A Victorious Struggle – July 25, 2017

I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.
Romans 7:21-25

A Victorious Struggle


Daily Devotion – July 25, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 7:21-25

See series: Devotions

Have you ever found yourself wondering, “If God has redeemed me from my sin and filled me with the righteousness of his Son, why do I still struggle with the same sins again and again? Why do I still worry about my kids, or my spouse, or my job? Why am I still so fearful and reluctant to share Jesus with others? Why do I still lose my temper and say things that I regret? Why are my eyes so quick to wander and my tongue to gossip?”

Like the apostle Paul we want to cry out, “What a wretched person I am!” The struggle is real. It is exhausting. It is painful. Several years ago, after preaching at an outdoor revival service, a young man came up to the preacher and said, “You talk a lot about the burden of sin. I’ve never felt it. It doesn’t seem all that heavy!” The preacher paused for a moment and then looked directly at the young man and asked, “If you laid a 100-pound weight on a dead man, do you think he’d feel the load?” The youth sneered. “Of course not!” The preacher immediately responded, “And so the soul that doesn’t feel the load of sin is dead!” If you didn’t feel a struggle with sin, you wouldn’t be spiritually alive. The Spirit’s work in our hearts is what leads us to experience this battle.

But knowing that Christians struggle with sin, doesn’t necessarily help us with the outcome. How long will it last? Will there ever be a day that we don’t look back and regret something that we said or did? Will we ever be able to lay down at night and close our eyes in peace? “Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Listen to Paul’s answer: Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord! We can’t rescue ourselves; our past is proof of it. If left alone we would forever struggle in a losing battle. But…God delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord! The answer to our struggle is found in God’s Son. Jesus didn’t feel a 100-pound weight on his chest, he felt the weight of humanity’s sin and bore it on the cross. His resurrection from the dead proves that he paid for every last sin.

Because of Jesus’ work in our lives, the sinful nature is nothing more than an unwanted invader. Our inner being, our new nature in Christ, finds delight in God’s law. So even though we will continue to struggle here on earth, we have the victory through faith in Jesus. The victory gives the power and the motivation to keep on fighting against sin.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, as I continue to struggle with sin, focus my eyes on Jesus the author and perfecter of my faith. Give me confidence knowing that he has won the victory for me and that my sinful flesh has no power over 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 24, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 24, 2017


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.

Ephesians 3:20-21



One of the tests to detect false doctrine is whether a teaching gives maximum glory to Christ or not. It’s not the only test but it is a pretty accurate one. If a teaching puts the burden of salvation on man instead of Christ, it diminishes Christ. It is as if to say, “Thanks Jesus for dying on the cross. That was nice, but I got it from here.” Not only is it wrong, but it takes away from Christ’s true glory, that is, his love and mercy at the cross for us sinners.

We may not fall into the outright false teaching of work-righteousness (that we make ourselves right/righteous by our own efforts) but we do diminish Christ when we show a lack of trust. Earlier this month we talked about anxiety. We made the point that worry often comes because we care and isn’t necessarily a sinful lack of trust in God. At the same time it can be just that, a sinful distrust of God.

Paul said that Christ can do so much more than what we ask for or even can imagine. Do we not rob him of his majesty by not putting before him our greatest problems and our most needed requests? He can do so much more (and does so much more) than we even understand. Can he not also take care of our problems today? I know that sometimes we think that our requests and problems are better kept to ourselves as if we shouldn’t bother our Lord but he wants to hear them. Remember he can do more than we can imagine. Sure, the answer might often be “No” but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t persistently come to him with our deepest concerns. He loves us. He wants to hear us and he can do more than we think.



Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, remove all fake humility from our hearts and bend our knees before you so that we are free to ask you, our dear Father, anything that troubles our hearts.

A Question to Consider: What does Matthew 25:34-40 tell us about how we serve Christ and give him glory?



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.



Eighth Sunday after Pentecost – July 24, 2017

The Christian is Planted by the Word and Produces Fruit

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

The Sunday is summarized in the Prayer of the Day which thanks God for the implanting of the Word and asks for the Spirit’s help in producing fruits of faith.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-11

True or false: Whenever we proclaim God’s Word, we can be certain that our listeners will be brought to faith.

False. The gospel does not automatically produce faith. When we use the gospel, we hope and pray that this will be the outcome, but sadly there are many who reject the forgiveness that God offers in his Word and harden their hearts to its truths, as Isaiah experienced in his own ministry (cf. Isaiah 6:9,10).

What does God mean that his Word “never returns to him empty”?

Though many seeds fall among soil that does not produce fruit, Isaiah gives us God’s promise that his Word will never return to him fruitless. The Word is like the rain and snow sent from God in heaven that fall to bring blessing upon the earth and make it fruitful. Just as precipitation makes the earth bud and flourish, so God’s Word will always do its work of planting faith in the heart of man and making it fruitful. While this verse is often used to illustrate that God’s Word always works, either to convert or to harden, the flavor of this passage and its context is decidedly positive. Faithful preachers are the mouth of God (Jeremiah 15:19) from which the Word goes forth to do its work of planting faith and making it bear much fruit in the heart of man.

Supplemental First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-13

The supplemental lesson adds two verses to the First Lesson to let the worshipper see the purpose God had in sending forth his Word (v 11). God sends his Word out for our joy and for the LORD’s renown. Intermediately fulfilled in the return from Babylon, God’s promise is ultimately fulfilled in the Holy Christian Church. The Word goes forth to plant faith for the glory of God and the salvation of man.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 8:18-25

What is God’s creation awaiting?

The return of the Lord when it will be freed from the bondage of decay. In other words, things die and corrode in this world because of our sinfulness.

What are we eagerly awaiting?

We await our adoption as children of God, when our broken-down and decaying bodies will be replaced with a body like the one Jesus received in his resurrection (cf. Philippians 3:21).

Why do we need to be patient?

