Say Hi to Carl… – May 28, 2017

Say Hi to Carl… – May 28, 2017


“Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.”
Revelation 14:13




Military Devotion – May 28, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 14:13

See series: Military Devotions

Now I understand Memorial Day. Now I comprehend why warriors past and present want to visit gravesites and memorial markers, and even former battlefields.

They come not to offer another goodbye—but to say, “Hello, again.”

Life moves on after someone close to us dies. Sometimes there is only a brief memorial service in the field before the Hero’s Flight whisks the remains to a place far from where he fell. Sometimes we can later find the stone, or the wall, on which his name is written. Sometimes only in our mind’s eye can we see his memorial marker.

Markers are important. There we will meet the memory of our time together. We will say “Hello, again” to the memory of who that person was, and what that person did for us.

We may never have even met the individual while he was alive. We might not know his name now. The stone may only carry the label, “Known but to God.” But since he wore the uniform, we know that we have benefited from his service to our country.

We understand what he did. We share a history. We remember.

“…their deeds will follow them.” wrote the Apostle John about those who died in saving faith.

Not all who have worn the uniform had that faith. We lament that. But even then, we recognize that it is the Lord who provided our nation with warriors to defend its shores. He is the one who brought those special people into our lives. We worked with them, fought alongside them, and when they received their final salute, they left a hole in our hearts.

Memorial Day is about remembering. We remember the fallen. We remember the past. But most of all, we remember the Lord our God who enabled us to be blessed by others who are no longer with us.

My brother’s body lies under a stone in Minnesota. He served his nation, not with a gun, but with the Word. He shares responsibility for developing the WELS ministry to the military of today.

I told a dear friend that I planned to visit his grave this summer. In reply, he wrote: “Say hi to Carl.”

I know what he meant. I appreciate the thought.

Time has passed since we two brothers sat together, worked together, and laughed. I look forward to seeing him again—alive again, healthy again. But not yet.

For now, I will remember. I will observe Memorial Day along with you and millions more.

It is a time for us with holes in our hearts to say to the memory of those who are now missing from our lives, “Hello, again.”

I will say hi to Carl.



Prayer: Lord of our nation, and guardian of our souls. The memory of those who have faithfully served our country brings us heavy hearts. The reminder of the blessings that you have given to our nation brings us thankful hearts. Jesus told us, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We know that. As we observe Memorial Day, we also thank our friend, Jesus, for laying down his life for us. 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 – May 28, 2017

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:35-39

Superheroes

What’s the worst you’ve ever lost in a game? There was a high school basketball team in California that lost a game by the score of 161-2. Ouch!

As bad as that might be, how would you feel if you were naked, starving, and had the sharp blade of a sword pressed against your neck all because of your faith in Jesus? You would probably feel defeated.

It’s not easy being a Christian in this world. You will face ridicule and shame and hardship because of your faith in Jesus. There are times when you will feel defeated. There are times when difficulties and struggles will make you question God’s love for you. But there’s something you need to know. You have already won because Jesus won! Nothing can separate you from God’s love!

God proved just how much he loved you when he sent Christ Jesus to die for you. Even more than that, Jesus was raised to life and is interceding at God’s right hand for you. You have victory over sin, death, and over any enemy that tries to stand between you and God’s love.

So God picks a special word to describe you because of what Jesus has done. Romans 8:37 is the only place in the Bible where this word appears. God calls you a superhero or a super-conqueror! The brand “Nike” (which means “victory”) comes from this word. But God doesn’t say that you are victorious or even a little bit victorious. He says that you MORE than victorious. You are a super-conqueror because Jesus was a super-conqueror!

Prayer:
Heavenly Dear Jesus, when I feel defeated and ashamed in this world, remind me of the victory I have in you. Assure me each day that NOTHING can separate me from your love. 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.

What Jesus Wants – May 28, 2017

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory.”
John 17:24

What Jesus Wants


Daily Devotion – May 28, 2017

Devotion based on John 17:24

See series: Devotions

Paul was looking for a church. Every Sunday he would try a different one. Some were intriguing. Others turned him off. As time went on his search became more frustrating. Often the message was the same and it could be reduced to one sentence: “This is what Jesus wants you to do for him.” While Paul never claimed to have any real knowledge of the Bible, he realized something was lacking. It wasn’t until a friend invited him to come to church with him that he soon found what he was missing.

During that worship service Paul noticed the difference between what he had been hearing, and now what he was hearing for the first time. Instead of being told this is what Jesus wanted him to do, he heard this is what Jesus wanted for him.

It is easy to be confused by the many messages which tell me I have to do something for Jesus. They may sound attractive, even admirable, but there is only one problem. I can never do enough to merit Jesus’ favor or secure the hope of heaven. It is impossible because my sin always causes me to fall short of the perfection the Lord requires.

The only way I can find hope and peace is by knowing what Jesus wants for me. Simply put Jesus wants me to be his now, and he wants me to his forever in the glory of heaven. He, then, reveals how I can have this hope and peace.

Through Jesus’ perfect life as my substitute, he completed what I never could have begun to do. Through his perfect death as my Savior, he secured what I never could have attained on my own. Through his triumph over death as my living Lord, he proclaimed what I never expected to hear. His work tells me I am forgiven. His work tells me I am free from death and the devil. His work tells me I am an heir of heaven.

It is easy to become confused about Jesus and his ministry. This is why I need to carefully listen to my Savior and trust his precious work. Here I can know in a clear and simple way, this is what Jesus wants for me.

Prayer:
O precious Savior, I thank you for your compassion and devotion to me a sinner. Give me peace through the forgiveness of my sins. Give me hope through your resurrection. Give me confidence to know that you want me to be yours now and forever. 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 Washing – May 27, 2017

Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life.
Revelation 22:14

The Washing


Daily Devotion – May 27, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 22:14

See series: Devotions

In his Civil War book, Glory Road, author Bruce Catton shows us how dirty a human being can get. He recounts an episode in which a soldier leaves a prisoner-of-war camp to rejoin his old unit. His time as a POW had left him filthy beyond description. He asks his comrades to help him get clean. They take him into a river, strip off his clothes and begin to wash and scrub. Only after this continues for a time do the man and his friends realize that he is still wearing an undershirt. The man’s body had become so encrusted that it had been impossible at first to tell the difference between a soiled piece of clothing and his own skin.

The soiling nature of sin does the same thing. From the dark thoughts we allow to fester in our minds to all the deeds of love conveniently left undone, sin does more than leave a dirty streak here and there on our souls. It makes us spiritually filthy beyond description. Left to ourselves, our hearts are so encrusted by sin that it’s impossible for us to see how lost we really are, how deep the pit really is.

