See series: Devotions

“It looks dangerous to me.” As Bob studied the rope bridge, he saw the frayed ends and missing boards. His advice was simple, “Let’s turn back.” In contrast to Bob’s timid nature, John expressed complete confidence. He knew the bridge was going to support their weight because he had just used the bridge a week earlier. So he started across the bridge and invited his friend, “Let’s keep going!”

Jesus faced a similar decision. Should I turn back, or should I keep going? He knew what was in store for him if he pressed on (Luke 13:33). His decision was revealed in his resolve: “I must keep going.”

Jesus knew what he was here to do. (See John 3:16-17.) It was a ministry entrusted to him by his Father. He also knew how it was going to end. Still, he accepted the work, and did not turn away from the cost.

“I must keep going.” With these words I understand the commitment Jesus had for my rescue. He would do everything necessary to free me from the punishment my sin demanded. Because Jesus was willing to die on the cross, I am free. Free from the punishment I deserved, and from Satan’s tyranny over my life.

As I live in this freedom, I need to recognize the challenges that confront me. Satan does not give up his claim on me. My flesh continues to be weak. The world increases its pressures and distractions.

“I must keep going.” It not only becomes my goal for life, it becomes my source of help. When I am tempted to stop following my Savior, or to give up, I need to look to Jesus. I trust that he never gave up on me. It’s this knowledge that becomes my reason to persevere. It’s my courage, power, and conviction to say: “I must keep going.”

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal: 467)
May the mind of Christ my Savior live in me from day to day,
By his love and power inspiring all I do or say.
May I run the race before me, strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus as I onward go.

DailyCreative Commons License 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 – March 17, 2109

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 4:13-14

I am the Bread of Life

What would it have been like to be an Israelite in the middle of the desert and have no food? A long time ago, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God freed them from their slavery and led them out into the desert. Eventually, their food ran out. There wasn’t a simple solution like a nearby Taco Bell for picking up some crunchy beefy Frito burritos. I can’t imagine what it would feel like knowing that if nothing changed, they would die. But God provided for them. He sent down bread from heaven called manna. The Israelites ate it and lived.

You too were in a situation where if things didn’t change, you were going to die. If God had not intervened in your life to give you faith and bring you to him, you would have wandered in this world. You have wandered in this world seeking satisfaction and rescue but never finding the bread that truly satisfies.

But God sent down bread from heaven to save you. Not bread from heaven like the manna God gave to the Israelites. God sent Jesus, the Bread of Life. Because of your sin, you were going to die eternally in hell. But God sent Jesus into the world. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for your sins. He took away your sin and gave you eternal life. Just like bread in the desert, Jesus has given you eternal life.

Do you know what is better than bread? Free bread! Do you know what is better than Taco Bell? Free Taco Bell! Do you know what is the best part of Jesus, the Bread of Life? He was freely given! Jesus said, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” God knew the tremendous cost of your sin. Instead of having you pay the full price, it came at great cost to him. He sent his Son to pay for it. Out of his grace and mercy, God has freely given you Jesus.

There is nothing better than the free Bread of Life. There is nothing better than Jesus. Believe it.

 

Prayer: O Lord God, you hold all things in your hand. I ask that you give me opportunities and courage. Give me opportunities to freely share Jesus, the Bread of the Life with those who do not yet have him. Give me courage to make the most of those opportunities to your glory. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Tremble – March 17, 2019

Tremble – March 17, 2019


These are the ones I look on with favor: those who are humble and contrite in spirit, and who tremble at my word.
Isaiah 66:2




Military Devotion – March 17, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 66:2

See series: Military Devotions

“Sometimes it causes me to tremble…” thus the Old Plantation hymn declares in answer to the question, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

Pondering the crucifixion of Jesus can have that effect. It stands written, “The wages of sin is death.” Here, we see this is true.

There was something dreadful about the execution of Jesus apart from the horror of a body hanging from nails driven into the wood. The Romans had carried out many such executions, but none quite like this.

