Teachers of What Is Good – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – August 5, 2021

Teachers of What Is Good

by Kathie Wendland

Ongoing Discussion – Teachers of What Is Good – August 5, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Likewise, encourage older women to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, but teachers of what is good, so that they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands, that the word of God might not be slandered (Titus 2:3-5, EHV).

 

“Likewise…” at the beginning of a passage always reminds us to consider what else is being referred to. Paul has already stressed teaching “sound doctrine” to Titus as a requirement for leaders in the congregation by using the word “must” in Chapter 1. The motivation for Christ-like behavior is secondary to sound doctrine. I want to live a sanctified life because—by faith—I grasp the magnitude of what Christ has done for me.

While that grace in and of itself would be enough motivation, I have also been called by God to be Christ’s ambassador proclaiming the message of reconciliation: that in Christ the sins of the world have been forgiven. That is how we “shine among [unbelievers] like lights in the world, as [we] hold onto the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-15). It seems overwhelming, doesn’t it? If that awesome role were up to me alone, I’d surely fall so short. Yet I have been assured that the Holy Spirit will work in me “both to will and to work for the sake of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). As Paul turns to guide Titus in instructing various groups in the congregation, the “likewise” connects sound doctrine with the teaching that underscores women teaching other women.

Sound Doctrine Produces Sanctified Living

There are many examples in Scripture that help us see sound doctrine producing sanctified action in God’s daughters’ lives. Mary is the obvious example of sitting at Jesus’ feet even while other important tasks needed to be done. But Martha too is a wonderful example. I feel badly for Martha, as she often is pictured as the less noble of the sisters. Her determination to take care of Jesus’ needs as well as the needs of his followers while in her home, however, is exemplary. Lydia was compelled to care for Paul’s needs as well as for Timothy and Silas who were with him. Both women did so because they knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus is the Christ.

Martha is the one who again rushed to meet Jesus when he came to Bethany after Lazarus died. Her confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ was stated clearly, and she knew her brother would rise again at the last day. That’s the comfort of sound doctrine, and Martha was living it. So was Mary. Her conviction that her brother wouldn’t have died if Jesus had been there is true for all of us, isn’t it? Because Jesus IS here, we don’t die—not eternally. Because Jesus is here, we have opportunities all the time to proclaim him as the Christ—the Son of the living God—when those around us see how differently we live our lives. They see how differently we speak about and treat our family members, especially our husbands and children if that is part of God’s plan for our lives.

How to treat family and friends doesn’t come naturally to the sinful nature each one of us is born with. It must be taught. It flows from sound doctrine as we are being renewed in the image of God. What then am I to be teaching if I’m an older Christian woman, and what am I to be looking to learn if I’m a younger Christian woman?

What then am I to be teaching if I’m an older Christian woman, and what am I to be looking to learn if I’m a younger Christian woman?

Teach What Is Good

In his instructions to Titus, Paul begins by encouraging women to use their communication skills in a God-pleasing way. Slander and gossip are so popular in the culture in which we live. Social media is now a way to feel popular if that gossip or slander garners more “likes” than speaking well of others or putting the best construction on everything. But that is not the blessing for others that the Lord intended for women when he built them as the suitable helper. Paul further cautions to watch the wine. There’s nothing like alcohol to loosen the tongue—and not in good ways.

After the caution on use of communication skills found in rich measure in women, the attention turns to what should be taught: “to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands” (verses 4-5). Beginning the list with “love their husbands and children” is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships. Relationships were so important to mankind that creation was “not good” until the man had a partner built from him with whom to have a relationship. The woman named Eve, the mother of all the living, was made to be the blessing from God to build blessed relationships with her family and acquaintances. Every woman has a family to whom she can be a blessing, whether in a marriage setting, a daughter setting, or the family-of-God setting. Every woman is part of a family.

But every woman needs to be taught to love her family. That’s a bold statement, isn’t it? The love needing to be taught isn’t the self-serving, self-gratifying emotion of the world around us. The love here is the Greek word agape. Agape is defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8: “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love does not fail.” Love, agape, does not come naturally to sinful human beings. Agape describes God’s love in John 3:16: “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Those who are being renewed in the image of God are able to model God’s love for the people around them. This is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships. This relationship insight and emphasis is part of the “not good” to “very good” truth that occurred with the building of the woman from the man. Christian women—with the foundation of sound doctrine—are able to model and teach how to love those around them.

Those who are being renewed in the image of God are able to model God’s love for the people around them. This is the foundation of blessed, strong relationships.

This is the love, then, that will compel the actions that follow in Titus. For an example of what it looks like “to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands,” refer to Proverbs 31:10-31 and Ruth 1:16—3:14. Both examples describe women: “noble” women, women of “strong character.” These examples aren’t there to give Christian women today a “to do” list. Instead, they are the “older women” we can look to today to see application of the encouragements Paul instructs Titus to raise up women—“teachers of what is good”—who are for many reasons best suited to teach younger women what is so vital to all of us, yet what does not come naturally.

A Vital Part of the Body of Christ

The agape that women have responsibility to teach other women is not only vital in blessed relationship in homes and families. Those families are a microcosm of the blessed relationships found in Christian congregations. Christian congregations, founded on sound doctrine, will grow together as the body of Christ. The body of Christ works together—men and women as a team—to strengthen one another and reach out to the dying world around it with the message of reconciliation, that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ who died for all in the world. We then, as Christian women and Christian congregations, no longer live for ourselves but for him who died for us and was raised again.

In a world which is so confused by sin, a world that has no idea of what love really is, a world that is intent on denying the God who made us and then redeemed us, the body of Christ—with Christ as its head—has a lot of work to do. This is not our work, but rather it is God’s work planned for us from before creation.

In a world which is so confused by sin, a world that has no idea of what love really is, a world that is intent on denying the God who made us and then redeemed us, the body of Christ—with Christ as its head—has a lot of work to do. This is not our work, but rather it is God’s work planned for us from before creation. It is work that is filled with purpose for our lives no matter what gifts God has showered on us as individuals or what callings in life for which he has prepared. It is work that God has designed for men and women to accomplish together, each using the strengths God has given while being mindful of sinful attempts to make those strengths self-fulfilling rather than of service to others.

For Further Reflection

Spend time reading and meditating on Proverbs 31:10-3, the book of Ruth (God’s loving message to his daughters through the ages), 2 Corinthians 5:14—6:2, and Ephesians (God’s message to Christian congregations).

  1. As an older woman, how can I model and teach others—especially younger women—what it is to love husband and children as a married woman or family and co-workers and friends as a single woman?
  2. As a younger woman, to whom can I look to see what it means to be a “strong woman” in today’s world?
  3. As a Christian woman, young or old, married or single, how can I be part of strengthening the relationships within the body of Christ so we all can boldly and clearly proclaim the message of Jesus Christ to the world around us and glorify him with our lives?

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see your gracious and loving plan for me as a woman: valuable in so many ways and walking in the plans you have also laid out for my life here on earth. Open my eyes to see the value of my sisters in Christ as we all live out the unique plans you have for us, plans that bring great joy and blessing to the lives of all around us. Keep our eyes focused on your Son, who paid what I owe so I can be with you for all eternity. In his name I kneel before you. Amen.

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

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Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s 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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Jesus Can Do a Miracle – August 5, 2021

Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.
John 6:10,11

Jesus Can Do a Miracle


Daily Devotion – August 5, 2021

Devotion based on John 6:10,11

See series: Devotions

“Do you believe in miracles?” Ever since the 1980 Olympics, that phrase has been identified as one of the most famous play calls by a sports announcer. Long before Al Michaels ever said those words regarding a hockey victory, Jesus subtly implied the same question. Picture the scene: Jesus’ disciples are running around frantic. “How in all the world are we supposed to feed all these people? Do you know how much that’s going to cost? We have one little boy’s lunch, but how far will that take us?”

And what does Jesus do? Amid the chaos, he calmly says, “Have the people sit down” (John 6:10). It’s not written, but it’s certainly implied that when Jesus gives those orders to his disciples, he’s asking, “Do you believe in miracles?” He already has in mind what he is going to do. And he already has the means. In hockey terms, all that is left was to put the puck in the net. All that is left for Jesus is to complete the miracle. And that’s exactly what Jesus does, “Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish” (John 6:11).

While the miracle is the key point of this lesson, signaling that Jesus is exactly who he claimed to be, namely the Son of God, let’s not miss how Jesus sets up the miracle. It’s so easy for us to run around in chaos, wondering how we’re going to accomplish this task or pay for that task. But before Jesus steps in and shows himself, he calmly asks, “Do you believe in miracles?” And he instructs us to take a seat and watch him go to work.

“Have the people sit down.” What a beautiful reminder that it’s not our activity that brings about miraculous changes. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. So grab a seat, hear him speak to you in his Word, and marvel at the miracles that our Savior has done and continues to do for you.

Prayer:
Lord, take the pressure off my shoulders and lead me to have a seat and ponder the miracles of your love and care. Amen.

Daily 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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Little Things for Big Things – Family Devotion – August 4, 2021

Read: 2 Kings 4:42-44

A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said.

“How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked.

But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.
2 Kings 4:42-44

Little Things for Big Things

 

Family Devotion – August 4, 2021

Devotion based on 2 Kings 4:42-44

See series: Devotions

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

It was a terrible tragedy when Anthony’s wife died. Everyone in town heard about the car accident. Everyone knew it would be tough for Anthony to raise two children all by himself. Everyone was shocked and sad about what happened. But little six-year-old Carly knew just what to do.

Carly grabbed some construction paper and her favorite markers, and she got to work drawing. Carly drew a hill with an open doorway (it was supposed to be an empty tomb), a bright sun shining in the sky, and three stick people standing next to the hill. (The stick people were supposed to be Anthony and his two children.) Above each person Carly drew a heart with a cross in it. The picture said, “Jesus lives and Jesus loves you.”

