Tempted, Yet Triumphant – February 19, 2018

At once the Spirit sent [Jesus] out into the desert, and he was in the desert forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Mark 1:12-13

Tempted, Yet Triumphant


Daily Devotion – February 19, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 1:12-13

See series: Devotions

No one truly understands the torrent of temptations I face in daily life like Jesus does. Countless times the devil coaxes me with his sweet-sounding, sly lies. And after falling for his diabolical deception, I am met with a cascade of his accusations concerning my own guilt and shame. The devil is a real enemy not to be underestimated. His mission is to undermine my faith in God.

Jesus not only understands the power of the evil one; he overcame him! Alone in the barren desert with wild animals surrounding him, Jesus encountered our arch enemy. For forty days he faced the fierce enticements of the evil one. In every vicious attack, Jesus stood victorious. Christ Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Whenever I am tempted, my help and strength will never be found in the deceptive lies of the prince of darkness. Lasting help is graciously given by the Prince of peace who shines with the light of the gospel’s eternal truth, exposing the devilish lies for what they are. His Word of Truth brings the Savior’s healing and forgiveness for the fallen sinner. His love compels me to repent of my sin and to fix my eyes on Jesus who paid the entire debt of my guilt as he crushed the devil through his victory on the cross and from the grave.

It is not a matter of if  temptation will come my way. It is only a matter of when. And when the tide of temptation seeks to overwhelm me, I rest in the safe harbor of heavenly grace. For Jesus assures me with his presence and his powerful promise, that he will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5). Finally, when my last hour comes, the Lord will deliver me from all evil and graciously take me from this world to himself in the refuge of heaven.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, the reason you appeared on earth was to destroy the devil’s work. When I fall into temptation, move me to sorrow over my sin and befriend me with your abiding love and forgiveness. Your word is my strength against every evil attack. I thank you that you were victorious for me! Amen.

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

Lent 2

Jesus Calls us to Follow Him

These are the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

To follow Jesus we must carry our cross. This means our faith will bring us severe burdens and shame. But through Jesus’ cross we have such good news: Heaven is open! We can rejoice in our sufferings! By losing our lives for Jesus, we will find them!

FIRST LESSON – Genesis 28:10-17

Whom did Jacob see on the stairway? Above it?

God’s holy angels were going up and down on the stairway. The Lord God himself was at the top of the stairway.

What promises did Jacob receive which include you?

Promises:
a) God is the God of all believers, both dead (Abraham) and alive (Isaac and Jacob). Even dead believers are alive with God!
b) With all people on earth, we are blessed in Jesus with a holy Savior.
c) God will keep all his promises to us, for Jesus’ sake.

SECOND LESSON – Romans 5:1-11

What amazing gifts do we receive by trusting that Jesus died for our sins? (verses 1-2)

By trusting that Jesus died for our sins we stand innocent before God in his court. We have peace toward God. We have entrance into God’s grace. We rejoice because we are sure that we will share glory with God forever.

Why do we rejoice in our sufferings? Isn’t that a bizarre way to act? (verse 3)

It might surprise the rest of the world, but rejoicing in our sufferings fits with faith in God’s promises. We know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces proven character, and proven character produces confident hope of eternal life.

In Christ, what three things are no longer true about us? (verses 6,8,10)

We were powerless; we were sinners; we were God’s enemies. Relying on Jesus’ blood, we are none of those things anymore in God’s sight. We have God’s strength. We are holy in God’s sight. We are God’s friends.

GOSPEL – Mark 8:31-38

Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? (verse 31)

Jesus had to die because he had said so. God the Father told him so. God the Spirit said so in the Old Testament in many places. There was no other way we could have eternal life. “For the joy set before him” Jesus endured the cross and scorned its shame (Hebrews 12:2). His joy was seeing us sinners receive the gift of eternal life.

When Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” he didn’t mean Satan had taken total control of him and made Peter helpless. What did Jesus mean?

Jesus meant that for Peter to try to keep Jesus from dying for us was satanic. If Jesus hadn’t died for us, we would all have spent eternity with the devil in hell.

Why is trying to become rich apart from God such a poor choice?

Even if we gain the whole world, it won’t do us any good if we lose our souls and end up in eternal fire, body and soul.

Game face – February 18, 2018

Game face – February 18, 2018


And it came to pass, when the time was come that he should be received up, he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem…
Luke 9:51 KJV




Military Devotion – February 18, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 9:51

See series: Military Devotions

Determination shows itself on the face. We have seen it on the faces of athletes. That’s why we call it a game face. But it also shows up when games are not part of the picture. Warriors show that face when heading off into danger.

So did Jesus.

He had just finished busy days. He had fed thousands with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread. He had allowed three of the disciples catch a greater glimpse of his glory when he talked with Moses and Elijah on that high hill. His face had changed then, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.

Afterwards, he again showed his power and glory by driving a demon from a helpless boy. About the nearby people, we hear: “They were all amazed at the greatness of God” (Luke 9:43).

After all this, most expected good times and easy victories lay ahead.

Not Jesus.

The disciples did not understand his warning: “The Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected…and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Luke 9:22).

They felt it could not be. He knew it must be.

It would not be easy for Jesus. He would beg his Father to find a different way to rescue us. His sweat would become as drops of blood falling to the ground. Later, blood would flow from his thorn-cut head, his whip-torn back, his nail-pierced hands, and finally his spear-stabbed body.

And he knew in advance all this was going to happen! When the time came that he should leave for Jerusalem with its waiting pain and death, he did not flinch. He put on his game face.

Good for us that he did! Good for our loved ones who call him Lord! Good for everyone who loves him.

He knew what was waiting for him beyond the pain and the grave. He had told his disciples about first death, then resurrection. He looked forward eagerly to “be received up.”

After death, the next stop would be heaven.

Thus it is for all who follow him. Thus it was for Elijah and Moses who had followed him in days of old. Thus it was for all who have died in the saving faith.

So it will be for us.

So, when the trouble and the pain and even the shadow of death show up on our life’s path, we will do as Jesus did.

We will meet them with our game face on—and walk on to glory.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you were determined to rescue us from sin, death, and the devil, even though you knew you would have to go through agony and death to do it. We thank you for that. We are ashamed of the times that we flinched and failed to follow you in our lives. Keep us strong. Make us holy. Take us home. Amen.



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

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




Transformed – teen devotion – February 18, 2018

“My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,” he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
Mark 14:34

What are you sweating?

