Follow The Narrow Road – September 19, 2019

[Jesus] said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.”
Luke 13:24

Follow The Narrow Road


Daily Devotion – September 19, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 13:24

See series: Devotions

My family and I recently went on a vacation and found ourselves on a highway that was seven lanes across. And those were just the lanes going in our direction! That many lanes and cars can be overwhelming. Knowing when to exit is key because you must make plans to get over to the correct lane in time. The flow of that much traffic moving at high speeds can be very difficult to navigate across.

That’s how life is for the Christian too. Jesus tells us that the door to heaven is narrow. Life flows so swiftly before us and so many people are not looking to exit on the narrow road. We can get swept up in the materialism and greed of our society. We can get pulled along by the sports-crazy culture. We can get caught up trying to pass the guy ahead of us at work. All the while, we find ourselves moving with the traffic and we have taken our eyes off our exit. If we aren’t careful, we will speed down the highway that leads away from God and our heavenly home.

So, we want to keep our eyes open and be aware of what the world around us is steering us toward. We want to turn on the “GPS” of God’s Word and read and listen to it daily. We want to continue to learn more and more about our Savior Jesus, who is the only way to heaven. After all, only Jesus lived, died, and rose again to give us the gift of eternal life.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, keep my eyes and my faith focused on you, so that I do not get swept along by the ways of this world. Amen

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Will Deliver You – September 18, 2019

The LORD said to Gideon, “With the three hundred men that lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hands. Let all the others go home.” So Gideon sent the rest of the Israelites home but kept the three hundred.
Judges 7:7

God Will Deliver You


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2019

Devotion based on Judges 7:7

See series: Devotions

Do you ever feel overwhelmed? Do you ever feel like things have gotten away from you? Like the odds are stacked against you? Imagine how Gideon felt as he watched God strip away his army. The troops were whittled down from 32,000 to just 300 men. A strong, confident fighting force was reduced to a small band of soldiers. Did he feel hopeless? Helpless? Worried? Panicked? Afraid for his life? Gideon was left in a spot where the only thing he could do was trust in God to deliver him.

Perhaps God has led you to a similar spot. Maybe it is the upcoming surgery that has you feeling helpless. Maybe it is the loss of a job or a move to a new city that has your family panicked and worried. Maybe life has just beaten you down that you feel so hopeless and don’t know where to turn. Our enemy, the devil, uses these situations to tempt us to blame, doubt, or even get angry at God.

Jesus sure had those moments throughout his life too. Imagine what he could have been feeling as he dragged that cross up the hill to the spot where he was going to be nailed to it. Yet, through it all, even as he was suffering and dying for you and me, Jesus trusted in his Father to deliver him. And he did! Jesus has risen, ascended into heaven, and is ruling all things for our good.

So if you find yourself in a spot like Gideon, don’t panic. Instead, realize what a good place that is to be! It is an opportunity to trust him! And, you can be sure that, in his own way and in his own time, he will deliver you.

Prayer:
Dear God, help me to lean on you always. Help me to trust in your deliverance. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Give God the Glory – September 17, 2019

The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’”
Judges 7:2

Give God the Glory


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2019

Devotion based on Judges 7:2

See series: Devotions

Giannis Antetokounmpo recently won the NBA Most Valuable Player award. For Milwaukee Bucks’ fans, this was especially great to see. The “Greek Freak” amazed basketball fans all year with his ball-handling skills, powerful slam dunks, and all-out effort. At just under 7 feet tall and 242 pounds, Giannis is just about unstoppable. And so, when he took the stage to give his acceptance speech, you may be surprised to hear the first thing he said: “I want to thank God for blessing me with this amazing talent.” He went on to thank God three times before saying anything else.

It is refreshing to hear someone give God credit rather than boasting about his own abilities. Boasting about ourselves is a strong temptation. But, think of what happens when we do. We take credit away from God. We forget who is ultimately responsible for anything we accomplish.

God knew this would be a temptation for Gideon and his men. So, he said to Gideon, “You have too many men. I cannot deliver Midian into their hands, or Israel would boast against me, ‘My own strength has saved me.’” Boasting is a strong temptation.

And never is boasting a more serious sin than when we are tempted to think that our own strength saves us from hell and earns us heaven. This is why the devil is constantly trying to convince us that we can get to God on our own. He knows that if we trust in ourselves, rather than in Jesus, we will never get to God. Only Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death could do that. It is his gift to us, not something we earn. Remember this the next time you are tempted to think you are good enough for God. Remember the story of Gideon and give God the glory for your salvation.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me always to realize that I cannot be saved by my own strength. Help me always to look to you for salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Why? – Week of September 16, 2019


Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

I Timothy 1:15



“Why?” “Why is a caterpillar fuzzy?” “Why do the leaves change colors?” “Why do we have to clean up?” “Why can’t I eat my cookie instead of my sandwich?” When we’re in the thick of things in the classroom, the “why” questions can be overwhelming. Even if we recognize the wonderful inquisitiveness behind them, it’s hard to find the time to answer them well. It’s also hard to answer in an age-appropriate way that a young child will understand. And quite frankly—we just plain don’t always know why!

You and I might find ourselves wondering why from time to time. Why does illness strike such a young child? Why can’t our staff get along better? Why is the world so full of chaos and heartache? Why, in spite of my best efforts, do I continue to make the same mistakes over and over? Some days teaching is hard. Why do I continue teaching?

Let’s reread today’s verse: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” We tell the children every day, all day, how much Jesus loves them. We tell them that Jesus forgives all their sins, the naughty things that they do. We tell them about the cross, the empty tomb, and heaven. But sometimes, in the busyness of all we do, we can lose sight of this for ourselves. He came to save sinners. That’s definitely me. On my own, I have nothing to bring to Jesus but my crushed, weary, sin-filled self. “Christ Jesus came… to save sinners”. Stop for a minute and just take that in. Are you a sinner? Then you are one he came to save. When he looks at you, he only sees the perfection you have because of what he did. That makes no sense in our earthly thinking but makes amazing sense when we consider his love for all sinners! It’s overwhelming and it’s our “why.” It’s why, through faith, we have peace in him and why we can share that peace with others. It’s why we have such a sense of urgency to share Jesus with all those around us. Because of what he did, we have an amazing “why” for all we do.

Why are there so many heartaches? Sin and its effect are all around us. Why, in the midst of all this worldly chaos, can we live and serve in joy and contentment? Because of Jesus. Why are caterpillars fuzzy? That’s a question for someone smarter at science than me. But you and I can live each day knowing that because of his love, his forgiveness, his grace, we have peace in Jesus. He is our “why.”



Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are my “why.” Your grace is my motivation. Thank you for coming to save sinners, including me. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Our Eternal King Comes For Us

These are the readings for the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

“Hey, that’s my seat!” School children bicker over their special place. Adults look and laugh, yet we do the same when we take pains to assure that we get what’s coming to us—at work, at home, among friends and family—and that everybody sees and knows how important we are. But in today’s lessons, God tells us that our King is coming—the Almighty Ruler of the universe, Jesus Christ. Next to him, due to our sin, we are nothing. We deserve the lowest place. But in love for us, Jesus invites us to the place of honor.