That’s where Jesus comes in. We didn’t see how lost we were. But he did. We didn’t see how far we had fallen. But he did. He took us to the river of his grace. He washed us in the waters of baptism. He cleansed us in the blood he shed on Calvary’s cross. Now we stand before him in robes of white. Now, through faith in him, his forgiveness is our personal possession.

There are moments when the same old stench from the same old sinful habits can fill our nostrils with despair. When such a moment comes for you, remember who you are. Remember what Jesus has done. He has gone to the cross to wash you clean. He has risen from death to assure you that not one of your sins remains. Through his eyes your life is fresh and clean and new. Your days as a filthy prisoner are long gone.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I stumble and the stench of my old sinful habits fills the air, remind me of the washing I have in you. Fill me with your peace. Empower me to get back up and to walk again with 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.

Trust the Lord’s Promises – May 26, 2017

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Trust the Lord’s Promises


Daily Devotion – May 26, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 17:7-8

See series: Devotions

Jesus has ascended and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead. We are here on earth, awaiting his return on Judgment Day. What are we supposed to do while we wait?

The prophet Jeremiah makes a case that the most important thing for us to do is trust the Lord’s promises. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in love and faithfulness. He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin. He calls us to repentance and faith, and says that we can be confident in his ability and his willingness to forgive us because of everything that Jesus has done.

Jeremiah says that the life of a person who trusts the Lord’s promises looks like the life of a tree with a reliable water source. No matter what the season or the weather, such a tree continues its life cycle and bears fruit. Our reliable water source is the promises of God.

The context of Jeremiah’s encouragement is to trust those promises more than the promises of human beings, and even more than the promises of our own hearts. While we wait for Jesus to return, people will disappoint us, and things we are completely convinced of will prove to be untrue. But the promises of God will never disappoint us, and his Word will always prove to be true.

Do not fear. Do not worry. God can handle whatever comes into your life. He promises that through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer:
Lord God, teach me to put my trust in you and fill me with confidence that your promises will not fail. In the fearful experiences and worrisome circumstances of life, bless me with a calm trust in your faithful love through Jesus. Amen.

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

Jesus, Our Ascended King – May 25, 2017

God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne.
Psalm 47:5-8

Jesus, Our Ascended King


Daily Devotion – May 25, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 47:5-8

See series: Devotions

Inauguration Day is a hopeful day for citizens of the United States. Imagine that your favorite candidate wins the presidential election. You watch him climb the steps of Capitol Hill and swear to uphold the duties of his new office. Loyal supporters cheer with delight as they line the parade route down Pennsylvania Avenue. They watch as their newly elected leader makes his way toward the White House. Citizens are hopeful that a new leader will bring significant improvement to their country and lives.

But year after year, decade after decade, we become disappointed. It doesn’t take long to realize that our leaders are only human and their course of governance struggles to bring about positive results. With each new election cycle it seems less and less likely that the next candidate will make any significant difference.

King David paints a much more optimistic picture in Psalm 47. He is not writing about a day that he or any other person would take office. He describes a much more joyful day. It is the day that God would ascend to his throne to rule the world.

The rule of a just, loving King who rules with all power while having complete concern for his people is hard for us to comprehend. What would it be like to live beyond the reach of our enemies and their terrorizing threats? What would it be like to have a leader provide for all of our needs? Can we even imagine a world without hurt or heartache or frustration?

Jesus came to make this type of kingdom a reality for us. Before he made his ascent to the throne, he made his descent into this world. He became one of us, sharing our humanity while, at the same time, remaining true God. He lived for us. He died for us and he rose from the dead for us. He is our champion over sin and death.

And when his saving work on earth was done, he ascended to the throne for us. Forty days after his resurrection Jesus went back to heaven. And we are told why. In the Apostles’ Creed we confess that Jesus “sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” In other words, like our verses for today proclaim, “He has ascended amid shouts of joy.” At this very moment Jesus rules the world in the best interest of his believers, his Church on earth, and will one day return as the judge of all mankind.

Today Jesus sits at God’s right hand and rules the world, but we cannot see him. He rules behind the scenes through the authorities that he has set in place. But we can still take comfort in the fact that he is in control and meets every one of our physical and spiritual needs. We also look forward to the day when this Psalm will be fulfilled completely. We will join the crowds who shout for joy and sing the praises of our ascended Savior and King.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are my ascended Lord. Continue to rule the world and my life in truth and love. I look forward to the day when you will return to this world and I will join in endless worship and praise. 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.

Making Known the Unknown God – May 24, 2017

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”
Acts 17:22-23

Making Known the Unknown God


Daily Devotion – May 24, 2017

Devotion based on Acts 17:22-23

See series: Devotions

Paul was disturbed by what he saw. Everywhere he looked in the city of Athens there were idols, idols, idols. He even found an altar dedicated “To an Unknown God.” Paul’s heart broke to see all these supposedly wise Athenians worshiping gods that weren’t anything at all. How desperately Paul wanted to tell them about the true God!

Paul’s opportunity to do just that came when the philosophers of the Areopagus invited him to speak to them. Although these pagan philosophers knew nothing of the true God, Paul started with something they did know. He started with that altar “To an Unknown God.” He talked about how the true God is not like pagan gods. He’s not confined to a man-made shrine, nor does he depend on human beings for his upkeep. He is rather the God who made all things and upon whom every human being depends. He is the God who wants all people to come to know him. His almighty power and divine wisdom are evident in the world so that people would reach out for him and find him. And he gave the greatest message about himself in one person—a man whom he raised from the dead!

Do you know someone who worships an “unknown god”? You probably won’t find anyone bowing before an actual altar with “To an Unknown God” inscribed on it as Paul did. But likely you know people who do not yet know the true God. They may worship Buddha or Allah or Krishna—or they may say that they worship no god at all. Our hearts break, as Paul’s did, when we see people trying to live without the true God in their lives. But how can we share the true God with them?

We can do as Paul did. We can take the time to get to know them and find out what is important to them. We can genuinely love them and be willing to meet them where they are. And we can unashamedly share with them the faith that God has given us. Like Paul, we can tell them about the true God who loved us so much that he sent his Son to live, die, and rise again for us.

