God must die – April 10, 2020

God must die – April 10, 2020


When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”
Matthew 27:54




Military Devotion – April 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 27:54

See series: Military Devotions

The evidence was in. The verdict was obvious. “God must die!”

Not in the chambers of the Sanhedrin was the decision made. Not in the courtroom of the Roman governor. And surely, not on the streets of Jerusalem.

The verdict was delivered in the vault of heaven before time began. The Holy One, himself, decreed: “God must die!”

Our puny minds cannot penetrate the mystery of the Godhead. We cannot wrap our heads around the concept of eternity. All we can do is look in with wonder as events unfold.

We are permitted to look in at Christmas Eve through the eyes of shepherds who were keeping watch over their flocks by night. On Good Friday, we look through the eyes of a squad of soldiers who were keeping watch over an execution. The shepherds saw a vision of glory. The soldiers saw only gore.

Rome was the superpower of the time. On the day when darkness came at noon, some of her troops were stationed in the pitiful province of Judea.

At least four of them, with a centurion in charge, were ordered to carry out three executions.

They had no idea how far up the chain-of-command the order had originated.

Humans wanted the man, Jesus of Nazareth, killed. They did not recognize that Jesus was also God, even though this was his claim.

Actually, that is the one charge that stuck. Before Pilate, the Jews insisted, “We have a law, and according to that law he must die, because he claimed to be the Son of God” (John 19:7).

In fact, he was the Son of God.

He had said: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me?” (John 14:9,10)

Jesus is God! Scripture reveals that. We confess that: “We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God…God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one being with the Father” (Nicene Creed).

In fact, he was also human.

This we confess with the words: “For us and for our salvation, he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary, and became fully human” ( Nicene Creed).

Otherwise, there was no hope for us. “As it is written: ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’” (Romans 3:10). We sin. The penalty is clear: “For the wages of sin is death…”

So, it was decided: “God must die!”

The Second Person of the Trinity would become human. He would die to meet the demands of justice. We hear: “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering” (Romans 8:3).

Thus, the follow-up announcement: “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

His death for our life. It’s the Great Exchange.

Roman soldiers saw it happen. The centurion knew what he saw: “Surely he was the Son of God!” The sentence was carried out.

“God must die!”

And he did.



Prayer:
Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe.
Who thyself for me once giving to the darkest depths of woe—
Through thy sufferings, death, and merit I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be,
Dearest Jesus unto thee. Amen.
(Christian Worship 114:1)



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

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


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Finished – April 10, 2020

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Finished


Daily Devotion – April 10, 2020

Devotion based on John 19:30

See series: Devotions

Don’t you love that feeling of accomplishment when you complete a big project? You click “Save” or “Submit” or “Print” on a homework assignment. You finally put the last thing in place after a remodeling project. You fill in the last letter of the crossword puzzle or push the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle into place.

Today, we see a scene that doesn’t look like much to be proud of. It doesn’t look like much of an accomplishment. A man hangs weak and dying on a cross. He lived his life loving and teaching people. But what happened? Many hated him, and few believed him. He was rejected and ridiculed. He was condemned and crucified. In the last moments, before he dies, we might expect him to say, “I give up. My life was a failure.”

But instead, he says, “It is finished.” Everything is done! Mission accomplished! Don’t let your eyes deceive you. Jesus’ life was no failure. It was a tremendous success. He accomplished exactly what he set out to do. He achieved exactly what he needed to achieve.

He came to show perfect love to people who leave so many opportunities to love unfinished. He came to accomplish the rescue of people who fail every day to carry out the life that God has called us to live.

As he breathed his last breaths on the cross, he cried out, “It is finished.” This wasn’t a cry of defeat but of victory. It was a cry of celebration, not resignation. He did it. He met the requirements of God’s law and satisfied God’s justice in your place. He battled to the death for your soul, and he won. The proof would come three days later when he rose from the dead—a victory we will celebrate this Sunday.

Because Jesus accomplished his mission for you, sin can’t hold you. Guilt can’t grab onto you. The devil can’t accuse you. Death can’t claim you. You are forgiven. You are free. You are alive. It is truly a Good Friday.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, when I survey your wondrous cross, help me see and celebrate your victory for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I remember – April 9, 2020

I remember – April 9, 2020


And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:19




Military Devotion – April 9, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 22:19

See series: Military Devotions

I remember the summer of 1949.

I remember the headache, the fever—and the legs that would not work.

I remember the look on my mother’s face.

I remember the polio virus.

I remember the doctor asking my mother, “Do you want me to call an ambulance?”

She shook her head. “No. His father is coming. We will take him to the hospital.”

But my father was far away, helping to build a canning factory. How long would it take him to get to me?

Not long.

A neighbor flew a war surplus two-seater Piper Cub to pick him up and land him in a nearby hayfield. I can still picture him showing up in the doorway to my bedroom.

That changed everything. I was a five-year-old who believed my father could fix anything.

He wrapped me in a blanket, lifted me onto his shoulder, and headed for the car.

What a relief! I was at peace.

That same shoulder carried me home three days later. My parents didn’t have the money to pay for a longer stay. My mom became my nurse. My red wagon, pulled by my sister, became my legs.

It reminds me of a scene Jesus once pictured: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:4-6).

When I think of the shoulders of the Good Shepherd, I again have peace. One day, they will joyfully carry me home.

I will remember the coronavirus.

Corona is the Latin word for crown. Under a microscope, that’s what this infective agent resembles.

It makes me think of another crown—one made of twisted thorns.

It makes me think of another Father—one who can truly fix everything, including the virus called sin.

It makes me think of the pain in his heart as he watched his Son writhe in agony, then breathe his last.

I remember why that happened. I remember my sin. I remember his love.

I remember the last meal before his Son died.

I remember that on the night he was betrayed he took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” Then he took the wine and gave it to them saying, “Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27,28).

Christians have received that body and blood in remembrance of him ever since.

They treasure it because they treasure him.

He is the same one who promised: “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

I remember Jesus and look forward to that crown.

I remember: “He has not forgotten me.”



Prayer: Too often have I forgotten you, Lord.
Too often have I acted as if I did not need you.
Too often have I failed you.
Let me taste again the joy of your salvation.
Let me receive again forgiveness through
your body and blood, hidden beneath bread and wine.
Let me remember my sin and my Savior. Amen.



