Faith Is Not Selfish – September 18, 2018

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? … If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. … What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18

Faith Is Not Selfish


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2018

Devotion based on James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18

See series: Devotions

Our sinful human nature has an inborn tendency which James illustrates for us today: selfishness can raise its ugly head even among brothers and sisters in Christ. Interestingly, the two illustrations James uses have to do with how we interact with others who have much, or those who have little or nothing.

Selfish. Isn’t that what showing favoritism to the wealthy amounts to? Why would I show special attention to a man wearing fine clothes and a gold ring? It could be out of respect for the gifts and skills he has developed, for his hard work, and for a job well done. More likely, however, this special attention is sinful favoritism which is angling toward something for me. What can I get? How can I benefit? How can this work—or how can I work this—to my advantage? Such favoritism is selfish.

The same is true of empty words. Why would I tell people without clothes and food to be warm and well fed, but do nothing to address their physical needs? It could be because some circumstance got in the way, making it impossible to carry out what I fully intended to do. More likely, however, it is my sinful concern for my own comfort and ease—not wanting to be inconvenienced or have my routine disrupted. That too is selfish.

Both situations betray a sinful focus on me, and James calls me out on both accounts: “If you show favoritism, you sin …” and “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

The answer to a sinful focus on self is to look to our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. He is glorious because he was and is perfectly unselfish—in his coming, in his interaction with those who had much and those who had little or nothing, in his sacrifice of himself, and in his ongoing work as our Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus is gloriously, unselfishly perfect.

As you navigate life’s opportunities and challenges, remember that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him. Then say thank you; show your faith by deeds that are rich in love toward others.

Prayer:
O Lord, forgive my sinful selfishness. Help me overcome the temptations to show favoritism or speak empty words. Enable me, in Christ, to be rich in love toward all. 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.
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Thank the Lord for Them- Week of September 17, 2018

Thank the Lord for Them- Week of September 17, 2018


He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thessalonians 5:10-11



One of the sweetest joys of teaching is watching a little one reach out to another child who is struggling or hurting. Seeing their compassion or encouragement for their peer touches our hearts. We observe in silence with a heart overflowing with endearment for them. This kind of heartfelt interaction is something we teach, we model, and we pray that the children learn.

How about us? How is our interaction with peers? This side of heaven we are surrounded by people who can make us laugh, can build us up, or that can lead us to frustration, discouragement, or even heartache. We are sinners among sinners. Sometimes it is awesome. Sometimes it’s just hard.

Children look to us as we teach and model care, compassion, empathy, and an appreciation for each child in our class. Where do we look for that modeling for ourselves? We look, first of all to God’s Word. The first part of the verses today is a reminder and encouragement to us. It reminds us that God wants everyone to live with him in heaven. He sent Jesus to die, not for what he did but for what we did. His love for us and his desire for us to be with him in heaven is immeasurable. That love is for all. And then, he wants us to share that amazing message of grace with everyone around us.

You likely have colleagues that are a true blessing for you. They are caring, encouraging, thoughtful, and have a heart for the ministry in which they serve. Thank the Lord for them.

You may also have colleagues who are a challenge to you. Perhaps you have very different points of view or philosophies. They may have a personality that is far different from yours. Perhaps they seem over-confident or overly-reserved and hesitant to get involved. Are they perpetually tardy or seem unaware of deadlines? Thank the Lord for them. Yes…thank the Lord for them.

As you look at each individual, they are someone for whom Christ went to the cross. They are dearly loved by the same Lord that loves and forgives you. Looking at them through those eyes can help us to see their strengths more and their weaknesses less. Perhaps they simply have gifts we don’t have or recognize because they do things differently than we do. It may be that they are hurting, insecure, struggling with things in their lives that show in ways that can be challenging for those around them. We can look at them with the loving and compassionate eyes of faith the way our Savior looks at us. With this heart, we can reach out to them with God’s love, forgiveness, and encouragement as brothers and sisters in Christ.
So today, thank the Lord for your colleagues, all of them. Grow in your appreciation of everyone’s unique gifts and when you see weaknesses–look for ways to encourage them and build them up in the Lord who loves you and them dearly.



Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for each of my colleagues. Help me to be an encourager to all those around me. In your name. Amen

 Something to Consider: It’s not easy to try to approach a person with whom you’ve had struggles. But think of what blessings can come when you do. Prayerfully consider how you can be an encourager to all.



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.

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More than a Man – September 17, 2018

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV 2011)

Mark 8:29-33

More than a Man


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 8:29-33

See series: Devotions

“Who is Jesus?” and “What was his purpose?” are two key questions a reader of the Bible must be able to answer. Opinions on these questions vary widely. There are some who might say that Jesus did not exist but was merely the subject of historical fiction by some Jewish authors. Others might say he was a wise teacher of morality. Others might say he was one prophet among others like Muhammed or Buddha.

Jesus had asked his disciples who people thought he was. They reported that some thought he was just a man. Others thought he was an important prophet. But the disciples recognized there was something different about Jesus in what he was doing and how he taught. They confessed, “You are the one sent by God. You are the Lord’s anointed.”

They recognized who Jesus was, but it was that second question of what he came to do that was difficult for them to answer, and one we can struggle with too. If we just think that Jesus came to give us a set of morals to live by, to help us lead our best life now, to teach us how to raise our children, balance our bank account, or fix our marriage, then we miss the true purpose for his coming.

It is best to let Jesus describe why he came. Jesus says that he came to be rejected by the religious leaders of his day, that he be killed, and after three days rise again from the dead.

Jesus’ death and resurrection sets him apart from any individual or religious leader who came before him or who comes after him. His death and his return from death show us that he is more than a man. His death and his return from death show us that his death counted for something. Of course, when Jesus’ purpose doesn’t match up with our purpose for him, much like Peter, conflict in our hearts can arise.

Yet again, Jesus gives us an answer, “These are the concerns of God, not merely human concerns.” These are the concerns of God because he was concerned with the salvation of your soul, not just your physical life now. These are the concerns of God because he was concerned with your physical death and eternal life. These are the concerns of God because he sent his Son to die and rise again for you so that you too may rise from death and live with him forever.

Jesus is just who his Father intended him to be—more than a man. He is the Savior of our souls.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us you are more than a man. Thank you for having in mind the concerns of God as you carried out your purpose. Keep us focused on you as our Savior from sin. 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.
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Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Greatness in God’s Kingdom Means Humility

These are the readings for the Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

True greatness is a paradox. It grows out of seeing ourselves as small and God as great. Such greatness has its center in love—both God’s great love for us in Christ and our love for our neighbor. Such love leads to genuine, humble service.

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 11:18-20

Why is Jeremiah a good example of one that trusted in the Lord?

Even after the Lord reveals a plot against Jeremiah by the men of his own village, Jeremiah did not change his plans or his message. He put himself entirely in the Lord’s hands. He faithfully followed the Word of the Lord. He did it out of love for his people and to save them from destruction.

What can we learn from Jeremiah’s example?

The Lord taught Jeremiah that he could count on the Lord no matter what the situation. That is true for us also. We will be persecuted for following Jesus (2 Timothy 3:12). If we want to live a godly life in Christ and hold to the truth of God’s Word, confess it and witness to it, we too will find opposition. But even with opposition we know the Lord is with us (2 Timothy 1:12; 2 Timothy 4:18).

Supplemental First Lesson – Numbers 12:1-15

Why did Miriam and Aaron oppose their brother Moses?

Miriam and Aaron opposed Moses because he had married a lady from Cush (the southern part of Egypt, in modern terms).

When God punished Miriam with leprosy, a skin disease, how did Moses show his humility?

Moses showed his humility by crying out to the Lord to heal Miriam, instead of telling her that she had gotten what she had coming to her.