First Lesson – Proverbs 25:6,7

Why does the author tell us to be careful about exalting ourselves before the King?

It is possible that there is someone of higher standing who will take the place of honor we have presumed for ourselves.

What could be the result of humbly taking a lower seat before the King?

The King may ask us to come near to him, rather than sit in such a lowly seat.

Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 13:1-8

Why are we told to entertain strangers, to love prisoners, to be free from the love of money, to remember our leaders?

We are reminded to be humble in all things: to entertain strangers, for we might be entertaining angels; to take care of prisoners, for one day we might be prisoners; to be content, because God provides; to remember our leaders, because theirs is a way of life worth imitating. And overall this is our eternal King, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, Jesus Christ, the source of our salvation, the motivator of our humble living.

What is the comfort of the fact that Jesus Christ is the same “yesterday, today, and forever?”

He was in the beginning, creating the world. He became flesh, to save the world. He remains near us now and always, ruling over the world, watching over all things, and providing for all we need. He is our loving, Provider-King.

Supplemental Second Lesson – James 2:1-13

What must we not show, especially as we gather together as Christians? (See 2:1.)

We must now show favoritism to people who have more earthly wealth than others.

What is God’s law when it comes to others? (See 2:8.)

God insists, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

What problem do we have if we ever show favoritism to someone with wealth, even once? Or if we do not commit adultery, but we do commit murder? (See 2:10.)

If we break even one or part of God’s law, we are guilty of breaking all of it. (Picture a broken window. You can’t just replace the part that the baseball crashed through.)

Gospel – Luke 14:1,7-14

Why did Jesus tell the guests at this Pharisee’s house the parable of the wedding feast?

Jesus told the guests this parable to remind them of the need for humility. Those who think they have earned a high seat at the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven by their own good deeds will have all hopes dashed when they are turned away. It is those who humbly stand at the lowest seats saying, “I only belong here because of what Jesus Christ did for me,” who will be elevated to the places of honor.

Why does Jesus tell the host to invite “the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind” to a dinner?

The Pharisee looks only to his own public image, “Who can I impress with my guest list? Who can help me out in life?” If you invite only the rich and the wealthy, what good does that do? You perhaps earn favors in this life. You pad your own sinful pride. But if from faith you understand that it is the poor and needy that need your help and comfort, even though they cannot help you in this life, you will reap a hundredfold reward in heaven.

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God is Everything You Need – September 16, 2019

The LORD said to Gideon, “You have too many men.”
Judges 7:2

God is Everything You Need


Daily Devotion -September 16, 2019

Devotion based on Judges 7:2

See series: Devotions

On the sixth of June this year, the world recognized the seventy-fifth anniversary of the D-Day landings on the beaches of Normandy. It was the largest seaborne invasion in history. And it is widely viewed as the key turning point in World War II. Even seventy-five years later, the world thanks the men and women who sacrificed to make that day happen. On that day alone, the Allied Armies landed one-hundred-fifty-six-thousand troops on the beaches of France. That doesn’t even count the pilots and Navy personnel who participated.

Can you imagine General Eisenhower the morning of the invasion? Can you picture him surveying all the troops, tanks, boats, and planes, and concluding that he didn’t need them all? Can you imagine him sending half of the Army home and telling the Air Force pilots to take the day off? No, he realized he needed every soldier at his disposal. He knew that his chances of success hinged on the sheer number of people that he could get onto those beaches.

God is not your usual commander. He told Gideon: “You have too many men.” You see, God doesn’t need all the latest technology or weapons. He doesn’t need large armies at his disposal. He is all-powerful. He wanted Gideon to know this. So, even though Gideon’s army was already far smaller than his opponent, God told him he had too many men. Having so many men might make Gideon think that his victory was his own doing rather than God’s.

It is a good reminder for us. We so easily rely on our own strength, our own wisdom, our own abilities. Or, we doubt that God can handle whatever we are facing.

When this happens, remember the story of Gideon. Remember that your God is all-powerful. So powerful, in fact, that he defeated two enemies you could never defeat—sin and death. Through Jesus death and resurrection, your sins are forgiven, and eternal life is yours.

Let this be your comfort no matter what foe you face.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, help me to trust you and only you for everything I need. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hold on – September 15, 2019

Hold on – September 15, 2019


I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Revelation 3:11




Military Devotion – September 15, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 3:11

See series: Military Devotions

On old saying tells us, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.” There’s some truth in that.

Our health seems to fall into that category. So do friendships and jobs, along with love and hope. Surprisingly, Jesus bypasses these valuables to draw our attention to something else: our crown.

What crown? Since when do we have a crown?

Ever since Jesus won it for us. Saint James, the brother of Jesus, had this in mind when he wrote: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

This is not just some figure of speech. It’s a real crown. It’s spoken of often in Scripture. It is called, “a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25) and “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8).

The apostle Peter tells Christians, “you are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) Crowns are common among royalty.

Royalty? Is that what we are? Don’t we confess that we are by nature sinful and deserve only punishment? How, then, can the holy God place us among the royals? How can we have a crown that is the symbol of righteousness? How can we be seen as holders of a position of glory and power that lasts forever?

The answer is found in another crown. A bloody crown. A crown of thorns.

A king once wore that crown. It was a symbol of disgrace, of weakness, and failure. But that was only to sinful eyes. The sign above his head read, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”

The words Pilate wrote were true. He had heard Jesus say that he was, indeed, a king whose kingdom was not of this world. He had heard Jesus say that the reason he was born was to testify to the truth.

Pilate’s scornful reply “What is truth?” has become famous. It has also become common.

In our age of fake news and deceptive advertising, at a time when we are told via the internet that we have a million dollars waiting to be picked up, we have become a skeptical people. We want to see it before we will believe it. We repeat Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

Jesus answers that question for us with the words: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Simply put, Jesus does not lie. Never did; never will.

We might say, “Seeing is believing.” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus promises: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will remain faithful to him, won’t we?

We will hold on.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your words remind us of what you have won for us. It cost your lifeblood to gain for us the crown of life. Keep us from trading away our inheritance for junk. Give us the strength to hold on. We cannot see you now, but in boldness of faith we can already tell you, “See you in glory, Jesus!” Amen.



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

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


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Speaking a Better Word – September 15, 2019

“But you have come . . . to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.”
Hebrews 12:22,24

Speaking a Better Word


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:22,24

See series: Devotions

At four years old, my daughter witnessed her very first dead body. With her little hand holding mine, we walked up to the open casket of her great-grandmother to talk about death. Was she too young to be thinking about loss and grief and pain? I would contend that hiding children from the reality of death does more harm than good. Let’s face it, they will have to deal with it; in this life everyone does.