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

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


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Honor and Glory – April 9, 2020

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

Honor and Glory


Daily Devotion – April 9, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:9-11

See series: Devotions

Our world says that pride, power, wealth, and success are the keys to honor and glory. But that’s not how God sees it.

It was because of Jesus’ humility that God the Father honored Jesus above everything and everyone else. God honored Jesus as the one to whom people can cling by faith and have the absolute assurance that their sins are forgiven, that they are reconciled to God, and that heaven is their eternal reward. God raised Jesus from the dead and promised that there would be an even greater glory to come. One day, on the Last Day, everyone will acknowledge that Jesus is indeed the world’s only Savior and Lord—some in joyous faith, others in stubborn and regretful unbelief.

Jesus wants us to share in the honor and glory that his Father gave to him. Jesus loved us so much that nothing would stand in the way of his saving us—not the greatest weakness, not the humblest service, not the most shameful death.

He is worthy of the highest praise. So, let’s bend our knees in humble adoration. Let’s confess his saving name and give him glory now and always.

Prayer:
Jesus Christ, you are my Lord and my Savior. I praise you now and always. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Immortal Came to Die – April 8, 2020

He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:8

The Immortal Came to Die


Daily Devotion – April 8, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:8

See series: Devotions

Science and technology strive to extend life and avoid death. If you believe the ads, you might think, “If I just have the right diet, the right exercise regimen, and the right medicine, I’ll be strong, healthy, young, and attractive forever.” We can get so attached to this world that the thought of dying makes us more worried about what we’ll leave behind than excited about the glory that lies ahead.

Jesus existed before time began; he is timeless and immortal. We, humans, were created to be immortal too. But then sin entered our world. The Bible says, “The one who sins is the one who will die.” For our failure to live up to the perfect standard of God’s holy law we deserve to die, and we will die. But Jesus, the Son of God, was holy. He had no sins. And so he remained immortal.

And yet, “he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!” This is why Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. His friends and followers tried to dissuade him. They knew his enemies wanted him dead. Jesus knew that too. But he also knew that he came to die in shameful innocence on a cross.

As you and I think about our death, we have many unanswered questions: How will I die? When will I die? But, for Jesus, death wouldn’t call the shots. Jesus said about his life, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again.” Jesus chose to come into our world as a human being. And Jesus chose to die.

The only one who truly didn’t deserve to die gave up his life and died on a cruel Roman cross, so that we don’t have to fear death. When the sinless, immortal God died, death lost its power over us too. The Immortal came to die. And now death is but the door to eternal life for all who cling to him in faith.

Prayer:
Jesus, Living Savior, you did the impossible. Though you are immortal, you came to die for me. Thanks and praise! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The King Came to Serve – April 7, 2020

“He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.”
Philippians 2:7

The King Came to Serve


Daily Devotion – April 7, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:7

See series: Devotions

A sign of success in our society is having more people serve you, climbing the corporate ladder to the top, never being satisfied to serve without getting any recognition or reward.

Jesus was so different! “He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” He came to serve. He came to serve the widow whose son had died and the young man whose wealth made him think he had it all. He came to serve the crowds that came to him in the midday sun and the individual that came to him under the cover of darkness. He came to serve the proud Pharisee and the ashamed tax collector. He came to serve parents and children, Jews and Gentiles, weak and strong, young and old.

Jesus didn’t serve to gain political leverage. He wasn’t pursuing personal gain or expecting something in return from a single soul he served. His life wasn’t about him. He had the authority to rule over everyone, but instead, he chose to become the humblest and the lowliest servant.

And he did this…for you. Because God’s law demands selfless love for him and each other, our selfish thoughts and actions make us worthy of shame and servitude. But love compelled Jesus to get down on his hands and knees to serve you. Love compelled Jesus to spend time with the lowly and despised, knowing that such a selfless service would cause others to despise and reject him. Love compelled Jesus to get dirty with the filth of our sin to wash us clean. Love compelled King Jesus to serve you and me and set us free to serve him in joy now and always.

Prayer:
Jesus, my King, you served me when I was most unworthy. Let me live to serve you all my days. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020

It Is Finished – Week of April 6, 2020


When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

John 19:30



The words “It is finished” are a translation of one word in the original Greek, tetelestai. (te-TELL-i-sty) This single word means so much. It means that God’s work of our salvation is finished. It is complete. There is nothing left to be done. There is no work yet to be completed. It is finished.

This is freedom. I am secure. I do not have to worry for one second what my value is. Christ showed me that on the cross. I do not need to worry for one second where I will be in after I die. Christ earned heaven for me. I do not need to worry for one second about God’s love and care. Christ made God’s love abundantly clear on the cross. I do not need to worry for one second if more needs to be done. Tetelestai. It is finished. It is complete. I am forgiven. Period.

It is one powerful word. One, single, powerful word.

One word from you can make all the difference can it not? One word from a teacher to a students can make a world of difference. You have seen it happen, haven’t you? One word of rebuke can change the dynamics of a classroom. One word of kindness can alter a whole day by changing an attitude. Words are powerful. Even one word can be powerful.

Of course, that doesn’t always work well, does it? One word of anger can ruin a whole day too. Nor does one word always do the trick. In fact, you know that it is many words repeated over and over and over again (to the point of frustration at time) until the message gets across to some students. Jesus uttered this one powerful word before he died but he repeated the message over and over to his slow learning disciples over three years.

So don’t stop speaking. Words have power even if they do not produce immediate results. And let the last word always be forgiveness. It was Christ’s last word. Leave your children with Christ and his forgiveness. The job has been completed. They are forgiven. Nothing can change that. Not even a pandemic! It is finished. Tetelestai.



Prayer:
Jesus Christ,
Your death on the cross was the culmination of the entire story of salvation from the beginning to the end. Your perfect life and death have brought to completion our salvation. May your final word of grace from the cross be our word to our little ones.
In Your Name we pray, Amen.



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Easter Sunday

Christ Is Risen! He Is Risen Indeed!