Second Lesson – James 3:13-18

Who are the truly wise whom James mentions?

The truly wise people are the humble. When one is truly wise, it shows in good deeds and in humility. A truly wise person is pure, peace-loving, considerate, submissive, merciful, impartial, and sincere. These virtues are the ones that imitate Christ’s own perfect gentleness and unselfish service to us.

What does James mean when he says that “peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness?”

James speaks of people who are humble and try to keep peace, instead of starting quarrels and perpetuating grudges. They do things that lead to all sorts of good and right results. He compares being lowly to putting a seed low into the ground, later the seed of humility will bring many beautiful results, though at first planting the seed may seem fruitless.

Gospel – Mark 9:30-37

Why were the disciples afraid to ask Jesus about his impending death?

Jesus had told his disciples about the Son of Man (himself). “They will kill him.” The thoughts of the Twelve seemed to stop with those words and not even hear Jesus say, “after three days he will rise.” Betrayal and death did not fit their idea of a Messianic rule.

How are we today like those disciples?

Many Christians today imagine that the chief mark of the church is worldly success and glory, and that the chief purpose of the Christian church relates to activities which put the message of a Savior crucified for sin into the background. They don’t want to hear repeated references to the ugliness of personal sin and the divine necessity of a sacrificial cross to atone for that sin.

What was Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ desire to be first in the kingdom of God?

Jesus, through words and an impressive object lesson, shows that the way to true greatness in his kingdom lies in humble service. (See also Mark 10:43-44 and Luke 22:24-47.)

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Lord Make Me Forgiving – September 16, 2018

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22

Lord, Make Me Forgiving


Daily Devotion – September 16, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21-22

See series: Devotions

Peter didn’t understand forgiveness. He thought he should follow the prescribed tradition and forgive someone only seven times. Jesus corrected him by explaining forgiveness had to be more than that.

Forgiveness is not something which is counted or numbered. Neither do conditions apply which must be met before it can be offered. Nor should someone have to manifest a sufficient degree of sorrow before they can be forgiven. Forgiveness can only be understood by looking at the way Jesus has forgiven me.

Every time I come to Jesus’ cross it is with a heavy heart and the burden of guilt weighing me down. I know I have sinned and I know the sentence with which God punishes the sinner. My only hope is to plead for mercy. In an amazing display of love Jesus never turns me away. Nor does he ever tell me I have exceeded my limit of forgiveness. Neither does he demand to see some positive improvements before he can assure me my sins are removed. I come with filthy hands, a blackened heart and a desperate plea for mercy, and Jesus purifies me from all my sins. It sets my heart soaring to know I can stand before him deserving only judgment but receiving only mercy.

It is the way Jesus deals with me which motivates me to deal with others in the same way. Certainly, my sin-weakened flesh will make me reluctant to forgive someone. The world will try to convince me I need proof of genuine sincerity. Even the devil will prompt me to withhold forgiveness unless the person is completely humiliated. But this is not how Jesus dealt with me.

His undeserved love, his never-failing compassion, his dearest desire for my rescue invites me to come just as I am. It is this grace, secured by his precious work, which assures me I am forgiven. What a blessing this is for me, and what a comfort for those around me. I can respond with the same compassion, mercy, and love toward others with which Jesus dealt with me. This is why I need to pray daily and sincerely, “Lord make me forgiving as you have forgiven me.”

Prayer:
O precious Savior, not only do I need your forgiveness to comfort my aching heart, I need your forgiveness to forgive those who sin against me. Fill me with your love. Strengthen me through your death and resurrection. Make me forgiving, just as I have been forgiven. 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.

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The far-off God – September 16, 2018

The far-off God – September 16, 2018


Why, LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
Psalm 10:1




Military Devotion – September 16, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 10:1

See series: Military Devotions

“They cut off her leg and left her in the road to draw us into range of the snipers!”

He was a young soldier. First tour. Just a few days into it. The email carried his confusion, frustration, and distress.

“I jumped out of the MRAP to help her, but my sergeant tackled me and dragged me back.” Someone in another vehicle also tried to run to help. He too, was pulled back. The small convoy had to stop and watch as the woman was bleeding to death. “Wait for the Blackhawks!” was the command. So, they did.

As others were wondering, “Where are the Blackhawks?” this soldier was asking himself, “Where is God?”

The writer of Psalm 10 asked the same question. He observed, “In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak” (verse 2). He complained: “He lies in wait near the villages; from ambush he murders the innocent…” (verse 8). He then told the Lord what should happen: “Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness!” (Verse 15).

We don’t have to be in a distant and dangerous place to run into times when it seems that the Lord God is far away. We know that he exists. We know of his power and his love. But sometimes we cannot see that he is doing anything to help where he is desperately needed. It appears that he sees the problem, he sees the need to step in—but he will not engage!

What are we to think?

We are to think that he he does know. He does see. And he will act—at the time and in the way that he knows is best.

Our vision is limited. Our knowledge is scant. We cannot see even one second into the future. He knows, he sees, and he ultimately controls everything.

We are not to think that we are God.

We have absolutely no reason to doubt him. He has proven his power, his caring, and his boundless love again and again—most of all, in giving his Son to rescue us. In the end, with the psalmist we must say, “You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encouraged them, and you listened to their cry.” (verse 17).

We may not see him, but he is always near. He is hidden only to human eyes. Angels can see what he is doing, and they praise him for it. We need daily to join them in those words of praise, for daily he watches over us with a Father’s care.

And about that distressed young soldier? He went on to report: “Then the Blackhawks came!” That took care of the snipers. And God no longer felt far away.

But then, he never was.



Prayer: Lord of Glory, who has bought us with your lifeblood as the price, remind and assure us that you never are far away from those who love and trust you.  Keep our doubts and frail understanding from questioning your way or your will. We place ourselves, and those we love, into your care.  Keep us under the shadow of your powerful hand. 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.


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Transformed – teen devotion – September 16, 2018

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

The power of habit: Christ-centered community

These are the days when we are more connected and yet more disconnected at the same time. We are more connected on our phones, more connected through social media. At the very same time, we are also quite disconnected as we live life. We’re connected thumb-to-thumb but not face-to-face and not soul-to-soul.

That can be a dangerous thing. Social media can lead us to be fake with other people. We easily filter the way life is really going. We can easily hide what is really going on with us. We can easily isolate ourselves from the Christ-centered community that we so desperately need. The truth is: The lone wolf gets picked off. That’s who the devil goes after because there is no one around to help when tempted.

God’s people need each other. We need other people in our lives. That is precisely why the writer wrote these words to us. He knew that we needed a Christ-centered community around us.

On the one hand, we need each other to see the blind spots in our faith and the sins that hide in the corners of our lives that we can’t see. We need other Christians to show us our sins. Even more than that, we need them to show us Jesus’ forgiveness. We need a Christ-centered community around us to keep us close to our Savior.

On the other hand, other people need us just as deeply in their lives. They need us to lovingly show them the blind spots of their faith, the sins that hide in the corners of their life. They need us to show them their sins and even more than that to tell them that Jesus has forgiven it all! They need us to spur them on with gospel encouragement!

You, dear Christian, need the family of believers, the community of Christ-followers, around you. In fact, they are God’s gift to you to keep you close to Jesus until he returns. And in the very same way, you are God’s gift to them to keep them close to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for blessing me with many wonderful friends. Be with my friends and me. Help us to encourage each other to grow in your Word. Keep Christ as the center of our lives and bring us closer to each other by bringing us closer to you. 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.
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Forgiveness – September 15, 2018

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:15-21

Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 50:15-21

See series: Devotions

“I will never forgive him!” “What do you think, am I just going to forgive you?”

