Bad News, Good News – July 20, 2024

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”
Amos 7:10-15

Bad News, Good News

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Daily Devotion – July 20, 2024

Devotion based on Amos 7:10-15

See series: Devotions

No one likes to be the bearer of bad news. Yet, we sometimes find ourselves in that situation, and there’s nothing we can do about it. The prophet Amos found himself in that position. He was to bring a message of God’s judgment on the people of Israel and tell them that Israel would be conquered because the people rejected God. Amaziah, who served as the most important priest in Bethel, didn’t like the message either. He wanted Amos to stop proclaiming this bad news and to return to his own people. Yet, Amos did not stop. Instead, he pointed out that he must proclaim what the Lord says.

Often, we find ourselves in the same shoes as Amos. Someone we care about is saying or doing something God says they shouldn’t. And when we bring it to their attention, they are less than receptive.

Fortunately, the message of the Lord is not only bad news. He also proclaims the good news that he has saved us from our sin. He points us to Jesus. And in that news, we hear a message that surpasses any bad news we could possibly hear. We hear how he has rescued us from our condemnation through Jesus. What greater message can there be for us to share?

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, boldly allow me to go and proclaim your message of grace. 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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Permission To Use Someone’s Power – July 19, 2024

Read: Mark 6: 7-13

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. . . They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Mark 6:7,12,13

Permission To Use Someone’s Power

Family Devotion – July 19, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:7,12,13

See series: Devotions

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

If someone gives you authority, you can do things in their place with their power. For example, as the teacher is leaving the classroom, she turns to you and says, “You’re in charge until I return.” She just gave you authority!

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus gave his disciples his authority. The devil is Jesus’ enemy. He tried to stop Jesus from accomplishing our forgiveness when he was on earth. He tried to keep people from trusting Jesus’ forgiveness. Sometimes, he fought against Jesus by sending his evil demons to upset people.

Jesus gave his disciples authority over those demons. The disciples acted in Jesus’ place, saying, “In the name of Jesus, leave that person alone.” And the demons had to go away.

Because you believe in Jesus, the devil is your enemy too. He doesn’t want you close to Jesus. He uses three steps to try to pull you away from Jesus.

Step 1: He tempts you to sin. He whispers, “Tell Mom you hate helping around the house.” He plants the thought, “My friends get more for Christmas. I’m not thankful.” He wants you to create a problem between you and God. In that moment of temptation, Jesus gives you authority. You can say, “In the name of Jesus, leave me alone!” With Jesus’ power, you can fight temptation.

…Sometimes, you still sin.

Step 2: The devil rushes in as soon as you sin. He tries to keep you from feeling sorry about your sin. He convinces you that your sin isn’t so bad or not your fault. But you are God’s child. You know his Word. You can say, “In the name of Jesus, leave me alone!” With Jesus’ power, you can fight the easy road of excuses and take the hard step of admitting your sin.

…It’s not over yet.

Step 3: You head toward Jesus holding your sin. You’re one step away from giving that sin to Jesus so he can throw it away forever. The devil tries one more trick. He screams, “Jesus will never forgive that!” But you are God’s child. Jesus stands ready to forgive every sin that you bring to him. He throws them so far from you and God’s sight that no one ever needs to think about them again. You have Jesus’ authority, and you can tell the devil, “In the name of Jesus, leave me alone!” Then, run to Jesus’ forgiving heart.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, our enemy—the devil, fights to keep us apart. But you are stronger than the devil! I trust your power to fight the devil’s schemes and keep me safe in your arms. 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 Jesus’ enemy?
  • Who is stronger: Jesus or the devil?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • When did Jesus win victory over the devil?
  • Since the devil can’t beat Jesus, he wants to beat you. Can you remember the three steps in today’s devotion that he uses to pull you away from Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Sometimes, people compare the devil to a vicious dog who is chained up. He wants to attack us. He has power, but he has limits. Explain what that means to you in your fight against the devil’s schemes.
  • Explain: When you come to faith in Jesus, you enter a war against the devil. Talk about that war and what it would mean if the devil didn’t feel the need to fight against you anymore. When will that war finally be over?

 

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 – Your Shepherd Gives Rest – July 19, 2024




Mark 6:30-34; Isaiah 41:10; 1 John 3:1; Philippians 2:13; Romans 7:24,25; Romans 8:1



Are you tired? I’m sure that you are, because I know that your vocation requires you to be gone many hours. And sometimes those hours turn into days and weeks and months where you are apart from family and friends, and that makes you tired.

Others of you have 9 to 5 jobs, but it still leaves you tired, and you need rest. Some of you are husbands and wives, others of you are fathers and mothers, and some of you are children. All of you have friends.

And marriage takes work and parenting takes work and loving your parents takes work and being a friend takes work. And if you’re like me, if you look at all of these relationships that you have, you may feel that you’re lacking a little bit or maybe a lot in those relationships. And it makes you tired.

And maybe for some of you, you’re feeling tired because there’s this addiction that you’re struggling with, and you’re just tired from fighting it.

And maybe for others of you, you have this guilt that hangs over your body like a drill sergeant and reminds you how worthless you are.

There were crowds of people who were coming to Jesus in Mark’s gospel in chapter 6 in our reading today. There were those among the crowd who struggled with addiction and those who felt the burden of their guilt. There were some who were tired because of their marriages, and those who were tired because of their parenting. There were children who were tired because they were trying very hard to love their parents. And all of them had friends and found themselves lacking. They needed rest—not just physical rest but spiritual rest. And Mark records, “When Jesus . . . saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).

That was true. When the people went to the local synagogues, it was kind of like a house church where people gathered to hear the Word of God and to have it explained to them. Those synagogue rulers didn’t give the people what they needed. Many of them left feeling malnourished and starved spiritually.

Have you ever felt that way? Maybe you attended a church and there was a pastor and a church family that left you feeling malnourished and spiritually starved. If that’s happened to you, I am sincerely sorry. Or maybe you’re someone who finds yourself without a pastor or a church home right now.

What Jesus wants you to know today is this: You have a Good Shepherd who sees you and a Good Shepherd who knows how tired you are. He knows how best to give you what you desperately need. He saw the crowds and had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd, so he began teaching them many things. That’s how Jesus our Good Shepherd provides the rest that we need.

Jesus opens his mouth and begins to teach us many things. For our vocations, which leave us feeling run down, he says this: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). He will be your strength.

For those of us who feel tired and run down because of our relationships, our Good Shepherd reminds us, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1). In spite of the way you may feel about yourself in relation to others, you are a child of your Father in heaven. That’s how he sees you.

And not only does he give us rest, but he also gives us the strength to love those who are in our lives and to be a good neighbor to them. He says this: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13).

And for those of you who struggle with addiction, and it just leaves you feeling tired, go and listen to your Good Shepherd’s voice as he speaks through the apostle Paul in Romans 7. Read how Paul struggled with sin. And then go to the end of the chapter. Paul says, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:24,25). Your victory is secure in Christ Jesus.

And for all of us who have guilt that hangs over us, like a drill sergeant who reminds us just how worthless we are, let your Good Shepherd lead you by the hand to that very next verse in Romans. The apostle Paul says this: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). Yes, you are set free from your guilt.

So go to him, your Good Shepherd, in your personal devotion time. Go and gather with other believers to hear his voice and know that he has compassion on you and sees you. He knows just how tired you are, you tired lambs and you tired sheep. He knows how best to grant you the rest that you seek.

Prayer:
O God, the strength of all who trust in you, mercifully hear our prayers. Be gracious to us in our weakness and give us strength to keep your commandments in all that we say and do. Today we ask that you be with those who work at the Pentagon—the staffers and the officers, the administrators and assistants. We pray that you raise up good and faithful leaders in our nation’s military so that through their decisions, their planning and missions are carried out with success so that we might live peaceful lives. In your name we pray. Amen.