Will those with whom we share the true God always listen? No. In fact, only a few of the people who listened to Paul speak in the Areopagus believed him. The rest thought he was crazy. Not everyone with whom we share the true God will believe. Ultimately, it’s not up to us to bring people to faith any more than it was up to Paul. Creating faith is God’s work, not ours. All God asks us to do is make him known to others. And whenever we do that, our effort is never wasted.

Prayer:
I thank you, Lord, for making yourself known to me. Help me take advantage of the opportunities you give me to make you known to others. 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.

The Heart’s Unhindered Hope – May 23, 2017

In your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. … For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.
1 Peter 3:15,18

The Heart’s Unhindered Hope


Daily Devotion – May 23, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Peter 3:15,18

See series: Devotions

What hopes do you harbor in your heart? The human heart may swell with hope for good health, only to be dashed by tragic accidents or serious sicknesses. The heart may hope for a brighter tomorrow, but shortly that hope is dimmed by the specter of death. The sinful human heart is often broken by a fixated pursuit of fleeting hopes.

Christ fills the empty and broken heart with hope that never disappoints. Jesus provides healing hope. This hope springs eternal through his life-giving gospel. Jesus saw our hopeless debt of misspent years and misplaced hope. The Savior paid the ultimate price of his life to assure us of his healing hope. The Savior sacrificed himself for us—for all! Jesus dispels our hopelessness with the certainty of the forgiveness he won for us.

Jesus fills us with confident hope. Questions abound in the hearts of many people concerning mankind’s existence. “Where did we come from?” “Why are we here?” “Where are we going?” The Lord lovingly provides unchanging answers in the Bible. His word is truth. The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with faith to believe the Bible’s life-giving message. He also strengthens us to confidently share that message with those who are searching for the firm answers that only the Bible provides.

Jesus graciously gives us lasting hope. Earthly hopes can quickly erode; Easter hope endures forever. The heart that sets apart Christ as Lord has hope that will never fade. The Savior who died for sins once for all has risen! We eagerly look forward to the eternal life in heaven promised to us by the risen and ascended Lord.

Our Christ-centered hope will always give us rest in the unrest of the world. It will also give us reason to give an answer to others for the sure hope that we have.

Prayer:
Risen Lord Jesus, thank you for the living hope you have won for me through your life-giving gospel. Renew my heart to be set apart for you now and always. 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.

I’m Praying for You! – Week of May 22, 2017

I’m Praying for You! – Week of May 22, 2017


For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
Ephesians 1:15-19




ECME Devotion – May 22, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 1:15-19

See series: ECME Devotions

The end-of-the-day prayer time is one of my favorite parts of my teaching day. I get to pray with my students, and they share special requests resting on their hearts. We’ve prayed for dads in the military, sick friends, broken toys, and one young man declared he had learned plenty and prayed that God would let him stay home with Mom. Just yesterday, one student looked at me and said, “I’m praying for you!”

Just think about that for a moment. Working with young children is a huge responsibility. We teach them letters, sounds, and numbers. We marvel at God’s creation as we study plants, animals, and other science topics. Students learn how to get along with each other and function in a classroom. Most importantly, we teach them about Jesus and his love for us. I’m not sure I can do all of that, at least not as well as I’d like. But I have someone praying for me.

You have someone praying for you too. “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” (Romans 8:26). When I don’t know where to turn next with whatever issue I’m facing, the Holy Spirit does know, and he prays for me.

Just as Paul prayed for the Ephesians, we can pray for each other. I don’t know you, but I’m praying that God will bless your ministry, that he’ll guide you as you teach your little ones about Jesus, that he’ll give you grace and wisdom. I trust you’ll pray for me as well.



Prayer: Dear ascended Lord, bless our churches and schools. Guide us as we share your Word with our students, and give us wisdom as we work with children and their families. Help us remember that the Holy Spirit prays for us, and we can pray for each other. In your holy name we pray. Amen.



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



Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 22, 2017

Live in Eager Expectation of Glory

These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter.

God’s Word for This Week

Live in eager expectation of glory! That glory is not dimmed by earthly suffering; rather, such suffering reminds us of the glory that awaits us. First the cross; then the crown. Our light and momentary troubles cannot mute the joy of living in eager expectation of glory. The week that falls between Ascension and Pentecost is one of waiting and expectation for the promised Spirit and the promised glory.

Traditional First Lesson – Acts 1:1-14

What persistent misunderstanding about the kingdom of God still troubled the disciples?

The disciples still had trouble realizing that the kingdom of God was not something earthly and visible.

Where is our Jerusalem, our Judea and Samaria?

Just as Jerusalem was the city in which the disciples were at this time, our Jerusalem would be the towns and cities in which we live. As we begin to share the Word with those around us, we will easily want to share it beyond that scope, to our “Judea and Samaria.” Through our generous offerings we are able to send missionaries with the Word to others living not only in our country but also beyond our borders as we reach to the ends of the earth.

Why do you think the angel reminded the disciples that Jesus would return in glory just as they had seen him go?

Little would get done while they stared off into heaven. Jesus would be returning. In the meantime, there was much work to do while it was day.

Supplemental First Lesson – 1 Samuel 1:21-28

What can Hannah teach us about living with trouble or sorrow while we wait for God’s glory?

Afflicted by her rival, Peninnah, Hannah’s troubles seemed neither light nor momentary. Her barrenness brought suffering and sadness that embittered her life, but it did not shake her faith. At the house of the LORD she cast her cares on him and prayed, expectant of God’s grace and blessing. She humbled herself under God’s mighty hand, and he lifted her up in due time: the son she longed for would become Samuel, the leader of God’s people. On this Sunday of expectation, Hannah’s example shines: she did not focus her eyes on what was seen, on the troubles of this life, but on the unseen eternal glory that God had stored up for her. For her eager expectation of glory, see 1 Samuel 2.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Peter 4:12-17; 5:6-11

Why is our sinful nature surprised when troubles enter our life?

Our sinful nature shares the world’s view that the short-term happiness is evidence of God’s favor.

How does Peter encourage a long-range view of suffering?

The brief pain and persecution that we experience doesn’t begin to compare with the long-term glory we will have with Christ. (Romans 8:18)

Peter wrote at a time when Nero and the empire had turned against the Way. As followers of a religio illicita, great suffering impended for the faithful Christians. The lion’s roar could be heard coming ever closer to the people of God. In this life, sufferings will come; but we live in eager expectation of glory. The God of all grace called us to future glory, and no suffering, no emperor or empire can make us lose sight of what awaits us. The cares we have, we cast on him, knowing that any suffering can be borne in joy with eyes fixed on the glory that’s coming.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

How can Paul call our troubles “light and momentary?”

