Cemetery – November 24, 2020

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:20

Cemetery


Daily Devotion – November 24, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:20

See series: Devotions

Perhaps it’s been a long time since you’ve walked through a cemetery. Then again, perhaps not. When you did, what are the emotions you felt?

Your answer depends on the circumstances, of course. Maybe the circumstances were such that you felt crushing grief. Maybe you felt a numbness or felt relief mixed with exhaustion. Or it could be that the circumstances were such that you felt simple curiosity about the people buried there. Maybe you felt a fascination about the past. Maybe you felt quiet reflection.

In your imagination, put yourself inside a cemetery for a moment. Walk slowly and look up and down the rows of stones. The words of God before us in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 are from the apostle Paul. In that cemetery, imagine the apostle Paul walking with you. As you walk with him side-by-side, there is something else you would sense from Paul—something different. You would sense from him a great feeling of anticipation.

From 1 Corinthians 15, we know why. There, the apostle Paul points to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. As he does, he makes it clear that Jesus’ resurrection is not some isolated, one-time event. Instead, he reminds us that Jesus is the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. In other words, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is only the first of many.

Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is God’s exclamation point to the reality that Jesus Christ, Son of God, has lived a perfect life on our behalf; that he has suffered and died on the cross for our every sin. Through faith in him, we possess forgiveness of sin, peace, joy, and life eternal. Jesus’ resurrection has set in motion a series of wondrous things that are to come.

Which brings us back to the cemetery through which you are walking. In such a place, at times will you feel grief, loss, reflection? Yes, you will feel all of these. Most of all, however, there is anticipation. On the Last Day, these graves will open. The bodies of those who have died in the Lord will reunite with their souls. And the roar of victory will last forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, fill me with anticipation for the wonders we will experience when you return. 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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First Sunday in Advent

God’s Faithful Intervention in Our Lives Connects Us to an Eternal Life With Him

These are the readings for the First Sunday in Advent.

God’s Word for This Week

Advent reminds us: Jesus is coming soon. The world will end soon. If we seriously look at our sins, we have plenty of cause for fear and worry. But our lessons focus on the faithfulness of God, who calls himself our Father and himself takes care of all the details. Instead of feeling down about the end drawing near, by God’s grace, we see the richness we have in Christ and the gifts we have to serve him in these last days.

First Lesson – Isaiah 63:16b-17, 64:1-8

What comfort is there in knowing God as “Father”?

He talks about the tenderness and compassion of God. He is the one who knows us. The saints in glory do not know or influence the affairs of people on earth. Only God, our Father, is our Redeemer to rescue us; the potter who fashions our lives according to his good pleasure. Remember that when you address God as “Our Father” in the Lord’s Prayer.

Why does he want God to do awesome things?

He knows that the world does not recognize the true God who is behind the scenes. Often God reveals himself in unexpected, miraculous happenings that draw even enemies to acknowledge his name and see that he comes to help those who depend on him.

What makes God’s grace and love even more spectacular when we look at our own lives?

Even the things we think are so good are disgusting and revolting in the sight of God because they still carry the stain of sin. The penitential heart sees that. Our troubled lives evidence it. Yet the God of grace forgives our sins for the sake of Christ. Those who understand this live in the true joy of the Lord.

Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 6:1-3, 5-14, 17-22

In Noah’s era, what did believing men, the “sons of God,” foolishly do?

The sons of God married unbelieving women.

Nephilim (perhaps meaning “falling ones”) became heroes in those days. Often sexually immoral and violent people are heroes today. Why is that a problem?

It is a problem when sexually immoral and violent people are heroes because a) they fall away from God and his Word, b) they are eager to fall on other, weaker people, and c) by example, they teach impressionable young people to do the same, as if “might makes right.”

Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Upon what is Paul’s thankfulness focused as he writes to the people in Corinth?

Paul focuses his thanks not toward the Corinthians but toward God for the undeserved love he brought them. He knew what they really were like in their selfish, prideful ways. Yet God was glad to call them “saints” and “holy” because of Jesus and equip them with a richness of spiritual gifts and an eager anticipation of the Lord’s return. When you are feeling insignificant or unworthy, think back to God’s faithfulness towards you.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 3:18-22

When and why did Jesus descend into hell?

Jesus descended into hell after he came back alive, Peter says, so we gather he did so early Easter Sunday morning. Jesus went, body and soul, to the only place in the universe where spirits are in prison―hell. He went there to preach to them. We gather he preached to the spirits in hell his victory over death: If he had won, they had lost forever. How Jesus went to hell, we do not know, but since he proved that he had taken all the devil’s might from him, we know that neither hell nor the devil can take us captive or injure us.

What does baptism do for us, just as the flood did for Noah?

The water of the flood drowned everyone else in the world, but it floated the ark, so it saved Noah and his family. In the same way, God’s Word and the water of Baptism save us. They wash away all our sins, so they give us a clean conscience before God. They plug us into the power of Jesus’ resurrection. They comfort us when we suffer for our faith in Jesus.

Gospel – Mark 13:32-37

Who can predict the day when “heaven and earth will pass away”?

God has the specific time set for judgment day. No one can discover the Last Day with his or her logical calculations. Jesus will come at a time we not only do not know but will not expect.

Since we know the end of the world will come out of the blue, unexpectedly, what should our lives be like?

Instead of being caught up in the busyness of our world, we should be watchful and on our guard against falling away. We should be busy with the tasks God has assigned us so we can impact the world with the gospel in whatever time God allows.

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Our God, Our King- Week of November 23, 2020

Our God, Our King- Week of November 23, 2020



Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the LORD Most High is awesome, the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

Psalm 47:1-4



“Our King is coming!”, said the pastor one Sunday morning. A 3-year-old scrambled out from under a pew, jumped on to the seat, looked out towards the back of the church and shouted “Where? Where’s the king? I want to see the King!”

Where’s the king? Many are asking that today. We see communities ruined by economic stress, social unrest, and natural disasters. Many feel a sense of hopelessness and abandonment. Where is God? Did he leave us? Oh, how we want to see our King!

But our Lord is the King over all the earth! He IS here, and he never left us. The pages of the Bible are filled with examples of God’s power over the world. First, he made the entire world-the heavens and the earth-with just his power and his words. We saw God flood the world in Noah’s time, and with this same power he made the waters evaporate. We saw God win battles for His people and send food to them when they were in the middle of the desert. Through Jesus, we saw God heal the sick and bring people back to life. Our God IS king over heaven and earth.

We often feel as though we need a king to rescue us from this world—from natural disasters, physical pain and disease, and from the sins of others. But truly, we need someone to save us from ourselves. We are sinful. We are the problem with this world. We need someone to save us because we are evil. Sin is not just a product of the world around us, it is not something that someone is doing to us, it is a product of ourselves, from within ourselves.

On judgement day, the last day of the world, God will return. All people will submit to our King, who defeated the darkness of sin on our behalf. Our King over heaven and earth will come back to rescue us from this dark world and bring us to the eternal light of heaven. Our king IS coming! He is our Savior. We rejoice as we look forward to the day when he returns and his name is proclaimed everywhere as ruler of all. We do as the Psalm says and clap our hands and shout with joy! God IS King and has given us heaven, our inheritance.



Prayer:

Dear God, our King,
Thank you for the reminder that you are in control of all things in this world. I rejoice that you are our King of this world. I am sorry for my sins, for all that I do to bring hurt and sadness into this world. Help me to forgive others as you have forgiven me and help me to show others that you are our Savior. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
The power of God over this world often can be seen in nature. How have you seen God’s power in the world around you?



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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Our King Suffered and Died for Us – Family Devotion – November 23, 2020

Read: Matthew 27:27-31

After they [the soldiers] had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his [Jesus’] own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:31

Our King Suffered and Died for Us

 

Family Devotion – November 23, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 27:31

See series: Devotions

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

Imagine your best friend’s birthday is next week. You spend hours shopping for the perfect gift to give them on their birthday. When you finally find that perfect item, you spend some of your own money to buy that gift and wrap it in beautifully colored wrapping paper.