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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Faithful Pastors – July 19, 2024

He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Titus 1:9

Faithful Pastors

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Daily Devotion – July 19, 2024

Devotion based on Titus 1:9

See series: Devotions

If you could design the perfect pastor, what would he be like? He would probably be a man who was wise, eloquent, and clever. A go-getter who would run the church like an expert CEO. People would come from miles around to hear him speak. Because of him, members who hadn’t come to services in years would return by the truckload, and the church’s offerings would increase by two hundred fifty percent. He would be someone who could single-handedly save your church.

While there is nothing wrong with eloquence and crack management skills, there is one characteristic that every pastor must have, and we often take for granted. In his letter to a young pastor named Titus, the apostle Paul makes it clear that the Lord wants pastors who firmly hold to the trustworthy message as it has been taught in the Bible. In other words, God doesn’t want men who single-handedly save the church. He wants men who proclaim the Savior of the Church.

Is there any other better characteristic to have? The Bible’s trustworthy message is centered on God’s incomprehensible love for us. It is beyond understanding that the Son of God became flesh and made his dwelling among us (John 1:14). It’s even more beyond understanding that the enfleshed Son of God became obedient to death on a cross for your sins (Philippians 2:8). It is a mystery that he rose from the dead, and it is beyond our comprehension how he will raise us, too, but he will!

There’s no such thing as a perfect pastor. What we need are faithful pastors who use that trustworthy message to encourage those who need to hear it and refute those who oppose it. Christ answered for all our sins on the cross and rose from the dead, and faithful pastors deliver that sound doctrine to us so that we have no doubt where we stand with God.

Prayer:
Lord of the Church, help pastors stay faithful to their calling and to love your Word and your people. 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’s Your Motivation? – July 18, 2024

Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.” . . . Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’”
Amos 7:12,14,15

What’s Your Motivation?

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Daily Devotion – July 18, 2024

Devotion based on Amos 7:12,14,15

See series: Devotions

It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book: ignore the message by discrediting the messenger. God had sent Amos to call his people to repentance, and Amaziah ignored Amos’ message by accusing him of being a professional who was only concerned about himself.

That kind of thing happens a lot. Christians speak the truth about sin and are called unloving for their trouble. That’s why staying quiet is often easier than confronting someone with their sin.

The problem is that God does not save people by your silence; he saves people by his truth. So what motivates you? Concern for yourself or concern for others?

God may not have called you to be a prophet, but prophets are not the only ones who share God’s truth. Every Christian gets to do that. And if you’re only concerned about yourself, that would be very difficult to do.

Amos made it clear that he was not a professional prophet. He was a shepherd who would still be at his farm if the Lord hadn’t said, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” In other words, Amos didn’t ask to be a prophet; that’s what God made him.

Something similar happened with you. You didn’t ask God to declare Jesus guilty of every sin you’ve ever committed, nor did you ask him to punish Jesus for all those sins instead of you. But he did because he loves you.

He made you someone who listens to him, so listen to what he has to say: sin is serious and separates us from him, but Jesus is the solution to the sin problem. God grant that people will hear Jesus’ Word from your mouth so that they will see Jesus in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord, give me a genuine concern for the spiritual welfare of others. 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’s Relay Race – July 17, 2024

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.
Titus 1:5-9

God’s Relay Race

Family Devotion – July 17, 2024

Devotion based on Titus 1:5-9

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever watched a relay race?

There are rules. Each team of runners must stay in their lanes. They start and end their turns in a specific part of the track. They can’t interfere with other teams.

Teams get disqualified (kicked out of the race) for breaking those rules. There is one thing the relay runners have to do. It’s the whole point of the race. They have to carry what’s called a baton around the track. It’s a cylinder-shaped piece of metal that fits easily in your hand. As the runners run, they hold it tightly. Then, they pass it to the next runner. Four runners start and stop during a relay race, but the baton travels the whole distance.

Imagine if a runner dropped the baton and kept running. When he gets to the finish line, it won’t matter that he followed the rules. A team that crosses the finish line not holding the baton doesn’t win.

Being a pastor is like a runner running in a relay. God tells pastors to follow rules. They should be good husbands, fathers, and neighbors. They shouldn’t drink too much alcohol or focus on getting money. There’s one thing pastors absolutely have to do. It is the whole point of their lives. They have to hold firmly to the Bible teachings like a runner would hold a baton. So pastors hold God’s Word tightly in their hearts and then carry those teachings to their families, church members, and neighbors. Finally, they pass the Word to the next generation, like passing a baton in a relay.

Wow, that’s a lot! How can anyone carry out all those requirements? We all sin in the way we treat our families and others—pastors, too.

Here, the special work of the church is different than a relay race. The runners in the relay get strength from their bodies—what they eat and how they train. In the work of the church, it’s the baton—the Word we carry that gives us strength. We hold firmly to the Word because it comforts us with the truth that our sins are forgiven. It strengthens us to trust in Jesus. It inspires us to dig deeper into God’s teachings. Empowered by the Word we hold, we run to pass it to our communities and someday to the next generation.

Let’s cheer on our pastors as they race, holding firmly to the treasured baton of God’s Word!

Closing Prayer:

Holy Spirit, thank you for using your powerful Word to give us faith in Jesus, our Savior. Give us the strength to hold your perfect message in our hearts and carry that message to those around us. 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

  • In your own words, can you explain the job of your pastor?
  • Sharing God’s Word is the work of all believers. What is the most important message you can pass to someone from the Bible? Write or draw it on a piece of paper, roll it into a baton shape, and give it to someone.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How is God’s Word like the baton in a relay race?
  • Write a note to your pastor (or someone who teaches you about Jesus). Thank him for sharing God’s Word and tell them you will pray for them.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think God says it’s so important for pastors to live in a way that is right in the eyes of church members and others?
  • Think of the relay race. Even if a team follows all the rules, they haven’t completed the purpose of the race if they don’t cross the finish line holding the baton. Now think of the work of a pastor. What if he follows all the guidelines for a pastor’s lifestyle but doesn’t hold firmly to the Word of God?

 

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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What They Need to Hear – July 17, 2024

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: ‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile.’”
Amos 7:10,11

What They Need to Hear

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Daily Devotion – July 17, 2024

Devotion based on Amos 7:10,11

See series: Devotions

The Prophet Amos lived about 800 years before Christ. The twelve tribes of Israel had been a united country under their first three kings, but then there was a civil war, and they split into two separate countries: Israel in the north and Judah in the south.

By the time Amos came along, the divided kingdom had been going on for almost two hundred years. In the northern kingdom, things were going well. The economy was roaring, their territory was increasing, and the people of Israel appeared very religious.

But there was a problem: It was all fake. Yes, there was prosperity, but there was also social injustice and oppression. Their country had a veneer of piety, but it was not in service to the true God. They worshiped God in ways that he had forbidden, and they also worshiped false gods along with him.

Enter Amos. Amos was from the southern kingdom, but God sent him north to preach. He pointed out the nation’s sins and warned them that if they did not return to the Lord, they would be exiled to a foreign land.

His message was not well received. He was accused of being a political revolutionary and reported to the king. But what was Amos supposed to say? If they were sorry for their sin, God would tell Amos to forgive them. But they were not sorry, so he couldn’t. They needed to hear the consequences of their actions. God pleaded with them to stop walking down the road that led to hell.

It’s a lesson worth remembering: when it comes to sin, you may not always be able to tell people what they want to hear, but you can always tell them what they need to hear. Sin has serious consequences, and we have a serious Savior who took those consequences upon himself to forgive us. Like Amos, we can proclaim, “Repent and believe the good news!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me strength when I tell people what they need to hear about their sin. 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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Unbelievable Trust – July 16, 2024

These were Jesus’ instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
Mark 6:8-11

Unbelievable Trust

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Daily Devotion – July 16, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:8-11

See series: Devotions

Can you imagine going on a long business trip without taking along any luggage, food, or money? It would be unthinkable, right?

But that’s what Jesus told his twelve disciples to do. When he sent them out on a preaching trip in groups of two, he told them to take along nothing but a walking stick, the clothes on their back, and the sandals on their feet.

It’s unthinkable, right? Why would he make such a big demand of them? Because he was teaching them to trust God to provide. They were to have complete trust that God would provide the food, shelter, and protection they needed day by day.

