The Circle of Life – November 18, 2018

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 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. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

The Circle of Life


Daily Devotion – November 18, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

See series: Devotions

I miss my dad.

He died when I was ten-years-old. Automobile accident. I remember the ache in my heart in the following months as our family adjusted to life without him.

Death stinks! It rips a huge hole in the heart of loved ones left behind. It tears them apart. It leaves them wishing for a few more joyful days with the person who passed.

Death stinks because of sin. Death became part of the “circle of life” when the human race chose to rebel against God. Our sin separates us from God, the source of all life. Without him, every sinner dies. We can do nothing to change this reality.

But God could and did.

His Son Jesus volunteered to die for us. The Father and Son worked out a plan that Jesus would die under God’s curse. God redirected his curse away from us and blasted Jesus with eternal death. Jesus suffered horribly, but he did it willingly to take the stink and sting out of death.

Death still hurts really badly because we miss people who have died. But we know that if they died in Jesus, we’ll see them again in heaven. (Dying in Jesus means dying with the trust that God will take you to heaven all because of Jesus.) When a Christian dies, we mourn, we cry, we hurt, but we also hope. We hope our loved one is in heaven because of Jesus. We hope we will be in heaven too, because of Jesus.

Unlike hoping for good weather tomorrow, our hope of heaven is guaranteed, rock solid, unchangeable, undeniable. Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead himself. He floods our hurting hearts at the side of a casket with the hope of eternal life. We can and do depend on this hope.

So, while I miss my dad, I know I will see him again. I will get to know him man to man. I’ll hear his laugh again and experience that big heart of his. Most importantly, we’ll both enjoy spending time with our Savior and our God. Because we’ll be with the Lord forever.

How can I be sure? Jesus died for him. Jesus died for me. And Jesus died for you.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for dying to take away our sins. Thank you for promising to give us heaven. By your love, take us home when the time comes so we can be with you and our loved ones forever. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Transformed – teen devotion – November 18, 2018

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Joy

Before you begin to read this, make a list of things that make you happy. You can write it down or make a mental list. Try to get as many as you can.

Did you get them all? Now continue reading … .

In an episode of VeggieTales, Madame Blueberry says she has everything she could ever need, but she is not happy with what she has. On her way home from the store, after buying pretty much everything, she passes a girl who is with her mom and dad on her birthday. The girl does not have much, but she is happy. That’s when Madame Blueberry realizes that she does not need material items to be happy.

It is easy to get caught up in material things. Go back to your list of things that make you happy. What’s on it: A TV show? A book? Your pet? Mom, Dad, Aunt Sally, and Uncle Joe? Did God, church, or the Bible make your list? When we think of what makes us happy, it’s so easy to get caught up by the things we see and touch nearest to us. As long as we live, we face the temptation to place God who brings us his salvation on the backburner.

Remember to focus on the reason for that joy:

  • God gave you “new birth” through baptism!
  • God gave you “living hope” through Jesus’ resurrection!

Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive! Now we look forward to an eternity in heaven with him! That’s something to be happy about! No more trials. No more heartache. No more temptation. We will have the honor of standing at the feet of Jesus. He wiped away our sins with his death so that we can finally know what peace feels like. Resting our hope in Jesus Christ will bring us eternal happiness, no matter what struggles we are faced with here on earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy of life everlasting in your arms. Continue to work through me so that I can help others find your joy. Guide me to hold tight to your Word when I am faced with trials, and help me to find joy here on earth, knowing that I will find eternal joy it is in heaven with you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Then came thanksgiving – November 18, 2018

Then came thanksgiving – November 18, 2018


O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.
1 Chronicles 16:34




Military Devotion – November 18, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 16:34

See series: Military Devotions

He was tired of it. Tired of the sand, tired of the smell—tired of the whole mess.

He was sick of it. Sick of the heat, sick of the people, sick of looking at sick-looking houses and wondering if someone inside was waiting to kill him.

It reminded him of the movie Groundhog Day. This deployment was hours of boredom, broken ever-so-often by moments of terror. Life had become one miserable day after another.

Then came Thanksgiving.

At first the thought depressed him. He thought of Thanksgivings past. He remembered the food, the fun, and football games watched with family.

None of that now. He didn’t want to think of Thanksgiving. It only made him think of what he was missing.

Then the phrase struck him: “What he was missing!”

It reminded him of what his grandmother had said years ago: “Don’t just be thankful for what you have, be also thankful for what you don’t have—for what is missing from your life.”

The words confused him then, but now he began to understand. He started to look at his life with fresh eyes. What was he missing?

Well, cancer, for one thing! He had no cancer. That’s what had taken his grandma away. He missed her, but was that something to be thankful for? Maybe he could give thanks that she did not have to suffer and now was in the glory of heaven.

What else was he missing? The list began to grow as he looked around. He was missing desolation and hunger. He was missing a life lived in the stench and poverty that these people had to endure. His life was lived without worry that a death squad would break into his family’s house.

He lived without the fear that Allah would punish him if he did not bow toward Mecca.

He remembered learning about the “Four Freedoms” speech that President Roosevelt gave when America was on the trailing edge of the Depression and moving toward the brink of war:

Freedom of speech. Freedom of worship. Freedom from want. Freedom from fear.

Loss of these freedoms was missing from his life.

Thank God for that!

But he knew his grandmother would be sure to point out other things missing from his life:

Fear of hopelessness. Fear of godlessness. Fear of meaninglessness. Fear of death.

Thank God for grandma! Thank God for all those who loved him; taught him; and prayed for him! Thank God for Jesus, for forgiveness, and salvation!

Life looked different now. The irritations remained, but so did the faith that God was with him.

He had been miserable, forgetful, and unthankful.

Then came thanksgiving—not just the day, but the words of thanksgiving flowing from his heart: O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endures forever.



We join in the words of the Thanksgiving hymn of our forefathers:

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices,
Who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love and still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever-joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us
And keep us in his grace and guide us when perplexed
And free us from all ills in this world and the next. Amen.
(Christian Worship 610:1-2)



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

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


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Just Wait – November 17, 2018

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” … Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”
Isaiah 52:1-3,6

Just Wait


Daily Devotion – November 17, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1-3,6

See series: Devotions

How many times have you had to say “Just Wait” in the last week? When kids get a little antsy about what they want from a parent, when co-workers are a little overbearing about a favor that they need, yes even when a spouse makes the same request one too many times, the response comes out so easily: “Just Wait!”

God told his people “Just Wait!” In fact that could be a theme of the whole Old Testament, “Just Wait!” God promised Adam and Eve that he would make one of their offspring the Savior, and then he told them to wait! God told Abraham he would give him a son and then made him wait for 25 years for Isaac to be born.

Isaiah wrote to people who were waiting. If they listened to Isaiah’s message, they were waiting for judgment. Like a mother that tells a disobedient child, “Just wait until your father gets home!” that was Isaiah’s message to his people. “You’ve been impatient; you’ve turned to other gods; you’ve rejected the true God. Now you just wait!”

And we’ve been there, too. We want God’s promises fulfilled today! We want health restored, relationships reconciled, comfort granted. We want what we want and we want it now! And when God doesn’t grant it, when he tells us “Just wait,” we grow angry with God and turn elsewhere, to other gods really, for comfort and happiness and hope.

For that, we deserve the judgment that Israel received. We deserve worse than captivity at the hands of a foreign army, we deserve eternal slavery in hell.