Now, imagine your friend’s birthday has arrived. You can’t wait to give the present you picked out. You hand your friend the gift and watch eagerly. After unwrapping the present, your friend unexpectedly says, “Ugh! I hate it!” If that wasn’t bad enough, your friend begins to make fun of the present you chose and say unkind things to you. How would you feel?

You might be hurt and devastated, maybe even a little mad at your friend. Humiliated, you might even be thinking, “How can we stay friends after all I did to pick out a special gift?”

In today’s Bible verse, Roman soldiers make fun of Jesus before he was sent to be crucified. They spit on Jesus, put a crown of thorns on his head, and hit him over and over. Little did they know, they were making fun of and hurting the one who was about to give them the best gift they would ever be given. Little did they know, they were ridiculing the very Savior who was about to give his life for them to forgive them of all their sins.

We must admit that we, too, daily show ourselves to be ungrateful towards our Savior and all that he has done for us. Each day we must admit that we often ignore God’s commandments and choose to sin. Rather than treasuring Jesus and putting his Word first in our lives, we often put ourselves and our wants ahead of God.

Yet, despite the actions of the soldiers and despite our own daily sins against Jesus, we see the amazing love of Jesus. Humiliated, he still chose to die for those soldiers, for us, and for all people who have ever lived. At any moment during his suffering, Jesus could have put a stop to it. He could have used his awesome power or commanded his angels to defend him. Yet Jesus had you in mind when he selflessly chose the way of suffering and the cross. He laid down his life for his friends. Because of the forgiveness Jesus won for us, through faith we are right with God and fully forgiven! Heaven is our home!

We thank God for this amazing gift of grace. It’s truly the greatest gift of love that we will ever receive!

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Savior, your love for us is amazing! Even though we daily fall short of your commandments and expectations for us, you still choose to love us with a deep and undeserved love. Thank you for dying on the cross to take away our sins and earn us heaven! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you? Why did they do it?
  • What are some ways you can thank Jesus for his great gift of love for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What do you think of when you hear the word grace? Why is this a great word to describe what Jesus did for us?
  • To prevent us from being ungrateful for the gift of Jesus, name at least one way you can express your heartfelt thanks and love for Jesus.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recall a moment you were made fun of or ridiculed. How did that make you feel? How did you respond to the people who gave you a hard time?
  • In light of today’s devotion, discuss how you would respond the next time someone is rude or unkind to you.

Hymn: CW 379:1,3 – Amazing Grace

Amazing grace—how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Search – November 23, 2020

For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.
Ezekiel 34:11

Search


Daily Devotion – November 23, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 34:11

See series: Devotions

The year is 1988. The country is China. The woman’s name is Li. Her son’s name is Jia. Jia is about 18 months old. In October of that year, Li receives news that is every parent’s nightmare. Her child is missing.

At first, Li assumes that her son has simply wandered off and that someone will soon find him and bring him home. It soon becomes clear, however, that people have very likely kidnapped her son with the intent of selling him to a childless family, a crime that is prevalent in China at the time.

Li, however, is determined to find her son. She begins her search. Days turn into weeks. Weeks turn into months. Months turn into years. As they do, the story of Li and her search gathers more and more attention. She receives hundreds of leads. She pursues every single one. Each is a dead end.

Then, in May of this year, Li receives word about a man who seems to fit her son’s description. The man agrees to a DNA test. It’s a match. When they finally meet, there are tears and smiles and more tears. Li’s extraordinary search of 32 years has come to an end.

You and I are part of a search too. Our own sin snatched us from God’s family and carried us off to a place that is barren, lonely, empty, cold. God’s heart, however, could not forget us. As hour heavenly Father, he refused to give up on us. As part of his rescue mission, God sent his Son, Jesus, to live a holy life on our behalf and to carry our every sin to the cross.

And now he seeks to bring this good news to every lost soul, including yours. Perhaps you are at a point in your life when you feel lost, adrift, forgotten. If so, remember what your heavenly father has done to find you and rescue you. You are not forgotten. You are his.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your search. Thank you for seeking me out. Through faith in your Son, my home is in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do Not Grieve – November 22, 2020

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

Do Not Grieve


Daily Devotion – November 22, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13,14

See series: Devotions

We’re not always sure what hope looks like. No hope, however, is easy to spot.

Frustrated folks in corrupt countries see no way up or out, so they lash out in violence, torching cars and burning buildings. American families, who have maxed out their credit cards and can’t figure a way out from under the debt, often have a sense of hopelessness. In instances like these, having no hope of a future causes grief to set in.

It doesn’t have to be like that. Just when there seems to be no way out, Jesus says, “I am the way” (John 14:6). Just when death seems to have a victory, Christ shows us his empty tomb. Just when your world seems to get worse and worse, Jesus says, “I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:3).

Even when we lose a loved one to death, we can have hope. The apostle Paul assured the Christians of his day that those who have died trusting in Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins are not lost. Their souls are in heaven with Jesus. And, on the day Jesus returns, he will bring those souls with him and reunite their souls with their bodies which will be raised from the grave.

So, if you have lost a Christian loved one, do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. Look forward to being reunited in the halls of heaven!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, give me hope that only you can give because you conquered death and guarantee a glorious resurrection to all who believe in you, life is not hopeless and death is not final. 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 beginning of the end – November 22, 2020

The beginning of the end – November 22, 2020


Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
Genesis 1:2




Military Devotion – November 22, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 1:2

See series: Military Devotions

To better understand the end of time, it may help to consider its beginning. After all, the One who started it will end it.

We have lived our lives with mountains, oceans, and stars in place. It’s hard to imagine them not being there. They impact our lives. They brush off our feeble attempts to control them. We have learned we are at their mercy if they threaten us.

Their size and power may impress us, but we do not seem to impress them. They threaten us with earthquakes, hurricanes, and radiation as if we do not exist.

But the One who made them and controls them, he knows about us.

He has taken the time to tell us what he thinks about us. What he says is worrisome before it becomes wonderful.

We began as nothing at a time when this universe was nothing. When he started what now is, we were not in it. We could not be. We would not have wanted to be.

Out of nothing came something: a creation. It started without form, without light, but with God upon the waters.

Before time was, before creation was, before mankind was, God was. If all that exists now would cease to exist, he would still be.

So, would we!

The reality is that we will exist forever—either with the Lord God or without him.

To exist apart from him is the punishment assigned to fallen angels. The same punishment awaits all those who leave earthly life joined in spirit with them.

That is the worrisome part.

We understand those who rebel against the Maker of heaven and earth. We were born among them. We were born one of them. What’s worse, we still find ourselves carrying out acts of rebellion at times. The common name for that rebellion is sin.

We are sinners.

When time ends, we could find ourselves locked forever in what Jesus called, “outer darkness” where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 8:12).

We then might wish we had never been born, or that the world had never been created.

But we have been born—and reborn—while in this creation.

The wonder is, the miracle is, that if all this creation were now destroyed, the children of God will be forever with him. They became his children when the Holy Spirit created faith in their hearts. For many, that happened when they were baptized as a baby. For some, like the thief on the cross, it took place a half-step before death.

At some time, it happened to us. Our faith in him testifies that we are his children.

That is the wonderful part.

The purpose of creation is to allow the Creator to be glorified and his people to share in his bliss and glory.

When we look back to the beginning of time, we see God. When we look forward to the end of time, we see God.

The banner that is strung across the band of time from start to finish carries the words, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

He makes sense of it all. He is in control of it all. He is Jesus. He tells us, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End “(Revelation 22:13).

With him, we need fear neither the beginning nor the end of anything. Nor need we ever fear the beginning of the end of everything.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, without you, life would only end in death. With you is the beginning of life that never ends. Accept now our heartfelt thanks and our life of service in your kingdom. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 22, 2020

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13: 6,7

Christian citizens

“Why would I support the government when it allows ________ to happen in our country? . . . I’m not paying taxes until the government proves it knows how to use my money! . . . How could I ever respect a president/governor/mayor who acts like that? Who could honor someone so dishonorable?”

