Our Prayer – Week of March 27, 2017

Our Prayer – Week of March 27, 2017


For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in Heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with a power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you being rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:14-19 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – March 27, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:14-19

See series: ECME Devotions

Prayer. What does it mean to pray? A prayer is simply talking to God. Prayers can take shape in a variety of ways. Some prayers are pre-written by Bible theologians, while others are words spoken from the heart. Even little children pray and understand that through prayer they are talking God. Yes, their prayers might be as simple as thanking God for their mom and dad or asking for a new toy. However, whatever the content, a prayer is an intimate conversation between a Christian and God.

The verses for this devotion serve as a beautiful prayer! It begins by asking that God give strength to his family. God’s family is you and me and the whole family of believers of all time and everywhere. This prayer is a request for an inner strength, that is, faith! Next, the prayer asks for knowledge for God’s family. These verses describe God’s love as long, high, and deep. We cannot even begin to fathom the depth of God’s love. It is something that we cannot grasp because of our sinful nature. It “surpasses knowledge,” but we trust the love of God! Finally, we have the confidence that we are filled with the fullness of God. God blesses us beyond what we deserve or imagine!

The verses from Ephesians serve as a wonderful prayer that you and I can pray for other people as well! Early childhood ministry is a fast-paced ministry that connects many people together! Some of the families have been lifelong members of the church; some of them are new to the Christian faith; and some have no religious background. It is our daily prayer that the families of the children we serve be strengthened by the power of Christ in their hearts and also that they may know the love that surpasses understanding! These verses can be our daily prayer.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, please be with the families of the children that we teach. Grant them an understanding of your love. Please strengthen their faith in you through the power of Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What are some ways that we can incorporate lessons about prayer to the families of the children we teach?



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.



Fifth Sunday of Lent – March 27, 2017

Through Faith We Are Raised from Death to Life

These are the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus will raise us from death to life. The crown jewel of the coming kingdom is the resurrection of the dead. One day, Jesus will defeat the last enemy (1 Corinthians 15:27) and life will reign again in our new Eden with God. On our Lenten walk to Calvary, the Church sees the Savior come face to face with death and defeat it completely. During our Lenten walk, we ask God to help us remember that Jesus, who is resurrection and life, has made us heirs of eternal life.

Traditional First Lesson – Ezekiel 37:1-14

How does the vision of the dry bones characterize God’s people in Ezekiel’s time?

The bones were many and very dry. This indicates the widespread condition of God’s people as they were exiled in Babylon. Their unfaithfulness had brought about God’s judgment, and they seemed beyond the point of resuscitation. Yet God’s grace is apparent.

What tool was used in restoring life to the dead bones?

The same tool we use today—the Word of God. “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.”

Israel in exile was as good as dead. Cut off and helpless, the Israelites were not like an army but like a valley full of bones. Yet God promises to bring this nation back to life. In raising Israel from the death of exile, God foreshadowed the great work of Christ: the resurrection of God’s people from the dead. Here he speaks to a figuratively dead nation; one day he will speak it literally: I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them. The crown jewel of the kingdom will be given to all who believe—to all who have the Spirit. Reminiscent of the Spirit’s first life-giving act on Adam will be the Life-giver’s ultimate act on us. God says: I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live.

Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Kings 4:18-37

How does this story give comfort to us when tragedy strikes?

The story is heartbreaking: a barren woman gives birth to a promised child. All her hopes and love wrapped themselves up in this little boy, until the day his head hurt. He died in his mother’s lap while she rocked him. Can you imagine the tears? Death is the bitter lot we inherited from Adam. But God wants us to know that even in the face of a death as heartrending as this, he promises that whoever believes in him will live, even though he dies. So he lets Elisha pay an advance on the inheritance waiting for the coheirs of Christ, that we might know and believe that Jesus one day will raise us from death to life.

Second Lesson – Romans 8:11-19

Through his Spirit, Paul says, God has breathed new life into our mortal bodies (verse 11). What changes does that bring about?

Paul previously had said that those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires (verses 5-8). We now seek to put to death the misdeeds of the body (verse 13) and willingly share in Christ’s suffering with a view also to sharing in his glory (verse 17).

Though life in Christ Jesus means sharing his suffering, what other observation is made?

Paul suggests a wise perspective: our present sufferings are “not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” As a runner endures the pain of the exertion by keeping his eyes focused on the finish line, so the Christian’s perspective will always be goal-oriented. What waits for us at the end far outshines the clouds that we encounter along the way.

Gospel – John 11:17-27, 38-45

What does Jesus mean by saying that he is life?

More than saying that he is the source of life or the giver of life, Jesus for the first time (see also 14:6) claims to be life itself. There is no life apart from him. As life itself, final death is impossible for him. The events surrounding the raising of Lazarus occur just days before the Passion events in Jerusalem. What a comfort to know that Jesus was confidently assured of the outcome of his upcoming battle with evil—he would be victorious!

How would Mary and Martha see the glory of God in the raising of Lazarus?

Jesus performed the greatest miracle of his ministry to prove to us the certainty of his greatest promise. Death has hounded mankind since the garden and caused misery that God never intended for his children. When Christ saw the effects of death on his loved ones, he wept with them, but also promised them that one day even this last enemy would be defeated. Martha, too often remembered for her busyness, should be remembered for her confession of faith—so complete, so noble—that encompassed everything Jesus had preached. It even encompassed teachings the disciples struggled to comprehend! She believed in Jesus’ promise of a future resurrection, and so Jesus gave proof to her and to us that his promise is true. By that same faith, he will give to us the crown jewel of the kingdom. The one who is resurrection and life will also give resurrection and life to all who believe. Jesus’ victory in this battle with death was a forgone conclusion: he thanked God for it in advance. But Lazarus’ response to the command of Christ stirs the heart of every Christian who has stared at the ugly face of death: the dead man came out.

Where Do I Fit In? – March 27, 2017

When the ten heard about this, they were indignant with the two brothers. Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave—just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Matthew 20:24-28

Where Do I Fit In?


Daily Devotion – March 27, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 20:24-28

See series: Devotions

Where do I fit in? It’s a question we’re always asking ourselves.

When we were younger we learned through trial and error, mostly. Maybe we tried our hand at sports or music. Perhaps our energy was spent making grades or friends.

As we mature, we begin to gain some perspective, but we still don’t escape that haunting question. As the stakes grow higher, we’re still fighting for the same old things really—respect, appreciation, and recognition.