But wait! Isaiah’s “Just Wait!” message was not only about judgment, it was about forgiveness as well. God said, “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” God would bring his people back from slavery and restore them to the land that he gave them. Without money God has redeemed us as well. It cost far more than money, but God paid it nonetheless. In love he gave us his Son. Jesus offered his body and his blood as our redemption price. On the cross he won us back from our impatience, our lack of trust, and all our sins. As he walked from the tomb, he destroyed death’s power and bought us the promise of our own resurrection. The promise of peace that Isaiah gave is ours now in part through Jesus, and it will be ours in full when we become Saints Triumphant in heaven everlasting.

Now we live here on earth, and though it might be hard, we can “Just Wait” for his return. And while we wait and watch, we can serve him and others with our lives. We can tell others that Jesus has come and that he will come again. We can tell the world what we know to be true, that Jesus and his heaven are worth the wait!

Prayer:
Strengthen me, Lord Jesus, while I wait for you to return. Make me to be strong in your Word and to trust in your promises. Help me to wait on your timing for the things in this world and for you to extend to me the riches of your glory. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Light for Your Heart and Path – November 16, 2018

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.
Psalm 119:105

Light for Your Heart and Path


Daily Devotion – November 16, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 119:105

See series: Devotions

What good will a light do if you refuse to open your eyes?

God calls his Word a “lamp to my feet” and “a light for my path.” Does God’s light do us much good if we’re vigorously squeezing our eyes and hearts shut?

In his Word—the Bible—God tells us what to do and not do. Does the light of his commands do us much good if we don’t love our neighbor as ourselves? We are mean to others. We lie. We fail to help when we could and should. God tells us to do good and love others, and we shut our eyes to his light.

In his Word—the Bible—God gives us great promises. Does the light of his promises do us much good if we don’t trust him? God promises us his forgiveness, care, wisdom, and love. Yet, we continue to carry our guilt and shame. We think we are the only ones taking care of us. We doubt God’s love in what he allows into our lives. We hear God’s promises and think, “I’ll believe it when I see it.”

One of the truly awesome purposes of the Bible is that God’s Word is much more than a light that shines. The Holy Spirit works through the Word to open the eyes of the spiritually blind—people like you and me! The Spirit of God shines his light—his Word—in our souls, hearts, and minds. The light, God’s Word, creates faith. The Holy Spirit turns the light in our hearts brighter and brighter, so that we more closely follow God’s commands and more deeply trust his promises.

The apostle Paul, a follower of Jesus and missionary, wrote to some new Christians: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:18-19).

Read, learn, and meditate on God’s Word. May the Holy Spirit make his light shine brighter and brighter in our hearts and on our paths.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, you give me such a precious gift—your Word. Forgive me for failing to see and trust it as the light and treasure that it is. Work powerfully through your Word. Shine your light in my heart and on my path. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Delight in the Word of God – November 15, 2018

Trouble and distress have come upon me, but your commands are my delight.
Psalm 119:143

Delight in the Word of God


Daily Devotion – November 15, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 119:143

See series: Devotions

The hardest time to remember that God loves you is when you’re in trouble. It’s easy to know God’s love when your checkbook is flush, and your body is healthy. But when you’re in distress, God’s love is hard to see. How can you believe that God loves you when you’re broke, when chemo makes your hair fall out, or when a loved one is dying?

Where is God’s love in all of that? Worse, when trouble and distress strike, our natural reaction is to pray, “God, why would you let this happen to a good person like me?” But here’s the thing: I am not a good person.

Who can claim to be perfect in God’s sight? Who doesn’t forget to praise God when life is good? Who doesn’t doubt and complain when life isn’t? Scripture is clear: “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Romans 3:12). Because of sin, we are not good people. We do not deserve God’s love; we deserve trouble and distress.

But notice what today’s passage says: Our delight is God’s Word, not the outward circumstances of life. Trouble is part of an invaluable lesson that God teaches in the Bible and reinforces through experience. We are weak, but he is strong, and he will never let us down.

When you are hard pressed on every side, that’s when you see Jesus exactly where he has promised to be—right beside you. He knows trouble firsthand. Jesus suffered for the sinful world to forgive your imperfection and guarantee you an eternity that has no distress.

Until then, the troubles of life are a tool in God’s hand, and your faith is like a nail. The harder God hits it, the deeper it goes. Distress drives your faith even deeper. It sends you back to your baptism, back to the Word, back to the Lord’s Supper for proof of God’s love and for strength to endure.

So find your delight in God’s promises. You never have to wonder if God loves you. The cross proves it: “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).

Prayer:
Lord, strengthen me to trust your promises and remember your love in good times and in bad. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sunrise is Coming – November 14, 2018

“For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”
Malachi 4:2

Sunrise is Coming


Daily Devotion – November 14, 2018

Devotion based on Malachi 4:2

See series: Devotions

There is something about a sunrise, isn’t there? Whether you’ve had to pull an all-nighter or if you’re an early morning riser, there’s something energizing about those first rays of sunshine piercing the darkness of the fading night. In a sense, it is healing.

For us who are believers in Jesus, that is what the end of the world will be about; it will be about healing. And what healing it will be! God’s healing rays will drive all of sin’s darkness out of us once and for all! When Jesus returns and takes us to heaven, there will be no more temptations, doubts, fears, anxieties, pride, bitterness, hurt, feelings of inadequacy, messed up relationships, substance abuse, broken promises, shading the truth, and the list could go on and on!

Wow! How much I need that healing! As I read through that list and look at myself, I see failure after failure after failure. I’ve wounded myself; I’ve wounded others! How much I need healing! I so often feel like I am in such deep darkness!

Sunrise is coming, my brothers and sisters in Christ! Jesus is coming back! Yes, the same Jesus who was willing to be laid in a manger, to be led to a cross—he is coming back! He loves you dearly! He paid for your sins in full! He won heaven for you!

And someday the darkness will be pierced once and for all! He’ll return in glory, driving out the darkness of sin forever! You and I will be healed, forever! Sunrise is coming!

Prayer:
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, to heal us! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Replace – November 13, 2018

[Christ] has appeared once for all…to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.
Hebrews 9:26

Replace


Daily Devotion – November 13, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 9:26

See series: Devotions

Harry Truman was taking a bath on the second floor of the White House one day when his bathtub nearly fell through the floor. If it had, the president would have landed in the middle of a tea party being hosted by Mrs. Truman for the Daughters of the American Revolution. He immediately called in experts to investigate the building’s condition. What they found was appalling. The 150-year-old structure was on the verge of collapse. As one inspector said, “The White House is staying up through force of habit alone.”

The inspection also revealed something ironic. It revealed that, over the years, every time there had been an effort to “improve” the White House, the improvement had only made matters worse. In light of all this, President Truman was determined not only to save the White House, but to do it in such a way that no future president would have to worry about such a project ever again.

Here’s what happened. Highly trained crews arrived. They carefully preserved the building’s outer shell. They constructed a new foundation, making sure it reached all the way down to solid rock, and not just sand. Finally, they replaced the entire inner structure. They took out all the tired, cracked wood and put in skyscraper-caliber steel. Thanks to Harry Truman, the saving of the White House is about as permanent as permanent can be in this temporary old world.

By nature, your life and mine resembles the condition of the White House when Harry Truman was taking his bath. On our own we may manage to maintain a decent-looking outer shell. But left to us our foundation rests on sand. Inside we are broken. Total collapse is just a matter of when. In addition, anything we do for self-improvement may seem helpful in the short term, but without a radical rescue it only makes matters worse.