He did this through the generosity of those who believed their message and opened their homes to them. This freed the disciples from worrying about the necessities of life so they could spend their time sharing the message of eternal life.

This message, however, would not be appreciated by everyone. Some would reject it. When that happened, the disciples were to shake that place’s dust off their feet as a warning that God would reject anyone who rejects the messengers of his Son. How could he not? God’s messengers are sent with his authority and rejecting them is tantamount to rejecting him (Luke 10:16).

And where do we fit into all this? You may not be one of the twelve original disciples, but Jesus also commands you to proclaim his Word and trust him to provide for your needs.

You can expect the same divine care the disciples received, as well as the same mixed reception. Like the disciples, you are responsible for speaking the Word, and God is responsible for the results. So anchor your trust in the Savior who sends you with his authority and rules all things for your good.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me trust your provision 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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No! No! No! – July 15, 2024

Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent a message to Jeroboam king of Israel: “Amos is raising a conspiracy against you in the very heart of Israel. The land cannot bear all his words. For this is what Amos is saying: “‘Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land.’” Then Amaziah said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’
Amos 7:10-15

No! No! No!

Family Devotion – July 15, 2024

Devotion based on Amos 7:10-15

See series: Devotions

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

“No! No! No!” Ashley held her hands over her ears and shouted. She loved to play at the park. When Mom and Dad said it was time to go home, she tried to block the message by holding her ears and shouting, “No!” Poor Ashley! She wanted to block out that her family was leaving. She wanted to play forever! But there was the truth—it was time to go.

Long ago, God sent the prophet Amos with a really sad message. It was something no one wanted to hear: The King of Israel will be killed, and the people of Israel will be taken away by enemies.

“No! No! No!” cried Amaziah, the priest. He tried to block God’s message. Amaziah confronted Amos the prophet. “Get out of here!” he said. “We don’t want to hear what you say.” But trying to block the message doesn’t make it not true.

“No! No! No!” cry many people today as they try to block God’s message from reaching their ears. Sadly, some people think that Bible truths don’t fit our world anymore. Others call Christians stubborn because we stand up for the truth of God’s Word. They say people should be able to believe whatever they decide and live however they want. They say we’re all just trying our hardest to do what we think is right, so no one should go to hell. But trying to block the message doesn’t make it not true. God’s Word is the truth, clearly saying that God demands perfect living according to his laws.

“No! No! No!” cries our sinful hearts when we want to block out God’s message. Thank God he sends the Holy Spirit and brings his truth into our screaming hearts. He knew what was best for us. He ignored our cries of “No!” and welcomed us into God’s family. He used baptism to quiet our shouts. The Word of God continues to calm us with the truth. He said, “Trying to block the message doesn’t make it not true. You are not perfect. That is true. Jesus was perfect for you. That is also true. When the perfect Jesus died, he cleared away any punishment coming to you for your imperfection. True, true, true!”

Praise God that his truth is louder than our shouts of “No!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I shouted “no” at you, and you answered with “yes.” “Yes, I see your sin. Yes, I paid for your sin. Yes, I made you my child.” Thank you, Jesus! 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

  • Was it ok for Ashley to yell, “No!” at her mom and dad?
  • Has Mom and Dad ever had to confront you for yelling “No!” to them? What should you then say to them? (“I’m sorry.”) What good news will they say to you? (“I forgive you.”)

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The Bible says that we are born enemies of God, shouting “No!” to him. What would have happened if the Holy Spirit hadn’t found us and gave us faith?
  • What did the Holy Spirit use to change our rebellious hearts into hearts that love and trust God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • God’s Law demands that we live perfectly, according to his rules. Why do you think people don’t want to hear that?
  • God’s gospel says that Jesus did everything for our salvation, and the Holy Spirit did everything to bring us to faith. Why do you think people don’t want to hear that?

 

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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Meaningful Ministry: Sent with God’s Own Authority – Week of July 15, 2024

Meaningful Ministry: Sent with God’s Own Authority – Week of July 15, 2024



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 78:2b-4



Almost everyone I have met has a Christmas tradition or two. Mine maybe isn’t so much of a formal tradition, but it was something that happened every year when I was growing up. My family would travel to my grandparents’ house over Christmas break, and we would spend a few days with all my cousins and aunts and uncles. Without fail, one of those nights we spent at Grandma and Grandpa’s would end in the cousins playing downstairs and the adults reminiscing of old times in the living room upstairs. And every year I would sneak upstairs to listen to their stories. I still have vivid pictures in my mind of some of the stories they told: the one where my grandpa had his camera almost stolen from around his neck by a guy riding a Vespa in Italy; the one where my grandparents stayed in a stranger’s hut while traveling through the Middle East: the many stories about my uncles playing basketball with the neighbors until Grandma rang the little bronze dinner bell from the porch.

The memories shared between people, especially family, are so special.

But the truths shared from God our Father are of incomparable value.

Now, there is one thing we must confront. Quite often there’s a fear that surrounds sharing the Gospel of Jesus. Maybe you’ve felt it. We clam up. Our palms get sweaty. Human worry says we won’t have the right words. Rejection tempts us to stop.

Don’t let the devil’s attempts overcome you in your efforts to preach the Good News! We need not – because we are sent with God’s own authority. The Almighty God goes with us. His Spirit leads us. His truth and mercy have freed us from the devil’s snares, and now we stand victorious with all the power of God. We hold the gift of eternal life on our tongues. May we never forget that the gospel holds the most powerful words we will ever speak!

Jesus, our Savior, took our sins to the cross. He bore our every worry, doubt, our failure to speak and act. He crushed the enemy’s plan to ensnare us and keep us from proclaiming the goodness of God. On that Sunday morning, Jesus rose from the grave, and our victory speech was written. It is finished. The grave cannot hold us. We have eternal life with God promised to us – it is written!

Now speak it!

Speak it with pride. Proclaim it with power in your voice. Don’t be ashamed – you hold the words of eternal life! Why keep them to yourself?

The pictures I’ve painted in my mind from the stories of my grandparents, aunts and uncles are so clear to me, but the picture I have painted of the glory that is awaiting me with my Savior Jesus is so much better. What’s even better is the fact that one day it will not be merely a picture in my imagination. I will experience the glory of God with my very own eyes. And so will you!

You have God’s authority. Go and tell someone.



Prayer:

Almighty God, go with us. Send your Spirit to empower us. Expel the fear we have when sharing your grace and mercy with others. Give us zeal for the gospel and for your people! As the hymn writer once wrote:
Send, O Lord, your Holy Spirit
On your servants now, we pray;
Let them all be faithful shepherds
That no lamb be led astray.
Your pure teaching to proclaim,
To adore your holy name,
And to feed your lambs, dear Savior,
Make their aim and sole endeavor. Amen.

Christian Worship 21 898:1


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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Are You Up to the Task? – July 15, 2024

Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits. . . They went out and preached that people should repent.
Mark 6:7,12

Are You Up to the Task?

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Daily Devotion – July 15, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:7,12

See series: Devotions

It is easy for Christians to look at the world around them and become discouraged. Sin is spreading, hostility toward biblical truth is intensifying, and lies about the nature of God and humanity are spreading like wildfire. So many people unknowingly follow the devil, who wants only to devour them (1 Peter 3:8). What should we do about it?

To answer that question, look at what Jesus did. He had been teaching and preaching all over Galilee. Wherever he went, he encountered spreading sin, hostility to the truth, and lies about God. So, what did he do? He sent out the twelve apostles with special authority to tell lost sinners who were unknowingly following Satan to turn away from their sin and believe in Jesus as their Savior.

That is the task Jesus gave the Twelve, and it’s the same one he gives to you. It’s the only solution to the problem. Are you up to the task?

Maybe you’re thinking, “Absolutely not! The Twelve had special training from Jesus, but I’m just an ordinary person.” Jesus may not have given you authority over impure spirits, but he has given you the gospel, which is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

That good news is as powerful today as it was when Jesus first sent out the Twelve. The gospel declares that Jesus lived perfectly for you, sacrificed that perfection on the cross, and rose from the dead to declare you perfect in God’s sight. That message is the only thing that can stop sinners from following the devil and follow Christ instead.