It was just a little picture drawn with a crayon, but it was so powerful. When Anthony and his children saw it, they were filled with tears and with joy. Carly’s picture helped to give them peace because it reminded them that their loved one was now in heaven. Anthony took a picture of Carly’s artwork with his phone and posted it online.

Within a few days, the picture went viral. Carly’s creation had been viewed and shared over a million times! People all over the world heard about Carly’s loving picture. But even more amazing than that, over a million people heard about Jesus as the Savior who rose from the dead and conquered sin and death. God used a little thing for a really big thing!

In today’s short story from the Bible, a man brought 20 loaves of bread to the prophet Elisha. It was a little act of love, but God used that little thing for a really big thing! He fed a hundred people with it! This short story reminds us of how Jesus did a similar miracle (but much bigger!) when he fed over 5,000 people.

All of these stories remind us of God’s incredible power. The Lord can use simple, little things to do big things. Jesus used a manger as his resting place when he was born. He used a cross as the place to die for your sins. He used a tomb as the place to rise in victory over death. Now Jesus wants to use “little” old you and me to do big things in his kingdom.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for showing your big power through little things in this world. Continue to use that power in me to bring big blessings to other people. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did the man in the story bring to Elisha to feed over 100 people?
  • What are your favorite foods that God provides for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does God provide food for you to eat each day?
  • Describe little ways that God could use you to help provide food for other people now and when you are older.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Can you think of at least one story in the Bible when God used little things to accomplish big miracles?
  • Compare and contrast the Bible story today with the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000.

Hymn: CW 469:1,3-4 – Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my voice and let me sing Always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold; Not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect and use Ev’ry pow’r as thou shalt choose.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Can Use Any Means – August 4, 2021

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”
John 6:8,9

Jesus Can Use Any Means


Daily Devotion – August 4, 2021

Devotion based on John 6:8,9

See series: Devotions

“Is it a keeper?” If your fishing partner has to ask you that about the size of the perch that you’re holding up to the measuring tape, the answer is usually, “No.” If it’s not obvious, it’s likely not a “keeper.” And yet, fishermen like to brag about the size of their catch, no matter how small they are.

Which is why I find it interesting that when fisherman Andrew presented one little boy’s lunch as the disciples were searching for food to feed the hungry crowd, Andrew didn’t just comment on the quantity of fish; he also commented on the size of the fish. “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish.”

Have you ever said or felt something similar when you look at God’s providence in your life? You notice the number of gifts he provides, but you complain about the quantity or the size of those gifts. Your “five loaves and two fish” may be that you have a job, but you quickly qualify it by commenting on the “smallness” of that job, “Yeah, I’ve got a job, but it’s going nowhere.” Or maybe your “small fish” concerns your resident, “Yeah, I’ve got a house, but it’s small and needs a lot of work.” Or, “Yeah, I have my health, but my strength is nothing compared to what it used to be.”

What is the “small” fish in your life? When you throw those fish back because they’re not keepers in your eyes, remember what our God can do with “small” fish. He once used the smallest son of Jesse to become the greatest king in the history of his people. He once used a humble girl from the small town of Nazareth to be the mother of God. Look at Jesus himself. To the rest of the world, he looked like a small fish in a big pond of prophets. Yet, in reality, he was the only “keeper” when it came to be our Savior.

The means that God uses to provide for our lives may seem small. But be assured, nothing is small when those means are in the hands of our loving God.

Prayer:
Lord, give me confidence that no gift is small when it is used by you. Amen.

Daily 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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Strengths, Responsibilities, and Words of Caution – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – August 3, 2021

Strengths, Responsibilities, and Words of Caution

by Kathie Wendland

Ongoing Discussion – Strengths, Responsibilities, and Words of Caution – August 3, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Likewise, encourage older women to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, but teachers of what is good, so that they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands, that the word of God might not be slandered (Titus 2:3-5, EHV).

 

Growing up on a farm with six brothers and sisters, we learned how to work together as a family. My sisters and mom sometimes helped with farm chores and field work, such as driving the tractor to disc, cultivate, or chop hay. We couldn’t repair the equipment, though, or do the literal heavy lifting necessary for such tasks. On the other hand, my dad and brothers could certainly get a meal for themselves. However, they relied on my mom, my sisters, and me to do the baking of bread, desserts, and preparation of vegetables, fruit, meat, etc., produced by the farm so they had something to get for their meal.

Furthermore, my parents very wisely “played to our strengths” as individuals during those years, while at the same time guiding those strengths as we grew into them. For instance, one of my sisters could get things done very quickly but sometimes needed to be sent back to finish missed steps or perhaps even redo something. I, on the other hand, always ended with as close to a “perfect” job done as possible but required many encouragements to get moving and actually get the job finished.

From Paul’s letter to Titus, it’s easy to see that in many ways the family of God gathered together in congregations is similar to my family experience growing up. In Titus 2, Paul has specific encouragements and cautions for older men, older women, younger women, younger men, and employees (as slaves of the time would be referred to today). Although Paul significantly uses the words “likewise” or “similarly” a few times, his inspired guidance for each group is different and reflects both general strengths and cautions for men and women as they grow together in God’s family.

Although Paul significantly uses the words “likewise” or “similarly” a few times, his inspired guidance for each group is different and reflects both general strengths and cautions for men and women as they grow together in God’s family.

As older men fulfill their God-given responsibility for the spiritual well-being of the congregation under congregation overseers, Paul speaks of sound doctrine and being worthy of respect as they model faith, love, and endurance. Younger men need encouragement to be self-controlled. Titus, a young man himself, is to show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech in his teaching. Why? “…so that the one who opposes us will be put to shame, because he has nothing bad to say about us” (verse 8). Employees are to demonstrate trustworthiness, “so that they may show the teaching of God our Savior to be attractive in every way” (verse 10).

In today’s reading, we hear Paul instruct Titus, “Likewise, encourage older women to be reverent in their behavior, not slanderers, not enslaved to much wine, but teachers of what is good, so that they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, busy at home, kind, and submitting to their own husbands, that the word of God might not be slandered.”

For young and old alike, for male and female, by inspiration Paul guides the young pastor Titus in speaking to both the strengths and responsibilities of the men and women making up the new congregation. Paul also has inspired words of caution for each group in areas where their strengths can be especially vulnerable to being distorted by sin.

For young and old alike, for male and female, by inspiration Paul guides the young pastor Titus in speaking to both the strengths and responsibilities of the men and women making up the new congregation.

For women, referring back to the devotion on from “not good” to “very good,” it becomes clear through the pages of Scripture that two very significant pieces were built into the woman for the blessing of mankind. One of those pieces is the ability to speak. Studies have shown that on average, women have a much greater vocabulary than men do, and they use it. How many times is it heard that either “women talk too much” when a man is commenting on communication or “men don’t ever talk about things” when a woman is commenting?

The second—and perhaps overriding—difference in men and women is the created ability God gave in rich measure to women to see and treasure relationships. While it’s true of relationships of all kinds, the predominant relationships have to do with husband and children, families, and work associates. Relationships are, for women, often the most important part of life.

Looking forward to this week’s second devotion, take time to read all of Titus to get a fuller picture of Paul’s instructions to Titus, the young pastor of a young congregation totally new to the idea of a loving God and a Savior. Then spend some time thinking about women in Scripture who demonstrated use of verbal skills and relationship-building skills. Were these God-pleasing uses or not? Finally, ponder how women of God learned to be women of God.

For Further Reflection

In view of the Creator’s design and plan for mankind, meditate on or write about how God sees you as valuable and the blessings he intends to bring to your family, congregation, the whole Christian church, and to society through you.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see your gracious and loving plan for me as a woman: valuable in so many ways and walking in the plans you have also laid out for my life here on earth. Open my eyes to see the value of my sisters in Christ as we all live out the unique plans you have for us, plans that bring great joy and blessing to the lives of all around us. Keep our eyes focused on your Son, who paid what I owe so I can be with you for all eternity. In his name I kneel before you. Amen.

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

Subscribe to receive Reflections on Our Unique Callings in your e-mail inbox.

Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s 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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Worth More than Money – August 3, 2021

Philip answered [Jesus], “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”
John 6:7

Worth More than Money


Daily Devotion – August 3, 2021

Devotion based on John 6:7

See series: Devotions

What are your concerns in life? Go ahead, list your top ten. If I were a betting man, I’d bet that somewhere on your list is something to do with money. Oh, I’m not accusing you of having the love of money, which is the root of all evil. I’m not accusing you of poor management of the financial gifts that God has given you. Nor am I accusing you of not being content with those gifts. I’m just acknowledging that money is connected to almost every aspect of our lives and will consistently be on our minds. And if it’s on our minds, it will be one of our concerns.

When Jesus asked Philip where they should get the bread to feed the large crowd that had gathered on the mountainside of Galilee, Philip’s first concern wasn’t where to shop. He wasn’t wondering which market would have enough inventory to feed a sporting arena’s worth of people. He wasn’t wondering how they would transport the food. His first concern was how much will it cost? “It would take more than half a year’s wages to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” (John 6:7).

Maybe Philip was exaggerating a bit. According to my calculations, in today’s money, it would cost approximately $2,500 to give each person a slice of bread. But if you gave each person a sack lunch consisting of a ham sandwich, bag of chips, and an apple, it would cost $33,000, which happens to be the average cost of a pre-Covid wedding in the United States. How would you like to pay for a wedding on the spot without having time to plan for it?

The point being, we can get caught up in the numbers, just like Philip. Whether it’s the cost of mortgage, groceries, tuition, cars, insurance, vacations, weddings, and more. Life isn’t cheap. But when we’re counting the cost of living, don’t forget that you can count on the One who promised to provide for you. You can count on Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, lead me to trust in you to provide for all my needs. Amen.