And that’s why Jesus came. But when he did, he came not just to shore up our lives here and there for a little while longer. He came to deal with our problem in such a way that we would never have to worry about that problem again. He saw how our sin had broken us. He saw how our sin had given us only shifting sand, only the uncertainty of drifting from one thing to the next.

Then he addressed the problem. He confronted our sin head-on. He took it all to the cross and paid for it in full. In its place, he covered us in the holiness of his own perfect life. Now, through faith in him, we are new. Our foundation is Christ. Our future is secure. And because it is, our days of brokenness and uncertainty are no more.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, apart from you I am broken. In you I am whole. I am yours. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018

Truly Blessed – Week of November 12, 2018 – Week of November 5, 2018


“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



Just imagine: it is literally the last day on earth for all people, and Jesus, the King, is looking at you and saying, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father.” How can this be? Jesus is calling us blessed. We certainly don’t deserve that honor. Each day we have slipped in our mission to honor God and reflect his love to others. Yet Jesus looks at us and says, “You are blessed.”

We are blessed to receive an inheritance from God. Typically, an inheritance is passed down within a family. So the fact that God has named us his heirs means we are part of his family. Our heavenly Father claims us as his own because of the sacrifice of Jesus, his only truly innocent child. Now we are covered with Jesus’ holiness and can take our spot at the family table. We humbly receive the inheritance God has been saving for his precious children.

No earthly inheritance can compare to the one our Father has prepared for us. Since creation, God has been making our heavenly home ready for us. Already then, he knew what would happen: his perfect creation would be stained by sin, our sin. Yet he loved us so much that he prepared a place where sin will never separate us from him.

Thinking about the end of this world, whether it’s on the Last Day or at our death, might at first seem frightening. But then we remember Jesus’ words that he spoke to each of his believers, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:1-3). With Jesus forever — yes, we are truly blessed!



Prayer:

O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation;
We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation.
Your saints are waiting patiently; come soon, Redeemer;
Make us free from every evil.
Amen.

Christian Worship 207:6



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

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Saints Triumphant

Jesus Calls Out to Us Through His Word

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 through Jesus’ saving work on the cross, we have been made ready! May his Spirit keep us in saving faith in him.

First Lesson – Daniel 12:1-3

A man dressed in linen, with a belt of finest gold around his waist (therefore, someone holy and royal (see 10:5) told Daniel about a book God has (12:1b). What did he mean?

By that book, the man dressed in linen (who may have been the Son of God himself), meant God’s list of his chosen children. God does not need a book to keep him from forgetting things. He wants to comfort us. What joy that God knows by name all whom he will save forever.

Describe the events of the Last Day. (See 12:2.)

On the Last Day, those who sleep in the dust will awake. That is, the dead will be raised. Some will receive eternal life and others eternal condemnation from God, the judge.

What is the key difference between those whom God will save and those he will condemn?

Those whom God saves are “those who are wise.” They have received true wisdom: trust in Jesus as Savior (not trust in themselves). That faith God credits to them as righteousness, so they are right in his sight. That faith shows itself in the way they lead others to trust in God and live for him.

Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 10:11-18

The book of Hebrews demonstrates how Jesus is superior to every aspect of the Jewish religion. How is Jesus’ sacrifice superior to the numerous sacrifices commanded in the Old Testament? (See 10:18.)

The Old Testament sacrifices were repeated “endlessly year after year” (10:1). They pointed to the seriousness of sin but didn’t actually take away sin (10:4,11). But Jesus, by one sacrifice of himself never to be repeated, has taken away the sins of the world. Confidence in the perfect forgiveness won by his sacrifice makes us ready for his return and gives us stamina for our daily struggles.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Why does Paul call the death of believers to “fall asleep?”

Paul calls death for believers “falling asleep” for it is nothing to fear. Our bodies will rest. On the Last Day God will wake us up to his glorious, eternal dawn.

How can we be sure about what will happen? (See 4:15a.)

We can be sure about what will happen on the Last Day because we have the Lord Jesus’ own word on it. Paul, Jesus’ inspired apostle, has confirmed what Jesus said.

Will we float with Jesus in clouds forever? (See 4:17.)

Paul does not say that we will float with Jesus forever. He says that Jesus will snatch us up from the earth after the judgment. Jesus will destroy this world, then make a new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13), so Jesus may snatch us up from this earth to keep us from being burned up with it, then put us back down on it. The main point is our relation to God, not our exact location with God.

Traditional Gospel – John 5:25-29

Describe the events of the Last Day according to verses 28 and 29?

All who are in their graves, i.e., the dead, will hear Jesus’ voice and come out. Then he will judge all people in righteousness.

Agree or disagree. Verse 29 tells us that we will be judged by our works and not our faith.

At first glance these verses, as well as other sections in Scripture (e.g., Matthew 25:31-46), teach that we are saved by what we do. To understand these verses, one must understand the relationship between faith and good works. Good works are the result and evidence of faith in Christ Jesus. No work can be good without faith. Faith in Jesus is what saves, but it can rightly be said that we are judged by our works. Our works are now holy and pure in God’s sight through faith in Jesus. Our works are the external evidence of our saving faith.

Supplemental Gospel – Mark 13:24-27

Right before Jesus reappears, should we expect things to be getting better and better or worse and worse?

We should expect things to get worse and worse. The sun will be darkened “following that distress.”

How will we all be able to appear before Jesus?

All believers will stand before Jesus, since his angels will gather God’s chosen children from all around the world.

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Perfect Harmony – November 12, 2018

Jesus gave [the Jews] this answer: “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
John 5:19

Perfect Harmony


Daily Devotion – November 12, 2018

Devotion based on John 5:19

See series: Devotions

Harmony is much desired but is often elusive. Wives and husbands desire it. Parents hope for it. Children yearn for it. Most people long for harmony even more than happiness. Unfortunately, harmony is shattered by selfishness, bitterness, and animosity.

Although I live in a world which lacks harmony, there is one place I can always find it. It is with God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. This is a precious gift I can never afford to ignore or take for granted.

As Jesus offered a rebuttal to the Jews who persecuted him, he offered a very simple yet profound truth. Jesus made it clear whatever the Father does the Son also does.

God is not divided. Father and Son work in perfect harmony. They are also completely united in working my rescue. Neither works independently, nor is in conflict with the other. It is because of this perfect harmony I find great comfort.

By nature, I rejected and rebelled against God. I stood opposed to his will. Yet, even though I didn’t deserve it, God reached out to rescue me.

In perfect harmony he accomplished everything required to save me. God the Father poured out his love for me in sending his Son. God the Son offered his life for me in dying on the cross. Because of the undivided purpose and perfect harmony of Father and Son, I am released from the just judgment I deserved.

It is because I enjoy the perfect harmony of the Father and Son that I need to take every opportunity to maintain it. I faithfully listen to his Word. I joyfully live in his love. I humbly walk according to his will. As I live in his grace, perfect harmony is fostered and preserved.

Prayer:
O blessed Savior, because of your faithfulness and the undeserved love of your Father, I am united with you by faith. Keep me in your grace, that I may enjoy perfect harmony with you, now and for all eternity. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Remember – November 11, 2018

Remember – November 11, 2018


Remember the days of old; consider the generations long past. Ask your father and he will tell you, your elders, and they will explain to you.
Deuteronomy 32:7




Military Devotion – November 11, 2018

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 32:7

See series: Military Devotions

It might be argued that we no longer know how to properly observe Veterans Day because we have forgotten Armistice Day.