It’s the solution to the problem, and every Christian has it! Every Christian has the authority to speak in Jesus’ name and to tell sinners to repent and believe the good news (Mark 1:15). Jesus does not send you without first equipping you, and he has already given you everything you need for this task.

Prayer:
Son of God, my Savior, thank you for entrusting me with the gospel that forgives me and equips me to serve 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 – July 14, 2024

One truth shared: Jesus owns all ministry. He gives us the authority to serve others with the gospel. His love shapes our character to reflect him. Our Godly character gives evidence that we serve with his authority. 

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. 

Titus 1:5-9

Sent with God’s Own Authority

“What gives you the right?!?”

Has anyone ever said these words to you? More like…has anyone ever YELLED these words at you?

Authority is a touchy subject in our society. People don’t like it when someone tells them what to do.

Maybe it’s your sibling, or your friend. They know your flaws. They know you aren’t perfect. So who are YOU to tell THEM to do ANYTHING?

One of the most important truths when it comes to gospel ministry (service in God’s kingdom using the gospel message) is that all of the ministry belongs to Jesus. And him alone. Jesus is the owner. He calls us to be managers of all that is his.

That’s where we get the “right” or the authority to do ministry. From Jesus, as we do it in his name.

Look at verse 9 in Titus chapter 1- “…hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught,” When you tell others about Jesus’ words and promises or a command from the Bible, you are telling them GOD’S message, not your own.

Godly character in ministry is also important. Paul’s message in Titus 1 is that our character reflects on the message we are telling others and the ministry we are doing. It reinforces that we have God’s authority.

Love what is good. Speak the truth in love to someone going down a bad path. Encourage others with the gospel.
God gives you the right!

Prayer:
God, remind us that all ministry belongs to you. And, remind us you give us authority to serve others in your name. You give us the right to tell others your law and gospel. Shape our hearts through your love to become more like Jesus’ heart. May our character reflect this awesome authority we have. Open our mouths, that we may declare your praise! In Jesus’ name, and under his authority, we pray. 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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Repent! – July 14, 2024

They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Mark 6:12,13

Repent!

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Daily Devotion – July 14, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:12,13

See series: Devotions

The message Jesus told his disciples to proclaim was simple. They were to tell people to repent. It’s a message that is still important for us to hear today.

Repentance is a change of mind about our sins and relationship with God. So, God applies his law to our lives. The law demands that our every thought, word, and action be perfect. Under that kind of scrutiny, we are crushed under the enormity of our sin. God leads us to realize how impossible it is to save ourselves. He makes it clear that, as sinners, we deserve to be eternally separated from him and his love.

God’s law is not the last word, though. He comforts us with news that our sins are forgiven through Jesus. This good news is the power of God that brings us to faith in the Savior Jesus and fills us with the joy of living forever with God.

Repentance is God’s saving activity that he does for us through his Word. It makes us sorry for sinning against God and grateful that he has saved us from those sins through our Savior. Thank God for his gift of repentance!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me pay close attention to your law so I see my sin and its seriousness. Fill me with the joyous sounds of your gospel, which comfort me with salvation through faith in Jesus. Give me a hunger for your Word so I am eager to hear it often. 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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Don’t Forget

Don’t Forget – Women’s Devotion

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers.
Hebrews 13:2



I need reminders.

I have plenty of lists and schedules to keep me on task and on time, but the reminder in this passage makes me think about something that falls off my radar—hospitality to strangers. I know it’s essential to invest myself in personal relationships, but when God reminds me to be hospitable to strangers . . . that’s a little tricky. I feel like kindness to strangers is all I really have time for, and this passage makes me scratch my head a little. Hospitable? How do you show hospitality to people you don’t know? Not sure I can see how that works (and I easily forget or put off things that I don’t understand).

Jesus told the perfect parable to help us understand—and remember.

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” Luke 10:30-35

For the moment, just consider how the parable of the Good Samaritan teaches and motivates you to be hospitable. The perfect love of Jesus comes to you with selfless love and the ultimate sacrifice. He picked you up off the side of the road where you were dead in sin. Jesus gave his life as the sacrifice to pay for sin so you could be forgiven and live eternally. He brings you into his family and takes care of you at his expense.

Now, Jesus reminds you to be mindful of others because he wants them to receive the love and forgiveness you receive from him. He reminds you to invest extra time when you can connect with strangers because he gave his life to draw people into relationships with him. Jesus wants you to listen to others and hear what they need because it’s a place you can show love. Graciously do what you can to help them and share Jesus’ forgiveness. It might be hard when you have to stop what you’re doing, share some of the physical blessings God has given you, or be inconvenienced. But when you remember Jesus and his free grace, it doesn’t seem so hard. When you are focused on Jesus—and thankful for his priceless blessings—you naturally reflect his love.

Just don’t forget!

Remember Jesus.



Prayer: Compassionate Savior, you gave everything to give me life. I was without hope and dead in my sin, but you came and washed me clean. You brought me into your eternal family and now I live for you. Please work through me to show your love to strangers. Remind me. Open my eyes to see where I should reach out. Strengthen me with courage and wisdom to connect with others. I long to be an instrument of your grace and peace to the world to share Jesus. Amen.



Written by Naomi Schmidt





No Confusion – July 13, 2024

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Mark 6:3

No Confusion

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Daily Devotion – July 13, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:3

See series: Devotions

Many people today are confused about Jesus. Was he only a great man or really God? Did he have a family? Can we know anything about him for sure, with so many legends floating around?

If you’re confused, you have good company. The neighbors who watched Jesus grow up and the kids who played with him were confused. Was Jesus really a miracle worker? How could he be? He was just an ordinary man. Where did he get off claiming miracles? They were confused and offended by his claims.

Jesus wasn’t confused about who he was. He was the son of Mary. He was also the Son of God—not in a metaphysical or allegorical sense, but in a real, true sense. Jesus was man and God. The Bible makes this very clear.

Jesus wasn’t confused about what he came to do. He came specifically to live in our place and die in our place. He came to provide forgiveness of sins for all people—whether they accepted him or not, whether they recognized their sins or not. He had come to save the human race.

He included you in his plans. He is your God. He became a human being to live and die for you. God accepts you because of Jesus. One day, you will get to meet Jesus face-to-face. There won’t be any confusion. You’ll be looking at your God, who gave his life for you!

Prayer:
Jesus, don’t let me fall for any untruths that try to make me believe you’re only a human being or that your life is just a myth. While your free forgiveness sounds too good to be true, strengthen my faith to know it is reality until I can see you with my own eyes! 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 the Savior We Need – July 12, 2024

Jesus left there and went to his hometown, accompanied by his disciples. When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were amazed. “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him? What are these remarkable miracles he is performing? Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:1-6

Just the Savior We Need

Family Devotion – July 12, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:1-6

See series: Devotions

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

Today, let’s peek into Jesus’ life here on earth. Jesus grew up in Nazareth. We imagine he was like any other kid—he learned and grew. Jesus probably had friends and loved being with his family. He got tired. He was hungry. As Jesus grew, his earthly father, Joseph, taught him how to work with wood as a carpenter. He probably looked and lived like everyone else, except the Bible tells us Jesus never sinned—not even once.

When Jesus was 30 years old, he stopped working as a carpenter and began what we call “his public ministry.” He spent three years preaching and preparing disciples. He traveled around with them. He healed sick people. He told everyone to repent—to turn from their sins and trust in him for forgiveness.

The young carpenter from Nazareth became quite famous. News about him spread. Many loved, trusted, and followed him. Some were confused by his messages and miracles. Some began to hate him.

One day, Jesus returned to his hometown. What do you think happened when the now-famous Jesus went home to Nazareth? Maybe a parade? Maybe the townspeople would all want to go to his house and talk about old times or the amazing things Jesus taught. Maybe they would hug and shake his hand.

In today’s Bible reading, the people of Nazareth went to the synagogue (the church) to hear Jesus teach. At first, they were amazed at Jesus’ message. They admired his wisdom. They commented about Jesus’ miracles.

