Childlike Faith – Week of April 24, 2017

Childlike Faith – Week of April 24, 2017


Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:28-29 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – April 24, 2017

Devotion based on John 20:28-29

See series: ECME Devotions

In today’s world we have access to various types of information with the click of a button. The internet and social media have transformed the way we communicate and stay up-to-date on current events. It is not hard to find what is “trending”, which college friend had a baby, or who just went on vacation. In fact, the days of calling friends and family to make an announcement are practically over. Today, many choose to post their news on social media, because they know many will see it in just minutes. If we do not see a message or announcement online, we may not think it is true.

Thomas and the disciples did not have such easy methods of communicating during their time on earth. Delivering messages to others could take multiple days, and sometimes the message may not get delivered at all. When Jesus rose from the dead, he could not just post it on social media for all to see. When Thomas heard from the disciples that Jesus rose, he did not believe the message until he saw Jesus alive with his own eyes. Like Thomas, many find themselves doubting the gospel message because they did not see Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection with their own eyes. Many might turn to the internet and the world for answers, but we know from Romans 10:17, “faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” We may not see with our own eyes, but through the work of the Holy Spirit, we believe the message.

One can find many videos online that friends, family, or even strangers put up of their young children professing their faith through songs or Bible passages. We have the blessing of seeing this child-like faith every day in our classrooms as we share the gospel message with the children in our care. Children do not doubt their sins are forgiven. Children do not doubt Jesus died for them. Children do not doubt Jesus rose again. Children do not need to see something posted on the internet for it to be true, but rather they trust in the messages we share with them. May we be like little children as we hear God’s word and believe it without a doubt.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, give me a childlike faith that does not doubt your Word. Help my faith grow and become unwavering. Amen.



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



Replacing Doubt with Faith – April 24, 2017

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. … Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:19-20, 30-31

Replacing Doubt with Faith


Daily Devotion – April 24, 2017

Devotion based on John 20:19-20, 30-31

See series: Devotions

The following facts sound unlikely, but they are true.

• If you could fold a typical piece of paper in half 42 times, the folded paper would be thick enough to stretch to the moon.
• There is a species of jellyfish that does not die of age, it just reverts to a younger form.
• An average person will walk the equivalent of three times around the world in their lifetime.

These facts may sound unlikely, but they do fit in the realm of possibility. However, there are some things that seem not only unlikely, but outright impossible. There are some things that just seem too farfetched and too contrary to everything we know that it is easier to doubt than to believe them.

We can understand why the disciples doubted that Jesus was alive. Believing that a man is alive whom you know died is one of those things that is difficult to believe.

However, Jesus doesn’t leave the disciples in their doubt.

Jesus appears to them as they are locked in a room. He speaks to them. He invites them to touch his hands and side. He even eats in front of them. All this Jesus does because he wants to take away their doubt and assure them that he is really alive.

Jesus appears to you also. He doesn’t show up in a locked room and show you his hands and his side, but Jesus says you are blessed for believing even though you have not seen him. He has given you his Word that you may believe. As you read and study the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit will take away your doubt and replace it with faith. That is why the Word was written—to take away your doubt and assure you that Jesus has done the impossible for you. “These Words are written that you may believe and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Prayer:
Father, take away my doubt and replace it with faith. Use your Word to assure me that Jesus is alive. Amen.

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

Third Sunday of Easter – April 24, 2017

Hope Restored

These are the readings for the Third Sunday of Easter.

God’s Word for This Week

Hope restored. The certain hope of eternal life with God is founded on the sacrificial death and victorious resurrection of Christ. God had promised this ancient hope in the garden at the dawn of time. God had carried this ancient hope in his Word through the ages. How did the disciples fail to anticipate the resurrection? How did the teachers and people of Israel fail to see the Messiah God had promised and delivered? They let their wants and cultural expectations color their view of Scripture, and hope was lost. But God restored this ancient hope by raising Jesus from the dead and pointing his people back to his promises.

Traditional First Lesson – Acts 2:14a, 36-47

For whom is baptism intended?

Peter tells us that this means of grace is for all who hear his words. It is also for their children. It is also for those who were not there that day, including us. It is for all whom God has called or ever will call by the message which Peter proclaimed that day.

Why could and did the first congregation0 in Jerusalem continue to use the temple courts as a place to meet and worship?

They met at the temple because it was the house of the Lord and they were the Lord’s people. It was the Father’s house and they were his children. They gathered there daily.

Supplemental First Lesson – Acts 24:10-21

How was the resurrection of Christ central to the issue that faced Paul?

After his arrest at the temple, Paul stood before the Sanhedrin. The session erupted into a brawl when Paul asserted his belief in the resurrection, a divisive issue for Pharisees and Sadducees, and the Roman officer had to remit Paul to the regional governor. In this lesson, Paul is on trial in Caesarea before Governor Felix. The Sanhedrin had hired the lawyer Tertullus to accuse Paul of leading the Nazarene sect. In Paul’s reply to Tertullus he asserts that Christianity is no sect, but agrees with all that is written in the Law and the Prophets. It is the Pharisees and the Sadducees that abandoned Scripture and became a sect without hope. We hold to the ancient hope of Scripture: the resurrection of the dead.

Second Lesson – 1 Peter 1:17-21

Why does Peter encourage us to live as “strangers” while here on this earth?

It will always be a temptation for Christians to set their hearts on what they can see material things, institutions, approval from others, etc. It is a lifelong struggle to learn that everything visible is perishable while what is not seen has lasting value. As Christians, we need to remember that we live in tents temporary settings because we are not yet home.

Gospel – Luke 24:13-35

Why do you think Jesus didn’t reveal his identity to the Emmaus disciples?

It gave the disciples the chance to openly confess their unbelieving doubts. Jesus was providing them the opportunity to learn from him again as he reviewed what the Scriptures had to say about the Messiah.

They had just told Jesus not to go on because of the approaching night. But once Jesus revealed himself, why did they quickly go back to Jerusalem?

Their hearts were burning within them. They couldn’t keep the joy of this wonderful message to themselves, so they had to tell the others in Jerusalem.

What lessons can we learn from the account of the Emmaus disciples?

For these two disciples on the road, it was a day of great puzzlement, sadness, and disillusionment. They left the Holy City having heard the report of the women and Peter and John. But their understanding of God’s plan of salvation was deficient: they weren’t expecting a resurrection! John puts his finger on the disciples’ problem. “They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.” (John 20:9). Their sight, logic, emotions, and expectations had led them to abandon what Scripture said. But our gracious Lord comes and identifies the problem: they are not believing all that the prophets have spoken. They chose only to believe those parts of Scripture that met their preconceived notions of what the Messiah should be. Our Lord addresses the problem by explaining all the Scriptures that showed the Christ had to die and rise. How well did they learn the lesson? They marveled at how he opened the Scriptures to them and restored that ancient hope!