Our sinful nature just eats this stuff up. Satan preys on my heart when it is not happy with our government or governmental leaders. Is it wrong to be dissatisfied with leaders? No. Is it wrong to want justice, moral laws, and peace? No. Is it wrong to personally feel a different leader could do a better job? Not at all. But the problem is how I react when Satan leads me to twist those thoughts in my heart into doing as I see fit. It’s almost as if Satan convinces us that if anyone in government sins or fails us, then we are justified in sinning back with disobedience, disrespect, or dishonor.

First of all, that’s not how Jesus lived. Our perfect Savior showed perfect respect and honor for those in authority. Perhaps you remember the time he told the Jewish leaders to, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” A fascinating statement of humble respect from our true God considering that Caesar claimed to be a god himself! We also consider how humble and respectful Jesus was to the weak-willed yet hard-hearted Pontius Pilate who sent him off to his crucifixion. How thankful we can be for Jesus, our perfect Savior, who lived a perfect life of humble respect in our place and then died to pay for our selfish sins.

In thanks for our Savior’s forgiveness, we too can live such a life of humble love and respect—yes, even when we disagree with or disapprove of our leaders. Thus, the apostle Paul teaches us that we can pay taxes to those who ask us to, even if we aren’t quite sure how well that money is being spent. And we can give respect and honor to those who lead us—yes, even if they have acted disrespectful and dishonorable themselves. Though we don’t condone the sins of leaders, we also understand that only Jesus is perfect. All other worldly leaders will fall into sin. Thus, we need to ask God to give them strength for the difficult task of leadership. For that alone—the challenge of their position and task—there is in fact a certain level of respect and honor due.

How challenging! God give us the strength and the wisdom to respond to Jesus’ incredible love with our lives of humble love and respect for all—including our government and its leaders.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive my heart that so often strays in selfish anger, disrespect, and dishonor toward others, especially our government and its leaders. Move my heart to live in your love and to show respect and honor to all for whom it is due. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Faith to Give Thanks – November 21, 2020

When [Jesus] saw [the ten men who had leprosy], he said, “Go show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Luke 17:14-16

Faith to Give Thanks


Daily Devotion – November 21, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 17:14-16

See series: Devotions

Ten men had been miraculously healed by Jesus. Nine never bothered to say, “Thank you.” But, before we point our fingers too quickly, we would do well to honestly assess our attitudes about all that God has done for us. It is easy to be like the lepers who went on their way—to be so busy enjoying God’s blessings that we fail to say, “Thank you.” What are some blessings for which you never, or have rarely given God thanks—legs that walk, eyes that see, lungs that breathe, a family that loves, friends that care? Or, how about the forgiveness God grants for Jesus’ sake, even for the sin of being less than thankful for his blessings?

When you take the time to consider the countless blessings the Lord has showered on you, it will move you to take the time to thank him for those blessings. That’s what the Samaritan leper did. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.

Why not do the same today? Throw yourself at Jesus’ feet and thank him. Thank him for as many blessings as you can think of. You may be surprised how long the list is. And, you will be all the more grateful for all of his gifts.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Death is Only Sleep – Family Devotion – November 20, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Death is Only Sleep

 

Family Devotion – November 20, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

See series: Devotions

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

What are you most afraid of? Is it spiders? Thunderstorms? Scary things happening on the news? Getting a shot at the doctor’s office? Are you afraid of the dark? Do you have a fear of heights?

There is one more fear we need to talk about: the fear of death. We may fear our own death or the death of someone we love.

Death can be an uncomfortable topic. It is not something we enjoy talking or thinking about. Thankfully, God knows that this is something we often have fears and worries about! He wants to take away our fear. That’s why in today’s Bible verse God compares death to something that doesn’t show up any list of fears young people have. Did you catch what God compared death to?

If you answered, “Sleep,” you are right! Is going to sleep at night something that you fear? Sleep is typically not something we would ever fear! Rather than being afraid of sleep, we often look forward to lying down, closing our eyes, and resting after a long and busy day.

As a believer in Jesus, thanks be to God that death is just like sleep. It is not something we have to fear! Because Jesus died and woke again to life on Easter, death lost its sting! It’s as harmless as closing our eyes and going to bed! Just like we look forward to our comfortable bed, pajamas, and blankets at night because we are tired, we can look forward with eagerness to our eternal home in heaven. There in heaven we will have an eternal rest from all the challenges, fears, and disappointments that sin brings to our lives in this world.

When a fellow believer in Jesus whom we love dies, there certainly will be sadness. We will miss them and be sad that they are no longer with us. However, we don’t have to be sad like people who have no hope or see that as the final ending. We look forward to the day where we will be together with our loved ones again in heaven forever! In heaven death will never be able to separate us from our loved ones again!

On judgment day, Jesus will bring all believers, those still living and those who have fallen asleep to be with him forever in heaven. How we long for that day when Jesus comes back again!

Closing Prayer:

Risen Lord, thank you for defeating sin and death on our behalf! Help us to view death as just sleep and as the day you will bring us home to our eternal home in heaven. Help us to look forward to our eternal home in heaven where we will live with you forever! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What makes you afraid? How does Jesus help you with your fear?
  • What are you looking forward to most about heaven?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • List your top five fears in life. How does Jesus help us with each of them?
  • Do you think death is something we should talk about more? Why or why not?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What things do you see in the world around you that show people are afraid of getting older and dying? Why are people so afraid of death?
  • Imagine a friend just lost a loved one who was a believer in Jesus. What from today’s devotion would you use to comfort your friend?

Hymn: CW 376:5,6 – Jesus, Your Blood and Righteousness

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
E’en then this shall be all my plea:
Jesus has lived and died for me.

Jesus, be worshiped endlessly!
Your boundless mercy has for me,
For me and all your hands have made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

 

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

[Jesus said] “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. . . . The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ . . . “The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-6,10-13

Wedding Ready


Daily Devotion – November 20, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:1-6,10-13

See series: Devotions

What’s the big deal about missing a wedding banquet? People miss them all the time. Sometimes they miss them on purpose. This year, people might have a bigger issue with missing a wedding banquet. Because of the pandemic, countless couples have changed, rearranged, or canceled their plans.

But that’s nothing compared to missing the feast that Jesus invites us to receive. The Bible describes heaven as one, eternal, joyous feast. Jesus has invested so much to include us at this feast. He gave his life to get us in. Jesus clothes us in his righteous garments. He gives us faith that holds onto his invitation. And now he is busy getting the banquet ready. This is one feast we don’t want to miss!

But there is so much that distracts us, that seems more important, that gratifies us now. Why wait for those eternal pleasures? What’s the big deal? The big deal is, you are either in or out. This is one wedding banquet you won’t be able to crash. You either spend eternity in God’s presence, enjoying all his blessings, or you miss out entirely and regret it eternally.

Jesus is coming back. Since we can’t know when it’s wise to be ready. So, keep your faith well-oiled with God’s Word. Repent of your sins. Trust that Jesus has fully atoned for your guilt. And wait with wide-open and expectant eyes for Jesus to return. Then, no matter when he does, you won’t miss it!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for inviting me to your wedding feast. Keep my faith focused on you so that I am ready for your arrival. 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 Bride of Christ – November 19, 2020

“Hallelujah! For our Lord God Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! The wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” Then the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”
Revelation 19:6-9

The Bride of Christ


Daily Devotion – November 19, 2020

Devotion based on Revelation 19:6-9

See series: Devotions

Ever since she was a little girl, she had dreamt of and longed for this day. For years, she had filled a scrapbook with all the things that would make her wedding day perfect. The white linen dress. The names of her bridesmaids. The gowns that her bridesmaids would wear. The color of those gowns. The flowers that would adorn the altar. The bouquet she would hold in her hands. The ever-growing and changing list of guests. The banquet to follow.

