You make God Smile – January 23, 2019

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:1-5

You make God Smile


Daily Devotion – January 23, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 62:1-5

See series: Devotions

As the music played quietly in the background, another look at his watch revealed that it was time. “Any moment now,” he anxiously thought. Then the doors opened, and there she was—more beautiful than he had ever seen her. Flashes popped as she slowly made her way down the aisle. Pictures that captured his face revealed a smile that would not be going away anytime soon. He couldn’t help it. There was his bride!

That joy and delight is what God has for those who believe in him. That’s right. You make God smile. Allow your jaw to drop in awe at that beautiful truth.

We know what makes God happy—total perfection. “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). We also know that God hates sin and will absolutely never allow any sinner to enter into his kingdom. “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful” (Revelation 21:27). Yet he takes delight in you. Seeing you makes his face light up like a groom seeing his bride on his wedding day.

Every sin and imperfection that should cause God to look at you in disgust was removed by Jesus when he died for you on the cross. Through faith God has clothed you with the perfect life of Jesus so that now when he looks at you he sees beautiful perfection and nothing that would prevent you from entering his kingdom.

No matter what is going on in your life, or what others think when they look at you, God looks at you with loving eyes. What he sees gives him great joy and will continue to give him great joy for all of eternity.

Prayer:
Gracious Lord, thank you for removing my sin and making me a delight to your eyes. 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 Right Tool for the Right Job – January 22, 2019

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The Right Tool for the Right Job


Daily Devotion – January 22, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

See series: Devotions

Everyone has heard the saying; “the right tool for the right job.” This is an important truth to learn. But what if we could find the one tool that does it all?

When I moved to Alaska, wise men gave me sage advice: “Get a Leatherman multi-purpose tool.” Before I went anywhere—hiking, camping, fishing—I was told, get the real deal and not an imitation. Because outdoor activities in Alaska often take place in remote places, you need to be prepared for anything. Leatherman tool, duct tape, and mechanics’ wire were always in the backpack. With this tool and these supplies you could do amazing things.

When I read today’s devotion text I thought: “Leatherman tool! The Holy Spirit is God’s ‘multi-purpose tool'” The Spirit is the real deal that does amazing things.

In Alaska I got to know a woman who said to me; “I wish I believed what the people of this church believe, but I just don’t.” It can be frustrating and disappointing to hear someone say that. But the confession of faith, that “Jesus is Lord,” happens only by the Holy Spirit.

Equipped with the Word of God we can only do what we can. We can only share the message of Jesus who is the Lord of life and Lord over all things. Then we watch and wait as the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do: bring sinners to faith in Jesus, gather them into his church and equip them for service.

As you hear today’s words you see that the Spirit has many functions, gives many gifts, and confers many blessings. Truly the Holy Spirit is God’s “multi-purpose tool” for the building of his church.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit of God, as we think of those who do not have the blessing of faith in Jesus, we ask you to give that gift freely and frequently. To those who wish to serve in your kingdom, grant our gifts for the common good. For all our other needs in life and eternity, we pray that you would work in us just as you determine. 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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Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019

Time for Rest – Week of January 21, 2019


[Jesus] said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

Mark 6:31b



Caleb’s parents had come to terms with his autism diagnosis. They had grieved when the doctor shared the prognosis that he may never speak. They realized that they would be full time caregivers for their son their whole lives. But they were not prepared for Caleb’s behaviors when he became a teenager, especially his tendency to run away. Caleb’s frustrations and inability to talk caused him so much agitation at times that he simply ran. He ran out of the house, and down the street. He ran into the nearby woods. He ran from the park. Caleb was taller, heavier, and stronger than his parents, so their efforts to keep him safe were often unsuccessful.

After a couple of years of being on high alert, worrying about the safety of their son, Caleb’s parents were exhausted. They had installed an alarm system in their home, but yet they had trouble sleeping at night as they worried their son would suddenly run. Their days were filled with constant worry that the school would call yet again to relay the news that Caleb had run out of the school building and was headed to the woods. This stress led Caleb’s parents to complete and utter exhaustion. They had not had a full night’s sleep in years. They had not had a vacation in years. They had not been able to spend time together as a couple as that meant leaving Caleb with someone else who could not guarantee his safety.

The words of this text are for Caleb’s parents. They are for you too, whether or not you are living in a situation of chronic stress. Jesus gives us rest. He may not give us the full eight hours of sleep we so desire each night, but he gives us an even better rest: spiritual rest with him. We are physically and spiritually tired here on earth. We are surrounded by sin in our world. The problems and stress sin causes are exhausting. The guilt of our own wrong doings causes us to lose sleep. The demands of the world weigh heavy on us. We need a rest that only Jesus can give: knowing our sins are forgiven and heaven is waiting for us. Jesus lovingly says to you and to me, “Come with me…and get some rest.” Whenever you read your Bible, read a devotion or a personal Bible study, you are spending time with him and doing what he’s encouraged you to do, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” May the Lord bless your time with him and may you know his peace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, please give me daily rest. Remind me of the eternal rest that is waiting for me in heaven. Remind me that today I have peace here on earth because Jesus died for me. Amen

A Question to Consider: What stresses do you need rest from? Make a list of things that God has done that can remind you of his love for you, his promises to be with you, and all that he has done and continues to do for you and his children. How does this list give you comfort and confidence, even in challenging times?



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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Third Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Our Long Foretold Savior

These are the readings for the Third Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus’ “going public” should not have surprised his Jewish countrymen. They had known of the coming Messiah for a long time, dating back to the promise given Abraham (Genesis 12:3), even to Eden (Genesis 3:15). Yet, when Jesus finally arrived, “his own did not receive him” (John 1:10). He was not the kind of Savior that many were looking for. That too was foretold: “He was despised and rejected by men” (Isaiah 53:3).

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 61:1-6

Who is speaking in these verses?

Jesus is speaking through the prophet Isaiah.

What would the Savior come to do according to Isaiah?

Jesus would come to proclaim the good news of salvation, particularly to the spiritually downtrodden of this world. (See Matthew 9:13; Luke19:10.)

What promise does the Lord make to Christians in verse 6?

Jesus promises that we will have a part in his heavenly kingdom (priests and ministers), and that we will inherit eternal riches.

Supplemental First Lesson – Nehemiah 8:1-3,5-6,8-10

In today’s gospel Jesus opens the scroll of Isaiah and reads. In this lesson, from what books did Nehemiah read as he stood in Jerusalem and opened the scroll?

Nehemiah read from the Law of Moses, the first five books of the Bible. (We are not sure whether he read from all the books, some of the books or perhaps just the book of Deuteronomy—the last book of Moses.)

How did the people respond to what Nehemiah read?

The people responded by lifting their hands and saying, “Amen. Amen.” Then they bowed low. “They worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground.”

Why were the people not to weep, but to celebrate?

Nehemiah told them to celebrate, not weep, “for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 12:12-21, 26, 27

How does Paul illustrate the Christian church and our relationship as Christians to one another?