I don’t think anybody saw it coming. I don’t think anyone expected that we’d wake up to discover that Robin Williams had committed suicide. Robin Williams was a comedian who brought joy and laughter to many people from many generations. And just like that, you discover that he had an inner darkness and a deep sadness that led him to take his own life.

What’s scary is that his story isn’t so strange. There is a darkness and a deep sadness in many people that lies hidden behind smiles and laughter. Maybe it’s hiding in your heart too. As we start this new devotional series, I want to ask you: What are you sweating?

Are you breaking out in a mild sweat? I’m talking about the trivial things we worry about—making it to a meeting on time, looming deadlines, family crises, broken devices, the news, terrorist threats, the dwindling oil supply, another downturn in the economy, or an endless number of other things.

Maybe it’s more serious than all that. Are you sweating bullets? Maybe it’s an illness in the family, an impending move, a job loss, struggling to pay the bills, even a relationship on the rocks. This is the bigger stuff, the stuff that really affects our lives.

Maybe there is something so heavy on your hearts that you’re sweating blood. You may be so overwhelmed with fear, sadness, and depression that you’re sweating drops of blood, overwhelmed to the point of death.

That’s what Jesus felt when he prayed in Gethsemane. Jesus was sweating blood because of his anguish. That is precisely what he confessed to his disciples. Jesus was so overwhelmed by what he was carrying and by what he was about to do that he turned to his disciples and asked them to pray with him. That’s how heavy this burden was.

But that’s just it. He already carried this burden to give you peace. He did it willingly and gladly to lighten your burden and to wipe the sweat from your brow. He carried your burden to heal you and give you peace. That’s what Isaiah promised he would do: The punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds we are healed (cf. Isaiah 53:5). That’s what I pray you’ll see over the next weeks in this series of devotions.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you sweat drops of blood and carried my burden to bring me healing and peace. Give me this hope and this healing when I am sweating all the things that happen in my life. Amen.


This Lenten series we’re taking a look at the scars we all have from our sin and from the sin of others. Ultimately it’s not about our scars, but rather the scars of Christ which he took for us on the cross.


 

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

Safe – February 18, 2018

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil.
Matthew 4:1

Safe


Daily Devotion – February 18, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 4:1

See series: Devotions

Every time I pray the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), I find great comfort in the words, “And lead us not into temptation.” I need this reassurance because there are many things which seek to draw me away from the Lord. The world always beckons with its pleasures. The devil always offers illusions and distractions. My flesh is always attentive to their appealing call. My only refuge is knowing the Lord will keep me safe in every time of temptation, and that refuge is found in my Savior Jesus Christ.

At the beginning of his ministry God the Holy Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness of Judea. The sole purpose was to engage in spiritual combat with the devil. Forty days and forty nights Jesus endured the devil’s twisted truths, his easy solutions, and his deceptive offers. Through the power of God’s Word, Jesus was victorious and did not sin.

I am the beneficiary of this hard-fought battle. Because Jesus overcame every temptation, he gives me the ability to resist the devil’s destructive advances. He also gives me the wisdom to identify Satan’s deadly deceptions. He even gives me the strength to faithfully endure every cunning attack.

I can find great comfort in knowing Jesus will keep me safe. I find equal comfort in knowing when I fail to resist temptation, Jesus stands ready to rescue me. He forgives my failure to remain faithful and removes the burden of my guilt. He encourages me with his reassuring promises to retake my stand on God’s Word. He even renews me with his victory to prepare me for the next battle.

I know as long as I live in this world, the devil will always be there to tempt me. I also know I need to be ready to identify these temptations so I can resist them. What gives me courage and strength for the battle is knowing that Jesus is there to keep me safe.

Prayer:
O gracious and faithful Savior, you were strong and faithful in the face of every temptation. Give me the same strength and faith to resist the devil’s attacks. Refresh me when I grow weak. Forgive me when I fall. Keep me safely in your care. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

The One for the Many – February 17, 2018

“…through the obedience of the one Man the many will be made righteous.”
Romans 5:19

The One for the Many


Daily Devotion – February 17, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 5:19

See series: Devotions

Al Capone is a household name in American history. Al Capone is the notorious mob leader who ruled the city of Chicago with an iron fist in the 1920’s.

But there’s another name we would do well to know. The name of this man is Frank Loesch. Here is his story. It was the height of Al Capone’s power. His violent reign over Chicago was so tough that local, state and federal authorities dared not to challenge him. Frank Loesch was an elderly man in his seventies. But Frank Loesch had had enough. So, he led an effort to find a way to bring down Al Capone.

The work took years—years of stress, years of death threats, years of constant danger to himself and his family. But finally, the day came. A court found Al Capone guilty of tax evasion. A judge sentenced him to prison. His bloody control was over. The 3 million citizens of Chicago were freed and no longer feared him, thanks to the determination of one brave man, a man by the name of Frank Loesch.

One man doing what had to be done to rescue the lives of many. It’s an extraordinary story. But even the story of Frank Loesch must fade in comparison to what Jesus Christ has done on our behalf.

You and I were under the rule of an iron fist. The iron fist was the curse of our own sin. Under that rule, our lives were fearful, empty, dark. But when Jesus came, he did what had to be done. On our behalf he served as our Champion. In our place he paid the price to set us free. The devil can claim us no more. The curse of our sin is gone. Instead we now possess forgiveness, and life, and light.

The One for the many. That’s Jesus. His victory is total. Because it is, we don’t have to be afraid anymore.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when the curse of sin ruled us with an iron fist, you came. You shattered sin’s grip and washed us clean. Keep us close to you. And thank you! Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

God is Holy – February 16, 2018

“Speak to the entire assembly of Israel and say to them: ‘Be holy because I, the LORD your God, am holy.’”
Leviticus 19:2

God is Holy


Daily Devotion – February 16, 2018

Devotion based on Leviticus 19:2

See series: Devotions

God in heaven is absolutely perfect. He wants heaven to be a perfect place for us as well, so he says that nothing imperfect, unclean, or sinful will ever enter there. Because God wanted the people of Israel to enter there, he told them to be holy. He says the same thing to us today. Be holy, and we will earn heaven.

How holy? God wants us to be as holy as he is. That means no bad thoughts, no sinful words, no wrong deeds, from the beginning of life all the way through every day. He knew that people would try to water down that standard, so he gave the Ten Commandments to the entire assembly of Israel, and told them to obey those rules. He said that they should practice such obedience for the right reasons—loving God with all their power and loving their neighbor as themselves.

