Real Freedom – July 4, 2020

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Real Freedom


Daily Devotion – July 4, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1

See series: Devotions

Today, citizens of the United States of America celebrate freedom. The Fourth of July is Independence Day—the day which marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Freedom is a blessing we hold dear and defend boldly. Our nation’s armed forces are of one mind, that protecting our freedom is worth dying for. We are what our national anthem proudly proclaims: “the land of the free and the home of the brave!”

But are we really free? Whoever we are and wherever we live, are we free from what really matters? On our own we are not free; all people are very much slaves. We find ourselves to be slaves to sin, and on our own, we cannot break its shackles. We are slaves to our sinful nature and cannot live a day, an hour, even a minute without our sinful nature rearing its ugly head. Thoughts that pass through our heads, words that come flowing from our mouths, self-serving deeds that we scheme to carry out—they all show our true nature. They all show just how much we are slaves to sin.

Thankfully, Jesus broke the shackles of sin and Satan. Jesus has forgiven those sinful thoughts of our minds, the devious actions from our hearts, the careless and hate-filled words that we speak. He forgives us because he lived up to God’s sinless standard for us. Then Jesus willingly and lovingly allowed the punishment we deserved to be placed on him. On the cross, Jesus endured our death and hell. When he burst forth from Easter’s tomb, he shattered the chains of sin and death.

In Jesus, we have eternal life with God. That’s something that no power on earth or scheme of man can ever take away. That’s real freedom!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the real and true freedom that you give me in Jesus. Thank you for the blessings that I enjoy and the freedom to worship you. Keep safe those who celebrate this weekend and help me to never forget that real, lasting, eternal freedom is mine in your name. 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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God’s Love Saves Sinners – Family Devotion – July 3, 2020

Read: Romans 5:6-11

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6

God’s Love Saves Sinners


Family Devotion – July 3, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:6

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever been stranded? Maybe your car went into the ditch on a snowy road, and you had to wait for someone to arrive and pull you out. Maybe a flat tire left you stranded on the shoulder of a busy interstate with no spare. Maybe Dad or Mom forgot to pick you up from practice or a friend’s house. If you’ve ever been stranded, you know it can be a pretty helpless feeling. You might be far from home. You might even be in a bit of danger. There isn’t a whole lot you can do about it but wait for someone to come save you.

We realize what an awesome God we have when we are reminded how helpless we are to save ourselves. Paul writes, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” When we come into this world, by nature we are stuck spiritually speaking. We are stranded and powerless. There isn’t anything we can do to reach out to God.

So God, in his great love, reaches out to us. Into a world so undeserving of his love, God sent Jesus—the One and only One who deserves his love. Jesus himself said, “The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus had all the “tools” necessary to save us. Perfect words, perfect attitudes, perfect kindness, perfect contentment, perfect patience. He did all the work necessary to save us—living, dying, rising, ascending.

But God didn’t stop there. He came to you personally through his Word and baptism to bring you faith. Today he gives people who love you enough to tell you more about God, so that your faith can grow and become even stronger.

When your car is stuck, and you are stranded somewhere at night, it’s a pretty amazing feeling to see the headlights of your “rescue” vehicle pull up behind you. You were stranded. But help has arrived! You are safe. Think of that when you remember Jesus and what he has done. You were stranded. But because of God’s great love for you, help has arrived. In Jesus, you are safe.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, Helper of the helpless, we’re so glad and thankful that you came to save us. Lead many more to know that you are their help and Savior, too. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How might someone feel if they are stuck or stranded?
  • What did Jesus do to help us when we were stuck and helpless spiritually?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why it could only be grace—undeserved love—that led Jesus to come and save us.
  • Why is it so critical for us to tell other people about Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: When we live how God wants, we are paying him back for what he has done for us.
  • Identify three practical ways that you can show thanks to God for his love this week.

Hymn: CW 576:3 – Spread, Oh, Spread the Mighty Word

Tell of our Redeemer’s love,
Who forever does remove
By his holy sacrifice
All the guilt that on us lies.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Messengers – July 3, 2020

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matthew 10:1

Messengers


Daily Devotion – July 3, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:1

See series: Devotions

Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson—ever heard any of those names before? Most likely. Not only are they some of the NBA’s best, but they also played together on the 1992 Men’s Olympic basketball team. When NBA players were given the green light to play in the Olympics, the players selected were professional basketball’s best scorer, best passer, best defender, best shooter, and best rebounder. They were known as the Dream Team.

You would think, with so much hanging in the balance, that Jesus would have assembled a “dream team” of disciples. This was a one of a kind moment in history. God had come to save the world. And his gospel would need to go out from there across hundreds of nations, over thousands of years, to billions of people.

But Jesus didn’t put together the dream team. How surprising, how unexpected! Instead, he called people to be his disciples who didn’t always “get it” and didn’t always have all the answers. Jesus called people with emotional baggage, character flaws, checkered pasts, confidence issues, and family drama. He had come not to call the healthy but the sick. And he started by calling these disciples.

Perhaps it’s obvious how much the disciples he called to follow him have in common with the people he calls to follow him today. A dream team of disciples we are not. That’s not denying that God’s people indeed have a variety of gifts and talents. What it is saying is that we don’t have to be supermen or superwomen to be useful in God’s kingdom.

Our names won’t find their way into any history books, most likely. They probably won’t mean much to people who live 100 years from now. But we can make a big difference in the lives of the people around us right now as Jesus works through us in their lives. So we follow him as the disciples did—learning from him, caring like him, serving for him. Superstars? Not at all. We’re just happy to be on the team.

Prayer:
What a privilege it is to be called your disciples, Lord Jesus. Bless me in my service! 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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In Its Boastfulness – July 2, 2020

Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
Romans 5:11

In Its Boastfulness


Daily Devotion – July 2, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:11

See series: Devotions

Honesty, empathy, maturity, sense of humor. If you google “ideal qualities in a partner” those are some of the results that come up. Boastfulness is nowhere to be found on the list. And that’s no surprise. A boastful person is not a person people like to be around—because they want to call attention to themselves, to their accomplishments, to what they consider to be their admirable qualities.

In Romans 5, Paul says that boasting is what God’s people do. How surprising, how unexpected! But as you might suspect, this is not referring to the type of boasting we usually witness. Typical boasting calls attention to the boaster. Christians, in their boasting, call attention to God, to his accomplishments, to his admirable qualities. We boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

But there’s a secondary, supplemental surprise in this verse. It’s not just that Christians are encouraged to boast. It’s that Christians are able to boast in someone besides themselves. Their natural spiritual condition directs their attention inward, looking for something inside of themselves that might be lovable, praiseworthy, or admirable. So they naturally go to great lengths to trumpet their “good things.” They go to even greater lengths to minimize their “bad things.” The boasting that’s meant to convince people of their greatness only convinces them of their self-absorption.

The Holy Spirit shows us our true worth and how it comes to us! In the Bible, he assures his dear children that in Christ they are loved, valuable, reconciled, and headed for heaven. With that knowledge, it suddenly becomes a lot less important to boast in themselves. There’s no longer pressure to constantly build one’s self up. And that frees up the child of God to build others up and spend our days boasting about our God.

Prayer:
Help me, Lord, to remember my true worth and how it comes from you. Keep boasting far from me, except when it comes to boasting about you and the great things you have done. 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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Surprising Recipients – July 1, 2020

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.
Romans 5:6

Surprising Recipients


Daily Devotion – July 1, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:6

See series: Devotions

I pray that it doesn’t happen to any of us often, but perhaps you know what it’s like to be so “stomach flu sick” that any sort of movement, whatsoever, is going to make bad things happen. So, the cool bathroom floor becomes your temporary bed, and all you can do is stay put. That’s the picture Paul paints of mankind’s natural spiritual state with the word powerless. Too weak to move, helpless, and pathetic.

But it gets worse. Paul also describes himself, his hearers, and us as “ungodly.” Day after day, time after time, we cross our arms and dig in our heels, turning away from the things God wants, and turning toward all kinds of things that will wreck us. Who would actively seek out people so foolish? Who would patiently and repeatedly welcome back people who’ve acted so selfishly, knowing that their NEXT selfish act is only moments away?