In a beautiful way, St. Paul compares the Christian church to our bodies. As our bodies are made up of many different but essential parts, so also the church is made up of many different but essential parts. We all work together to form the body of Christ.

What encouragement does Paul give to us as Christians?

Paul encourages us to work together in unity as a body. Just as our own bodies wouldn’t work well if the eyes, ears, or feet decided not to work anymore, so also the church is thrown into disarray when one of its member parts becomes divisive and schismatic.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 4:23-31

When Peter and John were released from imprisonment, the believers in Jerusalem responded with prayer. Why did they begin by reminding God of all he had made?

The believers did not need to help God with his forgetfulness; he is not forgetful. By mentioning all God had made, they were praising him and reminding themselves that God is all-powerful, so he could handle their frightening situation.

Why did the believers turn next in their prayer to what God had said in Psalm 2, about a thousand years earlier?

When the believers quoted Psalm 2, they were praising God and reminding themselves that God always keeps his promises. He fulfills his Word. What he had done in the past, he would do again in the future.

Were Herod and Pilate helpless pawns on God’s chessboard?

No. Herod and Pilate were not helpless pawns on God’s chessboard, though they did what God had decided ahead of time. They conspired against Jesus. (The fact that God runs all things, yet people are responsible for their own evil deeds, will always mystify us.)

Gospel – Luke 4:14-21

What Scripture did Jesus read in Nazareth’s synagogue?

In his hometown’s synagogue, Jesus read the scroll of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 61.

What amazing words did Jesus use to conclude his reading?

After Jesus read from Isaiah 61, he explained: “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” In other words, Jesus was emphatically declaring that he was the fulfillment of the words of Isaiah, that he was our long-foretold Savior. The people who first heard Jesus make this claim were furious” (Mark 4:28-29).

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Remember the Relationship – January 21, 2019

When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Titus 3:4-5

Remember the Relationship


Daily Devotion – January 21, 2019

Devotion based on Titus 3:4-5

See series: Devotions

The old story goes something like this. A little boy named Henry and a little girl named Margaret are spending a few days with their grandmother on her farm. Henry is outside, alone, playing with a new slingshot. He sees his grandmother’s pet duck. On a lark he points the slingshot at the duck and fires. To the boy’s horror, the duck falls over dead. Now in a panic, Henry hides the duck in the woodpile. But then his sister, Margaret, comes up to him and says, “I saw what you did.” The next morning, Margaret announces to her grandmother that, for some reason, Henry wants to do her chores as well as his own. When Henry begins to protest, Margaret quickly whispers to him, “Remember. I saw what you did.”

Finally, after several days of this, Henry can no longer stand it. In tears, he runs to his grandmother and confesses everything. Immediately the grandmother embraces the boy and says, “Oh, Henry. Don’t be afraid. I’ve already forgiven you. I was standing at the kitchen window when it all happened.” It doesn’t take long for Henry’s tears of shame to turn into tears of relief and joy. And then he asks the question: “Grandma, why didn’t you tell me you saw everything?” To that the grandmother replies, “Well, Henry, I just had to find out how long you were going to let your sister enslave you.”

One of the oldest tricks in Satan’s playbook is to get us to forget the kind of relationship we have with God through faith in Jesus. He does this by haunting us about our past failures, piling on the regret, piling on the guilt. In time we can begin to distance ourselves from God, afraid to open up to him and afraid to admit to ourselves what a broken, sinful mess we really are.

But the Lord wants us to remember something. He wants us to remember that his entire relationship with us is a relationship of mercy—his merciful love for us in Jesus Christ. As soon as we remember this, then we can also remember that Satan has nothing with which to haunt us or to make us feel afraid. Satan has no answer for God’s mercy. None.

And for that we can all say, “Praise God.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, when Satan comes to haunt me about my past, move me to remember that your relationship with me is pure love and mercy through faith in your Son. Remind me of this every day. 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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Faulty faith – January 20, 2019

Faulty faith – January 20, 2019


I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.
1 John 5:13




Military Devotion – January 20, 2019

Devotion based on 1 John 5:13

See series: Military Devotions

“I’ve lost my faith in religion.” the Navy wife said. With her two children, she had been living in Florida and now moved back to her hometown. She added that she did not think she would let her children go to Sunday School. “Why bring them up to believe in something I no longer believe myself?”

She used to have faith in religion. She used to have a wonderful life. Then her wonderful husband became a KIA (killed in action). That’s when her world fell apart. So, she thought, did her faith.

Our hearts must go out to such a person. Only those who have suffered such loss can appreciate the agony this mother was going through. The situation called for a response with compassion, tact—and the truth.

The truth is that she had been making a grave mistake by placing her faith in religion.

Not that religion is a bad thing, especially if the religion is tied to the Word of God. But religion is only a system of beliefs. Never do we want to say, “I believe in Christianity”, or, “I believe in Lutheranism.” That would be a faulty faith. Religion, itself, dare never become the object of faith. Only the Savior God can hold that position.

The new widow felt that religion had betrayed her. She was saying, “What good is religion if it cannot keep you safe?”

She needed to understand that religion is not a way of getting God on your side so that you can escape the heartaches of life.

Jesus has laid out what his followers should expect: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (Mark 8:34). The lives of some of his famous followers illustrate this. These are the words the Apostle Paul used to describe his life: “Frequently imprisoned; severely flogged; beaten with stones and left for dead; shipwrecked; knowing hunger and thirst” (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). Finally, he was executed.

So, what good did his religion do for him? Everything good!

His religion consisted in placing his faith in the Savior God who sent his Son to rescue him. That faith placed him into heaven’s royal family. He became the adopted child of the holy, eternal God. The Good Shepherd counted him as one of his own.

The Son of God included him in the announcement: “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

Thus, the apostle could say: “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” He rejected the idea that hardship or suffering is a sign that God has failed his people.

“No,” he wrote, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:28,37).

Faith in Jesus as the Savior is not a good-luck charm. It is the laying hold of the victory won on Golgotha. It is the receiving of power and protection from on high. It is the expecting that life in this world will be turbulent and painful at times.

It is the firm conviction that the Lord of earth and heaven is on our side; he will never leave us; he will carry us through the storms of life. He will land us on heaven’s shore.

If that faith is ours, we know we have eternal life.

Such faith is never faulty.



We pray the prayer of the hymnist:
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe,
That will not murmur nor complain beneath the chast’ning rod,
But in the hour of grief or pain can lean upon its God. Amen.
(Christian Worship 405:1,2)



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 – January 20, 2109

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Fresh start – #3 Goals

Goals can be powerful motivators. They give us something to work toward achieving. If our goal is to be healthier, we may incorporate exercise and healthier eating into our life.

When we add action steps toward those goals, they give us some clear direction for our life. For example, to get healthier, we are going to exercise three times a week and eliminate the late-night snacking. With these action steps, we now have some clear things to work on to get healthier.