Transformed – teen devotion – April 23, 2017

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!” Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:24-31

Oh, the People You’ll Meet – Doubters

Even though he followed Jesus, learned from him, and observed him perform miracles for three years—Thomas doubted Jesus’ resurrection. If Thomas, “one of the Twelve,” was overcome by doubt, how easy it is for us and others to be overcome by doubt today!

When you meet people that have doubts, know that their moments of doubt can be solved. When doubts enter your own heart, know that God can handle your doubts.

Thomas had doubts, but notice where he found answers. Thomas did not hop a boat to Greece to discuss with all the philosophers whether there could be resurrection of the dead. Thomas did not go to his fellow disciple Luke, a physician, to ask him whether or not he had seen a corpse comeback to life. Thomas placed himself among Christian friends, and the risen Lord Jesus appeared to him. He was in the right place for his doubts to be driven away.

So it is for the doubters you meet today and for you when doubts creep in. How can they grow close to Jesus today when he is in heaven? How can you? Take the doubters around you and the doubter in you to the Bible. There they will meet Jesus. That’s why it was written. It was given to us so that we wouldn’t doubt, but would instead believe in Jesus and what he says.

When doubts creep into the lives of those you know, when they creep into your life, put yourself in the right place to have those doubts dealt with. Go find Jesus in his Word. It is there that he appears to doubters. It is there that he speaks to doubters. All of his promises, including the promises of peace and forgiveness, have the power to chase doubt out of hearts and replace it with faith. Then the doubters that we meet, and the doubter we see in the mirror can say with faith, “My Lord and my God.”

Prayer:
O risen Lord, when doubts come to us, draw near to us in your Word and sacrament. Drive doubt from our hearts and fill us with faith. Fulfill your promise to bless us who have not seen you and yet believe. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Turn off the alarm – April 23, 2017

Turn off the alarm – April 23, 2017


As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
Mark 16:5,6




Military Devotion – April 23, 2017

Devotion based on Mark 16:5,6

See series: Military Devotions

A blaring alarm causes irritation at best, and panic at worst. Those who have endured safety drills know the relief that comes when that noise finally goes quiet. Those who have heard the words “This is not a drill!” know how this makes hearts race.

Alarms are good because they can warn us of danger. They prepare us to take defensive action. However, a false alarm is counter-productive. Too many false alarms can lead us to ignore the real thing. An unnecessary alarm is in a class by itself. Maybe there was a time when that alarm was vital to our survival. But with the danger over, it may keep us in an unnecessary state of stress.

While the Christian needs alarms to dangers in life, because of Easter, we can turn off the alarm warning about death.

The thought of death can be alarming. The sight of death, even more so. Those who sing: “I walk in danger all the way…” may not always feel that danger. But some who place themselves in harm’s way to protect others may sometimes live day and night with that feeling. They may also find difficulty in determining what is dangerous, and what is not. Is that soda can on the side of the road dangerous? Is that woman in a burka dangerous? What about that empty car?

Alarms go off in our heads when we see hints of possible danger. And they should.

But for us, there is no danger in death. It is not merely like a poisonous snake with its fangs pulled out. It is like that snake with its head crushed.

Jesus of Nazareth has crushed the power of sin, death, and the devil. It’s not empty bravado that causes us to sing: “Satan, I defy thee; death I now decry thee; Fear, I bid thee cease.”

Why, then, does the thought of death sometimes still alarm us? The answer is simple. We tend to forget about Easter. We overlook the words of the Lord of life and death who proclaimed to us: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies” (John 11:25).

Satan is an expert at producing false news. He projects for us a mental video that shows everything we love, gone. Everything beautiful, ruined. All joy faded, and all hope killed. Only a gravestone marks that we once were alive.

For a true picture, look into the Easter tomb. See there, death defeated. See there, life triumphant. See there your own grave, vacant. One day angels can point to where your body was placed, and say about you, “He is not there. He has risen!”

God’s promise is clear—and he does not lie: “Because he lives, we will live also.”

For heaven’s sake, when it comes to dying, Turn off the alarm!



Prayer: Lord Jesus, who died so that we may live forever, keep pointing us to your empty tomb. Keep repeating the words of the angel who tells us to turn off the alarm that the thought of death might trigger. Allow us to live in the peace and joy of Easter. Amen.



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

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




Keys – April 23, 2017

“Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever. And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
Revelation 1:17-18

Keys


Daily Devotion – April 23, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 1:17-18

See series: Devotions

In San Jose, California, there is a set of keys that will let you in to a strange and massive house. It’s called the Winchester Mansion, and there’s nothing like it anywhere. The person responsible for building it was Sarah Winchester, the widow of the man who invented the famous rifle. At a time when workmen earned 50 cents a day, the mansion cost 5 million dollars. The mansion has 160 rooms, 17 chimneys, 13 bathrooms, 47 fireplaces, and 10,000 window panes.

What makes the mansion unique, however, is not just the size. It’s the design. All throughout the house are stairs that lead nowhere, hallways that dead-end, doors that open to brick walls. And here’s why. Not long after her husband’s death, a spiritualist had convinced Mrs. Winchester that as long as she kept adding on to the house, she would never die. And so that’s what she did. With her vast fortune, Sarah Winchester kept construction crews working on her house non-stop for 38 years.

But her keys to the house were not the keys to eternal life. Sarah Winchester died in 1922.

There’s another set of keys. These keys are different. These keys are in the hand of Jesus. In our place Jesus died. He died for our every sin. Then he rose from death. In doing this he demonstrated who he is. He is death’s Master. Death must answer to him.

It’s true, each of us can still expect our bodies to wear out and die, as Sarah Winchester’s did. But remember. Jesus has the keys. He has unlocked the door of death. He’s pushed it wide open. And through that door lies eternal life.

Prayer:
Risen Lord, you are death’s Master. You hold its keys. It must answer to you. When death touches my life, bring me comfort and joy in who you are. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Strong or Weak – He Is My Strength – April 22, 2017

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:14

Strong or Weak – He Is My Strength


Daily Devotion – April 22, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 118:14

See series: Devotions

There are days when I feel strong. There are days when I feel weak. When I wake up after a great night of sleep, am feeling healthy and sunshine greets my day, I feel strong. When I’m tired, feeling sick and a canopy of clouds shuts out every bright beam of the sun, I feel weak.

I realize those lists are a bit simplistic. They don’t touch on the ups and downs of relationships, careers, or a huge list of other potential “strong-weak” factors.