But now, as she stood at the end of the aisle, all those things faded into the background. In that moment, she forgot about the gown and the guests. She gazed past the bridesmaids and bouquets. All she could see was her groom standing before the altar. Her eyes locked onto his. Her heart swelled with soothing joy. She was blessed.

Even if marriage is not part of your or God’s plan for your life, God wants to bless you through the wedding supper of the Lamb. The Lamb, who is Jesus, wants to join with you and me in a perfect, eternal union, to be one with us, and live with us forever. He wants to care for us and shower us with eternal pleasures from his hand.

But are we a suitable bride? Soiled with sin, we wouldn’t be fit to be carried over heaven’s threshold. Still, Jesus wants us to be his. So, he gives us his love. On the cross, he piled our sins on himself and paid for them all. The blood of Jesus purifies us from all sin. His perfect life covers all our guilt. We are forgiven and fit to be his bride.

Are you ready for the wedding feast? Invited by the Father and clothed in Christ’s righteousness, you are. Don’t let the worries and pleasures of life distract you. Keep dreaming of and longing for the day when Jesus comes and calls out, “Everything is ready. Come to the feast!”

Prayer:
Lamb of God, by your power and grace, keep me ready and waiting for your heavenly feast. 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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Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus – Family Devotion – November 18, 2020

Read: Isaiah 52:1-6

For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.”
Isaiah 52:3

Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus

 

LISTEN HERE

Family Devotion – November 18, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:3

See series: Devotions

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

Sarah helped her family lug all sorts of unwanted furniture, household items, and clothes out to the garage to sell at their family garage sale that Saturday.

Among the items hauled out was a doll that Sarah considered herself too old to play with anymore. She hoped that she could sell the doll and use that money toward the phone she had her eye on.

During the garage sale a handful of people looked at the doll she had for sale. However, after seeing the price, everyone passed on buying it. Disappointed, she asked her mom why no one bought her doll. Her mom responded, “While that doll may have been worth that price when it was brand new, it is now slightly worn and well-used. You’ll have to lower the price if you want to sell it. Things are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for them.”

Things are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for them. How much are you worth? God’s Word tells us our worth and how much someone was willing to pay for us.

In our Bible passage today, we heard the word redeemed. The word redeem means to buy back. This is a beautiful word that describes exactly what God did for us. Because of our sinfulness, we were like slaves to sin. On our own, we were helpless to be free. We were destined to be enslaved forever.

Then, along came Jesus. Jesus loved us so much that he bought us back from our slavery. However, Jesus didn’t buy us with money. No, we are so valuable to Jesus that he paid the full price with his life. On the cross, Jesus suffered the punishment of hell that we deserved. On that day, Jesus declared how much you are worth to him! You’re priceless! Through faith in Jesus, our sins are fully forgiven! We have been redeemed—set free from sin and death!

This is why we are able to eagerly look forward to Jesus’ return on judgment day. He has already redeemed and forgiven us by his blood. That day will be a joyous day reunion with him! On that day, Jesus will bring us to be with him in our eternal home in heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming us from our slavery to sin. Thank you for suffering the punishment for sins that we deserve and giving your life to save us! Help us to find comfort every day in knowing that we are your dearly loved children and to eagerly look forward to the day you bring us home to heaven! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How much are you worth to God? How do you know?
  • Why will judgment day be a happy day for us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the word redeem mean? From what did God redeem you?
  • Many people mistakenly believe that someone gets to heaven by being a good person. How would you explain to them how someone gets to heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Many young people and teenagers struggle with negative thoughts and opinions about themselves. How does thinking about the way God views us help us deal with these feelings?
  • Identify a bad habit in your life that has enslaved you. How does Christ’s redemption through the cross free you from it?

Hymn: CW 304:2,7 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet his words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace, and life proclaim;
Here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe
Jesus sinners does receive.

Jesus sinners does receive.
Even I have been forgiven.
And when I this earth must leave,
I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to him I cleave
Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Resurrection Reassurance – November 18, 2020

And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:17,18

Resurrection Reassurance


Daily Devotion – November 18, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:17,18

See series: Devotions

In a popular comic, Hobbes the tiger and his boy Calvin are careening down a hill in a red wagon. As they unknowingly speed toward a cliff, Calvin yells out, “It’s true, Hobbes, ignorance is bliss!”

Ignorance can be bliss. Not knowing about a problem means you are not worried about that problem. Being ignorant about a problem means you aren’t trying to fix that problem. You are blissfully unaware.

But, as the Calvin and Hobbes cartoon illustrates, being ignorant about something does not make it go away. And, sometimes, being ignorant can have catastrophic consequences—like riding your red wagon off a cliff.

Death is one of those things about which people like to be blissfully ignorant. They do not know what will happen to them after they die and prefer not to think about it. They are blissfully ignorant. But, being blissfully ignorant does not make the reality of death go away. It is something we will all face.

Thankfully, the Bible has some comforting news about what happens when we die. It assures us that Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose again. And he promises he will raise all of these followers from the dead when he returns on judgment day. And just as sin and death can’t touch Jesus’ body anymore, so Jesus will change our bodies. We will be without sin, pain, or any disability. “And so,” Paul concludes, “we will be with the Lord forever.”

When it comes to death, ignorance is harmful, but the Spirit-imparted wisdom of Jesus’ resurrection gives us eternal encouragement and good hope.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, because of you, I shall not die but live and proclaim what you have done. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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At Home With Jesus – November 17, 2020

I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. . . . My dwelling place will be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people.
Ezekiel 37:26,27

At Home With Jesus


Daily Devotion – November 17, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 37:26,27

See series: Devotions

There’s no place like home. That’s why we want to be home for the holidays. That’s where we want to be after a long day at work. Home is where we feel safe, and our hearts are at rest.

In the prophet Ezekiel’s day, the people of Israel were far from home. They were living in far-off Babylon. And it was their own fault. They had separated themselves from God by worshiping other gods and living for themselves rather than for him. So, God used King Nebuchadnezzar to invade Israel, rip them from their comfortable lives, and whisk them a thousand miles away to Babylon. Living as exiles, the Israelites learned a hard lesson. They longed to be at home with God.

Do you feel like your sin has put distance between you and God? The prophet Ezekiel has some words of assurance for you. God has made a permanent pact of peace with you. God knew that we couldn’t bridge the chasm created by sin. So, Jesus closed the gap for us. He loved God and us perfectly. On the cross, he suffered hell, the consequence of everyone’s sin. Because God raised Jesus from the dead, nothing can separate those who are in Christ Jesus from God’s love.

So, when your sins leave you feeling far from God, look to Jesus. Remember what he has done to rescue you from those sins. Remember that because of what he has done, God promises to dwell with you. And, one day, he will take every one of his followers home to heaven. And you can be sure there is no place like it!

Prayer:
Merciful God, you are mine and I am yours. By your Holy Spirit, make your home in me that I may rest in you. Amen.

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

Keep Us Joyful in Christ Our King

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of End Time—Christ the King.

God’s Word for This Week

The almighty King of the universe, in his great love, laid down his life for his people. The Lord of all things allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, and crucified for his subjects. Then with his resurrection from the dead, he demonstrated his true power and glory as the King of kings and Lord of lords.

First Lesson – Ezekiel 34:11-16,23,24

In the verses that directly precede this lesson, God rebukes the shepherds—the kings, leaders, and priest of Israel—for not taking care of his sheep. According to God, our Shepherd-King, how will he deal with his sheep?

He promises to seek out and rescue the lost, to gather his sheep from every nation, to provide for all their needs, and to strengthen them when they are weak.

These verses were written hundreds of years after the reign of King David. So, who is the “servant David” that God would raise up to rule over his people?

This is a prophecy about the coming Messiah. God had promised that a descendant of David would rise up to sit on his throne. The Messiah would be the greatest king in the history of Israel. Jesus, a blood descendant of King David, is that king. He is King of kings and Lord of lords.

Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

Explain the comparison between Adam and Christ in these verses.

Through Adam and Eve’s sin, all mankind fell and became subject to death. We are born dead spiritually. We will all face physical death someday. Because of our sins we all deserve eternal death in hell. But in Jesus, we have been made alive. With his suffering and death, the payment of sin was made. His resurrection is proof that we too will be raised and will live forever with him in heaven.

Evaluate. Verse 28 is telling us that Jesus is somehow inferior to God the Father.

Verse 28 is a difficult verse. The Bible states clearly in many places that Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal in power, glory, and authority. (See John 10:30.) No one is superior to the other. However, Jesus humbled himself to come to earth and obey the will of his Father. (See John 14:28.) How can this be? As Professor Carleton Toppe once wrote: “Such is the mystery and wonder of the Trinity and of the God-man Jesus Christ” (The People’s Bible: 1 Corinthians, p. 148).

Gospel – Matthew 27:27-31

How did the King of kings show his love for us his subjects?

Our King did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many. Jesus showed his love for us in this: that as King of the universe he allowed himself to be mocked and tortured by a handful of ignorant unbelieving soldiers. In love, he allowed himself to suffer the physical agony of the cross. In love, he willingly suffered the punishment of sin in our place. Our King truly deserves our honor, service, and praise!

How can this scene make us rejoice?

The scene would seem like bad satire if not for its sad reality. Petty little men in a tiny little fortress bully the One who created light from darkness and divided land from sea. He deserved the finest crown, but look what man gave! He deserved the noblest scepter, but look what man handed him! He deserved the sincerest devotion, but look what man offered! He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. The King of heaven came to earth and look at what man gave him! He could have swept them all away; he could have condemned us like he had the fallen angels. Man deserved nothing more but look at what he gave! He gave his holiness for our sin and his death for our life. This scene is joyful because we know how it ends. The picture of our King wearing a crown of thorns is not tragic, but rather it is full of grace. Rejoice in Christ the King who came as our sacrifice!

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Keep Watch for Jesus to Return – Family Devotion – November 16, 2020

Read: Matthew 25:1-13

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Matthew 25:13

Keep Watch for Jesus to Return


Family Devotion – November 16, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:13

See series: Devotions

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

“Don’t forget to prepare and practice your presentation about a United States president for next week,” Jeff’s teacher reminded his class on Friday. “Each day, starting next week Monday, I will randomly choose five students from the class to give their presentation to the class. Make sure you are ready to go on Monday in case your name is chosen!”

With 25 kids in his class, Jeff didn’t think it was likely that he would be chosen to give his presentation right away on Monday. Rather than work on his presentation for class that weekend, Jeff chose to hang out with his friends and play video games.

That following Monday, the teacher put all of the student names on slips of paper in a bag and drew one slip prior to each speech to randomly choose the next person to present to the class. Jeff sighed with relief each time his name wasn’t chosen for any of the first four presentations. Following the fourth student’s presentation, the teacher reached her hand into the bag of names one last time.

“Last up to present to the class will be…,” the teacher paused for a moment as she reached in to grab a slip of paper with the name of the next student. “…Jeff!”

Jeff’s heart sank the moment he heard his name called out. Ashamed, he turned bright red. He had to admit to his teacher and to his entire class that he had nothing prepared and was not ready to present.

Today’s Word of God warns us to make sure we are not caught unprepared for something far more important than a presentation for school. God tells us to be ready for when he comes back again on judgment day. God has kept the date and time of judgment day hidden from us because he wants us to always live ready for that day to come at any time.

How can we make sure we are prepared for judgment day? God tells us that every time we read and listen to his Word, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts strengthening our faith and preparing us for judgment day! Rather than distancing ourselves from God’s Word or being distracted by other things in this life, God wants us to stay connected with him so we hear his important warning to be ready.

As we study God’s Word, we hear how Jesus made us fully ready for that day. The forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross has made us right in God’s sight and made heaven our home! Through faith in Jesus, we have nothing to fear about judgment day. On that day, our heavenly Father will identify us as his dearly loved children and bring us to our eternal home with him in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Savior, thank you for lovingly reminding us that the world we live in is only temporary. Help us to always put hearing your Word on the top of our priority list. Thank you for forgiving us and earning an eternal home in heaven on our behalf, so that we can look forward to judgment day as the day where we will be forever in heaven! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are some ways we can hear God’s Word this week as a family?
  • What are some things you are looking forward to most about heaven?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What are some things you and your family can do each week to make sure you are ready for judgment day?
  • What are some things that can distract us from putting Jesus first in our lives? What can we do to avoid letting that happen?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Being ready for judgment day means making sure that we set aside time to grow in our faith. Identify what other priorities may be getting in the way of God’s Word in your life? Discuss what you want to do that will help your priorities?
  • Read all of Matthew 25:1-13. What evidence do you see in the world around you that people don’t believe there will be an end to the world as Jesus says there will be? Why is it important for us to understand this truth from God’s Word?

Hymn: CW 219 – Lord When Your Glory I Shall See

Lord, when your glory I shall see
And taste your kingdom’s pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be,
My joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before your throne,
Your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought,
As your own bride I shall be brought,
To stand in joy beside you.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Eternal God – Week of November 16, 2020

Our Eternal God – Week of November 16, 2020



Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

Psalm 90:1-2



We are entering the 9th month of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it seems to have no end. When will the masks be in the garage sale pile and the Clorox wipes be on sale again? When will we be able to hug our friends and shake hands with a stranger? And when, oh when, asks my 4-year-old, will indoor playgrounds and the Icee machine at Target be open again? It feels like these “uncertain times” have been going on forever!

But the only one who knows the true feeling of “forever” is God. In the beginning, before anything was made, God was there (Genesis 1:1). God has no beginning and no end, which means he always was, and always is. God’s power has never changed, either. God has always been, and always will be all-knowing and all-powerful. In a world that always changes, God never does.

While God is eternal, we are not. Because of our sin, we will someday die. Because of our sin, life on earth will be filled with sorrow and pain. Because of our sin, because of our parents’ sins, and because of the sins of every generation before and after, we deserve the punishment of death and the punishment of eternal separation from God in hell.

When we suffer in this life, we forget that God is in control and will never leave us or forsake us. We sin when we forget that our God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and unchanging. We also sin when we trust anything over God. In these “uncertain times” we can sometimes put our trust into worldly things such as science, social organizations and people, or even ourselves. Sometimes we place these worldly things above God.

But our loving, all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal God is the “remedy” for our sin. He is our “dwelling place”, as the Psalm says, our shelter. He sent his son, in our place, to die for our sins, our parent’s sins, and the sins of every generation before and after. Because of Jesus, when God looks at us he sees purity and righteousness. Because of Jesus, we have been freely given a place in heaven, where we will live eternally with Him.



Prayer:

A beloved hymn, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past” was written based on Psalm 90. In this hymn, we thank God for being our shelter in this world and for giving us the hope of heaven, our eternal home. We pray:
Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home.
Before the hills in order stood or earth received its frame,
from everlasting you are God, to endless years the same.
Our God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
still be our guard while troubles last and our eternal home! Amen.

Christian Worship 441:1, 3, 6

A Question to Consider:
What “stormy blasts” have come your way in 2020, and how has God provided shelter and hope in your trials this year?



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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God is Here – November 16, 2020

Awake, awake, Zion, clothe yourself with strength! Put on your garments of splendor, . . . Shake off your dust; rise up, . . . For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” . . . “Therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”
Isaiah 52:1-3,6

God is Here


Daily Devotion – November 16, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1-3,6

See series: Devotions

An old man sits hunched in the dust. His wife and three children huddle around him. Their vacant stares and tear-swelled eyes telling a tale of hopeless surrender. In his hand, the father limply grasps a lyre. His captors call for a joyful tune, but when he opens his mouth all he can produce is a song of lament: “By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion” (Psalm 137:1).

