Courage that comes from confidence – April 12, 2024

Read: Acts 18:1-11

After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

When Silas and Timothy came from Macedonia, Paul devoted himself exclusively to preaching, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah. But when they opposed Paul and became abusive, he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent of it. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

Then Paul left the synagogue and went next door to the house of Titius Justus, a worshiper of God. Crispus, the synagogue leader, and his entire household believed in the Lord; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Acts 18:1-11

Courage that comes from confidence

Family Devotion – April 12, 2024

Devotion based on Acts 18:1-11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Have you ever been really sure of something? Like really, really sure of something?

Paul was so sure that Jesus was the Savior of the world that he told as many people as he could, no matter where he went. He was convinced that Jesus died not only for his sins, but for everyone. He knew for certain that Jesus rose from the dead, and that by believing in Jesus, a person could live with God forever.

But some people didn’t want to hear what Paul had to say. Others listened but didn’t believe him. Still others got angry at Paul because of what he was teaching people. They told Paul they were going to hurt him if he didn’t stop telling people about Jesus.

Paul was so sure of what he believed, he was so sure that Jesus was the Savior, he was so sure that everyone needed to hear about Jesus, that he kept telling people. He wasn’t going to stop simply because some people had told him to stop. Jesus even appeared to Paul and encouraged him in the work of telling people about all he had done. He promised that he would always be with him, so he didn’t need to be afraid.

You’ve heard in our devotions this week how you can be sure that Jesus died for you and now is alive. He has forgiven your sins and given you eternal life. But it is good news that isn’t just for you only! Jesus wants everyone to know that he is the Savior.

You can be just as sure that Jesus is your Savior and the Savior of everyone. Like Paul, you too can tell everyone about Jesus! Jesus even encourages you to talk about him—especially to someone who doesn’t know about him. He promised that he will be with you when you do. You don’t need to be afraid, especially when sharing Jesus with other people!

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, you have convinced me that Jesus is my Savior and that he rose from the dead on Easter. Strengthen me and help me to share that good news with everyone I know and everyone I meet. 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 is someone you want to tell about Jesus and what he has done?
  • What is so good about Jesus and what he did that we will want to tell others?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did the Lord encourage Paul?
  • What makes you afraid to tell people about Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think Paul needed the Lord’s encouragement about his mission work?
  • How does the Lord encourage you in your work of telling people about Jesus?

 

 

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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Military Devotion – Peace for the Military Child – April 12, 2024

Military Devotion – Peace for the Military Child – April 12, 2024




Jesus has words for the military child and the military family. And it’s just four simple words: Peace be with you. These are the words that Jesus spoke to his disciples after he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday.



Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

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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Proof of the Unseen – April 12, 2024

Then Jesus told [Thomas], “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:29

Proof of the Unseen

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Daily Devotion – April 12, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:29

See series: Devotions

There’s an old adage: Seeing is believing. It means you need to see something to accept that it is true. That saying, however, is not always true. People believe in all sorts of things they have not seen. For example, do you believe that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated?

Of course! Even though you didn’t see it happen, you know that it did. Why are you sure of it? Because there is proof of what you yourself did not see. Other people met him and gave eyewitness testimony about him, so you believe it happened.

What about Jesus’ resurrection from the dead? Do you need to see Jesus to believe he rose from the dead? Thomas thought that. He had missed Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples after he rose from the dead. When the others told him they had seen Jesus alive again, Thomas did not believe them. He said, “Unless I see, I will not believe it.”

Like Thomas, you have never seen Jesus alive after being dead for three days. Should you bet your life and eternity on something you have never seen? Not if seeing is believing.

Thankfully, seeing is not believing—there is proof of what you have not seen. Jesus answered Thomas’ doubt by physically appearing to him and giving him the proof he wanted. He gives you proof, too, but in a different way.

Jesus only appeared in person for forty days after his resurrection. After that, people relied not on seeing him with their own eyes but on the eyewitness testimony of those who did see him. In fact, Jesus calls you blessed if you believe even though you have not seen.

You don’t need to see or touch Jesus’ wounds to believe. You don’t need to see Jesus to know he’s real. When it comes to believing in Jesus and his resurrection, he has provided you with proof of the unseen that is just as blessed as witnessing it yourself.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for blessing me, through the testimony of your witnesses. 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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Salvation Delivered – April 11, 2024

Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20:21-23

Salvation Delivered

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Daily Devotion – April 11, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:21-23

See series: Devotions

When Jesus came into our world, he lived a perfect life, completely fulfilling God’s law. Then he died a sinner’s death, paying the price for your sins. Finally, Jesus rose from the dead, guaranteeing your sins are forgiven. By his life, death, and resurrection, he accomplished your salvation.

But how does that accomplished salvation get to you? If Jesus lived, died, and rose for you, but you didn’t hear about it, would it do you any good? If God has forgiveness for you but you don’t receive it, how can it help you?

Thank God for today’s Bible passage! On the evening of the first Easter, the risen Christ appeared to his disciples and commissioned them to preach the results of his work to the world.

They told people about the sin that would damn them. Why? Because they wanted their listeners to turn from their sins and live forever with Jesus in heaven. If the people acknowledged their need for forgiveness, the disciples forgave them. If they refused to admit their sin, the disciples refused to forgive them. In all this, they simply announced what Jesus had accomplished, and God did the work of convicting and forgiving.

He continues that same work to this day—sending Christians in every time and place to preach and teach his Word. And by that Word preached, taught, and read from the Scriptures, the salvation he accomplished on the cross is delivered to you.

First, he does it. Then he delivers it. You need both! Thank God he has done both!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for delivering the salvation you accomplished to those you need it, including 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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Tell Me All About It! – April 10, 2024

Read: 1 John 1:1-4

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:1-4

Tell Me All About It!

Family Devotion – April 10, 2024

Devotion based on 1 John 1:1-4

See series: Devotions

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

“Tell me all about it!”

Maybe a parent, grandparent, or a friend asked you that after you had gone somewhere. Maybe you had tried a new flavor of ice cream and they wanted to know all about it—what did it taste like? Maybe you just returned from an indoor water park, and they wanted to hear all about it—what did it look like? What slide was the fastest and most fun? What did it feel like? Tell me all about it!

Imagine being John for a moment. John was a follower of Jesus, one of his close friends. He had been close to Jesus for much of the time Jesus was healing people, preaching, and teaching. With his own eyes, he saw a crippled man get up and walk and a blind man see for the very first time. He listened as Jesus forgave sins and told people that the Messiah had come.

What a blessing, then, for you and me. We weren’t there, we haven’t seen Jesus with our eyes or heard him speak with our ears, but John did. It is as if we asked John, “Tell me all about it!” and John in his gospel and his letters tells us all about Jesus. He tells us about what he saw with his eyes, what he looked at, what he touched.