Darkness over the land for three hours in midday? An earthquake splitting rocks when the prisoner died? Tombs breaking open and bodies of the dead coming to life? No wonder the centurion on guard duty cried out, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

Surely he was…

It was enough to cause hardened soldiers to tremble.

The hymnist wrote, “You who think of sin but lightly, nor suppose the evil great—here may view its nature rightly, here its guilt may estimate.”

We have looked in at the events of Good Friday. We watch them again throughout the season of Lent. We cannot forget the images of pain, and blood, and death.

But that’s not the whole picture. We have reason to tremble before the cross, not in fear, but amazement. We are prompted to sing, “What wondrous love is this, O my soul!”

We wonder at the Father’s love for us, willing to make such a sacrifice. We stand in awe at the Son’s love for us, willing to be sacrificed. We marvel at the love the Holy Spirit shows as he gently leads us to stand in spirit before the cross and hear the words to the condemned criminal, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43).

He tells us one day Jesus will speak those words to us, too.

There are those who call the Christmas story a myth and the crucifixion only a legend. We know better. Jesus said, “The words I have spoken to you—they are full of Spirit and life” (John 6:63).

We believe him.

After all, he is God. We know that. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We know that. He died so that we might live with him in glory. That we know, too.

We admit that we tend to question him when his plans contradict ours. It’s true that sometimes we strike off on our own path rather than following in his footsteps.

But in kindness, he draws us back to his Word where he shows us once again the anguish of evil and the wonder of his love.

Far be it from us to think we know better than God! Foolish it would be to believe that the path we might choose is better than the one he leads us on.

Humble? We must declare about him, “How great Thou art!”

Contrite? “Father, I have sinned.”

Blessed? “These are the ones I look on with favor…”

In Lent, in life, we are honored to be among those who tremble at his Word.



Prayer: Lord of glory you have bought us with your lifeblood as its price. Send now the Holy Spirit to keep us from throwing our inheritance away. Keep us humble. Keep us contrite. Look upon us always with your favor. And give us peace. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Great Love – March 16, 2019

“The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:8-13

Great Love


Daily Devotion – March 16, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 10:8-13

See series: Devotions

When you love someone, you express what’s in your heart by what you say and what you do. You send a card, give a gift, sincerely say, “I love you!” Because when you truly love someone, you want to show it. Love naturally expresses itself.

Jesus’ love for us speaks volumes. His death on a cross and resurrection from the dead reveals the depth and faithfulness of his love for us. He expressed his love by paying for our sins, once and for all. He opened heaven for us. Jesus is committed to staying with us and taking care of us. Those actions of love echo through time. They declare that he will always love us, always forgive us, always save us.

The message of Jesus’ love—the gospel—moves our hearts to dearly love him as our Savior. The Bible says that when our hearts trust that Jesus died to take away our sins and rose from the dead, then our mouths will naturally confess him as Lord and Savior. His love in us empowers us to love him in what we say and how we worship him. The more his love is in our hearts through the power of his Word, the more our lives will be glad to express our love for him.

Prayer:
Jesus, thanks for your great love. Thanks for being my Savior. Help me confess you with all my heart for all my life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Lord of All – March 15, 2019

The same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
Romans 10:12b-13

Lord of All


Daily Devotion – March 15, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 10:12b-13

See series: Devotions

Some people seem to have easy lives, and my life is hard. I pray and pray, and nothing ever seems to change. Could it be that God favors those other people, or is holding something against me, maybe something that I did? No, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.

Some people seem to go through life without a care in the world, and I feel guilty all the time. I hear that I am supposed to feel forgiven, but I never totally do. Could it be that God has forgiven those other people, but that he is withholding his forgiveness from me until I do something that shows him that I am really, really sorry? No, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses those who call on him.

People in other countries or in other ethnic groups in my country seem to have it way better than I do. They don’t face as much discrimination as I do, and they have so many more resources than my family does. Could it be that God favors certain countries and certain ethnic groups? No, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him.