There may be something to that. The generation that stopped in silence as church bells rang for two minutes each year at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month—that generation has faded away. The armistice went into effect exactly 100 years ago.

We might find some of their names etched into old gravestones. We might recall the words of their poem, “In Flanders fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses, row on row…” In a history book we might read that on one day, July 1, 1916, British forces suffered 57,470 casualties—including 19,240 fatalities (in one day!)—and gained three miles of blood-soaked soil.

Armistice Day was always observed, never celebrated. It was much too painful of a memory marker. Total World War I fatalities were over 20 million, with 21 million wounded. Over 116,000 American troops died in that war. Nothing to celebrate.

We don’t feel that pain. Our generation has been spared that anguish.

60 million lost their lives in World War Two. Over 400,00 were Americans. Add 34,000 Americans in Korea; over 58,000 in Vietnam; include the Gulf Wars, and the numbers become painful.

But many Americans don’t feel that pain. Some are too young. Some don’t care.

We do. We should. The name may now be Veterans Day, but the cause of the observance remains the same: We need to remember. There are lessons to be learned. Appreciations to be offered.

“Thank you for your service!” has replaced the “Baby killers!” that some Vietnam veterans heard. We thank God for that.

We thank him for those in the past who left behind factory jobs and college classrooms; those who left behind carpenter tools and horse-drawn plows; those who left behind high school sweethearts, weeping mothers, and moist-eyed fathers—because their country called.

We remember them.

We remember those who never fired a shot in anger, whose job was to load trucks; fill out forms; or prepare food. We needed them.

We remember those who had to make decisions that others would receive as orders. We remember those who tended to the wounded; and those who prayed with the dying.

We remember them all.

We remember them as gifts provided to our nation by a gracious God.

We remember him most of all. Without him, all valiant efforts would fail.

Without him, there would be no heaven for any of the fallen.

We remember that it was no armistice that his Bethlehem angels announced. Heaven’s declaration of peace between the Holy One and mankind stands through the end of time into forever.

We will not forget that.



We pray words from a generation long past:

Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet,
Lest we forget—lest we forget! Amen.



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

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


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Transformed – teen devotion – November 11, 2018

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10

Contentment

Some people think that contentment means getting everything they want as soon as they want it. If that’s contentment—a desire and want of more—it can easily lead to a negative view of life that says, “Look what I DON’T have.” It can lead us to resent what others have but we don’t.

What is the secret to happiness? God says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Being content with what you have rather than looking at what you do not will put your focus on the positive and not the negative. Contentment is the heart of a believer who believes God is our provider, who provides for our spiritual and earthly needs because we are his children. Jesus gave up his breath on the cross. There we find all debts of sin are paid. It promises peace with God. It assures of salvation. It leads to the conviction that “God works all things out for our good”.

One of the best definitions of contentment that I have heard is, “not having all you want but wanting only what you have.” Satisfied with what you have—that is being content. It means having all you need not craving for more. “But what if I do not have all I need to support my life?” Jesus answers, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) Yes, you are valuable to Jesus! Find contentment in him!

Prayer: Dear Lord in heaven help us to be content with what we have and not to worry about what we do not. For we know that you will provide everything that we need to keep our bodily life. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross in our place so that we can be content in you today. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Ready and Waiting – November 11, 2018

“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

Ready and Waiting


Daily Devotion – November 11, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 25:34

See series: Devotions

“If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” These words not only sound a warning, they also offer practical advice. All too often a sweet deal goes sour, and what remains is the bitter after-taste of a lesson learned.

Heaven could be considered as one of those things which sound too good to be true. A place of perfect peace? A place where no sadness or pain exists? A place where only good will be enjoyed forever? While part of me longs for a place like heaven, another part remains incredulous.

While it may sound too good to be true, heaven is ready and waiting. It is the invitation given by my Lord which confirms its reality. God could never tell me to come, if heaven didn’t exist. What adds to my certainty is the way heaven is defined. It has existed before the creation of all things. So, from the very foundations of time the kingdom of heaven has been prepared by God and is waiting for me.

Even more convincing is the work of my Savior. Jesus is the one who gives me the confidence to know I will be called blessed by the Father. To be blessed by God doesn’t mean my life will suddenly become easier. Nor does it mean I will experience a heaven here on earth. What it does mean is that I will experience God’s blessing which comes through the precious life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. He rescued me from the condemnation my sin deserved. He redeemed me from the bondage of hell. He even released me from the dreaded power of death and the grave. It is only through faith in Jesus that I know heaven is real, and that it is ready and waiting for me.

How blessed I am to know my Savior. How blessed I am to live every day looking forward to eternal life. How blessed I am to know heaven is ready and waiting.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, when I am troubled, when I am weary, or when I need encouragement, come to me with your promise of life in heaven. Let your life, your death, and your resurrection be my assurance heaven is ready and waiting. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Judgment Will Come – November 10, 2018

“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

Judgment Will Come


Daily Devotion – November 10, 2018

Devotion based on Daniel 7:9-10

See series: Devotions

“Judgment will come!” Maybe the title of this devotion makes you feel that you don’t want to even continue with it. Who wants to talk about judgment? It’s not a popular idea in our day. It’s not a popular idea to us either. There’s something in us that doesn’t like the thought of being held accountable to anyone or anything. Maybe that’s why calling someone “judgmental” is one of the biggest insults you can throw at them.

But whether we like it or not, the Bible is clear. There will be a day when God will judge the living and the dead. The One who created every human being, and who formed the world and all that is in it, will judge those who have been given life and breathe and a soul. After seeing a vision of four beasts rising out of the sea, which represented the progression of different kingdoms that would rule the world, Daniel saw the Lord himself take his seat for judgment. It was an awesome picture. The Lord’s clothing and hair were gleaming white, there was fire, and thousands upon thousands of angels. But then silence. The books were opened.

It would be a terrifying vision if this is all that we had. We know our sins. We know what those books would say about us. “Guilty!” We are sinners who deserve to be sent out of God’s presence forever. Thankfully, a couple of verses later, we hear about someone else who is led into that courtroom. Daniel writes: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).

It’s Jesus! It’s the One who has nothing against him in God’s books. It’s the perfect Son of God who lived in our place on earth and who gave himself on the cross for our sins, so that our record before God is cleared. This is why he is given all authority and power in heaven and on earth. He is the Lamb who was slain for us. Yes, judgment will come. But so has Jesus, and because of him you can stand confidently before the throne of God.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, as I await your second coming, please help me find my confidence in your perfect life and death. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Every Spot Is Gone – November 9, 2018

“Come now, let us settle the matter,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”
Isaiah 1:18

Every Spot Is Gone


Daily Devotion – November 9, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 1:18

See series: Devotions

Lady Macbeth was confident that she and her husband had nothing to be concerned about. Yes, they both were guilty of murder, since Macbeth had stabbed King Duncan to death and she had insisted that he do it. Yes, they both had hands that were covered in King Duncan’s blood. But all they had to do, Lady Macbeth thought, was wash Duncan’s blood off their hands and then everything would be okay. “A little water clears us of this deed. How easy is it, then!” she said to her husband.

Lady Macbeth, however, soon learned that it wasn’t that easy. Washing Duncan’s blood off her hands may have rid her of the external evidence of her crime, but it did not wash away her guilt. That guilt gnawed at her and tormented her and drove her mad. Finally, she sleepwalked around her castle, trying in vain to wash away the spots of Duncan’s blood that she still saw staining her hands.