Because John told us what he had seen, heard, and touched, we can be sure of the same thing John was sure of—that Jesus is the Savior. By knowing and believing that Jesus is the Savior, Jesus gives us eternal life. We will live forever with our God because our sin has been paid for and washed away.

But that isn’t all! Jesus gives us “fellowship” with God. It’s a fancy way of saying that because of Jesus, we can be close with God. We are his and he is ours! We have this fellowship not only with God, but with our fellow believers as well. We are united with them in all that our God has done for us.

John was full of joy. He was happy to share what he had seen and heard so that we could be full of joy because of all that Jesus has done for us! Like John, we can share the joy as we share what John saw and heard—that Jesus is our Savior!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for telling me all about your Son, my Savior, Jesus, in your Word. Strengthen the fellowship I have with you and my fellow believers as I continue to grow in my faith. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is one thing you would like to tell everyone about at this moment?
  • What is one thing you would like to tell everyone about Jesus at this moment?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does John make it clear that Jesus was a real person?
  • What do these verses teach us about Jesus Christ?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If the things that John tells us are not true, how would that rob us of our joy as believers?
  • What does it mean that Jesus is the Word of life?

 

 

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’ Resurrection Brings Peace – April 10, 2024

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
John 20:19

Jesus’ Resurrection Brings Peace

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Daily Devotion – April 10, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:19

See series: Devotions

The disciples were in hiding. Their teacher had been arrested and executed, and they had acted shamefully. They abandoned Jesus when they should have helped him. Now, he was dead, and they couldn’t apologize or make it up to him. The guilt they felt must have been astronomical.

Worse than that, though, was the fact that the people who killed Jesus were probably going to arrest and kill them, too. So they locked themselves in a room and waited for the inevitable.

They were not, however, visited by the vindictive Jewish leaders. Instead, they were visited by Jesus. He who had been crucified, dead, and buried was now very much alive and standing among them. He entered without using the door. The surprise they felt must have been astronomical.

Do you think they were also afraid when they saw him? After all, they had wronged Jesus when they abandoned him. Now, he was standing right in front of them. The locked doors had not stopped Jesus from getting to them. Neither had death. Would Jesus hold a grudge?

No! His first words to them were, “Peace be with you.” He didn’t punish them or coax an apology out of them. He gave them peace. It was more than freedom from enemies who wanted to kill them. It was the peace that comes from knowing everything was right between them and God.

The risen Savior gives that same peace to you. What does it take to get peace? Peace with God comes at a cost, but Christ has paid it for you.

Sin makes everything wrong between you and God, but Jesus paid the price for your sin. You can be certain because after Jesus paid that price, he rose from the dead with a message of peace on his lips.

So, what guilt burdens your conscience? What sins keep you up at night? Know that Jesus’ resurrection brings you peace. In Christ, you have the unconditional pardon of everything that you’ve ever done wrong. You are forgiven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me peace from the certain fact of your resurrection from the dead. 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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Joy Made Complete – April 9, 2024

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.
1 John 1:3,4

Joy Made Complete

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Daily Devotion – April 9, 2024

Devotion based on 1 John 1:3,4

See series: Devotions

What brings you joy? Does it come when you run a mile in under ten minutes? Perhaps it is when you are flush with cash. Or it may simply be when you are with the people you love. Interestingly, in all of these examples, joy is the product of outward circumstances in your life.

Unfortunately, that makes this kind of joy fleeting—doesn’t it? You can lose your family, money, athleticism, and joy along with them. When joy comes from your ever-changing circumstances, it is here today and gone tomorrow.

God wants you to have something better. That’s why the apostle John wrote today’s Bible passage. He gives you a cause for joy that will stay with you no matter what happens in life: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

That is what John saw and heard. With his own eyes, he saw Jesus’ empty tomb. With his own ears, he heard Jesus speak to him and the other disciples on the first Easter evening. They spent decades telling others about the risen Christ, and that good news united everyone who believed it. More importantly, it also united them to God.

It does the same thing for you! The reality of the resurrection gives you forgiveness of sins, fellowship with God, and eternal life. These are promises, and Jesus’ resurrection is the promise kept that guarantees all the rest.

This means Easter is a source of joy that is always with you, no matter what your ever-changing circumstances are. Remember: God is good, his Son lives, and your name is written in heaven. Nothing can take that away, as long as one thing is true; and it is always true: Christ is risen!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, use the message of your Son’s resurrection to make my joy complete—this day and every day. 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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Prove it! – April 8, 2024

Read: John 20:19-31

Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe it.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:24-31

Prove it!

Family Devotion – April 8, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:24-31

See series: Devotions

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

“No! For real! It really happened!” insisted Santiago. “I kicked the ball from way over there… and it went in the goal! It was amazing!”

Despite Santiago’s claim, Maria didn’t quite believe Santiago’s story. It seemed a little too impressive to be true. Her eyes narrowed as she crossed her arms and said, “Well, prove it! Do it again so I can see you actually do it.”

When something seems a bit too far-fetched to be real or a bit too good to be true, we want proof. We want to see it happen with our own eyes. In today’s Bible story, Thomas is a little bit like Maria.

Thomas missed out on seeing Jesus alive on Easter evening. The disciples told Thomas that Jesus was alive. That they saw him. But it just seemed a bit too far-fetched to be real, a bit too good to be true. People don’t come back to life after they are dead. Thomas knew Jesus died. If he was going to believe that Jesus was now alive after being dead, Thomas wanted proof. He wasn’t going to believe what they said unless he could see it with his own eyes.

In his patient love for Thomas, Jesus appeared to the disciples again when Thomas was there. He touched Jesus with his own fingers. He saw Jesus with his own eyes. “My Lord and my God!” he exclaimed. A living Jesus made him so happy!

Does a Jesus who lives make you happy? Even though we weren’t there that first Easter evening, or a week later when Thomas saw his Savior with his own eyes, we know and believe that Jesus lives. Why? Because John and Thomas both saw it with their own eyes and have told us that Jesus rose. The Holy Spirit has convinced us through God’s Word that Jesus is the Savior and that he lives! The faith God has put in our hearts sees and believes that Jesus is our Savior.

Say with Thomas, “My Lord and my God!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you have risen from the dead and proven it by appearing to hundreds of people afterwards. Even though I didn’t see it with my own eyes, thank you for convincing me of this truth through your Word and giving me eternal life. 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

  • Do you think you would believe the disciples if they told you that Jesus was alive on Easter? Why?
  • How do you know that Jesus is alive?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think Thomas doubted the news the other disciples shared with him that Jesus had risen?
  • Why do you believe that Jesus rose from the dead and is your Savior?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What kinds of peace did Jesus bring to his disciples that evening? What kind of peace does Jesus bring you?
  • What were Jesus’ miracles a “sign” of? How do they help us see that Jesus is the Savior?

