He is Here! The Light – Week of January 27, 2020

He is Here! The Light – Week of January 27, 2020


The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.

Isaiah 9:2



January is a dark time of year. It is still the season of winter and the sun sets early. Many parts of the country have cold and cloudy weather. Families return to regular schedules. Christmas is over.

Isaiah was a prophet, a messenger sent by God to his people. During his time on earth, Isaiah served people that were going through the troubled times of war and defeat, and these struggles would last for years. Their homes would be destroyed, families killed, survivors held captive. For God’s people, those were very, very dark times.

And yet Isaiah pointed God’s people to the coming of Christ, and his words continue to do this for us today. Isaiah promised that a “new light” would come—Jesus! He delivered this great message: even though God’s people would have severe hardships on earth, Jesus would come and heal every wound.

God never promised that we or our students will not have darkness here on earth. We will have times of physical trials. Family members may get cancer. There may be financial strains such as house and car repairs, jobs lost, or money mismanaged. Sin will bring darkness too. Friends will have arguments, co-workers will disagree. We will gossip, hate, cheat. We will feel entitled to something God has not given to us or feel jealous. These are real, dark sins which afflict us all. But God promises that Jesus, the great light of the world will save us.

God will shatter all of our darkness when he comes again to take us to heaven, and God daily gives us a “new light” when we repent, and he forgives our many sins. This forgiveness comes as a gift from God through the birth of our Savior and his death on this cross. With this “dawning of light” comes great joy! The Great Light is here!



Prayer:
Your little ones, dear Lord, are we and come your lowly bed to see;
Enlighten ev’ry soul and mind that we the way to you may find.
Until at last we, too, proclaim with all your saints, your glorious name;
In paradise our songs renew and praise you as the angels do. Amen
Christian Worship 46:1, 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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Fourth Sunday after Epiphany

The Savior’s Sermon: Trust in God’s Strength

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

The Savior’s Sermon: Trust in God’s strength! The Beatitudes are hard for us to swallow. Jesus seems to be espousing a Christianity imbued with fatalism at best or defeatism at worst. Look closer, however, and see what he says. The weaker you are; the stronger God is in your life. The weaker you are now, the readier you are to trust in a future reward. Look at the past acts of God’s grace and you will find many reasons to trust his strength in the face of adversity, persecution, or sorrow.

Traditional Lesson One – Micah 6:1-8

In this courtroom scene, who are the witnesses? For what reasons does the Lord call them as witnesses?

The witnesses are the mountains, the hills, and the foundations of the earth. The Lord calls them because they have been around so long, have witnessed so much, and are so firm and reliable.

What is the Lord’s charge against his people?

“Why do you think I have burdened you? I have been so gracious to you!”

What three things does the Lord require of us above all?

To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.

Supplemental First Lesson – Daniel 3:13-27

How does the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego help you understand the promises of Jesus in the Beatitudes?

Rejoice and be glad, Jesus said, because great is your reward in heaven. He does not promise to keep us from a martyr’s death or Christian persecution on earth. He promises to reward us in spite of them. That we might trust his promises of future reward, however, he shows us his righteous acts of the past. The God of the three men in the fiery furnace can be trusted! As they stood before great Nebuchadnezzar, these men looked weak. As they chose the path of righteousness rather than accommodation, they seemed stupid. As they spoke about a powerful God, their words and actions seemed powerless. At the weakest moment of their lives—despised, condemned, bound hand and foot, and falling into an inferno—they trusted that God was their strength, and he did not fail them.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Why does God often choose the lowly and despised to be his children?

He chooses the seemingly foolish to shame those who think themselves wise. He chooses what seems weak to shame those who think themselves strong. He wants no one to boast before him.

What three things does Paul call Jesus? What does he mean?

Paul calls Jesus “our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.” Without us doing anything, he makes us right with God by his blood, holy in God’s sight. He paid to set us free from Satan and hell.

Gospel – Matthew 5:1-12

Why are the Beatitudes of Jesus so striking?

The Beatitudes are striking because they go against the conventional wisdom of this world. Jesus reminds us that God plays by a different set of rules than this world does.

What word does Jesus use to describe those who trust in him? What does he mean?

Jesus calls us “blessed.” He doesn’t mean we are happy, necessarily. He means we have it good, even if we do not feel good. All God’s blessings definitely come to us by grace alone. Surely, Jesus means what he says.

Where does Jesus promise to reward us?

Jesus promises to reward us greatly in heaven.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Miraculous Courage – January 27, 2020

When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee.
Matthew 4:12

Miraculous Courage


Daily Devotion – January 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 4:12

See series: Devotions

Drama draws us in. Tension gets our attention. In an iPad, Netflix, Hulu world, we want life and death, happiness and sadness, an unexpected turn of events, an action hero.

Of course, when you read the Bible, you see all of that. Jesus is special forces tough and superhero strong. Jesus walks on water. Jesus tells the sky to stop raining and the wind to stop blowing…and they listen. Jesus commands fish to jump in a fisherman’s net and they listen. The Gospels are a highlight reel of Jesus’ power—the Almighty Savior from heaven turning the laws of nature inside out. But he doesn’t do that in our Bible reading for today.

Consider the simple words: When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew to Galilee. Is there anything miraculous about that?

Usually, we associate a “withdrawal” with a quiet retreat, a concession of defeat. And that would be what we would expect here. If you are Jesus and a friend of your cause garners the negative attention of the authorities and is imprisoned, maybe you try to lay low for a while, withdraw to a less conspicuous place to avoid the heat. But Jesus had just been in the less conspicuous place—away from civilization, tempted in the wilderness by the devil. Withdrawing to Galilee, in reality, meant going to where the people were and where the heat was on, with Jesus now publicly taking up the cause of preaching the gospel in John’s absence. When Jesus withdrew to Galilee, he wasn’t slinking away from the heat, he was rushing to the frying pan.

That is Jesus. Where we might resort to self-preservation and self-protection, Jesus miraculously, courageously embraces the work of God’s kingdom. That’s the kind of Savior we have. Giving no thought to his own well-being, he rushes to where his people need him.

Prayer:
Jesus, I praise you for your miraculous courage. Your people still need you today. Graciously, powerfully rush to our aid. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Whom Are You Following – January 26, 2020

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip.
John 1:43-46

Whom Are You Following


Daily Devotion – January 26, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:43-46

See series: Devotions

Do you remember playing “Follow the Leader” when you were in elementary school? The challenge was to do everything the leader did. Later in life, the fun and innocence of this elementary school game give way to a critical life question, “Whom am I following?”