When the holy God looked down from heaven to see how the people of Israel were doing, he saw that no one was righteous, not even one. He sees the same thing when he looks at us today. Although he searched the whole world, he could not find and still cannot find a single holy person—except for Jesus.

Jesus lived an absolutely holy life. He never thought anything wrong, he never said anything wrong, and he never did anything wrong. He always did the right thing, even under difficult circumstances, and he always refrained from doing the wrong thing.

Jesus never sinned. He earned his way to heaven! But instead of taking the heaven that he deserved, Jesus took the hell that we deserve. The Bible says, “God made him who had no sin be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). God punished Jesus for our sin, and Jesus suffered hell, separation from God the Father, on the cross.

Through faith in Jesus, you have his perfect, holy life credited to your account, and you will receive heaven as a free gift when you die. Yes, there will be no more sin in heaven. Through Jesus, you will be holy, because the Lord your God is holy.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your amazing gift. Amen.

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

God is Everywhere – February 15, 2018

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

God is Everywhere


Daily Devotion – February 15, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:23-24

See series: Devotions

I woke up in a youth hostel halfway around the world. Frankfurt, Germany was the farthest I had ever been from home. I had a few moments before the day of exploring the city started. I pulled out my little travel Bible from my backpack and determined that I’d read whatever happened to open. What opened? Jeremiah chapter 23.

Verses 23 and 24 jumped out at me. God is EVERYWHERE. God was in Frankfurt. He was on the plane. He was in the United States. The Lord was where I was and everywhere I wasn’t. God is EVERYWHERE at the same time—always.

That can be a scary thought. God is with me when I dole out hate to the people God has called me to love. God is with me when lies tumble off my tongue instead of truth. God is with me when I hide shameful habits from friends and family. Since God is EVERYWHERE, God is witness to every sin of mine.

The Lord who is EVERYWHERE chose to be Immanuel, God with us—true God and true man. The one who is EVERYWHERE chose to be THERE.

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, lived in lowly Nazareth, and was baptized in the Jordan River. He healed on hillsides, preached from boats, and taught at the Temple. Jesus chose to stand on trial, to be nailed to a cross just outside Jerusalem, and laid in a nearby tomb. Jesus rose and walked out of that tomb. He strolled and taught his way from Jerusalem to Emmaus with some struggling followers. Our risen Jesus enjoyed a fish breakfast on the beach with his friends, met with over 500 disciples in Galilee, and ascended to heaven. Jesus was there, in all those places, so that we could be forgiven and forever with him there in heaven.

Since we know why and how Jesus was “THERE,” we find great comfort in the fact that the Lord is EVERYWHERE. God is with you everywhere you go, and forgives you and gives you peace. The Lord, your Shepherd, promises to always be with you as he guides you, comforts you, and strengthens you.

No matter where you go, the Lord is there because God is EVERYWHERE.

Prayer:
Lord God, you are EVERYWHERE. Forgive me for every sin you see and know I commit. Give me joy, strength, and peace in your love, forgiveness, and constant presence. Thank you for being everywhere and always with me. Amen.

Prayer:
Lord, you are EVERYWHERE. Forgive me for every sin you see and know I commit. Give me joy, strength and peace in your love, forgiveness and constant presence. Thank you for being everywhere and always with me. Amen.

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

God’s Work Goes On – February 14, 2018

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what can I do for you before I am taken from you.” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” Elisha replied. “You have asked a difficult thing,” Elijah said, “yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours—otherwise not.” As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, “My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!” And Elisha saw him no more.
2 Kings 2:9-12

God’s Work Goes On


Daily Devotion – February 14, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Kings 2:9-12

See series: Devotions

There were people who knew that it was almost time for Elijah to be taken to heaven. Elijah knew it. Elijah’s helper, Elisha, knew it. So did the young men at the schools of the prophets that Elijah and Elisha met during their last travels together. All of them were aware that soon the Lord would bring to a close the ministry of his prophet Elijah.

So, what did that mean for the work that Elijah had been doing? Elisha already knew that he was chosen to be Elijah’s successor. When Elijah’s ministry was complete, Elisha would become God’s prophet to the people of Israel. But would Elisha have what he needed to proclaim God’s Word to the people of Israel, who were not in any way less idolatrous and rebellious now than they were when Elijah began his ministry?

When it was almost time for him to be taken to heaven, Elijah asked Elisha if there was anything he could do for him before he was taken. Elisha very wisely replied, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.” In that culture, when a father died, his first-born son inherited two portions of his estate. Elisha was asking that he be recognized as Elijah’s heir. He was asking that the Lord would give him what he needed to step into Elijah’s role as God’s prophet. Elijah knew that he himself could not give Elisha what he asked for. But he was confident that God could and would give it, if Elisha saw Elijah taken to heaven.

Suddenly, what everyone was expecting happened. A chariot and horses of fire appeared and separated Elisha from Elijah. And Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha had seen Elijah taken to heaven. Would he also inherit two portions of Elijah’s spirit? Would he be recognized as Elijah’s heir?

Yes, he did. And yes, he was. The Lord fulfilled his promise and was with Elisha just as he had been with Elijah. Strengthened by God, Elisha stepped into Elijah’s role and continued the work of proclaiming God’s Word. God’s work went on.

God’s work continues today. Because he still wants all people to hear the good news of all that he has done for them in Jesus, the Lord continues to call people to proclaim that good news. In every generation, from Elijah all the way until today, the Lord has provided men and women whom he strengthened and equipped for the task of sharing his good news. And he has promised that he will continue to provide more good news proclaimers in every generation until he returns to take his people home. How grateful we are that God’s work goes on, generation after generation! And how thankful we are for those who God has used to bring his good news to us!

Prayer:
Lord God, I praise you that you always make sure that the work of proclaiming your good news goes on. Bless your good news proclaimers so that many more may come to believe in you. Amen.

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

Free – February 13, 2018

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
2 Corinthians 3:17

Free


Daily Devotion – February 13, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 3:17

See series: Devotions

Christian author, Timothy Keller tells of a woman who has tasted what real freedom is.

As a parish pastor, Keller met this woman when she was in her 40’s. Years of trouble, however, made her look far older. She had not always looked this way. In her teens and in her 20’s, this woman had breathtaking physical beauty. In fact, her attractiveness was so striking that powerful men would habitually pursue her. They wanted her by their side, however, just to display her as a trophy—just to show others how powerful and influential they were.