Paul goes on to say that someone might be willing to give up their life for a noble cause, but who dies for a scoundrel? A degenerate? A parasite? Jesus does. So excessive is God’s affection, so unwavering is God’s commitment to save, that Jesus died for the ungodly. How surprising, how unexpected!

And it begs the question, who might be the surprising recipients of the love that we now show to others? It’s pretty easy to love the people who love us (although that’s not always such a cinch either!). When we love them, it’s generally not all that surprising. But it’s when we show kindness to and sacrifice for those who make us clench our teeth, that’s when we are most closely imitating our Savior, and reflecting the surprising love that that continues to be shown to us. Holy Spirit, help us do this!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you laid down your life for me when I was helpless and ungodly. That is good news, both surprising and welcomed! Send me your Holy Spirit in powerful Word, that I may grow in faith and show genuine love and kindness to friends and enemies alike. I ask it in your name and to your 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Love for Sinners is Undeserved – Family Devotion – July 1, 2020

Read: Exodus 19:2-8a

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:5

God’s Love for Sinners is Undeserved


Family Devotion – July 1, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 19:5

See series: Devotions

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

“Are we there yet?” When was the last time you said that on a family car trip? Did you make it even 15 minutes before you asked? Those long car trips can be great bonding time, providing family memories for years to come. But they can also produce some fighting, complaining, or threats from dad or mom to “turn this car around and head home!”

We might wonder if Moses ever thought of “turning the van around” as he led the children of Israel on the way to the Promised Land. The Bible tells us often how they would grumble and argue and complain. Didn’t they know how wonderful their destination would be? Moses must have been so frustrated!

But if Moses had good reasons to be frustrated, God had even more. He was the one they were grumbling, quarreling, and complaining about. Essentially they were saying that God shouldn’t have brought them out into the wilderness, where they struggled with food and conditions they didn’t like. And they did all this complaining after God delivered them from slavery in Egypt!

God would’ve had every right to leave them in the desert and abandon them. But he didn’t! By his grace, he promised them his love and forgiveness. God told them this: “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.” We might look at all this and wonder, “Why would God do that? They sure didn’t deserve his kindness!” That’s true, but could we wonder the same thing about ourselves?

God deserves and demands perfect obedience. We grumble, quarrel, and complain too. We deserve nothing from him but eternal abandonment to hell. But God doubles down on his love and care. He not only in grace gives us food and clothes and home and family—he most importantly gives us Jesus, the one who gave us his perfect obedience, paid for our sins, and won us heaven. Today, our God carries us on eagle’s wings. Today, we are his treasured possession. Not because of how awesome we are, but because of how awesome God is!

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, gracious God, for your mercy and undeserved love. Give us grateful hearts that do not complain or quarrel, and help us to show mercy and undeserved love to the people around us as well. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What were some of the miraculous things that God did for the children of Israel when he delivered them from Egypt “on eagles’ wings”?
  • Name some of the undeserved blessings that God gives to you.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Recall a time when you didn’t get treated as you deserved—for example, a time when you deserved to be punished but were shown grace instead. How did you feel afterwards?
  • What kinds of things can we do to show that we are grateful for God’s undeserved love?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Compare and contrast our lives and relationship with God today to that of the children of Israel.
  • Agree or Disagree: Considering what God had done for them, the complaining of the Israelites was worse than our complaining today. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 576:2 – Spread, Oh, Spread the Mighty Word

Tell them how the Father’s will
Made the world and keeps it still,
How his only Son he gave
All from sin and death to save.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Surprising Compassion – June 30, 2020

Moses said to the LORD, “May the LORD, the God who gives breath to all living things, appoint someone over this community to go out and come in before them, one who will lead them out and bring them in, so the LORD‘s people will not be like sheep without a shepherd.”
Numbers 27:15-17

Surprising Compassion


Daily Devotion – June 30, 2020

Devotion based on Numbers 27:15-17

See series: Devotions

Moses’ job was not a cushy one. The people of Israel were chronic complainers and as their leader, Moses was the most convenient lightning rod for their angst. One wonders how much stress-related insomnia he suffered, how many ulcers he powered through, over the course of his 40-year tenure. But at last, finally, they stood on the precipice of the Promised Land—at last, finally, he would get to see the fruits of all his labors: Israel marching into their new homeland. Only he wouldn’t get to see that. The people indeed would come to the Promised Land, but Moses himself wouldn’t see the day. He’d glimpse the Promised Land from afar, and then his earthly life would end.

If there were ever a time for lashing out, it seems this would be it. If anyone ever had a reason to be jaded and angry, it would seem to be Moses. But instead of telling Israel, “Good luck living without me!” Moses pleads for the people’s wellbeing; he prays that God would give them a strong leader. How surprising, how unexpected!

But it’s not all that surprising when we remember what the kingdom of God is all about. 1,500 years after Moses died, Jesus also saw a people lacking spiritual direction, helpless, and perhaps not even realizing how desperate a situation they were in. And instead of saying, “You deserve what you get. Good luck trying to make it without me!” Jesus had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

That surprising compassion, when jadedness would’ve been completely justified, is what pushed Jesus beyond mere sympathetic feelings and to life sacrificing, sin atoning, world redeeming action. We are the beneficiaries of that selfless compassion. And now we are grateful, joyful imitators of that selfless compassion as well.

Prayer:
How desperately we need you, Good Shepherd! Thank you for looking on your sheep with compassion. Give us hearts like yours, that we may treat others with care and compassion as well. 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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God Sends Helpers to Proclaim His Love – Family Devotion – June 29, 2020

Read: Matthew 9:35-10:8

Jesus called his twelve disciples to him and gave them authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness.
Matthew 10:1

God Sends Helpers to Proclaim His Love


Family Devotion – June 29, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:1

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever had a classroom job? Maybe you were the calendar person who wrote the day and date on the marker board each morning, or maybe it was your job to get everybody’s milk from the milk cooler at snack time. Maybe it was your job to stack the chairs on the tables at the end of the day so that the floors could be cleaned or to be “line leader” when the class headed outside for recess.

Could your teachers have done all those jobs themselves? Sure. They could have written on a marker board or stacked up chairs. So why did they ask for helpers? Well, maybe it was to give them a few less jobs to have to do—teachers have a lot of work! But maybe they also realized that you would gain something from helping. You would learn responsibility and ownership of something valuable—your education. You would get to be a part of something important—making your classroom run smoothly.

Jesus found helpers for himself during his life on this earth, too. You know them as “the disciples.” Peter, James, John, Andrew, Thomas, and all the rest. Could Jesus have done all the work of sharing the good news of God’s love by himself? Sure. (After all, he DID calm storms, change water into wine, and raise people from the dead without help.) If Jesus didn’t need help, why did he send the disciples to share the Word?

It is true that he had a lot of work to do—and a short period of time to do it. There were a lot of people who needed to hear the good news! Jesus knew that the disciples would gain something helping. Jesus’ helpers learned the responsibility of something valuable. They got to be a part of something really important—telling others the good news about the Savior!

Jesus still sends out his helpers to share the good news of his love today. Every time a pastor shares God’s Word with the people at his church, he gets to be one of Jesus’ helpers. Every time a teacher shares a Bible story with the children in her class, she gets to be one of Jesus’ helpers. Every time you invite someone to church or tell a friend that Jesus loves them, you are a helper. Being a helper is not something anyone earns. It’s a special job that Jesus gives us because he is kind and merciful. We can always be thankful that Jesus uses us to bring the good news to others.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Jesus, for sending us and others to tell about you. Give us strength for this job and joy in this work. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • There were 12 disciples listed in the reading. How many can you name?
  • Do you think that you could be a pastor or a teacher in a Lutheran school as your job? Why or why not?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What things would make being a pastor or teacher hard? What things would bring joy? (If you’re unsure, maybe you could ask a pastor or teacher!)
  • How can you serve as Jesus’ helper, sharing the good news, even if you are not a pastor or teacher?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify three reasons it is a blessing for Jesus to use different people with different backgrounds to share his good news with others.
  • Agree or Disagree: Pastors and teachers have more opportunities to share their faith than lay church members. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 576:1 – Spread, Oh, Spread the Mighty Word

Spread, oh, spread the mighty Word;
Spread the kingdom of the Lord
Ev’rywhere his breath has giv’n
Life to beings meant for heav’n.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Seeking Sheep with Compassion – Week of June 29, 2020

Seeking Sheep with Compassion – Week of June 29, 2020



Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Matthew 9:35-38



In England, some villages are built with walled, narrow passageways for transporting sheep. These small alleys are so very narrow that there is only room for sheep to go through in single file. There is no escape so that sheep cannot accidentally go off the path and into danger. Sometimes these passageways even stretch across the entire town so that sheep can be led safely to pasture. Without these trails, sheep could be lost and scattered throughout the village.