As we seek our one priority, Paul sets the goal for us in his own example. His goal isn’t to be smarter in the faith. His goal isn’t to live a holier life. He certainly wants those things, but those things aren’t his goal. His goal was to get the prize of heaven.

Paul knew that a life in pursuit of heaven includes certain things. As you pursue heaven, these are things you need in your life too.

  • You need to be people of prayer (Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Let your heart and your mind continually be turned to the Lord in prayer.
  • You need to be people of the Word and of worship (Look up Psalm 1; Colossians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:14-17). Let God’s Word live in your richly and deeply as you live your life for him.
  • You need to be in community with other Christians (Look up Hebrews 10:21-25). God has given you the community of believers to support you in your walk of faith as you pursue heaven.

Christ made you and your eternal life with him his top priority. His goal is for your life to be lived with him every day. That’s why he encourages your daily life to include time in prayer, God’s Word, and with God’s people (your faith community). Make a plan. Pray about it. Then, with God at your side, press on!

Prayer: Lord God, I need you, your Word, and your people in my life. Give me the self-discipline I need to incorporate these things into my life. Give me Christian friends who will encourage me in my walk of faith. Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fail and help me as I pursue heaven. 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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A Beautiful Promise – January 20, 2019

Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:30-31

A Beautiful Promise


Daily Devotion – January 20, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 40:30-31

See series: Devotions

Little kids like to run everywhere. It doesn’t matter how short the distance. It can simply be from one side of the room to the other. The three-year-old is more than likely going to run that distance.

Part of the reason they do this is that they have short legs and need to take way more steps to cross the room than fully-grown people do. But, they also run because they just have lots of energy. As an adult, can you imagine every step you take being a running step? You would probably be ready for a nap well before lunch.

Yet even those children with seemingly endless amounts of energy grow tired after a while. Eventually they grow into adults, and their levels of energy decrease, and weariness sets in more quickly.

What a beautiful promise we have from the Lord that he will give us renewed strength! To “run and not grow weary”—it sounds too good to be true. Yet, it’s a promise from the Lord so we know that it is.

Those who know that Jesus is their Savior, who treasure the full and free forgiveness that is theirs because of his death on the cross, can walk with a little extra spring in their step. The pressing weight of sin and guilt does not slow them down, and they know that their relationship with the almighty God is one that is defined by his love and will last forever.

When that relationship is fully enjoyed inside the gates of heaven, then their youth will truly and fully be renewed. None of the physical problems, none of the aches and pains that seem to grow more severe with age will be present there. Knowing that day will come gives the believer in Jesus a little extra energy in life as well.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you know that I am tired. Keep my eyes focused on the eternity in heaven that your Son, Jesus, won for me through his death on the cross. There I know that my strength will be renewed, and I will never grow weary again. Until I get there, give me strength and energy as you have promised. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Mistaken Identity – January 19, 2019

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph.
Luke 3:23

Mistaken Identity


Daily Devotion – January 19, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 3:23

See series: Devotions

“I’m sorry, I thought you were someone else.” It is a mistake and an apology made by many people. Usually the only lasting consequence from a case of mistaken identity is embarrassment. Not so when it happens with Jesus.

There were many people who knew Jesus from young on and concluded he was Joseph’s son. They believed what their eyes told them. This case of mistaken identity continued throughout Jesus’ ministry. Some did acknowledge he could have been a prophet or possibly a teacher, but even this conclusion was eventually limited by what they saw.

There are many people today who still suffer from a case of mistaken identity. They believe Jesus is a good man. They believe he offers some great lessons for life. They even believe he could be a prophet of sorts. But the Son of God? This would be too much to accept.

As I live in a skeptical world, I need to have the right answer to the question, who is Jesus? Do I see him as a role model? Do I see him as an engaging teacher? Do I see him as a life coach? If this is all I believe Jesus is, I too have been confused by a case of mistaken identity. Unfortunately, this case doesn’t end in embarrassment, it ends in eternal separation from God.

I must have a clear understanding of who Jesus is and what he did. For this I must rely on what God has recorded in the Bible. In the Old Testament prophecies, as well as in the New Testament fulfillment of the same, Jesus is clearly revealed as the Son of God and Son of Man. He is also clearly revealed as the Savior God provided.

Through faith in God’s faithful testimony I will be spared from a case of mistaken identity regarding Jesus. As a result, I will see him as my Savior and my way to heaven. I will also see him as the source of my joy and my peace with God.

Prayer:
O precious Savior, through faith in your holy Word, let me see you as you are and trust in all you have done for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus is Our Humble Servant – January 18, 2019

The LORD says, “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Jesus is Our Humble Servant


Daily Devotion – January 18, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

See series: Devotions

Would you enjoy work as a servant? Most of us would choose a job in which we have some authority and privilege rather than submission and humble service.

What did Jesus choose? What did his Father choose for him? It was submission and humble service for Jesus instead of authority and privilege. He willingly took up the station designated in Isaiah’s prophecy: “the Servant of the Lord.”

Isaiah chapter 49 marks a new emphasis in that book of prophecy. Whereas earlier chapters focused on God’s deliverance of Israel from Babylonian captivity, this part focuses on the spiritual deliverance of God’s people through the Servant of the Lord.

Here we find the Servant of the Lord, fully equipped and competent to deliver Israel. Jesus kept this word of prophecy in his humble service to free us from the guilt of sin and curse of eternal death. He explained, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as the ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).

He did this not just for the people of Israel (“too small a thing”) but also for you and me, for the entire world. He served in the lowliest way, bearing the burden of all sinners on his cross to restore us to life with God forever.

Praise to you, Savior Jesus, for coming to be our humble servant and bringing us the light of salvation!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, make me aware each day of the humble service you offered me to rescue me from my sin. Fill me with the light of your salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Your After Picture – January 17, 2019

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.… For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
Isaiah 61:10, 62:1-2

Your After Picture


Daily Devotion – January 17, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:10, 62:1-2

See series: Devotions

Makeovers are remarkable. You have seen the “before” and “after” pictures on TV. You’ve seen the man with the 70’s hippy look transformed into the GQ magazine look or the woman with the no makeup look transformed into the Glamour magazine look. You are that person, spiritually speaking.

You can see your “before” picture in the mirror of God’s law, which demands you to be flawless. It’s not a pretty look. Your clothes are filthy from the dirt in your life, stained from enjoying life too much, and worn out from all the begging you’ve done on your knees. You’re a mess, an offense to yourself and even more to your God. You know it, and you are helpless to change it. Try as you might, God declares, “Although you wash yourself with soda and use an abundance of soap, the stain of your guilt is still before me””(Jeremiah 2:22).

But then there’s your “after” picture. In that picture there is another person beside you. The other person is your substitute. Christ came to exchange clothes with you—his perfection for your imperfection, your guilt for his forgiveness, your damnation for his salvation. This is what he did on the cross, and because he did, there is nothing about you that is less than perfect in God’s eyes. Using the imagery of Isaiah, you are a picture-perfect bridegroom and bride.