This went on for years. As the years went by, two terrible things happened to her. For one, these men of power often abused and humiliated her. For another, these experiences broke her down. They conditioned her into assuming that if there was any kind of meaning or value in her life, she would only find it when she was with a man—any man.

She started to see a therapist. The therapist helped her see that, for far too long, she had been seeking her sense of worth in the wrong place. Then the therapist offered a solution. “Instead of seeking your sense of worth in a man, you need to seek your sense of worth in some kind of career. Then, when you are successful in that career, your sense of worth will be in a good place.”

The woman took in this advice from her therapist. She thought for a moment and then responded. With great respect she asked her therapist. “And so instead of getting all my sense of worth from loving a man, now I’m going to get all my worth from being successful and making money?” Then she asked her therapist this question. “What if I don’t want either addiction? Can’t you let me build my life on something that cannot let me down?”

It was during this period in her life when the Good News of Jesus embraced her soul. Now she is free. She is free from serving something that cannot possibly bear the weight of her needs. She is free from serving something that can only let her down. She is free because Jesus has washed her in his blood and wrapped her in the blanket of his own righteousness. She is free because, through faith in Jesus, she now belongs to him. She is free because, through faith in Jesus, the old desperation and the old fears are gone.

Through that same faith in Jesus, you are free too.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, through faith in you, I am free. Forgive me for all the times I have sought my sense of worth in anything other than you. Refresh me in your Spirit. Amen.

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

Somber, Yet Joyous! – Week of February 12, 2018

Somber, Yet Joyous! – Week of February 12, 2018


God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21



Sometimes children feel the weight of their sin immediately. Sometimes children do not even need correction or redirection from the teacher. They will spill their guts and repent before the teacher can even get across the classroom to assist. It is a blessing that we can also teach forgiveness to the children, using the example of what Jesus has done for all of us.

As we look this week at Ash Wednesday and Jesus’ journey to the cross, we often think of a solemn and somber scene. The weight of our sin was laid on Jesus. He suffered for us. He was punished for our sins so that we would not need to be punished. He suffered that we might have life eternally with him. Yes, that can be very heavy, but it also stirs up joy in us.

He took our dirty clothes, spotted with our sin. He wrapped us in his robe of righteousness. What a gift! What joy! A wonderful message of joy that we have the privilege to share with the children! What a great message to share with those little lambs which he has entrusted to us! As we prepare our hearts and minds, as we study the path Jesus takes to the cross for us, we can also remember that the promises of Easter morning are right around the corner! Jesus did that for us! He took on our all our sins that “we might become the righteousness of God.”

We feel joy through that forgiveness, a weight lifted from us! Remember that child who feels the weight of their sin? You also can witness the power of forgiveness as one child offers an, “I forgive you” to their friend. Let us find joy and confidence in the righteousness that was won for us by Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Lord, give me joy and confidence as I teach your little lambs. Help me use my daily interactions with both the children and their families to share your message of love and forgiveness. In your name I pray, Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can I help my children better understand the gift of forgiveness? Are there strategies I can implement in my classroom or school?



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



Lent 1

Jesus Defeats the Devil

These are the readings for the First Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

In Lent we see Jesus go to the cross to suffer and die for us. Today’s lessons show that when God tests us and the devil tempts us (every day!), Jesus is our holiness before God. He is also our strength and our example. Jesus says we do not live on bread alone. We live on God’s promises. They come to us in holy baptism, in Holy Communion, and straight from the Biblethe book in which every word is from the mouth of God.

FIRST LESSON – Genesis 22:1-18

Abraham believed God would somehow quickly raise Isaac from the dead. (See Hebrews 11:19.) How did Abraham show this to his servants?

See the end of verse 5. Abraham assured his servants that after he and Isaac worshiped atop Mt. Moriah, they would both come back down the mountain.

Who is the Angel of the Lord?

The Angel of the Lord is God the Son himself. The proof is in verses 12 and 16, where the Angel of the Lord speaks of himself as God. 1 Corinthians 10:4 says that the Angel of the Lord was Christ. This does not mean Jesus is a created angel; “angel” in both Hebrew and Greek means “messenger,” essentially. Even before he became man, the Son of God was the Father’s messenger to us.

By what two unchangeable things, which he said to Abraham, did God encourage us to trust in Jesus?

See Hebrews 6:18. God both made a promise to Abraham and swore by himself. What could be surer?

SECOND LESSON – Romans 8:31-39

What do we have to endure, for God’s sake? (See verse 36.)

We get killed all day long, so to speak. We suffer great grief and pain. Paul says this by quoting from Psalm 44:22.

Do we conquer in Christ now, forever, or both? (See verse 37.)

We conquer both now and forever. In all our troubles we are more than conquerors, not just after all our troubles.

Where is God’s love? (See verse 39.)

God’s love is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Since Jesus lives forever, God’s love for us will never end.

GOSPEL – Mark 1:12-15

Who sent Jesus into the desert to be tempted?

God the Holy Spirit drove Jesus (in overly-literal Greek “threw him out” into the desert). We can take comfort that the devil never tempts us unless God allows it.

Wild animals in stadiums threatened some of Mark’s first readers. What comfort did Jesus’ temptation give them?

When Jesus was tempted in the desert he too was with the wild animals. He overcame all temptations by the same Word that steadied the hearts of martyrs whom Roman officials fed to lions. No matter how God allows us to be tempted, he will always make a way out for us (1 Corinthians 10:13).

With Jesus I am Never Alone – February 12, 2018

Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus.
Mark 9:8

With Jesus I am Never Alone


Daily Devotion – February 12, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 9:8

See series: Devotions

The disciples must have been disappointed. One moment they saw a glimpse of heaven. Jesus allowed his glory as God to be seen. Moses and Elijah miraculously appeared. God the Father’s praise majestically echoed from the cloud. The next moment everything was gone. All that remained was the familiar form of Jesus.

I have experienced the same disappointment. For a brief moment everything in my life seemed wonderful. There were no problems, no conflicts, and everything made sense. I was content because God was good and his blessings were clearly evident. Suddenly, everything changed. My life was filled with chaos and I felt very alone. While I tried to convince myself of the Bible’s promises, I couldn’t escape the emptiness I felt.

Although I may suffer disappointment, loneliness, and emptiness, I need to understand that with Jesus I am never alone.

I can be certain of his presence in my life because he said, “I am with you always.” This tells me there is never a time when I am alone. He is always there to guide me with his Word. He is always there to comfort me with his love. He is always there to encourage me with his promises.