But then, something else began to sneak in. The devil turned their interest into disrespect. They asked, “Who does this guy think he is?” They thought Jesus was just one of them. They didn’t like that he spoke with authority. They didn’t believe he was God and the promised Savior. Their hearts turned away from loving him as their Savior.

The devil declares himself the enemy of anyone who trusts in Jesus. So he is our enemy, too. He would love to make us doubt that Jesus is our Savior. He wants us to think Jesus is nothing special. He wants us to find the message of salvation boring and look for more exciting kinds of spirituality. The devil wants to turn our hearts away from the love of Jesus. He wants Jesus to be amazed at our lack of faith.

May that not be you, dear child! Jesus’ loving forgiveness calls us back. Jesus of Nazareth is exactly the Savior we need.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, fight for us against our enemy, the devil. Always bring the beautiful message of our perfect Savior into our hearts and minds. May we always love, trust, and follow you. 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 was Jesus just like you when he was a kid?
  • How was Jesus different than you when he was a kid?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think it mad Jesus sad when his hometown rejected him? (Hint: think about the consequences for those people.)
  • Maybe we don’t “reject” Jesus, but how does the devil tempt us to feel “too familiar with” God’s Word that we stop listening? (examples: In our holiday celebrations? In our favorite Bible stories and Bible passages?)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Imagine you were one of Jesus’ friends growing up. How would that make it hard to believe in him as your Savior?
  • Do you think it’s easier or harder to talk to someone about their sin and Savior when you know them really well? Why?

 

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 – Qualified – July 12, 2024




Based on Titus 1:5-9



Qualification. It’s a word that can strike fear and anxiety in the hearts of both officer and enlisted alike. Phrases like go or no go, pass or fail. Did you qualify?

Well, what qualifies you to share Jesus with others? Do you need to be called as a pastor or teacher or staff minister in one of our Lutheran schools or churches? Do you need a diploma from a college or a seminary hanging on your wall that states, “Yes, I am qualified to do this”?

In our reading today, the apostle Paul talks about qualifications—not for a PFT or a gunnery—but what qualifies us to serve as those who share Jesus with others. And specifically in this part of his letter, he’s referring to those who are called workers like pastors and teachers and staff ministers. And in his letter to Pastor Titus, he lists those characteristics and attitudes and actions that God would want to see in called workers.

But as you listen to this list as I read it, you’d have to admit that this is a list not just for called workers, but characteristics and attitudes and actions that God would want to see in all believers in Christ.

Listen to the list. Paul says that he should not be “overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined” (Titus 1:7,8).

I have a confession to make. I don’t always qualify. When I hold my life and my actions and my attitudes up to this list, I fall far short.

And I know that you would have to humbly agree with me. You don’t always qualify. But thank God that pastors and teachers and staff ministers and chaplains and all of God’s people, members of churches, all Christians, we live in the shadow of the cross where we stand forgiven.

So, what is it that qualifies us to share Jesus with other people? Well, Paul adds this at the end of that list of qualifications: “He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught” (Titus 1:9). No matter what our vocation, it’s that trustworthy message, that well-known good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners and was raised from the dead to give us the sure hope of eternal life.

It’s that trustworthy message that qualifies each and every one of us. Because that message has affected us, and it moves us to be salt and light in this world.

Just a couple of weeks ago I was FaceTiming with two of our war fighters who are stationed in the Middle East. They’re both officers. And the gentleman was talking about the other officer who was on the call with me, and he said about her, “You know, she just lives differently from everybody else in our squadron. And the way that she lives, it just makes you go up to her and say to her, ‘What is it that makes you different?’ And that’s what I did. And I’m glad that I did, because she shared Jesus with me. She gave me her extra copy of this devotion book that you and your ministry hand out to war fighters, and I’m so glad that she did.”

So, did she go to school to learn how to share Jesus with other people? Does she have a special patch on her uniform that tells everybody, “Hey, I’m an ambassador for Christ”?

No. But she has been living in that trustworthy message as it has been taught to her and continues to be taught to her, and so she can’t help it. She can’t help but live as salt and light in this dark world. So also you and I—we are qualified. We are qualified by that trustworthy message as it has been taught to us.

My encouragement to you is this. Go. Go and live that qualified life as you read and study and pray on the words of your God. Go and live that qualified status as you live as salt and light. Because you are qualified through Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, it is by your authority that you send us out to share that trustworthy message about you. Grant us confidence as we use the relationships that we already have with people to build bridges to you. Today we ask for your special blessing on all who serve as medics and corpsmen in our nation’s military. Guide their hands. Give them hearts filled with compassion and care. Protect them as they use their skills and gifts to save and preserve life. In your name I pray. Amen.



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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Willing to Endure – July 12, 2024

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

Willing to Endure

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Daily Devotion – July 12, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:10

See series: Devotions

What would you be willing to endure if you knew, without a doubt, that you could change one person’s eternal fate? What comforts would you give up? What sacrifices would you make in order to make sure that person’s soul ends up in heaven with God?

God knows who the elect are. In other words, he knows those who will have faith in him and be in heaven one day. We can’t see people’s hearts. We’re not in charge of the results of what happens when we proclaim God’s Word to people. The Holy Spirit is in charge of those results. But we can be active and faithful in pointing people to God’s Word and the message of Christ.

Like Paul, we might face adversity or pushback to our message. It might not be comfortable to speak about our faith. We likely won’t get thrown in prison. But we may find that this world is still just as hostile to the Word of God as it was in Paul’s day. We may have to endure some hardships if we’re going to be disciples of Jesus.

Yet, Paul was willing to endure it all. If reaching someone with the salvation that is in Christ Jesus meant having to go through pain and discomfort in his own life, he considered that worth it. The other person’s eternal gain outweighed his temporary personal pain. Paul’s rock he could lean on to endure the hardships was knowing that he’d already obtained the eternal glory that is in Christ. No matter what happened to him, he was already a victor. He’d already won his race before actually crossing the finish line.

As a believer, you also already know the end of your story. Your eternal fate is sealed with the blood of Jesus shed for you on the cross. His empty tomb will become yours. So, let’s endure whatever we need to in order to make that end of the story a reality for others, too. Let’s run across the finish line into heaven with as many others as possible!

Prayer:
Dear gracious Lord, help me endure suffering and hardship on behalf of you and your gospel. Use me to bring your saving word to all. 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’s Word Unchained – July 11, 2024

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2 Timothy 2:8,9

God’s Word Unchained

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Daily Devotion – July 11, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:8,9

See series: Devotions

Joseph. Samson. Jeremiah. John the Baptist. Peter and John. Paul and Silas. What do all these figures from the Bible have in common?

Answer: they were all imprisoned at some point. This seems to be a recurring theme in the Bible. God’s people keep ending up behind bars, chained up. By the time the apostle Paul wrote this letter, he’d been in prison numerous times. But Paul isn’t worried about his chains. Yes, the gospel message of Jesus’ resurrection had put him in chains. But the gospel freedom he had in Christ was greater than his chains. Paul knew that even though he was chained up, God’s Word was not chained. And it never would be.

Followers of Christ can be imprisoned and chained up. But God’s gracious promises can’t be snuffed out or chained up. His Word will never pass away. In fact, God’s Word has always tended to spread even faster when his followers were persecuted.

Imprisonment of God’s people may be a recurring theme in the Bible but so is the theme of freeing the captives. Jesus spoke these words from Isaiah chapter 61 in Nazareth, “the Lord has anointed me…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Freeing prisoners and breaking chains are the Savior’s specialty. It’s what he came for. The world will never be able to chain up his Word of the gospel.

So, no matter what you’re facing right now or what situations leave you feeling imprisoned by sin or despair; remember that God’s Word is not chained. And the gospel of Jesus has the power to break you free of your chains too.

Prayer:
Chain-breaking Lord, I thank for proclaiming freedom for me and releasing me from the dungeon of darkness and sin by your Word of grace. 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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Can God’s Word Be Contained? – July 10, 2024

Read: 2 Timothy 2:1-13

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2 Timothy 2:8,9

Can God’s Word Be Contained?