But in the most basic and devastating way, we are weak spiritually. We don’t do the good things God tells us to do. How many times have we been too weak to share when we had plenty? Too weak to be kind when we saw someone hurting? Too weak to be patient when someone was struggling? How weak we are!

We are also weak because we cave in and do the things our God tells us not to do. How many times have we looked and lusted? How often have we dragged someone’s name through the mud? How many times have we rejected God’s offer and command to spend time in his Word? How weak we are! We are weak and incapable of doing what pleases God.

How strong! How strong is the LORD. In the Psalm for today, the author tells us: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” God is all-powerful! In his mercy and love, God uses his strength for our benefit. God provides for our daily needs – food, clothing, shelter and many more blessings.

God displayed his love and his strength in an even bigger way. He provided salvation for us. Just a few days ago, we had a beautiful opportunity to study and celebrate God’s love and strength in our Easter celebrations. In his strength, Jesus, true God, carried what only he could carry – the punishment of the sins of the whole world. He suffered and died on the cross. In his strength, he laid down his life and picked it up again as he rose in victorious life on Easter morning. In love, Jesus saved us.

God is strong. He is our strength. Whether the sun shines or hides, or our health soars or tanks, we have strength – the LORD’s strength. Sins forgiven and salvation won, God makes us strong and gives us a reason for singing: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.”

Prayer:
LORD God, I am weak, but you are strong. Thank you for forgiving my sins and saving me. Thank you for making me your child and giving me heaven as my eternal home. Make my whole life a song of joy and thanks to you for all that you’ve done for me. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Of First Importance – April 21, 2017

Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4

Of First Importance


Daily Devotion – April 21, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4

See series: Devotions

The real estate business is fairly simple, isn’t it? Location…location…location. Of course, if you have been out house shopping you know there’s a lot more to it. There is also price, size, floor plan and finishes like flooring, cabinetry and paint colors.

Because of this, homebuyers must create their own personal priority lists.

Sometimes people shop for churches in a similar way. They look for location and a whole lot more. They care about denominational affiliation, worship styles, youth programs, worship times and even the pastor’s personality.

The apostle Paul was in the church building business and he offers exceptional advice to church shoppers today: For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance.

The Bible and the churches that proclaim the Bible have so much to offer to people today, but as Paul notes some things are more important than others.

For Paul it is not location, location, location, but Christ, Christ, Christ. Of first, and foremost importance is Christ who lived a perfect life in our place, who died a sacrificial death for the sins of the world and who was raised on the third day, as promised, to declare forgiveness of sins to the world.

If you are church shopping, look for Christ…Christ…Christ… Look for the clear message of Jesus, the perfect Son of God; Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for sin; Jesus, the perfect living Lord of all. By this gospel you are saved… When you find that church—buy in 100%—and take your stand.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, lead me to a church that clearly proclaims you as the Christ, the Son of the Living God and if I am already there lead me to hold firmly to the Word that is preached to me. Amen.

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

Jesus Has Removed Death’s Sting – April 20, 2017

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Jesus Has Removed Death’s Sting


Daily Devotion – April 20, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

See series: Devotions

The Australian box jellyfish is considered the most venomous creature in the ocean. It gets its name from the cube-like shape of its bell. As many as 60 tentacles grow from the bell and can reach 10 feet in length. Each tentacle has about 5,000 stinging cells. Its venom contains toxins that attack the heart, nervous system, and skin cells. It is so overpoweringly painful, human victims have been known to go into shock and drown or die of heart failure before even reaching shore. You do NOT want to bump into a box jellyfish.

Unless, of course, someone had removed every stinger from its tentacles. Without stingers, there would be nothing to fear from a box jellyfish. It would become as dangerous as the stuffed octopus your child won at the county fair. There would be no reason to fear this formerly frightening creature.

The Bible tells us about another formerly frightening creature we no longer need to fear. It is a creature we will all face. Unlike the box jellyfish, we cannot avoid this creature by staying out of the ocean. The creature is death.

But listen to what the Bible says about death: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Death is frightening because we know that when we die we will meet our Maker. And we know we have disobeyed him. But Jesus washed away our disobedience when he went to the cross. He removed our reason for being afraid of death. Because of Jesus, death is but the doorway to a far better, eternal existence in heaven.

If you are ever swimming off the northern coast of Australia, you have good reason to be afraid of box jellyfish. But you do not need to be afraid of death. Jesus has removed its sting.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you, for washing away my sin so that I do not need to fear my death. Grant that this truth comforts and calms me this day. Amen.

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

Salvation comes from the LORD – April 19, 2017

“In my distress I called to the LORD, and he answered me. From the depths of the grave I called for help, and you listened to my cry. You hurled me into the deep, into the very heart of the seas, and the currents swirled about me; all your waves and breakers swept over me. I said, ‘I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.’ The engulfing waters threatened me, the deep surrounded me; seaweed was wrapped around my head. To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But you brought my life up from the pit, O LORD my God. “When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs. But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. Salvation comes from the LORD.”
Jonah 2:2-9

Salvation comes from the LORD


Daily Devotion – April 19, 2017

Devotion based on Jonah 2:2-9

See series: Devotions

Have you ever been in a situation where you lost all control? Maybe you were driving down the highway and your car hit a very slippery spot and immediately began sliding and spinning. You quickly realize that no matter how much you pump the brakes or crank on the wheel, it doesn’t matter. The situation is out of your control. Or perhaps you’ve been dealing with a health issue, and it seems that no matter what you do, it doesn’t seem to make a difference. You faithfully take all your pills, eat a healthy diet, and even do your daily exercise. But the situation seems out of your control.

This must have been how Jonah felt. He was in the belly of a great fish, not knowing which way was up or down or how to get out. The situation was out of his control. So he did the only thing he could. He called out to the LORD in his distress, because he knew that “salvation comes from the LORD.” The LORD answered Jonah’s prayer and commanded the fish to vomit the prophet safely on dry land.

When the religious leaders of Jesus’ day asked him to prove that he was the promised Messiah, Jesus answered by saying, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40). Just as Jonah spent three days in the dark enclosed belly of a fish, so Jesus would spend three days in a tomb to prove once and for all that “salvation comes from the LORD.” But here’s a major difference: God used the fish to discipline Jonah as he fled from the mission that God had given him to preach repentance to the people of Nineveh. Jesus never once wavered from the mission that God had given him, but he suffered death and the grave–not for his own rebellion, but for ours.

“Salvation come from the LORD.” In a miracle, far greater than being rescued from the belly of a fish, God raised his Son Jesus from the dead not only to save him, but to show that salvation for all people comes through Jesus.