Who thinks that their troubles are light or momentary? When we lose a loved one, when we face mortal illness or financial ruin—who could ever think those troubles insignificant or passing? Only people who have a perspective that stretches to the unbounded time of eternity and encompasses the unbounded joy that we eagerly expect there. We believe that one day Christ will present us to the Father for an eternity of glory. Therefore…therefore we fix our eyes not on all our problems that we know so well, but on the unseen glory, the eternal glory that we do not yet know, but eagerly expect.

Gospel – John 17:1-11a

Why did Jesus pray, “Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you?”

In praying for the Father to glorify him, Jesus was praying for the successful outcome of his work of salvation. The glory would come with Jesus’ victory over Satan on the cross. Through Jesus the glory of the Father also shone brightly since all that the Son did was for the Father’s glory.

What comfort do we find in our Savior’s prayer?

Can you hear the certainty in Christ’s voice? Can you feel the authority resonate from his words? Stop for a moment and marvel at the words Christ speaks even as his enemies prepare to arrest him, to torture him, to kill him. Christ enters his passion as victor. We know the end of the story; we know this is Christ’s path to glory. But what would the disciples think in the next few hours as the blows landed, the whip bit, the nails pierced, and the blood flowed? This is glory? Just wait…these sufferings would not last. Just wait…glory is coming. Look at Jesus’ promise: he has been granted all authority—but he uses it to give, not to take. He gives us life eternal won by the glory of his completed work. On this post-ascension Sunday, Christ’s promise to return to his Father has proven true. What comfort, then, is his promised prayer for us who remain behind! We are in the world, but not as orphans, and so we bear our sufferings in eager expectation of the glory that’s coming.

If You Love Me – May 22, 2017

“If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
John 14:15

If You Love Me


Daily Devotion – May 22, 2017

Devotion based on John 14:15

See series: Devotions

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command.” When we don’t keep Jesus’ commands, we are loving that sin more than we love Jesus.

When you look at another person with lust in your heart, you are loving the sin of lust more than you are loving Jesus. When you choose to spread some juicy gossip about someone else, you are loving the sin of gossip more than Jesus. When you blurt out: “Oh my God!” or carelessly demand that God damn someone or something, you are loving the sin of misusing God’s name more than Jesus.

When we sin, we love that sin more than we love Jesus.

Jesus loves you more than you love him. And, Jesus loved you first. In love, Jesus came into this world filled with people who hate and trample on God’s commands. In love, Jesus lived in perfect obedience to all those commands we could not keep. In love, Jesus suffered and died for all the commands you, I and all people have broken. In love, Jesus rose and God declares you not guilty of breaking any of his commands.

That’s a ton of love from Jesus to the whole world, to you!

We get to respond to Jesus’ love by loving him. One of the ways we love Jesus is by keeping his commands. In what areas of your life can you do better in keeping Jesus’ commands? How can you better show your love for Jesus as you love other people? Pray for Jesus’ help and strength. Work faithfully to follow him, even when it’s difficult.

Increase your love for Jesus. We love Jesus more when we know and trust him more. The Holy Spirit grows your love and trust in Jesus through God’s Word. Go to worship. Get into a Bible study. Read God’s Word in your home. Get connected to your local church (find a local church here). Your love for Jesus will grow as you see Jesus’ great love for you.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for your immeasurably great love for me. Fill my heart and life with love for you as I follow your commands. 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.

Transformed – teen devotion – May 21, 2017

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us…And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:18,28

Groaning for glory

He was a seventeen-year-old with big dreams. But no one in his family believed that they would ever come true. It seemed that they would be right when he was victim of human trafficking and taken to a foreign country. But, for this young man, things did get better. But then they got worse again when he was falsely charged with attempted rape and thrown in prison. So much for his dreams!

Did you figure out who that was? That was Joseph’s story from the book of Genesis. Joseph had some difficult moments in his life from age 17 to 30. Can you relate? You probably don’t have the same problems that Joseph did, but do you find life as a teenager to be difficult? There is a lot of pressure to do well in school, to fit in with friends, and to achieve dreams for the future. It can be overwhelming. And things don’t always go the way that you have in mind.

But that’s okay. Romans 8 reminds us that our present sufferings and struggles aren’t worth comparing with the future glory in heaven that God has in store for us. At all times God promises that he is working for our good. Joseph’s life is a good example of this. Even when things were difficult for Joseph we find out, “The Lord was with Joseph” (Genesis 39:2,23). Even when things are difficult for you, the Lord is with you too. He’s with you, and he is at work for your eternal good!

Do you remember how Joseph’s story turned out? Eventually God raised him up to become second in command over all of Egypt. God used him to save many lives during a terrible famine. God has big plans for you too! He has big plans to use your talents in this life to be a blessing to others and to give glory to him. But best of all because of all that Jesus has done for you, God also has plans to spend eternal life with you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, when I’m faced with hardships and sufferings, comfort me with your presence. Assure me that you are at work for my good and keep my eyes fixed on the glory that awaits me in heaven because of Jesus. In his name I pray. Amen.

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

Heaven is Open – May 21, 2017

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”
Acts 16:9

Heaven is Open


Daily Devotion – May 21, 2017

Devotion based on Acts 16:9

See series: Devotions

How long will eternity last?

Seriously, stop and think about that question.

When you think about it, it’s mind-boggling. The hymn “Amazing Grace” reads, “When we’ve been there 10,000 years, bright shining as the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we’d first begun.” And that’s true! Eternity will go on and on and on and on and …, well, you get the picture.

Of course, for us who are believers in Jesus, that’s an awesome thing! We’ll be enjoying God’s love and praising him, and it will be incredibly meaningful and joyful!

But for those who go to hell? It will be horrible, horrible, horrible! Separated forever from God and his love, suffering without end!

So can we understand the plea from the Macedonian man? What did the people in that area need? More than anything else they needed to know about Jesus and his forgiving love! More than anything else they needed to know that God loved them! More than anything else they needed to know that heaven was open for them because Jesus had died and risen!

And wonderfully God has brought that knowledge to you! God has “helped” you in bringing you to know that Jesus is your Savior! God has “helped” you in knowing that you’re on your way to heaven! Could anything be more important, more valuable than that?!

And now you get the honor of “helping” others, by leading them to Jesus. Whom can you “help” today?

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for “helping” me, leading me to trust that you have saved me. Fill me with appreciation! And lead me to be one who can “help” others to know 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.