For people like us—who are aching to know where we fit in—the disciples’ bickering sounds all too familiar. Salome, the mother of James and John, asked Jesus for her sons to receive a special place of honor. When the other ten disciples heard about it, they were furious. The ten weren’t disappointed by the selfishness of these two brothers—they were mad because they coveted the exact same thing. Throughout human history, power struggles just like this have led to civil wars and divided companies, pulled friends apart and even split families up.

Jesus recognizes why the disciples were thinking this way—and why we do too! He compares their struggle to political power plays among the Gentile rulers. This is how the world operates. That’s why there’s no real peace or security. That’s why people grow suspicious and cynical. Over time, nearly everyone else is seen as some sort of threat.

But God has a better way. He recognizes what the power plays are really about—security, satisfaction, peace. Jesus came in an astonishing way to obtain for us what we crave. God’s Son did not come to be served. He did not come to exert his power and authority. He came to be a servant. Jesus lived humbly and died sacrificially so that you and I can have security, satisfaction, and peace. When God gives us these wonderful gifts through his Son, the rest of life falls into place perfectly.

In Christ, we see where we fit in. We are a part of God’s family—eternally beloved. Jesus assures us that all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to him and that he flexes his muscles to do what is in our eternal interest.

This frees us up to try our hand at better things. We don’t have to fight for honor or respect or appreciation because we already have them in God. The old haunting question has been cast aside. No longer do we wonder: Where do I fit in? Now we ask: How can I help?

Prayer:
God of all grace, I often feel the pressure to prove myself and to fight for respect. Calm my troubled heart with the gift of your Holy Spirit. Assure me of your abiding and unconditional love and empower me to serve others selflessly. To you alone be the glory. Amen.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – March 26, 2017

While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked closely at him. “You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus,” she said. But he denied it. “I don’t know or understand what you’re talking about,” he said, and went out into the entryway. When the servant girl saw him there, she said again to those standing around, “This fellow is one of them.” Again he denied it. After a little while, those standing near said to Peter, “Surely you are one of them, for you are a Galilean.” He began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know this man you’re talking about.” Immediately the rooster crowed the second time. Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times.” And he broke down and wept.
Mark 14:66-72

The people you meet: There’s no denying it

Mike and Jack had known each other since preschool. You could follow their history through a series of pictures tucked into photo albums. Mike and Jack in a blanket fort. Mike and Jack on the same Little League team. Both boys were pretty nervous about their first day of freshman year, but at least they had each other. As they got on the bus, an upperclassman burst out laughing when he saw Mike’s Pokémon shirt. For a split second Jack made eye contact with Mike…and then began pointing and laughing too. Every man for himself. Mike trudged to the back of the bus.

Peter wasn’t going to be like that. He vowed to Jesus that he would never deny him. All these other clowns might run away, but not Peter. He had embarrassed himself when Jesus was arrested, but here was a second chance! He would have Jesus’ back during the trial! Instead Peter found himself cursing to prove that he had never met Jesus.

God gives us opportunities to stand with Jesus. But sometimes that’s very hard. It’s embarrassing to be known as a Christian when everyone around you is pro-choice. It’s hard to stand up when everyone else passionately believes that people should be free to marry whomever they want. It’s hard to be bold when everyone else in the classroom is laughing adoringly at the professor who uses his razor sharp wit to mock those who believe in creation. Denying Jesus makes so much sense when it means we get to be like everyone else. I don’t want to be the weird guy in the courtyard who knows Jesus. It’s easier to pretend I’ve never met him.

It’s important to recognize that Jesus knew all of this was going to happen. His march to the cross didn’t depend on Peter’s faithfulness, but on Jesus’ unconditional love. Jesus went to die in spite of Peter and for Peter. In the hour of our most desperate need, Jesus refused to deny us. Instead the Father’s face turned away from his Son. Our sin separated them, and Jesus’ death made it possible to truly know God intimately.
Like Peter, God comes to find us at rock bottom. Peter’s bitter tears were precisely what he needed at the moment. A broken man crumpled in the courtyard, ready to hear about forgiveness.

This week think about how you can proudly show your connection to Christ no matter what consequences may come. When you fail and perhaps find bitter tears streaking down your face, lean into your repentance. Meet Jesus, as Peter did in John 21, and find forgiveness for all your denial. Celebrate the fact that God knows you; there’s no denying it.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, we are very grateful that we meet you at the cross. Transform our hearts through the means of grace that we find forgiveness at rock bottom and celebrate our connection to you. Amen.

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

A Father’s Reckless Love – March 26, 2017

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’”
Luke 15:11-21

A Father’s Reckless Love


Daily Devotion – March 26, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 15:11-21

See series: Devotions

Could you imagine what this man’s neighbors might have said? “Parents just don’t raise their kids like they used to. First the boy runs off with the inheritance, and now dad’s running out to welcome him? I tell ya, if that were my kid it would be a whole different story. He’d have to come crawling back on his knees. I’d tell him quite frankly, ‘You blew it! The shame you have brought on this family, you don’t even deserve to stand on my doorstep.’ Maybe, just maybe, if he straightened his life out, stopped partying, and showed up for work every day, I’d think about letting him live in the old shack down by the gate. But to welcome him back like that? Never!”

The love of this father goes far beyond what we would expect. It is reckless, maybe even foolish. But that’s how God loves us. He loved us even though we were dead in our transgressions and sins. He sent his one and only Son to die for us while we were still sinners. Why? Because he was filled with compassion for us. His love goes far beyond anything we could expect or imagine.

This reminds us that we can always return to our heavenly Father. Whether we have been living in open rebellion like the lost son, or we have been rebelling with secret sins that lurk deep within our hearts, we can always say, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you,” and be confident that God in his grace will run to us with his arms wide open.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to see that your love is so boundless that it accepts even me. Lead me to repent of the sins in my life and to commit myself to you. Through Jesus my Savior, I pray. 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.

Faceoff – March 26, 2017

Faceoff – March 26, 2017


When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”
Mark 9:25




Military Devotion – March 26, 2017

Devotion based on Mark 9:25

See series: Military Devotions

Satan and his followers did not abandon the field of battle just because the Son of God had come to earth to challenge them. They fought him at every step, challenged his every claim.

Saint Mark tells of a boy possessed by an evil spirit that caused the lad to be unable to talk. It flung him to the ground in convulsions. His father reported, “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him.”

The disciples could not help, so the father turned to Jesus: “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

The response of Jesus was blunt: “If you can?” “Everything is possible for him who believes.”

Was that true? Is that true? The powers of darkness were ready to face off with the Lord of light. It was as if the boy was being held hostage. The demon had already shown the control he had over the youngster. If he wanted to throw him into convulsions, foaming at the mouth and gnashing his teeth as he rolled on the ground, who was going to stop him? The presence of Jesus only made him more dangerous.