Even more convincing is the work he completed to assure me “nothing will ever separate me from his love.” Jesus secured his Father’s approval to free me from the tyranny of my sin-stained life. Jesus accepted his Father’s just judgment to release me from the verdict of separation and punishment. Jesus endured the attacks of the devil and the horror of the grave to claim me as his own.

When I remember Jesus’ faithful promises, his precious work, and his undeserved love, I can live with complete certainty and peace. With Jesus I am never alone.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal–588)
I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless; Ills have no weight and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory? I triumph still if thou abide with me.
Hold thou thy cross before my closing eyes; Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies.
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee; In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

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

Blessed Assurance – February 11, 2018

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John, the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.
Matthew 17:1-2

Blessed Assurance


Daily Devotion – February 11, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 17:1-2

See series: Devotions

Jesus knew the dangers the disciples would have to endure. There would be the distraction of his capture and crucifixion. There would be the despair at his death and burial. There would be the deception which challenged the report of his resurrection. In order to sustain his disciples through these difficult times, Jesus offered them a blessed assurance. He allowed them to witness his glory as true God at his transfiguration.

Initially the disciples couldn’t comprehend the significance of that glorious display, but later they would come to cherish it. It was that picture of Jesus’ glory as God which encouraged them in their times of doubt. It strengthened them in their times of weakness. It even emboldened them to speak when they were challenged to remain silent. Jesus’ transfiguration provided the blessed assurance the disciples needed.

Like the disciples I will have to endure daily distractions, doubts and deceptions. The devil and the world are relentless in their attacks to overcome my sin-weakened and battle-wearied flesh. I need the same blessed assurance Jesus provided the disciples.

I need to know Jesus is the all-powerful Son of God who controls all things and works all things for my good. I need to know he is my faithful Savior who daily and richly forgives all my sins. I need to know he is my ever-present refuge and strength in every time of trouble. With this blessed assurance I can endure every challenge and conflict. With this blessed assurance I can overcome every fear and temptation. With this blessed assurance I can live with complete confidence I will see Jesus face to face in all his heavenly glory.

Prayer:
O blessed Savior, you are strong while I am weak. You are faithful while I struggle. You are righteous while I am sinful. Daily remind me of your great power as the Son of God, and your great love as my Savior. Daily give me the assurance I need so I can live for you in this life, and live with you in the life to come. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Never again – February 11, 2018

Never again – February 11, 2018


We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.
Hosea 14:3




Military Devotion – February 11, 2018

Devotion based on Hosea 14:3

See series: Military Devotions

Few words are said with more conviction than the vow: “Never again!” Few regrets are as painful as those when we realize we did again what we said we would never again do.

Through the prophet Hosea, the Lord God put words into the mouths of his people. Never again does he want to see his loved ones making the lethal mistake of trading him in for a fake god.

It makes us wonder. Does he also want to hear those words from us?

To be sure, there’s no statue in the backyard that we bow down to. No hand-carved idol sits in our family room. But idolatry is not a sin we can check off our list of “Never Did Do—Never Will Do.”

If we look closely at our lives, if we examine them under God’s microscope, we will find many a would-be idol hidden in the cracks and creases.

Whatever comes first in our life, that’s our god. If anything is more important than the Lord of heaven and earth; if we trust anything more than him; if we love anything more; if we fear anything more—mark that down as an idol.

And every idol is a fake. Every hope placed in an idol is empty. Every act of idolatry is a shame.

Some of those in Israel did bow down to wood and stone. But many simply made up a god in their own mind—as we are tempted to do.

Wealth has often been put forward as a candidate for Most Important in Life. So, we are tempted to make money, expecting it will solve our problems. But the field is crowded with rivals for God. Popularity, career-advancement, and the easy life raise their hands to be recognized. So, we “make friends” and “build careers”, as if they were all-important. But maybe, the greatest rival to the only true God is Self. We prefer a life that is self-made.

Simply put, we want to be God. Yet, never can that be. We can create nothing. We cannot control the wind. We cannot control the stars. We cannot map out the future. We cannot stop loved ones from eventually dying.

As gods—we are failures.

By contrast, the Lord God is everything we are not. Life, death, nature, and history are in his hands. He meets every need—even those we may not think of.

Hosea could have pointed to the Lord’s control of sunrises and sunsets. He might have pointed back to the miracles that stunned the Egyptians. Instead, he points his finger at children—to fatherless children.

Fatherless children are a sad sight even today. But in ancient times there were no government programs, no adoption agencies, no job market for mothers without husbands. Overlooked and overwhelmed, the widows and the fatherless were often the helpless.

But not by their Savior God. He opens his heart to those with little hope. He is their Father.

Do we really want to compete with him? Do we want to continue making our own god?

The answer is: “No!” Once again, we vow, “Never again!”

This time we add, “So help me God!”



Prayer: Holy triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, sometimes without thinking, we try to stand in your shoes and sit on your throne. We try to replace you with our own ideas, or with idols in this world that we have chosen to serve. Slap us across the head, if necessary. Wake us up. Show us again that we are but strangers here, and everything we see around us will pass away. You have told us, “Be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” Give us the strength, then, to remain faithful. Empower us to mean it when we tell all idols, “Never again!”  Amen.



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

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




Transformed – teen devotion – February 11, 2018

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Ally #3 – The Church

Loneliness is not fun. In fact, it’s awful. It’s one of the worst feelings anyone can experience. You have probably felt lonely at some time in your life. Being alone itself is no fun. Yet suffering alone through trouble, hardship, break ups, broken friendships, temptations, and anything in between feels even worse. In fact, it can be bad for us.

The devil comes after you with the temptation that church isn’t important and you don’t need to go. He wants you to think that there is no one who cares for you. He wants you to believe that you are absolutely alone. The devil also tricks you into thinking that you can handle life alone. He wants you to think you can handle temptation alone. He tricks you to think you can walk through life alone so that you might even purposely isolate yourself.

But here’s the truth: You’re not alone. In fact, it’s good for us to seek out Christian friends to help us face life and the trouble it brings.

King Solomon wrote the passage that we focus on today. He was a man familiar with popularity and admirers. He was the wealthiest king of Israel. He was the wisest person to ever live. Foreign kings and queens sought his advice. If anyone had it all, it was him.

But Solomon was also a man familiar with great loneliness and sorrow. Read the book of Ecclesiastes. Despite all his wisdom, riches, power, and influence, he felt alone. He realized the importance of community, the importance of being together. You can read it in these words. One person is overpowered easily. Two people can actually defend themselves. Two people will help each other out. Two people can keep warm. But three? That’s even better. A cord of three strands is not easily broken.