Sin is like that. When we do something wrong, something that we know God doesn’t want us to do, we like to think that we can easily remove the stain of that sin from ourselves. A little bit of doing good will clear us of our sin. A little bit of denying that the sin ever happened will clear us of our sin. A little bit of promising to do better next time will clear us of our sin. We tell ourselves that it is easy, but we soon find out that it’s not that easy. In spite of our best efforts to rid ourselves of the stain of our sins, the stain remains. And it only grows larger and darker with each subsequent sin.

So, are we, like Lady Macbeth, doomed to bear the blood-red stain of our sins forever? No. In our Bible passage today, God tells us, “Come now, let us settle the matter. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” But how can God cleanse such an indelible stain from us and make us clean? He does it by washing us in something much more powerful than water. He washes us in the blood of his Son, Jesus.

Normally, when we dip something in blood, it doesn’t come out clean. However, when God washes us in the blood of his Son, we do come out clean. Jesus’ blood, poured out on the cross, is the perfect payment for all our sins. And when we are washed in that blood, every stain of our sins disappears. Though our sins were like scarlet, in the blood of Jesus we become as pure as the freshly fallen snow. Though our sins were like crimson-red, in the blood of Jesus we become as white as wool.

Lady Macbeth tried and failed to remove the stain of her sins from her hands. Thankfully, we don’t have to rely on our own efforts to be cleansed of the stain of our sins. In the blood of Jesus, God has washed us and made us completely clean. We are now pure and holy in his sight, because in Jesus every spot of sin is gone.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I praise you for washing me in the blood of Jesus and making me clean. May I joyfully live in your forgiveness 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Established by God – November 8, 2018

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13:1

Established by God


Daily Devotion – November 8, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 13:1

See series: Devotions

God established governing authorities because human beings are not perfect. Sin doesn’t just affect our relationship with God; it affects our relationship with each other. Sinful humanity needs an institution to keep the peace, and God established the governing authorities to make the sin-infested world a safer place to live.

This is why the government does so much that is good. You experience that good whenever you drive on a highway or enjoy police protection. It’s a great blessing to worship and speak your faith without government interference. When God’s servants in government do their job, God’s servants in his kingdom can do theirs.

But sin always corrupts, and the governing authorities are no exception. Government often ignores God who established it and oppresses people rather than serves them. Jesus experienced affliction under government authority. He was unjustly arrested, tried, beaten, and crucified—all at the government’s command.

Why did Jesus endure it? Because he loves us. He perfectly submitted to the governing authorities and demonstrated that he was in complete control. Government gone wrong sent Jesus to the cross, and that is exactly where he wanted to go. Even bad government is part of God’s plan to save sinners, because it sent Jesus to Calvary to complete his work of salvation for us.

Governing authorities are not perfect, but they are a gift from God. Government is a gift for this life from the Savior who will still be King of kings and Lord of lords when all earthly governments have passed away.

Prayer:
Gracious Father in heaven, thank you for the gift of government. Bless and guide all who make, administer, enforce, and judge our laws, so that we may live in peace until we enter your eternal kingdom. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God the Potter – November 7, 2018

This is the word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD: “Go down to the potter’s house, and there I will give you my message.” So I went down to the potter’s house, and I saw him working at the wheel. But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him. Then the word of the LORD came to me: “O house of Israel, can I not do with you as this potter does?” declares the LORD. “Like clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand, O house of Israel.”
Jeremiah 18:1-6

God the Potter


Daily Devotion – November 7, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 18:1-6

See series: Devotions

Have you ever seen the potter at his wheel? It’s amazing! Starting with a lump of spinning clay, a good potter can form and shape until he has created a usable vessel, and often it’s a work of art!

But sometimes it just doesn’t seem to work. So what does the potter do? He reshapes, sometimes even beginning again.

How desperately I need God to reshape me, to reform me! I make a mess out of so many things, oh-so-often! I fail to listen to and focus on God and his Word. I fail to love God with all my heart. I fail to love my neighbor as myself. I make a mess out of myself and I often hurt others!

And yet God, the “potter,” continues to lovingly work with me! He continues to forgive me, love me, and assures me that I am his child. I deserve his wrath! He gives me his love!

And in love he, the potter, continues to shape me; a push here, a prod there, more—or less—pressure as needed. And in the end? I will be an amazing work of art, fashioned by THE Potter himself!

Prayer:
O God, continue to shape and form me that I might show your glory in my life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Pencil – November 6, 2018

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.
Revelation 14:6

Pencil


Daily Devotion – November 6, 2018

Devotion based on Revelation 14:6

See series: Devotions

Sixty years ago next month, a man by the name of Leonard Read wrote a short but extraordinary article. What made it so extraordinary was that it took the abstract and seemingly dull subject of economics and made it concrete. But his little article did more than that. With this piece, Leonard Read also filled countless readers with a sense of humility and a sense of awe.

The title of his essay was, “I, Pencil.” In it, Read demonstrates how even the making of a plain pencil involves all kinds of people in all kinds of circumstances from all over the world.

He starts with the wood. The wood had to come from a source of lumber—perhaps a place like the American Pacific Northwest. But the equipment to harvest the trees came from somewhere else, the metals for making the equipment came from somewhere else, and the transportation for moving the wood involved many scattered teams of individuals in various places. In addition, the human skill needed to transform massive loads of lumber into precise, delicate sizes involved many more.

In his article, Leonard Read then goes on to think through all the other parts of the pencil. What has to happen to get the graphite for the pencil? What has to happen to develop the yellow paint? What has to happen to construct a machine that will print the letters and numbers? What about the coats of lacquer that cover the pencil? What about the metal band on the end that fits just right? What about that mysterious piece of technology we call the eraser? What’s the nature of the glue that holds all the parts together? And finally, what does it take to assemble all of these different components in such a way that it does not cost a fortune to do it?

A major point in Read’s article is this. The creation of just a plain pencil does not involve a few select people. Rather, it involves wide swaths of people from multiple languages, multiple cultures.

In that way, it’s similar to how the Lord uses the gospel to create his Church. The Good News of what Jesus did on the cross to wash us clean is not for a select group or a select class. The gospel, John records, is for every nation, tribe, language, and people. The gospel is for everyone because everyone needs the gospel. And it is through this gospel that God builds his Church out of wide swaths of souls from multiple languages, multiple cultures; from Pakistan to China, from Cameroon to Germany, from the Navajo Nation to Brazil, from Siberia to Vietnam, from Montreal, Quebec, to Casa Grande, Arizona.

The next time you hold a pencil in your hand, think beyond the pencil. Think about the breathtaking miracle that is the Church.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for your gospel. Move me to remember that your gospel is for everyone. Everyone. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018

There’s Nothing My God Cannot Do for You! – Week of November 5, 2018


Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

Ephesians 6:10-11



“My God is so big, so strong and so mighty; there’s nothing my God cannot do!” Perhaps you know this song and are humming it in your mind right now. It is a current favorite in my classroom. The students love singing about their strong God who can do everything.

What a blessing to know our God is mighty! It’s not so easy to be strong, as today’s passage encourages. We live in a world of temptations, troubles, and trials. The devil uses anything he can to draw our focus away from our Savior. On our own, we cannot stand up to him. But our almighty God can, and he did! He loves us so much he sacrificed his own Son. In Jesus we see the true strength of our God on display, the strength to set aside his power so that he might take our place and we might have salvation. “Jesus made himself nothing…and became obedient to death—even death on a cross.” (Philippians 2:7-8). Our all-powerful God has not forsaken us.