God uses this illustration of sheep and a shepherd several times in the Bible. All of us are like the sheep, wandering the world and looking for the right path. The narrow path, like those in the English villages, is like God’s Word. When we read and study the Bible, we learn about Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Jesus is the only way to heaven.

Jesus had compassion on people because he saw how “lost” they were—“like sheep without a shepherd”. He knew that people were on their way to hell. He traveled through small towns and villages, healing the sick and preaching the good news that we are free from sin because of Christ. The disciples, Jesus’ followers and helpers, witnessed first-hand Jesus’ compassion for the people and the need for other “workers” to have this same love for God’s people. They were directly instructed to continue this work of compassion after Jesus died.

Jesus wants us to have this same love and compassion for others and also offers us the privilege of doing this work for him. We are serving Jesus by helping others, and we remember that Jesus doesn’t need us to do this work. Beware! The devil wants us to think that helping others learn more about Jesus is a chore, a burden. Not so! Jesus has all the power and could use other ways to bring people close to Him.

Jesus wants us to serve him by teaching others about his life death, and Easter resurrection. He wants us to help others become “workers in the field”, too. He creates that desire in our hearts as he shows us the same compassion as he did to those lost crowds. He renews our hearts through the healing message of his gospel. That forgiveness moves us to joyfully answer the call, “Here am I, send me”. May we serve our Lord by happily seeking other “sheep” for his kingdom.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, Our Shepherd,
Thank you for the privilege and joy that we have serving others. Help us to continue our work with compassion and understanding, that we may teach others about your saving love. Give us the strength and zeal to do your work throughout our whole life and until we see you in heaven. Amen.

A Question to Consider: In what ways can you show compassion to people God has placed in your life? How can you recruit workers to join you in serving others with compassion?



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Fifth Sunday of Pentecost

The Holy Ministry Preaches Christ in Spite of Persecution

These are the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Are you afraid to be on the outreach committee of your congregation? If so, why? Are you afraid of rejection? Today’s lessons and Gospel remind us that―if that’s what we’re afraid of―there’s nothing to fear! That doesn’t mean we won’t be rejected as we proclaim God’s Word. We certainly will. But we’re not the ones being rejected; Jesus is. And he will take care of himself and us! Jesus has called us to proclaim his Word to others and promises to be with us every step of the way. (See Matthew 29:19,20.) So we don’t need to be timid or afraid. We can be fearless in our proclamation. We have the Lord’s backing!

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 20:7-13

What is Jeremiah’s complaint?

Jeremiah complained that he felt compelled to preach the Word of the Lord, even though the people mocked him for doing it.

What comfort did Jeremiah have in his suffering?

He recognized that he had the Lord’s backing and that he could be fearless in his proclamation.

What can we learn about facing persecution for the Word of God from Jeremiah?

Persecution can come from any quarter. For Jeremiah, it came from within the visible church. Pashhur, the chief officer of the temple, heard the message Jeremiah proclaimed and had him beaten and put into stocks. How telling that the first time the Bible calls Jeremiah by the title “prophet” is also the first time he faced bodily persecution! Proclaimers of the pure Word of God will always face persecution from without and within the visible church. But what could Jeremiah do? He could not hold in the Word because it was like a fire in his heart. He did his job and found his courage in the mighty warrior of the Lord and the knowledge that God will prevail. In the face of persecution, Jeremiah found courage, praise, and joy.

Supplemental First Lesson – Jeremiah 19:14–20:6

This lesson gives the preceding context of the First Lesson. Note the courage of Jeremiah, first in speaking the Word of the Lord that landed him in the stocks, and then speaking the subsequent Word of the Lord as soon as he is released from the stocks. To the man who had beaten him, Jeremiah proclaimed a message of doom and death by God’s hand. Pashhur could merely kill the body, so Jeremiah did not fear him, but placed his life in the hands of the God who numbered every hair on his head. In those hands, Jeremiah found the courage to testify in the face of persecution, and even in the midst of it.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 5:12-15

What unpopular message does St. Paul preach in verses 12-14?

He proclaims the message that God has about us: We are all held accountable for Adam’s one sin from the time we enter this world, and the punishment for that sin is death.

What is greater than the sin of Adam?

Only the gift of Jesus’ perfect life, innocent death, and powerful resurrection was able to overcome the sin of Adam. In the same way that God held us accountable for Adam’s one sin, so also, he credits Jesus’ perfection to our accounts. (See Romans 5:18,19.)

True or false: the message of God’s free forgiveness is never unpopular.

False. The message of God’s free forgiveness is often ridiculed as being “too easy.” Many people are convinced that God’s forgiveness is only for those who meet certain God-given requirements. Free forgiveness is thought to be foolishness (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:18-25).

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 23:1-11

What made Paul such an expert on the subject of persecution?

St. Paul knew persecution well: He knew how to give it, and he knew how to take it. The man who once had been the Church’s worst nightmare had become, by God’s amazing grace, the Church’s great Apostle to the Gentiles. But the self-proclaimed chief of sinners, who once persecuted the Church, then endured a ministry filled with persecutions. The list of dangers and violence that Paul faced is lengthy. By the time we find Paul in this lesson he had faced persecutions many times. Yet, his Savior never forgot him, and his Savior never forgot to remind him of the courage he could have in Christ. He was going to Rome, and he would testify. Not even a martyr’s death would be able to stop the testimony Paul would make for Christ. What the Lord whispered in the dark, Paul shouted from the rooftop. And when he met his martyr’s death, it was only the door to eternity where his Savior acknowledged him before God the Father. Grant us that courage to testify, O Lord!

Gospel – Matthew 10:24-33

Since we are Jesus’ disciples, how should we expect the people of this world to treat us?

We should expect to be mocked like Jeremiah was in the First Lesson and like Jesus was throughout his ministry.

If people reject the truth of God’s Word, are they rejecting us?

No. They are rejecting God, and on the Last Day, God will reject them. In other words, as we fearlessly proclaim God’s Word, we should never take rejection personally. God will act with swift justice on the Day of Judgment.

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Good News – June 29, 2020

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness.
Matthew 9:35

Good News


Daily Devotion – June 29, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 9:35

See series: Devotions

Recently, actor John Krasinski attracted the attention of millions of Americans with a homemade, self-produced news show that featured only good news in every segment. He called it SGN-Some Good News. And Americans flocked to it, reposting it on their social media feeds, and giving the show’s initial episode 18 million views on YouTube. It’s not hard to understand why. People are desperate for some good news.

It was not all that different 2,000 years ago. People back then faced disease and witnessed oppression. They saw marriages break apart and families disintegrate. They wrestled with hypocrisy and anger in themselves. They experienced disillusionment, and they coped with tragedy. Its manifestations may have changed over the years, but sin was indeed able to mess things up back then, just as it does today. People needed some good news.

And Jesus brought it, going through all the towns and villages, proclaiming the good news. But Jesus’ good news was more than just human-interest stories of kindness and hope. The good news that Jesus brought told people of the kindness of the eternal God, bringing hope of eternal life to people surrounded by sin on every side. He proclaimed the good news of the kingdom!

How surprising, how unexpected! It wouldn’t have been at all shocking if the Son of God had come proclaiming the bad news. It wouldn’t have been at all shocking if Jesus had proclaimed, “You deserve only anger from a holy God.” He would have been exactly right.