We need to be patient because Jesus’ return won’t take place until all those who were elected to faith from eternity are brought to faith bythe powerful Word of God. We don’t know when that will be, so we need to be patient.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 18:1-11

The field of Corinth was filled with birds and stones and thorns. Though Paul reasoned and preached, one seed after another fell on soil that did not produce a crop. Yet God’s Word would accomplish his good purpose. Paul did not have to go far to find a fertile field. He walked out of the synagogue and went right next door. In the home of Titius Justus he found good soil that produced a crop one hundred times that which was sown.

Preach you the Word and plant it home
To those who like or like it not,
The Word that shall endure and stand
When flow’rs and mortals are forgot.

Though some be snatched and some be scorched
And some be choked and matted flat,
The sower sows; his heart cries out,
“Oh what of that, and what of that?”

Preach you the Word and plant it home
And never faint; the Harvest-Lord
Who gave the sower seed to sow
Will watch and tend his planted Word

Martin Franzmann (Christian Worship: 544)

Gospel – Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

What a description of Jesus’ ministry! What a description of ours! The Sower scatters the seed of the Gospel to all with no regard for where it might land. Yet most of his seed bears no fruit. This parable brings warning and such comfort. Christ warns us that the seed of the Word faces great opposition from sin, Satan, and the world. Newborn faith can be choked or scorched. The Gospel promise can be snatched from apathetic or misunderstanding soil. Though we sow the seed faithfully and generously, Jesus warns us that most of it will never bear fruit that lasts. Yet for every faithful Gospel preacher, Christ comforts us by showing that the preacher’s job is to sow the seed and leave the growing up to God. He comforts us by pointing to what his Word does in the good soil: it plants great faith that does great things. In the man who hears and understands it, the simple sowing of the Word will produce a crop—a hundred, sixty, or thirty-fold.

Children, find your rest in Jesus. – July 24, 2017

Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:25-30

Children, find your rest in Jesus.


Daily Devotion – July 24, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 11:25-30

See series: Devotions

Are there times when you long to just “sleep like a baby”? The expression conveys a sense of blissful rest. Who doesn’t want blissful rest?

What stops you? Do you worry over money? Do you suffer physical pain? Is there just too much for you to do? The fallen world is full of thieves—peace-stealers who keep us awake at night.

The solution…to sleep like a baby, you have to be a baby. The Lord has revealed his peace plan to those who believe like little children. They accept it because they are little children. It is a great description of Christian faith. Tell children that the world is round and they believe you. Tell them God is a good and gracious heavenly Father and they believe it. Tell them Jesus loves them and they believe it.

As grown-ups, we like to think we are supposed to do ridiculous things like “pull ourselves up by our boot straps”. We have absurd bumper stickers like “God is my co-pilot”. Sometimes, yes frequently, adults need to give up their “manly man” and “I am woman, hear me roar” attitudes and just let Jesus rock them to sleep.

Instead of “come to me…I will give you rest” do we think; “I’ve got this!”

Grow down, people of God! Believe like little children. God has revealed the rest of the forgiveness of sins to little children. God has revealed the rest of his providential protection and care to little children. God has revealed the glory of eternal life to little children.

“Learn from Jesus…and you will find rest for your souls.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when I try to take control of my life and put the burden of life on my shoulders, please humble me and direct my thoughts as a little child to the loving care of my heavenly Father. Yoke me to yourself so that my burden is light. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transformed – teen devotion – July 23, 2017

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:10

Best. Prayer. Ever. – YOUR Kingdom Come

When you pray the Lord’s Prayer you start off by saying, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come…” Nowadays we don’t know much about kingdoms because we live in a democracy. We don’t have a king. We have a president. The big difference between the two is a president has power, but not absolute power. He still needs to go through the legal checks and balances of our governmental processes. But a king can do whatever he wants.

That’s the thing. That’s what we want. We want to be king. We want to be in control of our lives. We want other people to do what we tell them to do. Most of the time we live by the motto, “My kingdom come!” And that’s a very dangerous way to live.

A powerful king named Nebuchadnezzar used to live that way. His history is written in the book of Daniel. One night King Neb had a dream that freaked him out. He called Daniel in to interpret it for him. Daniel revealed the meaning of the dream and said the bottom line was Nebuchadnezzar had become pretty powerful but also pretty arrogant. And if he didn’t repent and start giving God the glory, his entire kingdom would be stripped from him. But if he turned to God in repentance, God would give it all back.

A year later Neb stepped out onto the roof of his royal palace and he looked out over his kingdom and said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” (Daniel 4:30). Doesn’t sound too humble does it? Immediately God took away his royal authority. He was driven away from people and ate grass like animals. His hair grew really long and his fingernails were like bird claws.

God took Neb’s kingdom away until one day Neb prayed, “Your kingdom come.” He said, “His dominion is an eternal dominion; his kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples on earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: What have you done?” (Daniel 4:34-35). At that humble moment of enlightenment when Neb recognized that God is the King of the World, God restored Neb’s kingdom to him.

Like Neb, we all struggle with pride and the desire for power and control. But it’s not until we humbly recognize that Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords that we will be lifted up. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” (James 4:10). This is why we pray, “Your kingdom come,” not “My kingdom come.”

Prayer:
Lord God, teach me to pray for your kingdom and your rule. I find myself wanting what I want. I find myself longing for a kingdom where I am king. Teach me to repent, to humble myself and lean on you and your rule in all things. Your kingdom is the one of which I want to be a part. Bring it to me. Send it to others. Rule over all things for me and my good. 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.

Reflect on God’s Love – July 23, 2017

“Rejoice with Jerusalem and be glad for her, all you who love her; rejoice greatly with her, all you who mourn over her. … As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you; and you will be comforted over Jerusalem.” When you see this, your heart will rejoice and you will flourish like grass; the hand of the LORD will be made known to his servants, but his fury will be shown to his foes.
Isaiah 66:10, 13-14

Reflect on God’s Love


Daily Devotion – July 23, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 66:10, 13-14

See series: Devotions

Moms just seem to have this special power, don’t they? There’s something about a mother’s touch, a mother’s comfort that no one else can replicate. The relationship between a mother and a child is about as close as we can come to describing the love that God has for us. It’s no surprise, then, that God uses the picture of mother and child to describe his relationship with us.