If anyone had reason not to forgive, it was Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery and years of difficulty and personal pain followed. (Read: Genesis chapters 37–50.)

However, by the time he is reunited with his brothers, he has become the “Prime Minister” of Egypt. He is in charge of the great warehouses of grain which he saved in advance of a terrible drought and famine. He has the motive, the means and the opportunity to let his brothers have it.

It is stunning to see what happens next. There is no grudge and no payback. Instead, there is gracious welcome and generous hospitality. How can this be? Joseph tells us: “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”

The desire for revenge and failure to forgive are common human responses to sin, but they are not responses according to God’s love and in keeping with God’s will. God is a God of forgiveness. Through the death of Christ, he sends our sins away never to be found on our record again. He holds no grudges; he seeks to save and not to harm.

Filled with great appreciation for the forgiveness that God has freely given to me through Jesus, I am moved to forgive others. The forgiveness that I give to others frees me from anger and pain and frees those I forgive from guilt and shame. God intends forgiveness for good, and the ultimate good is heaven.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your forgiveness of my sins. Lead me daily to forgive others even as I have been forgiven. 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.

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What We Need – September 14, 2018

The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4

What We Need


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 4:3-4

See series: Devotions

I know I should exercise, but it makes me sore and tired. I know I should eat a balanced diet, but donuts and cake taste better to me. I know that surgery will help me get back to full strength, but I’m scared to go under the knife and face painful rehab.

In daily life, our needs—things that are necessary and beneficial for a healthy and happy life—are often at odds with our wants—things that are optional and, sometimes, only superficially satisfying. But in the end, the truly wise and healthy person learns to seek, do, and even appreciate and long for the needed things.

The same holds true for our spiritual life. Our hearts are naturally tuned in to messages that are unhealthy and ultimately only superficially satisfying. So, our ears will naturally seek out messages that agree with our distorted heart’s desire. I want to hear that I am worthwhile and good. I want to hear that I can do things by my own determination and grit. I want to hear that I’m okay with God because I am a good (or at least pretty good) person. I want to hear that God is satisfied with good intentions, blessing me now and granting me a place in heaven as a result of my best efforts.

But that is not what I need to hear. I need to hear that I was born in sin and show it with thoughts that are impure, words that are unloving, and actions that are incomplete at best. I need to hear that my sinfulness separates me from a holy God. I need to hear that sinners like me deserve nothing from God but his punishment. I need to hear that, but I don’t want to…at first.

Human beings can only begin to hear and accept that difficult message when we come to know that it is not the end, or even the most important part, of what God knows our ears and hearts need to hear. I need to hear of God’s undeserved love—his amazing grace—towards sinners. I need to hear of a Savior who was sent to pay for and do away with human sin, even mine. I need to hear of a God who loves me and values me because of what his Son has done for me and the price he’s paid for me. I need to hear of a heavenly Father who promises to be with me in this life and take me to heaven when I die, because he has adopted me as his own dear child in Jesus Christ.

Tune your ears to that message. Find a church that faithfully teaches it. And you will be truly healthy and happy in your spiritual life!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, there are so many attractive and appealing messages in my world. Help me to tune my ears to your Word of Truth. In Jesus’ name. 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.
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Stick to the Playbook – September 13, 2018

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
John 8:31

Stick to the Playbook


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2018

Devotion based on John 8:31

See series: Devotions

Training camps are complete. Pre-season action is over. In the United States, a sport returns that captivates millions each weekend. College student athletes and professionals alike will step out onto the gridiron—the football field.

Are you a fan of American football? Even if you aren’t, you can understand that in football, as in any team sport, the coach has a playbook. The playbook guides players to take the right number of steps, make the right cuts, throw the right passes, attack the right angles, all to defeat their opponent and win the game. Training camps and practice after practice drill those plays into the athletes, so they become second nature during the game. Imagine the disappointment of the coach when his players don’t follow the playbook!

Imagine the disappointment of God when his people don’t follow his Word! Indeed, the Bible is so much more than a playbook. God hasn’t given his Word just to drill into you exactly the right steps to take and tell you the decisions you need to make, but the Bible does present a message of victory for you.

Jesus teaches you of the victory you have in him. Even though you have taken the wrong steps, attacked the wrong angles in your life, and disappointed God, Jesus teaches you that you are forgiven. Jesus teaches you that he is your Savior. He stepped onto the gridiron of this world and faced the fiercest opponent. Jesus faced death itself for you, and he won. He gave up his life on the cross for your forgiveness, but then rose again in victory over the grave.

That’s why his teaching is so important. It’s why he tells you, and all who follow him, to hold on to it with such a grip that no opponent can ever force a fumble out of your hands. As you look around you, there are so many “teams” of Christians. Each seems to wear a different uniform. Which will you choose?

Find a church that’s running the right routes, saying the right things, taking the right angles—that is, they hold dearly to Jesus’ teaching. Then you know they will always point you to him as your Savior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach and strengthen me to hold firmly to your Word of Truth. Help me to boldly live my life as your disciple. 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.
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Your God will Come – September 12, 2018

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
Isaiah 35:4-7

Your God will Come


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 35:4-7

See series: Devotions

Jennifer had a fearful heart. She was afraid of failing. Afraid of not being the person, mother, wife, sister, daughter she wanted to be, should be. Afraid of her own weaknesses and sins. Afraid of what God would think of her.

So how does this help? “Be strong, Jennifer. Do not fear; your God will come, with vengeance, with divine retribution.” God is coming? With vengeance and divine retribution? God is coming to pay me back for all my sins and failings? That is enough to make an already fearful heart completely fall apart. Terrifying!

But that’s not what God’s Word is saying in these verses. “Your God will come…to save you!” His vengeance and divine retribution are not against us, not against the repentant sinner with a fearful heart. The vengeance and retribution are reserved for Jennifer’s enemies. “He will come to save you, Jennifer.” God is coming to dish out divine payback to all of Jennifer’s enemies and save her from them.

God did come. Jesus arrived on the scene as a human being, God himself in the flesh. He defeated sin and all its consequences. He healed illnesses. He restored sight, hearing, speech, and movement. He drove away sin and death by his death on the cross. When he died and rose again from death, Jesus paid out retribution to sin, death, and the devil, and set his people free. He set Jennifer free. She is completely forgiven of every sin and failing. She is perfectly accepted and approved by God, through the work of Jesus. Instead of fear stalking her through the desert, Jennifer now walks in faith and joy through a vibrant paradise where grace grows.

She still has a fearful heart now and then. But she knows God came for her and died to save her. And he will come for her again to take her to be with him forever.

Prayer:
Dear Father, calm my fearful heart with your salvation. Restore all that sin has ruined in my life. Bring me to the paradise of heaven, through Jesus my Savior. 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.
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Astounding – September 11, 2018

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
Romans 11:33

Astounding


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 11:33

See series: Devotions

Perhaps you enjoy viewing nature programs on public television. Perhaps you don’t. Regardless of your general interest in such programming, however, there is a nature series that towers above the rest. It’s a series of televised nature programs produced by Sir David Attenborough. Attenborough has combined his superb production values with the outstanding camera work of the BBC. Together, they capture moments in nature that are astounding.

If you watch, you will never forget the newborn lizard racing across a beach for its life while being chased by scores of fast-moving snakes (by the way, the lizard wins). If you watch, you will never forget what a father penguin is willing to endure to keep his young safe and warm. If you watch, you will never forget how the Australian lyrebird is able to imitate almost anything—even the intricate sounds of a camera. And if you watch, you will never forget the migration of a single monarch butterfly from Canada to a specific, pre-ordained cluster of trees in Mexico.