But the Son of God came not to destroy us, but to destroy the devil’s work by achieving perfect obedience in his life and by offering a perfect sacrifice in his death. The price has been paid in full, and we didn’t have to do anything to earn it. That’s good news.

In the end, Some Good News lost a bit of its luster as John Krasinski faced popular backlash for selling the rights to the show to CBS. Yes, even the best news that comes from the heart of man can still result in angst and turmoil. But the good news of the kingdom never loses its luster. God has come near and paid for sin. That’s surprisingly good news in a bad news world.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make your good news a comfort for me in our chaotic world and my hope of a brighter future with you in eternity. 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 – June 28, 2020

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

God and gender: Satan’s baptism

So called experts promise that if you change your biological sex, you’ll be much happier. They say you’ll experience a renewed sense of being. Everything bad that happened to you and everything bad you’ve ever done will no longer be a reality because you’re no longer you. You’re someone else. You have a new identity, a new name, a new look, and in some cases a newly modified body. Anyone who knew you before won’t be able to recognize you again.

These experts promise a fresh, new, exciting start that will supposedly free you from all of your anxieties. All you have to do is take really expensive, hormone altering treatments for the rest of your life. If you really want a lasting transformation, they invite you to surgically and permanently remove or modify parts of your body.

Men and women who have gone through gender reassignment therapy and surgery have reported having feelings exactly as described above. But if you do a little research, you’ll find a different trend among those same people.

They report that those amazing feelings last between 7 to 11 years, and then suddenly the bottom drops out. They have this realization that they’ve done something horribly wrong to their bodies and the life they’ve been living is a complete and utter lie. They become overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and suicidal thoughts. In fact, there are many who have transitioned who are now “detransitioning.” They even have support groups to help them through the process of returning to God’s original design for them.

They’ve come to realize that all the hype and all the promises are a pack of lies that come at an extremely high price to them personally as well as to their families. The new life they were promised, isn’t life at all. It’s a sham. It’s what I call Satan’s baptism. You pay a high price to experience a new life that eventually leads to death.

Compare that to God’s baptism. In God’s baptism there are no expensive, long, drawn out treatments or painful surgical modifications. It simply consists of being washed with water while these words are spoken: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (See Matthew 28:16-20) That’s it! The results are miraculous. Jesus says you are born again! (see John 3:1-8) Made new! (See Romans 6) Your past no longer defines who you are. What others did to you can no longer chain you down in fear. You are a new and lasting creation because Jesus Christ makes it so.

The Holy Spirit said it this way through the apostle Paul, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Verses 9-10 have always scared me to death, because I’ve committed some of those sins. God declares that anyone who continues living in those sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. That means you don’t get into heaven when you die. Instead, you go straight to hell.

But that’s not the end of the story. Verse 11 is the good news! Those sins we’ve committed aren’t who we are. They no longer define us, because we have been washed in God’s baptism, made holy by the blood of Jesus, and declared not guilty before God our Father. Our sins are what we were. Our baptism into the name of Jesus makes us who we are. We are a new creation!

If you’ve already received the gift of God’s baptism, remember it’s benefits every single day. If you haven’t been baptized yet, what are you waiting for!? Contact your local pastor today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are amazing! You make everything new. Thank you for the gift of baptism that washes my sins away and gives me a new and holy life. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Knowing Where to Look – June 28, 2020

God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Knowing Where to Look


Daily Devotion – June 28, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:8

See series: Devotions

Sometimes I forget how powerful the disease of sin truly is in my life. I forget that my sinfulness infects even my thinking, even my sense of logic.

For example, I dictate to God how he can show his love for me. I demand that he demonstrate his love for me by giving me good health, a good job, a stable family, money in the bank, popularity, prestige, a solid retirement plan. But when my health fades, when the good job goes away, when there’s heartbreak in the family, when the money dries up, when I feel like a stranger around my friends, I accuse him of not loving me. I accuse him of not caring. I even wonder if he exists.

Perhaps your line of thinking has often gone the same way.

How blind we can be, you and I. How arrogant and foolish. We question God’s love, even his very existence, all the while ignoring the ultimate demonstration of his love for us: The death of his Son for your sins and mine.

But there’s the beauty, the very way by which God demonstrates his love for us is also the very thing that washes away the stains of our foolish arrogance. It also seals God’s promise that his love will guide even the pain and sorrow of life for our good.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, fix my eyes on the cross, the ultimate demonstration of your love for me. And empower me to see your love at work even in the pain and sorrow of 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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Keeping count – June 28, 2020

Keeping count – June 28, 2020


The total number of persons belonging to Jacob—his direct descendants, not including the wives of Jacob’s sons—who came to Egypt: 66. And Joseph’s sons who were born to him in Egypt: two persons. All those of Jacob’s household who had come to Egypt: 70 persons.
Genesis 46:26,27




Military Devotion – June 28, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 46:26,27

See series: Military Devotions

A WWII veteran once remarked: “In war, life is cheap!” He had survived for weeks on the beaches of Anzio without a scratch. All of a sudden, pain erupted in his stomach. It was not an enemy shell. It was a ruptured appendix. Medics hauled him off for treatment. As he watched the mangled wounded come in, he came to realize that he was being overlooked. “I didn’t count!” he said. “I was sick, not wounded. But I knew that unless someone noticed my condition, I was going to die.”

One does not need to be neglected on a battlefield to feel that he doesn’t count for much. Bad enough if superiors act toward him in this way. Worse, if friends and family begin treating a person like this. Absolutely the worst if a person concludes that not even God notices.

A major famine was heading for Canaan in Jacob’s day. Money would do no good if there was no food to buy. So, God provided for Jacob and his family by allowing Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt. Years later, he could welcome his father and brothers by offering abundant food and rich pastureland.

News reports of the day would not have taken note of this one refugee family while countless others in Canaan were on the brink of starvation and death. But God noticed. He was counting these people—because they counted to him. Their number was 70!

Four hundred thirty years later, he counted them again. The time had come for his people to return to Canaan. By now, they could field an army of 603,550 (Numbers 1:46). Adding women, children, and others not able to wage war, the number was easily 2.5 million. He had not forgotten his people or the promises he had made to them. He had watched over them.

Their lives mattered.

If the Lord knows the number of the stars and calls them by name, if he notices when a bird falls from the sky, and if he has counted the hairs on our head, then we should not be surprised to learn that he kept count of the people from whom the Savior was going to come. Or, that he is keeping careful watch over us—counting our sorrows, counting our fears, counting our blessings—counting everything but our sins. For those he has removed from us as far as the east is from the west. His Son took them all away.

It matters little if we are far from home or if we are able to go home to our family every night. It makes no difference if we are sick or well, in safety or danger, awake or asleep. The Lord God keeps track of us. He watches over us. He neither slumbers nor sleeps (Psalm 121:3).

Our lives matter.

Thousands of troops stormed the beaches of Anzio in 1943. The Lord knew each one of them. The young sergeant from Rock Springs, Wisconsin, needed not to fear. The eyes of his Lord were upon him. His life was not cheap. It had been bought with the blood of Christ. In the eyes of his Creator and Savior God, he counted dearly.

As do we.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, we know that you neither slumber nor sleep. At times we feel that we have been forgotten; that our needs have been overlooked. Banish our doubts and fears. Wipe out our lack of faith. We lift up our eyes to you, O Lord, for your eyes are always upon us. And since you have already counted out the days and minutes of our earthly life, keep us safe with you until we have finished our mission in life. Then lead us home. Amen.



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

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


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Your Sins are Forgiven – June 27, 2020

Jesus stepped into a boat, crossed over and came to his own town. Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
Matthew 9:1,2

Your Sins are Forgiven


Daily Devotion – June 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 9:1,2

See series: Devotions

Matthew chapter 9 is one of the most rapid-fire chapters of the Bible. In fewer than forty verses, we see Jesus perform at least seven miracles, answer questions and complaints from the teachers of the law, Pharisees, and even followers of John the Baptist. All the while we see him confidently going about his ministry, calling another Apostle, instructing his disciples, and explaining his purpose on earth: to forgive sins and save souls. He raises a girl from the dead. He reads minds. He heals the blind, the paralyzed, the demon-possessed, and a woman with an unknown malady of constant bleeding. Except for time out to eat at Matthew’s house, the text of the chapter suggests that these events happened in a very short period of time during a brief stay in Jesus’ “own town.”