Jerusalem had been beaten and battered from all sides. She had suffered greatly because she had rejected God. She abandoned his promises. She threw away his Word. But God would not abandon his people. After a time of trouble, after years of standing in ruins, emptied of her people, God restored Jerusalem. He brought the people back. He brought joy and comfort like only a mother can give.

There are plenty of things in this world that cause us pain. Unfortunately, some of that pain is self-inflicted. We’re like the people of Jerusalem when we abandon God’s promises and throw away his Word. Yet God has not abandoned us. He invites us again and again to return to him. Each time we run away from him by sinning against his perfect will, he calls us back. He offers the sweet forgiveness for all of our sins because of Jesus.

Each time we stand before our God and admit our sins, he wraps his arms around us and comforts us even more than a hug from our mom ever could. He says to you and to me, “I love you and I forgive you for Jesus’ sake.” Those comforting words motivate us to reflect God’s love by doing what he asks us to do. Those comforting words cause rejoicing to burst forth in heaven and on earth!

Prayer:
Forgiving God, let the comfort of your love wash over me. Embrace me with your forgiveness so that I may serve you in joy. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Worthless – July 23, 2017

Worthless – July 23, 2017


They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.
2 Kings 17:15




Military Devotion – July 23, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Kings 17:15

See series: Military Devotions

If someone asks how much we are worth, our thoughts might jump to the balance in our bank accounts. Yet, real worth is not measured in dollar bills. We weigh human value on a different scale.

Honesty, dependability, and skill mean more than wealth. We know that. But there is more to the picture. There is the view from heaven.

“They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.” That’s God speaking.

Is he referring to us? The first thought might be, absolutely not! This applies to those who follow idols. That’s not us. We don’t worship the sun or sacrifice to a stone god. We’re not idolaters!

But then, our conscience might remind us that there have been times when we have placed something higher in our lives than the Lord our God. There may have been occasions when we did depend upon the dollar in our pocket more than the Creator in the heavens. Maybe sometimes we did feel safer because of that good luck charm we carried. Maybe we have, once in a while, placed our silly wants higher than God’s glorious will.

It seems we must admit that we have not always feared, loved, and trusted God above all things. Maybe we are not keeping the 1st Commandment even now. Does that make us worthless?

The big question is, how valuable are we to God? Does he need us? No. Have we faithfully carried out the assignments he has given us? No. Can we honestly assure him that from now on we will do exactly what he says? That we cannot do.

To those worried about not having enough to meet earthly needs, Jesus once said, “So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31).

Is that all? Only more valuable than some birds?

Have we inflated our value in our own minds like we inflate air into a tire? Is our self-worth only hot air?

Are we worth nothing?

Value is determined by someone else. The boss pays his worker a high salary because he values the skill and hard work. Good evaluation reports put us in good standing with superiors.

How much are we valued by the Lord of the heavens? He has not just told us; he has shown us.

From a center cross on Golgotha, the Son of God said, “It is finished.” Then he bowed his head and died—for us. We are forgiven.

The value is not in us. The value has been placed upon us. We have been bought with the lifeblood of the Son of God.

Worthless we are not.



Prayer: Holy and loving God, it is awesome to think that we are precious in your sight. Keep reminding us of that. Send the Holy Spirit to us in rich measure so that we might be empowered to more and more live a life that reflects the value you have placed upon us. 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.




All Things for Our Good – July 22, 2017

Elijah replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and all whose mouths have not kissed him.”
1 Kings 19:14-18

All Things for Our Good


Daily Devotion – July 22, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:14-18

See series: Devotions

In her book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, Judith Viorst describes a young boy who was having a bad day. She opens by writing, “Alexander knew it was going to be a terrible day when he woke up with gum in his hair. And it got worse…” That’s how I picture Elijah, talking with the Lord. He tried to do what was right. He tried to follow God’s will for his life. Yet, nothing seemed to go his way. Nothing he did seemed to work.

Have you ever felt frustrated with life like Elijah? Have you ever had one of those “terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days?” I’m sure you have, since we all do. On those days, we’re tempted to question God. On those days, we’re tempted to wonder if God cares about us. We wonder if God is really in control. If he is, then why are all these bad things happening when I’m trying my best to do what is right?

Elijah felt this way. So God reminded him that he’s always in control. He gave Elijah a list of things to do that would demonstrate God’s control. God showed Elijah that though it seemed like the wicked were winning, there were still true and faithful believers in Israel. The wicked would not win in the end.

God does the same for you and me. He points us back into his Word to remind us how he guides all things for our good. He reminds us how he worked all things, even the events in the life of Elijah, so that his Son, our Savior Jesus, would come at just the right time, in just the right place, so he could live and die and rise for you and me. And if God can work all things for such an important promise as that, then he’ll certainly keep all of his promises to us.

Prayer:
Savior God, ever remind us of your loving care and guidance in our lives, especially on our worst days. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Complete in Christ – July 21, 2017

In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.
Colossians 2:9-10

Complete in Christ


Daily Devotion – July 21, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 2:9-10

See series: Devotions

Is your life full? Is your life complete? If not, what would it take to make it so? A regular vacation to an exotic location? A boat? A nicer car? A bigger house? Maybe a better paying job or at least one that makes you feel like you are making a difference? Perhaps you feel a little empty because you have no one to share your life with, so your desire is for a husband or a wife. Would a child, or two, or four, make your life feel more complete?

We all have that deep desire for something more in life, something that we think would make our lives complete if we just had it. Sometimes the things we chase after are definitely sinful (the euphoric high that comes from drugs, alcohol, or sexual adventures). But many times they are not. Possessing nice things, getting married, or having children are not inherently sinful; these are wonderful blessings that God may grant us.

The truth is, however (and maybe this is something you have already figured out), none of these things will ever make life truly complete. Even when we get what we desire, something deep inside of us tells us that it is not enough. Our focus quickly switches to something else that we think will make our lives complete.

Nothing this world has to offer will ever make your life complete because it does not address the real problem with your life. That problem is sin and the resulting broken relationship with God.

The Bible has good news for you. Completeness of life has been given to you. God says in his Word, “You have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.” In Jesus, your life is complete because he has taken away your sin with his death on the cross. With sin removed, your relationship with God has been made whole again. That is a relationship that will last eternally, much longer and better than anything else we desire for life in this world.