These are the readings for Easter Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

Of all the Sundays of the Church Year, Easter Sunday holds the place of prominence. It is on this glorious day that the church celebrates the resurrection of Christ, their Savior from the dead. No longer are they dead in their transgressions and sins, for having been buried in Christ through baptism, they are now united with Christ in his resurrection. Today is a day to rejoice and sing! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

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? (See 2:4.)

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?

Even after they had denied Christ, living in doubt and fear, Jesus still looked to them as part of his “family.”

 

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The Almighty Came in Weakness – April 6, 2020

Christ Jesus…, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing.
Philippians 2:5-7

The Almighty Came in Weakness


Daily Devotion – April 6, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:5-7

See series: Devotions

Jesus was there at Creation. He was the powerful Word by which heaven and earth and everything in them was made. By his power, the world keeps spinning; plants keep growing; we keep breathing.

During his life on earth, people saw hints of his power. He walked on water and turned water into wine. He rescued the hurting and the hungry. He drove out demons and brought the dead back to life. But those were the exceptions rather than the rule.

Mostly, Jesus looked rather…well…normal. Jesus came into the world as a weak and vulnerable infant. He who fills heaven and earth was contained in the womb of a woman. He who is everywhere at the same time had to walk to get from point A to point B. He who invented energy got tired, thirsty, and hungry.

Jesus never stopped being God. He was still the almighty Creator, even when he became one of the created. He still had all power, all wisdom, and deserved all glory. But he chose not to fully use or display his power. He chose to set aside some of his knowledge. “He made himself nothing.” Literally, he emptied himself. He became one with us, not only in our humanity but also in our weakness.

Why? Why would anyone want to give up his power? Why would anyone choose weakness over strength? That’s not our nature. We hide our weaknesses and flaunt our strength. Why would the Almighty come in weakness?

He did it for you. He saw how weak even the strongest among us can be in the face of temptation. He saw how powerless we were to get into heaven on our own. And he chose to do something about it. The Almighty came in weakness to save the weak.

In weakness, he was betrayed and bound, mocked and murdered. But in that weakness, he bore your burdens and carried your guilt. Because he became weak for you, your weakness won’t separate you from his powerful love. He carried your weakness to his grave and rose again to force open the gates of heaven for you.

Prayer:
Loving Savior, you came in weakness to rescue me, a weak sinner. Praise and thanks! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Servant King – April 5, 2020

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

A Servant King


Daily Devotion – April 5, 2020

Devotion based on Zechariah 9:9

See series: Devotions

These words of the prophet Zechariah were originally proclaimed to the people of Judah, who had become discouraged after returning to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. Things just weren’t the same. The city, along with its glorious temple, was in ruins.

Zechariah spoke God’s word that pointed the people away from their present woes to the future and the coming of the Messiah: “See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The coming of Christ was so certain that Zechariah wanted the people to look and “see” him. He wanted them to see that he would be a different kind of king.

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey just a week before he would be crucified, it was clear that he was a different kind of king. From all outward appearances, he didn’t look like much of a king. There was no band of soldiers at his side flaunting their weapons and strength. Instead, he came with gentleness. Even his vehicle was lowly and unintimidating, not a powerful war-horse, but a wobbly colt. Instead of seizing his position with an army or by force, he earned it by doing everything that his heavenly Father commanded. Not only is Jesus perfectly righteous—without sin of any kind—but he takes his righteousness and gives it to his unrighteous people. He has salvation, and he freely distributes it.

Take comfort in the fact that Jesus humbled himself and came to be with us, to care for us, to die and rise again for us. Rejoice that this King came not to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness; I am your sin. I thank you that you became what you were not, so that I might be what I am not. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 5, 2020

The crowds that went ahead of him 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 heaven!”
Matthew 21:9

Filled with need

Fill in the blank. “I am ________.”

Lots of good words could go in that blank: Loved. Forgiven. Valuable.

How about this? “I am needy.”

How do you feel about that statement? Most of us do not like to think of ourselves as needy. In fact, we do all we can to avoid being seen as needy. We wander around when we’re lost instead of asking someone for directions. We fail an assignment because we won’t ask for help since we’re embarrassed that we don’t know how to do it.

Palm Sunday is all about being unashamed of being a needy person. “Hosanna” is really a cry out to God to “save us!” It’s admitting we have a need that only Jesus can fill. The people who originally said these verses for today were excited because here was the Messiah—the promised one who would fill so many of the needs they had.

Jesus is the one who truly can and does meet all your needs.

You don’t have to wrestle with guilt and shame for that lie you told, or that site you looked at. You need forgiveness. You need grace. And you get to confess your need to God. You’re in need of mercy and grace. Jesus gives it to you. He always does.

So, empty yourself of excuses for your sin. Don’t justify it (“Well, here’s why I had to tell that lie”). Don’t minimize it (“I only looked at the site for 30 seconds. It’s no big deal.”). Don’t deny it (“I didn’t gossip. I was only having fun.”).

Own up to it. Own up to your sin and need of forgiveness.

Jesus fills your need completely. Go to him today and every day.

Prayer: Jesus, I admit I am needy! I can’t go through life alone. I can’t deal with my guilt and shame alone. It’s so freeing to be able to admit my need to you and receive your forgiveness. Let me get excited each day that you fulfill all my needs. I pray this in your name. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Only after – April 5, 2020

Only after – April 5, 2020


Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, “Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.” At first, his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.
John 12:14-16




Military Devotion – April 5, 2020

Devotion based on John 12:14-16

See series: Military Devotions

They did not understand. The crowds, the rulers, his enemies, and his friends—they didn’t comprehend all that was happening on the day of the palm-branch parade.

They probably did expect this ride of Jesus into Jerusalem was something special. Maybe now he would make his move to claim the throne of Israel. His followers hoped that. The Jewish leaders feared that. The Romans were not sure what to think.

As that Sunday came to a close, people were still not certain what it all meant. It reminds us of the words about his birth, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.”

Many from Galilee considered him a hero. Crowds of people all across Israel had seen his miracles and heard his teachings. Word had spread that he had raised Lazarus from the dead. Expectations were running high. His mere appearance sparked a joyous uproar. The triumphant entry into Jerusalem seemed to be a spontaneous event.

It was not.