Jesus’ “own town” was Capernaum. This was his base of ministry in Galilee. Often he visited there, but he wasn’t completely welcome there. In Matthew 11:20-24 we read that Jesus warned this city that it would be judged because the people refused to believe in him despite the miracles he performed in their midst.

But therein Capernaum Jesus shows us why he came into the world—he came to forgive sins. He said to the paralyzed man, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”

When God declares our sins forgiven, we can be assured that they are completely gone because God cannot lie.

If your sins are burdening you, if your guilt is weighing you down, take heart. In Jesus, your sins are forgiven!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, the forgiveness of sins you freely give assures me that I am free of God’s sentence of condemnation. Clinging to your forgiveness by faith, I am blessed with a close and loving relationship with God forever. With all my grateful heart, 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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God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Paul and Me – Family Devotion – June 26, 2020

Read: 1 Timothy 1:12-17

Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.
1 Timothy 1:15-16

God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Paul and Me


Family Devotion – June 26, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 1:15-16

See series: Devotions

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

“If you want it, you gotta earn it!”

Maybe that’s what a parent says to get you to clean your room, feed a pet, take out the garbage, or help out around the house. If you help, there will be a reward.

“If you want it, you gotta earn it.” Can you imagine your pastor saying that as he tells you about Jesus’ love, God’s forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven? If you want them, you gotta earn them? I sure hope not! Because that’s definitely not what the Bible says! God does not give us those things because of who we are or what we do. He gives them because of Jesus. He loves us even when we are at our worst. He forgives us even when we find it hard to forgive ourselves or each other. God wants us to be with him in heaven even in the moment we feel a million miles apart from him.

In today’s verse, the apostle Paul points to himself as an example of someone God showed mercy. Listen: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” Paul doesn’t say “I was the worst.” (But now I’m so much better.) He says, “I am the worst!” (Like right now, even today!) Paul understood the bad we all have in our thinking and our talking. They are with us every single day in our hearts. Paul’s right. I am the worst.

Yet, Paul experienced the amazing mercy of God! God used him as an example that:

  • Jesus came to save sinners—like Paul and like you!
  • God’s love is not for sale, but freely offered.
  • Forgiveness is not earned but received through Jesus’ cross.
  • Heaven is really open and really for you!

Even when we are at our worst, God is always at his best. Marvel at the mercy of God for you!

Closing Prayer:

God be merciful to me, a sinner. In thankful response to your mercy in Christ, move me to be patient and kinder to the people around me. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why did Paul say that he was the worst?
  • Who earned God’s love for us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What’s the difference between Paul saying, “I am the worst of sinners” and “I was the worst of sinners”?
  • What are some ways that we can show mercy to the members of our family like God showed mercy to us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think of examples in life where “you gotta earn it.” How does that mess people up when it comes to being right with God?
  • What are some examples of God’s mercy and grace that we see and hear in church when we worship?

Hymn: CW 596:3 – Let Me Be Yours Forever

O gracious Holy Spirit,
My comforter and guide,
Grant that in Jesus’ merit
I always may confide,
Him to the end confessing
Whom I have known by faith.
Give me your constant blessing
And grant a Christian death.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Promise of Salvation – June 26, 2020

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.
1 Timothy 1:15

Promise of Salvation


Daily Devotion – June 26, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 1:15

See series: Devotions

Several years ago, a man donated his kidney to save his wife. His wife needed a kidney transplant in order to live. Not wanting to wait for her name to come up on the list, and not wanting his wife to die, he decided to donate his. The transplant was a success. This man saved his wife’s life.

18 months later, the wife began a long-term affair with another man. She cheated on her husband. After several years, her unfaithfulness was discovered, and the man eventually filed the paperwork for a divorce, in which was included a demand that she return the kidney he had donated to save her life. He wanted his kidney back, knowing she would die if that were to happen.

Those who have been the victim of an affair might understand that man’s anger and pain. It’s why what God did for the Apostle Paul is so noteworthy.

Paul called himself “the worst” of sinners. Prior to meeting Jesus, he had made a career of persecuting Christians. But he wasn’t referring to his previous life of unbelief when he called himself “the worst” of sinners. It was when he was a Christian that he said, “I am the worst.”

He knew that compared to the perfection God demands of us, we always fall far short as we carry on our long-term relationship with sin and regularly prove ourselves to be unfaithful to our Creator. How does God respond to such sinners?

He does not want us to die in our sin. And we will not die in our sin, because Christ Jesus already came into the world to save sinners. He gave not just his kidney, but his entire perfect life as a substitutionary payment to save even the worst of sinners.

Whatever your sin is, however great it might be, whatever damage it has already done cannot change the truth that Christ Jesus has already saved you.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, strengthen my faith in you by keeping me focused on your faithfulness to me in Jesus. 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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Have Faith in the I AM – June 25, 2020

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.’” God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ “This is my name forever, the name you shall call me from generation to generation.”
Exodus 3:14,15

Have Faith in the I AM


Daily Devotion – June 25, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 3:14,15

See series: Devotions

When Moses asked for God’s name, God replied by calling himself, “I AM.”

That might sound like a strange name to us. But consider how often Jesus, himself, used this name to bring comfort to the hearts of God’s children.

“I AM the Living Bread,” Jesus says to those who have been starving for forgiveness, love, and attention.

“I AM the Light of the World,” he says to all who’ve lost their sense of direction.

“I AM the Good Shepherd,” he says to the vulnerable sheep who are hurting.

“I AM the Way,” he says to all who are searching.

“I AM the Resurrection and the Life,” he says as you cry at the coffin of your friend, your dad, or your mom.

“I AM … with you, always, to the very end” of whatever path you happen to be traveling.

And wherever you are on that path, the job God has given you is exactly the one he gave to Moses. It is to remember that the person you have been doesn’t change who you are through faith in Jesus. You are God’s child. Your job is to remember that, just as God called Moses to be there for Israel, he has called you to be there for your family, friends, and neighbors—not to be the great I AM—but to point them to the great I AM.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, thank you for being consistent in who you are so that I can find regular comfort in who I am in Christ Jesus, 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Moses and Me – Family Devotion – June 24, 2020

Read: Exodus 3:1-15

Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And God said, “I will be with you.”
Exodus 3:11-12

God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Moses and Me


Family Devotion – June 24, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 3:11-12

See series: Devotions

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

In what ways is your life different from the lives of people who lived in Bible days? You live in a different part of the world, most likely. You speak a different language than they did. Your clothes are different from the clothes they wore. They didn’t eat mac and cheese, pizza, or burgers. They didn’t have electricity—so no Wi-Fi, tablets, or cell phones. No cars, no swing sets, no Little League. It may seem like we have absolutely nothing in common with the people who lived in Bible days.

I bet that you weren’t put in a basket and floated in the reeds of the Nile River when you were a baby, were you? So you might think that you and Moses have nothing in common. But have you ever been scared? Didn’t think you were good enough? Didn’t really want to do the thing that God wanted you to do? You and Moses have something in common after all.

When God called Moses to be the leader of the children of Israel, Moses realized what a big and serious job that was. He was scared and didn’t think he was good enough. He said, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He didn’t think he was right man for the job. But the thing is . . . God told Moses that he was the right man for the job. Being scared and hesitant isn’t a sin. But telling God he’s wrong sure is!

At that point God could have crumpled Moses up like a piece of paper and started over with someone else. He could have exploded in rolling black clouds of anger, with thunder and lightning bolts all around. But God didn’t. Instead he showed Moses mercy. He promised to go with him. He gave Moses signs that would show God’s power. He even promised to send Aaron, Moses’ brother, to help him. What a patient and kind God Moses had.