In Jesus, your life is made complete because he has authority over that which threatens ultimate emptiness—death. By his resurrection, he proved his authority over death and promises that all who believe in him will live even though they die. Talk about fullness! That fullness is yours through Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my Savior, forgive me for the times when I have looked elsewhere for fullness in my life. Thank you for making me complete by your death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. Help me to rejoice in the wonderful relationship with God that you have given me. In your name I ask it. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Real God for Real Fear – July 20, 2017

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

A Real God for Real Fear


Daily Devotion – July 20, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 41:10

See series: Devotions

There are many real things in our lives that make us afraid and cause us stress. We may sometimes hide them, downplay them, even try to forget about them, but the fear is still there and it is real. Health, finances, guilt, relationships, and security are all things that can keep any person awake at night. These are not the paranoid fears of the few but real concerns that most of us have.

In a world of real fears and real concerns, how then can God say, “Do not fear” and “Do not be dismayed”? God tells us not to fear because he has real answers to our real problems.

He reminds us, first of all, that he is with us and he is our God. This section of Scripture was originally written to God’s Old Testament people, the Israelites. God had chosen Israel as a special people for himself from all the people in the world and he was really present with them in several special ways. God has also chosen you and promises to be with you in several special ways. He is with you when you read and hear his Word. He has made you his own in Baptism. He says that he is really present in Holy Communion. In these things, you find God’s presence with you still.

Secondly, he reminds us that he can help. God strengthened and helped his Old Testament people through mighty acts. He brought them through the Red Sea on dry land, provided food for them, and rescued them from their enemies. God continues to strengthen and help you. He daily provides all that you need. He continues to guide all the events of this world for your eternal good. Most importantly, he sent Jesus to take away all your sin and guilt so that you have life and salvation. In all of this, God still holds you with his righteous right hand.

You may have real fears but find your confidence in a real God. He is with you and he will help you.

Prayer:
God of mercy, you command us not to fear and in your love you equip us to obey that command. Remind us that you are the source of our help and are strong to save. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Doom and Gloom – July 19, 2017

“From early times the prophets who preceded you and me have prophesied war, disaster and plague against many countries and great kingdoms. But the prophet who prophesies peace will be recognized as one truly sent by the LORD only if his prediction comes true.”
Jeremiah 28:8-9

Doom and Gloom


Daily Devotion – July 19, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 28:8-9

See series: Devotions

Many people associate the word “prophet” with two words: doom and gloom. Sometimes when they read the Old Testament part of the Bible they ask, “Why is there so much doom and gloom? Why did the prophets always seem to be harping on the people and speaking of awful things that were coming?”

The time of the Old Testament (before Jesus came) was not all doom and gloom. But it is true that often when God sent special prophets or messengers to the people it was with a message that warned of coming doom and gloom. That is what the prophet Jeremiah was talking about to a fellow “prophet” (really a false prophet named Hananiah). As he spoke to Hananiah, Jeremiah was telling the people that they’d be spending many years away from their homeland in captivity in Babylon. Hananiah said, “No. It will be only two years; then everything will be fine again.” Jeremiah responded essentially, “We’ll see if this peaceful promise of yours comes true, but I’m not counting on it!” The Lord revealed to Jeremiah that Hananiah was speaking a lie. His prediction would not come true. Instead the people would suffer a long exile from their land under foreign domination.

What is the reason for the doom and gloom throughout history? It is human sin. When people turn their back on their Creator, they can and should expect doom and gloom. When the people of Judah turned their back on the LORD, he sent prophets to warn them of the destruction they were bringing on themselves. He sent wars and plagues to wake up his spiritually slumbering people; he wanted to call them back to himself.

God acted always that they might see more clearly their need for saving; always that they might turn to him for forgiveness and life; always that they might focus on the one Prophet who could truly prophecy true and lasting peace. He is the one Jeremiah speaks of later in his book. He is the one we know as Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace. He is the peace-making Savior who brought peace to the world by taking away the sin that causes God’s anger. He is the peace-speaking Prophet that we can truly trust. We have the Prophet who has made peace for us with God. We have Jesus who has removed our eternal doom and gloom. In him we have peace and life, now and always.

Prayer:
Lord God, we know that our sinfulness has only earned for us doom and gloom. We thank you, though, that you have had mercy on us and sent your Son, Jesus, to take on himself the doom and gloom we deserved. We thank you for graciously fulfilling your promise to send the peace-making Savior from sin. In his name we pray. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

No Longer Slaves – July 18, 2017

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:1-7

No Longer Slaves


Daily Devotion – July 18, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 6:1-7

See series: Devotions

In these Bible verses, there is a certain logic behind the opening question that makes sense to our human way of thinking. If our sinning makes God’s grace abound, then why not keep on sinning to make God’s grace abound even more? While this logic might make sense to our sinful natures, it makes no sense when we remember how we have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection. God’s Word says, “We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (Romans 6:2).

There’s a story of a young slave girl who was up for auction by her owner because she was no longer strong enough to work in the fields. She was sobbing because she knew that if a harsh owner bought her, it would end in death. Despite her physical weakness, the price for her sale escalated rapidly because of her beauty. Finally, a wealthy landowner won the auction by offering double what anyone else had bid—the highest price of the day! When the auction was over, the clerk handed the girl a bill of sale which normally would have named her new legal owner. But to her surprise, the only thing written on it was her name with the word “FREE” in capital letters. At first, she didn’t know what to make of it. Was this a cruel joke of some kind? But when she realized that it wasn’t, when she realized what had happened, what this piece of paper meant—that she had been set free from slavery to death—she hurried back to the clerk and pleaded, “Where is the man that bought my freedom? Please help me find him. This man has set me free, I want to serve him the rest of my life.”

All of us who were baptized into Christ were baptized into his death. We have been united with Christ in his death and resurrection and freed from slavery to sin. This is why we can count ourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:11). Yes, God’s grace abounds to cover all our sins, but why would we want to go back to our old slave owner? Why would we want to live a life that leads to hated service and death? We’ve been raised from death to life with our Savior, freed from slavery to sin. So “how can we live in it any longer?”