To rule and to be ruled – May 21, 2017

To rule and to be ruled – May 21, 2017


When one rules over people in righteousness, when he rules in the fear of God, he is like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning, like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.
2 Samuel 23:3,4




Military Devotion – May 21, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Samuel 23:3,4

See series: Military Devotions

Ancient Greek warriors prided themselves on being able, “To rule, and to be ruled.” That remains a desirable trait today—especially for a Christian warrior.

The words quoted above are some of the last words of the warrior king, David. He is described as “the hero of Israel’s songs.” Indeed, he was a hero. His victories were celebrated. And his last words resonate with us.

Kings and presidents are not the only rulers in the world. Generals rule, too. So do sergeants and everyone else in the Armed Forces who has authority over others.

Authority means power. Power brings responsibility.

One doesn’t need to wear the uniform for very long before he notes the difference between the good rulers and those who are not. David describes the good ones as “ruling over people in righteousness.” Then he explains what he means by this when he adds the phrase, “when he rules in the fear of God.”

The superior officer may command the respect and obedience of many under him. But, there is always someone over him. Go high enough up the chain of command, and it reaches the level of just one. No, not the President. Even the President must answer to One Higher.

No matter how many stripes or stars the uniform may bear, it is outranked by the one who placed the stars into the sky and bore the stripes of a whip on a hill far away.

He who places the rules of God before his own eyes, rules correctly—rules righteously.

Righteous ruling brings good things to those under him. David describes that type of ruler to be, “like the light of morning at sunrise on a cloudless morning” and, “like the brightness after rain that brings grass from the earth.”

If you have had the privilege of serving under such an officer, you know what David is talking about.

If you are carrying out your authority in such a manner, David is talking about you.

The 1st Commandment orders us to have no other gods. This means that we are to fear, love, and trust in the Lord God above all things.

We know what he expects of us when he places us into a position of authority. We know what he expects of us when we are under authority. We know that no matter what position we hold in life, he is always our top Commander.

We know that when he calls us to rule others, he is still calling us to be ruled by him.

“To rule and to be ruled.”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, King of kings, and Lord of lords, we acknowledge that you rule over everyone and everything. We are honored to serve under you. We pray that we might serve you faithfully by serving our country. We pray that we might be a blessing to others. 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.




Enduring Temple – May 20, 2017

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
Revelation 21:22

Enduring Temple


Daily Devotion – May 20, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 21:22

See series: Devotions

Perhaps the most famous church building in all of England is St Paul’s Cathedral in London. It’s famous for many reasons. For one, it has dominated the London skyline since before the birth of the United States. For another, it’s been the site for numerous historic events, from royal weddings to state funerals.

Its greatest fame, however, may have come from World War II. If you go online and search the words, “Photo – St Paul’s – WWII,” you’ll see why. You’ll see a picture of London just after a severe German bombing raid. Every building in the picture is a smoking ruin of rubble – every building except St Paul’s. That picture rallied the spirits of the British people throughout the rest of the war.

In our society of the 21st Century, it often feels as if we Christians are simply enduring one long bombing raid. Everything we believe seems to be under attack. Everything we hold dear seems to be a target.

But take a closer look at the picture. Yes, Christianity is under attack, as it has always been. And yes, the forces of Satan and sin have turned much of our society into a smoking ruin of rubble. But above the dust and debris of a fallen world, there still stands the enduring temple of our God. It endures because that temple is the Lamb of God himself.

In that temple you will find shelter. In that temple you will find forgiveness. In that temple you will find refreshment and life and light. For that enduring temple is your Savior, who died and rose and lives for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, in the smoking rubble of this fallen world, you remain. You endure. Your promises never fail. Move us by your Spirit to find our refuge in 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.

Those Who Persevere are Blessed – May 19, 2017

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.
James 1:12

Those Who Persevere are Blessed


Daily Devotion – May 19, 2017

Devotion based on James 1:12

See series: Devotions

It’s the season of graduations. Students have made it through the rigors of years of classes, projects, assignments and tests, and they are receiving the reward for their labors. The reward is usually a diploma, handed to them on a stage by someone representing the school. The students are often wearing a funny academic hat, showing everyone that they are graduates.

In our devotional verse for today, James talks about the rigors of life. He calls them trials, but he doesn’t mean things that happen in a courtroom. He means things that try our patience, and especially things that try to take our focus away from Jesus and his love. These life tests aren’t graded by teachers. But they are observed by our family and friends. People watch whether we keep our cool and whether we keep our faith in God.

James says that people who hang in there, who persevere, are blessed. When we keep our connection with God and his Word, even though we suffer, we receive the blessings that God promises in his Word: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation. The love of God that comes through faith in Jesus keeps us from despair. It gives us strength to keep going even when the going gets tough.

Our reward is not a diploma. It’s a hat, but not a funny one! James calls it the crown of life, and he is using the picture of the crown that was placed on the head of the winners of races in his day. It’s the crown that Jesus has already won, and has already promised us through faith in him.

When we realize that the crown does not depend on our effort but on Jesus’ love, it makes the race of life much easier. Yes, there will be trials and tests, but God’s promises help us through. God gives us the faith, the strength to persevere, and the crown of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 141)
Father, who the crown shall give,
Savior, by whose death we live,
Spirit, guide through all our days,
Three in One, your name we praise. Alleluia!

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.

Confidence in God – May 18, 2017

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Confidence in God


Daily Devotion – May 18, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 15:13

See series: Devotions

Having confidence in someone is a beautiful thing. At work when I have confidence in my fellow employees, I don’t have to stress about deadlines. I don’t worry about work falling through the cracks. Having trust in the people around me makes for a great working environment.

Confidence in my spouse is even better. Not only do I trust my wife to be faithful to me, but we also work as a team on everything from raising our children to household chores to budgeting and planning for retirement. I thank God that our relationship continues to grow even after 20 years of marriage.

As the apostle Paul wrote to Christians in Rome, he identifies the ultimate type of confidence in a relationship. It is the trust and confidence that we can have in God. And God has worked hard throughout history to earn that trust. In a general way you can look at the Bible as God’s resume’ for why he can be trusted. Throughout history he showed his faithfulness to people like Abraham, Jacob, Moses, and David—as well as the entire nation of Israel.

God has proven himself trustworthy to you as well. Just look at the life of Jesus. He came into the world to be your Savior. He lived the life that God demands of you and then freely gave it on the cross to pay for your sin. He showed his power over death on Easter when he walked out of his grave as our champion. And he desires nothing more than a relationship with you that is based on trust and mutual love.