Death bears a cold message to the living. We see mines caving, hurricanes destroying, bridges collapsing, and wars ravaging. All of those deaths speak about loss, fear, anger, and “what-ifs.” Take the very first victim of death recorded in the Bible. Abel was murdered in a jealous rage by his brother Cain. What does his death say to you? “He was innocent.” “His poor family.” “Where’s the justice?” “Cain must be punished!” Death and violence fill our hearts with sadness and our eyes with tears.

But sitting at the funeral that day, my daughter and I talked about a different death, a joy-filled one. The one that God accomplished with cross and nail. When innocent blood fell softly from Jesus’ side—rushing into the past and pouring into the future—it carried God’s life of forgiveness to a world of death. Jesus’ death “speaks a better word” because it speaks of God’s willingness to do whatever was necessary to save me and to save you. Jesus’ death is the substance of joy-filled songs and tears of delight. Jesus’ death is God’s own guarantee that your death will only be the beginning of your perfect new life with him.

Prayer:
Jesus, I love the message your death speaks: that I’m forgiven and loved; and that my own death will one day be the beginning of a wonderful new life with you. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 15, 2019

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

We are one

Division hurts. No, not the mathematical functions that hurt your brain in homework sessions. Division between people hurts. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve seen and experienced the pain of divisiveness.

The family that once was whole, now ripped apart by divorce. The friend group that crumbled because of backstabbing gossip. The team that couldn’t get along. The street filled with opposing protestors screaming back and forth. The red-faced political pundits debating (and debasing) each candidate for office.

Quite frankly and quite sadly, when you look out at the world today, there isn’t much you see except division. Does anyone get along? Will anyone play nice? Is anyone united anymore? YES! We are.

The apostle Paul reminds us of a spectacular truth that Christ Jesus has accomplished for us. He has made us to be one in him. We are one body of believers!

There really is nothing like it in the world. You see, you could be black or brown or white, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, or any other combination of variations and differences in life. Yet you stand side by side and united with the entire holy Christian church on earth and every saint already in heaven. Each soul is bought with blood of Christ and each soul is brought into his family through baptism. Together we form one body united in our Savior and our salvation won for now and eternity.

On this side of heaven, you certainly will feel the pain of division. Sin tears apart and separates. It creates loneliness, isolation, and sadness. But the next time that hurt creeps in, remember your vast support system—a vast body of believers throughout the world and throughout time in heaven and on earth who are your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

We are one. What strength! What comfort! What peace!

Prayer: Lord of the Church, you have purchased and won for yourself the souls of all mankind, and in baptism you have united all believers together as members of your body. Give me comfort in times of loneliness and courage in times of hurt that the body of Christ is there to support me. Help me also to love and support my brothers and sisters in need. 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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Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – September 14, 2019

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:2

See series: Devotions

Teenage boys will do just about anything to avoid their chores. I can remember when it was my turn to sweep out the garage, I would avoid the actual sweeping by using the broom as a toy in a game called “balance the broom.” Maybe you have played this game yourself. You place the tip of the broom handle in the palm of your hand, stand the broom straight up, and then attempt to balance it as long as possible. The key to success in this game is to keep your eyes fixed on the broom. If you look at your hand or the wall or anywhere else, the broom will fall. You must keep your eyes fixed on the broom.

The Bible gives us some similar advice when it comes to our lives of faith. Except, instead of keeping our eyes fixed on a broom, we are encouraged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. It is not easy to do. We are easily distracted by the challenges and troubles around us. Or we find ourselves fixing our eyes on the so-called wisdom of the world. Or we stop looking at Jesus because we are too busy staring at ourselves and our sins and shortcomings.

The writer of the book of Hebrews pleads, “Fix your eyes on Jesus.” See Jesus suspended from a cross, paying the price for your sins, and looking at you with nothing but love in his eyes. See Jesus bursting from his tomb on Easter morning with the smile of victory on his face. See Jesus seated on his heavenly throne calmly controlling all things with you in mind. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus…until you see him face to face in the heavenly home he is preparing for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I so easily become distracted by the challenges and troubles of this life, by the sins and sorrow in my heart. Send your Holy Spirit to me this day and every day to fix my eyes on you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Know Your Savior – September 13, 2019

Finally, 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. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:10-12

Know Your Savior


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:10-12

See series: Devotions

In his famous treatise “The Art of War,” Chinese general Sun Tsu quoted a proverb which said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Some today may apply this military strategy to other aspects of life, such as the corporate business world or competitive sports. But there is a very real way in which this applies to every one of us. The apostle Paul reminds us that we are caught up in a war being waged all around us. Not a military conflict or a political battle, but a war for our very souls.

Do you know your enemy? Scripture tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He has been successfully deceiving souls and leading them astray since the beginning of time. And he will not give you a free pass.

Do you know yourself? By nature, we are all blind and deaf to the ways of God, selfish, self-centered, and stubborn in our thinking. Easy pickings for the wily foe.

But general Sun Tsu was unaware of the most important player on this spiritual battlefield. “For us fights the mighty one, whom God himself elected,” wrote Martin Luther in his famous hymn. Jesus Christ has come to defeat our spiritual enemies, and he has already won the victory through his death and resurrection. Now God’s promise of forgiveness means that Satan’s accusations cannot keep us from heaven.

When doubts and temptations come your way, don’t be surprised. The enemy is still fighting on, even after his defeat. But don’t be unprepared either. Know your enemy, know yourself, but most importantly, know your Savior. Put on the armor of faith in God’s Word. You will find the strength to stand firm in the promises of his love for you in Jesus Christ. His almighty power will keep you safe until the end.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, protect me from the evil one and shield me with your loving care. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Undivided Attention – September 12, 2019

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1,2

Undivided Attention


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:1,2

See series: Devotions

A growing amount of research shows that humans are not nearly as good at multitasking as we think we are. By attempting to work on more than one thing at a time, we often perform much more poorly than if we had concentrated on a single task. This might negatively affect our productivity at work, but it can have far more disastrous consequences too—for example, when we try to text and drive at the same time.

Spiritually speaking, you and I were heading for worse than a car wreck. We were allowing ourselves to be pulled in every wrong direction: slaves of sinful behavior, afraid of death, and under the influence of the devil. Fortunately for us, our Savior Jesus gave us his undivided attention when he came to rescue us. He rejected the people’s offer to crown him as an earthly king. He didn’t listen to Satan’s temptations to take a shortcut and avoid the shame of the cross. Instead, he endured the pain and offered up his life. And with that self-sacrifice, the Son of God paid for the sins of all mankind. His one goal was accomplished: you have been reconciled to God and forgiveness of sins is now yours through faith in Christ Jesus.

Why would you want to be any less focused on your own eternal welfare than Jesus was? The doors of heaven now stand wide open for you through the death of Jesus. Why would you jeopardize your salvation by giving it anything less than your full, undivided attention?