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, in your grace you have united me with your perfect Son and his death and resurrection through baptism. Send your Spirit into my heart to give me the desire to live a new life in the joy and peace of his resurrection. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 17, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 17, 2017


For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Romans 8:38-39



Confidence is important. The smartest girl in the class can fall apart when asked to stand in front of a room and speak. The best shooter on the team can freeze at the free throw line. Confidence is important. Of course there is a fine line between confidence and conceit. As Christians we boast in the Lord. It’s not our glory but his. Yet his glory is not what we think glory might look like. His glory is found at the cross first and foremost. This is where we see love like nowhere else. But it is also found in our love of others, another cross. Notice that we give God glory not only with our praises but also, and I would say primarily, in our love of neighbor.

So our confidence is not really in our public speaking ability or shooting skills but in our Lord. This faith in him is translated to love in our lives. We are confident that he has saved us from sin, hell, death, and the devil. We are confident that he will take care of us in the future. We are confident that he will use us for good. We are confident. So much so that we can be bold in our confession to the world and bold in our defiance towards the devil and the death he wants for us. And the confidence is great. You can hear the confidence grow in the words of Paul:

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

These can be our words too. Bring it on world! We know where we are going. We know who is on our side. We know the truth. Bring it on. We have the Lord on our side. We boast in the Lord.



Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, guide us in faith and give us true confidence in our Lord.

A Question to Consider: Self-esteem is a big deal but the source of that self-esteem is the key to it all. Do we “give everyone a trophy” to build students up artificially or do we teach them their value in Christ?



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.



Seventh Sunday after Pentecost – July 17, 2017

The Christian Finds Rest in Jesus

These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

From the beginning of time, God provided rest for his creation. He blessed the seventh day and set it apart, that man might learn to find his rest in God alone. In Jesus, the Christian finds rest from his burdens, rest from his battles, and rest forever in heaven.

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 33:12-23

Can you hear the frustration in Moses’ voice? Can you sense the worry? Since their great fall with the golden calf, God had refused to go with the people of Israel. He would send an angel, but he himself would not accompany them. Moses pleaded with God to go up to the Promised Land with them. Though the Israelites had sinned greatly, Moses reminded the LORD that they were God’s people. God responded in grace and mercy and promised Moses that his very Presence would go with them, and he himself would give Moses rest. Can you hear the confidence in Moses’ voice after God’s promise? Can you sense the devotion? “Show me your glory!” Then God took this man yoked to him in faith and in service, and he showed Moses all the glory he could mortally bear.

Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 23:1-11

God kept the promise he made in the First Lesson: he had gone with his people to the Promised Land. Many years after finishing the conquest of Canaan, Joshua looked back and reminded the people that God had fought for them and had given them rest from all their enemies. Since God had done this, Joshua called on the people to give the Lord their allegiance, their obedience, and their love. Let the preacher make that same call to God’s people today. We can look back and see that God fought for us and gave us rest from our three great enemies. Now, with sin atoned, the devil defeated, and death vanquished, let all God’s people thank him for this rest by giving him allegiance, obedience, and love.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 7:15-25a

The Christian life is a battle between the sinful flesh and the new man born in us through baptism. The Old Adam wages constant war. Where can we find any rest from this kind of fight? Paul’s words ring true in our lives: all the good I want to do, but I fail to accomplish; all the evil I have promised never to do again, but repeat within a day. I want to do good, but I just can’t make it happen! What a wretched person I am! I just want rest from this battle—rest from my failure. Who can save me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord, who came to give rest to weary and burdened souls.
John Donne (1572-1631) wrote “A Hymn to God the Father” and expressed the battle, the weariness, and the rest we find in Christ.

1. Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,
Which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,
And do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

2. Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won
Others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun
A year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done,
For I have more.

3. I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore;
And having done that, Thou hast done;
I fear no more.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 4:1-11

The rest that God gave his people in Canaan foreshadowed the true rest of God in heaven. The rest in the Promised Land was received by some through faith and rejected by others through unbelief. The writer to the Hebrews urges every Christian to heed the warning of the generation that died in the desert. Instead, by faith in Christ, we find the true Sabbath rest of God in heaven.

Gospel – Matthew 11:25-30

Though they had seen many signs of Christ’s deity, Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum failed to repent. Jesus warned them of the coming wrath. Then he turned to his followers and praised God that the Lord of heaven and earth had revealed the truth of Jesus’ identity to the little children who believe in him. He has no words of judgment for his followers. He has only words of invitation, of comfort, of rest. Yes, the rest comes with a yoke—but look at whose yoke it is! Our Savior’s humble and gentle heart leads him to give us an easy yoke, a light burden, and rest for our souls. Christianity is not a religion of rules meant to impinge on our freedom; it does not call us to endlessly labor for God’s favor; it does not leave us to work things out on our own. No, it frees us from the burden of carrying our sin and puts Christ in its place. It connects us to Jesus that we might learn from him. It gives us the rest our weary souls so desperately need.

Keep your eyes on Jesus! – July 17, 2017

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives the one who sent me. Anyone who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and anyone who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And if anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones because he is my disciple, I tell you the truth, he will certainly not lose his reward.”
Matthew 10:34-42

Keep your eyes on Jesus!


Daily Devotion – July 17, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34-42

See series: Devotions

How can the greatest peace-maker of all time declare that he did not “come to bring peace to the earth.”? Look no further than your own families. In the Christian Marriage service found in Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal page 141, the pastor reads: “God intended marriage to bring loving companionship to the people of his world. But because of sin, the joy of marriage was soon overcast with sorrow, and the harmony of family life was shattered by strife.”

Marriage and family values are under attack. Sin and along with it, misplaced priorities, have brought strife to many homes. We don’t share these words to cast a blanket of gloom over the newlyweds or to be pessimistic about their future together.

We share words of caution, because Jesus shared words of caution. His words warn that if his followers begin to love and then prioritize someone, something, anything more than him, then conflict is inevitable. “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” Tragic, but avoidable.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. The one who took up the cross of salvation for us says, “Take up your cross.” The one who gave up his life in the glory and joy of heaven tells us to give up our life in the pettiness and selfishness of this fallen world.