The series is not at all religious. Nevertheless, when one views these episodes in light of the reality that God is the Creator of all, the words of the apostle Paul seem to rise up and shout when he declares in pure astonishment: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

As awe-inspiring as God’s creation is, however, Paul is not just speaking about the miraculous creatures that fill this planet. More than all that, Paul is speaking about the gospel.

God became a human being. God became one of us. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God lived among us. He ate and slept among us. He worked, got tired, and made friends. He wept when a loved one died. He suffered ridicule and rejection. He gave up his life on a cross.

He did all that to wash us clean and to set everything right between God and us. He did all that to ensure that all of our sins, all of our failures, all of our wrongs would never come back to haunt us ever again. And to assure us of this, he raised himself from the dead.

That’s what you and I have through faith in Jesus Christ. Through faith in him we have more than an awesome Creator. We have a Savior, Brother, and Friend.

And that is astounding.

Prayer:
Holy God, the wonders of your creation are astounding. Even more so, Lord, is your love for me in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep me close to 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.
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Fill Me Up – Week of September 10, 2018

Fill Me Up – Week of September 10, 2018


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16



“The love of Jesus permeates the early childhood ministry’s culture and establishes the bond among students, teachers, and parents.” (Building Blocks: A Handbook for Beginning and Operating a Christian Early Childhood Ministry 2015 WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools)

This statement is included as one of the essential characteristics of a WELS early childhood ministry. One of the words that stands out is “permeates.” Dictionary.com defines permeate as: “to pass into or through every part of.” I think of sugar in a cup of tea. Once it’s in there, it’s in every sip and cannot be removed again. Or yeast affecting the whole lump of dough. It’s integrated into every drop of the cup of tea or morsel of the loaf of bread.

Our verse today reminds us to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” Every day, as you read the Bible, study the Bible story lesson, share a devotion with a colleague, or worship in your church, the Holy Spirit is filling you with the word of Christ as you grow in faith and knowledge. And when our hearts are filled, it’s easier to share with those around us.

Think of your day with the little ones, their families, your colleagues. Jesus is part of every little thing and every big thing you do each day. While you likely aren’t speaking about Jesus at every moment and in every conversation, you can still reflect him in your warmth, your understanding, your patience, your joy. Your share Jesus as you kneel next to a young child and marvel at the caterpillar, created by God. Jesus is part of your conversation as you comfort a child who is sad or frightened. We share Jesus when we comment about how incredible it is that Jesus heals their scraped knee. Jesus is there when we model forgiveness with a child or ask for forgiveness from a colleague or parent. Jesus is not something we reserve for Bible story time, devotions, or prayer time. He permeates everything. He is the heart of what we do all day long.

Your days are full. They are full of highs and lows, joys and disappointments. But as you experience each moment, you can look to God’s precious word for wisdom, guidance, encouragement, and forgiveness when we fail. We also find a multitude of expressions of joy in God’s word that reflect our delight in the blessings all around us.

So, be in the Word and let it dwell in you richly so that you more consistently and faithfully reflect Christ. Then teach each other, encourage each other, and sing with a heart that is full of joy that can only come from the precious news of the gospel you know and are privileged to share. Let it permeate all you do all day, every day.



Prayer: Dear Lord, fill me up with your Word. Then help me to share you with all those around me each day, all day. In your name I pray. Amen

Something to Consider: Have a discussion with your staff on ways that you can read and study the Word together and how growth shows itself in various ways. Also talk about ways that you see and hear each other share Jesus throughout the day.



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.

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Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

Preaching the Truth Always Makes Enemies

These are the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

There are two kinds of preachers. One pushes worldly glory. The other pushes the ugly cross where Christ was crucified for us, alone in the darkness. The former touts worldly success. The latter knows that those who speak God’s truth will always make enemies. “Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” the Bible says. So men who preach God’s full truth are bound to experience failure and disappointment. Following our suffering Savior, though, Christians even sing, “Go, then earthly fame and treasure. Come disaster, scorn and pain.” We even pray to God, “In your service, pain is pleasure. In your favor, loss is gain.”

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 50:4-10

Who is the special servant?

The prophesy is of Jesus. He would proclaim God’s Word (instructed tongue). He willingly submitted to the Word of God. He knew what the Lord wanted, and he obeyed (morning by morning). He is the great High Priest, who would offer up himself as a sacrifice for sin. (See Hebrews 7:26-28; 9:6-12.)

Who are those who fear the Lord?

The believers are the ones who possess deep respect and awe for the Lord. They give ear to the words of the Suffering Servant. All who fear the Lord and trust in the Word of the Lord’s Servant will find deliverance, forgiveness, and life.

Supplemental First Lesson – Jeremiah 38:1-13

What bad thing happened to Jeremiah? (See especially 38:6.)

Jeremiah was lowered into a cistern, in which he sank down into the mud.

Why did King Zedekiah allow this to happen?

King Zedekiah let Jeremiah be lowered into the cistern because four officials had told him that Jeremiah was discouraging people in Jerusalem. Jeremiah was telling them that those who stayed in the city during the Babylonian siege would die in terrible ways.

Traditional Second Lesson – James 2:1-5, 8-10, 14-18

How are we to treat our neighbor?

Here the Lord forbids favoritism and urges us to love everyone. God uses the trials of the poor and needy to test the faith of those who love him. “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Why does James say, “Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”?

Real faith inevitably yields good works. And if the works are absent, the faith claimed must be phony (Ephesians 2:10). As we come to faith in our Savior, we are justified, we are born again, we begin to understand God’s will for us, and the Spirit helps us to want God’s will and gives us the power to do God’s will. So if it is all talk and no action, faith is dead.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 4:12-19

In one word, how does Peter say you should think of yourself if others insult you because of the name of Jesus? (See 4:14.)

If others insult you because of the name of Jesus, you are blessed.

What does Peter mean in 4:17, when he says that it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God, so even worse things are coming for the godless?

In short, Peter means judgment day will be hopeless for unbelievers. Paul Kretzmann answers our question by first quoting Augustine’s analogy: “‘If the sons are being chastised, what will happen to the slaves?’ What will be the fate of the unrighteous, if God does not even spare the righteous, his intention being to instruct and train them? The believers are hardly, but certainly saved; those, however, that have refused to be obedient to the Gospel, that were unbelievers from choice, will miss the salvation of Christ, will go away into everlasting destruction …. That is what the apostle calls out in impressive warning: If the righteous is hardly saved, where will the godless and the sinner appear?”

Gospel – Mark 8:27-35

Why was Peter rebuked for not wanting Jesus to suffer and die?

Jesus rebuked Peter, we could say, for not understanding what the name “Christ” really meant. Peter and the other disciples were looking for an earthly king. Jesus rejected Peter’s well-meant but ill-conceived rebuke. Without Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, we would still be in our sins and lost forever.

What is meant by taking up the cross?

Taking up one’s cross means denying oneself. It means to follow the One who carried his cross to Golgotha by refusing to make oneself the sole object in one’s life but making God and his will the center one’s life. That will always involve sacrifices, avoiding everything that might come between us and our Savior (Mark 7:20-23), even being ready to suffer shame and death to remain faithful to him.

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Simply Amazing – September 10, 2018

People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
Mark 7:37

Simply Amazing


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 7:37

See series: Devotions

There are some things in life which are simply amazing: the glow of a sunrise, the iridescence of a sunset, the reflection of mountains in a calm turquoise lake. These are all amazing. To these, specific events from life can also be added: the birth of a child, the longevity and health of a relative, the unexpected recovery from a life-threatening illness. These too are all amazing.

There is one more area of my life where I never cease to be amazed, and that is with the love of my Savior.