All around us we hear the calls of our culture summoning us to “Follow me!” The call of wealth, the appeal of power and prominence, the desire for acceptance and relationships. What good can come from these enticing leaders? Is a blessing to be found as we follow them? Our finances disappear. Our position is eliminated. Our friends abandon us. When the façade of these “leaders” is shown for what it is, we are left without direction, hope, or a leader.

This is when the gentle sound of Jesus’ voice comes to us with the sweet invitation, “Follow me.” At first, our response might be like Nathanael, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Can anything good come from following Jesus? Why Jesus? Why fall in step with him? How is he any different?

Come and see. See him take your eyes off the treasures of this world that come and go to the treasures of heaven that have eternal value. See him show that power and prominence come not from being served, but from serving others. See him point out that the relationship that matters most is with him. See him give eternal hope to the lonely.

As the leaders in your life fail or abandon you, hear the gracious invitation of Jesus to “Follow me.” In him, we have the only leader who can lead us safely from this life to eternal life in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus forgive me for the many times I allow the distractions and facades of this world to be my leader. By your grace let me hear your call to follow you and gladly fall in step behind you. Amen.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – January 26, 2020

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

20/20 Vision: See his power better

Your mind is a powerful thing. It can solve mathematical equations without a pencil or paper. It can identify danger on the road so that without a conscious thought you swerve and slam on the brakes. Your mind is working even when you might not be aware it.

Consider this: Do you have to think in order to scroll down this devotion, or is it just happening? Do you have to think in order for your lungs to expand or contract so you can breathe , or does it just happen? Your mind is a powerful thing.

Now use that mind of yours. Take a moment and try to imagine what God can do in your life!

The creative and creating God who made this entire universe is powerful and beyond imaginative. Your powerful God set boundaries for the oceans and planted the mountains where they are.

In addition to his power, he is wise beyond our knowing. The wisdom of God is higher, wider, deeper, and longer than we could ever know. “Who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?” (Romans 11:34) He alone knows what is truly wise and good.

God is full of a deeper love than our minds can begin to fathom. We can talk in great detail about the love of God that sent his Son to the cross, forgives all our sins, and cares for us as only a Father can. We can describe his love, but we can hardly begin to fathom how long, wide, deep, and high his love for us is.

Try to imagine what God can do. Now, multiply that by immeasurably more. That’s what God HAS already done for you! You can’t even begin to know what God is doing in your life by his power. That’s what he promises he can do for you, in you, and through you in your future life!

No one knows what that will look like in your life. But God’s working will be good because it is done for our good. Our God can do immeasurably more, and he wants to because of his deep love for us.

Prayer: Father, teach me to trust you. When I don’t know what is going on in my life, when I don’t understand your ways, when things don’t go my way, teach me to lean on this promise: You can do immeasurably more than all I ask or imagine. Because you love me, do what is best for me. Teach me to trust 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Angels abiding – January 26, 2020

Angels abiding – January 26, 2020


For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
Psalm 42:5




Military Devotion – January 26, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11

See series: Military Devotions

Some say that those missiles sent in the night to attack installations where American troops were dwelling show the improved precision of Iranian technology.

Some say that the Iranians—and thus the Americans—were just lucky.

Another possibility should not be overlooked:

Angels abiding.

On a famous night years ago, some shepherds were abiding in fields in the Middle East keeping watch over their flocks. When the sky lit up, they became afraid. Sore afraid.

But it wasn’t an attack. It was a squad of angels. They, too, were keeping watch. They also were abiding over those fields.

Never doubt that angels were abiding over the fields of Iraq when missiles recently lit up that sky. Angels are also able to guide missiles.

We normally react to what we see, feel, or hear. That works well for many phases of our life. But there is another plane of existence that is not detected by our senses. Most often, we call it the spiritual.

A part of us is aware that there is something more than what we see or hear. Sometimes it is described as a feeling that something is out there. That something is often feared.

Religion is based upon a belief that something humans cannot see is able to affect lives. This implies power beyond human ability. It grows from the natural knowledge of God. Power, wisdom, and wonder are reflected in what God created. Guilt comes from a conscience that calls out warnings that the unseen power is not pleased.

Thus, the instinctive reaction to the spiritual world is one of fear. This is followed by a desire to get that unseen power to be on our side.

Idolatry grows from fear of the unknown. It is shaped by human minds to reflect what humans imagine that power to be like: what it demands and what help it can offer.

Idolatry, in every form, is manufactured by mankind. But each form follows a pattern drawn up in the spirit world by powers of darkness. It is a demonic pattern. It is built upon lies.

But truth also comes from the spiritual world. The source is the Holy One who does not lie. Perfect wisdom, absolute power, and judgment are part of his being.

He is to be feared.

But he also is to be trusted—and loved.

At times, he has given miraculous signs of his presence. Yet, the greatest evidence came when he took on human flesh and lived among us. We know him as Jesus of Nazareth. He came as the fulfillment of the promise of rescue from powers of darkness.

His arrival was announced by spirits under his command. Those spirits are called angels.

Humans have seldom caught a glimpse of these heavenly beings, though they constantly watch over those who put their trust in the Holy One.

Most times, we only have the Lord’s word that those angels guard and keep us. Sometimes we question that because things do not work out the way we wish.

Sometimes his people are hurt. Sometimes they are killed.

This is not failure. This is according to plan—God’s plan—a perfect plan, always for our good. One day we will understand why spirit-warriors were sometimes used in ways we would not choose. Until then, we thank our God for his shield of protection.

May there always be with us, angels abiding!



Prayer: I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day; and I pray you to forgive me all my sins where I have done wrong, and graciously keep me this night. For into your hands I commend myself, my body and soul, and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Priceless – January 25, 2020

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way.
1 Corinthians 1:4,5

Priceless


Daily Devotion – January 25, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:4,5

See series: Devotions

A few years ago, a series of commercials from Master Card has featured the word “priceless.” The commercials described some extravagant purchases the owner of the credit card made: a dinner at a five-star restaurant, a limousine ride, a diamond ring, celebrating his wife’s birthday—priceless!

As I watched those commercials, I thought, “Sure…but how are you going to pay off the credit card bill?” That comes with a price. Suddenly priceless gets pricey.

If God’s blessing came with a price tag on it, who could afford it? The price to obtain God’s favor would cost you your life. Unless you have kept every command of God perfectly, you cannot expect even an ounce of his favor.

The testimony of God’s Word says, “The ransom for a life is costly, no payment is ever enough—that he should live on forever and not see decay” (Psalm 49:8-9).

With a great sense of relief, we know that God’s grace is free. He demands nothing from us. He gives us everything. He leaves us under no obligations because Jesus has so perfectly met them all.