Keep your eyes on Jesus who welcomes you into a new life of sacrifice and love. Keep your eyes on Jesus who welcomes you to the glory of heaven. In Jesus, you will find peace.

Prayer:
Lord God, in the trials of life, even those within my own family, keep my eyes on Jesus, my greatest love. Let nothing in this life keep me from the joys of the life to come through Jesus Christ my Savior. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Transformed – teen devotion – July 16, 2017

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Best. Prayer. Ever. – But how?

Jesus’ disciples once asked him to teach them how to pray. But before he did that, he taught them how not to pray. This is what he said in Matthew 6:5-8, “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

First of all, don’t make a show of it. If you’re praying in public just so people will say, “Wow! Now that’s a real Christian,” that’s all you’ll get: just some praise from sinful humans just like you. But instead, Jesus continues, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Head to your room, close the door, take out your ear buds, turn off your cell-phone, and pray to your heavenly Father. Pray to the maker of heaven and earth. Pray to the one who set the stars in the sky and knows them by name. Pray to the one who is powerful enough to heal the sick and raise the dead. He’s listening, and he can do something about your requests!

Jesus continues, “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

Have you ever thought that in order for your prayers to be effective they need to be long and you need to use words you’re not even sure how to spell? Jesus says, “Keep it simple!” Talk to him like you would to any of your friends. Be honest. Get straight to the point. Why? Because he already knows what you’re going to ask him. He’s just waiting for you to ask.

Now you might be thinking, “If God already knows what I’m going to ask for, why should I even pray?” Great question! Prayer isn’t for God, it’s for you. Check out what the apostle Paul says in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Why pray to God if he already knows what you’re going to ask for? So you can have peace instead of anxiety. So you can cast all your cares on him because he cares for you.

So what are you waiting for? Head to your room. Shut the door. Pray to your Heavenly Father. Keep it simple and be at peace.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, sometimes I make prayer so difficult. I feel like I need to say the right words. But now I know that I don’t. I just need to head to my room and have a conversation with you. You just want me to talk to you about everything on my heart and mind. Teach me to pray in this simple way. And then, Lord, grant me peace as I call on you. 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.

God is Our Fortress – July 16, 2017

God alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken.
Psalm 62:2

God is Our Fortress


Daily Devotion – July 16, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 62:2

See series: Devotions

The sound of sirens gave warning that a tornado was nearby. Quickly and calmly the family heads for the basement. There is some concern, but not too much because they’ve been through this before and everything was fine. Even if the tornado would hit their home, they are confident that the thick basement walls will keep them safe.

There are some storms in life that we just can’t hide from. You know the kind: the sudden illness, the financial mess, the unexpected death of a loved one, the heartbreaking betrayal of a friend.

These storms can sweep into our lives quickly and suddenly, or build up over time until they are raging all around us. When they come, they threaten to shake us to the core, and there is nowhere we can hide from them. Or is there?

The psalmist talks about a fortress in which we can hide. This fortress is so strong, so impenetrable that safely inside we cannot be shaken even by the fiercest storm.

God is our fortress. The powerful God who created this world and everything that exists, who has power even over death itself, is the fortress we can run to when the storms of life blow all around us.

We know that we can trust his power to protect us because he has proven his love. The same love that moved him to sacrifice his Son in our place on the cross moves him to use his power to guard and protect us in our lives.

When those storms blow in, and you know they will, find your security in the ultimate fortress. Hide yourself in the loving and all-powerful arms of God. Trust him to keep you safe and do not be shaken.

Prayer:
Almighty God, I cannot stand up to the storms of life on my own. I need courage. I need protection. Be my fortress that I may never be shaken. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

When joy is gone – July 16, 2017

When joy is gone – July 16, 2017


Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice.
Psalm 51:8




Military Devotion – July 16, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 51:8

See series: Military Devotions

On one day, we may feel that we can soar like an eagle. On another, it feels like we have crashed and burned. Life is like that. Disappointment can deflate us. So can failure. Fear can grip us. But nothing can crush us as badly as the fist of our Maker who slams us with a guilty conscience.

King David learned this by personal experience. The Psalm 51 is a cry for mercy, a call for help. He was not bleeding from a battle wound. He was sound of mind and body. The pain leaked from his soul.

The great warrior-king, the famous giant-killer, had stumbled into adultery and murder. He lived for a year safe from discovery and punishment. No one knew of his crimes. No one except his God.

Denial of the evil is a common approach to living with guilt. Strong denial seems to block pain and avert punishment. The wish is to move on in life as if the bad never happened. But the cover-up of sin, like the denial of a cancer, doesn’t remove it. It only allows it to fester. There will be consequences.

The Lord God sent his messenger to point a finger at the black mass growing in the soul of David. An MRI would not have detected it, but he who knows the thoughts and intents of the heart had already seen the spiritual cancer when it was only a lust and temptation.

With a story about a man who took a pet lamb from a family so he could feed a special guest, David was led to see a picture of his sin. In righteous anger David declared “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die” (2 Samuel 12:5).

“You are the man!” the prophet replied. The lamb represented Bathsheba, whom David took as his own; then had her husband, Uriah, killed to cover up his adultery.

David’s sins were exposed. Denial was no longer possible. He had pronounced his own death sentence. He had to admit, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

In reply, he was told, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.”

David was forgiven. The blood of the Lamb of God washed away his crimes. But in this psalm, David reveals the anguish the sin had caused his soul. “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion.”

When joy is gone, life is empty. Like a repentant David, we know where to then turn for hope.

When joy is gone, only God can bring it back.



Prayer: Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 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.




Rest in God’s Plan of Salvation – July 15, 2017

My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him.
Psalm 62:1

Rest in God’s Plan of Salvation


Daily Devotion – July 15, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 62:1

See series: Devotions

Short-tempered, unable to concentrate, unmotivated, and the general dark feeling that everything is worse than it really is–these are just a few of the effects a lack of rest have on us.