What a patient and kind God we have! Don’t misunderstand. It’s never okay to tell God that he’s wrong, no matter how difficult what he’s asking us to do. God says, “I will be with you.” He holds our hand when we’re scared, and he promises he always will be with us. He sends people to help us do the right thing. He will treat us with patience and mercy, just like he treated Moses.

Closing Prayer:

Your mercies are new every morning, gracious God. Every day we need them. Treat us with patience in our weakness, not because we are worthy, but because of Jesus, your perfect Son, our Savior. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • God told Moses he would be leader of his people. What did Moses answer?
  • Why do you think Moses was scared to do the important work God had for him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The opposite of being scared is being overly confident in our abilities. Which do you struggle with more—being afraid or being too bold? Why did you answer the way that you did?
  • Moses used excuses like being slow of speech to try to avoid answering God’s call. Come up with three excuses we use when we’re hesitant to do something difficult that God has asked us to do.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think of a time when you were overwhelmed by task you faced. What promises does God give you to remember in that moment?
  • Think of a time when Jesus was overwhelmed by the task in front of him. How did he handle that situation?

Hymn: CW 596:2 – Let Me Be Yours Forever

Lord Jesus, my salvation,
My light, my life divine,
My only consolation,
To you I all resign,
For you have dearly bought me
With blood and bitter pain.
Let me, since you have sought me,
Eternal life obtain.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Faith Rests in God – June 24, 2020

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 . . . So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
Exodus 3:7-10

Faith Rests in God


Daily Devotion – June 24, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 3:7-10

See series: Devotions

No one ever intends to get to the end of the day, look in the mirror, and feel inadequate, guilty, unlovable, or unimportant. But these things still happen. And if they have ever happened to you; if you have ever stood in the middle of life’s demands feeling more scared than assured, more discouraged than confident, more vulnerable than protected, then you have something in common with Moses.

That might surprise you. After all, Moses is the man who parted the Red Sea, saw God, held the Ten Commandments, and set the Israelites free. But, when God called Moses to lead his people out of Egypt, Moses saw himself as entirely inadequate.”Who am I?” Moses asked God; which wasn’t as much a question as it was a declaration that Moses didn’t think he was able to do what God was asking.

And God agreed. That’s why he said, “I have seen their misery … I have heard them crying … I am concerned about their suffering … so I will rescue them.” God wasn’t asking Moses to be their Savior. His job was to remind Israel that they already had one. Just as you do.

You aren’t a slave to the Egyptians. But you are a slave to your sins against God and the guilt that goes with those sins. You aren’t anymore able to free yourself than Moses was able to free the Israelites. But God is. And God has. He sent his Son, Jesus, to free you from your sins by his perfect life and innocent death. May the story of Moses comfort you with the reminder that the Savior-God of Moses is your Savior-God too.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, thank you for the rescue you provide for our souls through the gift of our Savior, Jesus. 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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The Promise of Forgiveness – June 23,2020

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Matthew 9:12

The Promise of Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – June 23,2020

Devotion based on Matthew 9:12

See series: Devotions

Compared to some of the other disciples, we don’t know a whole lot about Matthew. Other than the story of Jesus calling Matthew to be his disciple, Matthew’s name is only mentioned 4 times in the New Testament, and those 4 times are each a listing of the 12 disciples. He’s typically way down on the list, in the eighth or ninth spot.

What we do know about Matthew is that he had a very bad reputation in his community. You see, he was a tax collector. He collected money from his fellow countrymen on behalf of the hated Roman government. To make it worse, tax collectors were expected to overcharge and keep the extra money for themselves.

Jesus, of course, was well aware of what Matthew did for a living. And, when Jesus was scolded for eating dinner with Matthew, Jesus didn’t excuse Matthew’s sins. Instead, he announced that spiritually sick people like Matthew were precisely the people he had come to save. One wonders how Matthew felt as Jesus publicly described him as a sinner.

While we don’t know what Matthew felt in the moment, we get a glimpse into his relationship with Jesus when we discover that the name Matthew means “gift of God.” You see, when other writers in the Bible write about Matthew, they don’t call him Matthew. They call him Levi, his given name. Only Matthew calls himself Matthew. He realized that Jesus’ willingness to forgive him and associate with a sinner like him was a gift from God.

Whether or not your name is Matthew, this is also God’s gift to you.

God knows all the ways we are sick with sin. This is why he sent Jesus whose blood is the medicine that cures every sin.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, you know my heart and are aware of my every sin. Let me never forget the gift of forgiveness already won for me by your Son, Jesus. 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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God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Matthew and Me – Family Devotion – June 22, 2020

Read: Matthew 9:10-12

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”
Matthew 9:12

God’s Mercy is for Sinners Like Matthew and Me


Family Devotion – June 22, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 9:12

See series: Devotions

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

Do you have ranidaphobia? That’s a fear of frogs. Maybe you have chronomentrophobia? Fear of clocks. If you suffer from iatrophobia, you have . . . anyone? It’s a fear of going to the doctor.

Sometimes people are afraid of going to the doctor. But it’s important that we do, especially when we’re sick. The doctor can tell us what’s wrong. He can prescribe medicine that will help us feel better.

Did you know Jesus was a doctor? Not a doctor with a white lab coat and a stethoscope. Jesus is a doctor for our souls. That’s what he says in God’s Word for us today.

One of the things the Bible teaches us is that we are all sick. Not “body sick” but soul sick with a disease called sin. What are its symptoms? Getting angry and throwing a fit when it’s not appropriate. Sassing mom or dad. Saying bad things about our classmates.

While hearing the news that you’re sick is not usually a good thing, in this case it is. People who are soul sick are exactly the ones Jesus is looking for. He’s not only the doctor. He’s also the medicine that cures us. His holy precious blood seeks out our sin, finds it, and erases it once and for all in God’s sight.

It’s pretty awesome that the doctor, Jesus, wants to see and hear from us! Matthew and his friends were not a very popular group. Others looked down on them and tried to keep them at a distance. But Jesus didn’t run away from them. Jesus shows mercy to the outcasts, the losers, and the spiritually sick. He shows mercy to you and me. There are many things in this world that make us afraid. But we do not need to be afraid to stand before God on Judgment Day. Why? Because Jesus stands there with us.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Great Physician, for providing a cure for all my sins. Help me to be kind and show mercy to everyone. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why were the Pharisees upset?
  • How did Jesus show love and mercy to Matthew and his friends?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How can you tell when you are sin-sick?
  • How is Jesus both the doctor and the cure for sin?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Someone might be afraid to go see a doctor. Why do you think someone might be afraid to go see Jesus, our spiritual doctor?
  • The Pharisees were respected and popular people. While popularity by itself isn’t a bad thing, name three ways that popularity might be bad for our spiritual health. (Examples: We may only listen to our own thoughts but ignore Jesus’ words. A popular person doesn’t automatically make him/her a truthful person. Even popular people can be spiritually sick . . . they just might not know it because they don’t know Jesus. Scary!)

Hymn: CW 596:1 – Let Me Be Yours Forever

Let me be yours forever,
My faithful God and Lord;
Let me forsake you never
Nor wander from your Word.
Lord, do not let me waver
But give me steadfastness,
And for such grace and favor
Your holy name I’ll bless.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Unlikely Prospects – Week of June 22, 2020

Unlikely Prospects – Week of June 22, 2020



As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him. While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Matthew 9:9-13



Have you noticed that Jesus asked the most “unlikely prospects” to be his followers and helpers? Matthew collected money for the government, and these tax collectors were known to be dishonest. They often collected more money than was required and kept the extra money for themselves. Tax collectors would lie, cheat, and steal from the people and it was considered to be a despicable profession.

How lonely Matthew must have felt! Hated by most people, he must have felt friendless. When Jesus approached him that day and asked Matthew to join his disciples, Matthew probably felt confused, shocked, and then elated! Knowing his sin, Matthew was so relieved to be forgiven by Jesus. Oh, how Matthew must have appreciated the love and forgiveness that Jesus gave!