Solomon is making the point that community is key in your life. The most important community is your Christian community. This Christian community is most easily and readily found at church. When believers come together, they can endure great hardships. They can survive great atrocities. They can withstand the worst things imaginable. They can face temptation.

Why? Not just because they have each other, but because they have their God and Savior Jesus. This Christian community has God’s Word.

You have a community of fellow believers who suffer through many of the same things that you do. They face the same temptations and struggle with the constant battle against sin. This community gathers at your church and is there to help you. You are the two that defend each other, who keep each other warm. This community warns us about sin, false teachers, and the devil. This community comforts us with the truth that God is with us, that God forgives, that Jesus has already won the war by rising from the dead.

The people aren’t even the most important part of this community. Solomon talks about a cord of three strands. The third strand is the God who protects you, forgives you, provides for you, and carries you in times of weakness. God is the one who is your strength and comfort.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me see the blessings of your Church and its community. Help me rely on you and your grace, strength, and mercy to get through hardships and trials. Amen.

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

Real – February 10, 2018

We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
2 Peter 1:16

Real


Daily Devotion – February 10, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Peter 1:16

See series: Devotions

In 2001, director Stephen Spielberg and actor Tom Hanks paired up to produce the most expensive television miniseries when it was created. The title of the miniseries was Band of Brothers. The ten-part drama followed a company of World War II soldiers from their basic training through the end of the war.

In this miniseries, the characters were colorful. The plot twists were riveting. The battle scenes were beyond intense. For those who watched the entire program, however, perhaps it’s the conclusion of the final episode that packs the most powerful punch. You see, each episode of Band of Brothers began with an old man talking to an off-screen interviewer. Over the course of the series, the various old men became familiar faces as they quietly spoke of their days as young soldiers. Only at the end of the ten-part story did you learn their names. They are the very men depicted in the miniseries. They are the Band of Brothers. Their story was not fiction. Their story was real.

When Peter sat down and wrote his second letter, he was an old man too. The Holy Spirit has brought the timeless Word of God from Peter’s hand to this moment, to you and me. Across the centuries, therefore, Peter wants us to understand something. He wants us to understand something about what he and all the others have recorded in the Bible about Jesus. He wants us to understand that they did not write it down for entertainment. They did not write it down to tell a rousing story. They did not write it down to keep us spellbound with colorful characters and riveting plotlines. They wrote it down because that’s what happened. They wrote it down because they were eyewitnesses. They wrote it down because it was real.

That means that your forgiveness in Jesus is real. It means that his guiding hand in your life is real. It means that his promise to uphold you is real. It means that your security in him is real.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, as I read your Word, fill me with the awareness that Jesus’ life and death and resurrection took place in real time, for me and for all. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

God is All-Knowing – February 9, 2018

The third time [Jesus] said to [Peter], “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”
John 21:17

God is All-Knowing


Daily Devotion – February 9, 2018

Devotion based on John 21:17

See series: Devotions

Jesus knew that Peter denied knowing him three times. Jesus knew this because he is God and therefore he is all-knowing. That means that nothing has ever happened or ever will happen without his knowledge—including Peter’s sin.

Do you know that? God knows your every thought, word, and action. He knows everything in your past, he knows all about your present, and he even knows your future. He knows everything there is to know about everything.

Knowledge like this is incomprehensible to us. We acquire knowledge through learning and experience, but God knows everything intuitively. He doesn’t have to work for it, he just knows it. Plus, no matter how much we learn, there will always be things we do not know. God’s knowledge, however, is so complete that no one can add anything to it. And while much of what we claim to know is flawed, God understands everything perfectly.

That kind of knowledge is terrifying. Imagine how uncomfortable you would be if you had to interact with someone who knew all your secrets. Now remember that on Judgment Day you will stand in front of the all-knowing God. You can’t hide anything from him—he knows all your secret sins.

But as Peter told Jesus, God also knows that you love him. This love is not something that you conjured up on your own, it is a result of the saving faith God has given you. Jesus lived, died, and rose for you. And by faith in Jesus, God promises you: “I will remember your sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34). What comfort! God who knows everything chooses to forget your sins.

God’s total knowledge is not a threat, it’s a blessing. God knows all about you, so you will never be lost in the sea of humanity. God knows your weaknesses and troubles, and promises to help you with them. He knows all the little details of your life and more than that, he uses what he knows for your eternal good.

Prayer:
Lord, you know all things. Thank you for using that knowledge for my good. Amen.

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

Almighty God Keeps His Promises – February 8, 2018

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.”
Genesis 17:1

Almighty God Keeps His Promises


Daily Devotion – February 8, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 17:1

See series: Devotions

It had been 24 years since God had promised Abram that he would have a son with his wife, Sarai. He was now 99. She was 89. If the prospect of having a son at ages 75 and 65 was extraordinary, having a son when he was almost 100 was surely humanly impossible. Yet God came to Abram once again to remind him that whether something seems possible or not is of no consequence to the Almighty. He gave Abram this gentle reminder, “I am God Almighty.” He was saying, “I have not forgotten my promise, Abram. I will still give you and Sarai a son, even in your old age. Doing the impossible is what I do. I will keep my promise.” Abram had not always been faithful, and he had been far from blameless. He and his wife doubted God’s promise at various times. Yet the Almighty God could and still would keep his promise to Abram.

So often, like Abram, we forget that God is almighty, that nothing is impossible for him. Whether we face health problems, conflicts in personal relationships, or just the frustration and worry of daily life in a sinful world, we easily fail to trust in God’s promises to provide and to work in all things for the good of his people. Like Abram, we have not been faithful and certainly we are not blameless.

But our God is Almighty and keeps his promises. He kept his promise to Abram and gave him a son. From that son came a nation and through that nation God sent his Son to save unfaithful, blameful sinners like us. Jesus, the Son of God, gave his holy life on the cross to forgive us and rose again to make heaven our eternal home. God does what is impossible for us to do by ourselves. Through faith in Jesus, he makes sinners into saints. He brings us from death to life. He changes us from being his enemies to being his sons and daughters.

So walk before God Almighty knowing that he has all power. Walk before God Almighty knowing that he can do what we may think is impossible. Walk before God Almighty knowing that he keeps his promises. Walk before God Almighty because through faith in Jesus he makes you faithful and blameless.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, for the sake of my Savior, Jesus, forgive me when I waver in my faith. Remind me and reassure me that you are my Almighty God who keeps his promises. Amen.