God promises salvation to every person the same way, through faith in Jesus. Jesus’ death paid the price for the sins of the whole world. Jesus’ perfect life is credited through faith to everyone who calls on him. It doesn’t matter what ethnic group, gender, or socio-economic status, the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Prayer:
Lord God, I call on you in faith. Bless me and all whom I love. Grant me confidence in whatever you provide for my life through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Jesus Understands – March 14, 2019

[Jesus] has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:15b-16

Jesus Understands


Daily Devotion – March 14, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 4:15b-16

See series: Devotions

It happens all the time on social media. People post: “Has anyone else ever experienced this?” They are looking for someone who can sympathize, empathize, or suggest a way forward.

When we are tempted to sin, we might wonder whether Jesus can empathize. Could he possibly understand what we are going through?

The Bible assures us that Jesus does understand and even empathizes with us. He was also tempted and suffered when he was tempted. He was a real human being, and he suffered real temptations. But Jesus did not sin! As a result, he could offer his perfect life in our place, taking the punishment for our sin and giving us his righteousness through faith.

That means we can pray to Jesus with confidence in any situation. When we are tempted, we can pray for strength. When we have given in to temptation, we can pray for forgiveness. When we have difficulties, we can pray for Jesus to supply us with exactly what we need.

Jesus understands what we are going through and knows just how to help us. In fact, he knows even better than we do what we need. He has been there, done that, and wants to help us go through temptation too, all the way to heaven!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we approach your throne of grace with confidence. Give us mercy and grace; and help us in our time of need. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Trust Him – March 13, 2019

The devil led Jesus to Jerusalem and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down from here. For it is written: ‘He will command his angels concerning you to guard you carefully; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’” Jesus answered, “It is said: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Luke 4:9-12

Trust Him


Daily Devotion – March 13, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:9-12

See series: Devotions

Sometimes the devil’s temptations are tricky. You think about something that is probably wrong, but you can come up with some pretty good reasons for doing it. Sometimes you even think that you’ll just try it, and if it goes wrong, that will be God’s signal that it was wrong all along, but if nothing bad happens, well then, it must actually be okay.

Jesus cuts through that maze of the devil’s temptations and says simply, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.” Yes, God says he will take care of us. But by telling us that, he does not invite us to be careless or to do what we know is wrong. He asks us to trust him, not test him.

You can trust God to have his holy angels guard you every step of your life, all the way to heaven. When you suffer on the way to heaven, you can trust God not to leave you comfortless. When you are tempted, you can trust God to provide a way out of the temptation. When you sin, you can trust God to forgive you, because Jesus took the punishment for your sin when he died on the cross.

When you are tempted to test God, trust him instead.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 446:1)
I am trusting you, Lord Jesus, trusting only you,
Trusting you for full salvation, free and true. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Serve Him Only – March 12, 2019

The devil led Jesus up to a high place and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. And he said to him, “I will give you all their authority and splendor; it has been given to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. If you worship me, it will all be yours.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God and serve him only.’”
Luke 4:5-8

Serve Him Only


Daily Devotion – March 12, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:5-8

See series: Devotions

Babies may look innocent, but parents can tell you that being naughty comes naturally to them. You don’t have to teach a child to do the wrong thing. That comes very easily. On the other hand, teaching a child to do the right thing can be a struggle.

In fact, everyone starts out with an inclination to serve themselves, and that makes the devil very happy. If his temptations include something that seems good to us, we fall into them very easily.

When God brings us to faith in Jesus as our Savior, we are set free from having to serve ourselves and to please the devil. The devil can offer us what he likes—authority, splendor, power—and we can answer, “No, I have Jesus, and that is enough.”