Daily 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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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Gives the Bread of Life to Nourish our Souls Eternally

These are the readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Many Christian churches stress social action. Feeding the hungry is important for Christians. God commands acts of mercy. Sadly, however, many churches offer little more than physical bread, bread that does not last. Bread is necessary for this life, but Jesus wants his Church to focus on offering the Bread of Life (Jesus himself, the Word of God). This Bread nourishes our souls, not just now, but for all eternity.

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 16:2-15

In what predicament did Israel find itself?

They didn’t have much to eat.

How did the Lord provide for them?

The Lord provided manna (derived from the Hebrew for “What is it?”) from heaven on a daily basis. It was “white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31). On this particular day, the Lord also provided quail.

Supplemental First Lesson – Exodus 16:2-20

Why did all Israel grumble against Moses and Aaron?

Israel was in a difficult spot: They had very little to eat.

Whenever we grumble, against whom are we grumbling? (See Exodus 16:8.)

Whenever we grumble, we are grumbling against the Lord. Yet he has put us where we are. He promises to provide for all his children’s needs, and he has been so kind, so often. He forbids grumbling. So why do we grumble?

How did the Lord provide for his grumbling people?

From heaven the Lord daily provided manna. “It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey” (16:31). On this particular day, the Lord also provided quail.

Traditional Second Lesson – Ephesians 4:17-24

Upon what does Paul insist in these verses?

Paul insists that Christians not live like the “Gentiles” (i.e. the unbelieving world). These people have hardened their hearts to the truth of God’s Word and want nothing to do with the Bread of Life.

How are we kept from indulging “in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more”?

Through the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Word, we are led to put off our old self (the sinful flesh) and put on our new self (the Spirit-led Christian life). But the Spirit only works through the Word of Jesus, the Bread of Life.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 10:1-5, 11-13

How would you respond if someone says, “I know God severely punished people long ago, but things changed once Jesus died on the cross”? (See 10:11.)

If someone claims that Old Testament Bible stories about God punishing people do not apply to us, we should tell them that the New Testament says that all those stories are meant to warn us and to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things, as people long ago did.

Can a Christian lose his or her faith? (See 10:12.)

Sadly, yes, a Christian can lose his or her faith. We need this warning whenever we think we are standing firm on our own. When we feel unsure of our future and sorry for our sins, we need the comfort only the gospel gives.

Gospel – John 6:24-35

What kind of bread were the people interested in having from Jesus? What kind of bread did Jesus offer? How did the people misunderstand?

The people were interested in having physical bread. Jesus offered “food that endures to eternal life.” The people still thought that Jesus was offering physical bread that would last forever.

What did Jesus mean when he said: “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is talking about faith in him as the Savior from sin. While Jesus also promises to provide for our daily, earthly needs, here he is focusing on the eternal needs of our souls. Through faith in Jesus, the Bread of Life, we can be assured that we will never go spiritually hungry or thirsty.

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We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021

We Belong! – Week of August 2, 2021



Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

Ephesians 2:19, 20



Belonging. We all ache for it, don’t we? Think back to yourself as a freshman in high school, stepping into that gigantic cafeteria for the first time. Whom would you sit by?  Would anyone notice you?  Those brief moments before a friend called out your name were agony!  Belonging is something we all crave. We long to be accepted, to be part of something!

The Ephesian Christians in our Scripture verses had been wrestling with figuring out a sense of belonging, too.  Their church was made up of people from different backgrounds, some Jews and others Gentiles (non-Jews).  For thousands of years, the Jews had special status because God had promised to send a Savior through them.  In this letter to the Ephesian Christians, Paul reassures Jews and Gentiles alike that they do indeed belong, not because of anything they had done or because of who they were on their own, but because of what Jesus had done and who they were in him!   These Ephesian Christians were “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.” God wanted them to know that there was one thing, and one thing only, that made them truly belong: their connection to Jesus.

That connection to Jesus is the same thing that gives you and me that ultimate sense of belonging.  In Jesus, we are part of God’s household, his family.  Jesus left his home in heaven and became a foreigner, a stranger here on earth, for us!  He kept every word of the prophets that had been spoken about him, and finally gave his life for the sins of the world.  Now, on Jesus’ work for us as the cornerstone, God is building his family, stone by stone, brick by brick.  You, too, are part of that building because of what Jesus has done.

What reassuring words these are!  Our belonging isn’t based on what we bring to the table or don’t, but on the grace found in Jesus. So whether we feel too young and inexperienced, too old and out of touch, or somewhere in between, we stand in God’s family because of the grace of Jesus. Whether our place of service is exactly what we pictured or far from it, we can rest as part of his family and trust we are exactly where God wants us, in a place where we can use our gifts to bring him glory. As we work to share with children the awesome news that they are part of Jesus’ family, we get to remember that this same message is true for us, too. In Jesus, we belong!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for making me a part of your family, your building, because of your death on the cross.  Forgive me for the times when I have wallowed in self-pity, thinking only of how I don’t belong in a given place or circumstance.  In those moments, turn my eyes to you and remind me of how I am built on you, the chief cornerstone.  Through your blood, I belong in your family!  Thank you, Jesus!  Amen.

A Question to Consider: How does knowing you have ultimate heavenly belonging in Jesus help you to work as part of a team here on earth?



Early 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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Use Me! – Family Devotion – August 2, 2021

Read: John 6:1-15

After the people saw the sign Jesus performed, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.”
John 6:14

Use Me!

 

Family Devotion – August 2, 2021

Devotion based on John 6:14

See series: Devotions

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

Kyle wasn’t sure where he fit in. At school, he got cut from the basketball team, he didn’t sing well enough to join a choir, and he was too afraid to try out for the play. At home, Kyle’s sister seemed to get all the attention because of her countless dance practices and performances. At church, many of Kyle’s friends were already playing instruments for services or teaching Sunday school.

Kyle kept wondering, “Do I even matter? What skills do I have? Am I useful to anyone?”

Over time though, the Lord used Kyle’s frustrating moments to help him see his amazing gifts. He wasn’t athletic or musical, but Kyle became a key part of the school’s state champion robotics team. At home, he used his technology brain power to help set up his parents’ computers and the family’s Wi-Fi network. Kyle even got to use those gifts to help with technology at church. He was part of the team that recorded services and produced videos for thousands of people to watch and learn about Jesus online. As it turned out, God used what seemed like little gifts in Kyle to serve many, many people.

The famous story for our consideration today is very similar. The disciples were overwhelmed by the crowd of more than 5,000 people that flocked to Jesus. But Jesus had a plan in mind from the very beginning. He used the five loaves of bread and the two small fish of a young boy to feed the entire crowd. He used the disciples to organize the crowd and then distribute the food and collect the leftovers. But most importantly, Jesus used this situation as an opportunity to reveal himself as “the Prophet who was to come.” In other words, Jesus revealed his power as true God and true man—the Savior who came for all!

What gifts do you have? What do you like to do? What are some of your favorite things? God can use any of these things in our lives—even simple things like loaves of bread and fish—as opportunities for us to serve others in love. But even better, Jesus wants to use you and your gifts to reveal to others that he is the Savior. What a comfort that you matter. Your time and talents and treasures matter. Jesus loves you. Jesus saved you. And now, Jesus wants to use you so that others can know that same wonderful truth.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for revealing yourself as my Savior. Now use me and my gifts to serve you and others in thanks and love. Please use me also to help others know that you are their Savior. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What were the seven items of food that Jesus used to feed more than 5,000 people?
  • How was it possible for Jesus to feed so many people with so few items of food?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did Jesus have the disciples collect leftovers? What would they learn as they collected that extra food?
  • How would you have felt if you were the boy who gave Jesus the bread and fish that day? Why?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain why this miracle helped the crowd (and helps us) to see that he is the Savior.
  • What talents, gifts, or abilities do you have that you could use to serve the Lord right now? What about in the future?

Hymn: CW 469:1-2 – Take My Life and Let It Be

Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee.
Take my moments and my days; Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be Swift and beautiful for thee.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Has a Plan in Mind – August 2, 2021

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.
John 6:5,6

Jesus Has a Plan in Mind


Daily Devotion – August 2, 2021

Devotion based on John 6:5,6

See series: Devotions

If you grew up hearing Bible stories from your parents or going to Sunday School, you may have fond memories about the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. That miracle recorded in John chapter 6 often makes the list of top Bible stories.

If you’re not familiar, read John 6:1-15. If you are familiar, can you list the details of the story? Five thousand people (actually 5,000 men, plus women and children), five loaves and two fish, and plenty of leftovers are just a few of the details that quickly come to mind. But do you remember what was going through Jesus’ mind that spring afternoon as the crowds gathered on the mountainside?

When Jesus asked Philip, “Where shall we buy bread?” he wasn’t wondering whether Philip would say, “Kroger, Albertsons, or Walmart.” Rather, “He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do” (John 6:6).

Read that again: “he already had in mind what he was going to do.” Consider the comfort that detail brings to our daily lives. So often, we look for the miracle, or we wonder about the means. ‘How are we going to get through this challenge? Where am I going to get that necessity? How am I going to carry out this responsibility?’ Long before the miracle or the means becomes evident, our Savior already has in mind what he is going to do. At times he may make us wait before he acts. Jesus may test us prior to providing. But he always “has in mind” what he is going to do.

Treasure that thought today. If your life plans and activities don’t seem clear, know they are clear to your Savior. From before the creation of the world, he always had you in mind.

Prayer:
Lord, calm my heart of any uncertainties, assuring me that you always have a plan for me. Amen.