When people saw or heard that the well-respected Jesus was eating with a tax collector, they were surprised and perhaps repulsed. How could Jesus eat with this despicable person and his friends? But Jesus used this moment to reveal the purpose of his ministry, which was to bring “healing” to sinners. This healing is freely given through repentance and the forgiveness of sins through Jesus himself.

Do you feel like you are unworthy to sit at the table with Jesus? We may not steal from our neighbors, but, like Matthew, we are also “unlikely prospects”. We grumble at routine tasks of service and even try to pass them off to someone else. We try to look better than our co-workers or embellish social media pages that paint ourselves as perfect. Even the good that we do is still tainted with sin.

But how happy we are that Jesus chose a “sinner” like Matthew! Jesus calls us as his own, too!

God wants us to see our sin. He gives us his Word so that we can see our many faults that leave us in need of a Savior. He wants us to see our unworthiness and he wants us to seek Jesus and his forgiveness. And then, upon receiving the gift of forgiveness, we show that we love him by following his commands. How happy we are that God chooses us, the “unlikely prospects” to be his own!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus,
Thank you for choosing me, an “unlikely prospect” to do your work. Help me to serve others with a happy heart., knowing that I am forgiven through your death on the cross. Guide my thoughts, words and actions so that they may be pleasing to 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

The Work of the Church Depends on the Proclamation of the Gospel

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

What is the primary work of the Christian church? Surprisingly, many people answer that question in different ways. Some suggest that the primary work of the church is to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. Some say that the church is to work for overall social justice. Others think that the church’s job is to reform and restore the moral fiber of our world. These are perhaps all worthy tasks, but there shouldn’t be any debate about the church’s primary task because Jesus tells us what it is: Preach the gospel of forgiveness! (Mark 16:15) That’s our work and our privilege!

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 19:2-8a

What is a covenant? (See 19:5.)

A covenant is an agreement. God is here establishing a covenant with his people: obey me fully and you will be my treasured possession. This is a two-sided covenant. God’s covenant with us is one-sided (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34).

How would God view his Old Testament people if they obeyed his Word?

They would be for him a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

What is a priest?

The Scriptural job description of a priest is to be a go-between or mediator between God and human beings. In particular, he offered sacrifices for the sins of the people. God commanded that there be such priests in Old Testament times from the tribe of Levi. But in the New Testament there is no longer any need for such priests because through the sacrifice of Jesus, our great High Priest (Hebrews 7:26-28), we have all become priests of God (1 Peter 2:4-10), offering up our own spiritual sacrifices.

Supplemental First Lesson – Numbers 27:15-23

How does Moses show compassion on Israel?

After forty years of faithfully leading God’s people through their wanderings, after much pleading with God in prayer, Moses’ hopes of leading the people into the Promised Land were dashed. Moses would see the land from afar, but then like his brother before him, he would die because of his actions at Meribah Kadesh. But look at Moses’ response! There is no complaint or murmur or cry. See how this minister of the Word emulates the compassion of God and his Son: Moses’ first thought is of the people of God. He saw them as Christ would 1400 years later, as sheep without a shepherd. Leave them not leaderless, O Lord! And God answers with a man full of the Spirit to be the new leader of God’s people. Lord, give your Church more ministers who model your compassion!

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 5:6-11

How did God demonstrate his love for all people?

Jesus died for us while we were still sinners, his enemies. God’s love is unconditional! He was not waiting for us to love him first.

What does it mean for us to be reconciled to God?

To be reconciled with God means that all people were estranged or separated from him at one time because of our sinfulness, but now Jesus has washed our sinfulness away with his sacrifice on the cross. All people are now reconciled to God, and as Christians, we share that message of reconciliation with others who don’t realize or believe it. (See 2 Corinthians 5:18-21).

Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Thessalonians 2:16–3:5

What is the Church’s responsibility toward her ministers?

Paul’s words to the Thessalonians center on the ministry of the Word born of God’s compassion. The God who loved us also gave us the encouragement of his Word and sacrament that strengthen us in word and deed. Therefore, Paul beseeches the prayers of the Church for its ministers. Pray that their message be spread and the ministers are spared, for there are those who will work against this ministry and its message. Yet see the compassion of Christ modeled in his ministers: Paul’s words are ones of concern and comfort for people of God.

Gospel – Matthew 9:35–10:8

Why did Jesus show compassion toward the crowds?

Because they were like sheep without a shepherd.

What is an apostle?

An apostle is one who is “sent out” to proclaim the gospel. The twelve apostles had a special call from Jesus to proclaim the gospel without boundaries. In a very real sense, though, we are also “apostles” whenever we proclaim the gospel.

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The Promise of Forgiveness – June 22, 2020

[Jesus said] “For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Matthew 9:13

The Promise of Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – June 22, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 9:13

See series: Devotions

There is a website that invites you to confess your deepest, darkest secrets. It invites you to use their website to share with the entire internet the most shameful skeletons you have in your closet. On one recent day, there were thousands of individual confessions that had been posted.

There are proven benefits to confessing our deepest secrets. Holding onto secrets about yourself, especially the bad ones, dramatically increases your stress, drastically cuts into your amount of needed rest, and radically transforms your mood and emotions into an inconsistent mess. This website was created as a way for people to unload the heaviest burdens on their hearts.

Despite that, you might still wonder why anyone would choose to openly confess their darkest secrets to the entire internet. One reason may be that all of the confessions are anonymous. People are fine with the whole internet world knowing the most intimate details of their secrets, as long as no one can ever connect those secrets with their names.

And we understand why. We easily wonder what people would think of us, and what consequences would follow, if they knew the entire truth about our past, or about the thoughts and passions we so often indulge.

But Jesus is already aware of all of them, whether or not we confess them to him. When Jesus approached a man named Matthew to call him as a disciple, he was well aware of Matthew’s deserved reputation as a “sinner.” Yet he assured him that sinners like Matthew were exactly the type of people for whom Jesus had come. He came to call sinners into God’s kingdom.

Whatever your skeletons, whatever your secrets, whatever your sins, you don’t need to be afraid of them. Jesus calls you to confess those sins to him, knowing that he offers full and free forgiveness.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, as you hear me confess my deepest sins, draw my eyes to the Savior who forgave them. 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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Mercy has a price – June 21, 2020

Mercy has a price – June 21, 2020


I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace, who pleads for mercy. Then they will look at me, the one they have pierced.
Zechariah 12:10




Military Devotion – June 21, 2020

Devotion based on Zechariah 12:10

See series: Military Devotions

“Now this is the true Christian faith: We worship one God in three persons and three persons in one God, without mixing the persons or dividing the divine being.”

If these words from the Athanasian Creed seem confusing to us, it is because the nature of God seems confusing to us. Three persons, but only one God? How can that be true?

Because it is true—limited human comprehension notwithstanding.

Rather than trying to unravel the mystery with our minds, Scripture bids us marvel at the wonder of the eternal God, and grab hold of his blessings with our faith.

We can easily form a mental picture of God the Father. After all, we have seen fathers. We can visualize God the Son. He took on human form.

But what would God the Holy Spirit look like? Scripture compares him to the wind. What does wind look like? We cannot see it. We only see what it does. We see trees bend. We feel it move against our skin. We don’t need to see the wind in order to know it is there.

The same is true of the Triune God. Regarding him, we live by faith, not sight. It is a certain faith built upon amazing realities. God seldom shows us the how of his existence. Instead, he points us to the what.

We sing, “What a friend we have in Jesus” because we have been shown that he was willing to step into the place of the guilty—where we should have stood. The rescue plan was formulated long before Jesus was crucified. Long before he was born as our brother, he could say, “Then they will look at me, the one they have pierced.”

This is God the Son speaking. This is God the Son dying.

But there is more to it. Through the prophet Zechariah we see all persons of the Trinity are in the picture. The Triune God tells us, “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace, who pleads for mercy.”

The Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of grace. He pours out God’s undeserved love. He pleads for mercy. Mercy was indeed given. But mercy has a price.

The suffering and death of the Son of God was the answer to the Holy Spirit’s prayer.

The holy God could not overlook sin. His very nature ruled that out. Justice needed to be served. Sin needed to be punished. The death sentence needed to be issued.