In gratitude to God for saving us through the work of Jesus, we ask ourselves, “What can I do to thank him?” The Lord our God answers, “Worship and serve me only.” That service is a delight, because we are thankful to Jesus for defeating the devil. Jesus has set us free from having to follow every evil whim and emotion encouraged by our ancient enemy. Instead, we serve him freely with joy.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 470:1)
Praise to you and adoration, blessed Jesus, Son of God,
Who, to serve your own creation, came to share our flesh and blood.
Guide me that I never may from your fold or pastures stray,
But with zeal and joy exceeding follow where your steps are leading. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019

Life Through Christ – Week of March 11, 2019


For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Romans 5:19



“I am ready to try again.” It happens almost every day. A child needs redirecting. They are struggling with an activity, social interactions, sharing, or a group setting. The teacher redirects them to a new activity, but the child really wants to go back to what they originally were doing. The child says, “I am ready to try again.”

We are all sinners. Sin entered the world in the Garden of Eden. We all struggle with choices, activities, peer pressure, or navigating this sinful world in a God pleasing way. The reality is we sin. Thankfully, God had a solution for this problem—the problem of sin. He sent his Son to offer the obedience we couldn’t. Christ lived an obedient life. He lived perfectly where we fall short. He did that for us that we might be made right with God. He humbled himself, obedient to death, even death on a cross for us. He died perfectly too. He did that so that God would no longer see our sins, but rather Jesus’ perfection! God made us new. We are his own dear children through Jesus’ life and death. He gives us a new identity through the obedience of his Son. He calls us his child!

Therefore, it is because of that love and that peace with God, that we can start each new day saying, “Lord, I am ready to try again!” Motivated by God’s love and this new life through Christ, we want to do better, and we want to share his love with those we meet daily. God has empowered us by the Holy Spirit. He has given us a gift that we can share daily with the children and families we serve. What a joy and privilege this is!



Prayer:
Dear Father, empower us with your Spirit. Give us strength and wisdom as we start each day as your dear child. Help us share this gift of love with all those we meet today and always. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are some ways you can share this message and the gift of forgiveness with the children and families at your school? Are there ways you can use Law and Gospel in your redirection and discipline that you are not already doing?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Second Sunday in Lent

Salvation Through our Savior’s Sacrifice is Rejected by Many

These are the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

“It is God’s will that you should be sanctified” (I Thessalonians. 4:3). What if we ignore God’s call to holy living? God says to examine ourselves, repent of our failures and ask for his forgiveness. Yet we never do any of those three perfectly. We must confess, as an old prayer says, “we have no power to defend ourselves.” So how can we not end up among those who permanently reject God’s rescue? Only by God’s constant grace in Christ. In his mercy, God even used Jesus’ rejection by his Jewish countrymen to put Jesus on the cross. Rejoice doubly then: Christ did not reject his Father’s will, he died for you. In Christ, God will also keep you from rejecting him.

First Lesson – Jeremiah 26:8-15

It seems impossible that God’s people should want to kill his servant just for speaking his God’s Word. How did it come to that?

Jeremiah’s warnings that Jerusalem and the temple would be a desolate ruin and Jeremiah’s call to repent infuriated them. They did not want to give up their pride or the city and temple that they loved more than they loved God. Jeremiah’s call to repent attacked their pride. They responded with death threats.

What was the connection between the people reforming their ways and the Lord not bringing the disaster he had pronounced against them?

Giving up outwardly what the Jews didn’t want to give up inside could not have spared them from God’s wrath. God sees inside. He demands that we be holy from the inside out. If the Jews had let go of their pride and looked to God’s grace for their standing before him, they would have desired righteousness and abhorred sin. Then by grace, for Jesus’s sake, God would have spared them.

Second Lesson – Philippians 3:17-4:1

Paul points out how unbelievers think and live. How do such descriptions serve as a blessing for believers like us?

When a believer sees flagrant displays of sin, he is appalled. When we are in the middle of a temptation, we may not see how bad sin is. But when we see that sin in others, the Bible’s descriptions of sinners help us ask ourselves, “Is that really what I want to be like? If I persist, won’t I end up where they will end up?”

Our citizenship is in heaven; soon Jesus will come down from heaven. How do such mercies help us resist temptation?

Picture an engaged couple, so in love with each other that they give no thought to anyone else’s attractiveness. That couple looks forward so much to the thrill of being together in marriage. In the same way, we are engaged to Jesus, to spend eternity with him. The more we ponder his love for us and what living with him face to face in his eternal kingdom will be like, the more we will want to please and thank him now. No one else comes close.