Get rid of the self-destructive patterns that distract you from your relationship with Jesus. Learn to find the same joy in service that Jesus had. Turn your thoughts toward him in prayer and Scripture reading. Jesus started you on this path toward heaven, and he will keep you on that path until you reach your eternal reward.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, keep my eyes fixed on you, just as you have watched over me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Power of the Word of God – September 11, 2019

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 23:29

Power of the Word of God


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:29

See series: Devotions

As a child, the only concept I had of dynamite was from Saturday morning cartoons. But many years earlier my great-grandfather had a reputation for his expertise with the explosive material. He was often hired by fellow farmers to blast tree stumps and boulders from their fields. Cartoon coyotes are not the only ones to learn the hard way of TNT’s destructive power. But through precaution and precision, my great-grandfather was able to use that force to clear farmland so that more crops could be harvested for years to come.

In today’s Bible verse, God tells us that his word has a similar power and purpose. Listen to what he said at the installation of his prophet Jeremiah: “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Most of Jeremiah’s message was a preaching of the law, condemning the nation of Israel for turning away from the Lord. He could not spare their feelings or sensibilities. They needed the powerful blasting of the law to bring them to understand and admit the seriousness of their sin. Only then would the prophet be able to build them up again—with God’s promises of a Messiah who would take their sins away forever.

God comes to you today with his fire and hammer, carefully positioned to blast away at your stony heart. For you too have sinned against God. You have failed to show perfect love to him and your neighbor. You have allowed selfishness and sinful desires to dominate too much of your thinking, acting, and speaking. For this and more, you (and everyone on earth!) deserve to be separated from God forever in the punishment of hell.

Oh, but God still loves you! He let the hammer of the law drive the nails into his Son’s hands. Jesus was crucified for your sin, and your debt has been paid in full. God now offers you a new and meaningful life. Through the Word of Christ, he promises to turn your repentant heart into fruitful soil.

Prayer:
Father, break down my stubborn heart so there is room there for you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Danger of Spiritual Misinformation – September 10, 2019

“I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? . . . Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.”
Jeremiah 23:25,26,28a

The Danger of Spiritual Misinformation


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:25,26,28a

See series: Devotions

In recent years, the growing amount of misinformation on the internet has caused people to become less well-informed than they were before. Fake news is everywhere. But our human hearts tend to believe anything that agrees with our already-held opinions. We want to believe the worst about our enemies. We want to believe the best about ourselves.

In the days of Jeremiah the prophet, there was a great deal of “fake news” leading the people astray. False prophets were telling them that they could live as they pleased, and all would be well. But this was not the case. God sent Jeremiah to call the people to repent of their immorality and idolatry and that if they did not turn from their sin, God would allow them to be carried off as captives to a foreign land. The people preferred the “fake news” of the false prophets. They refused to repent, and eventually suffered the consequences, just as God had said through his prophet.

Today there are many who preach a vision similar to the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. “Don’t worry,” they say, “Imagine a world where there is no heaven or hell. God loves everyone just as they are. You can do or be anything your heart desires!” And our hearts desperately want this message to be true.

But you need to know that this is “fake news,” spiritual misinformation. The truth—God’s eternal, unchanging truth—still calls us to repent today. He calls us to turn from our sin and ask for his forgiveness. But his Word also promises that he will give that forgiveness fully and freely through faith in his Son Jesus Christ. Find for yourself a church and a pastor who faithfully proclaim the truth of Holy Scripture about the salvation which is found in Christ alone.

Prayer:
Lord God, lead me to listen to your eternal Word rather than my own deceitful heart. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019

Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14



While I would tell you that I’m not a morning person, I have grown to love getting up earlier and relishing the quiet time shortly before the sun comes up. The world is still, and the day is in front of me. It feels like a clean slate, a fresh start. Each day is a gift of God’s grace. Morning feels like a reminder of this.

You may have heard the words in today’s verse at the beginning of a sermon. What a perfect prayer for the pastor as he begins to share God’s Word with the congregation! As he begins, he prays that his sermon will please God and effectively and correctly proclaim God’s message of salvation to all who hear it. What a perfect prayer for each of us as we begin another day.

We are not called to preach a sermon, but we have opportunities all day long to proclaim that same message to the children we serve, their families, and those around us. At the heart of everything we do is the gospel. Picture Jesus standing in front of you. His arms are out, holding the Word. He looks at you and says, “Tell them about me.” You may be tempted to look behind you to see if he was speaking to you. “Me?” “Yes, you.” What a privilege and what a responsibility!

Our sinful nature and shortcomings can get in the way of the message. They can lead us to hesitancy that we might say something wrong. We may be tempted to be over-confident and fail to be faithful in our time in the Word. What a wonderful prayer our verse for today can be as we begin each day, each task, and time we spend in the Word.

So as our day begins, early or not, we ask God to bless our words and our meditation on his Word so that all our words and actions are pleasing to him. We pray that he blesses all we do as a reflection of him and of his forgiveness and grace. He is our Rock and Redeemer. His grace is ours and ours to share in each new day of grace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen



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

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Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Faith-Life Leads Us through the Narrow Door

These are the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Many think numerous roads lead to eternal glory. “It doesn’t matter what religion you practice—or whether you have none,” they say. “All that matters is that you try to treat others well and do the best you can.” Yet while religions may espouse some noble goals for earthly living, all these goals lead people away from Christ. All fall far short of what God demands for entrance into heaven: perfection. (See Matthew 5:48.) The good news is Jesus came to be perfect in our place. He has given us his perfection in God’s sight. (See 2 Corinthians 5:21.) Through faith in him we have eternal life. Jesus is the only way, the narrow door.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 66:18-24

What is being described in these verses?

The Lord is describing the gathering of the Christian Church from all nations. In particular, he is describing that gathering as it will take place on day of judgment.

What important point is the Lord making through Isaiah?

The Church will be gathered into heaven from all nations, both Jew and Gentile. Faith in Jesus is the determining factor. Those who reject the salvation God provides through his Son “will be loathsome to all mankind.”

Supplemental First Lesson – Judges 7:1-8

At first Gideon had 32,000 men to fight against the Midianites. To how many did the Lord reduce his troops?

The Lord reduced Gideon’s troops first to 10,000, then to 300 men.

Why did the Lord do such a strange thing? (See 7:2.)

The Lord did not want anyone in Israel to boast against the Lord that their own strength had saved them from their enemy. All people today, even those who are on God’s side, are prone to the same temptation.

Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 12:18-24

What does the scene described in verses 18-21 represent?

It represents the approach to God by means of the law (symbolized by Mt. Sinai). Attempting to approach God by means of obeying the law apart from faith in Jesus will only bring gloom, trembling, and ultimately death.

What does Mount Zion represent and by what means can we approach this “mountain?”

Mount Zion represents the holy Christian Church in heaven and on earth. We approach this mountain through faith in Jesus, who has made us perfect in God’s sight by the sprinkling of his blood. He’s the narrow door.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 9:1-9

What could Paul have wished, if it were possible?