Daily 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 – August 1, 2021

In this series we’ll look at some of the struggles that we have that we endure silently, secretly. We struggle secretly and alone. What does God’s Word say to us in our darkness and trouble?

No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:13

Addiction

Nobody wakes up in the morning and decides to become addicted to something. But for every addiction, there was one day when it all started.

It always starts small. One vape. One drink. One pill. One video. If someone saw it happen that first time, they would probably say it was not that big of a deal. But it becomes a big deal when you keep going back to it.

Is there something that has taken control of your life? It could be something that, up to this point, has been small. Or maybe you are wrestling with something that has become bigger than you ever thought it would. You feel awful about it. You feel ashamed. You feel alone. Whatever you are addicted to controls you.

Wherever you are at, there is hope.

Your Father in heaven does not want you to be controlled by anything. He wants you to be free. God is not waiting for you to overcome addiction so he can start loving you again. He loves you right now, and he is with you right here. He wants to show you how the thing you keep longing for will never fulfill you the way that he can. He wants to get you out of it.

If you find yourself being controlled by an addiction, would you take a positive step today? Start by confessing your weakness to God. Ask for his strength in overcoming this temptation. If you can, confide in someone you trust and ask them to pray with you.

Right now, the resurrection power of Jesus is alive in you by faith. Enjoy the freedom that he alone can give.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, you love me so much that you sent Jesus to give me freedom from sin and death. Help me recognize the things in this life that can imprison me in emptiness and loneliness. When temptation confronts me, provide a way out so that I can enjoy the peace and security that you alone can give. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Lost to History – August 1, 2021

I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.
Romans 1:15

Lost to History


Daily Devotion – August 1, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 1:15

See series: Devotions

If you visit the city of Rome today and walk through its ancient ruins, what you’ll see are the remnants of massive, awe-inspiring stone structures—the amphitheater, the baths, the villas, the coliseum. And what a sight it is.

What’s easy to overlook is that Rome, in the First Century A.D., had upwards of one million people. And the vast majority of those people did not live in luxurious villas. They lived in small, multi-level apartment buildings.

Those apartment buildings were made of wood. More than a few of them were in ramshackle condition. And so living in such apartments often meant a constant fear of fire or collapse. The living conditions could be cramped, sometimes just one room per family. Many apartments had little or no natural light. And if you lived in the upper levels of the apartment, you had no access to water.

Perhaps most poignant of all is the simple reality that these tens of thousands of wooden apartments have long ago disintegrated and vanished—along with the names of the hundreds of thousands who lived in them.

Names lost to history? Yes. Names forgotten by the Lord? No.

Every soul that the message of the gospel brought to faith, every soul who came to trust in Jesus as Savior from sin through the power of the Holy Spirit—that soul’s name is written in the Book of Life. That soul is a fully forgiven child of God now basking in the presence of Jesus Christ forever.

Keep that in mind the next time you feel forgotten.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I feel anonymous and forgotten, remind me by your Holy Spirit that I am not. Amen.

Daily 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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Ichabod – August 1, 2021

Ichabod – August 1, 2021


As her death approached, the women who stood by her said to her, “Don’t be afraid, for you have given birth to a son.” But she did not respond or pay attention. She named the boy Ichabod and said, “The glory has departed from Israel.”
1 Samuel 4:20,21 EHV




Military Devotion – August 1, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 4:20,21 EHV

See series: Military Devotions

This sad story comes from among other sad stories at a sad time in the history of God’s Old Testament people.

A mother died in childbirth. On the same day, the child’s father died. On that same day, its grandfather died.

Yet, the dying words of the mother lamented not the loss of these people, or even of her own life. Something worse had happened. She knew something so dreadful that she wanted to burn the news of the tragedy into the memory of everyone who would come to know her orphan son.

She did it with one word: Ichabod.

The Hebrew word means: “Glory has departed.” Every time someone would call the boy’s name, the lamentation would be repeated: “The glory has departed from Israel.”

The story begins with an Old Testament priest whose sons were priests under him. The younger priests were scoundrels. Abusing their positions, they took the choice offerings for themselves and slept with the women who served at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. The Tent of Meeting is also known as the tabernacle, which served as the house of God before the temple was built.

Eli knew of this. He warned them. Yet, when they did not listen, he did nothing more to stop them.

The Lord God also knew. He asked Eli, “Why do you honor your sons more than me?”

The day of reckoning came when the Philistines attacked and overran Israel’s army. Confused and panicked, the leaders of Israel came up with a desperate solution: “Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that it may come into our midst and save us from the hand of our enemies.”

The ark of the covenant was that special box overlaid with gold that symbolized the covenant, the sacred promise by the holy God that he would accept Israel as his special people. This consecrated object was kept in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, and afterwards, in the temple. Only one person, the high priest, was permitted to enter this holy place on only one day of the year—the great Day of Atonement.

It symbolized the atonement that the Son of God would one day make upon a cross for the sins of the whole world.

Now, sadly, Israel was going to try to use this consecrated item as a magical weapon.

After the two sons of Eli brought the ark of the covenant into the camp of Israel’s army amidst great celebration, they carried it into battle, confident of victory.

The victory, however, went to the enemy. 30,000 Israeli soldiers died in that fight. Lying among them were the two sons of Eli.

The Philistines took the ark of the covenant as a prize of war and placed it into the temple of their idol, Dagon.

When Eli heard that news, he fell from where he was sitting and broke his neck.

When his pregnant daughter-in-law heard the news, she went into labor—and Ichabod was born.

The Lord God later returned the ark of the covenant to Israel by a series of amazing events. But that box never was the glory of Israel.

The Lord God was. Always was. The greatest showing forth of his glory took place when he made the great atonement for sin.

Saint John wrote, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

The sad story of Ichabod is outshone by the happy story of Jesus.

His glory never departs.



Prayer:Heavenly Father, as we look into the pages of Scripture we see again and again how we humans misunderstand your ways as we seek our own solutions to fear and pain. Keep pointing us to Jesus. Show us the glory of our true Light and Salvation. Amen.



Written by Rev. 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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Needed Rest – July 31, 2021

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:30-34

Needed Rest


Daily Devotion – July 31, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:30-34

See series: Devotions

You need a vacation. You know you do. You wince when the phone rings, regardless of who it is. Trying to get everything done, you work right through meals. You wake up in the morning and feel like you haven’t even rested. Even if you are a people person, you know you need to retreat to a quiet, solitary place and get some rest.

Jesus sent his disciples out into the communities of Israel to call people to repentance and to tell them that the promised Savior had arrived. When they returned from that important work, they debriefed with Jesus. It was clear to him that they needed some rest.

Their attempt to seek a place for physical rest was thwarted by a large crowd of people. Rather than being frustrated, Jesus realized that those people needed rest as well. Their need for rest was spiritual, and Jesus met that need by teaching them many things.

When you have physical, emotional, and spiritual needs for rest, Jesus meets those needs by teaching you about himself. “Come to me,” he says, “and I will give you rest.” He calms your concerns about your work and your life by promising to be with you. He remedies your guilty feelings by promising to forgive you. He invites you to remember that everything is under his control and that he loves you.

Jesus sees that you are like a sheep without a shepherd. As the Good Shepherd, he leads you and feeds you with his words and promises. He gives you true rest.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the rest you supply me, here and for eternity. Amen.

Daily 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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Respect and Pray for Our Spiritual Leaders – Family Devotion – July 30, 2021

Read: Hebrews 13:7-8, 17-21

Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith. Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you. Pray for us.
Hebrews 13:7, 17-18a

Respect and Pray for Our Spiritual Leaders

 

Family Devotion – July 30, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 13:7, 17-18a

See series: Devotions

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

Pastors, teachers, and church leaders are God’s front-line defense of his Church on earth. They witness firsthand the devastating effects of Satan’s bombardment of God’s people. They hunker alongside you in the trenches of life. Their genuine desire is to keep watch over you for your spiritual safety. Someday, they will report to the Triune God for the groups of souls, large or small, entrusted to their care.

Because of the weight of their duties, your leaders need you. Here are two ways you can help:

  1. Remember your leaders. Before we can remember, we need to know them by name. What’s the name of your pastor(s)? Find out who your elders, church council, and other leaders are who serve your church. But don’t just say their names. Remember to thank God for them. Send them encouragement in a text, e-mail, or card. Support them in their lives because they have the same joys and struggles as we do. Thank them! Acknowledge their time and the work that they do on behalf of all of us!
  2. Pray for [your leaders]. God isn’t asking us to pray. He is telling us, “Pray!” We pray at dinner time. We pray at bedtime. We pray when we are afraid. We pray when we are joyful. Prayer is our conversation with our Father in heaven. We have the great opportunity to give him all of our troubles, share with him all of our joys, and thank him for every blessing in our lives. When was the last time you prayed for your leaders? Pray for their well-being. Pray that their faith might be strong. Pray that they might lead like Jesus who loved and gave himself for the church. Pray that we might support them and be a blessing in their lives of service. Pray with urgency. Our leaders face the devil daily. That brings urgency to us. We pray for our leaders that they might combat all of the devil’s attacks.

Jesus fought with the holy weapon of love. He prayed, forgave, and loved us to death on the cross. He chose to obey his Father’s will. Hold the line alongside your leaders! Use God’s holy weapon of Christian love to achieve it: “Keep on loving each other as brothers” (Hebrews 13:1). The battle is not against one another but against enemies that do not have flesh or blood. Following the lead of a godly leader reveals our faith in—and obedience to—God.

May God help us to remember and pray for our leaders so that their work is a blessing.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord of our strength, thank you for the faithful leaders of our church. Grant them strength and encourage them each day to keep leading your church to your glory! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What two things does God want us to do for our leaders?
  • Create a little prayer in your head for your pastor and say it out loud.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name as many leaders in your church as you can.
  • Name one way you can support them in their work

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think of your pastors. Give a time they might need you to pray for them.
  • Consider the different leaders that serve your church. Discuss at least two challenges they face while serving you.