Gospel – Luke 13:31-35

Even though repentance and faith are works of God, why can’t those who lack repentance and faith blame God for that?

God works through his Word. The reason some do not repent of sin and trust in Jesus is that they harden themselves to the Word, rather than giving up their favorite sins or their pride. Rather than simply point our finger at the Jews of Jesus’ day, let’s examine ourselves. Are we doing what they did, or in danger of that?

At the end, Jesus warned that Jews of his day would not see him as he really is until he came in glory on the Last Day. How did Jesus’ warning serve as a call to repentance and faith?

The Jews ought to have been terrified at the thought of seeing Jesus coming again in glory on the Last Day. After hearing the testimony of the Old Testament and of Jesus’ teachings, and after seeing the evidence of his miracles, they had to know that Jesus coming in glory to judge them was more than a possibility. If they had cried out, “Lord, make me ready for that day,” he would have sheltered them under his arms. (Some Jews did repent later.)

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It Is Written – March 11, 2019

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing during those days, and at the end of them he was hungry. The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone.’”
Luke 4:1-4

It Is Written


Daily Devotion – March 11, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:1-4

See series: Devotions

When temptation comes along, how do you react? Do you give in every time? Do you fight it for a while but then grow weary? Do you go for a long time without giving in but then indulge? Everyone has felt the lure of temptations from the devil.

What is the best way to fight those temptations? Jesus shows us the power of fighting temptation with words from the Bible. “It is written,” he says, and the devil has no answer. Whatever God says in the Scripture is absolute truth, and it is powerful against temptation.

You will find that turning to a pertinent Bible passage in a moment of temptation is helpful. The Word of God is a powerful weapon against our old, evil foe—the devil. He was defeated by Jesus, and he has no answer to the powerful words of Jesus.

When you have given in to a temptation and you are feeling guilty, it is also helpful to turn to a Bible passage: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Cling to God’s words of forgiveness, and trust that the victory of Jesus over the devil is your victory as well.

Prayer:
Our Father in heaven, lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Those firstborns – March 10, 2019

Those firstborns – March 10, 2019


You must give me the firstborn of your sons.
Exodus 22:29




Military Devotion – March 10, 2019

Devotion based on Exodus 22:29

See series: Military Devotions

The child born first to parents is always special. Others who follow may be just as much loved, but none can take the place of the firstborn. Historically, this was the designated heir. In some families, it meant the child would inherit a throne.

The firstborn was prized. Its death was a special loss. Thus, it catches our attention when God points his finger at those firstborns and makes a demand that may startle us: “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.”

The Old Testament Law abounds with God’s demands of offerings—not from leftovers, but of the best. It’s not that he needed them. He reminds us, “For every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills” (Psalm 5:10).

The need is ours. Humans need ways to show that they fear, love, and trust in the Lord above all things. Freely giving up something valuable is a way to show faithfulness and appreciation. It’s an act of worship.

Demands for wheat or a goat or lamb are one thing. God could provide more of these. But what about this? “You must give me the firstborn of your sons.”

Some foreign idols were said to demand human sacrifices. Was the God of Israel like them? Did he thirst for human blood? He did not. He does not.

Yet, there are life and death consequences to how we react to his demands. Through Moses, he once told a defiant Pharaoh: “This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, ‘Let my son go, so he may worship me. But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son’ ” (Exodus 4:22-23).

“I will kill your firstborn son…” That should have made Pharaoh tremble. He did not. He brushed it off until the night of the Passover. Then, “Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead (Exodus 12:30).

God spared the firstborns of Israel that night—not because they were better, but because they were redeemed.

Consider the command: “The first offspring of every womb belongs to me, including all the firstborn males of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons” (Exodus 34:19,20).

Even a firstborn donkey needed to be redeemed—otherwise its neck was to be broken. Redemption is serious business.

To redeem means to gain something in exchange for payment.