In connection with today’s verse of God’s Word, when I consider his care and compassion for the man who could barely speak and was without the sense of hearing, it is simply amazing. Jesus healed him completely. No recovery needed. No therapy required. No further treatment prescribed. It is the same care and compassion Jesus promises for my life.

While I may not see a miracle such as this man experienced, I do know he promises goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6). This is simply amazing that Jesus is so focused on my daily and personal care.

What is even more amazing is the care and compassion Jesus provides for eternal life. I was dead in my transgressions and sin. I was blind to his love and forgiveness. I was an enemy opposed to him at every turn. Yet, Jesus loved me. In that love he did everything to rescue me from my self-inflicted condemnation. He secured new life through his death and resurrection. He opened my eyes through the powerful working of faith. He reconciled me and brought me into his family. I deserved nothing but punishment, but he gave me everything. This is simply amazing.

There is only one response to Jesus’ undeserved love. I love him who loved me first. I also live every day in awe, thanking and praising my Savior for what he did—which is simply amazing.

Prayer:
O precious Savior, truly your love is amazing because it is undeserved. Keep me in your love and your compassionate care until I receive the greater blessing you have prepared for me in heaven. 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.
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Repentance – September 9, 2018

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:15-18

Repentance


Daily Devotion – September 9, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15-18

See series: Devotions

“It’s none of my business.” “I’m afraid it will damage our friendship.” “Who am I to point out the sin of another since I am a sinner myself?”

When a fellow Christian is caught in a sin, these are the excuses that so often find their way into our vocabulary. On the surface, they all seem legitimate. Why would we ever want to be considered meddlers, or controversy starters, or self-righteous hypocrites?

But when we trace such excuses to their roots, they get exposed for what they are: tricks and schemes of the devil. After all, Satan will do everything in his power to make sure we do not view sin for what it truly is—a poison that doesn’t just wound or hurt, but a poison that kills. And Satan desires nothing more than for people caught in deliberate sin to continue down that road of sin unrepentant—refusing to recognize their sin and refusing to recognize their desperate need for the forgiveness of our Savior. This is always Satan’s desire, because the road of unrepentance leads to hell.

That’s also why Jesus commands what he does in these words from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18. Jesus desires the salvation of souls. And so, Jesus commands Christians to call those caught in sin to repentance, that they may recognize their sin and then turn to him for forgiveness.

The steps Jesus calls Christians to follow are clear concerning a brother or sister in Christ. First, approach the fallen sinner privately, that your careful warning may lead him to the repentance God desires. If the person does not repent, involve two or three others, that the seriousness of the matter may be underscored while its privacy maintained. If the sinner still does not repent, take the matter to the church, that the entire body of believers may demonstrate just how seriously the Lord desires repentance and just how greatly the Lord desires to forgive. Finally, if the unrepentant sinner refuses to listen even to the church, exclude him from the church, that he may be continually reminded that impenitence kills saving faith.

Because our Savior has issued us this command solely out of love for sinners, we carry it out with that same spirit of love. We approach it with a single-minded desire to lead sinners to repentance, that they may experience the joy of his forgiveness once again. And we approach it with a humble heart, recognizing that it is only by God’s grace that our own sins have been forgiven. May God grant all of us such love and humility as we carry out this important work!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in your unlimited love for souls, you have commanded your believers to call sinners to repentance. Move us to carry out this command with that same spirit of love. 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.

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On the side of the angels – September 9, 2018

On the side of the angels – September 9, 2018


O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle—do not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD; do not let their plans succeed, or they will become proud. Let the heads of those who surround me be covered with the trouble their lips have caused. Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise…may disaster hunt down men of violence.
Psalm 140:7-11




Military Devotion – September 9, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 140:7-11

See series: Military Devotions

On the back of a Special Forces cap are the words: “WE DO BAD THINGS TO BAD PEOPLE.”

Those words disturb some folks. They anger others. They confuse still others. But there are some who understand. King David would be among this last group. By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he penned the words of Psalm 140 , which calls for bad things to happen to bad people.

Some claim this goes against the directive of Jesus: “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also” (Matthew 5:39).

Some would argue that there is no such group as “good people,” since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. They point to the words of Jesus saying only those who have no sin should throw the first stone of punishment (Cf. John 8:7). This would eliminate everyone.

But Scripture must always interpret Scripture. The words of Jesus do not mean that evil, and the people who carry it out, are never to be fought against. That would be a misapplication of God’s Word.

In both Old and New Testaments, God has spoken clearly about protecting human lives. He charges ruling power to protect its citizens. He authorizes the use of extreme force to provide that defense. Those doing bad things—carrying out evil against others—are to be stopped. They have forfeited the goodwill of others. Sometimes they forfeit their very lives.

There is a famous saying that declares, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke—1770).

That is not a Bible passage, but it does reflect biblical teaching. “Good” can mean sinless, but it does not need to. It can also indicate those who are standing up for what is right and good. Sometimes this is called, “being on the side of the angels.”

“Bad people” can refer to those who stand for that which is bad. That is the side of the demons.

Those who serve their nation in defense of its people are authorized and expected to take a stand against those doing evil.

King David placed himself with the forces for good. When he wrote, “Let burning coals fall upon them; may they be thrown into the fire, into miry pits, never to rise…may disaster hunt down men of violence.” he was asking the Lord to prevent the triumph of evil.

He prayed that bad things would happen to bad people. The anniversary of 9/11 reminds us that we may have prayed the same.

Jesus addressed a different type of situation with his words about turning the other cheek. The slap on the cheek is a personal affront. It’s an insult. The natural reaction to that is to seek revenge. We want payback. But then, shameful acts will escalate. Demons will cheer.

Jesus reminds us that vengeance belongs to God. We can put up with those who dishonor us. We can shake off their attacks. We can walk away.

But we cannot ignore our duty to protect others. We will risk our lives to do that. We will fight against those who threaten with evil designs. We will call upon God to aid us in that fight.

We will take our stand with King David on the side of the angels.



Prayer: Eternal and holy God, we know that we are sinful creatures who live in a sinful world. But we also know that the sacrifice of Jesus has liberated us from the death-grip of sin. We are now free to serve you by serving others who need our help.  Keep us from abusing the power that you have given to us. Bless our efforts to overcome evil. Keep our feet on the holy path. Keep us on the side of the angels. 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.


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Transformed – teen devotion – September 9, 2018

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:16-18

The power of habit: Prayer

Why we don’t pray more? I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes don’t pray more because I think I can get more done if I actually “do” it than if I pray about it first. I think that my thinking, my working, my worrying, and my planning are more powerful than actually praying about it.

When I write it down it sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? But our lack of prayer says just that. Our lack of praying says to God that our activity and our working is more important than asking him to act and work and do.

James inspires us to believe that prayer is a powerful thing. He tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Our prayers matter. Our prayers change things. Our prayers make a difference.

If you believed that something was powerful, would you do it? Of course. If you thought something would make all the difference in the world, you would make sure it happened. If you thought something mattered, you would make time for it, intentionally, purposefully, regularly. That’s what we do for things that make a difference and matter to us.

James gives an example of an effective prayer. He reminds us of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. Elijah prayed that it would not rain—and it didn’t rain. God withheld rain for three and a half years because of Elijah’s prayer. Then Elijah prayed again that it would rain—and God sent rain.

Prayer works. Prayer matters. It is powerful and effective, not because of the person who is praying, but because the person praying invokes God’s powerful name and humbly relies on God’s gracious promises and saving will. The story of Elijah—and many other stories throughout the Bible—show us that this is true.

So pray. Make a habit of it. Your Father in heaven loves you. He has forgiven all your sins, and he now invites you to call on him in prayer. In his love for you, he hears your prayers and works powerfully for you and for the world.