The apostle Paul thanked God for his priceless grace given to the Corinthians in Christ Jesus. If you read Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, you will discover how undeserving this group was of God’s favor. If you read your life accurately, you will come to the same conclusion.

Jesus Christ secured God’s grace for us. His priceless, perfect life established the standard of conduct God accepted for all sinners. His priceless bloodshed on the cross established that no curse for sin remains for any sinner anywhere.

When you know this and believe it, then you are enriched in every way. Embrace God’s priceless grace in Christ Jesus and enjoy being enriched in every way.

Prayer:
Dear Savior God, impress on my heart the inestimable value of your priceless grace. Enrich me in every way as I contemplate your gift to me in Jesus Christ. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

He Brought Him to Jesus – January 24, 2020

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
John 1:41,42

He Brought Him to Jesus


Daily Devotion – January 24, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:41,42

See series: Devotions

Throughout the season that the Church calls Epiphany, Christians learn about the far-reaching mission that Jesus came to accomplish. He came not for some people, but for all. He came not to begin the work of saving us, but to complete it.

Jesus accomplished his mission. He demolished the devil’s work. He destroyed death’s power over us. He broke the chains of sin and guilt that held us in their prison. When Jesus cried out, “It is finished,” when he was dying on the cross, his mission was complete. Our sins were forgiven. Eternal life was ours. End of story. The last seconds have ticked off the clock, and the victory is final.

All that remains to be done is to spread the news. That is where we come in. We, who have seen the Savior of the world, get to go out and tell others.

That is what Andrew did. When he met Jesus, whom the prophet John called “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” the Holy Spirit put faith in his heart to believe what he heard and saw.

Andrew knew he couldn’t keep it to himself. The Bible tells us, “The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah.’ And he brought him to Jesus.”

He didn’t need to give a long, detailed testimony. He simply said, “Come and see the Savior.” He didn’t need to travel to faraway lands. He went and found his brother.

You and I can tell others, just like Andrew did. Whom do you know, who doesn’t know that Jesus saved them? A friend, a family member, a neighbor? Just tell them about the one you met, the one who sealed the victory for you and for them. Invite them to read a devotion you read or go to church with you to meet Jesus.

And when you do, God will be using you to carry out his mission to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

Prayer:
Jesus, I’m so thankful that I met you. Use me to bring others to meet you too. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Jesus Came to Save Sinners – January 23, 2020

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

Jesus Came to Save Sinners


Daily Devotion – January 23, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:29

See series: Devotions

Don’t you hate the devil’s lies? First, he convinces us that sin is the best way to go. He convinces us that pride is better than humility before God. He convinces us that the solution to our worries is food or drugs or alcohol or exercise or sex. He convinces us that the sins we do in secret are no big deal because they don’t hurt anyone.

Then, after we believe his lies, he plays the guilt card. He says, “How could you? God says you should be humble. God says you should bring your worries to him. And God sees the shameful things you do and think in secret. How could you? There’s no way God can forgive you!”

God sent a prophet named John to point out people’s sins. But John didn’t leave his listeners in hopeless shame. Instead, he pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the world’s Savior, who takes away the sin of the world. Not just our individual sins and offenses but sin itself. He takes away our sinful condition and the guilt and shame that always come with it. He even takes away the death and damnation that we deserve for our sins. Jesus takes it all away. Jesus says to us, “You are no longer a sinner. I am. The sins that you once carried now rest on me.” Jesus, the Lamb of God, bore your guilt, suffered your shame, died your death, and faced the hell you deserve.

So, when the devil says God can’t forgive you, look at the Lamb of God. The Lamb takes away the sin of the world. If you breathe the world’s air, eat the world’s food, sleep and wake up in the world, then you are part of the world. And if you are part of the world, then Jesus took away your sins, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.

May that truth calm your conscience and move you to serve God daily in peace and joy.

Prayer:
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Perfect Sacrifice – January 22, 2020

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

The Perfect Sacrifice


Daily Devotion – January 22, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:29

See series: Devotions

Sacrifices were a part of everyday life for the Jewish people in Bible times. God’s law required the sacrifice of hundreds of lambs, bulls, goats, and birds every year. If you came to the temple at any time, your senses would be overwhelmed by the sights, sounds, and smells of the sacrifices.

How easy it must have been for them to imagine they were doing God a service by bringing him sacrifices. After all, that is what every man-made religion teaches. If you do enough and make enough sacrifices, you will gain favor and avoid the fury of the gods.

But God required those Jewish sacrifices to teach a different point. Yes, payment is required for sin. The Bible says, “Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” But what we do—the sacrifices we make—are never enough. That’s why those sacrifices needed to be repeated over and over again. A better sacrifice, a perfect sacrifice, was needed.

And God himself provided it. That’s right. Instead of punishing us for our arrogant attempts to earn his favor, God the Father offered a sacrifice of his own—the Lamb of God. Jesus was that perfect Lamb of God. Jesus was absolutely without blemish—perfectly sinless, spotless, stain-free. When he died in our place, God accepted his sacrifice as payment for all of our sins! No more payment is required.

Imagine that! God, angry at the disobedience of the people and receiving no valid sacrifice from them, offers his own sacrifice for them—for us! And the sacrifice he offers is none other than his own Son, Jesus, the Lamb of God! What amazing love!

Prayer:
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world. Have mercy on 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Big Plans – January 21, 2020

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Big Plans


Daily Devotion – January 21, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

See series: Devotions

A young father holds his baby in his arms and talks to him about his plans for their future together and his hopes and dreams for his child.

He promises, “We’ll play together and work together. I’ll teach you how to ride a bike, throw a football, and use a saw. Together we’ll change the oil in the car and plant a garden. I’ll pray with you and for you. And when I’m disciplining you and forgiving you, listening to you and loving you, I pray that you will see in me the unconditional love that God has for you.

“And when we go to church together, I pray that my faith and love for God will be unmistakable in the way I sing and pray, in the look on my face and the joy in my voice. And I pray that you’ll take that faith with you, as you go off to college and move out on your own, as you become a teacher or pastor, an engineer or doctor, as, Lord-willing, you raise a family of your own. I’ve got big plans, big dreams, for you, my child.”

Before he sent Jesus into the world, God the Father told his Son about the big plans he had for him. He would restore the tribes of Jacob and bring Israel back to God. But he would also be a light for non-Jewish people and bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Only Jesus could carry out these plans. And he did so perfectly.

Many today try to make Jesus into a Savior just for some. But God had bigger plans for him. He came to be the Savior for all. He came to be my Savior and yours. Jesus lived as the perfect Son for all people so that God will count you and me as his forgiven children forever.