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

Life Is Hard, Even for Christians – February 7, 2018

“Does not man have hard service on earth? Are not his days like those of a hired man? Like a slave longing for the evening shadows, or a hired man waiting eagerly for his wages, so I have been allotted months of futility, and nights of misery have been assigned to me. When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss till dawn. My body is clothed with worms and scabs, my skin is broken and festering. “My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle, and they come to an end without hope. Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath; my eyes will never see happiness again.
Job 7:1-7

Life Is Hard, Even for Christians


Daily Devotion – February 7, 2018

Devotion based on Job 7:1-7

See series: Devotions

Job’s life was not going well. Not that long ago, he had owned thousands of head of livestock. He had seven sons and three daughters. He was considered the greatest man among all the people of the east. But now, all that was gone. In one day, Job lost everything: his wealth, his children, everything. Then, to make a horrific situation even worse, Job was struck with an incredibly painful, disfiguring disease. His pain was so great that all he could do was sit in an ash heap and scrape the boils that covered his body from head to toe with a piece of broken pottery.

No matter how hard Job tried, he could not find a reason for the suffering he was experiencing. It all seemed so pointless, so unjust. He had faithfully followed God throughout his life and yet God had allowed all this to happen to him. Look at him! He’s worn out like a slave. Even though he’s exhausted, he can’t sleep. He is covered in scabs and his skin oozes. Why shouldn’t he just give up and recognize that there is nothing worth living for? So, why should he hold out any hope for anything good?

Have you ever felt like Job? Do his words sound familiar to you? We all have had times when we’ve suffered for reasons that we could not understand. Maybe we weren’t suffering because we did something wrong. No, the pain just came and would not go away. We worked hard to fix one problem only to have three more pop up. We lay down at night exhausted, only to toss and turn, and stare at the clock until dawn. Perhaps we even reached the point that Job reached and decided not to expect that anything good would ever come our way again.

If you ever suffered like that, know this. Ever since sin entered this world, life has been hard, even for Christians. Being a child of God does not guarantee that your life will always be easy. Until the Lord takes us home to heaven that is. We, like Job, will continue to labor and grow weary, and experience troubled nights and months of futility.

But that doesn’t mean that we have no hope. Job was speaking out of the depths of his suffering. Later, as he focused his attention not on his suffering but on God and his promises, he exclaimed, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” (See Job 19:25-26.)

Jesus is your Redeemer who lives. He died and rose again for you. Because of him and what he has done, you always have hope. No matter what you may suffer, keep your eyes focused on him, knowing that your living Redeemer loves you and will never leave you. Nothing can separate you from him and soon you will see him yourself. How our hearts long within us!

Prayer:
Dear Redeemer, when life is hard and seems without hope, help me to find my hope and help in you. Amen.

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

Theft – February 6, 2018

I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
1 Corinthians 9:23

Theft


Daily Devotion – February 6, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 9:23

See series: Devotions

Martin Luther loved to preach. He loved to climb into his pulpit and proclaim to souls the Good News of Jesus. He preached often. Someone estimated that throughout his ministry, Martin Luther preached about 7,000 sermons. This means that, on average, he was climbing into his pulpit about every two days. That is a lot of preaching!

On one particular day, however, Luther climbed into his pulpit with a heavy heart. There was a serious problem in his congregation. People who professed to be Christians were actually taking part in theft. The kind of theft that Luther meant was that people, who professed to be Christians, were allowing their time in the gospel to be stolen by the priorities of this world.

In essence, Luther said this from his pulpit that day. He said that we would never think of letting our cash money sit around in some public place for fear of someone stealing it. And yet, so many of us do not give a second thought to letting the priorities of this world snatch up our time in the gospel. To know that this was taking place brought Luther much grief. “We are really in a bad way,” he said [SL.XI.1615,6-7].

In our 21st Century Culture, Martin Luther’s concern still retains its bite. Perhaps you’ve felt the blood drain from your face when you realize you left your wallet at the food court in the mall; when you realize you left your car unlocked with the keys inside; or when you wake up and realize you forgot to close your garage door for the night.

And yet, think of all the precious jewels of time in the gospel that you and I have left lying around—precious jewels left unguarded, discarded, forgotten—so much so that, sooner or later, the priorities of this world just picked them up and walked away.

As you and I would rush back to the mall to reclaim our wallet, may the Holy Spirit refresh us with an even greater zeal—a zeal to reclaim our time in the gospel. For the Good News of Jesus is the greatest treasure we have.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have washed me clean in your blood. Bring me to repentance for all the times I have allowed the priorities of this world to steal my time in the gospel. Give me zeal to reclaim it. Amen.

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

Listen to Him – Week of February 5, 2018

Listen to Him! – Week of February 5, 2018


While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
Matthew 17:5



After a weekend, your students arrive excited to see you. They can hardly contain themselves. They cannot wait to share every detail with you from your time apart. You are their teacher. You are a very important part of their little world. We have our students for only a short time. Sometimes they enroll for a few years. Sometimes it is for one school year. Sometimes it is even shorter. We want to teach them everything they need to know in whatever time we have with them. We want them to be prepared for what lies ahead of them.

The disciples had Jesus right there with them. They had the very Son of God beside them to learn from, talk to, and use as a resource. He was their teacher and their friend. They would only have him for a short time. Soon Jesus would suffer and die for the sins of the world. When Jesus took Peter, James and John up the mountain with him, he had a purpose. He revealed his glory as the Son of God. He knew the difficult times that lay ahead for the disciples. This experience was to encourage them. It would build them up and strengthen them for what was coming.

God says, “Listen to him!” He also wants us to listen to him. He uses his Word to encourage us, to build us up when we are weak and to help us through those difficult times. God tells us that serving him will not always be easy. We will encounter difficulties and stumbling blocks. But he also promises to be there for us and walk with us through those difficult times. He uses his Word to keep us close to him and to encourage us as we go about the work he has set out for us to do. He tells us to “Listen to him!”



Prayer

Let each day begin with prayer,
Praise, and adoration.
On the Lord cast every care;
He is your salvation.
Morning, evening, and at night
Jesus will be near you,
Save you from the tempter’s might,
With his presence cheer you.
Christian Worship 478:2



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



Jesus Came to Preach – February 5, 2018

Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”
Mark 1:38

Jesus Came to Preach


Daily Devotion – February 5, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 1:38

See series: Devotions

This is what Jesus should be. This is what Jesus should do. Many people believe they know the answer. Even Peter thought he did. Jesus, however, revealed the reason why he came into this world. He came to preach.