Your joy is to let others know what God in Christ has done for you. The Lord himself wants this known. He wants everyone to know the garment exchange he has made. He wants them to know that Christ’s righteousness covers their unrighteousness. He wants to transform their lives. And he will. By grace he has transformed yours.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I rejoice that you have clothed me with your righteousness. I pray that others enjoy these same clothes. 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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God’s Choice – January 16, 2019

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.” … Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD. Consecrate yourselves and come to the sacrifice with me.” Then he consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice. When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, “Surely the LORD’S anointed stands here before the LORD.” But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab and had him pass in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “The LORD has not chosen this one either.” Jesse then had Shammah pass by, but Samuel said, “Nor has the LORD chosen this one.” Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered, “but he is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; he is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came upon David in power.
1 Samuel 16:1,4-13

God’s Choice


Daily Devotion – January 16, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:1,4-13

See series: Devotions

God doesn’t choose people the way that we do. In today’s reading, Israel needed a new king anointed from the family of Jesse, and it was Samuel’s job to anoint him. Samuel was sure it was going to be one of Jesse’s most kingly-looking sons. Son after son was brought before Samuel. Each one looked like a possible candidate, but the LORD rejected them all. Did Jesse have another son? He did. Little David, the youngest boy, was out tending the sheep. When they brought him in, the LORD made it clear to Samuel: David was the one.

A thousand years later, David’s descendant Jesus was born. And just like David, Jesus wasn’t anything like the kind of king people were looking for. Many rejected Jesus immediately because of his lowly status. Others followed him for a little while, until they found out what he was about. He wasn’t here to defeat their political enemies. He was here to suffer and die as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. None of us would ever have picked a king like this. But God did. At Jesus’ baptism, God made his choice known to all the world: “This is my Son whom I love.” (See Luke 3:21,22.)

Jesus is the reason God chooses sinners like you and me. He doesn’t choose us because of anything good in us. We know how far we often fall from our own standards, much less his. God chooses sinners purely out of love and mercy.

As David was anointed king, as Jesus was anointed Savior, so also, we sinners are anointed to be God’s children. In Baptism, God takes what he did for the whole world at the cross of Jesus, and he makes it personal. He singles you out. He comes to you with his forgiveness, not just forgiveness for the sinfulness you were born with, but forgiveness for all sins, even the ones you haven’t committed yet. Are you baptized? Then you don’t have to wait for a day of forgiveness to come. That day has already come. Your sins were forgiven at your baptism, through faith in Jesus, your Savior.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, whenever I wonder how someone like God could love someone like me, help me to remember the grace and mercy there is to be found in God’s gift of Baptism. 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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A Most Important Question – January 15, 2019

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his family were baptized. The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole family.
Acts 16:25-34

A Most Important Question


Daily Devotion – January 15, 2019

Devotion based on Acts 16:25-34

See series: Devotions

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” This is the most important question in the world. It cuts to the heart of the most important issue of life—the matter of eternal life.

At the critical moment of life and death, there was only one correct answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” Human philosophies could not answer the jailer’s question, so Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house.”

At the heart of the “word of the Lord” is the message that through faith in Jesus who lived a perfect life and died a sacrificial death on our behalf, we are saved from sin—from the effects of sin (guilt and shame) and from the final result of sin (punishment in hell). Paul and Silas do not tell the jailer to “do” anything. He is to believe what Jesus has already done for him. There is no other way to be saved.

The jailer is in one moment a desperate, guilty, enemy of Christ and in the next a forgiven, loving servant to Christ. This is the power of Christ and his salvation. If you know it, share it. If you do not, keep coming back to hear “the word of the Lord.” It is for you and your household.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your Word which is the Word of salvation. Thank you for giving us life in a world of death. 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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Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019

Night Watch – Week of January 14, 2019


I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

Psalm 121:1-4



When Jay was 3 years old, he had a seizure. He had not been sick, and he had never had a seizure before. When his mother came in his room to check on him before going to bed herself, she felt his body seizing uncontrollably. It was one of the few times in his father’s life that he ever dialed 911. The paramedics came and a trip to the ER followed, along with hours of tests and scans. Nothing abnormal was found. Doctors concluded that a virus had induced a high enough fever to cause the seizure, which the doctors explained was how the body resets itself. Jay’s parents were thankful that help came so quickly when they dialed 911 that night.

The words of Psalm 121 can be considered God’s 911. Open up to Psalm 121 for help in any and every struggle. Read about the One who loves his people Israel, which includes you, enough to watch over you at all hours of the day and night. The Maker of heaven and earth doesn’t take breaks or naps that prevent him from taking care of you. “He…will neither slumber nor sleep.”

Have you ever experienced insomnia? Statistics say that on any given night one in four Americans is experiencing insomnia. Chances are that at some point you have been the one lying awake. When we head to bed for the evening or wake up in the night, our brain turns to the thoughts of yesterday’s challenges and tomorrow’s possible difficulties. Worry. Anxiety. Stress. Call it what you like, but whether you realize it or not, those struggles are a result of trying to have control over the things that are in God’s control. When our failures haunt us, and our challenges overwhelm us, trying to carry those burdens ourselves will only leave us worse off by far. Doing better next time won’t cancel your guilt and no amount of stressing out about the future can change a single thing.

But you have a God who is in complete control. Lift your eyes and find your help in him. He calms your troubled heart filled with your failure by pointing your eyes to the cross of his Son who paid for every one of your mistakes. He calms your worried and anxious heart filled with the unknowns of tomorrow by reminding you that if he went to all the trouble of saving you eternally, he’s not going to forget to watch out for you tomorrow.

The Psalmist assures us that God does not slumber, he does not sleep. He is awake all night long, so he can be watching over everything. He does this so we can sleep. He is our watchman both at night and during the daylight hours.

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear Lord, you know that I worry over so many things – little things and big things. Remind me that I am not the one in control, but you are. You have everything planned for my good. Most importantly, you have sent your son Jesus to pay the debt for every one of my wrong doings. Keep my anxious heart from worrying, knowing that you are my watchman. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: What situations in your life are causing you to turn to your Lord for help so that you can sleep in peace? How could you use Psalm 121 and other verses from Scripture to remind you of the peace you have each day in Jesus?



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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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Jesus is Our Miraculous Savior

These are the readings for the Second Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

In today’s Gospel Jesus performs his first miracle: He turns 120 gallons of water into wine. Jesus doesn’t touch the water. It’s no trick. It’s a real miracle. He does it because the Father now wants him to go “public” and reveal his glory. As a result, his disciples trust in him as the Son of God.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 62:1-5

Who is speaking in these verses through the prophet Isaiah? For instance, who’s the “I” of verse one?

The pre-incarnate Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, is the speaker.

For whose sake would Jesus do what he did as our Savior?