What big plans! What a perfect Savior!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for carrying out God’s plan to be my Savior. Amen.

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

He is Here! The Lamb of God – Week of January 20, 2020

He is Here! The Lamb of God – Week of January 20, 2020


The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

John 1:29-31



Our preschool class started the year with the stories of Creation and heard about Jesus every day. In every Bible lesson that we teach, we point to Jesus, the cross, and Jesus’ resurrection. So when we finally began reading the New Testament stories about baby Jesus, they had been waiting, and waiting a long time for this baby Jesus. Finally, the day came. One child stood up and said, “Wait a minute, is this the same Jesus as the one on the cross? It’s about time!”

God’s people had been waiting for Jesus to come for a long, long time. Many people-prophets, kings, priests-were sent before Jesus to prepare the way for him, teaching repentance and God’s grace. John, the servant in our Bible verse today, was born before Jesus. John was a messenger sent by God to point everyone to Jesus. God intentionally revealed Jesus as the Savior to John so that John could preach repentance and baptism to the people of his day. He said, “Look, there he is, the one we have been waiting for!”

Jesus is the Lamb of God because, in the times of the Old Testament, God’s people would sacrifice a lamb to show sorrow and repentance for their sins. The sacrificed lamb was killed for the people’s sins. This lamb was a symbol of Jesus Christ, who would sacrifice himself on the cross for all sins of the whole world, sins of the past, present, and future.

John tells God’s people that Jesus, the Lamb, is the reason for his work. It was time for everyone to see Jesus for who he was, the Lamb of God and Savior of all people in the whole world. We, too, want to share this message with all people. Every believer shares the messenger role that John did. We want to use the rest of our time on earth to share that message with children, their families, and all people that God places in our lives. We don’t have to wait! Our Savior has come; he is here!



Prayer:
Lamb of God, we fall before you, humbly trusting in your cross.
Our great joy is to adore you; All things else are only dross.
Jesus gives us true repentance by his Spirit sent from heav’n,
Whispers this assuring sentence, “All your sins are now forgiv’n”.
Christian Worship 354: 1, 3

A Question to Consider:
Do you have a friend, co-worker or family member that does not know about Jesus? Perhaps they are “still waiting” to reach a worldly goal as the answer to their problems or they think worldly treasures will remove sorrow. Think about how you might show them that Jesus, the Lamb of God, is the answer to every need.



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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Third Sunday after Epiphany

Jesus Appears as Light Shining in Darkness

These are the readings for the Third Sunday after Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus appears as the light that shines in the darkness. Dark places remain covered in the shadow of sin and unbelief. However, now there are bright places, too, and there you find God’s children. Jesus shines his light by preaching repentance and the good news of the nearing kingdom, and he invites us to follow him to a life illumined by him. Following him means living in the joy of freedom (First Lesson) and walking in the light of love for God and brother (Second Lesson).

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 9:1-4

What kind of “darkness” were the people walking in?

These people were walking in the spiritual darkness of sin and death. St. Paul says that we were “dead in our transgressions and sins” and “objects of God’s wrath” (Ephesians 2:1,3).

What “great light” did they suddenly see?

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8:12) that brings spiritual peace and joy.

The story of Zebulon and Naphtali was one of suffering. These northern tribes bore the brunt of foreign attacks, most notably by Assyria. Adding insult to injury, the land had become Galilee of the Gentiles—a melting pot of resettled peoples and a hotbed of crass syncretism. It was a land covered by the darkness of gloom and unbelief. Though the people’s punishment was well deserved, it was not an end to itself, but a means to God’s end. God’s plan broke upon them as suddenly as light shining into the darkness when Jesus appeared and began to preach and teach.

Supplemental First Lesson – Isaiah 8:19–9:2

What does Isaiah have to say to those people who try to find answers and guidance by talking to psychics, astrologers, or mediums? What is the only place to find answers, guidance, and light?

Man cannot find his way through the darkness of the world except by the inquiring of God. No spirit, no man, no other message brings light to those living in darkness. To the law and the testimony! There you find the Word, the great light for those living in darkness.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:10-17

What difficulty was Paul dealing with in the Corinthian congregation? (See 1:10,11.)

There were divisions and quarrels within the congregation.

How does Paul address this problem? (See 1:13.)

He asks the Corinthians to consider whether Christ is divided. Either you’re a Christian or you’re not. The members of Christ can’t be divided.

What specific job had Paul been sent to do?

Paul had been sent specially to preach the gospel. Apparently, he often left the job of baptizing to others.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 John 2:3-11

How can we be certain that we know God? How do John’s words apply to people today who think they know God?

John says, “Obey his commands.” The gnostic heretics that John combatted had little regard for laws, sin, and the commands of God. They felt they knew God well enough without worrying about acts of obedience. How similar to modern unbelievers and even too many Christians today! They think they know God, but they have little time for talk of sin, guilt, and obedience. John tells us that contrary to their opinion, they do not know God. Jesus—our Morning Star—has already come, and the light of his dawn is beginning to break over the world and the time for deeds of darkness is fading fast. There are still places of deep darkness but that is not the place to find God’s children. They will be found walking in the light and shedding their own light on the darkness around them by living in love for God and brother.

Gospel – Matthew 4:12-23

What did Jesus do when he heard that John the Baptist had been arrested?

He returned to Galilee to preach the gospel, fulfilling the words of Isaiah in the First Lesson.

What did Jesus do to help him in his job of preaching the good news of the kingdom?

He began to call his disciples. What faith they showed by dropping everything and following Jesus!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Pursuing the Dream – January 20, 2020

“I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all.”
Isaiah 49:4

Pursuing the Dream


Daily Devotion – January 20, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:4

See series: Devotions

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and described his dream. He said:

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood . . .”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream today.”

The world that King imagined was a far cry from the world in which he was living. It would not come easily. How discouraged he must have felt sometimes. How often he must have felt like giving up. But he pressed on. And history changed, as it followed his dream.

The Lord had a dream too. He envisioned his Son coming to be the Savior for all people.

That dream didn’t happen without a struggle. Jesus’ own people rejected him. The ones he came to save turned against him. It seemed like no one was listening, like every word he spoke fell on deaf ears. They mocked him, abused him, and put him to death.

We are no better, are we? We let our own dreams get in the way of his plans for us. We let the noise of this world drown out his loving voice that calls us to follow him and offers us real life. We receive his forgiveness and go right back to sinning.

“What’s the use?” Jesus might wonder. “Why bother? I should just give up.”