It had been planned in heaven long ago. It had been foretold with clear words. The apostle John could quote the words: “See, your king comes to you…” (Zechariah 9:9).

The disciples did not think of those words on Palm Sunday. On that glorious day, they never suspected that Good Friday was down the road.

Only after, only after Jesus had risen from the dead, did they realize they had played a part in fulfilling an ancient prophecy with a history-changing event.

Only after Easter did they see how the pieces of God’s plan of salvation fit together.

They came to understand that Jesus would not be an earthly king; they would not sit next to him as he ruled from Jerusalem. But on Palm Sunday, Golgotha and an empty grave had never entered their minds.

It makes us wonder what all we don’t understand about the happenings in our lives.

We, too, live in days of confusion and change. Hopes and fears now mix together. As the disciples did back then, we believe that the hand of God is in what we now see. But our picture is still blurred, and the ending uncertain.

Has Scripture told us that days like these were coming?

Probably in greater detail than we realize. We do know Jesus warned about terrible times. The word, pandemic, fits into that picture.

But not the word worry. We are specifically told not to worry.

The Bible’s words, “Fear not!” to God’s people were not given as an invitation, but as a reassuring directive. Think of a drill instructor saying: “You will stand at attention!” Then think of these words: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday” (Psalm 91:5,6).

We have heard the words. We resolve not to fear.

The disciples eventually came to understand the confusing days of Holy Week. Holy Writ had told of this. They just hadn’t recognized it while it was happening.

Clarity came after—only after all this had taken place. Only then were they able to see the loving hand of God behind such distressing events.

One day we, too, will clearly understand how events in our lives also fit into a perfect plan. After our God shows us, we will be amazed to see how blessed we have been all along.

But only after.

We can wait without fear until then, can’t we?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your ride into Jerusalem to the cries of “Hosanna!” fills us with joy. We smile to see you hailed as a king. It pains us to think of what will happen to you by the end of the week. But it thrills us to know that the next Sunday is coming. Keep us safe in the hollow of your nail-pierced hands as we pass through the days of our lives. Remind us that after all this is over, we will understand, thank, and praise you in Easter joy. Amen.



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

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


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Dry Bones – April 4, 2020

The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. He led me back and forth among them, and I saw a great many bones on the floor of the valley, bones that were very dry. He asked me, “Son of man, can these bones live?” I said, “O Sovereign LORD, you alone know.”
Ezekiel 37:1-3

Dry Bones


Daily Devotion – April 4, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 37:1-3

See series: Devotions

Ezekiel was a prophet during some dark days for God’s Old Testament Israel. They had been worshiping false gods. Now they were living in exile far from home. Jerusalem’s temple lay in ruins. It appeared that all was lost, including the promise of the coming Savior. The people were like a pile of dry bones. They had no life, no future.

Without God’s blessing, there is no meaning to our life either. On our own, we’re the same as they were—guilty, helpless, and hopeless. In our sinful nature, each of us is like a pile of dry bones.

But even though they had given up on the Lord, he had not given up on them. The Lord said to Ezekiel, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD! This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.’” We don’t have to wonder which word of the Lord Ezekiel used. It’s the same word of the Lord that our dry bones long to hear every day, namely, that we have a flesh and blood Savior, a substitute—Jesus Christ. Unwrap those swaddling clothes and you’ll find a baby. When they crucified him, he bled. When he rose, his disciples could touch the nail prints in his hands. God’s Son, Jesus, has taken the hopelessness and death of all our sin on himself so that we might have life with God now and forever.

Whenever we hear about our Savior and what he means for us, the Lord is at work in us. He provides hopeless sinners hope. He gives condemned sinners a bright future. He rattles our bones together and breathes into us the breath of life.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, in whatever way my hope is dried up, be my resurrection from the dead. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Conquers Death – April 3, 2020

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
John 11:43,44

Jesus Conquers Death


Daily Devotion – April 3, 2020

Devotion based on John 11:43,44

See series: Devotions

Death is not a pleasant subject. Just talking about death makes people afraid. Our culture minimizes death as much as possible. It doesn’t even like to use the word death. There are dozens of alternatives for that word. But even though the doctor tells you that your spouse “passed on peacefully,” those words cannot change the fact that the one you loved is dead, and you are alone. No words can change the reality of death.

Except for Jesus’ word. Standing outside the tomb of his friend, he called out in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” Jesus yelled to a dead man, and dead men can’t hear. Jesus told a dead man to come out, and dead men can’t move. But Lazarus listened and came out!

Do you see the big picture here? Jesus has power over death because Jesus is God. That is why he can even conquer death.

Someday it will be you in the tomb. No matter how hard you try to extend your life through exercise, eating right, or medicine, your physical life will end. But on the day this world comes to an end, Jesus will speak his words to all the dead: “Come out!” And your body will rise because Jesus tells it to. This time it will be a body that cannot die.

The only way to face death without fear is through Jesus. We spend so much of life avoiding and fearing death, but the good news is that we don’t have to. We have a Savior who conquered death for us.

Prayer:
I praise you, dear Savior, for conquering death for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Deeply Moved by Death – April 2, 2020

Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb.
John 11:38

Deeply Moved by Death


Daily Devotion – April 2, 2020

Devotion based on John 11:38

See series: Devotions

Does death make you sad? Do you cry at funerals? If so, you’re in good company because Jesus did the same thing. Death hurts. The pain of death is sharp, and it can linger far too long. Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died, and when Jesus arrived at the tomb, he wept.

Isn’t that amazing? Not only does Jesus share in our humanity, but he also shares our pain over death. It hurts him because Jesus knows that death is not natural. He knows it is not the way God wants things to be. The Bible tells us, “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). God didn’t create Lazarus to die. Sin caused him to die. God didn’t create you to die, but sin will cause you to die too.

And so, Jesus weeps at death. But he did more than that. He did something about it. He went to his own death to pay for the sins that cause death. You see, Jesus died on the cross because of sin. Only, it wasn’t his sin. It was the sin of the world, including yours. He took it away from you, made it his own, and he died for it. Sin was no match for him—he paid for it. Death was no match for him—he rose from it.