Jesus says that he would speak “for Zion’s sake” and “for Jerusalem’s sake.” (In the Old Testament “Zion” and “Jerusalem” often represent the people of God, the Church. That is the case in these verses.) In other words, Jesus serves as our advocate; he speaks on our behalf before his heavenly Father. (See 1 John 2:1; Romans 8:34.)

What is the result of Jesus’ gracious work for his people?

No longer are we estranged from our heavenly Father because of our sin. Instead the Lord delights in us (Hephzibah) and we are “married” (Beulah) to him. All this is a result of Jesus’ work as our gracious Savior.

Supplemental First Lesson – Exodus 7:14-24

Why did God demand that Pharaoh let his people go? (See Exodus 7:16.)

God demanded that Pharaoh let his people go so they could worship him in the desert (east of Egypt).

What else besides the Nile turned to blood?

Besides the Nile, the water in streams, canals, ponds, and reservoirs turned to blood. So did the water in buckets and jars.

Did the great miracle convince Pharaoh?

No, the miracle did not convince Pharaoh. His heart stayed stubborn.

Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

What subject does St. Paul begin to address in these verses?

Paul begins to address the subject of spiritual gifts. The Corinthian Christians were extremely gifted (1 Corinthians 1:5-7), but they were not putting their gifts to use according to Christian love, which is the greatest gift (1 Corinthians 13).

Who is the giver of all Christian gifts?

No matter what gift we have, the Holy Spirit is the gracious giver of that gift. Christians have many different gifts, but the Holy Spirit is the giver of them all.

For whose sake does the Holy Spirit give us gifts?

Christians are not to use their gifts for their own selfish gain or benefit. Instead, Paul explains that all gifts are “given for the common good.” In other words, each Christian is to use their gifts to benefit their fellow Christians.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 3:14-21

Jesus came to visit a wedding in Cana. What does Paul pray for the Christians in Ephesus, by contrast? (See 3:17.)

Paul prays that Christ may not just visit, but dwell in the hearts of believers through their trust in Christ.

Nobody knew how Jesus turned water to wine. Likewise, what does Paul want Christians to know? (See 3:19.)

Paul wants Christians to know the love that surpasses knowledge, the immense love Christ has for us. (Note the irony. How do you truly know something that surpasses knowledge?)

How much is God able to do? (See 3:20-21.)

God is not just able to do what we ask. God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

Gospel – John 2:1-11

What problem arose at the wedding in Cana to which Jesus and his disciples were invited?

The wedding had run out of wine. It was customary in Jesus’ day for weddings to be celebrated several days. It seems clear that the wedding hosts had not adequately prepared.

How did Jesus react when Mary told him that they had run out of wine? Why did he react this way?

Jesus wondered why Mary involved him, stating, “My time has not yet come.” Jesus seems to be suggesting that it wasn’t yet time for him to publicly reveal himself as the promised Savior through his miracles. As it was, the forthcoming miracle seemed to be performed quietly.

What did Jesus do to resolve the problem?

Jesus changed water into wine. Although his disciples trusted in him, it seems his miracle went otherwise unnoticed. (Note also the wondrous kindness of Jesus in performing a miracle that was not necessary but improved a celebration. What a Savior we have, one who loves to do more than he promises and more than we need!)

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The Voice in the Desert – January 14, 2019

And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me will come one more powerful than I, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I baptize you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:4-11

The Voice in the Desert


Daily Devotion – January 14, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 1:4-11

See series: Devotions

You hear one voice in the desert. You hear another voice from heaven.

It’s the first voice you might not listen to. Who would listen to a guy who preaches in camel’s hair and eats locusts? Who would listen to a guy that calls you a snake and a sinner? (See Matthew 3:7-10.) Your initial thought, as you listen to this voice, is to scoff and argue. But the more you listen, you end up crying for mercy instead. The voice in the desert speaks the damning truth. It cuts you to the core. You recognize the poison in your heart—poison that blasphemes, hates, lusts, and envies—and you are brought to your knees to confess that you deserve eternal punishment for your sins.

But the voice in the desert points to more than your sin. The voice in the desert points to the One so powerful, that no sinner is worthy to untie his sandals, and yet so powerful that he overwhelms and overcomes sinful hearts with his Spirit of grace. He points to the One who is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.

Now you couldn’t be more ready to listen to the voice from heaven. As water runs down Jesus’ face, the Father’s voice from heaven declares his approval and confidence in his Son, because he purposely and willingly gives him as the sacrifice for your sin. His life for yours! His death instead of yours! Even the Holy Spirit descends with approval. And yes, you hear the voice from heaven correctly, it pleases God to do this for you. Through faith you will not perish but have eternal life.

Because of such love, out of the overflow of the heart, another voice speaks. It’s your voice. It echoes the voice from the desert and the voice from heaven. It shows sin and shares saving love with others. It points people to Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, may I never lose sight of my need for a Savior from sin, and may I never let go of the fact that Jesus came for me and saved me. In his 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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Remembering Tet – January 13, 2019

Remembering Tet – January 13, 2019


Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
Isaiah 53:1




Military Devotion – January 13, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 53:1

See series: Military Devotions

In January of 1968, more than a quarter million North Vietnamese soldiers and 100,000 Viet Cong irregulars launched a massive attack on South Vietnam.

It was a sneak attack that came under the deception of a truce of peace during the celebration of the Vietnamese New Year. Hanoi expected it would trigger a popular uprising leading to the collapse of the South Vietnamese government. It did not.

After the initial shock, and the capture of a number of cities, the attack was beaten back. It became a major military defeat for North Vietnam.

But that’s not what many Americans believed. In the minds of some, including influential newscaster Walter Cronkite, this was proof that America was losing the war.

In the aftermath, many a person has asked, “Why was the report of an American victory not believed?

Perhaps it is because the typical human is inclined to believe what he wants to believe—regardless of the facts.

The significance of the Tet Offensive and America’s role in that war continues to be debated. But the refusal to accept an accurate report because of a bias goes back far before that attack.

The prophet Isaiah addressed that same question in 700 B.C. Saint John repeated it when he wrote about the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (John 12:38). And Saint Paul repeated it again when he wrote to the Christians in Rome (Romans 10:16).

The Christian Church of today raises the same question: “Who has believed our message?”

Isaiah had told the people of Israel that the coming Messiah would be accepted as King by Gentile nations:

“The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God” (Isaiah 52:10).

“Just as there were many who were appalled at him…so he will sprinkle many nations and kings will shut their mouths because of him (Isaiah 52:14,15).

There are the facts! History has confirmed them. We are living proof. Most of the people who accept the Messiah as their Lord, Savior, and King are Gentiles—not the physical descendants of Abraham or the people to whom God first revealed this message.

Sadly, a bias still appears in our day when the glory of the Messiah and his victory over sin, death and the devil is announced.

Once again, “Who believes our message?”

We do. To Isaiah’s question, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” we answer, “To us!” “To me!”