 

 

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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The Living Lord Gives Proof and Peace – Week of April 8, 2024

The Living Lord Gives Proof and Peace – Week of April 8, 2024



Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Psalm 16:9-11



Who do you want at your side every day of your life? Your answers could vary from a spouse to your children, a parent or grandparent, maybe a faithful coworker turned friend or a friend you’ve been praying for for years. Think of the qualities you hope for in this companion: loyal, trustworthy, faithful, shares your values, believes in you, honest, confident, forgiving, etc. The list could go on.

The presence of a faithful companion is envied and sought after by all people. When we have someone by our side to help us, guide us, keep us grounded, give us the honest truth, and keep us focused on the positive in our lives, we are blessed! It’s easier to make it through the hard times as a team rather than alone.

What hardships are you facing today? A child that challenges your authority? A relative who’s making poor choices? Anxiety that grips your heart at the most inopportune times? A tough financial situation that came out of nowhere? Or it’s possible that you might be thinking your life is going fairly well right now, nothing seems to be getting you down.

Whether you can outrightly name the hardship you’re facing right now or you’re struggling to think of something, one thing is certain: sin infects each of our lives here on earth. Greed slips into our thoughts, jealousy takes over our friendships, hatred ruins relationships, gossip sneaks into our conversations. Whatever it is, sin steals our peace and joy!

That’s why Psalm 16 is so important. We have proof from our living Savior that sin’s grasp on us is broken through Christ alone, who is our constant companion! There is no better companion than Christ. Read the Psalm again. He will never abandon us; he makes known to us the path of life, he fills us with joy and eternal pleasures!

Psalm 16 is a messianic psalm, meaning it refers first of all to the victory Christ won through his resurrection. Secondly, it means that the blessings referred to in this psalm are also ours today, freely given to us through Christ.

As King David penned this psalm, he knew his body would one day meet the grave, but he also knew he could rest assured knowing that because of Christ’s victory over sin he has a companion in the Almighty God for eternity!
Today, trust like David trusted. Christ has already proved it all on that joyful Easter day. In the midst of hardship, we have peace and joy in his presence forever!



Prayer:
Jesus, you are my constant companion. Your friendship gives peace like none other because you have already conquered sin, death and the devil for me! In the midst of life’s trials, remind me of my victory in your empty tomb. Be with me, Lord; make known to me the path of life and fill me with the joy of Easter morning each new day! Amen.

Question to consider:
Think back to a hardship that you’ve gone through. How did you see God’s hand in that hardship? Think of a friend who is going through a hard time and share our verse from today with them.


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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Courage To Speak – April 8, 2024

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.” So Paul stayed in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching them the word of God.
Acts 18:9-11

Courage To Speak

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Daily Devotion – April 8, 2024

Devotion based on Acts 18:9-11

See series: Devotions

It takes courage to speak the Word of God. The apostle Paul knew this from experience. Once, in a city called Lystra, his audience pummeled him with stones and left him for dead. He was flogged and imprisoned in Philippi, chased out of Thessalonica and Berea, and sneered at in Athens.

Now, Paul had come to Corinth, and his reception was mixed. Some people believed the Word that he preached, but others were abusive to him. You can imagine what he thought: “Will I only be laughed at, or will this turn ugly? Should I go before something worse happens?”

You probably don’t need to try very hard to imagine that inner monologue because you’ve thought something similar. Although you haven’t traveled the Mediterranean world on a preaching tour like Paul, you have been in situations where sharing the Word of God could have led to unpleasant results.

Perhaps you’ve stood by a friend burdened with a guilty conscience, a relative mourning her dead husband, or a colleague shocked at the state of the world. In the Bible, God has things to say for all those situations. But when you speak them, it could cause a hostile reaction.

However, rather than being silent, remember the encouragement that Jesus gave Paul: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.” The risen Lord promised to be with him, and he kept that promise. He blessed Paul’s work in Corinth for a year and a half!

Did you know that God is with you too? After his resurrection, he gave a similar promise to everyone who believes in him: “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). How encouraging to know that the risen Lord is with you to support you as you speak his Word!

Prayer:
Lord, give me the courage to speak your Word when it needs to be spoken. 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 – April 7, 2024

One truth shared: Jesus gives us proof and peace.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:19-20, 29-31

Proof and Peace

“I’ll believe it when I see it,” says each player on the team to their coach who promises an “easy” practice for once.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” says the struggling student to the chemistry teacher who promises the next test will be as easy as H2O.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” says the parent to the teen who guarantees a clean room by the end of the day.

We live in a world that loves proof. We want to hear facts, see video clips, and learn about the evidence before we believe anything. In a time filled with fraud, phishing, and fake news, perhaps that’s not such a bad thing. At the same time, we also live in a sinful world where sinners often break their promises. Perhaps you’ve been lied to so often or heard empty words so many times that it’s hard for you to believe anyone anymore.

But can you trust Jesus? Easter Sunday tells us the answer. Absolutely, without a doubt, most certainly—YES—we can trust Jesus!

Listen to John’s eyewitness account today. The disciples were gathered together filled with fear and uncertainty when suddenly Jesus appeared among them alive! Then he showed them his hands and his side as even more proof. He really was crucified and died. He really did pay for sin. He really did rise in victory. He did everything just as he had said. That’s why Jesus could greet them by saying, “Peace be with you.” The disciples could have peace knowing that they could trust Jesus and all of his promises. The disciples could have peace knowing their Savior’s victory gave them life now and forever.

One of them though was not there—Thomas. Thomas essentially said, “I’ll believe it when I see it.” But sure enough, Jesus appeared again the following week to give Thomas the same comforts of proof and peace.

It’s easy to be like Thomas today. Our world wants proof of everything, and we haven’t seen Jesus face-to-face. How are we supposed to believe in him?

Look again at John’s words in verse 31. John was an eyewitness of what happened. He, and others, wrote their eyewitness accounts of what Jesus did so that we can believe. This isn’t fake news, a fable, or a fairy tale. These are real, factual events that really and actually happened. The apostles saw it and then wrote it for us to know and believe.

Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” We haven’t personally seen Jesus or touched his wounds ourselves. But others have! Jesus really did live and die for us. Jesus really did rise from the dead. Jesus really is our Savior! How blessed we are to know and believe that we have proof and peace that Jesus is alive.

Prayer: Lord, my heart is often filled with fears and doubts. Help me to read with confidence the eyewitness accounts in your Word and to trust that you really are my living Savior. Let the proof of your victory fill my heart with peace and joy. 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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My Lord and My God – April 7, 2024

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:27,28

My Lord and My God

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Daily Devotion – April 7, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:27,28

See series: Devotions

As a father of twins, it’s not hard for me to understand why a twin would have a problem with people being sure they had seen something. A twin regularly encounters people who believe they saw what the twin knows they did NOT see. “It was my twin sister that you saw” is regular speech for a twin girl.