It is okay to mourn and to miss your departed loved ones. Jesus knows your pain. But more importantly, Jesus wants you to know that he has gone through death ahead of you and for you; and then conquered death ahead of you and for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for dying and rising to give me hope even when I weep. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Savior You Need – April 1, 2020

“Yes, Lord,” [Martha] replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
John 11:27

The Savior You Need


Daily Devotion – April 1, 2020

Devotion based on John 11:27

See series: Devotions

In the midst of mourning the loss of her brother Lazarus, Martha answered life’s most important question: “Who is Jesus?” Knowing the answer to that question is the difference between eternal life and eternal death, and Martha’s beautiful confession is the correct answer.

It is sad, then, that most responses to that question are wrong. Ask people today who Jesus is and, at best, you will hear that Jesus is a wise teacher who met a tragic end. There are probably as many different versions of who Jesus is as there are people answering the question.

Isn’t that a good thing though? In an age where you can personalize everything from your smartphone to your happy meal, why should religion be any different? The modern take on religion is that it is impossible to know anything with certainty. Therefore, you make your own truth, and everyone’s beliefs are really just opinions. What you believe about Jesus is just as true as what anyone else does, even if your beliefs contradict each other.

But can there really be different opinions about who Jesus is? Not according to Martha. Jesus is the Messiah—a Hebrew word that means “the Anointed One.” This word tells us Jesus’ job. Jesus is the specific One, chosen by God, to cover sinners with his perfection and wash their sins away in his blood. His blood can do that only because he is the Son of God.

Jesus is both God and man in the same person. He has to be. The Messiah has to be fully human to live under God’s law, obey it perfectly in our place, and die the death we deserve. He has to be true God so that his life and his death count for all people of all time.

All that content is packed into Martha’s confession. Notice her use of the word “the.” Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God. That is exclusive. Jesus is not one option among many; he is the One and the Only. Thank God! Jesus is the exact Savior you need.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me to always confess that you are the Messiah, the Son of God. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Resurrection and the Life – March 31, 2020

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” . . . Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”
John 11:21,25,26

The Resurrection and the Life


Daily Devotion – March 31, 2020

Devotion based on John 11:21,25,26

See series: Devotions

When someone you love dies, your first thought is probably of the hole it leaves in your life. You think about everything you went through together, and you want that person back. That is where Martha was at. Can you hear the frustration in her words? Martha knew that Jesus could have healed her brother but had not.

Doesn’t that make you wonder why? Whenever God does not fix things to our liking, we’re tempted to think that either God doesn’t have the power to help, or he doesn’t want to. Like Martha, it’s easy to want Jesus to immediately cure all our troubles.

So Jesus gently corrected her—and corrects us—with his promise: “I am the resurrection and the life.” You see, even more than he wanted Martha not to lose her brother, Jesus wanted her to know that he could do more than heal the sick.

Our biggest problem is death, and Jesus is the solution. Jesus came so that even if you get sick, even if your heart stops beating, you will never die. He came so that you can live forever with God in heaven. He came so that one day, even long after your body has been buried, it will rise and live again. He proved that he can do it by raising Lazarus from the dead.

That is why Jesus is the resurrection. He brings the dead back to life. In fact, Jesus is the life. He gave his life so that our place with God is alive and well. While you are on this earth, Jesus does not promise you a smooth ride, but he does promise you strength for the journey. As surely as Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, those who believe in him will rise from the dead.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for being my resurrection and my life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Palm Sunday

Hail the King Who Humbly Comes to Save Us!

These are the readings for Palm Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

Hail the King who humbly comes to save us! For 1700 years the Church has celebrated with hosannas and palm branches this festival that opens Holy Week. Jesus entered Jerusalem to the sounds of praise and adoration of the people there. Laying palm branches and their cloaks in the road, the people honored this prophet from Nazareth as their Savior. Some surely saw their Savior from sin; others likely saw their earthly savior from the Romans and foreign rule. But either way, the songs of exultation rose: “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that comes!”

First Lesson – Zechariah 9:9-10

How is Christ “your king”?

Though he was more than qualified, Jesus never claimed an earthly kingdom like we normally think with the word “king.” Instead, Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world. We often consider him ruling in three kingdoms: the kingdom of power (his power places him above all things in heaven and earth), the kingdom of grace (where he rules in the hearts of his believers), and the kingdom of glory (he rules in heaven and will continue there, into all eternity).

How would this king be different than other earthly kings?

This king is gentle and humble, not the ruthless, power-hungry despot of earthly kingdoms. He also extends peace, contrasting the bloody kingdoms of the worldly empires.

Second Lesson – Philippians 2:5-11

What quality of Christ is stressed as a model for us?

His humility which caused him willingly to lay aside the honor and majesty that were his as God.

Where was Christ’s humility most obvious?

In the death he died, a form reserved for the worst of criminals, “death on a tree.”

What was the end result of Jesus’ humility?

Jesus is our King, but he came humbly to save us. Though true God, he became man. Though all-powerful, he became a servant. Though immortal and eternal, he died. He not only laid aside his glory, but he took our shame upon him. He not only humbled himself, but he died as one who was cursed. Yet in this great humility, he won the peace of forgiveness for us. The King came humbly because he wasn’t on the way to a throne in Jerusalem but to a hill called Golgotha, where he would fulfill God’s mission and save his people. Therefore, God would give him glory greater than his humiliation—every creature will bow the knee and hail him: Jesus Christ is Lord!

Gospel – Matthew 21:1-11

Of what significance is the fact that Jesus is the Son of David?

The Messiah was foretold to be of David’s family (2 Samuel 7:16), and Jesus could trace his line back to King David through both his mother and his earthly father. The Jewish people knew well that the Messiah must have these credentials.

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Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020

Children of God – Week of March 30, 2020


For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father’. The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs-heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his suffering in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:14-17



“You are safe and loved.” How many times have you said this to a little one? Safety is a building block of learning and developing. In order to learn successfully and even for the brain to develop successfully, a child needs to feel safe. If a child lives in fear, the child’s life will be filled with many struggles and obstacles.

The Bible passage for today gives the comfort of safety to all who have received the Spirit. As children of God there is no need to live in fear. God is not a distant God removed from the lives of his children. It is the opposite! Through the Spirit we have become God’s children. What a comfort to know that God has made each one of us his dear children.