Can you see how having a loving, trust-based relationship with God will result in joy and peace? The joy comes when we no longer have to live with guilt and shame over past transgressions. Instead we can live with a clear conscience looking to our future instead of our past. We also have peace in our relationship with God. With this newfound peace we see God as our ally, not our enemy. When difficulties come in life, we don’t run from God thinking he is punishing us, instead we run to him for protection, comfort and strength.

Working in the middle of all God’s promises is the Holy Spirit. He works through God’s Word and sacraments to do everything from convicting us of sin to comforting us with the gospel. It is only through the power of the Holy Spirit that we recognize and trust Jesus as our Savior. It is also through Holy Spirit that we live in thanks for all that God has done for us.

One special gift that the Holy Spirit gives us is hope. This hope isn’t just a feeling or expectation that something good might happen, but it is a confidence that an expected outcome will happen. We have a certain hope that Jesus will return sometime soon. We know that one day God will take us to be with him in heaven, just like he promised. We have hope as we lay hold of all of God’s promises even when we experience pain and hurt and heartache.

I encourage you to make time each day to spend with God in his Word. It is in this personal devotion time that the Holy Spirit will continue to build your relationship with God and strengthen your faith in him. Find out for yourself the joy of living at peace with God with a certain hope for the future.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you that I can have complete trust in you. When difficulties and hardships come in my life, remind me to turn to you for all the help I need. Please continue to fill me with your Holy 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.

You are a Chosen People – May 17, 2017

In Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” … You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
1 Peter 2:6,9

You are a Chosen People


Daily Devotion – May 17, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:6,9

See series: Devotions

The Bible comforts me with the profound promise that God chose me to be his own. Before he created me–even before he created the world–God chose me! This promise powerfully proclaims that I am not an afterthought in the mind of God. He knew me in the timelessness of eternity and intensely treasures me to this day.

Yet how can I be so certain that I am God’s chosen child? The devil assaults me with his personal accusations. He points out the glaring guilt of my many sins. He reminds me of my ever-present sinful nature that still desires to rebel against my gracious God and his holy will. With each passing day, the old evil foe threatens to drive me into the darkness of doubt and despair.

In my distress Christ calls to me through the light of his gospel. He refreshes me with the good news that I am a chosen child of God because he was chosen to be my Savior from sin. He was chosen to be the holy, unblemished Lamb of God, whose perfect innocence now covers me.

He was chosen to be the suffering Lamb of sacrifice, who carried the deep debt of my every sin to the cross and satisfied that debt with his own lifeblood. I live each day assured that I belong to him and that he is forever committed to caring for me with his perpetual gift of grace.

Jesus is the chosen and precious cornerstone. He forever stands as the foundation of my confidence and the light of my life. Although the world rejects Christ and treats his people as outcasts, those who trust in Jesus will never be put to shame. His unyielding love compels me to continually declare his praises with my lips and my life.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are the rock of my faith. Thank you for clearly and constantly revealing the light of your forgiveness and grace to me, your chosen child. 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.

The Word Works – May 16, 2017

When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said. Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and not a few prominent women. But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. … As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
Acts 17:1-5,10-12

The Word Works


Daily Devotion – May 16, 2017

Devotion based on Acts 17:1-5,10-12

See series: Devotions

Although the apostle Paul had been stoned and left for dead at Lystra for calling Jesus the “Christ” or “Messiah,” he continued preaching Jesus in Thessalonica. In this commercial center at the crossroads of the empire, once again Paul was talking Bible, Christ, Good Friday, and Easter in the synagogue.

In the holy writings of the Scriptures there are two absolute certainties. The first: Jesus had to die. He sacrificed his body and shed his blood to pay for the guilt of our sin. Jesus had to die because by his death he destroyed death and the one who uses death’s power to terrify, the devil. Jesus is our Victor and our King.

The second: Jesus had to rise. On the third day, “just as he said,” Jesus had guaranteed that he would rise. His single sacrifice for sin would never need repeating. Jesus rose to confirm, “Paid in full.” Now the glorious King comforts his people with his victory over sin, Satan, hell, and the grave. Jesus lives to say, “One sacrifice offered once for all.”

So wherever and whenever the gospel is preached according to the Scriptures, there will be a response to Jesus. In Thessalonica, there was an immediate and favorable response by both Jews and Greeks, by both men and women. But there was also opposition to the gospel. Rabble rousers caused confusion. Even so, gospel preaching continued in Thessalonica, though Paul was forced to flee. It continued, but under a cloud of intense persecution. The word keeps on working despite opposition.

In Berea people listened too, not just to the apostles, but first and foremost they listened to the Scriptures. They opened their Bibles to test what Paul said, and only when they found that his words matched those of the Bible did they listen. And when they listened, many believed. The word keeps on working by grace alone.

Prayer:
God, help us listen to your words which have your power for our salvation. Amen.

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

Our Hero – Week of May 15, 2017

Our Hero – Week of May 15, 2017


Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works on man’s behalf! Come and listen, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!
Psalm 66:1, 5, 16, 20 (NIV 1984)




ECME Devotion – May 15, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 66:1,5,16,20

See series: ECME Devotions

Children love stories with a hero, someone who swoops in and saves the day. Outside, they’ll play superheroes or cops and robbers, making sure the good guy always wins.

Psalm 66 recounts a time when the bad guys were crushed by God. Moses and the people of Israel were trapped at the Red Sea, with Pharaoh’s army fast approaching. We know how the story ends, with the Israelites safe on the other side of the sea and Pharaoh’s army destroyed. God prevailed.

As teachers, we get to tell our students about God’s awesome deeds: his almighty power in creating the world, his loving kindness in rescuing his people, his concern for the sick and those in need. Jesus truly is a hero who cares for each of us personally. We teach our students what Jesus did for others and how he helps each of us now. We teach them to take their problems to Jesus and trust him to do what is best.

Our hero, Jesus, after all, rescued us from the most powerful enemies: sin, death, and the devil. He took our sins to the cross and took our punishment as he suffered, abandoned by God. He crushed the devil and obliterated death, then just a few days later he rose from the dead. Jesus took care of our worst problems, and now lovingly helps us through our day-to-day difficulties.

So, with your students, sing and pray to our hero. “Shout with joy to God, all the earth! Come and see what God has done, how awesome his works on man’s behalf!” (Psalm 66:1, 5)



Prayer: Yours forever, Lord of life! Shield us through our earthly strife.
You, the life, the truth, the way, guide us to the realms of day.
Yours forever! You our guide, all our needs by you supplied,
All our sins by you forgiven, lead us, Lord, from earth to heaven. Amen.
Christian Worship 426:3, 5:1, 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.



Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 15, 2017

The Love of God Who Lives in Us Leads to a Life of Obedience

These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter.

God’s Word for This Week

The love of God who lives in us leads to a life of obedience. Jesus’ promise of another Counselor is a loaded one: the Holy Spirit gives us the ability to do what Jesus asks. This Sunday’s lessons teach that love for our risen Lord means obedience to his commands. Only Jesus’ promises make that possible.

Traditional First Lesson – Acts 17:22-31

How did Paul make use of Greek “items” readily at his disposal in order to point to the true God?

Could this lesson be more timely? Paul preached to a people enamored with spirituality, but ignorant of the true God. To a people who thought they had all the answers, Paul offers real knowledge of the true God unknown to them. Imagine the scene on Mars Hill. Rising above them, the higher hill of the Acropolis loomed and upon its peak the Parthenon dominated the skyline. This timeless treasure of architecture marked the high point of Greek art and culture, and served as a temple for the city’s patron goddess, Athena. In front of this jaw-dropping beauty, Paul says, “God does not live in temples built by hands.” No, this unknown God made himself known by living with us, and then living in us. Love for this risen Lord leads to a life filled with loving obedience, cf. the quote from the Greek poet Epimenides (v 28a).

Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 4:1-16

What do we learn about the obedience God wants from the actions of Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel?

When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they opened a Pandora’s box on an unsuspecting world. Life as God intended had disappeared from this world. Expelled from the garden and guarded from the Tree of Life, man would know only inevitability of death. But to this dying world, God promised a Savior, born of woman, who would restore to man life as he had once lived. That promise had so quickened Adam’s heart that even when faced with the new reality of living death, he gave his wife the name Life, (Eve) because through her womb the eternal Gospel would be fulfilled, and this life of death deferred would become a life of death destroyed. When this womb produced its first fruit, Eve exclaimed: קָנִַ֥יתִיֵאִָ֖ישֵאֶת־יְהוָהִּֽ. Luther offers a grammatically correct opinion that Eve thought she had given birth to the promised Seed (I have gotten a man, the LORD). How wrong that thought would have been! She did not bear God’s Son, but Adam’s son, Cain, who showed that mere obedience does not please God, but only the obedience that flows from faith and love. Abel lived in the blessedness of forgiveness, and not even his brother’s murderous actions could take away that true Life.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Peter 3:15-22

Who will ask us the questions that we should be prepared to answer?

The unbelieving world will see the way we live under the cross and ask us why we are so happy to live like that.

What makes me “prepared to give an answer”?

A true knowledge of the Scriptures through prayerful study and meditation on how it applies to my life not only prepares me to give an answer, but calms my own fears.

What does Peter mean by “the hope that you have”?

The hope that we have is that this life of humble living and service will someday be followed with the glories of heaven.? Jesus proclaimed that Good Friday had not been a defeat, but a glorious victory. It was a public humiliation that was inflicted upon the defeated forces of Satan.

This is the fifth reading from 1 Peter during the Easter season. Last week Peter declared what we are in Christ: a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a people belonging to God. In this lesson he details what that means for our lives: Set apart Christ as Lord. Love for our Lord means obedience to his commands—even if that obedience means suffering. The Christian can offer willing obedience in the face of suffering because Christ rules, and Holy Baptism guarantees our connection to him.

Note: Verse 21 comments on this baptism that now saves us. The NIV says that baptism is “the pledge of a good conscience toward God.” The footnote suggests “response of a good conscience” as an alternate translation. “Response” is the worst choice because it is most likely to be understood as our response toward God, rather than his promise to us. “Pledge” could be understood correctly, but only if we understand God as the pledge maker, not us. The word ἐπερώτημα can mean “answer” in a legal sense, so a better translation would be, “the legal claim of a good conscience toward God.” (Brug)

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 John 3:11-18

What kind of love does God call on us to give to those around us?

Love means obedience to God. It was love that led Jesus to obey his Father, obedient to death, even death on a cross for us. Now that same love empowers us to love our brother. Hatred and vengeance have their home east of Eden. But here, among the people of God, there is no room for hatred—only love. Christians are to be the antithesis of Cain: we lay down our lives for our brothers, not just in word, but in every daily deed. We do it because we now have that life once lost, but now regained by our living Savior. We have passed from death to life.

Gospel – John 14:15-21

How can Jesus say that the Spirit “lives with you and will be in you”?

The Holy Spirit, together with the Father and the Son, was already at work in the hearts of the disciples bringing them to faith in Jesus. But there was also going to be a special outpouring of the Spirit on the disciples on Pentecost.

What comfort is ours when Jesus says, “Because I live, you also will live”?

Jesus’ living assures our living. In a short while, Jesus would go through crucifixion and death. He would suffer for the guilt of our sins. But then he would rise, and sin and death would no longer rule us. So his life now counts for our life, just as his death counted for our death. By Jesus’ Spirit we believe and live that life now.

Because I live, you, too, will live! Jesus promises more than just a resurrection from the dead for his disciples. Note the tenses in verse 19: in the very face of his own death, Jesus did not promise that he would come back to life, but that he is alive in the soteriological sense. Verse 6 said, “I am the life.” Jesus is life, that state of blessed holiness and perfect righteousness and communion with God. Man had lost that life in Adam’s fall, and sin and death rushed into the vacuum left behind. The Son of God, the Life, came to bring it back. Because he is alive, we, too, will live in blessedness and holiness forever. We are children who will never be orphaned, but rather will be comforted, counseled, and kept forever. What is our response? Life lived as God intended—a life that treasures our Lord, his Word, and obedience to both!

Calm for Troubled Hearts – May 15, 2017

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:1-3

Calm for Troubled Hearts


Daily Devotion – May 15, 2017

Devotion based on John 14:1-3

See series: Devotions

An American band has an album called “Trouble Will Find Me.” It’s altogether too true. It’s not just that trouble may find me. Trouble will find me. I don’t know when or what or how, but there’s no way to always avoid trouble. That can be troubling news.

What’s worse, is that you and I sometimes seek trouble and make trouble. Remember the last time you picked a fight? Remember the times you’ve lied or gossiped? Remember when you wrote something hurtful online or saw something inappropriate online? Sometimes we see temptation, pick it up and build some trouble—trouble for ourselves and for others.

Yes, sometimes trouble finds us. Sometimes we make trouble.