Family Devotion – July 10, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:8,9

See series: Devotions

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

Let’s play, “Can you contain it?”
• If you don’t want to hear your dog bark, does closing the dog in its kennel contain the bark?
• If you don’t want your family to know you baked cookies, does covering the cookies with a towel contain the smell?
• If you don’t want to get wet from your sprinkler, will putting a laundry basket over the sprinkler contain the water?

No! Everyone knows that containing the dog doesn’t contain the sound of its barking. A towel hides the cookies, but not the smell. And anyone near that laundry basket is going to get wet.

Now, let’s try a serious one: Can the devil stop the message of the gospel by putting those who preach the Word of God in jail?

The devil is God’s enemy and ours. He doesn’t want the great news of salvation to be preached. He knows that God’s Word has the power to create faith. He knows that everyone who hears the good news of Jesus and trusts in Jesus’ death for us will go to heaven. So, he tries to contain the message of the Bible.

In our Bible reading, the devil used people to put a pastor in jail. That pastor was the apostle Paul. They thought they could contain God’s message. How wrong they were! God the Holy Spirit used Paul’s description of this event to add to the inspired Word of God. Paul triumphantly writes, “I am…chained like a criminal but God’s Word is not chained” (2 Timothy 2:9).

Praise God that a pastor in prison 2,000 years ago wasn’t the end of God’s saving message! God’s Word was not chained and came all the way to us. It worked faith in our hearts and saved us from our enemy, the devil. Now, we belong to Jesus, and heaven is our home.

But is the devil still trying to contain God’s Word today? He sure is! For him, it’s not a game. It’s his mission. He wants to contain the power of God’s Word. He tries to quiet Christians’ voices by making them embarrassed to talk about Jesus. He does everything he can to make fun of God’s teachings. And yet, like the sprinkler water rushing through the laundry basket, God’s Word can’t be contained! It still gushes into our hearts and lives. It always has the power to save!

Closing Prayer:

Holy Spirit, thank you for using the powerful Word of God to work faith in our hearts. We trust in your promise that the Word will always have the power to turn hearts to Jesus. 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 teaches you about Jesus?
  • Why does that person want you to know Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What important fact did you learn from today’s devotion?
  • If God’s Word WAS contained, imagine a couple of ways your life would be different.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In a country where God’s Word might seem more and more contained, how is the truth “God’s Word is not chained” comforting to you?
  • What should you do if someone in authority tries to silence your witness of God’s Word? (See Acts 5:29 for help. *Know that an army of fellow believers prays for you if you ever find yourself in that position.)

 

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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A Pastor’s Death Row Wish – July 10, 2024

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.
2 Timothy 2:8,9

A Pastor’s Death Row Wish

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Daily Devotion – July 10, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:8,9

See series: Devotions

If your pastor knew he could only say one more thing to you from his deathbed, what do you think he would say?

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy, he knew he would soon be put to death. Paul longed to see Timothy one more time. But he wrote as if he knew his time was too short for that to happen. Of all the final advice and encouragement Paul gave to Timothy, perhaps none of it is simpler and more important than this one phrase: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.” He was saying, “Timothy, always remember what Jesus has done for you and who he is.”

This was the message that had put Paul in chains. But he wouldn’t have traded that gospel message for the world. Paul’s death-row wish for Timothy was that he would always remember Jesus, the Son of David, risen from the dead for him, too. This was the one thing that mattered most. If Timothy held to faith in the risen Christ, then he and Paul would certainly meet again in heaven.

I’ll bet your pastor would like to say the same thing to you if he only had one sentence left to give you. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David.” Your Savior’s identity as the chosen Messiah and his work of rising from the dead for you has set you free from sin and death. Because of that, one day, you’ll be able to say it with the same confidence as Paul, “I have finished the race…Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”

Prayer:
Dear risen Savior, Son of David, go with me as I run my race and take me to life everlasting 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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Be a Fellow Suffering Soldier – July 9, 2024

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3

Be a Fellow Suffering Soldier

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Daily Devotion – July 9, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:3

See series: Devotions

“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.” That’s the first line of a hymn written in the 1800s. In that hymn, God’s Church on earth is compared with an army. Not an army bent on conquest and destruction, but an army bent on breaking down the gates of hell and freeing souls with the message of Jesus’ cross. God’s Church has a mission to advance with the gospel to every corner of the earth.

The apostle Paul also briefly takes on the imagery of an army and soldiers in today’s Bible reading from the book of 2 Timothy. He urges Timothy to join him as a fellow suffering soldier for Christ. Soldiers follow orders. Soldiers leave their quiet lives as a citizens behind to go on a mission. Soldiers on active duty may have to go hungry and sleepless as they engage the enemy.

This reminds us that our time as God’s people on earth isn’t a cakewalk. As followers of Christ, we take on this calling to be suffering soldiers for Christ. It’s not supposed to be easy if we’re following behind our commander, Jesus. He’s going to bring us into the places that are hardest hit by sin and despair. He puts us on the front lines in our communities, planting us among people who need hope and forgiveness. Taking on the ministry of God’s Church in the world will take a toll on us. It will likely leave us feeling like a discouraged soldier pinned down under enemy fire at times.

But God doesn’t leave us to be suffering soldiers alone. We have a commander who has gotten down into the front lines with his troops. God, in Jesus, made himself a fellow suffering soldier in our war against sin, death, and Satan. Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, fought on the front lines, led the charge, and took all the enemy fire away from us by going to the cross in our place.

The next line in that old hymn says, “Christ, the royal master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see his banners go!” So now we can join in as suffering soldiers in God’s army along with Paul and Timothy and our leader, Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me bear up under suffering as I follow your mission to bring good news to the world. 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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Meaningful Ministry: Tiresome Race – Certain Victory – Week of July 8, 2024

Meaningful Ministry: Tiresome Race – Certain Victory – Week of July 8, 2024



I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.

Psalm 27:13-14



I used to be a runner. And I say “used to” because I don’t often, okay, more like hardly ever, participate in that activity anymore… unless it is to run after a child who is running toward danger or has fallen and gotten a bad scrape.

But back when I did consider myself a runner, I used to use the last line from our Bible verses today as some type of motivation during my race: “be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

It might seem silly, but if I found myself at a point in the race or in my training where I didn’t think I could make it any further I would repeat that passage over and over again. My hope was really that God would take over my body and finish the race for me. Sadly, that never actually happened, and my very own strength had to keep propelling my legs forward one step at a time for each and every race. But it always gave me a little bit of hope!

The Psalm writer was certainly not writing these verses as he was running a physical race, but perhaps in a different sense you could say that he was, because life is like a race. There’s a beginning and an ending and in the middle of it we do often get tired of running this race.

Maybe it’s your ministry that’s wearing on you. You’re working day in and day out for the Lord and sharing his precious truths with little children and adults alike, but you struggle to see the impact you’re making, and your efforts often seem in vain. Possibly it’s your life at home. You know that serving your family is an invaluable gift, but there is little thanks and no reprieve from the chores. Or maybe it’s something completely different.

David, the Psalm writer, was also feeling tired and worn down. His life was filled with opposition, enemies, inner personal struggles, and death. Yet he writes our verses for today, “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”

While my hope was futile that God would take over my body and finish the race for me when my physical strength seemed to be failing, our true hope in the LORD is never futile. As we wait for him, it’s not a waiting that might not ever be fulfilled, rather it’s a waiting similar to a student waiting for his teacher to teach him, or a child waiting for his parent. There’s always fulfillment in our waiting, because our Lord always keeps his promises to us.

Ponder the words of Isaiah 40:31, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” This race we call life does not come without help, and actually it comes with someone who already ran the race for us: Jesus. Born into this world to take on sin, death and the devil, he came to make sure our victory was certain at the end of our race. He came to make sure our hope was certain. So now… we find confidence in the love, grace, power, and mercy of our living Lord as we wait for his final victory lap and our eternal life with him! And while we wait, we run on, proclaiming the goodness of God to all who might listen, because we know that our work is never in vain!