There are two blessings highlighted in these verses that we receive as children of God. First is a blessing that we can confidently approach God as our Heavenly Father. He is our Father and we can boldly and confidently take anything to him in prayer. We can also rest assured in the promise that God will hear the prayer as our Heavenly Father.

Secondly, we are heirs of God, co-heirs of Christ. Through Jesus’ suffering, death, and resurrection we receive the gift of salvation. The troubles and sufferings we face in this world are only temporary because we will one day receive the glory of Heaven!

There is peace and comfort in the feeling of safety. In this time of challenges and concern, we can all rest peacefully in the safety of our Heavenly Father! He has us in his arms and will not let us fall. One day we will be in Heaven with our Heavenly Father.



Prayer:
Children of the Heavenly Father safely in his bosom gather;
Nestling bird or star in heaven such a refuge ne’er was given.

Though he giveth and taketh, God his children ne’er forsaketh;
His the loving purpose solely to preserve them pure and holy. Amen
Christian Worship 449:1,4



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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A Glorious Plan – March 30, 2020

On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days.
John 11:17

A Glorious Plan


Daily Devotion – March 30, 2020

Devotion based on John 11:17

See series: Devotions

Wait, did you read that correctly? Jesus was late! His friend Lazarus was sick. Jesus is the Son of God, who heals the sick. But when he heard that the friend he loved was ill, he waited around for two days. Then, when he finally went to see him, Lazarus had been dead and buried for four days!

Why did Jesus let Lazarus die? The obvious answer is that he had a plan. Yet that seems like the kind of trite cliché we share when we don’t know what else to say. You’ve probably heard it. Whenever life takes a turn for the worse, people like to say, “God has a plan.” It’s true that he does, but often we can’t see God’s plan. Can you imagine the frustration of Martha and her sister, Mary, as they waited for Jesus and watched their brother die?

Perhaps you can, because you know what it’s like to experience pain and wait for God. When life is awful, God’s plan does not always make sense. The cancer that won’t go into remission. The spouse who dies slowly. The loved ones you bury. It all makes you ask, “Jesus, I know you can help. Where are you?”

He is exactly where he needs to be. He always is. In the case of Lazarus, Jesus’ plan was to glorify God by miraculously raising Lazarus from the dead. For that to happen, Jesus had to allow Lazarus to die.

Remember Lazarus the next time you are suffering and wonder why God is allowing it. Remember that he does love you and that he does have a plan. Remember that the one who had the power to raise Lazarus from the grave has the power to raise you out of whatever you are enduring.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me strength in my troubles and faith in your glorious plan. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 29, 2020

Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
Isaiah 58:9-11

Practice makes perfect

There is nothing cooler for a teacher than when a student gets the correct answer on a test after hours and hours of extra work together after class. There is nothing better for a coach than when the team runs the play to perfection to win the game after hours and hours of hard work in practice.

It took a lot of work, a lot of pain, a lot of effort, time, patience, mercy, and grace to make you the person that you are today, a child of God. God chose you before the beginning of time. Your Father has redeemed you. He sent his Son to die for you. He raised Jesus from the dead for you. He made you spiritually alive even when you were dead in sin. He adopted you into his family even when you were an enemy and hostile toward him. He has given you a new identity, eternity in heaven, hope, love, forgiveness, and comfort. The Father has a vested interest in you and your life!

Life is filled with a lot of work, pain, and effort. Isaiah knows you need these encouragements:

  1. Call on God when you are in trouble. When you mess up, look to God for help. When anxiety creeps up into your world, cast it on him. He answers, “Here I am.”
  2. Let your light shine. God has made you his own dear child. So, act like the child of God that you are. Be kind. Be loving. Put others before yourself. When you do this, you show the world who you are. He promises, “Your light will shine in the darkness.”
  3. Be nourished. Come to the oasis of God’s Word in the desert of this world. Come to the hospital for your souls and find healing in his promises. Be the soul that is connected to God through his Word. Remember the baptism that changed your identity. Receive the Lord’s Supper and know that your sins are forgiven. In all these ways, the Lord will satisfy your faith and strengthen your resolve!

Remember who you are. Recall what God has done for you. During these pandemic days, continue to live your life for him.

Prayer: Lord God, you made all things. Continue to watch over the world that we live in. Keep people safe from all danger until that day when this world will be perfect again. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Truly Unbreakable – March 29, 2020

…an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:4

Truly Unbreakable


Daily Devotion – March 29, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:4

See series: Devotions

Everything breaks. Everything gets old. Everything wears out. Everything fades away.

The longer you live on this earth, the more you realize how true this is. That faded rust bucket you see on the highway was once pristine and spotless. The eyesore of a house you see in the old part of downtown once smelled of new wood and fresh paint. The arthritic, overweight coach was once a lightning-fast force of nature on the football field. The old woman in the Alzheimer’s unit was once a quick-witted life of the party.

But in this fallen world, everything goes away. Whatever is young, new, strong, and fast does not remain that way for long. It all spoils and fades, and then it disappears. Except for Jesus and absolutely everything that he promises.

Because the almighty Son of God died for our sin and rose from death, he fills our cup to overflowing with gifts “that can never perish, spoil, or fade.” His forgiveness of our sins will never break. His promise of eternal life will never break. His friendship will never fade away.

Everything in this world breaks. Except for what we receive from Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in this fallen world where everything seems to wear out, remind us that in you we possess what will never perish, spoil, or fade. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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In your anger – March 29, 2020

In your anger – March 29, 2020


Arise, O LORD, in your anger; rise up against the rage of my enemies. Awake, my God; decree justice.
Psalm 7:6




Military Devotion – March 29, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 7:6

See series: Military Devotions

The season of Lent is all about justice. If that is not understood, the suffering and death of Jesus of Nazareth remain a mystery.

The images of Lent show us people consumed with rage. One would think the object of that burning anger must have done something despicable. Why else would they accuse him of capital crimes? Why would they delight to see him tortured? Why demand he die?

The Roman governor clearly stated: “I find no fault with him.” That only increased their rage.

In blinding hate, they chose to have a murderer released into their midst instead of the one who broke no laws and harmed no person.

They claimed they wanted justice. In truth, they wanted revenge.

He had insulted them. He had exposed their hypocrisy. He had told them: “You belong to your father, the devil” (John 8:44).