Babylon had destroyed everything that Israel held dear and dragged them into captivity. Having lost hope of ever returning home, they were sleepwalking through life.

Still, they had reason for joy. They were God’s people. He hadn’t stopped loving them. He was with them. He hadn’t forgotten his promise to them. The long night would end. He would set them free and send them home.

What joy has been stolen from you? What sadness stings your eyes? We all suffer loss that leaves us slumped in the dust, sleepwalking through life, wondering, “Where is God?”

In our stupor, God speaks tender words of assurance. “Here I am,” he says, “Yes, it is I.”

God, who delivered us by his Son, Jesus Christ, is here. He, who strong-armed Satan and paid the debt of our sins on the cross, is here. He, who disarmed death and opened heaven’s gates for all who trust in him, is here. He has not forgotten you. He has not forsaken you. You are loved. You are forgiven. Heaven awaits.

Wake up! Watch for him in faith. Why surrender to sin? God arms you with strength in his Word. Why wallow in self-pity? God has purchased you for himself with the blood of his Son. Why sleepwalk through life? God will deliver you as he has promised. And when that day comes—when shackles, storm clouds, and shed tears are past—you will know that God is here and has the power to save.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when I am dismayed, be near me and deliver 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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Happy – November 15, 2020

Happy – November 15, 2020


I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.
Ecclesiastes 3:12




Military Devotion – November 15, 2020

Devotion based on Ecclesiastes 3:12

See series: Military Devotions

Health is important. Wealth is desirable. So is love. People want these things. But most of all, people want to be happy.

A healthy, wealthy, loved person who is not also happy will not appreciate or much enjoy the otherwise good things in life. To say he should will not change how he feels.

His disappointment with life will increase if he had been counting on these external things to bring happiness. How many have thought, “If only I was rich, I would have no problems”?

But, of course, wealth does not mean a person will not get sick or be unloved or have other problems. To have what others desire but cannot have—and still find no happiness—is depressing. Statistics show that, including the suicide statistics.

The writer of the book Ecclesiastes is an example. He had it all, surely more than most. But there was a time in his life when he was not at all happy. In those days, he labeled everything in his life as worthless: “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”

His response to that healthy, wealthy, unhappy life? “So I hated life…”

So sad.

We would ask King Solomon, “Why were you not happy?”

He may have answered: “I was miserable because I was trying to live without God instead of living for God.”

He learned that without God in his life, life is meaningless.

In time, he came to realize that God wants to bring meaning into lives. He went on to write of God: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men…”

Though the Mighty God has been rejected, or replaced, or ignored, he has not turned away from mankind in disgust.

He has kept on showering his blessings upon people to give them a taste of happiness.

The apostle Paul once told a crowd to turn from their worthless ways to the living God. He explained: “He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17).

So, to an extent, it is true: wealth and good times can bring happiness. But not for long. Not forever.

They are undeserved gifts from God. They are evidence of his existence and proof of his love.

Yet, so often, they are sought out as if they were of our own making or deserving. They are grabbed without a thank-you and used without a conscience. They are treated as if this is what life is all about.

So sad.

We humans are so short-sighted. We are dazzled by what glitters and impressed by what excites our senses. We are willing to settle for feeling good for a little while—all the while we are dying.

We don’t see, or don’t care, that our Creator sacrificed his Son for us. We avert our eyes from the warning scene of awaiting dungeons of darkness. We block his calls.

Until.

Until, in his mercy, he opens our eyes to see our desperate need and opens our hearts to accept his love. Until we realize that our sin is forgiven, and all is well. Until we know that our future is bought and paid for by the one called Jesus.

Then, we can be happy.



Prayer: Lord of the nations and Savior of souls, keep our eyes fixed upon you so that we do not trade in our eternal salvation for a few moments of fun that fades. We sometimes sing, “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” Keep us ever among those happy people. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 15, 2020

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

Pray for and live in peace

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” These are the famous words of JFK (John. F. Kennedy) from his presidential Inaugural Address on January 1, 1961. Wise words! Rather than seeking to be served by others or by your country, seek to serve your country and others. Certainly, a country filled with such humble servants and attitudes would be blessed with peace, unity, and strength.

Such wise thoughts don’t belong only to worldly leaders of the past though. Our God desires the same thing. As we live under a government that he has established for our good, God wants us in turn to serve our government. But not to worry! This doesn’t mean you have mandatory community service, military training, or political campaigns in your future! (Though, feel free to do so if the Lord moves your heart in such a way.) Rather, God wants us to serve our communities and our government in simple, humble ways.

The verses for our consideration this week help us to understand some of these ways we can show love and serve others. So what can I do for our country? Pray! Paul told the young pastor Timothy that he (and now we) can offer petitions, or requests to God, on behalf of the government. For example, we might pray for God to strengthen and support those who have difficult and challenging jobs. We can also pray fervently for God to give wisdom and diligence to those who lead. Other prayers we can offer include prayers of thanksgiving for those who lead. Yes, you heard me right—thanksgiving. Even if we disagree with those who lead and their laws or policies at times, we can still be thankful that we have leaders whom God has allowed into positions that serve our good.

When we have attitudes that are eager to serve our country through our humble living and fervent prayers, we will in fact accomplish much. We will do the very thing that Paul wrote at the end of verse two—we will contribute “peaceful and quiet lives” that let the light of Christ shine through us in all we can do. What a profound joy, then, that as we serve Christ in love, so also we serve our neighbor and our country. God bless us in such service!

Prayer: Lord of all, in this coming week of national thanksgiving, give to me a humble heart of thankfulness that is eager to pray for and serve others, including those who serve me in our government. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Inside or Outside – November 15, 2020

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord! Lord!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:10-13

Inside or Outside


Daily Devotion – November 15, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:10-13

See series: Devotions

Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins illustrates two different ways to approach the day Jesus returns to judge the world. One is to be prepared as the five wise virgins were. The other is to remain unprepared as the five foolish virgins. While both groups went about their daily affairs, the wise virgins made sure they were prepared no matter how long the wait was. The five foolish always thought they had more time to prepare.

The lesson is clear. I want to model my life after that of the five wise virgins. Mainly, this means giving attention to God’s Word. As I do, I will be reminded again and again that because of what Jesus did to save me from my sins, I can one day enter the “wedding banquet” of heaven. And, knowing this, I will want to live a life pleasing to him. And, rather than being distracted by the things of this world, I will keep one eye on the sky, looking eagerly for Jesus’ return.

When will this be? Only God knows. But we do know this: It could be today. So, live this day as if Jesus will appear on the clouds at any time. After all…he just may.

Prayer:
Gracious Savior, I know you are coming again in glory. Give me the strength of faith to prepare myself for that glorious day. Amen!

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Lord is Our Refuge – November 14, 2020

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

The Lord is Our Refuge


Daily Devotion – November 14, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 46:1

See series: Devotions

“Christianity is a crutch for the weak.”

This is the atheist’s argument against putting one’s faith in the God of the Bible. They argue that anyone who depends on anything other than themselves is feeble.

Medically speaking, a crutch is a tool the injured use for support. Only the wounded need crutches. But here’s the thing: somehow, someway, we are all wounded. We all need help. Some just choose crutches other than Christianity.

When we don’t feel good about ourselves, where do we turn for assurance? We have enough options to choose from: earthly goods, food, alcohol, drugs, money, work. The problem with many such crutches is that they offer only temporary reprieve and often only mask much deeper issues of the heart.

The heart of the issue is that we are all sinners in desperate need of saving. And the only one who has the power to help us is Jesus Christ. He took up our infirmities. He carried our sorrows. And by his wounds, we are healed.

God graciously allows us to go through hardship so that we seek the only one who can help. When we seek Jesus in our struggles, he finds us in his Word.

You say, “I’m too tired.” … Jesus says, “I will give you rest.”
You say, “I’m all alone.” … Jesus says, “I am with you always.”
You say, “I don’t know where to turn.” … Jesus says, “I am the way.”
You say, “I’ve had enough.” … Jesus says, “My grace is sufficient for you.”
You say, “I’m afraid.” … Jesus says, “My peace I give you.”
You say, “I can’t forgive myself.” … Jesus says, “I forgive you.”
You say, “I have my doubts.” … Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me will never be put to shame.”