There will always be times when I am tempted to believe Jesus should be or do something according to my understanding. This is when I need to remember the real reason why he came.

If there is one thing I need Jesus to be, it is the preacher of good news. His good news is life changing and it is desperately needed. The good news he came to preach is that there is help for me, as well as for every sinner.

When Jesus came into this world it was not to be a physician, a financial planner, or a life skills coach. He came to preach and his message is what I need to hear. He came to tell me my sins are forgiven and that heaven is mine.

This is truly good news. It is this message which relieves the burden of my guilt and sin. It is this message which rescues me from the hopelessness of death and the power of the devil. It is this message which gives me an unshakable hope and a never-failing peace.

Make no mistake, this is a life changing message, and no matter how much my life may change, Jesus’ good news never changes. Nor does it ever fail to bring me what he promised. This is why I can live in joy, hope, and peace. How blessed I am that Jesus came to preach his good news to me.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, when I am plagued by the burdens of life and the guilt of my sin, you came to bring good news. Bless me every day through the message of hope you came to proclaim to me and all people. Amen.

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

Transfiguration Sunday

Jesus Reveals his Future Glory

These are the readings for Transfiguration Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

Scripture only records one time when Jesus showed his divine glory. That was on a hilltop in northern Israel. On the Mount of Transfiguration Peter, James, and John got a firsthand (and terrifying) look at Jesus’ perfect glory. Why did Jesus do this? He did it, among many reasons, to give his disciples a glimpse at what the future holds for all believers. They were about to enter a difficult time as disciples. They would see their Messiah crucified. But future glory would follow, by God’s grace.

FIRST LESSON – 2 Kings 2:1-12a

Why was Elisha upset?

He realized that his master, Elijah, was going to be taken away from him.

What request did Elisha have for Elijah?

Elisha asked Elijah for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. He knew he would need spiritual strength when Elijah was gone. In those days the oldest Jewish son would inherit a double portion of the estate, so Elisha seems to be asking to be Elijah’s heir/successor.

How was Elijah taken away into heaven?

A chariot and horses of fire separated Elijah and Elisha, then Elijah was taken to heaven in a whirlwind.

SECOND LESSON – 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

To which Old Testament event does Paul refer in this lesson?

When Moses returned from Mt. Sinai, his face shone because he had seen a portion of the Lord’s glory. Moses put a veil over his face because the people couldn’t stand to look at him. Paul says that the stubborn Jews who rejected Jesus as Savior still have a veil over their hearts.

True or false: The old covenant (the law) is more glorious than the new covenant (the gospel).

False. The law brings sin, guilt and death to sinful people. It is glorious because the law is truth and shows us that God is holy and perfect. But Paul says that the gospel is more glorious because it brings freedom from sin, life, and salvation (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:10,17-18).

As ministers of the glorious gospel, how do we proceed in our mission?

We don’t need to use trickery or slight of hand. We don’t need to distort the word of God. Instead, we set forth the truth plainly and trust that God works life and salvation through the simple gospel. There’s no need to manipulate the truth to make it more acceptable; glory comes only through the truth of the gospel.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECOND LESSON – 2 Corinthians 4:3-6

Why don’t all people trust in Jesus’ blood?

All people do not trust in Jesus’ blood because the devil, “the god of this age,” has blinded the minds of unbelievers. Result: They cannot see the light of the good news.

In short, who is Jesus, this man who appears in such glory on the Mount of Transfiguration?

Jesus is the image of God. When we see Jesus, we see exactly what God the Father is like.

If you trust in Jesus―unlike many―why is that? (See 4:6.)

The God who did the miracle of making light at the beginning, just by saying, “Let there be light,” did a similar miracle in you. He made light where there was only darkness. He gave you light to know the glory of God in the face of Christ.

GOSPEL – Mark 9:2-9

Who met Jesus and his disciples when they climbed this high mountain?

Jesus and his three disciples met Moses and Elijah, who were generally considered by the Jews to be the two greatest prophets in the Old Testament.

Why did Peter make the suggestion he did in verse 5?

Peter wanted to build shelters on the mountain for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah in order to keep the glory of God all to themselves. Mark the evangelist suggests that Peter was speaking foolishly. Jesus needed to head for Jerusalem, where he would suffer death on a cross to secure eternal glory for his followers (verse 9).

Transformed – teen devotion – February 4, 2018

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. 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 7:21-25

Enemy #3 – The Flesh

Have you ever done something bad and had a parent ask, “Why did you do that?” What’s your first response? If you’re like me, I remember my first response being, “I don’t know.” And the thing is, I truly didn’t know. And then later on in the day, I would think back at what I had done and wonder, “Why did I do that?! It was so dumb and foolish. I feel so bad!”

Right before the our section of Scripture the Apostle Paul said that he did that same thing. He said, “I don’t understand what I do. I want to do good, but I can’t. And the bad things I don’t want to do, those are the things I do.”

You see, you’re not alone. This happens to every single human being on this earth. Why? Because we all have a sinful nature. That’s what Paul means when he says, “I want to do good, but evil is right there with me.” Until Jesus comes back to take us home, we will have to battle a very fierce enemy. The worst part—we will never be able to leave this enemy because it’s our own sinful flesh. It’s in us! It’s our own sinful nature. Adam and Eve sinned and passed it on to us.

This war wages inside of you. The good versus the evil, the part that wants to follow God’s will against the part that wants to follow sin. The battle is intense and never ending; it is always raging inside of you. No matter how much good you try to do, no matter how much you compare yourself to others or others compare themselves to you, nothing that you can do will save you from your sin. Nothing you can do will make you look better in God’s eyes. You will never be able to escape it.

But we have a rescuer. We have someone who saves us from ourselves and the sin in us. It’s Jesus Christ. Jesus came and faced temptations from the devil and the world. He was constantly under attack. Yet he never fell into sin. He never had to respond shamefully to his parents with, “I don’t know why I did that.” He was completely perfect all the time. He did that all for you.

When you’re fighting those temptations, run to the cross because that’s where the battle is already won. When you can’t seem to do anything right, run to Jesus’ empty tomb and see your deliverance from the war raging inside of you. He has and will rescue you.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me fight against my sinful flesh and do what you want. Help me stand firm and overcome the battle that takes place inside of me. Amen.

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