If Jesus challenged him, what would keep him from killing the boy?

The command of Jesus.

“You deaf and mute spirit,” Jesus said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

The spirit shrieked. The boy convulsed violently. Then everything became quiet. Some feared the youngster was dead.

“But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up.”

Had we been in that crowd, we might have cheered. Maybe angels did.

But this is certain: Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, does not flinch and does not falter when it comes to a faceoff with evil.

That’s something worth remembering.

We are no stranger to evil. We have seen the results of satanic forces in this world and within ourselves. Satan may not have thrown us to the ground in convulsions, but he sometimes has thrown us for a loop in our spiritual life.

We need help from heaven. We have it.

Demons remain deadly. But they whimper and run in the face of Jesus.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, source and defender of our life, keep reminding us that we do not have to cave in to the threats of the devil. The powers of darkness cannot touch one hair on our body without your permission. We remember the words of King David, “Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil—for thou art with me.” Now enable us to live those words. 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.




Praise the God of Our Salvation – March 25, 2017

In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O LORD. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song: he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say, “Give thanks to the LORD, call on his name: make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the LORD, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”
Isaiah 12:1-5

Praise the God of Our Salvation


Daily Devotion – March 25, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 12:1-5

See series: Devotions

It’s said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but there are some things for which even a picture is not good enough. When your new born child squeezes your finger for the first time, how can you put that feeling into words? Can that even be captured with a picture? When the doctor says, “Your cancer is gone,” is there any way to describe that feeling? What Isaiah is trying to explain in our devotion today is even more difficult to put into words. He is a sinner standing in the presence of a righteous God. He knows that he deserves God’s anger and punishment. But something startling happens. God turns away his anger. Instead of punishing him, God rescues him.

Of course, Isaiah is talking about what God does for us in Jesus Christ. Jesus came and rescued us by paying for our sin. Jesus bore the punishment for our sin, and now instead of facing God’s anger, we have full forgiveness and life everlasting. How does one express the amazing relief of that enormous load being lifted off? How does one express the sheer joy of that forgiveness?

Expressing heartfelt thanks to God for his salvation is what Isaiah is doing here. You can almost see him running up and down the streets, leaping for joy, trying to tell people how it feels to be saved. Fear is gone, only trust remains. The Lord is the true strength of his life and the song in his heart. God sustains him with the living water which he draws from the well of salvation. So he gives thanks to the Lord by singing his praises and proclaiming the good news of salvation to everyone.

Isaiah is expressing his gladness over all the glorious things that the Lord has graciously done for him. Listen to Isaiah shouting and singing for joy, and join him in praising the God of your salvation.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 242)
Oh, that I had a thousand voices to praise my God with thousand tongues!
My heart, which in the Lord rejoices, would then proclaim in grateful songs
To all, wherever I might be, what great things God has done for me.

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.

Fortified – March 24, 2017

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9

Fortified


Daily Devotion – March 24, 2017

Devotion based on Joshua 1:9

See series: Devotions

It is reported that the fortification of food began in the 1920’s as a way to address nutritional deficiencies. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics defines “fortified” as the addition of vitamins and minerals to a food product that were not originally in the food. To this day, breakfast cereal boxes shout out, “Fortified!”

As strong in faith as Joshua was, he had his human “deficiencies.” God was promoting him from leader of Israel’s army and aide to Moses to be Moses’ successor! His assignment: Lead the Israelites across the Jordan River to take possession of the land promised by God to Abraham. The Canaanite cities were large, walled, and inhabited by powerful, warlike people. Joshua needed to be “strong and courageous.” He needed to be “fortified.”

How about you? Each of us needs to be fortified to deal with life’s battles, fears and discouragements. What fortification does God offer you? “The Lord your God will be with you wherever you go,” he promised Joshua. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Son of God, who has saved you from what your sins deserve, and promises you an eternal home in the “Promised Land” of heaven, says to all his followers: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). In the New Testament book of Hebrews, the writer quotes God and the conclusion drawn by the psalmist: “God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” (Hebrews 13:5-6)

God promises you his divine presence and providence (that is, his intervening and providing), plus guardian angels. He gives you the Holy Scriptures “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” The Bible’s inspired truth fits you to be “thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-16)

Yes, you have deficiencies. Yes, you have sins to confess. But trusting in Jesus you have full and free forgiveness. Day by day you will be “fortified” by the presence and Gospel promises of your loving God. Shout out your confidence, “I am fortified!”

Prayer:
(Psalm 46:1):
Lord God, you are my “refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” Amen.

The devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in March reflect on Truths for Today.

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.

Not Having It Your Way – March 23, 2017

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
Romans 15:1-3

Not Having It Your Way


Daily Devotion – March 23, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 15:1-3

See series: Devotions

“Have it your way.” For over 40 years, Burger King encouraged us to order food the way we want it. It was perhaps a catchy slogan, but Burger King was by no means the only voice in our culture telling us to make ourselves happy. Our society is all about instant, self-gratification. On a daily basis we are bombarded with messages and commercials and slogans, all encouraging us to take care of ourselves first and to make ourselves happy.

Sadly, our quest to please ourselves often involves hurting or neglecting others along the way. When we are in me-first mode, we are generally oblivious to the needs and concerns and feelings of others. We jump in line first. We make others wait. We fail to help those who need it. We vent about our problems but give little attention to the problems of others. Having it our way often means we fail to show Christian love and service to the people God has placed in our lives specifically so we can serve them. We are so sinfully selfish. The apostle Paul reminds us in Romans chapter 15 that this is not right. Selfish living is not God-pleasing living. Truthfully, it deserves God’s eternal punishment.

There is a better way. Paul writes, “Even Christ did not please himself.” It’s remarkable to look at Jesus’ life and see the way he was so selfless. Jesus did not live his life to please himself. But it would have been so easy! When he was hungry in the wilderness, he could have instantly produced food for himself, rather than trust in his heavenly Father to provide. When he was in the upper room, instead of serving the disciples and taking care of them so well, he could have made the disciples wash his feet and wait on him hand and foot. And when Good Friday rolled around, he could have insisted that all his followers die instead of him. But instead, he willingly put us first and died on the cross to take our sins away. Jesus did not make his life all about himself. Rather, his life and death were all about us. Because he was so selfless, you and I are forgiven and saved and on the way to heaven through faith in him.

Let the selfless love of Jesus motivate you to be different. Out of love for Jesus, don’t try so hard to have it your way. Rather, as Paul says, “Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for living such a selfless life for me and for willingly giving that life on the cross in my place. Motivate me with your love today to put others first and to serve them as you have served me. Amen.


The devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in March reflect on Truths for Today.

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.

Hear and See – March 22, 2017

“For a long time I have kept silent, I have been quiet and held myself back. But now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant. I will lay waste the mountains and hills and dry up all their vegetation; I will turn rivers into islands and dry up the pools. I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them. But those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame. Hear, you deaf; look, you blind, and see! Who is blind but my servant, and deaf like the messenger I send? Who is blind like the one committed to me, blind like the servant of the LORD? You have seen many things, but have paid no attention; your ears are open, but you hear nothing.” It pleased the LORD for the sake of his righteousness to make his law great and glorious.
Isaiah 42:14-21

Isaiah 42:14-21


Daily Devotion – March 22, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:14-21

See series: Devotions

If you just read or heard these words from the Lord recorded in Isaiah and the message didn’t sink in, focus on the verses again. These are very important words. Words of promise and warning. Words of comfort and judgment.

That’s you: blind in sin, living in a dark world where death eventually devours everyone–eternally. But listen to the message! The Lord will lead people from spiritual darkness to the light of salvation. And look! He can’t wait to rescue you. He says, “Now, like a woman in childbirth, I cry out, I gasp and pant.” Oh, there may be obstacles to your salvation that seem insurmountable, but consider what the Almighty does: He levels the mountains, dries up the pools, and makes the rough places smooth. Nothing will stop him from his work of winning salvation for you. Nothing. The Lord declares, “These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.”

But make no mistake, those who reject God’s salvation will be judged—“those who trust in idols, who say to images, ‘You are our gods,’ will be turned back in utter shame.”

These words read like a giant orange caution sign along the road of life. “This life ends. You can’t stay here forever,” it says. Someday we will all stand before the throne of God’s judgment. So, hear and see! Salvation is God’s work and it has been done. He accomplished his will and fulfilled his promise—he sent Jesus.

Jesus is the world’s Savior. He is your Savior! Make it your goal, today and every day, to walk in the light of Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Dearest Savior, shine the light of your salvation into my heart. 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.

You are Light in the Lord – March 21, 2017

You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) and find out what pleases the Lord. Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: “Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
Ephesians 5:8-14

You are Light in the Lord


Daily Devotion – March 21, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:8-14

See series: Devotions

If you get up early to go outside and wait for the sunrise, you know what it’s like to sit in darkness. Until the light comes, you can’t see anything because the darkness hides things and obscures things and makes things impossible to see. Until the light comes, you can’t do anything, because the darkness covers things and confuses things and makes things impossible to do.

But then, just as you think the darkness couldn’t get any deeper, you finally see it. The horizon begins to brighten in the east, and dawn begins to break. The sun begins its ascent into the sky, and its light is now cast all around you. It’s a total transformation! Everything you couldn’t see before is now visible. Everything you couldn’t do before is now possible.

In the Gospel of John, we hear Jesus say, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). It’s a beautiful name for Jesus: “the Light of the World.” In the same way that the sun breaks the darkness of the earth as it rises in the east every morning, so too has Jesus broken the spiritual darkness that once covered our world and our life.

Through his life and work, all of us who were once living in the darkness of sin can now look to Jesus, the Light of the World, and see forgiveness. All of us who were once facing the darkness of eternal death as the consequence for sin can now look to Jesus, the Light of the World, and see eternal life. It’s a total transformation! Through faith in Jesus, there is now no more curse of sin, no more power of death, no more eternal darkness. Only free forgiveness. Only full life. Only everlasting light.

Oh, what an impact this has on every single day of your life! In the darkness, you can’t see. But in the light you can! In the darkness, you can’t function. But in the light you can! And you? “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” And because you now are light in the Lord, you now can “live as children of light.” It’s a total transformation! “You are light in the Lord.” So, now, you can live like who you are.

“Fruitless deeds of darkness” aren’t a part of who you are anymore because “you are light in the Lord.” “What the disobedient do in secret” isn’t a part of who you are anymore because “you are light in the Lord.” What now characterizes your life instead? “The fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth.” These are the things that now characterize your life in Christ, because these are the things that now characterize who you are. “You are light in the Lord.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, you are the Light of the World, and you have made us light by bringing us into the light of your forgiveness, mercy, and love. Bless and keep us today and always as you give us the strength to now live like who we are by faith in you, our Savior. Amen.

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

Imitators – Week of March 20, 2017

Imitators – Week of March 20, 2017


Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – March 20, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:1-2

See series: ECME Devotions

As I look around my classroom, I can see young children learning through their play. In one center, a group is playing kitchen. They are making dinner and talking with one another while serving each other the food. It is clear that they are imitating the way they see their parents make dinner. In another center, there is a group pretending to fix the broken book shelf. They are measuring boards and pounding pretend nails. They have seen someone in their life try to fix things and are imitating the behavior. Finally, I see a group sitting in a circle at the center playing school. If I listen closely, I can even hear the children use the exact words that I use! Children learn by watching and then doing, they are imitators! These verses from the book of Ephesians command us to be imitators of God and to live a life of love. We are to do what God has done for us, show love to our neighbor.

Now the command in these verses is no easy feat! How many times do we get frustrated with a parent? How often do we get impatient with a coworker? Instead of frustration and impatience, the Lord urges us to show love. Love includes kindness, compassion, and forgiveness. Thankfully, we have the perfect example to imitate, Christ himself. He loved you and me so much that he gave himself as an offering to God on our behalf. We are sinners, but our sins have been wiped away through the sacrifice that Christ made! We are forgiven and dearly loved children of God. This example of Christ is what gives us the motivation and ability to imitate the love that was shown to us. Just as a child imitates an example set before them, so you and I can boldly be imitators of God! Through his example of love and forgiveness, we can sincerely love and forgive our neighbors as well. When we feel ourselves struggling to show love, we lift our eyes to the cross, where we find the perfect demonstration of love.



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to offer himself as a sacrifice on our behalf. Thank you for demonstrating a deep love for each one us. Please give us strength as we imitate your love in our lives. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we teach the young children in our care to be imitators of God?



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.



Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 20, 2017

Jesus Calls Us from Sinful Selfishness to Selfless Service

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus calls us from sinful selfishness to selfless service. We can view the world from the perspective of selfishness or selflessness. Selfishness puts self before all and leads to favoritism, pride, and envy. Repentance, however, means despairing of self, trusting in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice, and leading lives of selfless service modeled after our Savior who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for us.

Traditional First Lesson – Hosea 5:15-6:3

How had God threatened his people?

God threatened to turn away from his people because of their sin. Our
sins separate us from our God, and separation from God is described as
“misery” (5:15).

How did they respond? Was it what God wanted?