Thomas wanted more than mere words that his companions had really seen Jesus.

And his gracious Jesus chose to give it to him. A week earlier, he appeared behind doors that were locked in fear and spoke, “Peace,” into the room. And he—personally, tangibly, and audibly gave Thomas what he needed—absolute proof that he, the crucified one, died and buried, was now alive! Thus, the risen Savior could tell Thomas to stop doubting and believe. In faith, Thomas confessed, “My Lord and my God!”

We believe, teach, and confess that Jesus continues to come today—personally, tangibly, and audibly. He is present personally and audibly in worship when we hear, “Forgiven in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” His true presence in body and blood for forgiveness in his Supper is unbelievable to some, but the core of faith for the one, holy, Christian, and apostolic Church. “My Lord and my God!” continues to be the confession that springs from jaded, now liberated lips.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the saving love you’ve shown me in the living Christ who continues to come to me in Word and sacrament. Thank you for the confession I get to say today: “My Lord and my God!” 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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No Blade Sharp Enough – April 6, 2024

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:20

No Blade Sharp Enough

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Daily Devotion – April 6, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:20

See series: Devotions

To say that Thomas Jefferson liked to read would be a grand understatement. “I cannot live without books,” he once said. In his day, Jefferson had the largest personal collection of books in the United States. It numbered in the thousands, and the volumes covered every conceivable subject, from history and literature to science and philosophy and everything in between.

In this massive library that Jefferson loved, however, there was one written history that received unique treatment. It was the Bible’s written history of Jesus. For reasons fully known only to him, Jefferson took the written account of Jesus’ life and proceeded to remove any verses that described supernatural events and any verses that described Jesus as anything more than a man. He simply sliced them out of the text. As one historian described it, he “kept his blade busy.” Then Jefferson pasted together the remaining verses to make a book of his own. He called it, The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth.

Given the kind of book it was, it is not difficult to guess how the book ends. The book ends with this sentence: “There laid they Jesus, and rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.” In Jefferson’s version of events, Jesus does not rise from the dead. In his book on Jesus’ life, Easter does not survive Jefferson’s blade.

But there’s no blade sharp enough to remove the reality of Easter. Whether it’s a blade that cuts verses from the written account of the gospel, a blade that cuts down the lives of early Christians, or a blade that puts present-day Christians to death for their faith—the tomb is empty. No matter the sharpness of the blade, Jesus lives. No matter the sharpness of the blade, God has kept his promise, we stand forgiven, and eternal life is ours.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, there is no blade sharp enough that can separate your promises from my life. Thank you for the reality of Easter. Thank you for the reality of your empty tomb. 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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I win because Jesus won – April 5, 2024

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:19-26

I win because Jesus won

Family Devotion – April 5, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:19-26

See series: Devotions

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

There was a thing armies would do long ago. An agreement would be made between the two opposing forces. Each would send out their best soldier. These two soldiers would then fight each other. Whoever won, the army of the winning soldier would win the battle. Instead of hundreds or thousands of men being wounded or killed, it was just one soldier. While only one fought, the victory would go to the entire army.

The same thing happened about 2000 years ago on the cross. Jesus was fighting for you against some powerful enemies. He was going to battle against the devil who hates Jesus and those who follow him. He was fighting against sin, and against death, which comes because of our sin. They all seem so powerful—we all sin, we all fall for the devil’s temptations, and no one can escape death. If Jesus lost, all of us would lose too. If the devil would win, we would be separated from God forever. We would never get to heaven.

But we know what happened! Jesus didn’t lose. We heard it just a few days ago on Easter! Christ is risen! Jesus rose from the dead. He died to pay for our sin, and then on Easter, he rose from the dead. He was victorious. He had won! He has defeated sin, the devil, and death. And the best part: Jesus’ victory counts for you!

That is what Paul is saying when he talks about Jesus being the “firstfruits.” The “firstfruits” was a way of describing the very first fruit or grain that was gathered. It was given as a special offering to God. By giving the firstfruits, they were also trusting that God would bless the rest of the harvest. Jesus is the “firstfruits”—he died and rose again and won. His resurrection is the promise that God will raise us too! Jesus was the first to overcome death, and because he did it, we too will rise from the dead and overcome death. His victory is our victory.

Because Jesus did it first, we can be sure God will keep his promise to raise us from the dead and that we will live with him forever in heaven! When Jesus comes back on judgment day, our bodies will be raised to life and we will be alive again, just like Jesus, ready to live with him forever!

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for defeating my enemies and giving your victory to me. Help me to remember that victory when I feel sad or scared. Fill me with joy in knowing I will be with you forever in heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did Jesus defeat our enemies?
  • What do you think is the best blessing that comes from Jesus’ victory?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does Christ’s resurrection assure us of?
  • True or false: Without the resurrection, our faith is useless.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is Jesus’ victory so important for you and me?
  • Paul describes death as “the last enemy.” How is death our “enemy”?

 

 

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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Military Devotion – All Will Be Made Alive – April 5, 2024

Military Devotion – The Things He Carried – March 29, 2024




1 Corinthians 15

The apostle Paul was one of those who saw Jesus alive after he rose from the dead, and he said this in 1 Corinthians chapter 15: “Just as Christ rose, so in Christ, all will be made alive.”



Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

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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By Name – April 5, 2024

Thinking [Jesus] was the gardener, [Mary Magdalene] said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.”
John 20:15,16

By Name

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Daily Devotion – April 5, 2024

Devotion based on John 20:15,16

See series: Devotions

It is Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene, longtime follower of Jesus, is still in shock over his death. To make matters worse, she discovers that his tomb is now empty.

She has no idea how to process this. Has someone stolen his corpse? As she stands outside that vacant tomb, all she can do is let the tears flow. But then a man approaches and asks why she is crying. At first, she presumes he’s the caretaker of the garden that surrounds the tomb. Perhaps, for some reason, he is the one who’s taken Jesus’ body. “Sir, if you have carried him away,” Mary says, “tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

But then the man calls her by name. Nothing more. Nothing less. He simply says to her,”Mary.”

Just one word, her name. But in that one word, Mary realizes that this man knows her and that she knows him. And in that one word, Mary realizes that Jesus, her teacher, her friend, her Savior, her Lord—is no longer dead. He is very much alive. And because he is, everything he ever claimed to be, every promise he ever made—everything is true. Everything. Because here he is. Alive and calling her by name.

You and I, in our sinful weakness, have all kinds of Mary Magdalene moments—moments when all we feel is confusion, grief, and uncertainty. But then the Lord speaks through his promises in the Bible. As he proclaims in Isaiah chapter 43, “I have called you by name.” He encounters us face-to-face through his body and blood in Holy Communion.