And when trouble comes—whether from our own hand or someone else’s—what happens to our hearts? Our hearts are anxious, worried, sad, angry, confused… Our hearts are troubled.

Jesus calmly tells you and me: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” Why? We should expect our holy God to want to stay far away from troublemakers like us. Yet, in love, God sent Jesus to take all the troubles and sins of this world on himself. In our place and because of our sins, Jesus suffered and died. God raised Jesus and forgives the troubles we make and the sins we commit.

And in love, God even calms our troubled hearts. What troubles you? Is it heart-breaking world news or the newest heartache that has rocked your home? Is it an uncertain future or certain news about your health or finances? Whatever it is, God who’s forgiven you and prepared a room for you in his heavenly house says: “Trust in me.” In heaven, God will keep all trouble far from you. Your heart will never be troubled because all troubles will be removed.

The troubles of this world may surround you. Don’t let them trouble your heart. Trust in God. He has taken care of your past. He has prepared your future. He is with you today.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving all my sins. Help me to face trouble confidently. Thank you for the room you prepare for me in your Father’s house. Keep my trust in you strong and growing until you take me to be with you forever. Amen.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – May 14, 2017

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
Romans 8:16-17

Adopted

Did you ever have to recite the words of Luke 2 at Christmas? “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree…” How much do you know about this ‘Caesar Augustus’?

He was the first emperor of Rome and an extremely powerful and successful leader. He said when dying, “I found Rome made of clay. I left it made of marble.” It’s true. Augustus helped build Rome into the empire it was. He transformed a city, a nation, and even history itself.

With power like that, you would think that he was born into that power. But you would be wrong. Caesar Augustus was born with the name Gaius Octavius and was pretty much a nobody in Rome. His only claim to fame was that he was a distant relative to the great Julius Caesar.

But then on March 15 in 44 B.C., something shocking happened. Julius Caesar was assassinated. As shocking as Caesar’s murder was, the real shock came when Caesar’s last will and testament was read. In his will, Julius Caesar adopted Octavius as his son and heir. This meant that Octavius was suddenly given power and wealth beyond his imagination. He was given the throne simply because someone with power and wealth, Julius Caesar, declared it.

As amazing as that story is, your story is even better! Someone with all power in heaven and on earth has declared something about you. Someone with an eternal kingdom and a heavenly throne has declared you to be his child and heir. At your baptism, God adopted you into his family. As you read this devotion, the Spirit is testifying to you that you are God’s child. This means you belong to a kingdom greater than Rome. You belong to him! His forgiveness is yours! His peace is yours! His heavenly kingdom is your heavenly kingdom!

 

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me never lose sight of the glorious blessings that are mine because I am your adopted child and heir. Let the Spirit’s testimony in the Word strengthen my faith each day. 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.

A bloody book – May 14, 2017

A bloody book – May 14, 2017


So all the men cut branches and followed Abimelek. They piled them against the stronghold and set it on fire with the people still inside. So all the people in the tower of Shechem, about a thousand men and women, also died.
Judges 9:49




Military Devotion – May 14, 2017

Devotion based on Judges 9:49

See series: Military Devotions

The Bible is a bloody book! That’s the accusation of some who reject it. That’s the admission of those who accept it as the inspired Word of God. The Bible is a bloody book.

How else could it be? In this book, the holy God relates some of the history of the human race. Humans are a bloody people.

The first child born into the world murdered his brother. Generations of murderers followed.

Humans are a bloody people.

It’s not that they don’t realize murder is wrong. The command of the Creator, “You shall not murder.” is written into the conscience. The problem is that this divine order is countermanded by someone else posing as a commander. Satan not only permits murder, he encourages it—in fact, he incites it.

Jesus told the people who wanted to murder him, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” (John 8:44).

So, what are the People of God to do in the face of such facts? Should they not stand up to this falsehood? The devil advises, “Murder is only natural. Let nature take its course. You aren’t going to save the world!” He goes further. His command is, “Stand down!”

In Navy-talk, the response must be, “Belay that order!” We reject his commands. We reject his authority. We serve a different Commander. The real one orders us to preserve life. The Lord of life and death calls us to defend those who would be hurt or harmed or killed by others. Sometimes the 5th Commandment demands that we take a life to save a life.

The Bible is a bloody book. Some of the bloodshed is by the Lord’s directions. Think of all those animal sacrifices. Think of Sodom and Gomorrah. Think of the Moabites and Ammonites being cleared out of the Promised Land by divine command.

But most of all, think of Golgotha.

That was holy blood. That bloodshed was caused by our sin, and offered to cover our sin.

The saying of the bumper stickers is true: Freedom is not free. It is bought with blood.

The Bible shows that freedom from sin, death, and the devil was bought with holy blood.

The Bible must be a bloody book. Anything else would be a lie.



Prayer: Lord of mercy and truth, we thank you for telling us the truth about ourselves, the world we live in, and the bloody way that we were rescued. Keep us in your truth. Your Word is truth.  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.




Jesus Won the Victory – May 14, 2017

I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:3-5

Jesus Won the Victory


Daily Devotion – May 14, 2017

Devotion based on Revelation 21:3-5

See series: Devotions

Individuals with dark hearts set off explosions that kill and maim and injure dozens of people. Flooding destroys farmland and cripples a local economy. A distracted driver loses control and runs down a young student… Sometimes it seems that everywhere we turn we find destruction and heartache in our world.

What a beautiful comfort it is to know that one day that will all change. One day our all-powerful and living Savior will make everything new.

Right now, sin, death, and the devil have a firm hold on this world. We see the effects of their devastating attacks all around us. The war is fierce, and at times it certainly seems as though evil is winning. In the end, however, Jesus is victorious.

In fact, the victory has already been won. When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, Satan’s power to accuse and condemn us was destroyed. His accusations are empty because our sin has been removed by the blood of Jesus. When he rose from the grave, he destroyed the power of death. That powerful enemy no longer has the ability to terrify us because we know that we who believe in Jesus as our Savior will live just as he does.

In the end, the victory Jesus won will be fully experienced by all who believe in him. In heaven, all of the evils of this world will not even be a distant memory—they will be gone forever. None of the things that cause pain and heartache will pass through the gates of heaven. There will be no more tears because every reason for crying will have been removed.

We can persevere through all the hardships of this world with our eyes focused on Jesus. He has won the victory for us, and one day, he will make everything new.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, lift my eyes from the pain of this world to see the victory you have won for me. Help me to look forward with eager anticipation to the glory of my heavenly home where everything will be made new. 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.