Prayer: Lord God, you teach me that prayer is a powerful thing. In your grace, Father, you invite me to pray. Help me to understand how powerful prayer is so that I make it a part of the very fiber of my life. Yes, Lord Jesus, teach me to pray without stopping. 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.
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Life for You – September 8, 2018

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”‘ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezekiel 33:7-11

Life for You


Daily Devotion – September 8, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7-11

See series: Devotions

The cancer support group gathers in a circle in the church basement. They tell their dreary stories of unending fatigue, nausea, and pain. Finally, a young man who has been listening quietly announces, “I have a brain tumor. The doctors want to do surgery and remove it, but I’m not going to do it.” Support gives way to exasperation. “What?” “How can you do this?” “Don’t you want to live?”

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, our loved ones will most likely make every effort to see to it that we seek out every treatment available. The goal is staying alive.

“Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” The inner, spiritual death caused by sin is cause for deep concern. Too many of us know the agony of watching our loved ones separate themselves from God through careless and persistent sin. God insists that we stand guard and speak out to dissuade our loved ones from their sin.

There is no reason to die because of sin. God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” He wants us to live so much that his own Son took all of the careless and persistent sins we have committed and removed them by his sacrificial death on the cross. Troubled sinners cry out, “How then can we live?” Our loving God answers, “Turn from sin and trust that my Son’s death is life for you.”

Prayer:
Gracious God, lead us all away from sin and to your loving forgiveness in Jesus. Overcome everything harmful to body and soul with your promises of heavenly glory. 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.

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Test the Spirits – September 7, 2018

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1

Test the Spirits


Daily Devotion – September 7, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 4:1

See series: Devotions

Test the spirits? That sounds a bit creepy or just plain weird. It seems like something outside the normal person’s expertise and abilities. Maybe we should leave such a thing to scientists. Although perhaps we would find that most scientists have moved beyond a belief in the spirit world. Maybe we need to call the Ghostbusters.

Seriously, today’s encouragement from God’s Word through the pen of a man named John is a vital matter that has critical consequences. God, who himself is spirit (John 4:24), tells us that there is a spirit world. He tells us that not every spirit comes from him. Not every spirit is good and faithful, trustworthy and true.

The chief of those evil spirits is called the devil or Satan. He is an angel who was created good but rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Satan and those evil angels, often called demons or devils, who followed him now roam the earth seeking to lead people away from God. They do their destructive work by speaking lies about God to deceive people about the way to have a peace-filled relationship with God. They most often do their deadly work through human beings called “false prophets.”

But how do we test spirits? Not by their personality, eloquence, passion, or sincerity. Test the spirits…by the message that is spoken. God’s Word—the Bible—reveals God’s truth in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Truth. During his life here on earth he spoke the truth from his own mouth. Now from heaven he still speaks through God’s Word recorded in the Bible. He speaks through true and faithful messengers who believe the Bible to be truth and speak it clearly and correctly.

Not everybody who claims to speak the truth of God speaks truthfully. Some are counterfeits. People trained to spot counterfeit currency are first trained to thoroughly and accurately know the genuine thing. Because of this training, they can easily pick out the fake. John, as a dear friend, encourages us to compare the message we hear with the message of God in the Bible. That means we need to read and know our Bible. We need to diligently seek out and surround ourselves with teachers who know the Scriptures and speak God’s truth faithfully. We need to connect ourselves to churches that seek out and speak God’s gospel truth. True spirits will point us to the Truth—Jesus Christ—who is our Savior from sin and the source of every blessing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, we daily need your help. Help us to test the spirits by knowing your truth and then comparing what we hear to what you say. Give us wisdom and discernment as we seek to grow in our relationship with you. In your saving name, 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.
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The Word of God Produces – September 6, 2018

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11

The Word of God Produces


Daily Devotion – September 6, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10-11

See series: Devotions

Perhaps this summer you often see a farm field where both sunshine and rain have come down on that field. You have watched as rows and rows of corn reached toward the sky. First appeared little sprouts that hardly seemed more than organized weeds, but then they grew taller, knee-high, and now those little sprouts have become full stalks that stand taller than you.

Maybe, though, you don’t see corn fields where you live. Instead you have watched your tomato plants or your garden flowers. You have witnessed that when water contacts the soil, plants grow and thrive.

It is a perfect picture of what occurs in the places we call churches. As people gather, it is God’s Word that comes down from heaven—the Bible is read, songs are sung, messages are delivered by the pastor. God’s Word contacts human hearts. We cannot watch hearts as closely as we do the soil of the fields, and we may not witness green sprouts reach for the sky, but people grow and thrive. God promises it. He promises that when he sends his Word to human hearts, it produces. It accomplishes his desire and achieves his purpose.

What is God’s purpose for you? He desires that you will come to him because you thirst for his love and mercy. (See Isaiah 55:1.) He desires that you will turn to listen to his Word and know his mercy and pardon. (See Isaiah 55:7.) He desires that you will be able to go forth in your life with joy and peace. (See Isaiah 55:12.)

In his Word, God tells you that his Son also came down to accomplish what he desired and achieve the purpose for which God sent him. That purpose was that his own Son give his life over to death for you. Jesus died to purchase your life out from underneath the weight of your guilt. God’s purpose was that Jesus’ blood shed on the cross makes you clean in God’s sight. God’s purpose is that the victory his Son accomplished by his resurrection from the dead, be your very own by trusting in Jesus as your Savior.

Do you see a church where you live in which God’s Word is proclaimed? Now is the perfect time to let God’s Word cause faith to grow and thrive in your heart.

Prayer:
Almighty God, send forth your Word into my heart in abundance, so that my faith in Christ may grow and flourish. 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.
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His Calling Card – September 5, 2018

Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. … Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Deuteronomy 4:1,2,6-8

His Calling Card


Daily Devotion – September 5, 2018

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 4:1,2,6-8

See series: Devotions

Jim was a salesman. He traveled to visit his customers. He always left them a business card, so they would be able to contact him again later.

God uses his people as his calling card. On his people, he imprints his promises: “I will be with you. I will be near you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will always, always listen when you pray.” And a host of other promises. On his people, he imprints his laws: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.” And he added a fully fleshed out code of conduct for his people’s society, worship, and personal life. God wanted his people to be his calling card. The people of other nations would see Israel and see God’s promises and commands stamped across the fabric of their lives. And it would have worked…

Except his people sinned. They fell away from God again and again. They disregarded his commands and promises and turned to other gods.

How about you? Do you represent God well? Do you display God’s commands to the world by the way you live? Do you promote God’s promises by what you say and do? Or are you guilty of giving God “bad press?”

God in his mercy sent another calling card: his own Son. In his Son, people of every nation can see the imprint of God’s righteousness, God’s laws. In God’s Son Jesus, the world can see God’s love, God’s promises. Jesus not only publicized God well in life but connected lost souls with God through his death on the cross. People from every nation who believe in Jesus not only learn about God, but know God as their Father, receive forgiveness of sins, and live forever.

God forgives you through Christ. And in grace, sends you out as his calling card into the world.

Prayer:
Dear Father, forgive me for giving you a bad name by a sinful life. Forgive me and cleanse me in Christ and use me as your calling card in a world of lost souls. 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.
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Raw Recruit – September 4, 2018

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.
Ephesians 6:13

Raw Recruit


Daily Devotion – September 4, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:13

See series: Devotions

In the world of the First Century AD, the Roman army was a sight to see. It had great numbers. It was well-supplied. It had cutting-edge weaponry.

However, its real strength was not in numbers, weapons, or supplies. It was the training. The training of the Roman soldier in the Roman army was superb. The historian by the name of Josephus got to observe the training of Roman soldiers firsthand. What struck him the most was their determination to always be ready for the day of battle. Their training was constant. Josephus wrote: “[T]hey do not sit with folded hands in peace time only to put them in motion in the hour of need. On the contrary, as though they had been born with weapons in hand, they never have a truce from training.”