Their rage boiled over because the finger of truth was pointing at their hearts. Their fierce denial only revealed the verity of his words.

Their wrath was not just against the man, Jesus, but against the almighty God in heaven who dared to judge them.

Earlier in this psalm, King David begged the Lord to save him from his enemies lest, “They will tear me like a lion and rip me to pieces with no one to rescue me.”

Those words remind us of the ones the Son of God used to describe his upcoming ordeal: “Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me.” Then he added, “I am poured out like water, all my bones are out of joint” (Psalm 22:13,14).

We might expect to hear of the anger of the God the Father breaking out against those who dared to lay hands on his beloved Son. We might expect to see fire from heaven strike down those who dared defy his demand for holiness.

Not this time.

This time, the thunderbolt of divine justice spared the guilty and struck the innocent.

Was it a mistake? Was it a miscarriage of justice? Did the Lord God strike out in blind rage and hit the wrong person?

Of course not.

This was part of a perfect plan that had been spoken of since the Garden of Eden. This was the way he would crush the serpent’s head. Justice demanded that the guilty die.

And the Son of God stepped in to take the blame.

The last breath of the Crucified One smashed the head of the Evil One. Satan’s death-grip on humanity was broken. The condemned prisoners could go free.

Justice had been served. Punishment had been meted out. The cry of despair had ascended on high: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” The dead silence relayed the answer.

The anger of the Holy One had struck down the Beloved One because he was now the Guilty One.

The prophet wrote: “But the LORD is the true God; he is the living God, the eternal King. When he is angry, the earth trembles; the nations cannot endure his wrath” (Jeremiah 10:10).

We breathe a sigh of relief.

He is not angry with us.



Prayer: “Not in anger, mighty God, not in anger smite us.” We know what our sins deserve. We know how quickly we forget the price you paid to rescue us. We know how easily the “old evil foe” can lead us astray. But we also know of your abiding love and your just verdict that sets us free. Keep us close to you. Keep us free. Amen.



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

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


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Prepare – March 28, 2020

This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'” John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Matthew 3:3-6

Prepare


Daily Devotion – March 28, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:3-6

See series: Devotions

God gave John the Baptist the mission of being the forerunner for the Savior God had promised in the Old Testament. He prepared the way for the Lord’s first coming by preaching that people should “make straight paths for him.” Just as people in those days cleared and leveled their roads for the arrival of their ruling king, so people should clear the way in their hearts for the arrival and rule of their spiritual King, Jesus.

Prepare! That’s still a vitally important message for us today. We prepare ourselves for Christ’s reign in our hearts and for seeing him at his second coming by believing his Word. We prepare by daily repenting of our sin and battling against our sinful nature with the power that God gives us in his Word. We focus each and every day on Christ and are filled with the peace that he paid for our sins.

When people came out to hear John’s message, they were moved to confess their sins and they were baptized. The baptisms that John performed were “for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). Baptism is a wonderful gift of God in which he connects the power of his saving Word to water and gives us the forgiveness of sins. The Bible says, “Be baptized and wash away your sins” (Acts 22:16). Christians can look back on their baptisms and be assured that God has washed away their sins. They can be confident that they are members of God’s holy, eternal family. If you are not baptized, God wants to fill your heart with the peace that your sins are washed away and give you the blessed hope of eternal life. That’s how much he loves you in Christ.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for giving us your Son. Thank you for baptism through which you give us the forgiveness of sins. Preserve us as loved ones of your family and help us prepare our hearts every day for you to live there and bless us. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Came to Serve – March 27, 2020

[Jesus said] “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 20:26-28

Came to Serve


Daily Devotion – March 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 20:26-28

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Have you seen the WWJD bracelets? WWJD stands for “What would Jesus do?” I wear one of these bracelets as a way of reminding myself that God has called me to follow Jesus, to try and imitate him in all that I do.

Unfortunately, just wearing a bracelet doesn’t mean I actually do what it says. Following Jesus, imitating him is hard for many reasons. For one, Jesus is perfect, while we are broken sinners, who are inclined towards selfishness. In addition, it can be hard to know what Jesus would actually do if he were in our situation.

But Jesus’ words to his disciples can lead us in the right direction. Jesus said that we are to be servants to others, just as he lived a life of service to all by giving up his life.

So what does that look like for you today? Maybe that means you look for ways to serve your spouse or children. Maybe you visit and care for your next-door neighbor. Maybe you see a need in your community that is not being met and do something about it. When you live a life of service, you are letting your light shine so that people might see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16).

When you make it your ambition to imitate Jesus, you will also immediately see how far short you fall from his example. That is why Jesus came to be more than just a good example. He came to be your substitute. He came to give his life as a ransom for your sins. Knowing that your sins of self-service are forgiven allows you to start fresh today and serve others rather than simply serving yourself. Not only will this be a blessing to them, but you will discover a joy and fulfillment that serving yourself could never bring.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for serving me by giving your life. Lead me to give my life in service towards others. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not So With You – March 26, 2020

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

Not So With You


Daily Devotion – March 26, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 20:24-28

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Government officials are a good gift of God, and God has called us to respect such leaders (Romans 13:1-7). But during an election year, it can be hard to watch all the backbiting and nastiness among politicians.

Jesus saw this same kind of attitude among his disciples. They were filled with envy, jockeying for positions of honor. He said that’s how the government officials of their day acted. They fought for places of power and control at any cost. But then he looked at his disciples and said, “Not so with you.”

You see, Jesus’ kingdom has different values than the kingdoms of this world. In the kingdoms of this world, it is all about power and prestige. It’s about lording control over others.

Jesus says that his kingdom is completely different. In Jesus’ kingdom, the first are last and the last are first. The greatest are those who are servants and slaves to all.

Jesus didn’t just preach these values, he lived them to the extreme. He did not take a throne of power, but he was lifted up on a cross in weakness. He did not come to be served, but to serve and give his life on the cross to buy our freedom from our sins.