Not only did God save us, he also equips us to stand against the devil’s schemes. He provides armor that can withstand any enemy: the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:14-17). As we read and study God’s Word, we become stronger. Armed with God’s true, powerful word, we battle the devil’s lies and temptations. We get to help others put on their armor as we share Jesus’ love with our students, school families, and each other. God gives us his strength.

My students’ favorite part of singing “My God Is So Big” is the ending. After singing about the wonderful things God has done, they finish with, “There’s nothing my God cannot do FOR YOU!” No matter what we are facing, God is stronger, God is mightier. He gives us the strength and armor to be strong in the Lord.



Prayer:

Lord of love, we bow before you, humbled by your constant grace.
Word incarnate, sent from heaven, on the cross you took our place.
By your death and resurrection, we shall live through endless days!
Lord of life, we sing your praise.

Christian Worship 237:3



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

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Last Judgement

Jesus Will Come Back in Glory

These are the readings for the Second Sunday of End Time—Last Judgment.

God’s Word for This Week

At the end of the world, Jesus will come back in glory to judge both the living and the dead. Those who believe in him receive a verdict of “not-guilty.” Those who do not believe stand condemned to the eternal suffering of hell.

Traditional First Lesson – Malachi 4:1,2a

What will happen to every “evildoer” on judgment day?

Every evildoer, i.e., every sinner, will be punished with the eternal flames of hell. Eternal condemnation is often pictured in the Bible as fire and burning—a fitting picture for the eternal torments of hell.

Those who revere God’s name will not suffer the punishment mentioned in verse one. Instead, they will receive healing from the “sun of righteousness.” What is that “sun of righteousness?”

God and his glory are compared with the sun in Isaiah 60:1,19. Jesus is referred to as the “rising sun” from heaven in Luke 1:78,79. This “rising sun” that grants healing is none other than our Savior God.

Supplemental First Lesson – Malachi 4:1-3

What will happen to every “evildoer” on judgment day?

Every evildoer will be punished in fire forever. Eternal separation from God is often pictured in the Bible as fire and burning—a fitting picture for hell’s unending torments.

Those who revere God’s name will not suffer the punishment mentioned in verse one. Instead, they will receive healing from the “sun of righteousness.” What is that “sun of righteousness?”

John the Baptist’s father Zechariah calls Jesus the “rising sun” from heaven in Luke 1:78,79. This “rising sun”whose wings (rays) grant healing is our Savior and Lord, Jesus.

Second Lesson – Hebrews 9:24-28

The letter to the Hebrews demonstrates how Jesus is superior to every aspect of the Jewish religion. How is Jesus superior to the Old Testament priests and sacrifices?

Jesus is superior, since he did not enter an earthly tabernacle (or temple), but rather heaven itself. He did not need to offer sacrifices over and over again like the priests of the Old Testament. The sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross paid for sin once and for all. No other sacrifice needs to be made.

What happens to a person when he or she dies? (See Hebrews 9:27.)

When a person dies, his body goes back to the ground and that person faces God’s judgment.

Traditional Gospel – John 5:19-24

According to these verses, what kind of relationship exists between God the Father and God the Son?

God the Father loves his Son and shows him all he does. God the Son honors and obeys his Father in everything.

According to verse 22, what right has God the Father entrusted to his Son?

God the Father entrusts his Son with the job of judging the world in righteousness. In the end Jesus will come back with his holy angels to judge the living and the dead. As verse 24 says, whoever believes in Jesus and the one who sent him (God the Father) will be found innocent and given eternal life.

Supplemental Gospel – John 5:19-30

What right has God the Father entrusted to his Son?

God the Father entrusts his Son with the job of judging the world in righteousness. In the end, Jesus will come back with his holy angels to judge the living and the dead. As verse 24 says, whoever believes in Jesus and the one who sent him (God the Father) will be found innocent and given eternal life.

What if someone says he or she believes in God, but thinks Jesus is only a man or a god less than God, is that person still okay?

No, that person is not okay. Whoever does not honor the Son as much as he or she honors the Father does not honor the Father who sent the Son.

Already in Jesus’ day, sinners were coming to life, spiritually. What other day does Jesus predict?

Jesus says a day is coming when he will raise all the dead. Then will come the judgment, with only two sentences—eternal innocence or eternal condemnation. (Don’t be confused by 5:29. Trials and sentencing hearings need evidence. Good works are the evidence for faith in Jesus. Evil works are the evidence of unbelief. Your good works cannot save you. But that does not mean they are unimportant, either to God or to your neighbor.)

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A Deadly Deception – November 5, 2018

Jesus said to [his disciples]: “Watch out that no one deceives you.”
Mark 13:5

A Deadly Deception


Daily Devotion – November 5, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 13:5

See series: Devotions

Jesus offered an earnest warning to his disciples. He knew what they would endure while he was on this earth. He also knew what they would endure after he ascended to his Father’s right hand in heaven. Jesus issued the warning because of his sincere love and care for their spiritual well-being. The warning still applies today. I need to take these words of caution to heart, “Watch out that no one deceives you.”

Deceptions abound. Their purpose is always the same because their author is the same. The devil who is a liar is also a master deceiver. He manufactures half-truths with impunity. He manipulates conversations to fit his dialogue. He molds perceptions to accommodate his purpose. Each is a deadly attack designed to destroy my faith.

This is why Jesus’ exhortation is paramount. I need to be on my guard and keep my eyes open. There is never a “time out” from the devil’s attacks. His deceptions come when I least expect them, and they are compelling at my most vulnerable times. I can never let my guard down for a moment.

While my heartfelt desire is to keep watch, I know what often happens. My eyes grow weary because of the strain. I fall asleep because I am exhausted from the battle. Even worse, I tend to minimize the deadly nature of the devil’s deceptions. I need to rely on Jesus’ encouragement. I also need to rely on his strength. He was faithful. He was unyielding. He was victorious. He endured every deadly deception I would ever have to experience, and he overcame them without fault or failure.

Through Jesus I am able to recognize the devil’s deadly deceptions. Through Jesus I have perseverance to keep watch. Through Jesus I have strength to be victorious.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 472)
Rise, my soul to watch and pray; from your sleep awaken!
Be not by the evil day unawares o’ertaken.
For the foe, well we know, is a harvest reaping
While the saints are sleeping.

But while watching also pray to the Lord unceasing.
God protects you day by day, strength and faith increasing,
So that still mind and will shall unite to serve him
And forever love him.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 4, 2018

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

The cause

A quick jab to the nose! A left hook to the temple! The enemy is gaining on you. His punches are coming one right after another. After another left hook to your head, he finishes you off with an uppercut that sends you to the ground. Staring at the mat beneath you, you wonder if you will ever be able to get back up again.

Have you ever felt this way? As if you are trapped in a boxing match and life is throwing punches at you, one right after the other?

What about when it comes to telling others about Jesus? Our text for today shows us how the author, the apostle Paul, tirelessly tells others about Jesus. Like Paul, our purpose here on earth is to share the gospel and win souls for heaven. This is easier said than done. We get rejected, we feel we don’t have the words to say, we don’t think we are getting through to anyone, and maybe even our own friends laugh in our faces. These are the punches that come with sharing the gospel, and the truth is…we can’t win this match on our own.

We don’t have the strength to finish the fight. We are weak and sinful human beings. Because of the sin that corrupts us to the core of our very being, we and all those we love deserve only eternal damnation. If we ourselves are destined for death in hell, how then can we expect to win the souls of our fellow damned for heaven? The dead cannot raise the dead. That friend you have that does not know Jesus, you will never be able to convert him…on your own.