Just like the rebellious angels, rebellious humans forfeited all the blessings of the loving Creator. They could expect only to be abandoned from his presence to endless misery and darkness.

But the Holy Spirit pleaded for mercy for humans.

We look in at the picture with amazement. Why would the Holy Spirit plead for unholy humans to be spared? Why would the Son of God be willing to make this possible? Why would God the Father agree to this?

The Bible gives the answer, then repeats it and repeats it. The Holy God wants us to know that we did nothing to deserve mercy. He wants us to realize how despicable sin is—and how deadly.

He wants us to know how much he loves us.

Our salvation is the work of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It was an act of mercy.

And the Triune God knew very well; mercy has a price.



Prayer: Holy God of grace and wonder, our feeble minds cannot comprehend the concept of the Trinity. We simply rejoice to know your name and your greatness. We wait for heaven to understand fully. But already now, we offer thanks and praise for being willing to pay the price of mercy for us. Amen.



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

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


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This is the day the Lord has made – June 21, 2020

This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Psalm 118:24

This is the day the Lord has made


Daily Devotion – June 21, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 118:24

See series: Devotions

When I was a youngster, my father bought a poster with the Bible passage for today printed underneath a picture of an 18-month-old child. The child was eating spaghetti. And of course, as little ones eat, they don’t seem to think they’ll get the full nutrients unless they try to absorb some of it through their skin. So, this little one had taken the bowl of spaghetti (yes, noodles and sauce) and had dumped it over his head!

Of course, after beginning to “wear” the spaghetti, the child discovered that it wasn’t as pleasant an experience as he had anticipated. So the child was now sitting there, covered with spaghetti and sauce, and crying his eyes out. And at the bottom, it read: “This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Yes, life can be messy. Unfortunately, often we cause the messes ourselves, because of our own sinfulness.

Yet, we rejoice!

How can this be? For one reason—Jesus. Jesus’ death washed my sins away. And Jesus’ resurrection guarantees that I, too, will be getting out of the grave someday. Guaranteed. No doubt about it. I WILL be going to heaven, because of Jesus’ wonderful work. And as long as we live, there will never be a day on which Jesus hasn’t died, on which Jesus hasn’t risen. It’s true. It’s done. We rejoice!

Even when there’s some spaghetti sauce running down our faces!

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, that I can rejoice and be glad this day because it is a day that you have made. 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 – June 21, 2020

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

God and gender: Identity crises

You’ve heard the saying and have probably been told, “Just follow your heart,” or “Do what makes you happy.” For someone who feels like a male trapped in a female’s body or a female trapped in a male’s body, that sounds like great advice. “How could my heart mislead me?” one might think or, “Of course God wants me to be happy and right now I’m miserable.”

There’s a problem with that line of thought though. God knows your heart better than you do. In Jeremiah 17:9 he says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Or in other words, “Your heart is a liar. Don’t trust it.”

The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to explain why in Ephesians 2:1-3, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

Reread that slowly. You were spiritually dead when you followed the ways of this world ruled by Satan. You did what your sinful heart craved following its desires and thoughts. What does that mean? Contrary to popular opinion and pop-culture, it means that wanting to change your gender is not a godly thought. It’s actually demonic. It’s an idea that comes straight from the devil himself.

The devil wants you to believe that your identity should be wrapped up in your gender or sexual orientation, as if that defines who you really are. That’s a lie spiritually dead people believe. Jesus Christ came to free you from that lie. He came to change your deceitful heart and bring you back to life.

Read what the apostle Paul writes next, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Previously, you were dead in your sins and deceitful thoughts, but Jesus Christ has made you alive. He’s forgiven you, saved you, and given you a position of honor! You are his handiwork! Like a sculptor painstakingly sculpts a beautiful statue, God sculpted every bit of you. He created you to do amazing things that are fueled by your real identity.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a son or daughter of God. You didn’t do anything to earn that right. God gave you that status because of his indescribable love. That love is what makes you who you are. The more you lean into that truth, the freer you’ll be to live out your whole life as his son or daughter.

Prayer: Jesus, I was dead, and you made me alive. I used to follow the ways of the world, but now I get to follow you. Thank you for showing me the real me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Know Your Need – June 20, 2020

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
Romans 3:23

Know Your Need


Daily Devotion – June 20, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 3:23

See series: Devotions

In medicine, whether the medical professional is dealing with an afflicting disease or an addiction to some substance, often patients deny that they are sick and in need of help. This kind of reaction is not limited to people with physical or mental problems. It is also typical of human beings when confronted with the truth about their spiritual condition. What is that condition? The Bible tells us, “All have sinned.”

Sadly, denial of the problem means a failure to recognize the need that we each have as sinners—namely the need to be forgiven. If there is a malady worse than sin, it is this, the denial that I am a sinner in need of a Savior.

“All have sinned,” wrote Paul. “and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). This is the truth of our spiritual condition before God. If we claim to be good enough to stand before God on our own, “we deceive ourselves” (1 John 1:8).

There is only one way to have a relationship with God. Through Jesus. He lived a perfect life, fulfilling the holy standard of God’s will. In love for us, God credits Jesus’ holy life to us. And what is more, Jesus died innocently. God counted Jesus’ death as full payment for the penalty of our sin. God has declared us holy through Jesus and has freed us from sin’s terror.

So, know yourself. Know your sin. Know your great need for Jesus. Like me and everyone else, your sins separate you from God. But like me and everyone else, Jesus came to save you from those sins. He is our perfect Savior!

Prayer:
Jesus, help me overcome my natural inclination that I can make myself right with God. I know that I need you. Trusting in your sacrifice for the forgiveness of my sins, I am proud to call you 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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We Proclaim the Truth about Sin and Grace – Family Devotion – June 19, 2020

Read: Romans 3:21-25a, 27-28

There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:22b-24

We Proclaim the Truth about Sin and Grace


Family Devotion – June 19, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 3:22b-24

See series: Devotions

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

In so many ways, we are all different. We live in different places. We have different families. We have different gifts and abilities. We have different likes and dislikes. We like or dislike different foods. We have different backgrounds, different cultures, different schools. We even look different. But the apostle Paul begins our devotion like this, “There is no difference . . .”

Why would Paul say that if we are all different in so many ways? Paul explains, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God . . .”? All have sinned? All have fallen short? Yes, all of us have disobeyed God. None of us have been perfect. None of us have perfectly listened to our parents or teachers. None of us have perfectly loved our brothers, sisters, friends, classmates, or neighbors. God tells us in his Word that we must be as perfect as he is. The problem is, we aren’t perfect all the time. All of us have fallen short, from the newest newborn to the oldest adult. No matter who we are, where we come from, or what we look like, none of us have been that perfect.

That means we all deserve punishment for our sins, eternal, forever punishment. Yet God loved us with a love that none of us deserved. We call that “grace”—God’s undeserved love that caused him to send Jesus to be our Savior. Paul describes it this way. We “are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

“Justified” and “redemption” are big words but really important. He “redeemed” us. He bought us back by facing our punishment in our place. By doing that, we are “justified.” Like a judge in a courtroom, God has declared us “not guilty” because Jesus suffered in our place. That becomes ours through faith in Jesus. Now God looks at you and me “just as if we had never sinned,” all because of Jesus.

We are all different in so many ways, but we are all more alike than we think. We have all sinned. We have all fallen short of being holy like God. Yet we are all loved by our God, who sent his Son to rescue us. We can all rejoice in this: Christ has paid for all the sins of all!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, your love for me led you to take my place. Thank you for living perfectly for me. Thank you for dying for me. Help me to live each day as your redeemed child. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How are we all different? How are we all alike?
  • What is God’s grace?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean to be “justified freely by his grace”?
  • Define redemption.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does knowing that we have all sinned help you to understand yourself and other people around you?
  • How does knowing that Jesus has paid for the sins of all people impact how you look at other people no matter who they are, where they come from, or what they look like?

Hymn: CW 382:1,4 – My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;
I dare to make no other claim but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

When he shall come with trumpet sound, oh, may I then in him be found,
Clothed in his righteousness alone, faultless to stand before his throne.
On Christ, the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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