Do you feel like your life is out of control? Like Jonah, cry out to the LORD in your distress, because the LORD loves you and promises to listen to the prayers of his children. If he answers your prayer and grants you salvation from your earthly problem, like Jonah you can offer a song of thanksgiving. But even if he doesn’t, you can still offer a song of thanksgiving because you can be confident that LORD God who raised Jesus from the dead has promised to work all things to bring you eternal salvation.

Prayer:
LORD, in my distress I call out to you. Hear my prayer and strengthen my faith in your promises. With shouts of grateful praise, I lift my voice, because salvation comes from 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Resurrected Life – April 18, 2017

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:1-4

A Resurrected Life


Daily Devotion – April 18, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 3:1-4

See series: Devotions

He had lived all his life on the streets. His skin was weathered. His hair a tangled mess. His clothes tattered and stained. He slept on cardboard and under garbage bags. He dined in alleyways from restaurant dumpsters. Days he spent squatting on sidewalks, begging from passersby.

One day someone stopped, lifted him up, cleaned him up, dressed him up, and gave him $10,000 a week to live on. But months later, the pauper turned prince was still living on the streets. Once a week, he’d clean up. Once a month, he’d dine in a restaurant. He was not taking advantage of his new-found life.

God’s Word says that through faith we have been raised with Christ. But are we living the resurrected life? Not if we only focus on Christ’s resurrection one day a year, Easter Sunday. The blessings of a resurrected life are life-changing. Take advantage of it!

A resurrected life is a life that looks up. Guilt can’t consume us because we find daily rest in Christ’s payment for all our sins. The world can’t fool us because we have God’s wisdom for making good decisions. Bad days can’t stop us because we have confidence in a better eternal tomorrow. Happiness is never out of reach, because it’s already in hand as we imitate the humble servant-life of our victorious Savior, Jesus Christ.

A resurrected life is a life connected to Christ. Your conscience may condemn you and Satan may accuse you. Let them! You have been set free from the guilt of sin. You are a redeemed child of the Father, purchased by the blood of Christ.

A resurrected life is a life with a glorious future. You may be overcome by the world’s hatred and hardship. But remember, what is over your head is still under Jesus’ feet. And one day, you will reign with Christ forever.

Prayer: (Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 405)
Lord, give us such a faith as this, and then whatever may come, we’ll taste even now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home. Amen.

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

Don’t Be Alarmed – Week of April 17, 2017

Don’t Be Alarmed – Week of April 17, 2017


But when they looked up, they [Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome] saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb.
Mark 16:4-8 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – April 17, 2017

Devotion based on Mark 16:4-8

See series: ECME Devotions

“Don’t be alarmed.” The angel uttered this phrase as the women approached Jesus’ tomb. Those who work with young children probably find themselves saying similar phrases on a regular basis: “Don’t worry, it’s just a scratch,” or “It’ll be okay, your mom will be back later.” Children are easily scared and concerned from life’s challenges that are thrown their way, both big and small.

Perhaps you have found yourself feeling scared and worried lately and needing comfort. Maybe your busy schedule is leaving you feeling guilty over the small amount of time you have to spend with friends and family. Maybe someone you love is fighting a losing battle with an illness or addiction. A sin-filled world brings many reasons to grow concerned and feel down. Quite frankly—there are many things that cause fear and alarm. But praise be to God that we have hope amidst these challenges.

Don’t be alarmed! Jesus? The Nazarene? The crucified one? He has risen! He is not here! What a comfort this is for us as well! The Easter message, “He has risen! He is not here!” gives us hope that the sin and suffering of this world is only temporary, but the gift of heaven is everlasting.
Just as the angel told the women to spread the message of the resurrection to Peter and the rest of Jesus’ disciples, what joy is ours to speak the same: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again. In him there is no reason to fear. Happy Easter!



Prayer: He lives, all glory to his name! He lives, my Jesus still the same. Oh, the sweet joy this sentence gives: “I know that my Redeemer lives!” Amen.
Christian Worship 152:8



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



Second Sunday of Easter – April 17, 2017

Christ Gives Us Peace and Proof

These are the readings for the Second Sunday of Easter.

God’s Word for This Week

In the face of doubt, Christ gives us proof and peace. To the doubting disciples, he gave certain proof that led to certain peace. Through his Word and sacraments, Jesus gives the same proof to all people of all time. “Peace be with you,” said our Lord. Then he sent his people forth with this message of peace based on the proof of his resurrection.

Traditional First Lesson – Acts 2:14a, 22-32

What was the purpose of the miracles that Jesus performed?

Peter said that those works were God’s certification that Jesus came from God and did God’s work. Those works bore witness that Jesus’ message was God’s message. They attested to the fact that he was the promised Messiah. As David, we too can be filled with joy and hope confident that God will not simply leave our bodies to decay in the grave. We are one of God’s “holy ones” certain of the joys of eternal life.

What do the words quoted from Psalm 16 teach us about death?

Our attention is once again directed to the empty tomb. While many religions hold out a hope of either blessings here on this earth or in the hereafter to their hearers, that hope is acquired as one earns them. Thus, one can never be sure and their hope is tainted.

Jesus told Thomas, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” However, Jesus had good reason to let the disciples see him with their own eyes: they were to be his witnesses. When Peter stood before the crowds on Pentecost, we see the purpose for all the resurrection appearances of Jesus. He showed himself to them; he ate and drank with them; he let them touch his flesh and bones; he showed them his holy wounds. Jesus let them see and touch because they weren’t just looking for themselves. No, these eleven would be the witnesses of the bodily resurrection of Christ for all ages. Through the eyes of these eleven men, God gives his Church the gift of proof and the gift of peace.

Supplemental First Lesson – Acts 10:34a, 36, 39-43

How did new Christians receive the blessing of proof from Christ’s Easter resurrection appearances?

The Gentile believers to whom Peter spoke had never seen the risen Lord. But Peter had; Peter had watched Jesus eat and drink; Peter had touched and felt his risen body. God had made his disciples both apostles and witnesses of the resurrection so that they could provide proof for the Gentiles. They were sent to give this proof and proclaim Christ’s peace to these new Christians who fulfilled Jesus’ promise to Thomas: they had not seen, but yet they believed.

Second Lesson – 1 Peter 1:3-9

What does Peter mean when he says we have a “living hope”? (verse. 3)

A Christian’s hope is a “living hope” because it is founded on Christ, our Savior, who has conquered sin and death and has given us the sure promise of eternal life.

Gospel – John 20:19-31

What greater meaning did the common greeting, “Peace be with you!”, take on when spoken by Jesus that first Easter evening?