Paul could have wished that he were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of other Jewish people.

Why did so many Jews in Paul’s day reject the gospel of Christ Jesus? Was it God’s fault in some way?

Many Jews of Paul’s day rejected the gospel, but it was not God’s fault. God had given them every advantage. God’s Word did not fail either: Paul says that just because a person has Abraham’s blood in his or her veins, does not mean that person is a true heir of Abraham. All who trust in Jesus are sons of Abraham. (See Galatians 3:7.)

Gospel – Luke 13:22-30

Why does Jesus describe the entrance into heaven as being a “narrow door,” and how does one enter through this narrow door?

The door into heaven is “narrow” because there is only one way into heaven, not many ways. Jesus said, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Apart from trusting in Jesus as your Savior, you will not be saved. (See Mark 16:16 and Acts 4:12.) In another respect, however, the door into heaven is “wide” because Jesus has paid for the sins of all people (1 John 2:2), and because of his sacrifice God has declared all people “not guilty” in his courtroom (Romans 3:24). Only those who trust in Jesus for salvation receive the benefit of his sacrifice. Those who do not enter into glory cannot blame God. The fault will be entirely their own.

True or false: Many people will be surprised come day of judgment that they stand condemned.

True. Sadly, many will be surprised at the final judgment. Both here and in Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus shows that many will be shocked at being shut out of heaven. Such will be the destiny for those who rely on anything or anyone but Jesus to be rescued from the fire of hell which we all deserve.

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Hide Yourself in Christ – September 9, 2019

“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:23,24

Hide Yourself in Christ


Daily Devotion – September 9, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:23,24

See series: Devotions

In the ancient world, gods were often worshiped as local deities. Their attention was said to be focused only on a certain place or people. The power and presence of these so-called gods were understood to be limited. But throughout the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob showed himself to be different. The one true God, who created all of us, is not limited in any way.

The Lord was with Abraham as he left his home and traveled to the Promised Land. He was with Joseph in Egypt—in both the king’s prison and the king’s palace. Daniel discovered the Lord was with him in the lions’ den of Babylon. And Jonah finally understood he couldn’t hide from God when he was rescued from a certain death at sea.

But what if you want to hide from him? What if the thought of God seeing everything leaves you uncomfortable? Perhaps your conscience is reminding you even now that an encounter with the Lord might be more than a little embarrassing for you. Good! We must never become comfortable with sin, trying to somehow disguise it from our Creator. He will one day judge all people, and nothing is hidden from his sight. It does no good to try to drown out your conscience through worldly distractions or to silence God’s Word by staying away from church. That’s as ineffective as Adam and Eve trying to hide from God by crouching behind some leaves in the Garden of Eden.

But trust me, you want him to find you. Because this is the God who moved heaven and earth so that you could be with him. He sent his own Son to be our Substitute and Savior, removing our sins through his own sacrifice. And now you are invited to hide yourself in Jesus, taking refuge in his love. Repent of your attempts to run from him and find comfort in his promises of forgiveness to all who believe.

Prayer:
Lord God, I have foolishly tried to hide my sin from you. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus, your Son. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Knit Together – September 8, 2019

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

Knit Together


Daily Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 139:13-16

See series: Devotions

My mom likes to crochet. Each night she sits in her rocking chair with a sewing bag by her side and crochet hook in hand to work on her latest creation. Curiosity often leads a family member to ask, “Mom, what are you making?” She then shares her plans for a baby cap, a new pair of mittens, or a blanket to help keep out the cold of winter. When mom crochets, she always has a purpose and a plan to make something both beautiful and useful.

The Bible uses this same picture to show the care and concern God took in creating each of us. He knit you together, it says. And if you ever need to be reminded of the wonder of God’s creating ability, just look at a newborn baby. Marvel over the little fingers and toes. Celebrate God’s goodness and the wonder of how someone so small can be so precious.

God also made each of us with a plan. Our lives are like books with each day fulfilling the purpose God gave it. Some lives are like short stories that seem to end too soon. Others are like novels with many chapters unfolding over decades.

But just like every book has a conflict, every life has one as well. Each of us is conflicted with sin that affects our relationship with God and those around us. Thank God that he sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world and the hero in the story of our lives. Through faith in him, the Lord forgives the wrong we have done and restores our relationship with him and with others.

With his mighty hand, the Lord created you, and in his love, through Jesus, he made you his child. Take time to thank him and continue to discover his purpose for your life.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for making me your unique child with a purpose for my life. Help me to live every day that you have given me to your glory. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 8, 2019

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

Every service matters

“I just want to find a good job someday—you know, doing something that matters and is meaningful.”

It seems to be the elusive dream of every teen. Get into a good college or trades program. Find a job that is influential and important. Do something that really makes a difference. After all, who wants to be a low-class person doing low-class work?

The apostle Paul challenges you to think differently today. There is no such thing as doing more important work than others. There is no such thing as being gift-devoid or ability bankrupt, as if everyone else has some special gift (academics, athletics, personality, etc.) but you have nothing. Whether in the world or in the church, all work and all workers are equal. Why is this?

Because it is the same Holy Spirit who distributes gifts to each person. It is the same God who works in and through each person.

So yes, some people may function as leaders in the world or in the church. Some people may have higher profile jobs that get more attention than others. Some people may make more money than others. But what of it? Different does not mean better. Each person has gifts from God and so is an instrument of God with those gifts.

Think of the bread you eat in your home. Some farmer raised and harvested the crops. Someone bought the product. Workers in a factory processed and produced and packaged bread. Truck drivers delivered it. Stock boys (or girls) put it on the shelves. Someone rang up the groceries. And someone in your family purchased it with money earned from their job. Each had a different set of skills used in a different vocation (life-calling), but God used each to provide for you and many others.

Think of a Sunday morning. The pastor often gets the limelight and attention. But what if no one replaced the lightbulbs, turned the lights and AV on, or even paid the light bill for that matter? What if no one greeted you, gave you a service folder, collected and counted the offering? What if no one played an instrument or led the congregation in singing? Or, God forbid, what if no one made coffee or had snacks available?

This is precisely what Paul is teaching. There are many gifts and many kinds of service. Each is valuable and important—both inside and outside the church. You have been given gifts and abilities by God. So friend—get to work! And trust that your service is important and valuable to God and to others. Why? Because God himself is working through you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see the gifts that you have given, to make wise use of them, to be grateful for the opportunities to serve you and others. 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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Everything new – September 8, 2019

Everything new – September 8, 2019


He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5




Military Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 21:5

See series: Military Devotions

A past best-seller carries the title, All Quiet on the Western Front. It tells of a group of young German Soldiers at the start of WWI. The English title gives the impression that this was a time of safety, maybe relaxation. It was not.