Prayer:
Lord, our strength when we feel tired and weak, lift us up when we feel that we have nothing left to give, when our ministry at home or our jobs feel too heavy for us to carry. Remind us of the eternal impact you have on all people and what a blessing it is to be a part of your plan. Keep us in your Word that we may always be reminded of the certain victory you have promised us. We wait for you, Jesus. Amen.


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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Come Back Home – July 8, 2024

He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. . . . You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.
Ezekiel 2:1-7

Come Back Home

Family Devotion – July 8, 2024

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:1-7

See series: Devotions

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

Cody was 17. He didn’t want to live with his parents anymore. He was tired of their rules. He didn’t like to depend on them and their care. So he left home.

Cody’s mom still loved him. She called him. She wanted him to come back home where she could take care of him and keep him safe. But Cody wouldn’t answer the phone.

Mom had an idea. “I’ll bake his favorite zucchini bread,” she said. “It is healthy for him and tastes sweet. It will remind him that I want him to come back home. I will have his sister, Evelyn, take it to him.”

Evelyn worried. “What if he won’t accept the zucchini bread?”

Mom answered, “Just take it to him. I know he is stubborn. If you take the bread to him, you have done what I want.”

Today’s Bible reading tells a similar story. God’s children, the Israelites, were stubborn. They didn’t want to live under God’s rules, and they didn’t want to trust that God would take care of them. So God sent the prophet Ezekiel to them with the message, “Come back home. Come back to me and believe in me. Be my children.”

Would the Israelites listen?

Like Cody’s mom, God told Ezekiel, “Just take the message to them. I know my people are stubborn. If you tell them my message, you have done what I want.”

What about us? Are we sometimes stubborn?

Do we wish we didn’t have to follow the guidelines in God’s Word? Maybe we would rather talk badly about people who bug us instead of thinking kindly of them. Maybe we wish we could do whatever we want instead of listening to parents and teachers.

Even worse, is there a part of us that thinks we’re good enough to get into heaven and really don’t need Jesus? Maybe it would be cooler if we were the ones who “found” Jesus instead of him finding us when we were lost in sin.

What does our heavenly Father do with us—his stubborn children? He sends messengers—like Evelyn taking Mom’s zucchini bread to Cody. God uses parents, teachers, pastors, and friends to remind us how stubbornness separates us from God, and he doesn’t like it. Rather, he wants to welcome us back in forgiveness.

Thank God that he always calls us home to him!

Closing Prayer:

Loving Father, thank you for seeing me in my stubborn sin and sending someone to call me back home to you. Use me to call others to your forgiving arms, too. 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 it called when we do things God doesn’t want us to do?
  • How did Jesus fix those sins?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 1 being really stubborn and 5 being very obedient)—how stubborn are you?
  • When you’re stubborn, whom has God sent into your life to tell you? If that person also tells you that Jesus forgives you, give him/her a hug!

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The Word of God is like Cody’s mom’s zucchini bread. It is healthy for us and tastes sweet. What from the Word of God is healthy for us? What from the Word of God is “sweet”?
  • Sometimes, it’s hard to tell people about their sins because they might get mad. Why is it important to remember in that moment that only the Holy Spirit can change hearts? How does that encourage you?

 

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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Be Strong in Grace – July 8, 2024

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1

Be Strong in Grace

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Daily Devotion – July 8, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:1

See series: Devotions

Be strong in your faith. Be strong in your convictions. Be strong in times of hardship. Those are phrases you’d expect to hear if someone were trying to offer you life encouragement. But the apostle Paul had an even better phrase to share with his young friend and fellow pastor, Timothy. He said to Timothy, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy near the end of his life. These words were Paul’s last will and testament for Timothy. You’d expect Paul to tell Timothy to be strong in holding to the truth and strong and bold in his proclamation of the gospel. Paul does tell Timothy to be strong in those ways, but more importantly, he tells Timothy, “Be strong in the grace of Jesus.”

Strength is usually gained by going to the gym and working out. Strength is gained by doing something, like training and putting in hard work. But here, Paul was telling Timothy to find spiritual strength by simply resting in the strength of Christ. The undeserved love and grace that Jesus had given to Timothy would give him the ability to be strong in all the other ways. Because Timothy was wrapped up in the grace of Christ’s saving work for him, he would also have the strength to hold to his conviction and proclaim the gospel despite rejection and hardship.

These words of life encouragement aren’t just for Timothy. They are for you, too. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Simply rest in the strength and work of your Savior.

Prayer:
Dear mighty Father, wrap me in the strength of your love for me. Keep me always in Christ, my strong rock and refuge. 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 – July 7, 2024

One truth shared: People won’t always respond with gratefulness and joy when we tell them about God’s words and promises. If we aim to please an audience of One (Jesus) we will be satisfied in simply bringing God glory and we won’t crave the approval of others. That means we can even face rejection from others when we share Jesus with them.

He said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions. Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people. You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious.
Ezekiel 2:1-7

Not Glee and Gratitude, but Rejection and Resentment

For the next month, we will be talking about ministry. Serving God and other people. Especially with the gospel—the good news about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. What results should we expect when we do ministry in Jesus’ name?

We all expect to see positive results for our efforts. When we lift weights. We expect to gain muscle. If we study hard for a physics exam, we’re disappointed to get a D. Hard work at our job should mean an eventual pay raise, right?

When our efforts involve serving other people, can we expect positive results from them? Not always. The fact is you can’t control another person’s thoughts, behaviors, beliefs, or feelings.
The prophet Ezekiel got a lesson in this truth from God. God was sending him to His people, the Israelites. You couldn’t blame Ezekiel for expecting God’s people to express glee and gratitude after hearing from their God.

But Ezekiel couldn’t control how the Israelites would respond. In fact, God told him to expect rejection and resentment. Ouch! God also warned Ezekiel he might become afraid after hearing the Israelite’s threats and insults. Ezekiel would feel like he’s surrounded by thorny ground while scorpions chase after him. I wouldn’t call those positive results from other people!

Maybe you’ve experienced something similar. You’ve tried to tell someone about Jesus and they weren’t impressed. You took a leap of faith and spoke to a friend about how their current lifestyle wasn’t bringing God glory. And you got verbally blasted. It hurts like thorns. It stings like a scorpion. No one likes rejection and resentment. If we put our hope in other people’s approval and acceptance, we will constantly be disappointed.

So, what can you expect when you serve others, especially by pointing them to God’s words and promises? Go back to verse 5: And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them. You can expect the best result of all. People hear from God. The same God who sent his Son to face the ultimate rejection in your place. And God is pleased. He is glorified. And you get to be a part of that! If we make our goal to please an audience of One (Jesus), we can’t go wrong, and we won’t be disappointed.

Prayer:Heavenly Father, we want to please an audience of One, and that is you! You understand us. You know that when we face rejection we feel hurt and deflated. Fill us with your love. Forgive us for the times we let our weakness get in the way of letting others hear from you. Give us the satisfaction that when we tell others about your Son, you are glorified! 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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God, Please Talk to Me – July 7, 2024

The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’
Ezekiel 2:4

God, Please Talk to Me

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Daily Devotion – July 7, 2024

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:4

See series: Devotions

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to talk with God? If we could only call him on the phone and hear his voice, or send him an e-mail and get a reply from [email protected]. He could give us answers to our questions. He could help us to know what to do and what direction to take in our lives. By hearing his voice, we would be assured he is with us and will help us. Yes, it would be wonderful for God to talk with us.

God is not so far removed from his world that he is out of touch with us. God does talk with his people. In times past, God talked directly to some of them. Ezekiel, a prophet who lived about 580 years before Jesus was born, heard the voice of God. Over a long period of time, God gave this man important messages to speak to the people. He faithfully repeated those messages and assured his audience that, “this is what the Sovereign LORD says.”

There were other prophets and specially chosen men to whom God also spoke in times past. They, too, heard the voice of God, and as they were moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, they wrote down God’s word. Through that written word, recorded in the Bible, God still speaks to us today. As we read it, we can be confident that this is what the Sovereign LORD says.