Peace was one thing the disciples did not have. They had questions, concerns, and doubts. But they had no peace that Easter evening as they huddled behind locked doors. Jesus was dead—killed on a Roman cross—and now fear held them in its icy grip. They lacked more than peace of mind; the disciples also lacked any peace of spirit. Shame hung heavy on their shoulders. Grief and guilt weighed down their hearts. They had great doubts about their Lord, their lives, their salvation. But then Jesus came! In the face of all their doubts he offered proof that he was alive and sin was dead. Jesus showed them his nail-marked hands and riven side. These holy wounds are the proof positive that God is at peace with us. Thomas could be the poster child for our existential culture. No matter how many times the others told him about the resurrection, he set himself against them all. Thomas required more evidence. He must see him with his own eyes; he must touch the wounds—more than that, he must thrust his hand into Jesus’ side (cf. the coarseness of the Greek). Unless he got the evidence that he demanded, he would in no way ever believe it. What grace we see in Jesus! He comes again and repeats Thomas’ objections nearly word for word. Again, he gives the ultimate proof that he was alive and sin was dead. Jesus gave the proof that led to peace for Thomas, peace that could only be found in his Lord and his God.

What comfort was gained when Jesus showed the nail marks?

It absolutely proves that he wasn’t a ghost. The nail marks also were a visible reminder of the forgiveness that was theirs through Christ.

What did Thomas confess?

After having struggled with doubt earlier, he now boldly confessed that Jesus is the one true and eternal God. Thomas confessed that Jesus was indeed his gracious Savior. Jesus had overcome the doubt and unbelief of Thomas.

A New Relationship – April 17, 2017

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. … Suddenly Jesus met them “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:1, 9-10

A New Relationship


Daily Devotion – April 17, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 28:1, 9-10

See series: Devotions

It was “at dawn on the first day of the week”–the day Jesus rose from the dead. When Jesus last saw many of his disciples, they were falling asleep while he was going through his darkest moments alone. They were running away in fear as he was being arrested. Peter was denying that he even knew Jesus as Jesus was in a courtroom being spit upon and mocked. Yes, the last time Jesus saw his disciples, they were being anything but brotherly.

Despite all the disciples’ failures, Jesus choose to call them something he had never called them before. Previously Jesus had called the disciples his “children”. He had even called them his “friends”. However, this is the first time Jesus calls them “brothers”.

Easter meant something new for Jesus’ disciples. Easter meant that they were renewed with Jesus’ forgiveness and they had a new relationship with him. Easter meant that Jesus would not judge the disciples by what they had done but by the sacrifice he made for them.

Do you feel that you have failed God? Do you fear that you have let him down? Do you worry that your sins separate you from God? Easter means we do not have to fear God’s anger. Because Jesus defeated sin and death and rose from the grave, we are not judged by what we have done but by what Jesus has done for us. Trusting in him as our Savior, Jesus calls us his brothers and sisters—not because we deserve it but because he dearly loves us. Jesus renews us with his forgiveness and gives us a new relationship with him.

Your risen Savior calls you his brother; he calls you his sister.

Prayer:
Father, we give you praise and glory for raising your Son from the grave. We give you thanks that through his death and resurrection our Savior Jesus now calls us brothers and sisters. Amen.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – April 16, 2017

Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus. He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?” Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”).
John 20:11-16

Oh, the People You’ll Meet – Blinded by Grief

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

But Mary Magdalene wasn’t so sure. After a chaotic first trip to the Jesus’ tomb, Mary discovered no stone in front of the entrance and no body in the grave. She reported this to the disciples and returned to the tomb, struck with more grief. Not only was Jesus dead, but she couldn’t even finish the burial process that had begun on Good Friday. She stood outside the tomb, crying and weeping from her emotional devastation and grief.

When we are filled with grief, we often cannot see reality before our eyes. Mary could not see reality before her eyes. Literally.

Everything she wanted was standing right before her—a risen and glorified Jesus, not a dead body. Were the tears in her eyes too much for her to see reality? Was the expectation of the dead body of Jesus so strong that her mind did not register the resurrected and glorified Jesus who stood before her?

Whatever it was, it took another word from Jesus, a gentle and loving repetition of her name, to snap her out of grief. The familiar voice of her beloved teacher, the Son of God who had healed her of demon possession and given her life back, now gave Mary her joy back! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

But like Mary, we’re not always so sure. It’s not that we don’t believe the words of Scripture, but the griefs and problems life throws at us often cloud our perspective so we cannot see the obvious work of the risen Lord in our own lives.

The only way for Mary to break out of her grief was to have a direct encounter with the risen Lord. When you hear the Easter Gospel account you encounter the risen Lord through his holy and perfect Word. In Scripture you have a record so solidly preserved that you and I can have the exact same certainty about the risen Lord Jesus as Mary on that first Easter dawn. It’s like Jesus is right there assuring you through his Word, “I am alive.” Christ is risen! His risen indeed!

Prayer:
Lord of life, comfort all who stand at death’s door. Comfort all who mourn the loss of a loved one who has died in faith in the risen Savior. Comfort each of us with the assurance that because Jesus lives, we too will live. Remind us all that the death of a Christian is not a defeat. Because of Jesus, it is a day of victory. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

No blanket was needed – April 16, 2017

No blanket was needed- April 16, 2017


Simon Peter came along behind him and went straight into the tomb. He saw the strips of linen lying there, as well as the cloth that had been wrapped around Jesus’ head. The cloth was still lying in its place, separate from the linen. Finally the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went inside. He saw and believed.
John 20:6-8




Military Devotion – April 16, 2017

Devotion based on John 20:6-8

See series: Military Devotions

It was a cold day for North Carolina. Three people braced against the wind as they walked along a path. One was a Marine, just returned from Vietnam. Another was his wife. The last was the undertaker.

The wife carried a blue baby blanket. She said she didn’t want her baby to be cold. She insisted on wrapping the blanket around the tiny casket that soon would be lowered into the ground. No one had the heart to object.

They had planned a trip to show off their new baby to loved ones waiting in the Midwest. Now, instead of celebrating a birth, they were going home to grieve a death. The car was already packed. Baby rattles, baby bottles, and baby clothes had been given away to friends at Lejeune. They were too painful to look at. Only the blue blanket was kept.

On a winter’s night in Bethlehem the baby Jesus was also wrapped in cloth. We call it swaddling clothes.

Some 33 years later the bleeding body of this Jesus was again wrapped in cloth. We call that a shroud.

What a difference! The distinction between life and death is marked by the name of a cloth.

A mother wept over that grave near Jerusalem. A mother wept over the grave near Camp Lejeune. The blue blanket wrapping the tiny baby was prompted by the same tearful love that wanted to properly wrap the body of Jesus.