The German title uses the words for, “Nothing New” instead of “All Quiet.” It better fits the story of the seemingly never-ending terror and carnage these young troops endured. For them, day after day brought nothing new. The bayonet attacks, the stench, the rats in the trenches, and the killing continued on. It would do so for four more years.

The word, “new,” resonates with us. That’s why advertisers use the word. It fits well into the phrase, “new and improved.” We expect what is new will always be better than what is old. This is especially true if the old is worn out or faulty. It can be true of a set of clothes, or a computer—or life in general.

We live in a world that idolizes what is new. Sometimes new replaces old at such speed that it almost makes us dizzy. Yet, with all the changes, we learn that improved is not necessarily tied to new. Sometimes it seems, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The reason for this is that all change is incidental, not essential, unless God makes the change.

His creation of the world—that was an essential change of nothing into something. His curse upon the world after the fall of humans into sin—that surely made an essential difference.

All of our attempts to improve the world affect only the externals. We can counter some diseases; we can improve communications; and we can eliminate some of the threats to our nation. But we cannot change the world into a safe haven for all its inhabitants.

Something basic must first happen. And it must first happen in us if we are going to be part of the change.

We think of the time when God wiped the planet clean with a flood. We might imagine that Noah stepped out of the ark into a brand-new world. It wasn’t.

Weeds sprang up again, mosquitoes bit again, and humans resumed lives of depravity. Fear did not disappear, nor did theft, neither did war.

It was the same old world with the same old problems because it was contaminated by the same old sin—and under the same old curse. A drastic, essential change needed to take place.

That change happened on the day we call Good Friday.

The death of the Son of God sparked new life for the human race. The curse was removed because the sin was removed. That’s an essential change.

The sin of humans was replaced by the holiness of God. New life was given. News of this was to be shared with the whole world.

When the apostle Peter was arrested for doing this, an angel broke him out of jail and said: “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).

Now we have been told. This new life is ours. True, we still live in this old world, but that’s going to change too. We hear Jesus say from heaven, “I’m going to make everything new.”

Hard to imagine what that will be like, isn’t it?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you broke the curse of sin so that we might have a new life with you. Help us now as we still struggle with sin and its consequences. Keep pointing us to the time and place when and where everything will be new. Amen.



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

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


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The Only Helper – September 7, 2019

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:20

The Only Helper


Daily Devotion – September 7, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 33:20

See series: Devotions

Caring for aging parents can be a lot of work. The washing, the feeding, the moving from place to place—it can be exhausting.

As a caregiver, you have to keep your eyes open all of the time. If your aging parents are easily tricked by scam telephone calls or e-mails, you have to be ready to swoop in and shield them from the people trying to take advantage of them.

If you are reliable, your parents have learned to trust you, and they expect you to be there when you said you would be. If you are unreliable, your parents can develop a lot of anxiety. They might even become more susceptible to pranks and scams as they reach out for support beyond you.

You don’t have to be an aging parent to need help. From infancy through old age, we all need people whom God has provided to help us. We appreciate the reliable ones. We forgive the unreliable ones.

The only helper who will never disappoint us is the Lord himself. He is completely reliable. He keeps his promises again and again. He keeps our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of every promise. He provides us with our daily bread and more. He shields us from enemies, especially the spiritual ones: the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.

Even when we have difficulties and cannot figure out what to do, we wait in hope for the Lord. He is our help. He is our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

Prayer:
May your unfailing love be with me, O Lord, even as I put my hope in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christian Faith Saves Forever – September 6, 2019

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6

Christian Faith Saves Forever


Daily Devotion – September 6, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 15:6

See series: Devotions

Faithful Lutheran Christians say it this way: “We are not saved eternally by doing good works. We are saved by faith in Jesus alone.” That’s what the Bible teaches.

But sharp-thinking people ask, “Well, isn’t faith something that you do? No one else believes for you, so faith must be something you do. It must be a good work.” It’s easy to understand how people can draw that conclusion, but the logic is wrong.

All analogies limp. But consider this one: Suppose you fell off your cruise ship, and you were drowning in the ocean. Thankfully, one of your fellow passengers noticed your frantic splashing and quickly threw you a lifesaver. You grab hold, and he pulls you back onto the deck. Now, who gets the credit for saving your life: you or your fellow passenger? I suppose you could argue that you would’ve died had you not grabbed hold of the lifesaver, and you could pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But the truth is, all credit rightfully goes to the one who first provided the lifesaver and then pulled you on board. Your faith in the buoyancy of the lifesaver and the strength of your new-found friend saved you. It wasn’t your work; it was his.

That’s what the Old Testament believer Abram discovered about the salvation of his soul. Getting to heaven wasn’t about him or what he did. It was all about God’s promises and, most importantly, his fulfillment of those promises. Yes, Abram believed those promises, but he didn’t deserve the credit for that. God did. Amazingly, when the broken sinner Abram believed God, God declared him righteous, perfect, free from sin, and fit for heaven. It wasn’t Abram’s doing. It was God’s.

And the same is true for us. Christian faith does not save us from our sins because our faith is ever perfect. It saves us because the One in whom we are placing our trust is perfect, powerful, loving, and forgiving. We are saved by faith in Christ alone.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me see that you are the perfect one to trust forever. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christian Faith Believes the Impossible – September 5, 2019

(The LORD) took (Abram) outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Genesis 15:5

Christian Faith Believes the Impossible


Daily Devotion – September 5, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 15:5

See series: Devotions

Imagine the headline: “One-hundred-year-old man and ninety-year-old wife have baby.” No self-respecting newspaper would consider printing it. Such an outlandish story would only be fodder for the tabloids. Readers would be more likely to believe that little green men had recently arrived from Mars.

So when curious readers discover the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah in the pages of Genesis, it’s not surprising that the account is often dismissed as a myth. After all, who would honestly believe that such a thing was possible?

Christians would, and the reason is simple: because that’s the whole point of Christian faith. Why should Christians have a faith that expects them to believe things that are possible? That’s no faith at all. That’s just observation.

But Christian faith believes the impossible, like when God took that worn out, childless man, pointed out the array of heavenly stars on a cloudless night, and said, “So shall your offspring be.” In other words, “That’s how many children will be in your family!”

Abraham was no fool. He understood how impossible it was. St. Paul later commented how Abraham “faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead” (Romans 4:19).

But did those facts destroy his faith? Hardly! They hardened his faith since he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:21). Abraham and Sarah’s situation was so impossible, so desperate, that the only one who could create that child was the same powerful One who had brought the universe into being with a word. Why would Abraham want to place his trust in anyone less than the only One who can truly do the impossible?

And why would we? Believing possible things is nothing special. The Christian faith is. It believes the impossible, and our powerful Savior never disappoints.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, grant me your Holy Spirit that I might confidently believe your impossible promises and put my trust in you alone. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christian Faith is Farsighted – September 4, 2019

[Jesus said] “Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Luke 12:33,34

Christian Faith is Farsighted


Daily Devotion – September 4, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 12:33,34

See series: Devotions

I’m as blind as a bat without my glasses, profoundly nearsighted. Without my spectacles, I need to hold a book just inches from my face in order to see the print clearly. If my glasses were ever broken or lost, I’d have great difficulty knowing what was coming my direction.