But Jesus pressed on and fulfilled his Father’s dream. He accomplished his mission of love for us. He defeated the devil. He carried our sins to his cross and buried them in his tomb. He opened up heaven for you and me.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for not giving up on God’s dream 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – January 19, 2020

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Ephesians 2:10

20/20 Vision: See Purpose Better

There’s something admirable about wrestlers. Not WWE style wrestling, but wrestling with the mats, the protective headgear, and the singlets (that’s the tightfitting uniform).

The strength and stamina of wrestlers in competition is amazing. They are willing to do nearly anything within reason and wisdom to make weight. For the sake of the team, for the sake of personal performance, and for the sake of their success in the sport, these wrestlers go to great lengths to achieve their purpose.

Here’s the point: When you know your purpose, you will do just about anything to achieve it.

The flip side is also true. If you lack purpose, you struggle to do just about everything. Ever had a morning where you didn’t really want to get out of bed? Ever had a day when you wondered why you were here? It’s tough to get moving if you don’t know your why—your purpose.

This is why Paul’s words are so powerful for our lives even when we’re not sure of our purpose or why we’re here. Paul makes some powerful declarations about our life; more powerful than any other positive affirmation. This is God’s affirmation of you.

You are God’s handiwork. This is a statement about your identity. You are a creative work of your holy, mighty, and merciful God. He made you and shaped you just as you are. Then he perfected you in Christ by canceling your sin on his cross and changing your status as his son/daughter at your baptism!

You are created for good works. You don’t have to go looking for them. God is going to put them right in front of you. God has a purpose for your life. In fact, he has already prepared opportunities for you to live for him today, this week, and this year.

A new challenge for this week: Take note of your day. At the end of each day, pay attention to all the opportunities to do good that your God gives you. Write down the opportunities you have to share an encouraging word. Take notes about the opportunities God gave you to help someone in need. Pay careful attention to the simple ways you get to do good works in your home, school, and community.

When you know your purpose, you will do almost anything. There is no higher purpose than the purpose given by your God who called you.

Prayer: Lord God, give me eyes to see the good works you have prepared for me to do, and give me strength to carry it out. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Home – January 19, 2020

“[O]n those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:16

Home


Daily Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 4:16

See series: Devotions

The rear half of a truck sat on the bridge. Eventually, divers found the front half, along with the rest of the bridge. They never found the driver. The mighty waves of Hurricane Ivan that had tossed concrete spans around like dominos, swallowed his body forever.

What possessed this driver to cross a 3-mile bridge in the middle of a category 4 hurricane? Maybe his wife was waiting for him in Pensacola. Maybe, in the darkness, he thought it wasn’t all that bad. He obviously thought he could make it. He didn’t realize on this bridge, in this storm, he was driving into the shadow of death.

What possesses me to think I can make it through this life without Jesus? On this earth, in this life, I am living in the shadow of death. Death that is more than a stilled heart. Death that is a stilled soul—empty, alone, constantly trying to convince myself, “I’m OK. I’ll make it!”

I’m not okay and I’m not safe. The darkness hides the waves of sin that swallow me. I won’t make it!

Then Jesus shines his light into my death-dark heart. With brilliant love, he turns my eyes to his cross. I see forgiveness there. He runs my eyes over his life. I see perfection there. He focuses my eyes on his heart. I see my God gifting me with both—Jesus’ forgiveness and Jesus’ perfection. He lifts my head up to heaven. I see his arm bending around my shoulders as he welcomes me into an eternity of life and light.

I will make it home.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, shine the light of your love into my heart so I always know your forgiveness and your goodness are mine. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A place for hope – January 19, 2020

A place for hope – January 19, 2020


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5




Military Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 42:5

See series: Military Devotions

Hope misplaced is hope lost.

Hope cannot stand alone. It does not float on air. Hope must be placed in something. That something must be the right thing.

Otherwise, hope is lost.

A soul that has lost hope is a sad and troubled soul. It looks for answers it cannot find, for joy that always fades. It finds fears that it cannot face.

To lose hope is to have a miserable existence.

We might think of medical patients to whom doctors say, “There is nothing more we can do.” We might remember the American prisoners on the Bataan Death March when the Philippines fell to the Japanese.

Hope is more than an emotion. It rests alongside faith and love. It is at the center of our soul. It has been placed there by our God. Better to lose an arm or an eye than to lose hope.

The hope the psalmist speaks of is different from a child hoping for a toy or a person hoping it doesn’t rain on a picnic. Disappointment comes when such incidental hopes are lost.

Disaster follows the loss of essential hope. The meaning of our lives, the reason to keep living, and the joy of life is bundled with the hope planted into our souls by our Creator.

We want things to turn out well. We work toward that end. We pray for it. No matter how difficult or long the path, we want to find joy and success at the end.

We hope for the good.

We are born with hope in our hearts. Disappointments can whittle away at it. Tragedies can kick it in the face. Failures can cause us to lose sight of it.

Despair crushes it.

How can we protect it? How can we keep hope alive and well?

We need to put it in a safe place.

Hope in our skills will fail. Hope in our friends will fade. Hope placed in our money or job won’t keep it safe. Only one place is safe. The psalmist names it.

Put your hope in God!

That’s the essential message the Lord God gives to the human race. When we are told to “Fear, love, and trust in God above all things…” we are pointed to the place for our hope.

The triune God never changes, never fails, and always cares. Better than gold in a bank vault is hope resting in the everlasting arms of the Almighty.

Can he take care of our needs? Ask the birds of the air who feeds them.

Can he protect us from danger? Ask the wind and the waves who commands them?

Can he rescue us from death? Ask Moses and Elijah, who appeared on earth thousands of years after their earthly life ended.

Can he deliver us from evil? He did. Look at Golgotha. Look at Easter’s empty tomb. Then declare with the apostle Paul, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:37).

The next time our soul begins to worry, relay the order from on high: “Place your hope in God!”

And all will be well.



Prayer: Since all power is in your hands, O Lord, and since you watch over your servants with loving eyes, lead us along the path of life. Lead us to victory and glory everlasting. In you alone, we place our hope. 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Approaching God with Confidence – January 18, 2020

In [Christ Jesus] and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12

Approaching God with Confidence


Daily Devotion – January 18, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:12

See series: Devotions

After being caught pushing his sister, does the naughty boy approach his parents with confidence? No, normally he hides under the covers. After the parents come home early and discover the unsanctioned party, does the teenage daughter feel at ease talking to her dad? No, normally she avoids him as much as possible.