Hymn: CW 412:1-2 – Lord, Teach Us How to Pray Aright

Lord, teach us how to pray aright, With rev’rence and with fear.
Though dust and ashes in your sight, We may, we must draw near.

We suffer if we cease from prayer; Oh, grant us pow’r to pray.
And when to meet you we prepare, Lord, meet us on the way.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Hero Speaks the Words of Salvation – July 30, 2021

So [Jesus] began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:34

Our Hero Speaks the Words of Salvation


Daily Devotion – July 30, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:34

See series: Devotions

One truth that we were reminded of by the global pandemic is that not all heroes wear capes. In fact, most don’t. Instead, they wear nurses’ garb and first responders’ gear. They keep our vehicles running and store shelves stocked. In 2020, we were reminded about all the heroes hidden in plain sight.

The Word of God from Mark chapter 6, shows us Jesus as a hero hidden in plain sight. Sure, he was a magnet for attention. Sure, people were chasing just to get a glimpse of him. But, when we see him here, he’s not doing prototypical hero things, or more appropriately, superhero things. He’s listening, nurturing, and teaching.

Indeed, teaching is the stuff of heroes. Especially when the Kingdom of God is the subject matter. Someone might ask, “If Jesus had the power to raise the dead, to give blind eyes sight and deaf ears sound, why would he spend his valuable time talking?” It lets us know that the miracles weren’t really why Jesus had come. He had come to reveal the plan of salvation to human hearts. And that plan is made known through words. If we do not hear it, we cannot believe it and be saved. Paul wrote to the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing the message and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” In Mark chapter 6, we see that happen quite literally!

But we also see it happen in our lives today. Jesus still teaches us many things, still makes known the path to eternal life for us. He sends faithful pastors to point us to the cross and the empty tomb. He sends faithful teachers who speak to us about the things of God, including those who sit in a classroom, and those who share God’s truth in more informal settings, and those who show us Jesus in their Christian example. “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news,” Paul wrote to the Romans just a couple of verses before the one we quoted earlier. Indeed! The words of Jesus bring lost sinners from the brink of eternal death to the gates of eternal life. That is heroic work!

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, you have the words of eternal life. Thank you for sharing them with me through your messengers. Amen.

Daily 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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Walking Through Life With Each Other – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – July 29, 2021

Walking Through Life With Each Other

by Paula Sulzle

Ongoing Discussion – Walking Through Life With Each Other – July 29, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:21-33).

 

For years, my husband and I have wanted to take dance lessons together. Early this past December, I saw an ad for online dance lessons: downloadable videos would be sent directly to us. I dropped the hint, yup, just dropped the link directly to my husband’s inbox. And then on Christmas Eve I received a beautiful and very professional-looking coupon for the online dance lessons. He got the hint!

So one night in early January, we planned a date to learn something we’ve never done before: ballroom dancing. It was sure a lesson in letting him lead. In fact, that’s what the instructors told us: “It’s his job to make you look beautiful as you both glide across the dance floor. It’s your job to follow his lead.”

A marriage relationship was designed in a way that can imitate a beautiful dance, one in which the wife respects her husband and allows him to lead, and the husband loves his wife and leads in a way that produces bountiful blessings for his wife and children—and as a result, for himself too.

The Marriage Union

God created every person uniquely different, and for good reason! We complement each other. Each person will bring their unique and varying gifts to a marriage. We all have areas of strengths that are not matched in our spouse. My weaknesses are often overcome by his strengths, and vice versa. Exactly how a man and woman partner together will look different in each home. Husband and wife will do well to communicate about their interests, gifts, and desires for the family.

Exactly how a man and woman partner together will look different in each home. Husband and wife will do well to communicate about their interests, gifts, and desires for the family.

In today’s busy schedules and full lives, finding time for productive and healthy communication might mean scheduling regular times to meet. In our marriage, it means setting aside at least two dates per month, several nights per week to connect, and also times to discuss finances, parenting decisions or long-term goals. Making decisions together is key in moving forward together—from the little things (who will do the laundry?) to the big things (what are our priorities when parenting the children?). Husbands and wives can take the time to get to know each other better, recognizing the gifts God gave each of them. Then each will use those gifts to benefit the family.

Will husband and wife always agree on the numerous aspects of life? Most certainly not. We all come with different experiences, expectations, and knowledge. So when a disagreement arises, spouses work together towards an understanding. It becomes much easier to love and forgive someone whom you think of as God’s dearly loved child. A husband who has put God first in his life will want to do what’s best for his wife and family, and he will value what she thinks and how she feels. Wives, we might not always understand the reasoning behind our husband’s decisions, but we know that God has called us to submit to our husbands, knowing we are submitting also to God’s will.

God has blessed our union with six children. My husband and I might not always agree with every aspect of parenting, but there is always one thing we do agree on: that the children see we are united. Sometimes we need to discuss something in private before we come to an agreement. At times, when I share my thoughts and ideas with my husband, he changes his mind about the situation. At other times, he persuades me, and I understand that his way is wiser than my own. There are times that I don’t understand, I don’t like it, yet I submit to my husband. I ask God to help me do this not with a stubborn attitude, but with a respectful and loving heart.

And then, there are those times when I foolishly override my husband’s leadership. When I realize what I’ve done, it takes me right back to the Garden of Eden. Eve overstepped her God-given role, instead paving her own path—and we know what resulted from that. I, too, have seen the results of my selfishness. I see how poorly things turn out when I act with no regard for my husband. I then realize I should have submitted to my husband rather than be like Eve who took matters into her own hands. Wives, in those times, seek forgiveness from God and your husband, and know that Jesus’ robe of righteousness covers you just as the beautiful white gown did on your wedding day.

As the head of the marriage and family, the husband is called first and foremost to be the spiritual leader for the family, to lead his family in devotions and prayers, and to point them to Jesus for forgiveness and guidance. A husband can love his wife best when he loves God most. A wife can love her husband best when she loves God most. Through the love and respect of husband and wife, God blesses the family unit.

The Unbelieving Husband

A husband who submits to Christ as his head is God’s will for all marriages. Yet we know that this is not always the situation. What does God ask of a wife married to an unbelieving husband? Does she still need to submit? Yes, she does! God tells us through the words of Peter that the principle still applies: “Wives, in the same way, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they might be won over without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your respectful and holy behavior” (1 Peter 3:1-2).

An unbelieving husband will see the love of Christ by the way his Christian wife lives her life. When she shows respect to her husband, she is also showing respect to Christ and for God’s perfect design.

When Christians live as bright shining lights for Jesus, people begin to notice. In this way, a wife will be ready to give an answer for the hope she has—not only to her husband, but anyone else who asks how she can be a submissive, respectful, and loving wife. God will continue to bless her through her obedience to his will.

When Christians live as bright shining lights for Jesus, people begin to notice. In this way, a wife will be ready to give an answer for the hope she has—not only to her husband, but anyone else who asks how she can be a submissive, respectful, and loving wife.

The Single Person

Christians who are single also desire to follow God’s perfect design for man and woman. When it comes to marriage, though, they might find it difficult to know how they can follow God’s design for man and woman in the home. However, people who are not married can honor this principle in a number of ways.

If you are a single person, let this be an encouragement to you: it is a blessing when you encourage and support husbands and wives in their callings, especially encouraging wives through your friendships. You can discourage the pity party and refuse to join in tearing a husband down when a wife is frustrated with him or his behavior. You can speak well of God’s design and the blessings a marriage brings to the family unit and society. When you use your words to heal, not harm, God is using you to help build up marriages of those around you.

When you use your words to heal, not harm, God is using you to help build up marriages of those around you.

Those who are single can also honor God’s perfect design of head and helper in all areas of their own lives, showing they respect God’s will for man and woman.

Pray for marriages. Pray that husbands and wives put Christ as the head and center of their marriages. Pray for husbands that they will lead in a way that is God-pleasing and builds up their families. Pray for wives that they may turn to their husbands for guidance and submit to their husbands as to the Lord. Pray that both husband and wife will honor God in their unique callings, using their gifts for the benefit of their family and to glorify him.

We see how the church submits to Christ. We see how Christ submitted to his Father’s holy and perfect will. We know what God’s Word tells us—how to honor him, lead holy lives, and work together in our marriages to have beautiful partnerships. Yet we are sinful humans. We fell right along with Adam and Eve in the Garden when they sinned against God. “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners…”

But listen to this! Here’s the good part! “…so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous” (Romans 5:19).

Christ’s perfect life and innocent death won for us salvation. We can walk through life with each other, knowing that God has blessed and strengthened man and woman—husband and wife—with his grace.

For Further Reflection

  1. Wives, what are three ways you can show your husband you honor him as your head?
  2. How can a Christian wife submit to her unbelieving husband when it seems he only cares for himself?
  3. What is one specific thing you can do this week to build up a marriage?

Closing Prayer

O gracious Father, you have so wonderfully blessed us with this beautiful design for a husband and wife. You have given us your perfect example in Christ. Yet we stumble and fall and go our own way. Forgive us for the times when we have not honored our husbands, have failed to be a selfless helper to them, or have not supported marriages through our words and prayers. Use us to build each other up in the roles you have graciously given us. Thank you for strengthening our faith through your Word. Amen.

PROMO CODE

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Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s 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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Our Hero Sees With Compassionate Eyes – July 29, 2021

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.
Mark 6:34

Our Hero Sees With Compassionate Eyes


Daily Devotion – July 29, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:34

See series: Devotions

You have had the week marked off on your calendar for months. You have been counting down the days until you are finally able to get on the plane and jet away to your favorite vacation spot. As the plane touches down, you finally exhale. You have arrived, and it is time to relax! As you enter the baggage claim area of the terminal, there is a welcoming committee. It is your boss, your clients, and a bunch of your coworkers! And they are not here to vacation. They have phone calls for you to answer, emails that need attention, demands, and deadlines that cannot wait. You thought you were getting a little rest and relaxation, but you ended up instead with work and more work.