Isn’t that a fitting description of our lives in this world? Aren’t we forced into living life nearsighted, worrying about the here and now, because we can’t see the future? So doesn’t it make sense to pile up as much security as we can today because we can’t know what tomorrow might bring? Seeing is believing, right?

This is why we find safety and peace in creature comforts. As long as we are surrounded by them, all is good. But when those worldly treasures begin to evaporate—when we lose our job, our house, our spouse, our health, our lives—our knees begin to wobble.

All of which makes Jesus’ directive in Luke 12 so interesting, “Sell your possessions,” he says, “and give to the poor.” Jesus isn’t actually demanding we divest ourselves of every worldly asset immediately, but he is calling us to get our priorities straight and not be so near-sighted. Sooner or later, we will need to surrender what we have in this life.

So, Jesus urges, why not begin practicing now? Why not begin looking beyond the things of this world to the things of the next world? Because as wonderful and comforting as the “stuff” of this world might be, it doesn’t last. It is quickly passing away. (See Matthew 24:35.)

And what does letting go of our grip on the things of this world demonstrate? Christian faith. One of the things that makes the Christian faith so valuable is that it’s farsighted. It sees and longs for God-given, eternal treasures “…that,” Jesus says, “…will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys.”

We need such farsighted faith because we aren’t close to these heavenly treasures right now. But, through faith, we see them with 20/20 vision. And their everlasting luster prompts us to ease our grasp on our nearby but quickly fading fortunes.

Prayer:
Jesus, give me such farsighted 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christian Faith Grows Through Challenges – September 3, 2019

[Jesus said] “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”
Luke 12:32

Christian Faith Grows Through Challenges


Daily Devotion – September 3, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 12:32

See series: Devotions

What requires greater faith: walking on a tightrope extended one inch above your backyard or on one suspended over the Grand Canyon’s widest and deepest chasm?

The answer is obvious. There’s not much risk involved if the worst that can happen is some grass stains on your new white socks. But a head-first tumble into the rocky bottoms would ensure your speedy death.

It’s safe to say that we all want life to be easy and relatively risk-free, like that backyard scamper across a low-hanging tightrope. But often we feel suspended high above the Grand Canyon without a net, wondering whether our next step will be our last. At those times it’s natural to ask, “Where is God? Why is he allowing me to face these challenges and feel these anxieties?”

The irony is that those challenges are no accident; they’re divinely purposeful. When Jesus’ disciples once feared for their lives on a boat in the midst of a ferocious storm, Jesus lay sleeping in the stern. They wondered aloud whether Jesus would do anything to help them, but when the Master finally woke up, he wondered aloud why they were so afraid. At the height of their anxiety, Jesus showed his power by silencing the winds and waves, prompting them to ask, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!” (Matthew 8:23-27).

What we sometimes fail to appreciate is that Christian faith is not normally conceived and nurtured in the soft, green fields of life. Growth requires unforeseen visits to the rocky and treacherous desert, where we are compelled to recognize that there is no one to help—except Jesus, that is. Only then we see his power and love in a way that had previously been unrecognized, and Christian faith grows.

Yes, Jesus allows—even sends—challenges into our lives, not because he loves us a little but because he loves us much. He knows best how Christian faith grows best. It grows through challenges.

But with those challenges, he also sends his saving promise, “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.”

Prayer:
Jesus, help me endure the challenges you send, as I cling forever to your saving promises. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019

Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

1 Timothy 1:12



One of my favorite children’s books for the beginning of the year shares the story of a little girl on her first day of kindergarten. Annabelle is excited but also a bit apprehensive. Her older sister attempts to build her confidence by reminding her who she is—Annabelle Swift, kindergartner! After a couple of small setbacks that first day, Annabelle shines in her ability to count change and her teacher appoints her as the first milk monitor of the year. She carries out her role with a sense of pride and confidence. She can do this thing called kindergarten!

In our verse for today, Paul, the author of Timothy, starts by thanking Jesus for the strength he has given him. Paul was one of the vilest persecutors of Christians before the Lord came to him and converted him. And yet, this is exactly who the Lord chose for his ministry! The Lord considered him trustworthy and appointed him to his role as missionary. Note where Paul places the credit: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength.” As gifted as he was, Paul acknowledges that all he does, all he can do, any blessings that come from his work are the direct result of what Christ has done to and through him. In these words, we hear a sense of gratitude and humility that also lead to confidence. “He [Christ] considered me worthy, appointing me to his service.” Christ also considers you worthy because of what he has done for you. He has redeemed you and appointed you to serve him in all you do whether in a classroom of little ones or in your daily life outside of school.

We have a tremendous responsibility—helping children to grow academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We know ourselves and, if honest, we know our shortcomings all too well. On the outside we may give the impression that “we’ve got this!” while internally we may lack confidence. In humility we recognize our gifts, our areas of weakness, and our sinful nature. We can thank God for our gifts. We can look for forgiveness when we fail. We can ask the Lord to bless our efforts. And with each blessing that we see, we can confidently say, “It is the Lord!”

Annabelle’s confidence was boosted when her teacher noted her ability, giving her a responsibility. Our confidence comes from the Master Teacher, our Savior Jesus. Our confidence lies in the one who sends us, Jesus. He chose us and gave us gifts to serve him. He’s promised to be with us and bless our efforts in spite of our weaknesses. Like Paul, we can look to him for strength and give glory to the One who has chosen us.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, it is so easy to become discouraged in our work. Help us to remember that you are our strength. Bless all that we do, giving glory to you. In your name. Amen

A Question to Consider: No one can do everything, but we all have gifts. What are some things that you feel confident in doing? What are some things that you might say, “That’s not my gift”? Some of the latter are still things that need to be done, aren’t they? What can you do when asked or expected to do something that you don’t feel you have the gifts for? Can you find ways to grow in that area? Can you find someone to partner with who might have those gifts?



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

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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Faith-Life Brings Division in this World of Falsehood

These are the readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

“Can’t we all just get along?” Many people feel that way, especially in religious matters. That sentiment usually pairs up with the idea that “no one has a monopoly on the truth.” People claim (absolutely—see the irony?) that truth is relative. Jesus says otherwise: No truth conflicts with him and his Word. As followers of Jesus, we stand firmly with him, though such a stance will certainly divide us from all who follow lies.

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 23:23-29

With whom is the Lord disgusted in these verses?

The Lord is disgusted with the false prophets who are teaching falsehoods in his name. He doesn’t put up with any error whatsoever, but he is especially angry when people use his name to promote and defend their errors.

How does the Lord describe his Word in verse 29? Why does he describe it this way?