The two graves have much in common. “Tragic” is a word to describe both deaths. “Unexpected” is another. So is the word “heartbreaking.”

But the most important word is “empty.”

Death could not hold the body in the Palestinian spoil. Death will not hold the body in the Carolina clay.

The hymn writer breaks forth with the words: “Christian, dry your flowing tears; Chase your unbelieving fears. Look on his deserted grave; Doubt no more his power to save” (Christian Worship: 159:3).

Burial cloths serve no purpose for bodies that will be raised alive and glorious.

The wife of that Marine probably has gray hair by now. We hope that some of the pain has faded from her heart. We know for sure that one day it will all be gone.

One day her son will meet her with smiles of joy. On that day he will be able to tell her, “Mom, thanks for the thought.”

“But you see, no blanket was needed.”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your empty grave takes away the sting of death. Your resurrection declares that those who die trusting you will rise to live forever. Dry all the tears of those who mourn the loss of a child of God. Renew their hearts to again know the joy of your salvation. Amen.



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

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




Death Conquered – April 16, 2017

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: … “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation… Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy… Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”
Exodus 15:1a,2a,6,11b

Death Conquered


Daily Devotion – April 16, 2017

Devotion based on Exodus 15:1a,2a,6,11b

See series: Devotions

They were as good as dead. The Red Sea was in front of them. The well-trained, well-equipped Egyptian army was behind them. There was nowhere to go; no way to escape. The Israelites were as good as dead, so it seemed.

It seemed the same to the women who went to the tomb Easter Sunday morning. The disciples of Jesus felt the same way. They all knew what happened. He was arrested and bound by the authorities. He was beaten and flogged within an inch of his life. Nails were driven into his hands and feet, and then he was raised on a vertical beam of torture called a cross. There was no escape. There was no mistake. He died.

But the stories didn’t end where they seemed to lead. The Lord opened up a path through the Red Sea. With walls of water standing miraculously on each side of them, the Israelites crossed through on dry land. Defeat and death didn’t touch a single one of them. But when the Egyptian forces tried to follow, their death and destruction was complete. Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord: “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation… Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy… Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

When the women went early to the tomb that first Easter, angels were there, but not Jesus. Could he really have defeated death? Could it be true? Two disciples ran to the grave to check it out. It was true. Jesus wasn’t there. Could he really have risen and shattered the power of death? That first Easter, they all discovered it was true. The enemy death was conquered. Jesus was alive. He had risen. Did Jesus’ followers sing, “The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation… Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy… Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

Are there times when we feel dead? Worn out from work and daily struggle? Plagued by a terrible sin or just a past life of sin? Suffering from the increasing aches and pains of old age or the sudden battle of a dreadful disease? Then sing, believer! Yes, sing! The story won’t end where it seems to lead. Christ has changed the ending! His Easter resurrection is proof that our troubles are only temporary. His resurrection is proof that our sins have been forgiven, all of them, no matter how many or how awful they are. Jesus’ resurrection is proof that death has been defeated. Earthly death has been turned into an awesome blessing. It’s the entrance into a paradise of an eternal life of love and joy with Jesus. So sing, believer; sing!

Prayer:
“The Lord is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation… Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy… Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders?”

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

The Lord is my Best Thing – April 15, 2017

Keep me safe, O God, for in you I take refuge. I said to the LORD, “You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” As for the saints who are in the land, they are the glorious ones in whom is all my delight. The sorrows of those will increase who run after other gods. I will not pour out their libations of blood or take up their names on my lips.
Psalm 16:1-4

The Lord is my Best Thing


Daily Devotion – April 15, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 16:1-4

See series: Devotions

Have you ever seen pictures of families abandoning their homes to escape wild fires, hurricanes or other natural disasters? Often times these survivors are only able to escape with the clothes on their backs and whatever possessions they can carry. They cling to small but priceless things like photo albums, pets, family heirlooms and other items with strong sentimental value. Watching them makes me wonder, “What would I try to take with me? What is my most valuable possession?”

Jesus had a unique perspective on this question. He told people, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-20).

Hearing Jesus’ words makes me realize that one day I will have everything taken from me. It might not be in a natural disaster, but one day death will separate me from all my earthly possessions. That is a sobering thought. So how can I hold onto anything of value in my life?

Psalm 16 offers hope for the future. King David wrote these words to describe the coming Savior, Jesus Christ. So the words of this song are at the same time David’s and Jesus’ words. In verse 2 David shares his most valuable possession. “I said to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; apart from you I have no good thing.” David valued his relationship with God more than any other thing in his life. Not even death could sever this eternal relationship.

David lists some of the great parts of a relationship with God. The Lord was David’s refuge. He could go to God in prayer at any challenging time or in any difficult situation. David was also part of a community. He enjoyed the company of others who shared a common faith and hope in God. And finally God protected David from false claims and empty promises of other phony gods. A relationship with God was all that David truly needed.

The Lord offers the same relationship with you. God valued you so much that he sent Jesus into the world. Jesus gave his life on the cross to restore God’s relationship with you and all of mankind. He also destroyed two of our biggest enemies, sin and death.

As you consider all the ways that God has blessed you in your life, remember only one of those blessings will be enjoyed in this world and in heaven. It is your relationship with God. Value it and enjoy it.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for giving me so many valuable things in my life. I love my family and enjoy all the comforts of life that you graciously give to me. Forgive me for the times I have valued these gifts more than you. Help me to treasure you and my relationship with you more than anything else in my life. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

The Power of the Cross – April 14, 2017

The message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

The Power of the Cross


Daily Devotion – April 14, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:18

See series: Devotions

Christian musicians Keith Getty and Stuart Townend wrote a hymn called The Power of the Cross. The cross they are referring to is the most famous one in history, the one on which Jesus of Nazareth was crucified some 2,000 years ago. On this day, Good Friday, Christians around the globe gather to commemorate that event.

Roman crosses and the process of crucifixion are rightly described as powerful. The power to humiliate. The power to punish. The power to wound. The power to make grown men, even the most hardened criminals, cry out in pain. The power to kill, and that in a most horrific way. That power was certainly at work at the cross of Jesus.

However, Getty, Townend, and Christians who commemorate Good Friday understand something far different, far deeper, and far more beautiful when they talk about the power of Jesus’ cross. They are talking about the power of God at work in that crucifixion, accomplishing something that nobody else on earth could possibly do. They are talking of the power of Jesus’ death to wipe out guilt and sin and condemnation before the holy God.