And when he does, I realize he knows me, and I know him. I realize he lives, and because he does, everything he ever claimed to be, every promise he’s ever made is true. Everything. Because here he is. Alive and calling me by name.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you live. And you call me by name. All is well. Thank 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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Waiting – April 4, 2024

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

Waiting

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Daily Devotion – April 4, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:20

See series: Devotions

The next time you walk through a cemetery, look at the gravestones. Some are simple, with the name, date of birth, and date of death. Some add a word or two about the deceased: “Beloved Father,” “Devoted Mother,” “At Rest.” Others may have an etching of a favorite hobby. Others offer the reader an endearing sense of fun; for example, one woman’s gravestone contains the recipe for her world-famous fudge. Still others, without apology, go straight for the laugh with remarks such as, “I knew this would happen,” or “Please deactivate my Facebook.”

The vast majority of the gravestones, however, do seem to have one thing in common. Almost all of them look backward—to the past, to what has been, and the life the person has lived.

There are a few gravestones, however, that take a different approach. Some choose to look ahead. “Gone from our sight,” one reads— “Gone from our sight, but soon to rise again in glorious resurrection.” Another says, “Death is not the end; it is merely a sleep awaiting resurrection.” Still another says, “In memory of a life lived, and a resurrection yet to come.”

The gravestones that look ahead are wonderful reminders of what you and I have in Jesus Christ. God the Son entered our world of sin and death. On our behalf, he lived a life of perfect goodness. In our place, he took our every wrong to Calvary’s cross, where he suffered and died to wash us clean. Then he rose from death. In addition, the apostle Paul tells us that Jesus’ resurrection from death is the first of the many resurrections yet to come—that on the Last Day, Jesus will return and summon our bodies from our graves. He will reunite them with our souls. And then—all who trust in Jesus—in glorified, perfect bodies, will live in the presence of the Lord forever, freed, once and for all, from the presence and effects of sin.

The body of the Christian, therefore, is not just resting. It’s waiting. The best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, because of you, the bodies of our fellow Christians have something wonderful in store. Thank 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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Death is NOT the End – April 3, 2024

Read: Job 19:23-27

I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:25-27

Death is NOT the End!

Family Devotion – April 3, 2024

Devotion based on Job 19:25-27

See series: Devotions

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

“I am scared of dying,” Rodney told his mother.

Have you said that or felt the same way? Most people do at some point. Death is scary. We don’t know when it will happen to us, or how. We just know it will happen. No one likes to talk about their death. It makes us uncomfortable. It can make us afraid of death.

The words of our Scripture reading were written by a man named Job. He had experienced the pain and the uncertainty of death in his life. Tragically, almost his entire family died on one day. His own health wasn’t great. Job knew at some point, he would die.

Yet, Job didn’t seem afraid. In fact, he seems really confident about something. He says, “After my skin has been destroyed (after he dies), yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.” Job was sure that even with all the uncertainty about when he would die, he would see his loving God with his own eyes!

How could Job be so sure? Job knew and trusted in God’s promises of a Savior. He was certain a Savior was coming who would overcome death. Job was convinced the Savior would come and save him from his sin and his death. He was positive his Savior (Job calls him his “redeemer”) would live!

Because of that Savior, Job knew that while he would one day die, death would not the end. In fact, Job says that after he dies, he will see God with his own eyes! If Job sees his Savior, it must mean he’s alive!

The same Savior Job trusted in is the same Savior you and I know and trust in—Jesus! Job’s Savior and our Savior lives! We were able to proclaim it and sing it on Easter! Christ is risen. Jesus is alive. We know that our Redeemer, our Savior, lives! He has defeated and overcome death.

Which means death is not the end! With Job, we too can be certain we will see Jesus. Even though we know one day we will die, we can be as confident as Job that Jesus will take us to be with him forever! We will be alive! Then you will see him—with your own eyes!

Closing Prayer:

I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives who once was dead;
he lives, my ever-living head.

He lives to silence all my fears;
he lives to wipe away my tears,
he lives to calm my troubled heart,
he lives all blessings to impart. Amen.
(Christian Worship 441:1,5)

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

  • Are you excited to see God? Why?
  • Job was sure he was going to see his Savior when he died. What is one thing you know for sure about what Jesus has done for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why don’t you need to be scared of death?
  • How did the promise of a Savior help Job when things in his life were really hard?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Job uses the word “redeemer” in verse 25. That is one of the titles for Jesus. What aspect of our Savior’s work does the word “redeemer” describe?
  • How does Jesus’ resurrection help you when you are afraid of dying?

 

 

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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Remembered – April 3, 2024

If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. . . But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.
1 Corinthians 15:14,20

Remembered

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Daily Devotion – April 3, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:14,20

See series: Devotions

“He’s not really dead as long as we remember him.” “As long as we have memories of her, she will always be with us.” In times of grief, it’s easy to say these things. Well-intended? Yes. Solid and meaningful? Not really.

For instance, how much do you know about your great-great-grandparents? In terms of real years, they walked on this earth not too long ago. And yet, for most of us, they are little more than old pictures in an album. Memories fade. Quickly. And the same will apply to you and me. Sure, there might be smartphone footage of us uploaded into the cloud. But do people truly remember us after we’re gone? Real memories rapidly go away.

Which brings us to Jesus. When God the Son entered our time and space, he did not come to soothe us with sentiment. He did not come to comfort us with clichés. He came to confront what was killing us. What was killing us was the guilt of our sin. The consequence of our having severed our relationship with God was that sin and death rushed in to fill the void.

And so God the Son arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. On our behalf, he lived the life of perfect love that you and I have failed to live. In our place, he suffered and died at Golgotha to pay our debt of sin in full. And then—to make clear that he really is who he claims to be, and he really has done what he has promised to do—Jesus rose from the dead.

In 1 Corinthians 15, the apostle Paul does not simply say that Jesus is alive in our memories. He speaks of it as an actual event. And he’s candid. “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul says, “our preaching is useless, and so is your faith.”

“But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead,” Paul later says. Jesus lives. And because he does, we too shall live. Not through others’ memories. But in reality. With Jesus. Forever.

Prayer:
Living Lord, in you I will never be forgotten. Never. Praise be to your holy name. 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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My Own Eyes – April 2, 2024

After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:26,27

My Own Eyes

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Daily Devotion – April 2, 2024

Devotion based on Job 19:26,27

See series: Devotions

From Chicago, you take a 16-hour flight to Muscat International Airport, located on the southeastern corner of the Sinai Peninsula. From there, you’re in for a long drive—over 500 miles through the barren desert. Once you arrive at the city of Salalah, you still must work your way through another 20 miles of narrow, winding roads to reach a hilltop. There, you will find a small, modest building. Walk inside, and there, in the center of the floor, you will see it—the traditional site where the Old Testament believer Job lies buried.