The Lord says that his Word is like a fire and a hammer. It stands in total opposition to falsehood and ultimately destroys it. God does not permit a mixing of the truth of his Word with human lies; neither should we.

Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Kings 11:1-3, 12-18

How bad did things get in Judah after Ahaziah died and his mother Athaliah reigned?

Things got so bad that Athaliah tried to murder the whole royal family. Jehosheba, the aunt of the future king, managed to hide baby Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. For six years they stayed hidden at the temple in Jerusalem.

Could people on God’s side compromise with Athaliah? No way! What resulted, therefore?

Athaliah was killed; and seven-year-old Joash became king.

Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 12:1-13

What can we expect in this world if we stand on the truth of God’s Word?

Just like Jesus, we can expect to face persecution and hatred. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).

How does the writer to Hebrews explain the hardship that we will endure for standing on the truth of God’s Word in this world?

He says that such hardship is loving “discipline” by our heavenly Father. While such discipline might at first seem painful, it has eternal benefits as we submit to the Lord’s loving guidance. (See 12:11.)

Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 6:10-20

We are at war but not against ourselves or against other people. With whom are we at war?

We are at war against the devil and his well-organized army of demons.

How do we arm ourselves for this war?

We arm ourselves for this war by putting on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against Satan and his schemes. We also pray in the Spirit for ourselves and for all God’s saints on earth.

Gospel – Luke 12:49-53

What misperception do many people have about Jesus and his work?

Many people think that Jesus came to bring worldly peace and social justice. Instead, Jesus points out in these verses that he and his teachings divide people into those who trust and worship him and those who don’t.

Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9. Why would he say that he did not come to bring peace?

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and he did come to bring peace—but not worldly peace. Instead, Jesus came to bring peace between sinful human beings and his holy, heavenly Father; and through his life, death, and resurrection he has done just that. (See Romans 5:1.)

Why are Jesus and his teaching so divisive in our world?

Jesus and his teaching are divisive, since he proclaims absolute truth. In fact, he is the absolute Truth. (See John 14:6.) In a world filled with false ideas about “relative truth,” Jesus boldly states that we must either be for him or against him. (See Luke 11:23.) Either he is our Lord, or he is not. Neutrality is impossible. So there are two kinds of people worldwide. Families divide over Jesus too, as Christians find themselves needing to speak the truth in love and to reject all falsehood. (On the impossibility of compromise: see 2 Corinthians 6:12–7:1.)

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Christian Faith Is Not Blind – September 2, 2019

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Christian Faith Is Not Blind


Daily Devotion – September 2, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 11:1

See series: Devotions

How would you describe faith? Many people think faith requires you to close your eyes tightly and to step into the abyss without any idea of what may happen. You cross your fingers and hope for the best.

When trouble strikes, someone might say to you with the best of intentions, “You just have to have faith.”

There’s just one problem. You need to ask, “Faith in what, in whom?” Too often the response is, “You need to have faith in yourself.”

But that poses an even bigger problem because we have so little control over what happens, and no one can predict the future. If we could, we would have avoided the trouble in the first place! Putting faith in ourselves is true blindness, silliness.

The Christian faith is different. It’s not blind because it’s not based on thin air. It’s based on real facts, on a real person who did and does real things—even impossible things.

Some people think Christians are silly. “You actually believe that Jesus Christ walked on water?” they ask with a smirk. “You actually believe he raised people from the dead, and that he rose from the dead himself?” they wonder.

Of course, Christians do. After all, why would they want to put their faith in someone who cannot walk on water? What good reason would they have to trust someone who could not conquer death?

The Christian faith is not wishful thinking. It’s raw confidence based on the knowledge that the Christ in whom Christians put their hope foresees all things and controls them—yes, even evil and trouble—for the eternal good of his people (Genesis 50:20; Romans 8:28). It’s a certain expectation and assurance that in the end, Jesus alone saves now and forever.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me place my confidence in you alone for all things. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 1, 2019

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Every moment matters

What does it even matter? It’s just Algebra. Like you’re ever going to use Algebra in your life! Then again, what’s the point of any of your classes? Dependent and independent clauses? Give me a break!

The same goes for your job. You get paid so little to ask, “Would you like fries with that?” And this certainly isn’t your future career. Who cares if you slack off a bit to eat up the time clock? What does it matter?

Well, actually it does matter. A lot. Every moment does.

Satan wants nothing more than for us to think that every moment of our lives is meaningless. If he can convince us of this, soon he’ll convince us to indulge in a selfish laziness in those moments—an attitude of, “What does this matter if I don’t like it or it doesn’t benefit me?” But as soon as he has you trapped in thoughts of meaningless monotony, he will then push for the death blow of you doubting God and his purpose for your life. “If these moments don’t matter, what do I matter? If I don’t matter, what kind of God is he anyways?”

The apostle Paul reminds us in this verse that the opposite is true. Actually, every single moment of your life matters. Why? Because you mattered to God. God came for you. God lived for you. God died for you. God rose for you. Jesus gave everything of his life for yours as he washed you and bought you with his blood. He did so in order to make you a prized possession of our God—his own dear child.

Knowing this value your life has to our God means that every moment of your life also has value, because every moment is an opportunity—an opportunity to live to the praise and glory of a God who has loved you so much.

So do your quadratic equations and do them well. Flip burgers with all you’ve got. Take notes with all the intellect you’ve been given. Compete and perform with every ounce of strength and ability. In fact, live every moment now and into the future with your best and to the fullest. And know that when you do, it matters. It matters because you are glorifying your Savior God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, fill me with the joy of your love found in Christ so that my heart spills over with thankful living for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Live by Faith – September 1, 2019

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.
Hebrews 11:1

Live by Faith


Daily Devotion – September 1, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 11:1

See series: Devotions

Are you an optimistic person? Or do you live each day expecting a bunch of problems? Maybe your life has been difficult, and you have chosen to cope by expecting more troubles. Maybe you are more comfortable calling yourself a realistic person. The truth is, God promises many things in his Word, but an easy life is not one of them.

That is why it is important to understand what it means to live by faith. A good place in the Bible to read about living by faith is in the book of Hebrews chapter 11. This chapter gives a snapshot of historical figures who trusted in God’s promises. Each of them endured some very scary times by trusting that God had something much better in store for them. Each of them knew that this earth was not their real home. They were looking ahead to a much better place. They were looking forward to living forever with God because he promised to send them a Savior.

The fascinating thing about the people listed in Hebrews chapter 11 is that all of them died before their Savior, Jesus came down to earth to pay for their sins. Did this mean they missed out on God’s promise? Absolutely not! They simply took God at his word. They trusted that when God makes a promise it’s as good as done! Hebrews 11:16 says, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.”

How can you live by faith? Trust in God’s promises!

Prayer:
Dear God, please help me to always trust in your promises. What you have promised will come true! You sent your Son into the world to take away my sins and he will come again to bring his believers to heaven! Help me to always live by faith and trust in you. Amen.

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