Even though the example is a little over the top, it bears some resemblance to what happened to Jesus and his disciples in today’s Bible verse. They went away to rest—at Jesus’ suggestion—and when they arrived at their destination, their work was right there waiting to greet them. I know how I would have responded in that situation, and you probably do, too. That is what makes the way Jesus responded truly heroic.

Yes, his work followed him on vacation. But when he got off the boat, he didn’t see work waiting for him there. He saw people. People who needed him because they were confused and helpless, spiritually speaking. They were like sheep without a shepherd. And that pulled Jesus’ heart toward them.

Perhaps you can see in this scene on the shoreline shadows of something even bigger. The same Savior whose compassionate heart moved him to set aside rest here is the One whose compassionate heart moved him to set aside heaven itself in order to come and rescue us from the sins that would have condemned us.

Heroes sacrifice. Their hearts are pulled toward people in need, and they always make the time. They abide with the inconvenience. They reach out when others will not. That is what Jesus has perfectly done for us. Thank you, Jesus!

Prayer:
Jesus, my friend and hero, thank you for looking on me with compassion rather than condemnation. Thank you for rescuing me from my sin so I might spend my eternity with you. Amen.

Daily 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 Provided a Spiritual Leader for His People – Family Devotion – July 28, 2021

Read: Numbers 27:12-23

The Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him. Have him stand before Eleazar the priest and the entire assembly and commission him in their presence. Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him. Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He took Joshua and had him stand before Eleazar the priest and the whole assembly. Then he laid his hands on him and commissioned him, as the Lord instructed through Moses.
Numbers 27:18-20, 22-23

God Provided a Spiritual Leader for His People

 

Family Devotion – July 28, 2021

Devotion based on Numbers 27:18-20, 22-23

See series: Devotions

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

Who leads your family? If right now you’re pointing at someone, is it a parent or another family member? Who leads the United States? It’s the president. In the same way, a boss leads at work. A teacher leads the classroom. Each of these leaders has been set up to direct the family, the country, the job, and the classroom.

Leaders have been set up by God to direct what we do and to reflect what God wants us to do. All leaders have been given their position from the Lord. God’s Word even outlines their responsibilities. Today we see another leader and how the Lord set him apart for his people. The Lord gave his people a spiritual leader. Moses was his name. The Lord set him apart to lead God’s people out of Egypt and to lead them spiritually. God used Moses to give his people the Ten Commandments and to rebuke them when they would sin against the Lord.

In today’s Bible reading, it is time for Moses to be “gathered to his people.” That’s another way of saying Moses was going to die. Moses did not want the people to be without a leader. He asked the Lord for a new leader for his people. The Lord had Joshua set as the next leader. Joshua was presented before the people. In a very special ceremony, God left no doubt that Joshua was the new leader for his people. God said to Moses, “Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him.” God made clear that Joshua would now have the authority and it was given to him by God.

The Lord blesses us with spiritual leaders. We call them pastors, elders, or church leaders. We, too, have special ceremonies that set these men apart as leaders from the Lord. These men are responsible to strengthen the faith of the church and support the spiritual and physical lives of God’s people. Their power and authority come from God and his Word.

Thank God for providing spiritual leaders as a blessing for our lives!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, you are a God of order. Thank you for setting up leaders so that we might have an orderly life to praise you! Grant us the peace that order brings to our lives. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who led the people of Israel out of Egypt?
  • With whom did God replace him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name at least two spiritual leaders in your congregation. List one thing they do that makes you thankful for them.
  • Name at least one important thing God expects a spiritual leader to do.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What are two ways you might serve as a leader for the Lord (or to assist a leader) as you get older?
  • Even as a child, discuss how you might serve as a leader now.

Hymn: CW 367:1-3 – Christ Be My Leader

Christ be my leader by night as by day,
Safe through the darkness, for he is the way.
Gladly I follow, my future his care;
Darkness is daylight when Jesus is there.

Christ be my teacher in age as in youth,
Drifting or doubting, for he is the truth.
Grant me to trust him, though shifting as sand.
Doubt cannot daunt me—in Jesus I stand!

Christ be my Savior in calm as in strife;
Death cannot hold me, for he is the life.
Nor darkness nor doubting nor sin and its stain
Can touch my salvation—with Jesus I reign!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Hero Helps Us in Desperation – July 28, 2021

So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them.
Mark 6:32,33

Our Hero Helps Us in Desperation


Daily Devotion – July 28, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:32,33

See series: Devotions

Ernest Hemingway once wrote, “As you get older, it’s hard to have heroes. But it is sort of necessary.”

When you’re young, having heroes is easy. Your imagination is big, and your cynicism is little. There are so many people who seem stronger and smarter than you. But as the years pass and you get older, you realize that that idealized image you had in your head wasn’t all that real. So many people seemed strong because you hadn’t yet been made aware of their weaknesses. So many people seemed smart because you hadn’t yet seen the foolish mistakes they make. As you get older, more and more heroes fall by the wayside, exposed by time as vulnerable at best and outright villains at worst.

But at the same time, having heroes is somewhat necessary as you get older. Because even as you realize the frailty and vulnerability of others, the passing years also bring you to the realization of how frail and vulnerable you are. You realize that you can’t do it all. You realize that in some situations, you can’t do anything at all. The more we become aware of our weaknesses, the more we become aware of how desperately we need a hero.

The people following Jesus were desperate for a hero. They wanted what Jesus had to offer, even if it meant hoofing it for miles to catch up to him.

People today are still looking to Jesus as their hero. They realize that Jesus offers them something they can find nowhere else. Perfect and unconditional love. Forgiveness. A clean conscience and the promise of eternal life.

Other heroes may fall by the wayside, but Jesus never will. He is a hero worth following.

Prayer:
O Lord Jesus, as I get older, I realize all the more how much I need you. Turn your heart to me, recognize my desperation and save me in my distress. Be my hero. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Beautiful Partnership – Reflections on Our Unique Callings – July 27, 2021

A Beautiful Partnership

by Paula Sulzle

Ongoing Discussion – A Beautiful Partnership – July 27, 2021
Listen as this spiritual conversation is taken to a deeper level in today’s ongoing discussion.

See series: Reflections on Our Unique Callings:Men, Women, and the Body of Christ

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband (Ephesians 5:21-33).

 

We start this section of Scripture with what seems to be a strong command. In our culture, “submit” has become a word that often conjures feelings of angst or rebellion, a place where selfish pride takes root. Even as Christian women, we have succumbed to the ways of the world and scoffed at the word and all that it entails. But why is that? Is it because we haven’t seen submission carried out in a God-pleasing and selfless way? Maybe we’ve seen submissive women getting trampled on by those placed in the headship roles. Let’s take a look at what godly submission truly is, and we’ll see that we will want to embrace submission because we know God wills it. He will bless us through it.

The Bible, in its original languages, was not written with chapters, verses, or headings. At times I feel like the chapters create a break in our minds, like we should stop reading and come back to it later. Yet when we do that, we may lose the continuity of the message. Our text today is a good example. Earlier in Chapter 5, Paul urges us to understand what the Lord’s will is. He tells us to “be filled with the Spirit” and gives us several ways in which we do that. Submitting is one of those ways. Now, as we see in our text, he gives us one setting in which submission is carried out: the home, with husband and wife.

We see God’s unique calls to husband and wife as he instructs wives to submit to their husbands and husbands to love their wives as they carry out their unique calling as the head. In each circumstance, Paul brings our focus back to Christ. We all submit to Christ first and then carry out our unique callings to make this marriage partnership a beautiful dance.

In each circumstance, Paul brings our focus back to Christ. We all submit to Christ first and then carry out our unique callings to make this marriage partnership a beautiful dance.

Wives, we submit to our husbands not as inferior to them. No, we’ve already studied how we have equal status before God. We submit to them as to the Lord. Submission is honoring our God-given head and respecting his leadership. Through it we receive God’s protection, care, and guidance since God is working through him. When I allow my husband to lead as God called him to, my role as his suitable helper becomes a true joy.

Husbands love their wives because Christ’s complete and perfect love compels them to do so. God has given husbands a bit of his authority. This is a huge responsibility—but one a husband carries out as a selfless and loving leader.

Will I submit perfectly and at all times? No. Will my husband lead and love perfectly and at all times? No. Will God cover us with his grace perfectly and at all times? Yes! When both husband and wife follow God’s design for them, this relationship will be a beautiful partnership, one in which the family grows closer to Christ and closer to each other.

Will I submit perfectly and at all times? No. Will my husband lead and love perfectly and at all times? No. Will God cover us with his grace perfectly and at all times? Yes!

For Further Reflection

Meditate on or write about how you feel about submission after reading this devotion. What blessings do you see from this beautiful partnership—either in your own life or in the marriages you see around you?

Closing Prayer

Dear God our Father, Creator of marriage, forgive me for the times I have resented my role of being a submissive wife and suitable helper to my husband. Help me to honor and follow your design for head and helper in my marriage. Cause husbands and wives to respect your will for their marriage and help them carry out their unique roles. You promise to bless marriages and families as they submit to Christ as their head. Guide us through your precious Word. Amen.

PROMO CODE

When you visit nph.net and purchase the Heirs Together of God’s Gracious Gift of Life student workbook, you’ll also receive the Heirs Together downloadable leader’s guide FREE. Be sure to add both products to your cart, and use the code CALLINGS21 at checkout. Offer expires 9/15/21. Please note that only one discount code per order may be used.