In addition, this constant training was not just for the soldier who was new to the army. It was for the seasoned veteran as well. We know this from an ancient manual on Roman military training. After it emphasizes that the seasoned veteran has orders for daily training too, the manual then explains why. It says, “No matter how many years he has served, an unexercised soldier is forever a raw recruit.”

Which leads to you and me.

As a Christian, how many times have I presumed that I am a seasoned soldier of the cross when the reality is that I often behave like a raw recruit? As soon as the Lord gives me an opportunity to display some genuine Christian maturity for others, how often do I react with the immaturity of the raw recruit? And when this sinful world gives me a very trying day, how often do I glower, pout, and carry myself as if this were my first day in the Lord’s army?

We have all had our turn at letting down our Lord.

That is why my present strength as a soldier of the cross is not the number of years I have lived. It is not my happy memories of Sunday School or Christian Elementary School. It is not my past work on this or that committee at church. Rather, it is the Spirit-wrought realization that I need the Lord Jesus now more than ever. I need the forgiveness he has purchased for me at the cross. I need the peace and strength he gives me in his Word and Sacrament.

When that happens, the more fully I wear the armor of God. When that happens, the more fully I live to the Lord’s glory as a seasoned soldier of the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, so often I have behaved as if I were a raw recruit. Wash me clean. Empower me by your Spirit to realize my need for you is greater than ever. 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.
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Rest From Your Labor – Week of September 3, 2018

Rest From Your Labor – Week of September 3, 2018


Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29



September 5, 1882 was the date of the first Labor Day. It was observed in New York City and organized by the Central Labor Union as a day to acknowledge and celebrate the contributions of laborers. By 1894, it was recognized as a national holiday marked with parades and festivals. Over the years, it has evolved into a marking of the end of summer and a time for back to school.

Back to school time is an exciting time for students, their families, and those who teach. It’s a time of new beginnings and wonderful possibilities. It’s also a time to readjust from more relaxed schedules of summer to the full days that come with school and associated activities. Despite the excitement of it all, you may be feeling a bit overwhelmed and weary. You may be feeling a sense of anxiousness recognizing the responsibility you have been given in serving young children and their families. You may also be feeling weighed down with sin—your own and the evidence of sin all around us.

Our verses today share an invitation from Jesus to you and to me. He tells us to come to him. These verses are wrapped in his love that reaches out to us with the comfort and reassurance only he can give.

Today and every day you can go to Jesus for the rest you need. You can open your heart and tell him your burdens. You can tell him of your broken heart, your heart that is struggling with your sins, or your heart that is confused and fearful when you look at the sin around you. You can go to him, as weary as you are, and know that you are going to one who understands. In today’s verses, he is reaching out to you and to me and telling us that we can lean on him, learn from him, count on him. No sin is bigger than the love he showed on the cross. All that he has done and all that he has promised are founded in his love for you. He wants you and me to know that while sin and its effects are always with us, he too, is always with us through it all. We can rest knowing that he is gentle, humble in heart, patient, and forgiving.

So today, as you enjoy a day off from all your labors, take time to reflect on the One who asks you to come to him for rest for your soul. He’s eager to listen.



Prayer:

Jesus, it’s often hard to fight the weariness of this world and my own sin. I am so grateful for the rest I find in you and your forgiveness. Help me to look to you for rest and to share that joy in your love with all those around me. In your name I 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.

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Heart Problems – September 3, 2018

“From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”
Mark 7:21-22

Heart Problems


Daily Devotion – September 3, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 7:21-22

See series: Devotions

Nancy was concerned about her husband. His lifestyle choices made him a perfect candidate for heart problems. Even Ken’s doctor agreed. Ken was overweight. He got little exercise. He was under a great deal of stress. What was most troubling was his attitude. Every time Nancy encouraged him to change, he replied, “You have to die from something.”

In many ways I can be like Ken, especially when it comes to the spiritual condition of my heart. Jesus wants to claim it as his own, but often I reject that claim and live my life the way I choose. This leads to a struggle between what is good and God-pleasing, and what could lead to my eternal condemnation.

My heart is the problem. Jesus’ warning to his disciples is one I need to take seriously. I may believe my heart is filled with good intentions, but the opposite is true. By nature, it is filled with evil thoughts and desires which result in evil actions. In the end, I either must confess I have a heart problem or deny it.

What a blessing it is that Jesus opens my eyes with the warning he gives. Not only do I need to see the horrible condition of my heart, I must acknowledge it. Once I admit my heart has a problem, my Savior leads me to look to the cure he provides.

In Jesus, I have forgiveness for the evil condition of my heart. In Jesus, I receive the desire and the strength to change. In Jesus, I have his peace which continually guards my heart and life. It is only Jesus’ undeserved love, his sinless life, and his triumph over every evil that replaces what exists by nature, repairs the damage, and renews my heart for a life of loving service.

This new life and new heart is mine only by faith in Jesus. And though I may never be completely free from heart problems in this life, I can live in hope. Jesus continues to call me, change me, and claim my heart as his own.

Prayer: (Psalm 51:10)
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within 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.
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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Ears Opened by God Enjoy His Good Gifts

These are the readings for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

If you can hear, you probably take your sense of hearing for granted. Yet what a wonderful gift from God your sense of hearing is! You can hear how Jesus died for you. You can receive not just into your ears, but deep inside you the whole wondrous message of God’s rescue. You can hear the same good news Adam and Noah heard, the same good news Isaiah, Peter, and Jesus preached—preached even to a man who previously had been a deaf-mute.

First Lesson – Isaiah 35:4-7a

In chapter 34 Isaiah foretold horrors—total destruction for all nations, all the stars of heaven being dissolved, and the sky rolling up like a scroll. Now what does Isaiah describe? That is, if chapter 34 pictures judgment day, what will follow judgment day (according to chapter 35)?

After judgment day, everything ruined will be restored in general. The ultimate restoration (35:8-10) will be when all of the Lord’s people walk the Way of Holiness. They will re-enter God’s eternal city, the new Jerusalem, with great gladness; as sorrow and sighing flee away.

What will happen to the blind and deaf, specifically? (See 35:5.)

Isaiah says that the blind will see and that the lame will walk.

Traditional Second Lesson – James 1:17-27

Where does every good gift come from?

It is God’s nature to give good gifts to his children. In fact, those are the only kinds of gifts he can give.

How is the righteous man blessed?

The Christian, because of Christ, will look to the Law as a joyful obligation. He will listen to it and strive to obey it. This will make him truly “religious.”

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 3:1-10

How did Peter and John give the lame man ability to walk? (See 3:6.)

Peter and John said to the lame man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.”

How did the man respond to his healing?

The formerly lame man went into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. Note that he did not go around touting Peter and John. They were not the real cause of the healing. God was, through his risen Son, Jesus. The man could not have been more certain.

Gospel – Mark 7:31-37

Why does Jesus use sign language as he heals the deaf man?

Jesus probably used sign language because the poor man could not have understood what Jesus was doing if he had spoken to him. Jesus used sign language to help the deaf man gather what was about to happen, and to give him faith in Jesus.

Once healed, the deaf man “spoke clearly.” What is the significance?

The fact that the deaf man spoke clearly after Jesus healed him shows that Jesus healed the man perfectly. The deaf man did not have to go to a speech therapist to learn how to pronounce words.

Why did Jesus not want them to tell anyone about the miracle that just had taken place?

Jesus told people not to tell anyone about this miraculous healing because he did not want fame and popularity to go to his own head or to hinder his way to the cross.