By the work of the Holy Spirit we have seen the glory of Jesus, the Messiah. We have witnessed his power through his Word. With our own eyes we have seen people of all races come to love him as their Savior.

To that question of Isaiah, “Who believes our message?” we joyfully and gratefully answer: “By the grace of God—I do!”



Prayer: Jesus, King of glory, and only Savior of mankind, it is purely by your power and mercy that we are not among the crowds that do not believe the report of the victory over sin and death that you won for us. Keep us safely within your grasp so that the sinful world, our sinful flesh, and princes of hell do not mislead us into unbelief. Help us point you out to the rest of the world with the words of the prophet: “Arise, shine, for your light has come!” 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 – January 13, 2109

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Fresh start – #2 Priorities

Have you ever noticed that life always seems to be busy? There is a reason that it is called a rat-race. We’re constantly on the run, constantly chasing from one thing to the next. But for what? The things that keep us busy are often really good things. But what is the meaning of it all?

Someone that I know dearly had a near-death experience. He thought that he was going to die within the next 15 minutes. In those moments that might have been his last, he didn’t think about his calendar. He didn’t think about his job. He didn’t think about his friends. He mainly thought about his faith and his Savior. That’s the only thing that mattered to him in that moment.

This is true for us also. The only thing that matters in this life is your Savior and your faith.

The things of this life are only temporary. Your clothes will fade and wear out. Sporting opportunities will be here for a short while, but then go away. Work will come and go. Friends also come and go.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things. They are good. They are God’s gifts to enjoy while you have them. But don’t chase them. Don’t make your life so full that you can’t pursue and seek the one thing that matters. Don’t get so busy with the many good things that you forget about the one best thing—Jesus.

Seek your Savior and his kingdom. Follow him with your whole life.

Now is the time to start. Start every day seeking him first!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have filled my life with many good things. Keep me from filling up my life with so many good things that I forget about the best thing—you! Help me to make you and your kingdom my priority this year. 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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A Bad Day – January 13, 2019

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

A Bad Day


Daily Devotion – January 13, 2019

Devotion based on Lamentations 3:22-23

See series: Devotions

“I just need this day to end!” Ever felt that way? Ever felt that way already by noon? When things are going poorly, that thought can be a very real one. When things seem to go from bad to worse as the day progresses, a desire for it to end might well be our sentiment. There is something about a new day, a fresh start that seems to put things in perspective and gives renewed energy.

The Old Testament writer of these words from a book called Lamentations was having more than a bad day. He had experienced a whole bunch of them. Enemies of the nation had entered it ruthlessly. They deported most of the people. Cities lay in ruins. The temple of God in Jerusalem had been destroyed. The annihilated nation was the laughingstock of her neighbors. A once proud and mighty country had been reduced to rubble. And the worst part? It was their own fault! Because the people of Judah had turned away from the Word and the will of the Lord, he had caused this to happen. He had done it that they might wake up and turn from their current path of spiritual destruction.

But then right in the middle of this book of mourning come words of comfort and hope. Words of refreshment and renewal to the broken down and despondent: The Lord hasn’t abandoned us! The Lord is full of love and compassion toward us! No matter how faithless we’ve been, the Lord remains faithful! As a new day and a fresh start are the grace and mercy of God, the unfailing promises of God, centered in the rising Sun of a Savior from sin, gave hope to Jeremiah (author of this short book) and any of his countrymen who would give ear and heart to this beautiful message.

There are many things that contribute to bad days. Too often at least some of them are our own fault. A harsh word to a family member causes a rift. A rude email to a co-worker makes a project bog down. A bit of laziness or procrastination puts us behind schedule. A night of partying leads to a day of misery. The list might go on. As we come to a realization that we are often to blame for our own difficulties, let’s remember these words of comfort and hope from Lamentations. The One promised to them has come to us as the baby born in Bethlehem. The One they awaited to deal with their sin is the Savior Jesus Christ who gave himself as a sacrifice for sin on Calvary’s cross. In his forgiveness each day is a new and fresh one. And if we happen to be dealing with something that’s not particularly our fault, remember the One who has risen from the dead and stands to fuel your spirit with his compassionate love and faithful companionship. With the Lord and his promises, every day is a new one!

Prayer:
Lord, although we don’t deserve it, you shower us with your love and mercy each day and each hour of the day. Help us to look to you and to lean on you and your compassionate faithfulness in Jesus at all times. In his name we pray. 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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Who is Jesus – January 12, 2019

On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus.
John 7:40-43

Who is Jesus


Daily Devotion – January 12, 2019

Devotion based on John 7:40-43

See series: Devotions

The crowds were divided. They could not come to any agreement regarding Jesus. Some thought he was the “Prophet” promised by God through Moses. Some thought he was the Christ, the one promised by God to set them free. Still others couldn’t accept anything about Jesus because he didn’t fit their understanding of the Scriptures. So, who is Jesus? It is a question for which I need an answer.

Today there are still many of the same beliefs and opinions about Jesus. Some people still believe he is a prophet, but only a prophet. Some still believe he was sent by God, but they stop short of believing he is God. There are even some who reject Jesus altogether because he does not conform to their ideas regarding the Savior they need. Unfortunately, all these opinions and beliefs end in conflict and confusion, and ultimately in eternal condemnation.

The only reliable answer comes from God’s Word and is accepted through faith worked by the Holy Spirit. God’s Word provides the clear truth regarding Jesus. Without hesitation or qualification it proclaims Jesus is true God and true Man born of Mary. It also proclaims Jesus is the Christ sent by God to suffer and die to pay the price for my freedom. It further proclaims Jesus is the victorious Savior who lives, rules, and protects me with his unsurpassed power and undeserved love. It is faith which trusts everything the Bible says. It is finally faith which leads me to confidently confess Jesus is everything the Bible says he is.

The world may be full of opinions and beliefs regarding Jesus, but there is only one truth. It is the truth which saves, and it is the truth to which I must cling: Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and my only Savior.

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 358)
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows, heals our wounds, and drives away all fear.

O Jesus, Shepherd, Guardian, Friend, my Prophet, Priest, and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

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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Sing a New Song – January 11, 2019

Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things; his right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him.
Psalm 98:1

Sing a New Song


Daily Devotion – January 11, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 98:1

See series: Devotions

Have you ever noticed how much music and singing is associated with the Christian religion? There are Christian radio stations that are singularly dedicated to playing songs dedicated to Jesus. Christian worship includes music played on various instruments and sung by trained vocalists. Many Christian churches encourage the people in the seats to join in singing hymns and psalms. Have you ever wondered why? I’ll bet you have, especially if singing’s not your thing.

Why do Christians sing? The words of Psalm 98 give us the answers. The first one is this: The Lord wants us to. But the reason for that is deeper than you might think. The Lord certainly loves music and takes delight in the beauty of melodies and harmonies that please the ear. Undoubtedly, he takes pleasure in beautiful music produced by trained musicians and practiced vocalists. But there is so much more! He is much more interested in the content of our songs than in the musical mastery or flawless performance.