If sinful children avoid approaching their sinful parents when they are confronted with guilt, how can it ever be possible for sinful humans to approach a perfect God? There is only one way: it is only possible in Jesus. When we trust Jesus as our perfect substitute, we trust that his life counts for ours. We believe that our sins have been paid for on the blood-stained cross. In faith, we believe that God no longer holds them against us.

We can approach God in freedom and confidence. We don’t have to hide from him; we don’t need to avoid him; we are not afraid that he will punish us for our sins…for he has already punished Christ for them instead.

What a blessing to approach God in freedom and confidence!

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for washing away everything that convicts me of wrong. Fill me with your thorough forgiveness that I might cling to Christ instead of running from you. Give me joy that I might make the most of the privilege to approach you in freedom and confidence. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

No Favoritism – January 17, 2020

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism …”
Acts 10:34

No Favoritism


Daily Devotion – January 17, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 10:34

See series: Devotions

Have you ever been in a situation where favoritism was at play? It’s hard, isn’t it? When favoritism works against us, the protestations are quick and real: “But I’m more qualified!” “I have more experience!” “She’s never even done that before!” No, we certainly do not like favoritism.

How wonderful it is, then, to hear the words of our Bible reading for today. The Apostle Peter declared that God does not show favoritism. Peter had been under the impression that his own people, the Jewish people, were the ones God loved. But God brought Peter into contact with a non-Jewish man named Cornelius who had been brought to faith in the true God. This showed Peter that God loves all people. He does not show favoritism. Once Peter discovered this, he told Cornelius and his family about what Jesus had done to save people from their sins. And, he ordered that they be baptized.

Baptism is one of the clearest illustrations of God’s unwillingness to play favorites. Because, you see, we all need baptism. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor we are, it doesn’t matter what skin color we are, it doesn’t matter how powerful we are, it doesn’t matter if our upbringing was happy or not so happy; every single one of us needs baptism. Why? Every single one of us needs to have our sins forgiven.

And in baptism, that is exactly what God does. He washes sins away. And, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor a person is, or what skin color a person is, how powerful a person is, or if a person’s upbringing was happy or not so happy; every single person who is baptized receives God’s unconditional forgiveness.

What a blessing baptism is! And what a reminder that our God does not play favorites.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for reminding me today that you do not play favorites. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Beloved Child – January 16, 2020

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:17

Beloved Child


Daily Devotion – January 16, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:17

See series: Devotions

Is the desire to please our parents built into us from birth? It seems to me that it is. Sure, that desire may be blunted or even destroyed by parents who treat their children poorly. But I’d guess for most of us, hearing our father or mother say, “I am pleased with you” would be welcome words.

Wouldn’t it be far, far better if God were to say that about you? Wouldn’t it be amazing if God were to say, “I’m well pleased with you?” Wow, that would be great!

This is precisely what the Father said about Jesus at Jesus’ baptism. He was well pleased with everything Jesus said and did. And, remarkably, this is precisely what the Father says about those who have been baptized. Not because everything they say and do is pleasing to him. But because everything Jesus said and did is applied to those who are baptized.

“But, but, but!” we sputter. “I’ve messed it up so badly!” Unfortunately, that’s true.

But God doesn’t look at us based on what we have done but based on what Jesus did in our place. That almighty, perfect heavenly Father can now look at us as if we were Jesus. Or to put it a bit differently, the Father can look at each of us and say, “You are my beloved child, too.”

Prayer:
O Father, assure me and remind me that, through my baptism, I am your beloved child. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Wonderful Assurance – January 15, 2020

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
Matthew 3:16

Wonderful Assurance


Daily Devotion – January 15, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:16

See series: Devotions

Today’s Bible reading is one of the clearest narratives in which we get to see the threeness of God.

It’s true that there is one God, and only one God. The Bible also describes the true God as “three.” Jesus commands us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). There are passages which call the Father, “God,” which call the Son, “God,” and which call the Holy Spirit, “God.” So while there is only one God, there are three persons in the God-head, and this is one of the segments in which we see it clearly: the Father is speaking from heaven, the Son is coming up out of the water, and the Holy Spirit is descending in the form of a dove.

And why should we care? We care because this assures us of an amazing truth; it’s the entire God who wants you to be saved. Clearly, Jesus wants you to be saved. He lived and died for you! He was willing to be baptized to fulfill God’s holy law for you. But the Father also wants you to be saved. He said he was pleased when Jesus was baptized. And the Holy Spirit wants you to be saved. He descended upon Jesus to empower him to do what he needed to do.

And all of this gives us wonderful assurance. The Father wants me in heaven, the Son wants me in heaven, and the Holy Spirit wants me in heaven. Jesus’ baptism clearly shows me that.

Prayer:
O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit continue to assure me that you desire my salvation and continue to strengthen me that I might continue to travel on the road to eternal 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Stepping Into Our Place – January 14, 2020

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Matthew 3:13-15

Stepping Into Our Place


Daily Devotion – January 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13-15

See series: Devotions

The Bible tells us that Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized. But why did Jesus even need to be baptized? It’s a fair question. After all, baptism is one of the ways that God forgives sin. That’s why each of us needs baptism. We are all sinful and need forgiveness.

But Jesus wasn’t sinful. Jesus was perfect. So, why did he need to be baptized?

The answer is in Jesus’ answer to John: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus was righteous; he didn’t need any more righteousness. But we needed righteousness because righteousness is the entrance requirement for heaven. God demands that for us to be able to enter heaven, we need to be perfect.

And … we can’t do that.

So, we needed a Savior who would not only die in our place but also live in our place. We needed a Savior who could live a perfect human life, in every sense. And, Jesus did that. His baptism was a part of it. It was a part of his fulfilling God’s law for us.

Jesus fully stepped into your place. He was even willing to do things that he didn’t need to do, all so that you could be fully confident that he had done all that he needed to do for you. He did what was necessary for your salvation. The measure of righteousness you needed was filled up…by Jesus!

So, as you are reminded of Jesus’ baptism today, see there your salvation. And rejoice!

Prayer:
O Savior, assure me that I now stand before you as righteous, because of all that you’ve done 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

He is Here! The Chosen One – Week of January 13, 2020

He is Here! The Chosen One – Week of January 13, 2020


“Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.”

Isaiah 42:1



The Chosen One has come! The Bible tells us about many servants of God: Abraham, Moses, David, and Paul, to name a few. Each servant had a special role for that time and place in the history of the world. But this servant that Isaiah writes about is very special, unlike any other servant or messenger in the Bible. This servant is Jesus Christ, the Chosen One.