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Transformed – teen devotion – September 2, 2018

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

The power of habit: Bible reading

What if I told you that you would die tomorrow unless you took one pill? Would you miss it? Probably not. You would probably set an alarm. You would do something to make sure that you always took that pill every single day, because you know it is a matter of life and death.

There are other things like that in our life, things that aren’t a matter of life and death, but still very important to us. We have daily routines and habits that are really important—brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing your homework, or eating meals. These things have become part of your regular life, and you wouldn’t really consider cutting them out.

This month we’re going to talk about some disciplines that are important for your spiritual health. These are things that we want to be diligent about practicing. If we don’t practice these things, we put our faith at risk. We risk falling from the faith and losing out on eternity. Jesus himself tells us to “watch and pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation.

The first habit is Bible reading. It’s something that Paul tells Timothy to continue. He urged him, “Continue in what you learned and have become convinced of.” Paul wants to Timothy to make a habit of remembering what he had been taught. He wanted Timothy to keep Scripture on the front of his mind, continuing to remember it.

Then he tells him, and us, why.

The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. There is no better or higher reason than this. God’s Word rebukes us when we are wrong. It teaches us of God’s love for us. It points us to God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. It equips us for a life of righteousness. It gives and strengthens our faith in Jesus.

God’s Word is good for everything else in this life too. In short, God’s Word is also a personal trainer for our daily walk as Christians. It equips and trains us to live as God’s people in this world.

Would you ever skip brushing your teeth on purpose? Of course not! It wouldn’t be healthy. The same goes for daily Bible reading. Sustain your spiritual health and grow in it by including God’s Word in your daily life.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, we thank you for the many opportunities you give us to make your Word a part of our daily routines. Strengthen our bond with you and help us realize the importance your Word has on our daily lives. In His name we 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.
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Following Jesus is Worth Whatever It Takes – September 2, 2018

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Matthew 16:21-26

Following Jesus is Worth Whatever It Takes


Daily Devotion – September 2, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 16:21-26

See series: Devotions

Human beings put a value on everything. How much we value someone, or something affects the decisions we make. If we value a certain piece of meat enough to pay thirteen dollars a pound for it, we buy it. If we value our pet enough to pay a thousand dollars for the surgery she needs, we tell the vet to schedule the surgery. If we value winning a marathon enough, we get up early every morning to train for it. If we value losing weight enough, we avoid certain foods.

Jesus values you more than anyone has ever valued anything. He wants to spend his eternity with you. He knew that the only way he could do this was to go to the cross and spill his blood as a payment for your sins. It would be painful beyond words. It would be difficult beyond description. As Jesus said, he would have to “suffer many things.” But, for Jesus it was a simple equation. Lose his life or lose you. He chose to lose his life.

And now, because of what Jesus did, all his followers will live eternally with him. Those who do not follow him will suffer separation from him forever. So, what are you willing to suffer in order to follow him? It is a simple equation. Lose him and you lose everything. Or, to put it positively, follow him at all costs. Carry whatever burden you must. Put up with whatever ridicule you must. Pass by whatever temporary pleasure you must in order to follow him. Because when Jesus leads you to the glory of heaven you will exclaim, “Wow! It was worth it!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you valued me enough to suffer so much to save me. My relationship with you is worth more than anything else. Send your Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this conviction so that every decision I make this day will reflect how much I value 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.

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Ancient paths – September 2, 2018

Ancient paths – September 2, 2018


This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls. But you said, ‘We will not walk in it.’”
Jeremiah 6:16




Military Devotion – September 2, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 6:16

See series: Military Devotions

When decisions need to be made, care needs to be taken. The more serious the decision, the greater the care.

Deciding which brand of toothpaste to buy is not high on the critical list. Deciding which person to marry is. Deciding upon a path in life is at the top of that list.

When a decision can change the course of our life, we say we are at a crossroad. Graduation from high school places us there. College, job, or military are some of the ways we might go. The decision we make at that time will determine the road we take.

While sometimes we make such a decision carefully, at other times we may not even be aware that we stand at a critical point. Sometimes we give little thought to the direction we are taking in life. In our physical life, this can be dangerous. In spiritual life, it is deadly.

“What kind of life do I want to live?” “What’s the most important thing in my life?” “What role do I want God to have in my life?”

Critical questions, all!

When we were young, we already saw people walking different life-paths. With loved ones giving guidance, we could recognize the dangerous ones. When we joined the military, it was different. We were now an adult. Mom and dad were not around. We had to live and work with people who were together with us on the military career-path, but whose life-paths were far different from our own. The question arose, “Should I turn off onto their roads?”

The answer is, “No!”

When driving home for a visit, we look for familiar markers. If the signs are in a foreign language; if they show no speed limit; and if the exits name places we never heard of, this tells us something is wrong. This is not the familiar and safe road home.

When choosing a route for life, if the exits list only “Fun” or “Money,” it’s a route to stay away from. If the highway sign says, “Make up your own rules,” it is a dangerous road to be on. If the sign says: “No Gods allowed in this lane,” better get off that road. Fast.

To decide which road to take, a person needs to know where he wants to go. We may travel to many places on this planet, but at the end of our earthly journey we seek only one destination—and it is not on this planet. We want to go home.

Home is where we are safe. Home is where we are loved. Home is where life is lived to the full and happiness runs over.

For the children of God, heaven is our home.

The way home is by an ancient path. It has been walked on by God’s people from days of old.

It is a good road. It is the right road. It is sprinkled with holy blood and patrolled by angels.

The toll has already been paid. A friendly face is waiting for us at the entry control point (ECP). Our Friend has reserved a place for us. This is his Father’s house. This will be our forever home.

Whenever standing at a crossroad in life, look for the right road. Look for the road home. Look for the road with the cross on it.



Prayer: Savior of the world and our heavenly Friend, life can be confusing and the paths of life dangerous. Too often we head off on a path without thinking. Too often we choose a wrong road. Lead us, then, back to the Way of Life. Keep us on the road where we walk home with Jesus. 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.


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The Wonders of His Mercy – September 1, 2018

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy … Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:1-2

The Wonders of God’s Mercy


Daily Devotion – September 1, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 12:1-2

See series: Devotions

Little hands shape Play-Doh into so many things: hot dogs, stars, and colorful creatures. And when they finish they make something else.

How much like Play-Doh we are! What is molding our hearts, minds, and character? Either the world is shaping us to conform to its standards, or the Lord is changing us inside and out.

The world works hand-in-hand with our inborn, sinful nature. An advertisement leaves us dissatisfied with what God has given. A movie scene or Internet picture stirs lustful desires. Another person’s harsh words kindle our resentment.

Even potentially good virtues like hard work, family values, and self-reliance become ungodly in the world’s hands. Work or family can become more important than our Savior. Self-reliance can fail to fully rely on God, and it can foster indifference towards the needs of others.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But how? How can we resist the power of this world? Look at what the apostle writes: “In view of God’s mercy.”

The preceding chapters of Romans laid out the wonders of God’s mercy. The opening verses proclaimed the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. What mercy! Our own sin made us worthless. Yet even though all have sinned, God has freely justified all, because Jesus paid the ransom by sacrificing himself in our place. God justifies the wicked. He gives us a clean record. Faith believes the good news of this verdict. Only by faith in Christ, and not by works, we have access to God and rejoice in the hope of glory. “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).

In view of God’s mercy, why wouldn’t we daily resist the world’s efforts to mold us like Play-Doh? Rather, take God’s word to heart to transform your mind, making you new each day.

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 70:4)
Jesus, be with me and direct me;
Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire;
Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me;
Jesus, be all my heart’s desire;
Jesus, be in my thoughts all day
And never let me fall away.

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.

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