He encourages his people to sing a “new song.” And then he tells us what that new song is. He doesn’t hand out a piece of music with notes and performance directions. He tells us that the new song he desires is one that declares the marvelous things he has done. He has worked salvation. He has carried out a saving act. He hasn’t done it for himself (as though he needs saving), but he has done it by himself because those who needed him to save them couldn’t do it by themselves.

God saves. Like a well-trained Navy Seal team sent on a rescue operation he invades enemy territory to deliver from captivity. Like a brave firefighter he enters a dangerous situation to rescue from the flames. Jesus Christ entered our world as a baby in Bethlehem. He grew from childhood to manhood, all the while perfectly carrying out his Father’s will. As a relatively young man he willingly went to a gruesome death. He did it all to save sinners who couldn’t save themselves. He came into our dark world to deliver us from death and eternal condemnation. When he rose from his tomb, he declared that death is defeated, and the devil rendered powerless. He came to seek and to save those who were lost, including you and me. And that’s worth singing about!

Whether you are a good singer or not; whether you can read notes and sing in a choir or whether you can’t carry a tune…the Lord wants to hear you singing a new song of thanks and praise to him as the one who has marvelously saved you!

Prayer:
Lord, you have provided us with the words of a new and marvelous song through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus. Help us to sing your praise with joy and thanksgiving all the days of our lives. 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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Prepared to face the world – Women’s Devotion

Prepared to face the world – Women’s Devotion




As every mom knows, kids’ worlds come with helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist pads and special shoes. Then we send them off with a “Be careful” warning. Why? Because we want them to be alert and safe from the many hazards that surround their young lives.

In Scripture God also gives us many “Be careful” warnings, along with some special pads and helmets to keep us safe from the hazards of our world. Every good warrior knows the ways of his enemy. Peter tells us, “Be controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The king of the jungle is prowling around, sly, well camouflaged, quiet, but ever so alert, relentless and focused, looking for the smallest crack where he can slip in. He’s hungry and committed, and will not give up until he finds and devours that weak, separated, unprepared or distracted prey. If you are a believer, you are the prey he is after. If you escape him this time, he doesn’t give up but keeps trying over and over.

God in his grace does not simply say “Be careful” and then leave us on our own in this jungle of life. Just as we dress our kids with their “armor”, God tells us how to be a wise soldier, well protected against our enemy and fully covered by strong armor.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).

The belt of truth, the gospel, teaches us to recognize the lies of Satan, the king of lies. Our breastplate of righteousness is a gift given us through Christ’s death and resurrection. It is Christ’s righteousness alone that covers and protects us, making our hearts his own. As we study Scripture, the Holy Spirit uses his truth to fill our hearts to overflowing, making it harder and harder for Satan’s lies to deceive us. We lean on Christ and use him as our shield to stop the arrows that seek to find their mark in any little spot that is unprotected. Our head is protected by the helmet of his Word. As we keep Scripture at the center of our thoughts, maybe even memorizing verses so they are readily available, our minds are able to recognize and fight against Satan’s attacks with the words of God himself. Now that we have our armor on, we don’t go out and fight, but we stand ready, knowing the battle is the Lord’s. Our faith in God, constantly nourished by the means of grace, allows us to recognize Satan’s lies and tell him we belong to God.

As we continually study God’s Word we use it as our defensive armor, our pads that protect us from Satan’s arrows. Our offensive weapon is God’s Word itself as we use it to fight off Satan’s attacks. We wouldn’t think of sending our children out to play without their protection, so it would not be wise to face a day without God’s Word as our offensive and defensive weapon against our constant enemy.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you for your grace and mercy. Through Jesus, your dear Son, you have defeated Satan and given us the promise of eternal life with you. You have given us your precious Word that we can be protected from Satan’s attacks. For those times when Satan does break through, we ask for your forgiveness and the strength to amend our ways. Lord, help us to constantly study your Word and take it to heart, that we do not find ourselves weak or defenseless. Amen.



Written by Marilyn Miller


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Making Everything New – January 10, 2019

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:1-5

Making Everything New


Daily Devotion – January 10, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 21:1-5

See series: Devotions

The Scriptures teach that our present world and all of God’s original creation will be destroyed at the end of time. God will, however, make a “new heaven and a new earth.” The apostle John was granted the vision of these things fulfilled, and he saw the “new Jerusalem” which is described as “a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.” At the end of time Jesus Christ will come in glorious procession attended by his angels to take his bride—the Church of all believers—to his heavenly home for an eternal wedding feast. The heavenly wedding feast of Christ and his church is when the “dwelling of God is with men.” The redeemed will see God. In his first epistle John wrote: “We shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2). The Church will no longer walk by faith, but by sight. And God’s covenant of grace will be established with them forever, for “they will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.”

The description of bliss for God’s people in this new heaven and earth is comforting: “God will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” It is this glorious prospect that for centuries has sustained Christians in the midst of their earthly trials and sufferings. One day we will have the bliss of heaven where there will be no sin and no effects of sin. Nothing will dim the perfect bliss which God has planned and prepared for his faithful people.

Jesus himself gives us assurance that what John saw in his vision will indeed come to pass. He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” All this will take place because Jesus is in charge of making it happen. He is the one who has all power in heaven and on earth is the one making all things new. Jesus’ words bring us much comfort and encouragement. No matter what the world situation looks like, no matter what types of persecution or hardship enter our lives, Jesus is in control and guiding everything for our good so that finally heaven and all its bliss will be ours. Jesus declares, “These words are trustworthy and true.” We can count on it…Jesus is “making everything new” …for us!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for the encouragement and comfort that finally everything will be new when you come and take me to be with you 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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Light of the World – January 9, 2019

“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn. Lift up your eyes and look about you: All assemble and come to you; your sons come from afar, and your daughters are carried on the arm. Then you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy; the wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the riches of the nations will come. Herds of camels will cover your land, young camels of Midian and Ephah. And all from Sheba will come, bearing gold and incense and proclaiming the praise of the LORD.”
Isaiah 60:1-6

Light of the World


Daily Devotion – January 9, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 60:1-6

See series: Devotions

Bugs of all shapes and sizes are drawn to light. If you’ve ever spent any time outdoors in the summer, especially in the evening, then you know how true it is that outdoor lights attract bugs.

Not that we want to compare ourselves to insects, but there is something to be said about the draw of light. If you think about it, a light shining in a dark place is going to draw attention, naturally. The same is true about the Light of the world. The world was steeped in the darkness of sin. God’s Word says, “A darkness covers the earth, thick darkness is over the peoples.” That darkness was sin. But notice what happens when a light appears: We’re called to arise. We’re called to shine. We’re told that “nations will come to (the light) and people to the brightness (of the light). That light is none other than the Light of the world, Jesus. Only Jesus can bring the world out of darkness into his wonderful light. Only the truth of Jesus can bring people from the ends of the earth to look for his light. Only Jesus can prompt the praises of nations. Only Jesus.