Ponder the cross of Jesus in that same way. What seems foolish and weak to this world and to our human reason, God tells us is his most wonderful act of gracious wisdom and power. At the cross of Jesus, we see a man, who is also God, carrying the entire load of sinfulness and sin racked up by this world in rebellion against their Creator. At the cross of Jesus, we see the God-man completing his work as Savior of sinners, paying the penalty that sin deserves from the perfectly just Judge. At the cross of Jesus, we hear the powerful cry of Jesus, “It is finished!” He shouts for the world to hear that he accomplished what he was sent to do.

Your sins, my sins, the world’s sins are powerful…powerful enough to separate us from God and his love. But the power of Jesus’ cross and the forgiveness he earned there is more powerful by far. In his cross you are saved. In his cross you are forgiven. In his cross you are reunited with your heavenly Father. In his cross you have the ultimate proof that God loves you with an unfailing and unflinching, everlasting love. Find your power for living and your peace in dying just there, at the powerful cross of Jesus.

Prayer:
By your death on the cross, dear Jesus, you suffered the separation from God that I deserve for my sin. My heart is filled with the peace of forgiveness by the power of your cross. Strengthen my faith in you, my Savior, and empower me to live for you. Amen.

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

Demonstration of Love – April 13, 2017

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:6-8

Demonstration of Love


Daily Devotion – April 13, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 5:6-8

See series: Devotions

The late-season snowfall had produced six inches of wet and heavy white stuff. After clearing his own sidewalk, the kind-hearted man decided to keep going and take care of his neighbor’s as well. “After all,” he thought, “last time he cleared mine for me.”

After finishing his neighbor’s sidewalk, he had a decision to make. The next property was owned by the troublemaker who lived on the block. Late-night parties and frequent visits from the police filled his summer months. In the wintertime, his was the sidewalk that was rarely cleared of snow and ice. He certainly didn’t go out of his way to help his neighbors with their snow removal.

There wasn’t much time spent on the decision. The man with the shovel just kept going. After a couple of hours, this kind-hearted man had cleared the snow from all the sidewalks on his block.

Which was the more impressive act of kindness? Shoveling for his neighbor who had shoveled for him in the past, or clearing the snow from the property of the troublemaker?

There is another scene where the stakes were much higher. It wasn’t snow that needed to be cleared, or a sacrifice of time and energy that was needed to get it done. Your eternal relationship with God hung in the balance. Your sin, every mistake you have ever made either purposefully or unknowingly, stood in the way of that relationship. A sacrifice was needed to remove that barrier—the life of the Son of God himself.

That’s exactly what happened. Jesus gave his life for you, a sinner. The world has never seen a greater demonstration of love. The innocent Son of God died so that you might live.

There is no question that God’s love for you is real. When your world is falling apart around you and you feel helpless and alone, when your mind is filled with more questions than answers, look to the cross of Jesus. It is there that you will see the ultimate demonstration of love.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my Savior, thank you for proving your love for me by dying in my place. Continue to keep my eyes focused on your cross that I may see your love and know that I am forgiven. Help me to live a life of confidence and peace, knowing that you have given me an eternal relationship with God. In your name, I ask it. Amen.

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

See Your King – April 12, 2017

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

See Your King


Daily Devotion – April 12, 2017

Devotion based on Zechariah 9:9

See series: Devotions

It was a very strange parade, a one-man procession into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. In today’s reading from God’s Word, we view that Palm Sunday parade through the eyes of a prophet who lived five hundred years before the event occurred, yet he writes as though it’s already happening. The prophet Zechariah says, See your king.

We need Zechariah’s encouragement. We would never have put this king first in our hearts. We would have paid attention only to the events and the people who make us feel good about ourselves. We would have done so without ever noticing that our preoccupation with the things of this world is false worship, the worship of created things rather than of the One who created them. We would have dedicated ourselves fully to the here and now and we would have forfeited the eternity God has in mind for us. In fact, even when we know Jesus, we still struggle to appreciate him.

See! says Zechariah. Your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey. The approaching Savior rides a donkey, not a warhorse. He is gentle. He rides into Jerusalem to be betrayed and arrested and sentenced and crucified, all without putting up a fight. At the same time, he is righteous and having salvation. This gentle king is God’s Son from all eternity. With his death, he will take the rap for every sinner who has ever lived. This isn’t just a king on a donkey. This is the King on a donkey. This is the one who holds the universe in his hands, and he is at your service.

Rejoice greatly! Jesus has done what he came to do. By his death on the cross, Jesus has rescued you.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, by your death and resurrection you have rescued me from sin and death. Help me honor you with more than a palm branch. Lead me to praise you with everything that I am and with everything that I have. Amen.

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

Obedient – April 11, 2017

[Christ Jesus] humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.
Philippians 2:8

Obedient


Daily Devotion – April 11, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 2:8

See series: Devotions

If you have a few moments, go to YouTube and pull up the opening scene from the movie Gladiator, starring Russell Crowe. The movie is set during the days of the Roman Empire. The opening scene depicts a battle between the Roman army and enemies threatening the Roman Empire’s frontier. Watch closely. One contrast between the two sides is striking. The enemies attacking the Roman soldiers are furious and aggressive in their fighting, but they are unorganized and scattered. The Roman soldiers, on the other hand, are just as aggressive, but they maintain their discipline, they keep themselves in order, they remain obedient to their commander. And it is their character of obedience and discipline that carries the day.

The verse of God’s Word for us today is from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Very likely, many of the individuals who initially read this letter knew battle scenes as pictured in the movie Gladiator. The town of Philippi, you see, was a place where Roman soldiers went to live in their retirement. From their own military careers, they knew all about the discipline of putting the needs of others before their own. And they knew all about obedience.

Along comes this letter from Paul—a letter they receive with joy as he talks to them about Jesus, their new-found Savior from sin. So great is Jesus’ love for them, Paul says, that even though he was in very nature God, Jesus chose to set aside the full use of his power and to live as one of them, to live and die as their perfect Substitute.

And to do this, Jesus knew that half-measures would not do. As their Substitute, he knew he could not demonstrate obedience to his Heavenly Father only to a certain point. His perfect obedience on their behalf would have to go all the way. It would have to go all the way to death—even death on a cross. And every retired Roman soldier reading Paul’s letter knew exactly what that entailed.

In this letter, Paul’s readers began to see the bottomless depth of God’s grace. They began to see the path of obedience that their Savior was willing to walk for them.

We can too.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to see. Help me to see what you were willing to do to save me from sin and make me your own. Amen.