The role of Christ was like no other role of any servant before or after him. His job was to “bring justice to the nations”. The word “justice” written here is defined like that of a legal decision made in a court. It points to the gospel, God’s legal announcement that all sins everywhere are forgiven, erased forever by the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Sometimes we forget that this debt has already been paid for us. We are troubled by the sorrows of the world and we forget that we are living for the next world-not this one! We can look in any direction and see sin and temptation. We fail in our vocations as spouse, teacher, parent, co-worker, friend, sibling, son, or daughter. We take the best for ourselves, and compete with others for worldly treasures. We gossip and slander the names of the people that God has given to us to serve. We forget to treat strangers as we would our own family. Although we try to live God-pleasing lives, we fail over and over again.

But the Chosen One has come! God sent his Son, his special servant, the Chosen One, to die for all. Through the life and death of Jesus, he “brings justice to the nations”, declaring the entire world and all people “not guilty”. May we share this good news with all the world until he comes again!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, the Chosen One, thank you for declaring the world “not guilty”. Help me to try to live as your child, saved only by your death and resurrection. Amen

A Question to Consider:
How can you show the same undeserved love that Jesus gives us to other people in your life?



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.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Second Sunday after Epiphany

Jesus Appears as the Lamb of God Who Takes Away the Sin of the World

These are the readings for the Second Sunday after Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

This Lamb would take away the sins of the world and bring both Israel and the Gentile nations into the kingdom of God. The hearts that see this Savior in faith cannot help but take the news of this salvation to the ends of the earth.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 49:1-6

Which person of the Trinity is speaking through the prophet Isaiah in these verses?

Jesus

What job was given to this “servant”? (See 49:5.)

To “bring Jacob back to (God) and gather Israel.” In other words, Jesus was sent specifically to win the Jews to faith (Matthew 15:24).

What additional job was mentioned? (See 49:6.)

To be a light to the Gentiles. While Jesus was sent specifically to the Jews, he also realized that the Gentiles were meant to be brought to faith as well. (See John 10:16.)

Supplemental First Lesson – Isaiah 49:1-7

What added dimension does this reading have when it is extended by one verse?

The addition of one verse features the Lord himself speaking and ratifying the servant’s words. He promises that though his Servant will suffer and be despised, the Lord will not forget him, but will ensure his glory and honor. To that promise, he adds a pledge on his name as the Redeemer and the Holy One of Israel. Though Christ would be the Lamb of God who would suffer and die to bear our sins, though he would be rejected and despised, God promised to glorify him again. He promised that every eye will see him—even those who pierced him—and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:1-9

Who wrote this letter to the Corinthians?

Paul

To whom is this letter written? (See 1:2.)

Not only the Christians at Corinth (who were mostly Gentile), but to “all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (including us)!

Why does the author thank God? (See 1:4-9.)

Because the Lord has blessed these Christians with “every spiritual gift.” Later in this letter, Paul instructs these Corinthians in the proper use of their God-given gifts (ch. 12-14).

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 13:38-49

How was Jesus both the fulfillment and replacement of the sacrificial system given by God through Moses?

Paul preached the message of the Lamb of God—the sacrifices in the Law of Moses could not justify; only the Lamb sacrificed for sin could. The Gospel resulted in faith in some Jewish hearts and rejection in others. In the face of opposition, Paul and Barnabas fulfilled the promises of God in Isaiah and made Christ a light to Gentiles and brought salvation to the ends of the earth.

Gospel – John 1:29-41

For whose sin did Jesus die according to John the Baptist?

Jesus died for the sins of the world.

How did John know that Jesus was who he said he was?

He had seen the Holy Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him.

What was the first thing Andrew did after he realized that Jesus was the Messiah? (See 1:41.)

He went and told his brother, Peter, a wonderful model of the joy Christians feel when their spiritual eyes are opened to the truth of God’s Word. That joy automatically leads to action: go and tell others!

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Better Plan – January 13, 2020

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Matthew 3:13,14

A Better Plan


Daily Devotion – January 13, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13,14

See series: Devotions

You can understand why John the Baptist was hesitant to baptize Jesus, can’t you? He was going to baptize Jesus? That seems oh-so-backward, doesn’t it? Consider the contrast: John was mortal; Jesus was immortal. John knew a few things; Jesus knew everything. Perhaps most importantly, John was a sinful human being; Jesus was perfect.

And so, yes, we can understand why John tried to deter Jesus. Jesus’ plan just didn’t make any sense to John. So, John thought he needed to deter Jesus because John thought he had a better idea!

Wait. A sinful human being thought that he had a better idea than God? Really? Yes, really!

And, how easy it is for us to do it, too. How easy it is to question God’s plans for our lives. Or, how easily we think or act in ways which are contrary to God’s Word, which is really saying, “No, Lord, I have a better idea.”

Amazingly, Jesus didn’t get angry at John or even chastise John. Instead, Jesus simply, said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). What patient grace!

And God will always show that amazing, patient grace to you, too—over and over again.

Oh, and by the way; you can also count on the fact that God’s ideas will always be better than your ideas!

Prayer:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Please show me your patient grace, O Savior, even when I question You. Amen.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – January 12, 2020

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:4

20/20 Vision: See Identity Better

What do you see when you look in the mirror? Who do you see looking back at you? Who are you really?

We can answer that question in many ways. We can answer based on relationships: We’re sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, boyfriends and girlfriends. Within those relationships things might be going well or they may going poorly.

We can answer that question based on wins and losses. Academic grades can tell a story about you. So can successes or failures in sports and “likes” and “dislikes” with friends on social media.

But even the biggest wins don’t last and the best of grades can be followed by a horrible quiz result. It mirrors the story of sin in our lives. A good day is followed by a bad day. Loving words can instantly change to whining and complaining. It’s really a story littered with sin, failure, and disappointment.

There is a better story about you and your life. The next time as you look at yourself in the mirror, remember this: We were buried with Christ, and we were raised with him (Romans 6:4). Paul wants us to see that our identity and the story of our lives is intimately connected to the story of Jesus’ life. His victory is your victory. His life is your life.

Try this challenge. Post the following three words on your mirror to help you see who you really are in Christ.

Covered: All your sins, failures, and shortcomings are covered by his blood. They are forgiven, and they are gone.

Clothed: You are clothed with the perfect life of Jesus. You get credit for all the good things that he did. You are perfect, holy, and good in God’s sight.

Shielded: Every moment of your life is shielded by his power. He is guiding and guarding your life—all of it.

Your true identity is found in Jesus’ win for us at his cross and empty tomb. We are covered, clothed, and shielded by him.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I look in the mirror this week and every week help me to see who I am in you. I am covered, clothed, and shielded. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Hold your Hand – January 12, 2020

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.”
Isaiah 42:6

Hold your Hand


Daily Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:6

See series: Devotions

Remember the Beatles tune? “I wanna’ hold your hand?” Holding hands is an intimate gesture. It expresses love and affection without using words. Humans appreciate a personal touch.