Jesus Christ, our mighty substitute, steps into the ring. He fights for you and me! He came to earth, lived the perfect life we could not, died an innocent death on the cross in our place, and then raised to life so we too may rise. As if that was not enough, he also promises to be with us as we tell others about his love. It is only with his power that we, and many others, will receive the crown of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, I am weak. So often I do not take hold of the opportunities you give to me to proclaim your Word. Fight for me, dear Savior. Be with me as I tell others about your amazing love. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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None missing – November 4, 2018

None missing – November 4, 2018


Then the officers who were over the units of the army—the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds—went to Moses and said to him, “Your servants have counted the soldiers under our command, and not one is missing.
Numbers 31:48




Military Devotion – November 4, 2018

Devotion based on Numbers 31:48

See series: Military Devotions

The Missing Man flyover never fails to lift eyes to the skies. It prompts sobering thoughts. Reminders of missing warriors often do that.

The historian reports: “Even in World War I the lesson was learned that any unit could endure severe losses if the vacant seats in the mess were occupied by the following morning. This was the “full-breakfast-table” policy, and it was one that the Royal Air Force pursued with religious intensity. But the American stations did not fill up so quickly. The VIII Bomber Command in those days simply didn’t have the men to bring in.”

Empty seats can disturb us. It was a major concern for America’s Mighty 8th that flew daylight bombing runs over Germany in WWII. In August of 1943, that command lost 88 heavy bombers and 900 men over a three-day period.

Then came Black Thursday, on which 60 planes and 600 men failed to return.

They had been attacking ball-bearing factories. Though seemingly insignificant, the German military depended upon ball-bearings for almost all of its war machinery. The attacks on places like Schweinfurt were critical. The question was, were they worth the cost?

The empty seats at the breakfast tables and the empty cots in the barracks were blows to the morale of the airmen who would take to the skies next. Bomber Command was not able to send replacements fast enough to eliminate the disturbing signs of losses.

But empty spots are the price of any war. They make us count the cost in human lives.

Reminders of the missing bring pain to those who fought alongside them. Civilians may wonder how it can be that the loss of someone the warrior knew for only a relatively short time can hurt so much. To grieve over a family member is understandable. But to mourn the death of someone known only briefly—and still do so 30 years later—is mystifying to them.

To feel sad over the death of someone the warrior never met, whose only connection was the uniform both wore—that’s even more puzzling!

But those who have donned the uniform to protect a nation know that the bond between warriors may be different from that of family members—but it may be even stronger.

Reminders of the missing—be that by names on a wall, pictures in an album, or the flash of memories old—reopen wounds. The sunlight of happiness dims. In come the dark clouds of loss.

Defenders of ancient Israel also knew how it felt to see signs of missing warriors. But in the last days of Moses, they were reminded that the Lord their God was in complete control of the body count. If it was his will, a major battle could be fought without the loss of even one of their lives.

The Midianites had been a threat to Israel ever since the march to the Promised Land. When the showdown came, the Lord called up 1,000 from each tribe of Israel—12,000 in all—to take on this dangerous enemy of impressive size.

The victory by Israel was more impressive, as was the plunder. But most impressive was this: not one Israelite soldier was missing afterward.

The Lord God had loved each of them. Each one would be ransomed by his Son. The mighty God would win the war against sin and death for each of them—and for all of us.

All those who trust in him will find themselves celebrating the victory in heaven.

And, as it was following Midian’s defeat, not one of his own—not even one—will be missing.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have said that you would always be with us, be with us as we think of those special to us but who are now missing from earth. Let the thought of the missing man formation remind us that you once ascended into those skies to return to heaven. Comfort us with the assurance that none who put their faith in you here will there be missing there. Amen.



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

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


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Persecution Preservation Perseverance – November 4, 2018

All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
Matthew 10:22

Persecution Preservation Perseverance


Daily Devotion – November 4, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 10:22

See series: Devotions

In love Jesus took his disciples aside to prepare them for the time when his earthly ministry would come to an end. He warned them about the persecutions they would face. He also encouraged them through his promise that he would preserve them. He even offered them the assurance that they would persevere.

In love Jesus provides me with the same preparation for my life. As a disciple of Jesus I need to understand the world in which I live is not my friend. There are distractions and deceptions. Each proves destructive to my faith because they draw me away from my Savior and his will for my life. Even more dangerous are the persecutions I will have to endure. These deadly attacks are designed by the devil to destroy my faith and rob me of heaven. Jesus alerts me to these dangers. He also makes me aware of the preservation he provides.

Jesus tells me I will be able to stand firm to the end. My confidence to remain steadfast comes through faith in his precious work. Jesus’ ministry brought him to this earth to secure the victory I could never win on my own. Through his death on the cross, he defeated the terror of death and the grave. Through his descent into hell, he proved that he destroyed the devil’s power and control. Through his resurrection he proclaimed the victory was won. Jesus further assures me he will preserve me from all harm and danger, and guard and protect me from all evil.

It is because of Jesus’ precious work that I will be able to persevere. Life can be wearisome and discouraging. I will have to endure troubles and persecution. The enemies of my faith will seek to strike terror into my heart and rob me of heaven. Jesus not only tells me, “Do not be afraid,” he also assures me I will persevere. Because of his strength and his victory I can endure and overcome all things.

How blessed I am to know that my Savior will preserve me so that I can persevere in every time of distress and persecution. How blessed I am to know he will be with me to save me.

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, by your death you have overcome death. By your resurrection you have declared your victory. Bless me through your work so that I can remain faithful to you in this life, and in the end, receive the gift of eternal life. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Courageous Faith – November 3, 2018

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:19-23

Courageous Faith


Daily Devotion – November 3, 2018

Devotion based on Daniel 6:19-23

See series: Devotions

They couldn’t believe that Daniel, the do-gooder Jew from Jerusalem, was being promoted to one of the most powerful positions in the kingdom. But no matter how hard they tried, they just couldn’t find anything wrong with him. Amazingly, after 70 years of public service, there wasn’t one intern who spoke against him, or proof of one underhanded deal, or one case where he fixed the books just a little to his advantage. If they were going to get him, it had to be with his religion. So they got the king to issue a decree that anyone who prayed to any god or man, except the king, would be thrown to the lions.

When Daniel heard the decree, he did what he always did. He went home, opened the windows, turned toward Jerusalem, got down on his knees and gave thanks to God. Instead of giving in to the threats of his enemies, instead of rationalizing reasons to hide his faith, he chose to courageously put it on display. And even though he didn’t seem to have any specific promise from God that he would be delivered from the lions, he trusted in the Lord. In this case, the Lord rescued him from bodily harm.

We don’t have a promise from God that nothing bad will ever happen to us as we follow Jesus and glorify him with our lives. But we do have this same marvelous promise from God that served as the foundation for Daniel’s faith: God has forgiven all of our sins, made us his children, and he will be with us in every circumstance and even use everything that happens to us for our eternal good. We live in a culture that seems to be growing more and more opposed to Christ and his followers. But like Daniel we can trust in God. His promises give us the confidence to courageously live our faith and look for ways that we can glorify God with our lives.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, remind me of your promises to be with me and to bless me in every circumstance. Help me by the power of your Spirit to courageously live for you. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Chosen People – November 2, 2018

You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:9

Chosen People


Daily Devotion – November 2, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:9

See series: Devotions

When you hear the words “chosen people,” who do you think of? If you’re familiar with Old Testament history, you probably think of the Old Testament people of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament God repeatedly refers to the people of Israel as his “chosen people.” For example, as the people of Israel were camped at Mount Sinai on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan, God told them, “If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). Forty years later, as the people of Israel finally prepared to enter the Promised Land, Moses reiterated God’s declaration when he said, “You are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6).