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

The Ultimate King – Week of April 10, 2017

The Ultimate King – Week of April 10, 2017


Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – April 10, 2017

Devotion based on Zechariah 9:9

See series: ECME Devotions

Many of today’s popular children’s shows and movies revolve around royal characters. Children love putting on dress-up clothes that make them look like kings, queens, princes, or princesses. In fact, they may even be more likely to try food if it is shaped like their favorite prince or princess or has a picture of him or her on the box. As adults, we are not much different. When a member of a royal family gets married or has a baby, the world is watching. When a princess wears a designer dress, it is likely to sell out by the next day because many women want to dress like her. In fact, some of the most popular movies or television shows involve kings and queens. No matter one’s age, there is a certain excitement and interest that comes with royalty.

We have one king that deserves more honor, more praise, and more attention than all the rest: Jesus. As Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, men, women, and children praised and admired him, laid down their coats for him, and watched in awe as their king passed by. Jesus was and is unlike any king of this world. Jesus is king of heaven and earth. As we begin this Holy Week, we too stand in awe of who our King is. The Righteous One! The One bringing salvation! A King who reigns not by force but by laying down his life at the end of this week.

As you see your children admire kings, queens, princes, and princesses, you also have opportunity to point them to a greater King. A King who loves them enough to ride into Jerusalem to go to Calvary’s cross. Let sweet hosannas ring! He has answered our prayer, “Hosanna! Lord save us!”



Prayer: All glory, laud, and honor to you, Redeemer King, to whom the lips of children made sweet hosannas ring. You are the King of Israel and David’s royal Son, now in the Lord’s name coming, our King and blessed one. Amen.
Christian Worship 131 v. 1



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



Easter Sunday – April 10, 2017

Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed! The Resurrection of Our Lord

These are the readings for Easter Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Sinners should fear God. Sinners ought to die for their wickedness. The grave should be the place of ultimate defeat for mankind. Yet on this day, the Second Adam did all that the first had left undone. Bearing our guilt and suffering our verdict, the Son of Man died, but three days later he rose in glory. As a result, fear is gone, mankind is redeemed, and Christ calls us his own brothers. Jesus came from death to life, and through baptism he brings us with him.

First Lesson – Jonah 2:2-9

Was this the prayer Jonah prayed while in the belly of the fish, or are these thoughts that came to him later?

Certainly, Jonah wrote the prayer’s final form at a later date. The flow of thought, however, is consistent with the thoughts of one who has just had a very close brush with death. Jonah recounts his hopeless situation and immediately follows that up with his amazing rescue.

What was the real depth of Jonah’s misery (verse. 4)?

Jonah was lying on the ocean floor, entangled by seaweed, covered by the swirling sands of the deep. But that paled in comparison as Jonah felt the seaweed of his terrible sins strangling him, dragging him from the gracious presence of his Lord. Isn’t it ironic that earlier Jonah had tried to flee from his Lord?

Why could we describe Jonah’s prayer as a prayer of thanks more so than a prayer of confidence?

When the fish swallowed Jonah, he wasn’t moving from one danger to another. The fish was a part of the solution. Jonah’s time in the fish was similar to the time Jesus spent in the grave (Matthew 12:39-40). When Jesus died, his mission was complete. The grave was not a punishment, but a place to await the Father’s exaltation. So it was for Jonah in the belly of the fish.

Second Lesson – Colossians 3:1-4

What does Paul mean when he says, “You died”? And how is it that our life is now “hidden with Christ in God”?

We died when our sinful connection to this earth was put to death on the cross. Our life is now in Christ. That life is hidden to the world that doesn’t understand the power of the cross. We now live each day in eager anticipation of Christ’s return in glory.

Gospel – Matthew 28:1-10

Why did the angel roll back the stone from the tomb?

Certainly not to let Jesus out. It was to prove to the world that Christ had risen.

How might the angel’s words, “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said,” have made the women feel ashamed?

Why were they bringing burial spices for their risen Savior? Hadn’t Jesus told them on several occasions that he would rise on the third day? It’s actually sad to note that crowds weren’t gathered there that morning to see the risen Savior.

Why were Jesus’ words “my brothers” so comforting to the disciples?

The women walked to the tomb, arms full of spices and hearts full of disappointment. They had come to a place of disappointment, broken promises, and fear. All they had hoped to do was anoint the body of a dead man. A dead Jesus does no good for anyone—not for the women, not for the disciples, not for us. But when the angel spoke, the tomb became a place of victory, a place of promises fulfilled, a place of joy. Do not be afraid! The angel spoke two amazing words, “was” and “is.” Yes, he was crucified, but no, he is not here in the grave. He is very much alive, just as he said. That fact fundamentally changes our relationship with God forever. You can see in it the words of Jesus to the women, “Go and tell my brothers.” Jesus had good reason to remind those men of their desertion. Jesus had good reason to remind them that they were nothing but servants. Instead, he took this moment to call them “my brothers” for the very first time. The living Son of God had made full payment for sin so that he could call us brothers. Mankind is redeemed; death is defeated; fear is conquered. And Christ looks upon us forgiven sinners and calls us his brothers. This is the day the Lord has made!

A Hero’s Welcome – April 10, 2017

A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of [Jesus] and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”
Matthew 21:8-9

A Hero’s Welcome


Daily Devotion – April 10, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 21:8-9

See series: Devotions

When Jesus entered Jerusalem, there was a large crowd waiting to welcome him. They spread their cloaks and branches on the road. They shouted joyful praises. They gave him a hero’s welcome. Yet, the question needs to be asked, did they really understand why Jesus came?

It is a question worth asking. Do I see Jesus as a conquering hero? Do I see him as a long-desired king? Or, do I see him as something more?

Yes, Jesus did come as a conquering hero. The victory he came to secure was not over an earthly enemy, however. His battle was against the devil who sought complete dominion over me. His battle was against death which terrorized me. His battle was against the grave which desired to hold me in its gloomy darkness.

Jesus came as a hero to rescue me. He fought all my enemies that want to bring me to eternal destruction. And even though it meant giving up his own life, he secured the victory. Through Jesus’ precious work I am free from the devil’s control. I am free from the fear of death. I am free from the power of the grave.

Jesus deserves a hero’s welcome for what he accomplished. He deserves even more, for what he continues to do richly and daily. He also deserves my honor, love and praise as my Lord and King.

Jesus rightly earned this title as well. Not only did he secure my release, he also commits himself to my care. He strengthens me to remain faithful. He provides for all my needs. He guards me with his powerful presence. He always guides me with his undeserved and immeasurable love.

By faith I can acknowledge and live under his loving reign. By faith I can honor and praise him for his victory. By faith I can give him the hero’s welcome he deserves.

Prayer:
O blessed Jesus, I thank you for coming to rescue me. Fill me with love to trust you. Fill me with strength to follow you. Fill me with joy to praise 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.