He’s not available on the phone or accessible with the computer. But you can open up your Bible, and God will talk to you today. He has some important things for you to hear.

Prayer:
God, speak to me through your Word. Assure me that you are my Savior from sin and Lord of my life. 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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Every Morning – July 6, 2024

Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22,23

Every Morning

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Daily Devotion – July 6, 2024

Devotion based on Lamentations 3:22,23

See series: Devotions

What’s your morning ritual? When does the blaring of the alarm clock burst your pleasant sleep? What can you “check off” your list before leaving the house for the day? Is receiving compassion one of those things?

You might not notice it, but God has already been busy before your alarm clock stirs you to action. God tells you that his love and compassion protect and greet you every morning.

Why would you and I need God’s love and compassion every morning? God tells us that we are sinners. There are so many times we have done, said, or thought things that God hates. Not only do we commit sins, but God also tells us that we have a sinful nature that hates what God loves and loves what God hates. Because of what we do and who we are by nature, we deserve to “be consumed”—punished by God.

But God promises to treat us differently than we deserve. In love, God decided to treat his Son differently than he deserved, too. Jesus was punished in our place and for all of our sins. He suffered in our place on the cross and died. In love, God let his Son, Jesus, be consumed because of our sins.

Now, God greets you each day with his love and compassion. For the sake of Jesus, God forgives your sins. You produce new sins every day. So, God gives you love and compassion every day—new every morning.

May God bless you with sleep that leaves you feeling “new” every morning. Whether or not your physical rest brings you into the new day feeling refreshed, God faithfully greets you each morning with his love and compassion through Jesus. May God’s great love and unfailing compassion refresh you every morning and propel you through each day.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I daily sin and deserve only your wrath and punishment. Thank you for your love and compassion—new every morning! In the peace and power of forgiveness, lead me to thank you with all that I do. 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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Don’t Be Afraid! – July 5, 2024

When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around him while he was by the lake. Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. . . While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
Mark 5:21-24,35-43

Don’t Be Afraid!

Family Devotion – July 5, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 5:21-24,35-43

See series: Devotions

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

Do you know what your parents are most afraid of? Could you try to guess? For most parents, their greatest fear is this: it’s you dying. They don’t like to think about that. You don’t want to think about that!

But that’s what happened to a mom and dad in the Bible. A man named Jairus was the leader of a synagogue. That means he was a little like a pastor for us today. He loved God, and he loved sharing God’s Word. Jairus and his wife had a 12-year-old daughter. They loved her!

One day, that daughter got very sick. Jairus was scared! He ran to find Jesus and asked him to come to his house. Jesus did, but he didn’t make it there in time. By the time they got to the house, Jairus’ daughter had already died. Everyone was so sad, especially Jairus and his wife.

But Jesus told them something strange. He said to them, “Don’t be afraid; just believe” (Mark 5:36). That sounded strange. Don’t be afraid? Even after their worst fear had happened? Their daughter had died. How could they not be afraid? You know the answer: Because of Jesus! Jesus took the little girl by the hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” (Mark 5:41). Something amazing happened. The girl got up! Jesus has power even over death.

Can you imagine how happy that mom and dad must have been? Jairus and his wife had their dear daughter back from the dead. Wouldn’t it be cool if God would do the same thing for us?

He does! This is God’s promise to you, your parents, and everyone who believes in Jesus. Because of our sins, every single one of us is going to die. But because Jesus rose from the dead for us, God promises that everyone who has faith in Jesus will rise from the dead. Maybe God won’t raise us back to life here on earth, but he will raise us to eternal life in heaven.

Even if your worst fears happen, don’t be afraid. Just believe!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, death makes us so afraid. We don’t want the people we love to die. Yet, you have power over death. Help us to not be afraid but to always believe in you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are your parents most afraid of?
  • When Jairus’ daughter was sick, whom did he run to find? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do people die?
  • Why didn’t Jairus and his wife need to be afraid, even after their daughter died?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think death makes us so afraid?
  • How many people did Jesus raise from the dead in the Bible? Can you name them?

 

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 – Serve as a Good Soldier of Christ Jesus – July 5, 2024




Based on 2 Timothy 2:1-13



In our devotion today, the apostle Paul uses a military illustration to teach a pastor named Timothy and us what it means to engage in meaningful ministry as Christians.

In verse 3 of his second letter to Pastor Timothy, Paul writes this: “Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No one serving as a soldier gets entangled in civilian affairs, but rather he tries to please his commanding officer.”

Paul’s point is this: That just like a faithful warfighter, you have a single purpose as a Christian—to please your commanding officer. That single purpose is to obey the command of the commander-in-chief, which is Jesus himself. The commands of Jesus are not burdensome, as Paul will write in other letters. But he does say that obeying Jesus’ commands may include enduring hardship, just like the apostle Paul was enduring.

The apostle Paul wrote this letter to Pastor Timothy while Paul was sitting in prison, enchained, because he had shared the gospel with other people. His government arrested him and had thrown him into prison and had chained him. And that specific message that Paul references here is that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead.

Now that’s a little bit of a headscratcher because we might wonder, Well, how in the world could anybody oppose that message? And why would they be so adamantly opposed to that message that they would take someone like the apostle Paul, throw him into prison, and chain him so he wouldn’t be able to share that message anymore?

We know the answer to that. It is because the sinful heart is just naturally opposed to anything good that God would give us. In spite of the reality of where the apostle Paul was, his encouragement to Pastor Timothy and to you and me is this: Focus on the commanding officer’s orders and share the gospel. Endure any hardship that may come as a result of sharing that message.

And even though not everyone will be receptive to that message, Paul says it’s okay. It’s okay because even though sinful people and wicked people had chained Paul in prison, Paul says in this letter that God’s Word is not chained. Even though the enemies of God’s Word succeeded in locking Paul up in prison, there were a whole host of other people who had the Word of God, so they could not keep God’s Word chained up.

You and I are those people who are free right now to share the good news that Jesus Christ is risen from the dead. When we share that Word of God, it sets people free from being imprisoned by their sin, by their guilt, and from their fear of death. It sets them free to live for Jesus and to live with him forever. And, finally, that’s why Paul says it’s worth it.

God uses your voice and mind to share that unchained gospel to gather his elect, to gather souls, to be with him for eternity.

Now, you might be wondering, Well, how do I do this exactly? Where do I start? Especially in an environment where you must carefully choose what you say and how you say it, because the military does have rules about these kinds of things, and you’re absolutely right. My first encouragement to you is this: Build on the relationships that you already have with people.

Secondly, seek first to understand their religious background. When you engage in conversations about religion and spirituality and the Bible and other religions, ask questions like, “Can you tell me more?” “Why is it that you believe this?” “When did you first come to believe this, and what led to you believing this?”

Thirdly, because you have this relationship with them, and when they share with you the difficulties that they’re having in their life—whether it’s with work or home or their health—you get to share with them the hope that has strengthened you when you went through those same difficulties. You get to say to them, “Hey, I’ve been there. I get it. I’ve felt that way before too, but here’s what’s helped me—these promises from God’s Word.”

And finally, it can be a simple invitation to come and see and hear more at your church for worship or Bible study or maybe at an event that’s being hosted by your church. Or maybe you can start a small group Bible study and fellowship in your own home. If you’re wondering about how to start something like that and what that might look like, shoot me a message at [email protected] and we can chat about it.

In the end, follow the command of your commanding officer, Christ Jesus. Know that his gospel message is unchained and can do some pretty amazing things in the hearts of people.

God be with you as you join with me and all Christians in serving as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Prayer:
Almighty, eternal, and righteous God, you revealed your divine Word to teach us what we should do and what we should avoid. Strengthen and lead us by your Holy Spirit that we serve you in new obedience here until we come to complete holiness before you in that life to come. Today we also ask you to guide and direct all who serve in our nation’s military as NCOs and POs. Continue to raise up faithful men and women to be leaders, to serve as mentors and models for the junior enlisted service members under their charge. May they find their strength and faithfulness and service-mindedness in you, so they continue to be the backbone of the armed forces. In your name I pray. Amen.



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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