Stand there for a moment in that tiny room. Let your eyes rest on the rectangular grave. What remains of Job’s body? Dust? A few bone fragments, perhaps? This would come as no surprise to Job. He understood very well the nature of death in this sinful, broken world. He understood that, upon death, the physical body breaks down.

But Job understood something else. He knew that even after his body had decomposed in death, there would come a moment when he would see God with his body resurrected and restored. Or as Job himself proclaimed, “Yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another.”

Beneath the rectangle in the floor of that tiny hilltop room, Job’s body will not remain as grains of dust and bits of bone. His body will rise. He knows this because his Redeemer has promised to raise him. And he knows that his Redeemer will keep his promise because Job knows that his Redeemer lives.

Whether you are looking at the grave of Job on a remote hilltop or the grave of your loved one who has died in the Lord, or whether age or illness has made it clear that your own body does not have long to live—one beautiful truth stands tall. Jesus has conquered sin and death at the cross. He has risen from death. In him, we stand forgiven. Eternal life awaits.

Prayer:
Lord, one day I will see you with my own eyes. How my heart yearns within 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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What Will You Proclaim – Week of April 1, 2024

What Will You Proclaim – Week of April 1, 2024



 I will not die but live, and will proclaim what the LORD has done.

Psalm 118:17



Do you ever wonder what birds are saying? My children are currently obsessed with watching birds. Anytime a bird flies overhead, it is of utmost importance to my toddler that I respect the command of her finger pointing upward and tilt my head straight up to see the flying creature in the sky, lest I be promptly “cawed” at! Birds make a variety of noises – and often I wonder what they are trying to say. Living in Alaska I wonder: “Are you trying to alert me of an approaching bear or moose? Or are you just giving me the daily bird news for the day? Might you be proclaiming your ardent love to a fellow bird?”

Whatever it may be, the birds are proclaiming something, which to my toddler currently just sounds like “caw!”

What do you proclaim? If a toddler points at you passing by, how would they imitate you? What do the people around you, whether they be children, coworkers, friends, or family members, hear you saying most often?

Often in our days we fall into the trap of proclaiming our frustrations of the day, our worries and complaints. Our grievances come out more frequently than the proclamations of what our almighty and faithful God has done!

Because of what our Lord has done for us, we have life! The ever-present fear of death in this world is squashed by the truth of the Gospel: because of Jesus’ perfect life, death and resurrection the Christian has certain hope that we will live forever with God.

If you check out the surrounding verses from our text today in Psalm 118 you see that it speaks of the greatness of the LORD and the covenants he has kept with his people. These covenants not only applied to God’s people 3000 years ago, but to you today!

What will you proclaim to those who pass you by today? What will they hear you say?

Let it always be that we proclaim what the LORD has done, that we have life instead of death, that the Christian has the certain hope of heaven! Let your words today mirror and proclaim these verses from Psalm 118:
v1: He is good; his love endures forever.
v6: The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.
v13: The Lord helped me.
v14: The Lord is my strength and my defense.
v16: The Lord’s right hand has done mighty things!
v27: He has made his light shine on us.



Prayer:
Almighty and ever-living LORD, you are good and your love endures forever! It is so easy to fall into Satan’s trap of proclaiming my woes over the wondrous life you have won for me. Remind me that what I say matters and others are listening. Help them to hear me proclaim your faithfulness more than my trials. Help them to listen to me speak of your blessings more than my worries. I am alive in you and will proclaim what you have done! Amen.

Question to consider:
There is a saying that goes: “Actions speak louder than words.” Sometimes what we do says more than anything we actually speak. What are some actions you can take to proclaim Christ to those around you?


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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Don’t look for a living person in a grave! – April 1, 2024

Read: Mark 16-1-8

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”

But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed.

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.

Trembling and bewildered, the women went out and fled from the tomb. They said nothing to anyone, because they were afraid.
Mark 16:1-6,8

Don’t look for a living person in a grave!

Family Devotion – April 1, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 16:1-6,8

See series: Devotions

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

Where would you look for a spoon in your house? You wouldn’t look for a spoon in your bedroom closet or on a shelf in the living room. That would be silly. Those aren’t places you would find a spoon.

Where would you look for a person you thought had died and been buried? On the first Easter Sunday, there was a group of women who thought they knew. After all, they knew Jesus had died. They knew where Jesus had been buried. They thought they would find him where you would normally find a dead person—in a grave. In a cemetery.

But were they shocked! Instead of a dead Jesus, they found an angel with the most amazing news. “He is risen!” Jesus wasn’t in the grave anymore because Jesus wasn’t dead anymore. He was alive! And you wouldn’t look for living person in a grave!

That was really good news. The women didn’t quite understand it all that first Easter morning. After all, dead people normally don’t come back to life. But Jesus did! And because Jesus was alive, God had good news for all people. God has good news for you!

Jesus died on the cross because he had to take all of our sins from us. And God said that the punishment for sin was death. But he didn’t stay dead. God raised Jesus from the dead so that he was alive again. Here’s what it means for us: Because Jesus is alive, we can be sure that all of our sins, all the times we messed up, all the times we did the wrong thing—ALL of them have been forgiven. Our enemy, the devil, has been defeated. Death has been robbed of its power. Jesus is alive, and because he is alive, you too will live with him forever!

That is all really good news! All because Jesus isn’t dead, but alive. He is risen!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rising from the dead. Thank you for defeating the devil. Thank you for paying for my sins. Thank you for giving me eternal life in heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • The women went to the Jesus’ grave because they thought he was dead. But what did they find?
  • Name one good thing that happened because Jesus rose from the dead. Then name another good thing that will happen.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why were the women going to the tomb? What were they expecting?
  • Why was it so hard for the women to believe what the angel told them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why were the women concerned about the stone that sealed the tomb? What does this tell us about their expectations on that morning?
  • Jesus died as the punishment for our sin. Why is his rising from the dead so important to us as Christians?

 

 

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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Long Night – April 1, 2024

I know that my Redeemer lives.
Job 19:25

Long Night

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Daily Devotion – April 1, 2024

Devotion based on Job 19:25

See series: Devotions

The year is 1759, and on a British warship, a young man by the name of Samuel Medley is facing a very long night. In a recent battle, Medley sustained an injury to his leg. The leg is getting worse. Medley might die. The surgeon has just told him that if the leg is not better by morning, he will have to amputate.

In another sense, Samuel Medley has been facing a long night for a long time. As a boy, he learned about Jesus from his grandfather. Since then, however, he has not given Christianity the time of day.

But on that ship, facing death, facing a long night of dark despair, Samuel remembers. He remembers what his grandfather has taught him. He looks to his long-forgotten Redeemer.

Perhaps you are facing a long night. Perhaps you already fear that your sleep tonight will be restless and haunted. Or perhaps you’ve been facing a long night for a long time. Maybe—just maybe—your relationship with your Redeemer has been dismissive, thoughtless, listless, and apathetic, and for that reason, there’s been a despairing darkness in your life that’s hard to define, but it’s there.