Now Jesus calls us to live in his kingdom and spread the values of his kingdom to everyone. This means we protect and care for children and all the marginalized. It means we love those who have lost their way. It means we forgive others as we have been forgiven by Jesus. What a different, and wonderful, way to live!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the blessing of government to keep outward peace in society. Thank you for the even greater gift of my King, Jesus Christ, who rules in my heart with love. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Pride – March 25, 2020

Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. “What is it you want?” he asked. She said, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.” “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.
Matthew 20:20-22

Pride


Daily Devotion – March 25, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 20:20-22

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Pride has been called the sin behind every other sin. Pride is thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought. Pride keeps us from thinking we need God’s forgiveness. Pride is spiritually dangerous.

It was pride that led two disciples, James and John, to ask Jesus if they could sit in places of honor in his kingdom. They believed that they were worthy of places of honor and respect. They wanted to make sure they got those special seats before the other disciples did. Their pride even led them to believe they could drink the same cup of suffering that Jesus would drink. But Jesus graciously responded, “You don’t know what you are asking.” Their pride kept them from hearing how foolish they sounded.

It can be easy to point out pride in others, like the disciples, but our arrogance keeps us from seeing it in ourselves. Pride blinds us from our own pride. So, how do we know when we are falling into the sin of pride? If we are feeling entitled, if we are filled with anger or arrogance, we can assume that pride is lurking behind those feelings.

So, what can a person do to extinguish pride? First, acknowledge it and confess it before God. Next, receive God’s forgiveness for your feelings of pride. Finally, fix your eyes on God. You see, when your eyes are turned upward towards your glorious, powerful, gracious God, it becomes much harder to look down on anyone else.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me for my pride, for puffing myself up and looking down on others. Lead me to grasp your glory, power, and grace so that I walk in true humility. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Joseph – March 24, 2020

Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him all the more. He said to them, “Listen to this dream I had: We were binding sheaves of grain out in the field when suddenly my sheaf rose and stood upright, while your sheaves gathered around mine and bowed down to it.” His brothers said to him, “Do you intend to reign over us? Will you actually rule us?” And they hated him all the more because of his dream and what he had said.
Genesis 37:5-8

Joseph


Daily Devotion – March 24, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 37:5-8

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One of the pleasures of growing up is discovering our capabilities. Maybe you found out that you could write well or speak well. Or maybe music has always come naturally to you. Or maybe you are a math whiz. It can be exciting to discover what we can do.

The problem comes when we forget how we receive our talents. We might forget that our talents are gifts of God to be used to serve others.

That’s what happened to a teenager named Joseph in the first book of the Bible. When Joseph was 17, God gave him a dream that one day he was going to be a great leader. In fact, God told him that even his own brothers would bow down to him. Instead of humbly thanking God for this gracious prophecy, Joseph bragged about it to his brothers.

Instead of self-promoting, Jesus showed us a different way to live. Although Jesus was God, he did not use his power to promote himself over people. As the apostle Paul wrote, Jesus made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, he became obedient to death, even death on the cross. (Philippians 2:6-11) It was on that cross that Jesus paid for all of our sins of self-promotion and self-service.

Now that we have seen Jesus’ willingness to serve us rather than be served, let’s follow Jesus’ example today, thanking God for the gifts and talents he has given us so that we may serve others.

Prayer:
Lord God, every good and perfect gift comes from you. Help me to use the gifts that you have given me for your glory and in service to my neighbor. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020

Some Things Never Change – Week of March 23, 2020


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Hebrews 13:8



This morning I read a mother’s post on Facebook. Last night as she tucked her son in bed, he was thinking about his birthday today. He looked at her and asked if they would need to skip his birthday this year.

We see example after example of visits to the elderly through windows rather than in person.

Stores are closing. Restaurants closing or serving only take out. Libraries closed.

And then there is you. Your school is closed. Your childcare is either closed or providing care for a limited number. You are working to find ways to support parents in continuing their child’s learning. You are missing your students and they are missing you.

So much change. Where did normal go? When will normal return?

This is an unprecedented time. Each day seems to bring new regulations and expectations. There is so much unknown. We are living in an ever-changing world right now. All of this can lead to feeling anxious and concerned.

And yet… we have a reason to have hope and to rejoice.

“Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” God never changes. God keeps his promise to be with us through it all. God is faithful.

Does he promise that you and I and those we care about will not get Coronavirus? No. Does he promise that he will be with us each and every day as we wait and watch for this to be over? Yes.

In times of uncertainty and fear, we look to God’s Word. Consider the following passages.

Psalm 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always.

Ephesians 3:20-21 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations. For ever and ever! Amen.

So, what can you and I do?

• Be in the Word. Find the way that works best for you. And encourage others to do the same. Find creative ways to do it together.
• Look for the blessings. They are everywhere! Families are spending more time together than they have in decades. People are finding creative ways to reach out to each other. There are countless acts of selflessness all around us.
• Look for opportunities to help in ways that are safe for you and for others. Call those you know who are home alone. Write letters. Text. Email. Facetime. SKYPE.
• Take care of yourself. Keep moving. Go for walks. Eat healthy as much as possible. Get your rest.
• Pray. Pray for protection, for health, for healing, for leaders, for healthcare workers, and with thanksgiving for the many blessings—especially for faith and forgiveness from our loving Savior.

Things are different. They won’t always be. This is tough but our God is tougher than it all. Some things change but one thing never changes—God’s love for you is ever present and his promises to be with you are sure.



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for the confidence we have in you that your promises are sure. Grant us patience and peace in your loving care and forgiveness. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Fifth Sunday in Lent

Through Faith, We Are Raised from Death to Life

These are the readings for the Fifth Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

We are drawing ever closer to Holy Week when Jesus undergoes the incredible events of his Passion. Now, one week before that begins, we hear about our progress from death to life. Through faith in Jesus, we are raised from our spiritual death to a new life in Christ, and we are nurtured in this new life through the Word and Sacraments.

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.”

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. 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. (See Romans 8:5-8.) We now seek to put to death the misdeeds of the body (8:13) and willingly share in Christ’s suffering with a view also to sharing in his glory (8:17).

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 John 14:6) claims to be life itself. There is no life apart from him. Like 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. 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 often remembered for her busyness, should be remembered for her confession of faith—so complete, so noble—that encompassed everything Jesus had preached. She believed in Jesus’ promise of a future resurrection, and so Jesus gave proof to her and to us that his promise is true.

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