Our Bible reading for today pictures a parent taking a child by the hand. Can you picture it? The parent and toddler need to cross the street. So the parent takes the toddler by the hand, guiding, protecting.

So, whose hand is being held in this Bible verse? Surprisingly, the picture is that God the Father is the parent, and it’s Jesus’ hand that is being held. It reminds us that Jesus—the true God—became truly human, with our human weaknesses and needs. And so, God the Father guided him, protected him, indeed, “held his hand” as he walked Jesus through life and finally to his death on the cross. The Father was guiding, protecting, holding the Son through it all.

But to what end? It was all for YOUR benefit and MINE. It was all so that forgiveness and eternal life could be won for YOU and ME. The Father held the hand of the Son; guiding, directing, and caring for him but ultimately with your best interests in mind.

And so now? Now God the Father—because of the work of God the Son—can look at you and say, “I wanna’ hold your hand, too!”

Prayer:
Thank you, Father, for holding Jesus’ hand so that he was able to win my salvation. Comfort me today with the assurance that, whatever comes my way, you are holding my hand through it all. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Benighted – January 12, 2020

Benighted – January 12, 2020


In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.
John 1:1-5




Military Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:1-5

See series: Military Devotions

A famous hymn asks: “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”

We don’t hear the word “benighted” very often. It does, however, seem to capture the picture of Saint John’s words. Although the life that Jesus brought now shines into the world that had been shuttered in spiritual darkness, “the darkness has not understood it.” Those people remain in the dark.

They are benighted.

It pains us to say this includes Americans. We see many groping for answers and stumbling over truth.

That hymn reminds us, “In vain with lavish kindness, the gifts of God are strown.”

We look at the blessings that have been scattered upon our homeland, and we admit God has lavished us with kindness. Often in vain.

Sadly, many of the benighted are our neighbors.

But some troops sent to faraway places have seen an even darker picture.

What are we to think when we see large masses of people gather to worship a god who cannot help them because he does not exist?

What does it mean when we see truck drivers stop on the side of the road, pull out their mats, and prostrate themselves in answer to the call to prayer sounded from a nearby tower?

Would we stop our travel to pray in public to the LORD Almighty? Where does their boldness of faith come from?

What is the source of their zeal? What makes so many of them so serious about their religion? Is this not the Prince of Darkness flexing his muscle?

Why are we so often so shy about our faith? How can we be timid about showing that we serve the living Creator and the only source of Life?

The question remains, “Can we to souls benighted the lamp of life deny?”

It isn’t as if there is any doubt that Jesus is the Son of God and promised Savior of the world. The apostle Peter points out: “And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).

That word demands our attention. It tells us, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1).

Perhaps we once sang the words, “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine.” Maybe we overlooked the meaning of those words.

Our God hasn’t. It cost the life of his Son to make it possible for us to be lights in the world.

The apostle Paul makes it clear to us: “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

We do not belong to the darkness. We walk in the light of heavenly glory. We reflect that light.

We should not; we dare not; we will not deny that light to souls benighted.

So help us God!



Prayer: Lord of glory and light of the world, we marvel at the wonders of your plan pf salvation. We know we would still be part of the darkness if the Holy Spirit had not brought the light of the gospel into our hearts. Keep us from the powers of spiritual darkness. Use us as lights in the darkened and dying world. 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.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


We Cannot Keep Quiet – January 11, 2020

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
Isaiah 62:1-2

We Cannot Keep Quiet


Daily Devotion – January 11, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 62:1-2

See series: Devotions

Have you ever had such important news that you couldn’t keep quiet about it? How much twittering and chatting and posting happen when a favorite team wins a championship?

When anything political happens the talking heads hardly stop to take a breath. When your 6-year-old gets a new Lego set you can be sure everyone will know about it. Presents, football games, politics… in the grand scheme of things, they matter so little, yet they garner so much of our time and excitement.

The prophet Isaiah had the same truly incredible news. News that was so good he could not keep silent. The news was not political but spiritual. The news was that God would make his people glorious.

What makes this news so amazing is that we, by nature, are anything but glorious. Our sins make us filthy in God’s sight. The rude words we speak, the selfish things we do, the silent lust and greed in our hearts should all rightly merit God’s wrath and eternal punishment. Yet instead of eternal separation, it’s a different “S” word for those who put their faith and hope in Jesus: SALVATION!

God gives us the gift of salvation. That means he takes away our sins and gives us Jesus’ righteousness as our own. We are glorious, not because of our own glory, but because Jesus’ glory makes us glorious.

Isn’t that great news? It’s better than any championship, political turn of events, or Lego set. Like the prophet Isaiah, we cannot keep quiet about it. We want everyone to know what Jesus has done for them. Whom can you tell today?

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the incredible gift of salvation. Help me to treasure this gift each day and open my mouth so that I too may share the good news which you have for all people. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

A Mission to Accomplish – January 10, 2020

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
Matthew 2:12,13

A Mission to Accomplish


Daily Devotion – January 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:12,13

See series: Devotions

After the Magi visited Jesus in Bethlehem, God gave them a dream warning them not to return to King Herod in Jerusalem. Herod had told the Magi to return and tell him where the King of the Jews had been born so that he could worship as well. But Herod had no intention of worshiping Jesus. He intended to kill him. The Magi heeded God’s warning and returned home by another route. When they failed to return to Jerusalem, Herod flew into a rage. He ordered that every boy in Bethlehem two years old or younger be slaughtered, figuring that in this way he would be sure to eliminate this new King that was challenging him.

God rescued Jesus from Herod’s homicidal plans by having the Magi bypass Jerusalem on their journey home. He also rescued Jesus by commanding Jesus’ stepfather Joseph to take him and his mother Mary to safety in Egypt. God did all this because Jesus had a very important mission to accomplish. Jesus had been born to save all people from their sins. In order to do that, Jesus needed to live a perfect life, not just for a couple of years, but for thirty-three years. Jesus needed to die, but not as a young child at the hands of murderous King Herod. He needed to die as an adult on a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem.

God’s intense desire for the eternal salvation of all people led him to warn the Magi about Herod’s deceitful scheme. And for that, we can be eternally grateful. Because God protected the young Jesus in the way that he did, Jesus did indeed live to accomplish his mission. He lived, died, and rose again for us and all people so that through faith in him we might live in his kingdom forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, all praise to you for accomplishing your mission as 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email