In our Bible passage today, the apostle Peter echoes those Old Testament words about the people of Israel. Only now, he’s not using them to refer only to the Old Testament people of Israel. He’s not even using them to refer just to those who might be physically descended from the Old Testament people of Israel. Instead, he’s using them to describe all believers regardless of their ethnic heritage. He’s using them to refer even to you and me. Everyone who believes in Jesus, regardless of their ancestry, is now a part of this “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God.”

How did this happen? Was there something in us that caught God’s attention and led him to choose us? Did we do something to deserve this inestimable privilege? Not at all. Nothing in us and nothing that we could have done could ever have led God to choose us as his special people. But that was the case for God’s Old Testament people as well. God didn’t choose them because they were bigger or stronger than all the other people on the earth. Instead he chose them because he loved them (Deuteronomy 7:8). That was it. God loved them and, in his love, he chose them to be his special people. That ultimately is why God has chosen us as well. He loved us. In spite of the sinful, damnable, unlovable people that we were by nature, God loved us. And he demonstrated that love by sending his Son Jesus to live, die, and rise again for us. Now, through faith in Jesus, we are exactly what the Bible says we are: we are God’s chosen people. We are kings and priests, ruling with God and having direct access to him through Jesus. We are holy, for we are covered in Christ’s holiness. We are a people belonging to God, purchased with the blood of his Son and invaluably precious to him.

All this makes us eager to do what God has chosen us to do. As God’s chosen people, we are eager to declare his praises to all those who are around us. May God use us, whom he has called out of the darkness of unbelief into the light of faith, to share this good news with others, so that many more may come to faith in Jesus and join us as God’s chosen, holy people.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, all praise to you for making me a part of your chosen people through faith in Jesus. Lead me to declare your praises that many more may become a part of your holy people. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hope Fulfilling and Fulfilled – November 1, 2018

I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.
Ephesians 1:18

Hope Fulfilling and Fulfilled


Daily Devotion – November 1, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 1:18

See series: Devotions

If a loved one of yours left this earth for heaven this past year, you are freshly aware of the feelings of grief and loss. Even if the funeral service was an uplifting celebration of God’s grace in Christ, you still miss your loved one on all those special days of the year: birthdays, anniversaries, holidays. They all are missing that someone special.

If that has been your experience, then today is your day. It is possible that we have all lost someone special this past 12 months, so today is for all of us. For 1300 years, on November 1, Christians have been remembering those believers who have gone on to heaven on a day that is called All Saints Day.

On this All Saints Day, we join the apostle Paul in praying that the eyes of our heart would be opened to see two glorious things: The hope—that is the “present certainty of a blessed future reality” that we have now—it is a fulfilling hope. God blesses the believers, the saints here with the promise of heaven—a glorious eternal life with Jesus and our dear departed loved ones.

We also have the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, that is, the assurance that we will have a glorious inheritance which is heaven or that we will be God’s inheritance in heaven. We can understand the words either way, but the result is the same: The fulfilling hope of heaven yet to come will become the fulfilled hope of heaven when we leave this world and take up residence there in the glory of God.

God called the saints to this hope when he brought us to faith in Jesus who lived perfectly, died sacrificially, and rose victoriously for us so that hope in Christ is never just wishful thinking.

So if you have been feeling loss, take time today and every day to also feel gain—the joy of heaven for your loved ones and the joy of heaven for you—the glorious inheritance of the saints.

Prayer:
Jesus, my Savior, fill my heart with the hope you gave the world. Lead me to rejoice in the heaven that is mine by your grace through faith. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Change That Brings Us Home – October 31, 2018

This is what the LORD says: “Sing with joy for Jacob; shout for the foremost of the nations. Make your praises heard, and say, ‘O LORD, save your people, the remnant of Israel.’ See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. They will come with weeping; they will pray as I bring them back. I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not stumble, because I am Israel’s father, and Ephraim is my firstborn son.”
Jeremiah 31:7-9

The Change That Brings Us Home


Daily Devotion – October 31, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:7-9

See series: Devotions

A year ago, Christians, especially Lutheran Christians, celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Five hundred years ago, all of Europe was caught up in a time of unparalleled change. The Reformation changed how people looked at God and at themselves. Five hundred one years later, very little has changed.

Lutheran Christians still look upon God as a God of grace—a God known primarily for his loving forgiveness of sins, based on Christ’s sacrifice.

Lutheran Christians look upon themselves as sinners and saints at the same time. They believe in and practice confession and absolution. They have a sure and blessed hope of heaven based on the promises of God and the completed work of Christ.

So, while little has changed for Lutheran Christians, we can also say everything is changing and that change happens every day. Every day the Holy Spirit is bringing people to faith or renewing faith that had faltered and waned. Of course, this is not just a Lutheran or Reformation thing. This is the work of God that Jeremiah prophesied about.

In our reading, we see sharp contrasts indicative of great change. The people of God—the ones he saved for his own glory “sing for joy” and “come with weeping.” They “shout” and they “pray.” The blind, the lame, and the expectant mothers return to their God on a “level path where they will not stumble.”

Everything changed for God’s Old Testament people Israel when they heeded the words of the prophets. When they listened carefully to men like Jeremiah and Isaiah, they saw God’s grace and mercy—his loving desire to be in relationship with them. They saw their sin and their need to repent and everything changed.

There was reformation well before there was the Reformation. God has been changing people since the fall into sin. He has been and still is calling us home on the path of salvation he established through Christ, leading us by faith step by step. This reformation is the change that brings us home.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for calling me heavenward in Christ. Lead me safely home by faith in him as my Savior. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seen – October 30, 2018

During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Hebrews 5:7-10

Nobody Knows the Trouble I Have Seen


Daily Devotion – October 30, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 5:7-10

See series: Devotions

“Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…” Since 1867, the words of that song have been performed by many successful artists. However, they were originally composed and sung by struggling slaves.

Times change, but troubles don’t. Children have trouble with bullies. Adolescents have trouble with peer pressure. Adults have financial, health, relationship, and work troubles. We all have troubles because we all have sin. What we feel we may not have is someone who can empathize with us. And so, we find ourselves echoing the words of that African-American spiritual: “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen…”

But the song doesn’t end there. The chorus continues, “Nobody knows but Jesus.”

Does he really? Is it possible for first century Jesus to understand twenty-first century problems? Is it possible for God to understand the problems of mankind? It is, and he does. Jesus is God, but he shared fully in our humanity except for one important difference. He was without sin. He was tempted in the same ways we are. He knew sibling rivalry. He knew what it was to not be understood. He knew loneliness, poverty, and hunger. He knew sorrow and suffering. He knew betrayal and bullying. Because he himself suffered, he empathizes with us when we suffer.

And because Jesus was without sin, he was able to do something about our troubles. He submitted himself to the suffering, scorn, and shame of the cross. Because he allowed sin to crush him and he passed from death to life, he is the source of our eternal salvation. God uses death to pull us, who are connected to Jesus by faith, safely from this trouble-filled world to the trouble-free existence with him in heaven.

“Glory hallelujah!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, our Great High Priest, help us to call on you in our weakness and to sing your praises in our troubles. Amen.

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