Jesus saw Samuel Medley on that ship. He carried him through that long night. At dawn, the ship’s surgeon discovered that the leg was better. There was no amputation. Samuel Medley lived. The long night set off a chain of events that drew Samuel closer and closer to his Redeemer by the power of the gospel. One day, he entered the pastoral ministry, proclaiming the message of the cross and the empty tomb to all who came to listen.

He also picked up a pen. He began to put into words the joy and comfort the Christian has in Jesus’ resurrection. He based what he wrote in the proclamation of Job, the Old Testament believer. When Job found himself in the darkness of grief and loss, he declared, “I know that my Redeemer lives.”

From Samuel Medley’s long night came a hymn of Easter joy. In the forgiveness Christ has purchased for us, we have that same joy. In Jesus, our long night is over.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you live. Because you do, my long night is over. Thank 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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Transformed – teen devotion – March 31, 2024

One truth shared: Jesus gives hope even amid suffering.

Oh, that my words were recorded,
that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,
or engraved in rock forever!
I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!
Job 19:23-27

Having everything when you have nothing

Has anyone ever suffered more? It would be hard for anyone to compare their pain or loss with Job. In one day Job lost all of his wealth and all ten of his children. Yes, that’s right, all ten in one day. Just like that—POOF!—everything valuable, near, and dear to him was gone. As if that was not enough, Job was afflicted with painful sores on his skin from head to toe, so painful that he tried to find relief by scraping his skin with broken pieces of pottery. And to top it all off, soon his friends and his wife turned on him saying this was probably his fault and he should just curse God and die.

Who could ever imagine Job’s hurt? Who could ever know his pain? The physical and emotional turmoil is beyond comprehension. And yet . . . that doesn’t mean you don’t know pain.

You may not have suffered as deeply as Job, but you certainly have still suffered. You probably know loss from a boyfriend or girlfriend you broke up with, a friend who betrayed you, or maybe even a loved one who has passed away. You probably know hurt from mean words and gossip about you, or disappointment in school, or turmoil in your own family. And you most certainly know fear. What will happen next? What will you do after school? What will your future look like? Will you make the right or wrong decisions?

We aren’t living in a comparison game, as if I shouldn’t feel bad because my life isn’t as bad as Job’s was. No, the reality is that all of us live as sinners in a world that’s broken by sin. That means that all of us suffer hurt, pain, and loss in varying degrees. And any and all suffering can quickly make us feel helpless and hopeless.

Yet even though he suffered greatly, Job wrote a confession of faith that puts everything in perspective for us. “I know that my redeemer lives,” Job said. Though everything else was failing and dying, Job knew that he had a redeemer, a Savior who was winning and living. Moreover, Job knew that one day he himself would see that living Savior face to face in heaven—a place with no hurt, no pain, no loss, and no tears. How his heart yearned for that day!

Easter Sunday proves that Job’s hopes were not in vain. His redeemer, our redeemer, Jesus, does live. He crushed Satan at the cross as he paid for sin, and he conquered death and hell when he rose from the grave. Jesus promises that, “Because I live, you also will live” (John 14:19). Because Jesus rose back to life, we will rise to life with him in heaven.

You will suffer in this broken world. You will have hurt, pain, and loss. Sometimes even in extraordinary and awful ways like Job. But you also have Jesus. That means that when you feel like you have nothing, you actually have everything. You have hope. You have peace. You have a perfect life in heaven waiting for you. Oh, how our hearts yearn within us!

Prayer: Risen Savior, sometimes I have so much hurt and pain. Sometimes I suffer so much. But you also suffered and died for me, and then rose from the dead in victory. Continue to comfort me with the peace of knowing that one day I will see you face to face in the joys of heaven, and lead me safely there. 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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Who Will Roll Away the Stone? – March 31, 2024

Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?” But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him.”
Mark 16:2-6

Who Will Roll Away the Stone?

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Daily Devotion – March 31, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 16:2-6

See series: Devotions

The women who went to the tomb on Easter Sunday morning were preoccupied. Their only thought was the stone that covered the entrance of the tomb. Who will roll away the stone? Would the soldiers who stood guard help? Would the disciples possibly be there to help? It must have been an agonizing trip.

Often, we are like the women who visited the tomb. We are preoccupied with worries, concerns, and far-ranging issues. The joy and confidence we could know are blocked by the stone of doubt and confusion.

When we are filled with doubt and fear we are invited to view the place where Jesus was laid. And we are invited to believe Jesus’ words of promise: “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 11:25,26).

It almost sounds too good to be true, but it is true! Jesus has risen! He has burst the confines of the tomb. He has conquered death and the grave. His promise is true, and life is ours.

As we gaze by faith at the tomb of Jesus, we can rejoice. Not only has the stone been rolled away, but the grave is empty. Jesus lives!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 152)
I know that my Redeemer lives; what comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead; He lives my ever-living Head!

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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Your Name

Your Name – Women’s Devotion


When was the last time you heard someone say your name? Did they need something? Were they looking for an answer or a decision? Were they hoping you could fix it? (Whatever it is.) Or did they just need a listening ear and some quality time?

From the moment our feet hit the floor until the time our head hits the pillow, days are filled with expectation and responsibility. We hear our name called and respond as needed. Most wouldn’t have it any other way and take great joy in what they do and how they serve others.

But if we’re honest, there are some days that are so blindingly busy we don’t know which end is up or what to do next. Those days, we dread hearing our own name said because it means “one more thing.”

No doubt Mary Magdalene was a woman who took her responsibilities seriously. After Jesus cast out seven demons, she traveled with and cared for the needs of Jesus and his disciples (Luke 8:1-3). Despite her grief over the crucifixion, she got up before dawn to anoint Jesus’ body (John 20:1). When she found the tomb empty, she rushed off to inform the disciples (John 20:1-2). She even offered to go get the body if only the gardener would tell her where it was (John 20:15).

Every time we read about Mary Magdalene in the Bible she is always “doing.”

Does that sound like you? Always responsible? Always preparing? Always taking care of other’s needs? Always willing to do whatever it takes when your name is called?

If so, consider Mary Magdalene’s interaction with Jesus on Easter morning.

Now Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

“They have taken my Lord away,” she said, “and I don’t know where they have put him.” At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus.

He asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?”

Thinking he was the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means “Teacher”) (John 20:11-16).

In the middle of Mary Magdalene’s frenzied, emotional attempts to do “one more thing” that might possibly make the nightmare of the day before better, Jesus comes to her and simply says her name. Mary. The name Jesus knew before she was born (Isaiah 49:1). The name engraved on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16). The name written in the book of life (Revelation 3:5).