Israel was not to forget this. Throughout Old Testament times, a substitute sacrifice could be made. But in the end, a payment in human blood would be required to redeem humans. Not just firstborn sons were on that death list, but everyone who had descended from the first guilty parents back at Eden. Our own names showed up there. We needed to be redeemed.

Golgotha shows the payment being made.

Mary’s firstborn son was killed on that center cross. Yet, that would not be payment enough were he not also God’s Son. He was. Speaking of Jesus, God the Father had announced, “This is my Son, whom I love…”

“This is my Son…,” and he sacrificed him.

When we are told, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15), we begin to better understand the significance of the firstborn.

God the Father sacrificed his only Son, the firstborn over all creation.

Thus he redeemed us.



Prayer: Lord God of mercy and might, your ways are beyond our understanding and your love beyond even imagination. We know that every one of us, and everyone that we love, would stand condemned to death in the court of your divine justice. But you allow us to live. You spare us because we have been redeemed. You paid for our lives with the life of your Son. For this, we thank you always and forever. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Cape Coral, Florida.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 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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Transformed – teen devotion – March 10, 2109

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

I am the Living Water

When your body gets thirsty, it starts quietly but then begins to shout, “Warning! We are lacking what we need to live.” It normally starts with a dry mouth or a dusty throat, but if the lack of hydration gets worse, the warning signs get stronger. The skin gets dry. The heart rate goes up. Eventually you might faint. All of these symptoms drive a person to look for relief. People are willing to do whatever it takes, even walk miles, just to find some water to relieve their thirst.

The same thing happens spiritually. We will often do just about anything to find relief. Some find relief in the satisfaction they get playing video games. Some find satisfaction in success with grades, sports, or work. Some find satisfaction in being a perfectionist.

Others find relief in the abuse of substances that give them an escape. Still others find satisfaction in feeling loved in a relationship, even if it means they find that in pornography or a damaging relationship. Like drinking salt water, all of these may give temporary relief from spiritual thirst but end up leaving a person thirstier than before. None of these things can give relief or satisfaction.

Instead, true relief and satisfaction for spiritual thirst comes from the one who gives real and perfect relief. Jesus says, “Whoever drinks that water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

When your spirit is lacking, go to the one who gives you relief. When you need to feel valued, go to the one who gives you value and self-worth. Your Savior values you so much, he gave his life for you.

When you seek perfection, go to the one who has made you perfect. Your Savior Jesus lived a perfect life and gives you credit for his life.

When you need to feel success, go to the one who has taken all of your failures away. Go to the one who gives you relief that overflows, like looking for a sip and instead getting a fountain. Go to the one who will give you perfect and eternal relief in heaven.

 

Prayer: Dear God, there have been times I sought personal escape from my problems through temporary ways that leave me thirsting for more in life. Thank you for offering to be the perfect relief my parched soul needs. Now quench me with your promises to never leave me or forsake me—today, tomorrow and forever. May the water of your Word always flow into my heart. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Overcoming the Lion – March 10, 2019

The devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become bread.” Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man does not live on bread alone.’”
Luke 4:3,4

Overcoming the Lion


Daily Devotion – March 10, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:3,4

See series: Devotions

Quickly. Name the most powerful animal in the world? I’m not sure what your answer would be, but mine is the African lion. It’s capable of killing an African buffalo, even though that animal can weigh three or even four times the weight of the “king of the jungle.” Mess with a hungry lion and you’re lunch meat!

Did you know the Bible describes Satan as a roaring lion who is eager and able to kill people—body and soul—in hell? It’s true! (See 1 Peter 5:8) Satan once was a good angel. Now he’s bad to the bone! He’s a liar and murderous enemy of God and his children.

In our verse for today Jesus was being attacked by Satan and his wily temptations for 40 days and nights in the desert. It was a battle. Jesus, being fully human as well as fully God, was tired and hungry. Satan tempted him to stop trusting in his heavenly Father to provide for his bodily needs and, instead, take matters into his own hands by turning the stones around him into loaves of bread for food. But Jesus refused. He fought back with God’s Word, reminding Satan that he was to rely totally on his Father and his providential promises.