Let the reader consider the context of this lesson carefully. True repentance and selfless service are about more than saying the right words. On their face, this confession of Israel is beautiful, but at its heart it is empty. This is unrepentant Israel’s kind of “repentance.” The words sound nice, but there is no confession of guilt, God doesn’t receive it, and fruits don’t follow. This is a selfish “repentance” that is, in fact, merely made out of self-interest. True repentance leads to confession, trust, and fruits of selfless service that were absent in Israel (see 6:4-6).

Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 37:1-11

What do we learn about the choice between selfishness or selflessness from Joseph?

The life of Joseph illustrates Jesus’ message that whoever wants to be first must be your slave. Selfishness led to Jacob’s favoritism and his sons’ jealousy. Selfishness led Jacob and his sons to such pride that they could not imagine God’s prophecy about Joseph coming true. Their selfishness forced Joseph into the role of slave and servant, yet God in his grace would save many people in spite of their sin. Sold into slavery and jailed unjustly, Joseph would trust in God and selflessly serve his fellow man. Ultimately, God brought the prideful low and raised up humble Joseph. In doing so, He both fulfilled his prophecy and also saved the family of God and countless others.

Second Lesson – Romans 8:1-10

Why are the opening words (verse 1) so triumphant?

Paul has already discoursed at length on the reality of sin and its
consequences as well as on God’s faithfulness and his gracious forgiveness
in Christ. As Christians, he acknowledged that we are still struggling daily
with the sinful nature that is part of us, but that we are being rescued
by Jesus Christ (7:21-25). Now the triumphant confidence naturally
follows: THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION FOR THOSE FOUND IN CHRIST! What a comfort. What a relief for sin-challenged Christians!

While the Law no longer condemns us, it still has a function. What is the Law’s purpose for us now? (verse 4)

The “righteous requirements of the law” speak not of achieving God’s
demanded perfection. Remember that there is no condemnation in Christ!
This use of the Law is referred to as the “guide” or “rule,” which we obey
out of love for God through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

Gospel – Matthew 20:17-28

What was the “cup” of which Jesus spoke?

The cup was Jesus’ suffering and death, which he was headed to
Jerusalem to drink.

Why is pride such a dangerous sin?

It is incorrect to consider one sin more punishable than another, but
pride causes a person to ignore his need for spiritual help, and that can
be a damning mistake.

How do Jesus’ life and ministry provide a model for us?

Jesus revealed the plan of the Father to his disciples: The Son of God would leave his heavenly throne and selflessly give his freedom to his enemies, his body to the torturer, his life to the executioner in order that he might be our Savior. Rather than marveling at the depth of his love and self-sacrifice, the disciples argued about places of greatness in glory. The sons of Zebedee wanted to sit at the right and left of Jesus, but were only promised that they would join in drinking his cup. The other disciples were indignant, but not righteously so. Jesus corrected them, too. Followers of Jesus drink his cup and find greatness in selflessly serving others. For our motivation and our model, Christ points back to God’s plan for the Son of Man who came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Why? – March 20, 2017

As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.
John 9:1-7

Why?


Daily Devotion – March 20, 2017

Devotion based on John 9:1-7

See series: Devotions

Often, when we see someone struggling or suffering, we wonder: Why? Why is that man homeless? Why is that woman sick? Why does that family fight so much? Whenever we see unpleasant situations—whatever they might be—we wonder why.

But why do we want to know why? It makes us feel better, safer, and more secure when we can root out the cause. If a man is homeless because he has abused drugs, we feel out of harm’s way. If a woman is sick because she ignored early symptoms or her doctor’s advice, it’s easier to convince ourselves that we will escape her condition. If a family fights because of the sinful way they treat one another, we might consider ourselves distant from such troubles.

Jesus speaks about sin’s connection to struggles and suffering in the case of the man who was born blind: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” he said. Not every hardship is caused by a particular sin. The struggles and sufferings that many people experience are beyond their control.

So why was he blind? That man was blind for two reasons. The first reason was because he was born in a sinful and cruel world. The impact of sin is terrible and enormous. It can be sickening and distressing. Suffering is the result of living in this sinful world, but Jesus teaches that not every experience of suffering in our lives is due to a particular sin we have committed.

The second reason this man was blind is far more beautiful. He was born blind so that God could work through him. Jesus saw him and had mercy on him. He reached out to the man and healed his physical malady. Through this miracle Jesus revealed his power as the Son of God to give sight and heal.

But the work of God wasn’t done there. Jesus came to this earth to suffer for sins he did not do—all the sins of the world. Our sins caused his pain, his suffering, and his death. But he was wounded willingly to heal us from our sin-sick condition and free us from the power of sin. This is why God sent his Son. Sin destroys but Jesus restores.

Prayer:
Jesus, we know that, by nature, we are blinded by sin. Thank you for reaching out and healing us from our blindness through your Son and your Word. Open our eyes that we might see Jesus as the light of the world. 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.

OPSEC – March 19, 2017

OPSEC – March 19, 2017


As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Matthew 17:9




Military Devotion – March 19, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 17:9

See series: Military Devotions

We don’t usually think of Jesus’ stay on earth as a military operation. But in many ways, it was.

Allies and enemies were part of the picture. So were powerful weapons and a life or death struggle. It should not surprise us, then, to learn that operations security (OPSEC) was also a concern.

Still, it may strike us as strange to hear Jesus command people to not tell others what they saw him do. After all, we now live under orders to tell the whole world about him.

But for a while, Peter, James and John had to keep silent about seeing Jesus transfigured in glory. We learn the rule also applied to devils: “He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was” (Mark 1:34). He gave the same command to some of the people that he worked miracles for.

Why the secrecy?

It wasn’t because he wanted to escape being captured by his enemies. His mission was to place himself into their hands and be killed by them. Yet, it wasn’t a suicide mission. It was a rescue mission. He would triumph over death and rescue the human race from eternal devastation.

But timing was critical. He needed to accomplish every last task he was assigned on this mission. He knew that fury and frenzy would continue to grow among those who had determined he should not live. He understood what would stoke those flames of hatred.

He would control the buildup of the murderous rage. He initiated OPSEC.

This gives us a glimpse of how difficult his mission was. It also shows his superior wisdom and power.

Anyone who has been asked to win the hearts and minds of potential enemies realizes how fragile the situation can be—how easily the crowd can turn against a person.

Jesus did not need to be schooled in military strategy or trained in human psychology in order to be successful. He did not need to call for heavenly firepower to have divisions of angels hold back the threatening mobs.

He needed no help. He asked for none.

His mission would be a success because he was the Lord of Life and Glory—and he wanted to share his life and his glory with people like us.