Without expectation or responsibility, Jesus said her name so she would stop and know there was nothing more for her to do. Her risen Lord had done it all.

That’s what Holy Week is all about.

Jesus says the same to you. From the loving words written in the Bible to the highest heavens that declare his glory, Jesus is saying you don’t have to do “one more thing.” Jesus knew your name before you were born. He engraved your name on the palms of his hands. And because of what Jesus did the first Holy Week, your name is written in the book of life. When Jesus says your name it’s not with expectation or responsibility, but so you know you can stop your “doing.” There is nothing more for you to do. Your risen Lord has done it all.




Written by Dawn Schulz





Specifically For You – March 30, 2024

“Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’”
Mark 16:6,7

A Once and for All Sacrifice

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Daily Devotion – March 30, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 16:6,7

See series: Devotions

How do you think the apostle Peter felt on Good Friday? Just watching Jesus go through all his suffering must have been bad enough, but to know that he had denied knowing Jesus had to make him feel awful. Even worse, he’d done it three times. More than that, Jesus had warned him plainly, in advance, that he would do it! How might Peter have felt? I’m guessing he felt horrible.

Then, on Easter Sunday, the women who arrived at Jesus’ empty tomb were given a clear instruction by the angel. “Go, tell his disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.’” Tell Peter. Tell Peter specifically. Why?

Probably because Peter really needed to hear it! Peter needed to hear that his sins were forgiven and that he had a risen Savior who still loved him and would always love him.

You and I are no different than Peter. We’re sinful human beings, just like he was. We’ve denied Jesus in our own ways, whether by blatant statements (like Peter), or not letting our light shine, or failing to trust God fully, or neglecting God’s Word. We’ve failed and sinned. We’re Peter.

God sent angels to announce the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection marks his victory over death which assures us that our failures and sins are forgiven. The good news of Jesus resurrection is the special message of God’s Word for you! You have a risen Savior! Jesus died and rose again from the dead to assure you that your sins are all forgiven.

Prayer:
O gracious and living Savior, your resurrection gives me the confidence to believe all you have done for me. Open my eyes to the great blessing of your undeserved love, and keep my eyes fixed on you who won for me victory over sin, death, and the grave. 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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Finished – March 29, 2024

Read: John 19:17-30

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
John 19:30

Finished

Family Devotion – March 29, 2024

Devotion based on John 19:30

See series: Devotions

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

What’s the difference between stopping and finishing? If you don’t see any difference, here are a couple of examples. You might stop cleaning your room when you get called to eat supper, but that doesn’t mean you’ve finished cleaning your room. Or you might stop doing your homework when it’s time to go to bed, but that doesn’t mean you’ve finished doing your homework. It’s easy to stop doing something. It’s much harder to finish doing it.

Jesus had been doing something for his entire life: living in perfect obedience to God. Everything that Jesus said, did, and even thought was perfect from the very moment his life began. He never once sinned during his whole life. And then on the cross, just before his life ended, Jesus didn’t say, “I’m stopping,” or “It’s over.” No, he said something much harder, much more powerful: “It is finished.” So what did it take for Jesus to finish?

Think about everything that had just happened to Jesus, and imagine what God the Father was seeing and saying to his Son. Jesus let himself be arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and God the Father said, “That’s a start, but it’s not near enough.” Jesus was put on trial and made fun of and beaten, and God the Father said, “It must continue.” Jesus was sentenced to die and forced to carry his cross to Calvary, and God the Father said, “It’s getting close, but it’s not quite there.”

And then as Jesus was on the cross, he suffered in a way that no one had ever suffered before. God the Father didn’t say anything to his Son, because he didn’t see his Son there on the cross. Instead, he saw your sin, and my sin, and the sin of the whole world. He punished Jesus for every single sin ever committed. Until all those sins were paid for, and God the Father was satisfied, and he saw his Son again. A Son whose father had one more thing to say to him: “Yes, it is finished. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Jesus didn’t just stop living. He finished his life—perfectly. Because he finished, one day your life will be finished too. One day you’ll get to see Jesus and live with him forever in heaven. And one day you’ll get to hear those same beautiful words from God the Father: “Yes, it is finished. Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for doing everything that was necessary to perfectly finish your life. Keep my faith strong during my life and always remind me of your perfect sacrifice for me. 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’s something that would be easy for you to stop doing but hard to finish doing?
  • What did Jesus say on the cross just before he died?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What’s the difference between stopping and finishing?
  • Why is it so important that Jesus said, “It is finished,” rather than “I’m stopping”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think back over the events of Jesus’ life. What times can you think of when it would have been particularly hard for him to live perfectly?
  • How can you live during your time on this earth so that your life will truly be finished at its end?

 

 

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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Military Devotion – The Things He Carried – March 29, 2024

Military Devotion – The Things He Carried – March 29, 2024




Based on Isaiah 53:4-12

“They carried all they could bear, and then some, including a silent awe for the terrible power of the things they carried.” – Tim O’Brien



Written and recorded by Rev. Paul Horn, WELS National Civilian Chaplain to the Military, San Diego, California.

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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A Once and for All Sacrifice – March 29, 2024

Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.
Hebrews 7:27

A Once and for All Sacrifice

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Daily Devotion – March 29, 2024

Devotion based on Hebrews 7:27

See series: Devotions

Sacrifice… blood, sweat, tears. That’s what it takes to succeed in this world. You have to work hard. You have to be willing to give up something to gain something greater, whether it’s on the athletic field, in school or work, in business, or anywhere else.

Don’t we sometimes approach our relationship with God that way? To please God, I have to make sacrifices. If I do something wrong, I have to make up for it. The more of yourself—your time, money, blood, sweat, and tears—you give, the more God will bless you. It seems reasonable, but is it true?

Long before Jesus came into the world, God’s laws taught his people that sacrifices were necessary. Something had to be done about all the ways that people didn’t measure up to God’s demands. And so, he commanded priests to offer sacrifices—lambs, bulls, and goats—day-after-day. There was no end to it. Through this, God also taught them that no animal sacrifice or anything a sinful human could offer was enough to make up for those sins or take them away.

But there was one sacrifice. One perfect sacrifice offered by the perfect priest—Jesus, the Son of God. He offered the sacrifice that only he could. He gave himself. And he didn’t do it for himself; he didn’t need to. He gave that sacrifice for you, dear sinner. Knowing that you could not earn God’s favor, knowing the best you could offer could never cover a single slip-up, he offered his own life on a cross. Because Jesus was the Son of God, his innocent life was infinitely valuable. His sacrifice was perfectly pleasing to God. It never has to be repeated. It was a once-and-for-all sacrifice for all people.

Through that sacrifice offered on a Friday twenty centuries ago; your relationship with God is perfectly restored. Once and for all. No strings attached, no wonder we call this Friday good!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for giving yourself as the perfect once-and-for-all sacrifice 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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