One famous Christian named Saint Augustine, reacting to the sufficiency of Jesus, observed, “Lord, you created us for yourself. And our hearts are restless until they find rest in you.”

What was his point? Nothing satisfies like Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
God, you are my refuge and my strength, a helper who can always be found in time of trouble. I gladly count on you as my crutch. 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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Encourage Each Other About Judgment Day – Family Devotion – November 13, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, 11

Encourage Each Other About Judgment Day


Family Devotion – November 13, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, 11

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever played hide-and-seek? It’s a fun game to play! The rules of the game are simple. First, you wait for your friends to hide. Then, you look high and low, near and far, searching for the spot where your friends might be. One way to make the game even more exciting is to play in the dark with a flashlight! Now, the game is more challenging! You have to shine your light into every corner and hiding place to see who might be there. For those who hide, the darkness can be a big help. They can sneak around without anyone noticing… until the light shines on them! Then, they’re “it!”

The Bible talks about people who like to live in darkness and people who are called to shine a light. While the idea of hiding in the dark might make for a fun game, it’s not a good way for us to live. God warns that sometimes people prefer to hide in the dark because that’s where their sins and shame can’t be seen. A person in the dark can cheat and steal without anyone else noticing… not a good place for a Christian to be! God gives us the light of his Word to keep us out of the darkness and away from sin. In that Word, God reminds us that Jesus died for us and we are his dear children who live in the light of his love. God’s Word today reminds us, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”

When King Jesus returns in glory on judgment day, his holy love will shine a light on everything we have ever done, just like a flashlight reveals everything that is hidden in the dark. Have you ever had the lights turned on first thing in the morning? What a shock! People who live in the darkness of sin and unbelief will be surprised when Jesus returns! But believers will be ready for Jesus to come back because we are awake in faith, living in his light. We are protected by his love and we are guarded from judgment by faith.

Games like hide-and-seek’ can be fun, but we know that they are only games. When it comes to the life that Jesus has given me, it’s not a game, it’s for real! Jesus calls me to live in his light and shine his light into the world. God wants me to stay connected to his Word. Let’s encourage each other and encourage others, so all live in the light of faith until Jesus returns to take us to be with him forever in heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, without your love, I would be lost in the darkness of sin. But your perfect love and bright shining Word have shown me who I really am—your own child, called to share your love in a dark world. Make me strong to share your light until you come back to take me to heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • When we do bad things, we might be tempted to hide them and not tell anyone. Why is that a bad idea? What good things happen when we come clean and admit our sins?
  • We are children of the light. What are some things we can do to shine like lights for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it look like to live in the “darkness” of sin? What does it look like to live in the “light” of faith?
  • What can you do to encourage someone else to walk in the light with you?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In this passage, Paul encourages us, “Let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (v. 6). Compare and contrast what life looks like for a person who is spiritually “asleep” vs. one who is “awake and sober.”
  • Describe a time when someone’s encouragement meant a lot to you or impacted your life. What did they say that meant so much to you?

Hymn: CWS 771:1 – I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

I want to walk as a Child of the light
I want to follow Jesus
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus
In Him, there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Like a Thief In the Night – November 13, 2020

Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:1,2

Like a Thief In the Night


Daily Devotion – November 13, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:1,2

See series: Devotions

Thieves don’t send you a “save the date” card in the mail when they are planning to break into your place and take things. They wait until you’re not home, or until they think you’re asleep. They often like the cover of darkness. The point is that they want to be unexpected.

It seems a little strange that God would compare himself to a thief. He says, “I’m not going to send you a ‘save the date’ card for the day Jesus returns to judge this world. You’ll just have to be ready for it to come at any time.”

God does this for a couple of good reasons. One reason is so that you are not taken in by charlatans who claim that they know the date that Jesus is returning for judgment day. Some of them are foolish enough to set an exact day, but more of them predict a year or a season, and if you believe them, you might be tempted to do some strange things in anticipation.

Another reason God does not tell us the date of judgment day is that he knows us. If we think we have time before something, we procrastinate. But if we know we have to be ready any time, we are moved to get our acts together.

How do you get your act together for judgment day? Repent, and believe the good news that Jesus is your Savior. Trust in him and not in anything that you have done for your salvation. Be sure to tell the people you love so they can be ready too.

Prayer:
Whether my death or judgment day comes first, Lord Jesus, keep me always ready for your salvation. 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 Righteous Get Eternal Life – November 12, 2020

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:46

The Righteous Get Eternal Life


Daily Devotion – November 12, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:46

See series: Devotions

There is such a thing as eternal punishment. It’s for anyone who is not perfect. Heaven is perfect, and nothing unclean or impure will ever enter there. Eternal means eternal, so eternal punishment outside of heaven doesn’t just come to an end. It’s not a pleasant thought. Hell is not a pleasant place.

Hell is a place of eternal punishment prepared for the devil and his demons outside of the presence of God. Human beings don’t have to go there as long as they’re righteous. That means perfectly holy in every thought and action throughout life.

It’s a tall order. In fact, if you’re honest with yourself, you know you’ve already blown it. Even if you’ve never done anything majorly bad in the eyes of society, you know perfectly well you’re not perfect.

But God did not want you to suffer eternal punishment. So he sent his Son, Jesus, to live the perfect life that you could not live. Jesus was perfectly holy. His righteousness was complete and pure. Then, when he suffered the punishment that he did not deserve by dying on the cross, he declared that he did that for you. And through faith in him, he gave you his righteousness. God made the one who had no sin be sin for us so that in him, we become the righteousness of God. Jesus is the Lord our righteousness.

Now, on judgment day, through faith in Jesus, you will go right to eternal life in heaven. You have the righteousness of Jesus—not your own—as your ticket to heaven, and nothing can take that away from you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness. You took on you what was mine and gave me what was yours. I will thank and praise you forever. 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 Is Our Great Judge – Family Devotion – November 11, 2020

Read: Daniel 7:9-10

As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.”

Daniel 7:9-10

Jesus Is Our Great Judge


Family Devotion – November 11, 2020

Devotion based on Daniel 7:9-10

See series: Devotions

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

In a scene from one of the most famous movies of all time, a girl named Dorothy and her three friends enter the throne room of a great and powerful wizard. They shake in fear as flames explode and a great voice booms: “I am OZ, the great and powerful! Who are you?” But anyone who has seen this movie knows the truth. The so-called “wizard” has no real power, just some clever tricks. The flames and fireworks are made by a machine. The booming voice comes from a hidden microphone. He looks mighty and powerful, but Dorothy and her friends have no reason to be afraid.

The story of Jesus we heard today is very different. Jesus is great and powerful! When he sits on his throne with flames of fire, there are no tricks involved. When he calls himself “the Ancient of Days,” he reminds us that he has eternal authority to judge the world. If he were to make a list of all our sins, we would have no way to defend ourselves. If he were to judge the world with fire or send his voice booming over the whole earth, there would be no stopping his incredible power! Our God, the Ancient of Days, is truly a great and powerful judge!

But we do not need to tremble or shake when we stand in God’s presence. We do not need to be afraid of God’s judgment. When he looks at our lives and considers the list of everything we have ever done, he sees his loving mercy stamped on every page of the book. It means that because of Jesus, we are forgiven and the record of our sins wiped clean! If God were to look at us and thunder the question, “Who are you?” he would already know the answer: This is someone I love, someone for whom I died, someone I want with me forever in heaven!