Prayer: Savior of the Nations, Lord of lords and King of kings—we look in with wonder as we watch you march toward Golgotha. We marvel at your wisdom. We learn from your example. But most of all, we thank you for pursuing your goal of providing rescue for us from sin, Satan, and death. We are glad to now have permission to tell your story. 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.




Transformed – teen devotion – March 19, 2017

While [Jesus] was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly. “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mark 14:3-9

The people you meet: True value

Bill Gates, one of the co-founders of Microsoft, is currently the richest person in the world with 84.2 billion dollars to his name. Several years ago Gates said in an interview: “Just in terms of allocation of time resources, religion is not very efficient. There’s a lot more I could be doing on a Sunday morning.” To Gates, a successful expert in this world, church just isn’t that valuable.

Jesus met a woman named Mary on the way to the cross. Not long before he died, she poured a bottle of incredibly expensive perfume on his head. It cost apparently more than a year’s wages. The average income in the U.S. right now is about $27,000. Several people who witnessed this action were outraged. What a waste this was! That money could have gone to something with actual value instead of pooling on the floor under Jesus’ feet.

How much value does God have to us? Do we consistently bring our best to God?

The argument of Mary’s critics sounded kind of hollow out loud. Our hearts are often guilty of the same attitude: “Are you sure you want to give this up?!?” And so we keep part of ourselves from God: our efforts, our abilities, our time, our money, our heart. It’s worth mentioning that all of these items were gifts from God in the first place. Our best is often spent on things that have no real value, at least not as God defines it. Our best goes toward buying stuff, toward extracurriculars and sports, toward things we know will bankrupt us spiritually. These things all seem so hollow when compared with Jesus.

Jesus gave up everything he had for us. Mary’s use of the perfume demonstrated her understanding that Jesus would soon be dead and buried for all sinners. When we, too, understand the significance of Jesus’ sacrifice, we are also equipped to give up everything. God doesn’t just want our time or money. He wants every single part of us. God finds eternal value in what Jesus has done for us and in what Jesus then does through us.

Here’s God’s investment advice. Invest time in meeting Jesus on a Sunday morning. Invest in time at home, on the bus, at lunch. Motivated entirely by God’s grace, give everything you are to Jesus. In Jesus’ view of economics, we gain by giving up.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, we are very grateful that we meet you at the cross. Transform our hearts through the means of grace that we might recognize your value and give up everything for you, as you have given up everything for us. Amen.

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

God’s Perspective – March 19, 2017

Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them–do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
Luke 13:1-5

God’s Perspective


Daily Devotion – March 19, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 13:1-5

See series: Devotions

Should God see things the same way I do? I might be tempted to think he should. Really bad people should be punished more severely. Really good people should be awarded more generously. There is only one problem. When I try to make God into something that makes sense to me, I make God out to be someone that he is not.

The Lord needs to see things from his perspective, and then, act accordingly. This was Jesus’ point when he addressed those who had questions about the people who experienced tragedies. The obvious conclusion was that they must have done something really bad to suffer in this way. Jesus corrects this faulty observation by returning to God’s perspective.

Jesus used words that were simple and direct. Don’t worry about those who died, rather worry about yourself. His concluding words were emphatic: “Repent or perish.” Jesus offered God’s perspective in a “nutshell.” He doesn’t fret about who is better or worse. He doesn’t agonize over which sin is greater or lesser. His perspective is to the point: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 6:23).

God’s perspective is what I need to take to heart. Instead of worrying if others are really bad, or if they are worse than I am, I need to recognize my personal accountability. I need to be in a right relationship with God. I also need to understand its God’s perspective that I be perfect (Matthew 5:48). God accepts nothing less.

The only way I can be declared perfect is through Jesus. As I repent of my sin, I need to draw on the holiness he secured for me through his perfect life, his innocent death, and his victorious resurrection. Then, and only then, can I stand before God as he desires.

Repent or perish. Looking at my life from God’s perspective is terrifying. It leaves no room for alternatives or arguments. This is exactly the way God intended it, and it makes me recognize the undeniable truth: I am powerless to change my sinful situation; I am incapable of attaining the perfection God demands; I am in desperate need of a Savior. Mercifully, God provided that Savior by sending his Son, Jesus Christ. As I repent of my sin and look to him for forgiveness, I will not perish, but I will have eternal life.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, open my eyes to see my sin and guilt. Then, point me to the Savior you have provided. Purify me and make me yours for this life, and for eternal 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.

Watch Your Footing – March 18, 2017

If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12

Watch Your Footing


Daily Devotion – March 18, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 10:12

See series: Devotions

In the book, The 19th Hole, author Carol Mann recounts how golf legend Arnold Palmer will never forget the day he lost his footing.

It was the final hole of the 1961 Masters tournament. Palmer had a one-stroke lead and had just hit a satisfying tee shot. As he approached the ball, he saw an old friend standing at the edge of the gallery. He motioned Palmer over, stuck out his hand and congratulated him for the win he was about to secure.

Palmer later said that as soon as he shook his friend’s hand, he knew he was in trouble. After that congratulatory handshake, he lost his mental footing. He hit his ball into a sand trap. Then he put it over the edge of the green. Then he missed a putt. He lost the Masters.

For us as Christians, the temptation can be strong for us to assume that we can coast through our Christianity: We know the Bible stories. We attend church more often than not. We’re on friendly terms with the pastor. After a while our idea of Christianity can begin to resemble our life insurance policy. It’s nice to know it’s in our filing cabinet if we need it; otherwise we don’t give it much thought.

And that’s when we can lose our footing.

Christianity is not some cultural formality through which we coast. Nor is it some life insurance document we store away for emergencies. Christianity is about our relationship with the One who has rescued us from the guilt of our sin.

Lost your footing? Come to Jesus. Repent. Be renewed in his forgiveness. And remember that your intense need for him never ends. Never!

Prayer:
Forgive me, Lord, for all the times I have forgotten how I need you every moment of my life. Empower me to stand in you alone. 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.

Beneficial – March 17, 2017

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Beneficial


Daily Devotion – March 17, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:28

See series: Devotions

How do we know that God works “for the good” of Christians “in all things”? Wouldn’t “all things” include not only the good and beautiful but also the evil and ugly things in today’s world? How can disasters, sicknesses and sorrows, along with the evils done to Christians, plus the sins done by Christians, be turned around to bring a beneficial outcome?