Our bodies need rest. Without it we have a difficult time fulfilling the responsibilities we have. If we deprive our bodies of rest for extended periods of time, it becomes increasingly difficult to function at all, and we may even become ill.

So we crawl into bed, sprawl out on the couch, recline in a chair, or simply lie down on the floor.

What about your soul? Where does it find rest? The psalmist proclaims that his “soul finds rest in God alone.” Why? Because “salvation comes from him.”

There is nothing that exhausts a soul like the guilt of sin. It weighs us down with a burden that threatens to crush us completely. Accompanying that guilt is the terror of punishment.

We know all too well how and where we have failed. We are painfully aware that God knows too. So the thought of facing him can be terrifying because he holds our eternal future in his hands.

How can I erase what I have done? How can I make up for it so God will grant me entrance into his eternal kingdom? The answer is “I can’t.” My salvation comes from God and only from God.

Jesus has erased my guilt through his death on the cross. The innocent blood of God himself was shed as the payment for all of my sins. That which I could never earn myself has been given to me as a gift of love from God: eternal life with him.

The blood of Jesus was shed for you as well. He took on your sin and guilt and was punished in your place so that you may never experience the punishment you deserve for your sins. May your soul find rest in God knowing that it is through him, and only him that you have salvation!

Prayer:
Lord, grant rest to my soul by lifting my eyes to see your cross and the forgiveness and salvation you won for me there. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Ultimate Triumph – July 14, 2017

“Ah, Sovereign Lord, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.”
Jeremiah 32:17

Ultimate Triumph


Daily Devotion – July 14, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 32:17

See series: Devotions

Do you believe the world will ultimately end in tragedy or triumph? Based on the certainty of Jesus’ return in power and glory, and God’s promise of a new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:13), the answer is triumph.

But more specifically, do you think your life will ultimately end in tragedy or triumph? That might be a harder question to answer…especially if you are in a season of suffering. That’s why we need to know the history of a prophet named Jeremiah. He was an ordinary man like you and me. He didn’t call down fire from heaven or heal the sick, like Elijah. Or part waters like Moses. He spent most of his days in suffering. In fact, he was called the “weeping prophet”.

About 2600 years ago, Jeremiah was watching the Babylonian army build ramparts around the city of Jerusalem, preparing to pounce on God’s people. The likely outcome would be tragedy. And yet, in that moment, the Lord tells Jeremiah to go purchase a plot of land near Jerusalem, land that would one day be Jeremiah’s farm.

At that time, it must have sounded like the worst investment in history. But to Jeremiah, it was a deposit of hope. Hope that for him and for the people of Israel the ultimate outcome would be triumph. That is why he prayed, “Nothing is too hard for you!”

Yes, Jerusalem would be destroyed. Yes, most of the people would be taken into exile. But God would protect Jeremiah and he would stay in the land. And the exiles would one day return and rebuild the temple.

Even and especially in the midst of your pain and suffering, God has made a deposit of hope. He did it when Jesus’ cold body was placed in a damp tomb, only to rise again, fully alive. Jesus’ death and resurrection paid for your rescue, but also for your place in God’s new heaven and new earth. When Jesus returns, all of life’s suffering will be transformed into eternal joy.

Knowing that your life will end in triumph doesn’t immediately take away your pain, but it will give you hope that the best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Lord God, you often bless me with joy and happiness. Thank you! But you also allow times of tears. In those moments, lift up my eyes to see that my life will ultimately end in triumph because of your victory through your cross and resurrection. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Count on Christ – July 13, 2017

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:6

Count on Christ


Daily Devotion – July 13, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 1:6

See series: Devotions

I have a painting that is stored in my basement closet. I started working on the picture when my wife was pregnant with our second child. The canvas was to hang above the nursery room crib. Our child is now almost six years old. The painting is still unfinished. I’m not happy about it. Understandably, my wife isn’t exactly pleased either.

Life is filled with all kinds of frustrations like that. People let you down. You let yourself down. But you never have to be concerned about God letting you down. At some point in your life, God began a beautiful work in you. That beautiful work is your salvation.

From beginning to end, the certainty of salvation depends upon God alone. Before he created the world, God had sketched out a beautiful plan to save us. Then, over thousands of years, God wove together the perfect canvas upon which he would paint his masterplan. With one stroke of his brush, God became man and made his dwelling among us. Stroke after meticulous stroke revealed Jesus as our picture-perfect Savior. With his unblemished life and crimson blood, he flawlessly accomplished our salvation.

But God is not done. He continues to work patiently, miraculously painting with the water of life. Look as he brings one face after another to life on his tapestry of salvation. There I am. And there you are! To the natural eye, we are cracked and blemished. But on this canvas, God has intricately and inseparably connected us to the risen Jesus. Through the filter of Christ, you can see yourself perfected and included among the host arrayed in white. See them? The countless faces of those now crowned with golden glory and cradled in Christ’s eternal embrace.

There are two, even three things you can expect in life. People will disappoint you. You will disappoint yourself. But you can count on Christ. He who began his saving work in you will see it through to completion.

Prayer:
(Psalm 69:13):
I pray to you, LORD, in the time of your favor;
in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation.

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

You Cannot Lose with the LORD – July 12, 2017

O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived; you overpowered me and prevailed. I am ridiculed all day long; everyone mocks me. Whenever I speak, I cry out proclaiming violence and destruction. So the word of the LORD has brought me insult and reproach all day long… But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten… Sing to the LORD! Give praise to the LORD! He rescues the life of the needy from the hands of the wicked.
Jeremiah 20:7,8,11,13

You Cannot Lose with the LORD


Daily Devotion – July 12, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 20:7,8,11,13

See series: Devotions

Jeremiah was given a very difficult task. God sent him to preach to the people of Judah—God’s chosen people. He was to warn them that if they did not repent of their sin, God was going to send the Babylonians to conquer them and take them captive. So this is what Jeremiah proclaimed.

As you might imagine, his message was not well-received. People do not like being told they are doing wrong. One of the leaders of Judah even had Jeremiah arrested and put in stocks. It was a difficult time for Jeremiah.