God, the Ancient of Days, allows us to see him as he actually is—mighty and powerful on his throne! But because we know that Jesus our judge rules in mercy and truth, we are not afraid. May we be amazed by his power! May we trust in his love.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you are so great and powerful that no one can stand up to you.
Lord Jesus, you are so true and right that there is nothing false in you.
Lord Jesus, you are so gracious and merciful that no one could ever fully thank you.
Lord Jesus, Ancient of Days, look on me in love, now and always. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What kind of people sit on thrones? What does it mean that God sits on a throne, too?
  • How does God use his almighty power to take care of you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the job of a judge? When God judges you for your sins, will he find you guilty or innocent? Why?
  • Jesus shows himself to us in many ways in the Bible. What do each of these pictures of Jesus teach us about him?
    ○ Baby Jesus in a manger
    ○ Jesus on the cross
    ○ Jesus the judge sitting on a throne of flames

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Re-read the detailed description of God and his throne in today’s Bible verses. What do we learn about God’s power and nature through this vivid portrayal of him as the “Ancient of Days”?
  • Even when our lives and our world seem to be in chaos, God is all-powerful and reigning on this throne. How does remembering that bring you comfort?

Hymn: CW 243:1 – Oh, Worship the King

Oh, worship the King, all-glorious above;
Oh, gratefully sing his pow’r and his love,
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Honor the Service – November 11, 2020

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.”
Matthew 25:34

Honor the Service


Daily Devotion – November 11, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:34

See series: Devotions

Today many countries celebrate their military veterans. Whether it’s called Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, or Veterans Day, it’s a time to honor all those who have served their country in war or peace, dead or alive, although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.

Christians honor Jesus for a similar reason. He was willing to sacrifice himself in order to win a great victory for us. Ever since the creation of the world, Jesus wanted us to live with him forever in heaven. It didn’t look good since we were going to be born sinful and could not enter a perfect heaven that way. But Jesus took care of that by being born without sin and then remaining sinless throughout his life until he sacrificed himself and took the punishment for our sin. He volunteered to serve in this way, even though he was King over the entire universe. That was quite a sacrifice!

Many veterans make the sacrifices they do so that their families and communities can remain in peace and safety. They know that peace is won in this world only with blood and sacrifice.

Jesus won peace for us with his blood and his sacrifice. He did all that so that he could say to us on judgment day, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Take your inheritance. Come with me to heaven. Live in eternal peace and safety.”

Prayer:
We honor your service for us, Lord Jesus, today and every day. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not to Worry – November 10, 2020

He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
Matthew 25:32,33

Not to Worry


Daily Devotion – November 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:32,33

See series: Devotions

People worry about the day they will face their maker the day this world comes to an end. They wonder if a movie of their life will play, and everyone will see the bad things they have done. They wonder if they will have the right words to say when they are called on to give an account of their lives.

Jesus instructs people who believe in him not to worry about judgment day. He is the Good Shepherd who laid down his life for the sheep, and he will not forget about them or abandon them. He knows precisely who his sheep are, and he promises to be with them all the way through the process of judgment day.

When Jesus returns in glory with his angels, he will sit on his throne and send his angels throughout the earth to gather up his sheep. Those who have died will have their souls reunited with their bodies, and their bodies will be restored, never to die again. Those who are still alive will have their bodies glorified, and then they will be picked by the angels to be taken to the place where Jesus is judging.

The angels will not confuse right and left. Those who trust in Jesus will be on his right, and he will give them eternal life. Those who do not believe in him will be on his left, and he will give them the eternal death that they deserve. There will be no movies and no long line of people guessing what the right words are. For those who are followers of Jesus, there will only be the relief of leaving a sin-filled world to spend eternity at the side of their loving Lord. No wonder there is no reason to worry!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my Good Shepherd. Send your angels and guide me safely to your right hand on judgment day, then onward into heaven. 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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Third Sunday of End Time—Saints Triumphant

Keep Us Watchful for Our Triumph

These are the readings for the Third Sunday of End Time—Saints Triumphant.

God’s Word for This Week

Like children playing hide and seek, Jesus calls out to us through his Word, “Ready or not here I come!” Thanks be to God that in his love and through Jesus’ saving work on the cross, we have been made ready. When Jesus comes in the end, we will be raised and united with all those who have preceded us in the faith. Therefore, let us continue to be vigilant in the faith until that day comes.

First Lesson – Isaiah 52:1-6

Who are the “uncircumcised and defiled” that will never enter the holy city of Jerusalem?

Throughout its history, Israel had been invaded and attacked by foreign nations (most recently by the nation of Assyria). Due to their disobedience, pagan armies entered and even conquered Jerusalem. God promised that a day would come when Jerusalem would be freed from such invasions. In the New Testament, we find that the true Israel and the true Jerusalem are God’s holy people–his Church. We will see the deliverance foretold by Isaiah when we put on our “garments of splendor” in heaven.

Verse three tells us that we were redeemed without money. Define the term “redeem.”

To redeem means “to buy back” or “to pay the price of freedom.” Jesus paid the price necessary to free us from our slavery to sin and death. He did this, “not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death.”

Supplemental First Lesson – Ezekiel 37:15-28

This lesson immediately follows Ezekiel’s prophecy about the dry bones.

God had promised Israel that he would raise them from their graves and settle them in the land. He promised to restore captive Israel to the land of Abraham. The rescue and return of the remnant provide a picture of what the Church waits and watches for. In this lesson, God extends that prophecy beyond physical Israel to the Church and the messianic kingdom of his Son. Earthly troubles like the captivity or our struggle with sin are temporary. The triumph that’s coming won’t be. Notice that in the last four verses, God repeatedly talks about the unending nature of the kingdom waiting for us. It will be a kingdom without divisions caused by sin but exemplified by oneness (one stick, one nation, one king, one shepherd—forever).

How will this be?

Look at how many times God says that he will act for us! We are purely passive in acquiring the triumph in store for us. God will act to save, to cleanse, and to renew his covenant: I will be their God, and they will be my people. As Ezekiel held his bound sticks before the eyes of his countrymen, so the Church holds God’s promises of pending triumph before us and continually cries, “Wait for it! Watch for it!”

Second Lesson – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Who are those who had “fallen asleep”?

This word picture is often used in the Bible to describe those who have died. It seems that there was some confusion in the Thessalonian congregation about those who had died. The Thessalonians were waiting eagerly for the imminent return of Jesus. They were worried because they were afraid that those who died before his coming would not receive the same salvation.

Agree or Disagree. A Christian should never mourn the death of a fellow Christian.

As Christians, we are comforted and encouraged by the fact that those who die in Christ will receive the reward that he won for them on the cross. We are consoled by the knowledge that we will see them again in heaven. A Christian will not despair as many in this world do. Yet, death is separation. A Christian will mourn and even cry. Did not Jesus cry when his friend Lazarus died? As Christians, we are comforted by the promises of our loving God.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Revelation 19:1-9

What kind of triumph are we watching and waiting for?

For the persecuted Church, Jesus gave the Apocalypse of St. John, to let his people know: Jesus will win. Revelation 18 foretold the fall of Babylon and the destruction of every enemy of the Church. “After this…” John heard the reaction of the saints and angels and all creation—they cried, “Hallelujah!” The word used so prevalently in the Old Testament was not heard in the New Testament until its final vision of the saints triumphant. George Handel tried to capture the glory of what John witnessed with his “Hallelujah Chorus,” but his work will certainly pale by comparison to that distant triumph song. John lets us see behind the shut door of the parable in our Gospel for this Sunday—he lets us see what we watch for: the consummation of the marriage of Christ and the Church. Blessed are they who are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb! Keep us watchful for our coming triumph!

Gospel – Matthew 25:1-13

How did the five foolish virgins demonstrate their foolishness?

The virgins of Jesus’ parable are comparable with the bridesmaids of today. Their responsibility was to prepare the bride for the coming of the bridegroom. The foolish virgins did not bring enough oil for their lamps. They were not prepared. So when the bridegroom took longer than was expected, they were not ready for him.

How do we “keep watch” for Jesus’ coming?

As Christians, we are ready for Jesus’ coming through faith. We keep watch, therefore, by maintaining and strengthening that faith through constant use of the Word and sacraments.

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