God cannot mean that “all things” are pleasing to him or according to his will. The holy God of the Bible is never the source of evil, nor is evil his will. He said plainly, “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.” (Leviticus 19:2)

Yet, holy God endured the sin of Adam and Eve, and has permitted sinful mankind to think, say and do evil throughout history. Judgment Day is coming, but clearly, God does not force anyone to trust in him and love him. Rather, he graciously offers forgiveness. Sinners are “called” to repentance and faith in Jesus, the Savior. The Holy Spirit creates that saving faith by the good news of the Gospel. The consequences of sin, which we may suffer, become opportunities for those called “according to his purpose” to mature in faith. At times, God does permit, even sends, circumstances that discipline his children. (Hebrews 12:1-13)

Beyond that, the apostle Paul concludes: “How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!” (Romans 11:33) God declared through the prophet Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Ultimately, then, we know that our gracious Lord makes all things serve a beneficial purpose, only because we know him and his promises. Paul asks: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)

God gives you the best, eternal life through Jesus, so he will give you the rest of whatever you need to make it through this life. Though often not an easy road, God makes “all things” somehow beneficial. You know that because you know him!

Prayer:
Loving Lord, even when it hurts I know that you will make it beneficial. Amen.

The devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in March reflect on Truths for Today.

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.

Having It All – March 16, 2017

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 73:25-26

Having It All


Daily Devotion – March 16, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 73:25-26

See series: Devotions

Jesus’ story of the rich man and Lazarus in the Gospel of Luke chapter 16 is a great illustration of the truths in Psalm 73.

From an earthly standpoint, the rich man had it all. According to estimates, the cost of an average wedding in America today is over $30,000. Brides, grooms, and their families often spend lavishly to have a “once in a lifetime” celebration. But that kind of lavish spending is not something they could keep up day after day. The rich man could. Jesus explained that this man lived in luxury every day (Luke 16:19).

Lazarus, however, did not. From an earthly standpoint, he didn’t have much. He was a beggar covered in sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table (Luke 16:20-21). But from an eternity standpoint, Lazarus had everything. Jesus explained that when Lazarus died, he was carried to Abraham’s side in heaven. Lazarus shared the same faith in his Savior as Abraham and so he shared the same eternal destination as Abraham. In heaven, he no longer hungered, thirsted, or lived with sores, but lived with his Savior forevermore!

How about the rich man? This man who “had it all” on earth, lacked what he needed for eternity. He had no faith in his Savior and so when he died, his soul experienced the torment and agony of hell.

Which of the two men truly had it all? Which life would you desire?

If we are honest, we must admit that we can be short-sighted and earthly-minded at times and pine for the life of that rich man. But take a look at Lazarus in eternity! We often waste time and energy pursuing earthly desires and being worried about temporary things that the second we die mean absolutely nothing. So read the climax of Psalm 73: God is the strength and portion of our hearts!

To “have it all” in life is to have God in your life. One day the clothes will fade. One day our lives on this earth and even the earth itself will pass away. But the life which our Savior died and rose to give us for eternity will not. He is our strength each day. He is our portion for all eternity.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 434)
Lord, you I love with all my heart; I pray you ne’er from me depart; with tender mercies cheer me. Earth has no pleasure I would share; heaven itself were void and bare if you, Lord, were not near me. And should my heart for sorrow break, my trust in you no one could shake. You are the treasure I have sought; your precious blood my soul has bought. Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Lord, my God and Lord, forsake me not! I trust your Word.

The devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in March reflect on Truths for Today.

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.

Is It Worth It? – March 15, 2017

The LORD had said to Abram, “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there.
Genesis 12:1-5

Is It Worth It?


Daily Devotion – March 15, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 12:1-5

See series: Devotions

I don’t envy Abram. Just the thought of moving is enough to make me tired–the sorting, packing, and cleaning. But moving at age 75, when many are starting to enjoy a slower pace of life, and going to an entirely new country that you have never even visited and where you don’t know a single soul–well, like I said, I don’t envy Abram.

But this is what God commanded him to do. God commanded Abram to move. And God gave him some gracious assurance as he began his journey. “I will bless you,” “I will make you into a great nation,” and “all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” In other words, God promised that Abram’s obedience to God would be worth it. Good things would happen because God would faithfully fulfill his word.

But I wonder, as Abram led his family across the unfamiliar desert sand, if Abram ever doubted. I know that we often can. We can sometimes wonder if following God’s instructions is really worth it.

When children grow up and walk away from God, a parent can wonder if it was worth it taking them to church, praying with them, and reading the Bible with them when they were young. When you see people caught in a sin, you might wonder if it’s worth it to say something, especially if previous attempts to speak with them have soured your relationship. When you can’t seem to overcome one particular sin, even after you’ve prayed and cried for long stretches of time, you might begin to wonder if it’s worth it to keep trying. After all, so far you haven’t seen anything good come from it.

But consider just how many of the good things God promised Abram were actually seen by him during his life on earth. Abram was confronted with many challenges in the Land of Canaan. When Abram died, he was a father and grandfather of a large family, but hardly a “great nation.” And Abram certainly didn’t see the birth of his distant relative Jesus, which is exactly what God was talking about when he said that “all peoples on earth will be blessed through [him].”

Godly obedience isn’t like a vending machine where you put in the right change and immediately get every good thing for which you were hoping. It’s an act of faith; trusting that it’s the right path, just because God says so, even when the only thing that you see come back is nothing but frustration or pain.

And Abram isn’t the only one who knows how hard a journey that can be. Even his distant relative Jesus experienced it. As he hung on the cross, Jesus felt pain that you and I simply cannot imagine. But he did not move from that place. He stayed, because he wanted us to see not only that our place in the Promised Land of heaven is waiting, won for us by the perfect life and innocent death of Abram’s seed, but also so that we would know that every act of obedience in grateful response to his love would always be worth it.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for the gift of eternal life in heaven. As we journey through life to our Promised Land, may we always follow in obedient faith as you lead the way; through Jesus our Savior. Amen.

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

Picnic Table – March 14, 2017

What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
Romans 4:3

Picnic Table


Daily Devotion – March 14, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 4:3

See series: Devotions

In your imagination, take a trip to a place that really exists. The place is a small, modest park covered in green grass. In that park are a few picnic tables. One of the picnic tables is under a shade tree. Have a seat. Take a sip from the coffee you’ve purchased from the nearby market. And as you sit there, in the shade, sipping your coffee, let your eyes rest on the massive, stone structure that looms above you.

You have traveled to present-day Palestine. You are in the ancient city of Hebron. And looming over you is an archaeologist’s dream. It is a fully intact building, constructed over 2,000 years ago by none other than Herod the Great—yes, the same Herod who was in power when Jesus was born.