Subscribe to receive Reflections on Our Unique Callings in your e-mail inbox.

Reflections on our Unique Callings is brought to you by WELS Women’s 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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Our Hero Knows We Need Rest – July 27, 2021

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Mark 6:31

Our Hero Knows We Need Rest


Daily Devotion – July 27, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:31

See series: Devotions

Every year, countless people buy planners to help them map out their days, weeks, and months. Whether it’s paper or digital, a planner helps to get us where we’re supposed to be, when we’re supposed to be there. One recent trend finds our daily planners with a section called “Self-Care” (or something similar). The designers recognize if you don’t pencil in a time for rest and refueling, you’re not going to be as effective in all your other tasks. Sometimes, you just need to rest.

Jesus understood that the constant stream of people demanding his time and the disciples’ time was going to take its toll on them, too. Yes, sharing God’s kingdom was their mission. But they couldn’t carry out that mission if they were exhausted, burnt out, or sick. So Jesus put a pause on the “demands” and penciled into their collective planner the gift of time.

We might say, “I sure wish Jesus would do that for me today.” But, of course, he does. It’s important for us to recognize those times when Jesus gifts us a Saturday morning with nothing to do or weekday evenings when the calendar is clear. Let’s embrace a week at the lake or a trip with the family for what they are: our God presenting us with the opportunity to get some rest.

But don’t forget that he invites us to get a little rest for our souls as well. Every Sunday morning, there’s a time for us to retreat from the world to a quiet place and get rest from the world in the sanctuary of a church. And every day, there’s a time to retreat to a quiet place and do the exact thing you’re doing right now—meditating on God’s Word! Jesus knows that we need rest. I pray that’s exactly what this time has been for you!

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, you give me rest. You are my rest. Continue to graciously present me with little retreats to quiet places, that I may find the rest I need for my body and soul. Amen.

Daily 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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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Gives the Bread of Life to Unify Us in Faith, Love, and Purpose

These are the readings for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Christian congregations easily get distracted. Sometimes false teaching or overly strong opinions and the resentment that follows can destroy a church’s unity. Congregations may get caught up in too many projects or programs that divert them from their divine purpose. Only Jesus can overcome such disasters. He gives us his Word, the Bread of Life, to unify us in faith, love, and purpose.

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 24:3-11

How did the people respond to the words and laws that Moses brought them from the Lord?

They said with one voice that they would do everything the Lord had commanded.

In what two ways was this covenant (agreement) with the Lord sealed?

Moses sealed the covenant by sprinkling the people with the blood of the covenant. The Lord sealed the covenant by eating and drinking with the seventy elders of Israel.

Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Kings 4:42-44

What did the man from Baal Shalishah bring to the prophet Elisha?

The man from Baal Shalishah brought 20 loaves of barley bread, as well as some heads of new grain. We should probably not picture tall loaves of bread, such as we find in our stores, but flatter loaves, like pita bread, large tortillas, or pancakes.

Not only did those few loaves suffice for 100 men, but there was food left over. How did the miracle take place? (See the end of 2 Kings 4:44.)

The miracle took place according to the word of the Lord. “It came because of what the Lord had said, just as the Lord had said.” (The miracle of the Lord’s Supper works the same way–completely by the power of what Jesus said when he first started his sacrament.)

Traditional Second Lesson – Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

What concept does Paul emphasize in verses 2-7?

Paul emphasizes that Christians are to desire unity and “make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” That means being “humble and gentle.” We need to “be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

What special gifts has Jesus given to his Church? What is the ultimate purpose of their work in the Church?

Jesus has given the Church public ministers of the gospel (“pastors and teachers”). The ultimate purpose of their work is that the Church might “reach unity in the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature.”

How is unity attained in the Church?

Unity is reached through a faithful proclamation of the truth, the Word of God, the Bread of Life.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 9:8-11

When we give generously to the Lord and the poor, we often fear we will have less. What does God promise?

The Lord promises that instead of having less when we give to him and the poor, he will make all grace abound to us so that having all that we need, at all times, in all things, we will abound in all good activity.

What is the righteous man like? (See 9:9.)

Quoting Psalm 112:9, Paul says that the righteous man is generous. He scatters his gifts widely to the poor. His righteousness lasts forever. That is, God will never forget the selfless good he has done but will bless him for it forever.

Instead of just enriching us, what is God’s bigger plan?

God’s plan (bigger than just enriching us when we are generous) is to make us able to be even more generous, and then to have thanksgiving to God result from our generosity to others.

Gospel – John 6:1-15

What concern did Jesus have for the great crowds who were following him? What was Philip’s response?

Jesus wanted to feed the crowds. Philip thought that it was the people’s job to find food for themselves.

Once Jesus fed the crowd, miraculously, how did some wrongly react to Jesus’ miracle?

First, Jesus fed the entire crowd (5,000 men plus women and children) with just two fish and five loaves of bread. Some people, seeing this miracle, wanted to make Jesus king by force. Jesus hadn’t come principally to give physical bread though, but spiritual bread—the “Bread of Life.”

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Passing on the Message of Peace – Week of July 26, 2021

Passing on the Message of Peace – Week of July 26, 2021



My people, hear my teaching;
listen to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth with a parable;
I will utter hidden things, things from of old—
things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us.
We will not hide them from their descendants;
we will tell the next generation
the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord,
his power, and the wonders he has done.

Psalm 78:1-4



Do you remember the “telephone game”? In this game, often played at teen events and slumber parties, one person whispers a phrase or sentence in an ear and then it gets passed down and passed down through whispers and giggles. And in the end the last person shouts out a sentence that almost always had NOTHING to do with the original!

Well, in the early times of the Bible, generations relied on storytelling, a “telephone game” of sorts, to preserve their history, traditions, and faith. There were no GoogleDocs and there was no recording of Zoom meetings. Before the Bible was written by men through God, everything that God wanted us to know was passed down from generation to generation with conversation. How thankful we are that God’s Word is well-preserved. God’s Word is eternal, even during the times that we didn’t have paper and Smartphones!

The words “parable” and “hidden” in the Psalm might be confusing because these words might give the impression that the truth of God’s Word is something unattainable. But here the word “parable” means that teachings of the Bible need to be carefully and frequently studied in order to apply them to our lives. And the word “hidden” is used not because we cannot access God’s Word, but because we need to have God the Holy Spirit give us the faith to understand what we are learning.

Are you able to listen carefully when you have opportunities to hear and read God’s Word? Or are you easily distracted—by your “to-do” list, housework, financial concerns, or family issues? Do you take the time to really study and learn what God wants us to know, or do you rush through your devotional time just to check it off your list? I have good news—it’s never too late to refresh and restart devoting your time to read the Bible! God knows our sins; he knows that we are easily distracted and sometimes unfaithful. But God is always faithful, always forgiving, and he wants us to come back to him and his Word.

Let us listen carefully to the teachings of the Bible, passed down to us for generations and written down for us through the power of the Holy Spirit. After careful and frequent study of the stories in the Bible, we are more ready to pass on these truths to the children and families that we serve.

What a blessing that we work in a Christian early childhood program! Christian education first begins with adults studying the Bible. The more we grow in the Word, the more ready we are to “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.”



Prayer:

For Christian homes, O Lord, we pray, that you might dwell with us each day.
Make ours a place where you are Lord, where all is governed by your Word.
And when you call us all to rest, then will we have a home more blest,
See all our care and sorrow cease, and find with Christ eternal peace. Amen.

Christian Worship 500:1, 5



Early 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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Jesus Was a Compassionate Teacher of the Word – Family Devotion – July 26, 2021

Read: Mark 6:30-34

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:34

Jesus Was a Compassionate Teacher of the Word

 

Family Devotion – July 26, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:34

See series: Devotions

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

What does it mean to be compassionate? According to Google, it’s more than simply telling someone that you care. Compassion is “feeling or showing sympathy and concern for others.” To be compassionate is to feel deeply for another person as they experience the ups and downs of life. It’s a frame of mind, making it easy to treat others with love and understanding.

In our Bible reading, when Jesus saw a large crowd of people, “he had compassion on them.” They followed him even when Jesus was trying to find a quiet moment of rest. He didn’t think, “Man, I can’t get away from these people!” Or, “Why can’t I be alone for a few minutes?” He could’ve been frustrated. But no, Jesus had compassion on them. He saw them as “sheep without a shepherd.” Compassion is not an outward show but an emotion from the inner and deepest part of the body. God’s gut feeling for sheep is deep inside him and can’t be rooted out. Jesus knew sheep would be lost, confused, and in danger if he were not there to guide and help them. “So he began teaching them many things.” Jesus didn’t run and hide. He didn’t ignore the people while he ate his lunch. He saw people running on empty, who were hurting and hopeless and needed much more. He not only loved them in his heart, but he also showed his love by continuing to care for them. His love flowed out into his actions.

Jesus is a compassionate teacher to us as well! His love flowed out through his actions when he willingly gave his life on the cross and rose from the dead for all of us. Through his amazing, selfless example, he displayed how we might live a compassionate life. He inspires us to love deep down in our hearts and for our love to pour out in our actions. So, the next time your little sister asks you yet again to help her fix her Lego creation, show compassion. When your big brother just needs some time alone, show compassion. When Mom and Dad need your help around the house again, show compassion! Work to have your love shower on others through your actions just as Jesus showers us with his love as our compassionate teacher every moment of every day!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, we are thankful for your compassion every day. Help us to show compassion to others by letting our love show in our actions. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Jesus couldn’t get away from the people following him. Instead of getting mad, how did he feel about them? (Hint: it begins with the letter “c.”)
  • What does it mean to be compassionate?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • If you were one of Jesus’ disciples trying to leave the crowd of people, how might you have felt when they followed you?
  • Name two ways you might show compassion to others?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What makes it difficult for you to show compassion to others?
  • List examples from today how you might have showed compassion rather than become frustrated.