So he complained. He poured his heart out to the LORD, saying this was not right and this was not fair. Why should God’s enemies seem so successful while his servant suffered?

You know how Jeremiah felt, don’t you? You know how frustrating it can be to follow the LORD and receive ridicule in return. It can seem so unfair. And it can appear that you are on the losing side.

But you are not. Neither was Jeremiah. He had the almighty God on his side. What he prophesied came to pass. He was vindicated.

Remember this the next time you are ridiculed for your faith. Remember this the next time it seems you are on the losing side. You have the almighty God with you. He is like a mighty warrior. When you are on his side, you cannot lose.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sometimes it seems so unfair when I follow you. You know how frustrated I am at times. When I begin to lose heart, send your Holy Spirit to strengthen me with the reminder that you are on my side and will ultimately give me the victory. In your powerful and victorious name, I pray. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Final Word – July 11, 2017

The gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass…how much more did God’s grace…overflow to the many.
Romans 5:15

Final Word


Daily Devotion – July 11, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 5:15

See series: Devotions

This month, theaters around the world will feature a film about one of the most extraordinary stories of World War II. The title of the film is Dunkirk.

It is May of 1940. Nazi Germany has invaded France. The German advance has been overwhelming and unstoppable. As a result, 330,000 British and other allied soldiers find themselves trapped near the French coastal town of Dunkirk, with the Nazi war machine at their front and the waters of the English Channel at their back. Both sides presume that it’s now just a formality for Hitler’s forces to attack one more time and to swallow the British army whole.

Before that can happen, however, the extraordinary takes place. Word goes out to the citizens of England that their sons and grandsons are in trouble and that the British military needs their help. The people of England answer the call. From across the channel comes an entire fleet of boats—hundreds of them. They are fishing boats. They are cargo boats. They are boats from the merchant marine. They are pleasure boats. They are lifeboats. They are luxury yachts of the wealthy and the rusty hulks of the poor. All of them arrive to bring their sons and grandsons home. And by a miracle, they do.

Dunkirk, therefore, became a pivot point. It became a pivot point because, in that place, the greatness of the rescue had the final word, not a Nazi victory.

As you and I battle our way through the brokenness of this sinful world, it can often feel as if we are trapped. It can often feel as if the darkness, the despair and the grief of sin—yours and mine—will have the final word.

But that’s not the case. That’s not the case at all. Through the apostle Paul, God’s Word tells us that as great as our sins are, the Lord’s rescue from our sin is even greater. That’s why Jesus lived a perfect life on our behalf. That’s why Jesus went to the cross and paid for our every wrong. That’s why he rose from the dead.

And so fight the good fight. Do battle with your temptations. When you fall, come to repentance and get back up again, cleansed and empowered by God’s forgiveness in Jesus Christ.

For sin does not have the final word. The cross of Calvary does.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when it feels as if my sins are going to have the last word, remind me of your rescue. Remind me that you have the final word. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 10, 2017

To Him Be the Glory – Week of July 10, 2017


Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

1 Peter 5:7



Grandma worries. She worries a lot. It’s not depression. She just has a lot of time on her hands and so she thinks and thinks and thinks. Some days she gets herself worked up beyond belief about the tiniest of matters. Does she sin by worrying so much? Shouldn’t she just trust God? I suppose so. But I know that she worries because she loves. If she didn’t care about her children, her grandchildren, her world, she wouldn’t worry so much.

Such is the life of a Christian. We go back and forth between worry and trust. We can’t help it. It’s a part of being a caring person. It’s a part of being a person who is cared for. St. Peter in this verse does not say that worry is wrong. It certainly can be, but here he doesn’t criticize us anxious souls. Rather he says throw those worries on Christ. Notice that he does not try to fix the problem by changing our attitudes. He does not say, “Here is a program for you to become less anxious. Step one…” No, he says throw it on Christ, the one who will take care of it all and in fact, already has. Don’t waste any time convincing yourself that you don’t need to worry, rather just throw the worry on Christ. That’s how it works. That’s how your faith responds.

Just consider what Christ has done for you. He lived in your place. He died an embarrassing and painful death. He rose from the dead. He ascended into heaven. He rules all things at the right hand of the Father for your benefit. He has prepared a place in heaven just for you and he promised to come to get you and take you to heaven. Considering what he has already done for you and how much he has invested in you, do you really think that he could forget you? Never! Do you really think that he will not also take care of the little things? Of course he will. Cast, then, all your anxieties on him.



Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, we look to you and realize all is done. By faith we need not ask what needs to be done but look to you and see it already done. Help us cast all our anxieties on you. 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.



My Greatest Fear – July 10, 2017

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
Matthew 10:28

My Greatest Fear


Daily Devotion – July 10, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 10:28

See series: Devotions

Franklin Roosevelt said during his first inaugural address, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” The words inspired the American people during the darkest hours of the Depression. But what about today? Is our greatest fear simply fear?

It is hard to tell a person not to be afraid. There may be real, deep-seated, and identifiable reasons to be afraid. So what is the solution?

Jesus puts fear into the proper perspective. His words are to the point, “Don’t be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Enemies of the faith, false teachers, persecutors, agents of the devil, none of these should cause me to fear. They may threaten. They may be relentless and furious in their attacks. Still they cannot rob me of my soul. Through the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel message of Jesus, I remain the Lord’s. I am his, and his promise is that nothing will be able to separate me from his love (Romans 8:39). Since I belong to Jesus, I do not have to fear those who can take my physical life but cannot rob me of spiritual life.

My greatest fear should be that I might turn away from my God and Lord. He is the “One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” I need to be on my guard. While my enemies cannot tear me from his hands, I can leave. My actions and my choices may lead me away from him. The Scripture reminds me to go about my salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). God will never fail, but I might.

This is why I need to hold tightly to my Savior. In Jesus, I find courage. In Jesus, I find strength. In Jesus, I find faithfulness. Even more important, in Jesus I find forgiveness and peace. It is only through Jesus I can overcome all my fears, and even my greatest fear.

Prayer:
O blessed Lord, keep me safe through your holy Word. When I am afraid, remove that fear with your power and your presence. Then, strengthen me to live to your praise and glory. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.