The significance of what you see does not stop there, however. Below the main level of this old building there is what is called the Cave of Machpelah. And according to the Bible (Genesis 25:7-10), the Cave of Machpelah is the very place where Abraham was buried.

With all that in mind, take a moment to do a little reflection. Do a little reflection as you picture yourself quietly sitting in that small park. As you think about Herod, you might consider the shocking shortness of human authority and power. For although one of his buildings remains, Herod has been gone for a long, long time. Or as you think about the bones of Abraham, you might think about the frailty of human life in our fallen world. For although Abraham lived a good long life, his run of years on this earth still came to an end, just like everyone else.

Or, as you sit there, you could also think about what it was that Abraham believed. You could think about the message of the gospel.

The apostle Paul reminds us that “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” When God gave to Abraham the promise that the Savior of the world would one day come, Abraham believed that promise. And through faith in that coming Savior, God declared Abraham righteous. He declared him forgiven. He declared him washed clean of his every sin—all on the basis of what Jesus Christ would one day do on Abraham’s behalf.

For that reason, Abraham is now in heaven. For that reason, his bones will one day be raised to eternal life. And by God’s grace through faith in Jesus, you possess the exact same promise.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in my place you lived a perfect life and went to the cross for my every sin. You did it for Abraham. You did it for me. Now we both have life in you. 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Show me – Week of March 13, 2017

Show me – Week of March 13, 2017


Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love for they are from of old.
Psalm 25:4-6 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – March 13, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 25:4-6

See series: ECME Devotions

How many times throughout the course of the day do you show a child how to complete a task? How many times do you model proper manners for a child? How many times during the day do you guide a child through right and wrong behavior? Our days are filled with these activities. They’re simply part of our job. We all have a teacher we fondly remember because they guided us in all the same ways as they brought learning to life for us.

Better than any earthly teacher, you and I have the master teacher, Jesus the Lord, who clearly shows us the path and lays out the way for us in the Bible. His words teach us the truth, and his life and ministry show us how to love. The words of David in these verses are a prayer asking that God show him the way and guide him on the path of life with the truth of the Bible. These words can and should be our daily prayer too.

These verses also plead for the Lord to remember his mercy. God’s mercy is that he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. We are sinful. We daily do things that are wrong. And yet, the Lord forgives us! The last words in these verses ask God to show us his mercy and love. We can confidently approach the Lord and ask for mercy, and his mercy is freely given to us.

As caretakers of young children, it is our responsibility to guide them through tasks. Thank the Lord, that He has shown us the path and guides us with the truth every day of our lives!



Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father please show us the way and guide us in all that we do. Thank you for the daily mercy that you show to us. Please grant us wisdom and guidance as we teach your little lambs. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we help prospects see that God’s mercy is a gift freely given to them?



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.



Third Sunday of Lent – March 13, 2017

Faith Gives Us Spiritual Sight

These are the readings for the Third Sunday of Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

The light of the world brings sight to the blind and judgment to the blinded. Faith means seeing Jesus as Savior: like the bronze serpent, we look on him and live (Verse of the Day). We were born in the blindness of sin, and without the light of Christ we could not find a way to safety. Christ comes to shine his light into our darkened eyes that we might see him and live. Yet for those who refuse to see their Savior in Christ, the blindness of unbelief remains. He gives gracious sight to the blind who trust in him; he gives blinding judgment on those who reject him; finally, he displays the work of God in the lives of those who now walk in the light of Christ.

First Lesson – Isaiah 42:14-21

Who is the servant of the Lord? (verse 19)

The people of Israel.

In what ways was this “servant” blind?

Israel’s history shows a distinct ignorance of the obvious. Consider how often Israel complained while wandering in the wilderness, many times just shortly after God’s amazing display of providence and protection. Most sadly, many of God’s chosen people disregarded his promise of a spiritual Savior and would miss seeing Jesus, the fulfillment of that promise.

What promises does God give regarding these blind servants?

He says, “I will lead the blind…turn the darkness into light…I will not forsake them.” (v 16) What patience! What grace!

Second Lesson – Ephesians 5:8-14

How has our life changed now that we are found in the light?

No longer is our life filled with the “fruitless deeds of darkness,” (compare Galatians 5:19-21); rather we are now concerned with doing that “which pleases the Lord.” (compare Galatians 5:22-23)

What is our role to be regarding those still in darkness?

We are to be the law-bearers and expose those fruitless deeds of darkness in those around us, not dwelling on those evils. We must also be gospel-bearers, offering full and free forgiveness to those who hear our message!

Gospel – John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39

Restoring this man’s physical sight is a metaphor for what other change that occurred?

This man had more importantly received spiritual sight, that is, faith in Christ.

How is our reception of spiritual sight seen in this man’s experience?

This man’s understanding of Jesus progressed from seeing him as a man (verse 11) to a prophet (verse 17) to one worthy of being followed (verse 27) to one who was “from God” (verse 33) to worship (verse 38). So our understanding of Jesus also grows as we learn more of what he has said and done through study of his Word. Our faith is strengthened; our spiritual sight is made more acute.

More than a Prophet – March 13, 2017

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.”
John 4:19

More than a Prophet


Daily Devotion – March 13, 2017

Devotion based on John 4:19

See series: Devotions

The woman with whom Jesus started a conversation came to an astonishing conclusion. With great awe she confessed Jesus was a prophet. She was amazed by his knowledge of her life and his proclamation of the truth. While the woman was impressed with what she heard, she failed to realize Jesus was more than a prophet. This is why Jesus continued to reach out to her. It was this added instruction which brought her to a knowledge and confession that I need to make regarding Jesus.

There are times when I see Jesus only in a limited capacity. Most of my conclusions are based on my immediate needs. If I am sick, I want him to be a physician. If I am troubled, I want him to be a problem solver. If I am uncertain, I want him to be a reliable advisor. If I only see Jesus in this light, I am no different than that woman. This is why I need to turn to God’s Word.

It is from the Scriptures that I learn who Jesus is and what he came to do. Yes, he is a prophet who has brought me the good news and truth of God’s Word. He is also a priest. At his Father’s command he came to this earth to offer the sacrifice needed to take away all my sin. He offered that sacrifice, and it was his very life on the cross. Jesus is also a king. By virtue of his victory over every enemy which strikes fear into my heart, he established his divine rule. Now, there is courage to face death and the grave. Now, there is strength to overcome the weakness of my sinful self. Now, there is confidence to withstand every deceitful and destructive device of the devil.

It is because Jesus is my Prophet, Priest and King that I can live my life filled with peace and the certainty of heaven. But I can only enjoy this blessed assurance when I confess that Jesus is more than a prophet.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 358)
O Jesus, Shepherd, Guardian, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

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.