Learn from Jesus when Satan comes alluring! Use God’s powerful Word and gospel promises like a sword to fight him off. By his blood stained cross and empty grave, Jesus has defeated Satan once and for all, and for you. Fight against him in confidence because the victory has been won and it is yours!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for defeating Satan. Help me fight the good fight, using your Word to comfort and defend me in my battles with the roaring Lion. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Mountain Top Experiences – March 9, 2019

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.) While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen.
Luke 9:28-36

Mountain Top Experiences


Daily Devotion – March 9, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 9:28-36

See series: Devotions

Sometimes in our lives we have what are called “mountain top experiences.” They are experiences that are so great we never want them to end. Some brides and grooms feel that way on their wedding day. They are surrounded by the people that they love the most. They look their best. Everyone is happy and smiling. They never want the day to end. But it does end. They need the wedding day to end so that they can get on with their married life and the future that awaits them.

In this lesson from Luke chapter 9, Jesus and three of his closest followers had a mountain top experience. For a moment the disciples where given a glimpse of Jesus in his greatness as the Son of God. It was awesome. Jesus’ clothes were as bright as a flash of lightning. Jesus conferred with Moses and Elijah, two of the great figures from the Old Testament. Peter didn’t want the experience to end. This is why he proposed that they build three shelters. He was hoping to capture and hold the greatness of this incredible moment.

But like all other mountain top experiences, this moment had to end. Jesus knew that he had very important work waiting for him on a different mountain. That was Mount Calvary, the mountain on which he would be crucified for the sins of all people. It was important for Jesus’ disciples and it is important for us to remember both mountains. The mountain on which Jesus showed his glory reminds us that he is the true Son of God. Mount Calvary reminds us that Jesus is the Lamb of God who willingly gave his life to make the payment for your sins and the sins of the entire world.

This week the season of Lent begins. It is a time when we focus on the suffering and death of Jesus Christ. As we focus on his passion, let us not forget his great power. He is the Son of God who takes away the sin of the world.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I worship you as the glorious Son of God who came from heaven to sacrifice yourself as the Lamb of God to take away the guilt of my sins. Bless me with the truth of your Word and the joy of your salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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Jesus Reveals His Glory – March 8, 2019

“As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’”
Luke 9:33a

Jesus Reveals His Glory


Daily Devotion – March 8, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 9:33a

See series: Devotions

What an event this was! Jesus reveals a glimpse of glory! Wow! Moses and Elijah are there in glorious splendor! Wow! The Father speaks from the cloud! Wow! Peter, James, and John get to see and hear it! Wow! To be there must have been amazing! It’s no wonder Peter said, “Master, it is good for us to be here.” And it’s no wonder he wanted to stay! This was amazing!

But there is one more “wow.” The biggest “wow” of all is that Jesus does not stay. Jesus walks back down that mountain. Why? He walks away from the Mount of Transfiguration, so he can willingly walk to another mountain, to Mt. Calvary, where he suffers and dies. Can you imagine? The glorious, all-powerful God-man was willing to set aside the full use of his glory and power, and instead was willing to carry a cross. And for what purpose? To save you! To save me!

So what is the ultimate point of the Transfiguration? Is it merely for Jesus to show off his power? No, Jesus doesn’t need to show off. Is it merely for us to be scared, seeing our sinfulness? Is it merely for us to get a small glimpse of life eternal, as we see Moses and Elijah chatting with Jesus as Jesus reveals his glory? While it surely shows us those things, there’s more.

The ultimate point of the Transfiguration event is to show us Jesus’ love! Yes, Jesus has all power and glory. He is the all-powerful God. But Jesus also left that mountain to go to Mt. Calvary because he loves you dearly! What could this lead you to say but, “WOW!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, lead me to look with even more gratitude to your sufferings and death, knowing that you did all those things for me! Assure me over and over again that you love me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License 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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