Hymn: CW 365:1 – Love Divine, All Love Excelling

Love divine, all love excelling,
Joy of heav’n, to earth come down,
Fix in us your humble dwelling,
All your faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, you are all compassion,
Boundless mercy from above.
Visit us with benediction;
Comfort us with heav’nly love.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Hero Has Ears to Listen – July 26, 2021

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught.
Mark 6:30

Our Hero Has Ears to Listen


Daily Devotion – July 26, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 6:30

See series: Devotions

If I were to ask a 4-year-old what a hero is like, he might mention that heroes are powerful, brave, and smart. I imagine he’d describe how a hero saves people—and usually does so in a dramatic fashion. We frequently see Jesus do “hero things” in the Bible: reaching down to pluck a drowning Simon Peter out of the water, calming a raging storm, raising Lazarus from the dead. Those events would be worthy of treatment on the silver screen, accompanied by dramatic orchestral music appropriate for such heroic acts.

Our Bible reading for today is not this kind of scene. No one is saved from immediate peril—no one dead becomes alive again. No miracle happens, no jaws drop in awed, wide-eyed wonder. And yet, when we look closer, we see Jesus still doing hero things—things that are perhaps less dramatic but no less heroic.

Take, for example, what he does with his ears. He listens when it would have been so much easier for him to talk. Jesus’ disciples had just returned from the mission trip Jesus had sent them on. You can easily picture the disciples going on at length about their work for the kingdom, telling stories about the challenges they faced and the successes they’d found. Of course, they were reporting their accomplishments to the One who is the master preacher and teacher. So this would be like me proudly reporting to Peyton Manning that I played high school football. Or excitedly telling Rachael Ray that I’m pretty proficient at making Kraft Mac and Cheese.

How easy it would have been for Jesus to smile and dismiss them in a patronizing or condescending way! But he didn’t do that. He took in every word and accepted their imperfect work gracefully. He listened because he cared. He cared about them and about what they were doing.

His ears remain attentive to our words today. He still listens to us because he cares about us. So don’t hesitate to share your joys and challenges, your frustrations and accomplishments with him in prayer. Our hero has ears to listen.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, friend and hero. You are never too distracted to listen or too busy to help me. Give me ears like yours that I also may patiently listen to those who need to talk. Amen.

Daily 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 Good Shepherd – July 25, 2021

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 23:4

Our Good Shepherd


Daily Devotion – July 25, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 23:4

See series: Devotions

King David knew the life of a shepherd because he grew up tending his father’s flocks. He was well aware of the dangers his sheep faced. We read in the Bible that David bravely defended his sheep from the attack of a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34,35). And his only weapons were a wooden rod and shepherd’s staff.

David reminded himself of this picture as he thought about the dangers he was facing in life. Though danger was all around him, he was not afraid. Why? Because he trusted that the Lord, his Good Shepherd, was always with him to defend, rescue, and protect him.

Jesus is our Good Shepherd. He rescued us from Satan and the jaws of eternal death. Jesus defeated Satan by laying down his life for us, and he won the victory over death with his resurrection. Neither Satan nor death could overcome him. And in Jesus, who is our defender and protector, we can be confident that neither Satan nor death can overcome us. He crushed the power of Satan! He swallowed up death in victory!

Take comfort in the salvation that your Good Shepherd has accomplished for you. And be assured that Jesus is always with you to defend you from danger and guide you through every difficulty of life.

Prayer:
Dear Good Shepherd, allow me to focus on you when troubles come my way. My challenges may seem great, but I know you are greater. And whether you take my troubles away, or give me the strength to endure them, I know you will be with me and always watch over me. Amen.

Daily 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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Just words – July 25, 2021

Just words – July 25, 2021


Father, forgive them.
Luke 23:34




Military Devotion – July 25, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 23:34

See series: Military Devotions

We were taught the words when we were very young. Grownups asked, “What do you say?” We replied, “Please.” Again, they asked, “What do you say?” Then, we answered, “Thank you.” They were teaching us. We also learned when to say, “I’m sorry.”

They were like magic words. “Please,” “Thank you,” and “I’m sorry” opened the doors to approval and acceptance. Say those words, and life goes smoother.

After a while, we discovered that we did not necessarily need to mean the words. We just had to say them the right way. Not through gritted teeth. Not as a sneer. Not in anger.

But with politeness, as if we were speaking from our hearts, even though they came only from our mouth.

As we grew older, we found this empty-hearted method also worked with the serious words, such as, “I forgive you.” or “I love you.”

At times we meant those powerful words. But sometimes, they became counterfeit words, empty words, lying words. There was no truth behind those words.

They were just words.

Such words are not God-words.

His words may have come from his mouth, but they have always sprung from his heart.

God’s words are not always polite. They may expose our emptiness and selfishness. They may call us “Liar!” or “Hypocrite!” They may hurt our feelings. But they always accurately express his feelings.

His words are always true. His words are backed up with actions.

Of the forbidden tree in Eden, he said, “when you eat of it, you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17). To murderous Cain, he said, “Now you are under a curse and driven from the ground which opened its mouth to receive your brother’s blood from your hand” (Genesis 4:11). To an overconfident Peter he said, “Before the rooster crows twice you will disown me three times” (Mark 14:30).

Which of these words did he not mean? Which warning was not carried out?

They were not just words.

To the Israeli slaves in Egypt, he said, “I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob” (Exodus 6:8). To fisherman Peter and his brother, Andrew, he said, “Come follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Mark 1:17). To the hostile crowd, he said, “After three days I will rise again” (Matthew 27:63).

Which of these words did he not mean? Which promise was not carried out?

They were not just words, were they?

They never are.

When the Savior God tells us, “I forgive you,” there is truth behind those words because there is blood behind those words.

Blood was dripping from his hands and feet when he prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

The prayer fits every member of the human race. The ones who were carrying out his execution, those who said, “His blood be upon us and our children,” they had no idea of the depth of the crime against heaven they were committing. So little do we know of the seriousness of our sin—any sin.

“Father, forgive them!” is his continuing prayer for us.

Those words have meaning. They have power. They give forgiveness.

They are more than just words.



Prayer: Lord God, your Bible contains the most important words for our life. In its pages, we learn of the judgment against us. In its pages, we learn of the judgment for us. Lead us to listen to your words. They show us our sin. Then they show us our Savior. They offer salvation. For this, we thank you. Amen.



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

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


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Transformed – teen devotion – July 25, 2021

This series tackles selections from the book of Proverbs that provide godly wisdom in the areas of relationships, discipline, words, anger, and more.

Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.
Proverbs 29:25

Audience of One

Whether it’s in a game or on a stage, performing in front of a crowd isn’t for everybody. Some get an energizing adrenaline rush from it. Others will avoid it like a plague. But can you always avoid being the center of attention? Can you avoid people looking at your social media profile? Can you avoid walking down a crowded hall at school? Can you avoid answering a point-blank question in a group of friends? Can you really avoid other people having an opinion about what you said, what you did, and who you are?

The most important question to ask yourself is this, “Am I trying to get everyone in my life to love and approve of me?” Because if you are, you won’t succeed. There will be some who think you’re less than the person standing next to you. There will be others who think you are the worst, even though you’ve done nothing wrong and haven’t sinned against them. We live in a world where the “audience” of our lives will, at times, disapprove of who we are and what we’ve done.

But there is One who will never disapprove of you. There is One who will never be ashamed of you. There is One who lived and died for you. One day because you clung in faith to him, he will say, “well done!” He is your One and only God. He keeps you safe. You never have to be afraid of what God thinks of you. In Christ, he promises to always love you, always forgive you, always approve of you.

So when you are nervous about what you will say, what you will do, or how you will perform in front of others, remember you are only playing to an audience of One. Only God’s opinion of you really matters. God’s approval is the only one you need. And God’s never-ending approval is exactly what you have in Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Lord, I know there will be times when people in my life will look down on me. Teach me to know and believe that you always love me and always approve of me. Give me that perspective so I can have confidence and joy serving others and you every day. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Rest for Our Souls – July 24, 202

Then [Jesus] said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
Mark 2:27,28

Rest for Our Souls


Daily Devotion – July 24, 202

Devotion based on Mark 2:27,28

See series: Devotions

The word “Sabbath” means “rest.” When God created the world, he “worked” for six days, and on the seventh day he rested, he stopped his work of creation. Therefore, in the Old Testament church God commanded his people to work for six days, and on the seventh day (the Sabbath day), they were to rest. On that Sabbath day, they rested in the Word of God. Yes, even back then, it was a temptation to work nonstop and get so busy with earthly things that they would neglect the Word of God.

In Jesus’ day, the local teachers of the law had made the day of rest into a day of rule-following, not a day of rest in God’s Word. They had multiplied the requirements and rules, adding all kinds of details as to what defined “work” and what defined “rest.” If you kept the man-made rules, you were to be proud of yourself. If you failed to keep the rules, you lived in guilt.

Here’s the problem: Seeking rest through following rules is never restful!

Jesus set them straight. He said that he was the one in charge of the Sabbath, not human beings making up their own rules. And Jesus came to give us rest for our souls. We could never keep God’s law so well that we can find rest in what we have accomplished. But Jesus kept it in our place. Then he died in our place for our failures. And he promises that because he has done it all, we can confidently look forward to heavenly rest by faith in him.

That’s why we take time to rest in the Word—not to follow a rule, but to honor our Savior. Jesus invites us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). We thank him for the rest we have now and look forward to the eternal rest that he has provided.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the rest you have provided for my conscience. Give me peace as I look forward to the eternal rest that lies in the future, all thanks to you. Amen.

Daily 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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