Only the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah, the promised Savior could prompt such a reaction. Friends, the same is true today. Proclaim Jesus. Proclaim that the Light of the world has come. Proclaim Jesus, and “you will look and be radiant, your heart will throb and swell with joy.”

Prayer:
Jesus, Light of the world, shine in our hearts and lives and bring forth the joy and peace that only you can give. 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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Privilege – January 8, 2019

Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ.
Ephesians 3:8

Privilege


Daily Devotion – January 8, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:8

See series: Devotions

In the world of classical music, a contralto singer by the name of Marian Anderson was a giant. The beauty of her voice enthralled audiences around the world. She sang in the White House for Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt. She sang for the King and Queen of England. She brought tears to the eyes of a world-renowned voice teacher. A legendary conductor declared that Marian Anderson possessed the finest voice of the century.

Perhaps even more stunning, however, was Marian’s profound gratitude for what she had. A reporter once asked Marian to name the greatest moment in her life. Her answer said a lot about her and a lot about the sense of gratitude that empowered her throughout her career. When the reporter asked Marian Anderson to name the greatest moment in her life, she said it was the day she got to go home and share the news that her widowed mother wouldn’t have to do other people’s laundry anymore.

The Word of God before us comes from the apostle Paul. Paul was one of the greatest proclaimers of Jesus Christ the world has ever seen. Throughout his years of sharing the gospel, however, Paul endured difficulties and hardships of every description. Nevertheless, Paul never forgot the high privilege he possessed. He had tasted the sweet forgiveness of sin his soul had through faith in Jesus Christ. To know he now had the honor to carry that good news to others—such an honor filled him with a gratitude that empowered him throughout his ministry.

You and I have that same privilege. Like Paul, you and I have savored the forgiveness we possess through faith in Jesus. And now it is our high honor to share that good news of forgiveness with others. True, God has given each of us different gifts. But whatever those gifts are, we can use them to touch another soul. As Marian Anderson once said, “Everyone has a gift for something, even if it is the gift of being a good friend.”

And so take the gift you have. Praise God for it. And use it for the privilege to bring someone else into contact with Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of sharing Jesus with others. By your gospel, fill my heart to overflowing with gratitude. Fill it every day. 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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Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019

Lift Your Eyes Heavenward – Week of January 7, 2019


Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.

Colossians 3:1-2



Daniel was adopted after drug and alcohol exposure before he was born. He has brain damage. At age 12, he is beginning to understand some basic Bible concepts. It is a joy to hear him talk about the things he is learning from hearing daily Bible story lessons. He is even asking questions! His brain perseverates which means he gets stuck thinking about the same thing, replaying it over and over in his mind. This is not generally thought of as a positive characteristic of his brain damage, but lately he is perseverating on the thought of going to heaven. He daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes even constantly, repeats the same questions: “Where is heaven? Is heaven in the sky? Who is in heaven? Will we have toys in heaven? Can we come back from heaven? When will I go to heaven?” We have answered his questions repeatedly, but it is so calming and comforting to his brain to repeatedly ask and hear the constant answers about what he is expecting because Jesus is his Savior. “Jesus loves you. He died for you on the cross to take away your sins so that when you die you will live with him forever in heaven. It will be wonderful, and nothing will make us sad.” Upon hearing the comforting words about the wonders of heaven, that he will be there someday with all of the people he knows and loves, and that he will not even need toys while he is there, Daniel literally jumps for joy with a smile on his face every time he hears these answers.

Wouldn’t it be comforting if we could live with a repeated movie reel of heaven in our head? Daniel truly has his thoughts set on things above. With his continuous thoughts on things above, that is where his heart is set also. For us, it takes a little more effort. Our neurology allows us to think about many things throughout the day, even throughout every minute! We have responsibilities – work, spouse, kids, aging parents, financial worries, retirement planning, helping with church and community events, the list is endless. We have more thoughts in our head than our brain can handle processing. Yet, our loving Lord reminds us, “Set your mind on things above.”

How can we keep our hearts and minds on things above? Paul tells us. Remember that you have been raised with Christ. Christ has made you a brand-new person. He has made you a forgiven and living child of God. You have been raised with him.

That puts your day to day preoccupations into perspective. Only one reality is forever. Only one concern is eternal. Set your hearts on such things. As a resurrected child of faith find and take advantage of every opportunity to be in God’s Word and surround yourself with fellow Christians who can encourage and remind you of what is truly lasting and important.



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, you have given us a command that brings us peace: thoughts of eternity with you. Help us find ways each day to keep our focus on you and your heavenly mansion that awaits us. Amen

A Question to Consider: When do you get your daily dose of God’s Word? How do you share this focus of things above with your students?



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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The Baptism of Our Lord

Jesus is Our Unlikely, Yet Perfect Savior

These are the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

“Why did Jesus need to be baptized? I thought baptism was for sinners.” That’s a common question. It does not make sense that our sinless Savior would need to be baptized. Why was he? Because a) the Father wanted him to, and b) Jesus came to be our perfect substitute. His baptism shows him to be just that. Even from birth he endured the effects of our sin. Jesus did no wrong, but he carried our sickness and pain (Isaiah 53:4). He needed the assurance of God’s love, just as if he were a sinner himself. He needed strength. Jesus received such gifts in baptism, like we do.

First Lesson – 1 Samuel 16:1-13

Whom had God rejected as the King of Israel?

God had rejected Saul.

When Samuel went to anoint a new king, did he and the Lord agree on who would be the “perfect” king?

They did not agree. Samuel was impressed with the oldest sons of Jesse because they were big and handsome. But the Lord had different ideas, as he explained: “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Whom did the Lord finally choose as Israel’s new king?

God chose the youngest son of Jesse—David—the forefather of our perfect Savior, Jesus. Jesus, too, would seem like an unlikely choice to be our perfect Savior (cf. Isaiah 53:2-3).

Second Lesson – Titus 3:4-7

According to St. Paul, why did God save us?

Paul plainly states that God did not save us because of righteous things we had done (our good works) but because of his mercy. In other words, our salvation depends entirely upon God’s love for us and not our love for him, a concept that seems unlikely to human reason.

According to St. Paul, how did God save us?

Paul explains that God saved us “through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.” The Christian church has always understood this to be a reference to Holy Baptism, where God washes away our sin through this water connected to his Word of promise.

Gospel – Luke 3:15-17, 21-22

What was the purpose of the baptism given by John?

The purpose was the same as the baptism we have today: it was “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

If Jesus was sinless, why was he baptized?

In Jesus’ baptism God commissioned him to “go public” and save us, and the Father anointed him with the Holy Spirit and power (Acts 10:38). Also, though Jesus did not have any personal sin, Jesus was not aloof. In his role as Savior he carried the world’s guilt. He had come to be our perfect substitute and to identify with every sinner.

Which three special persons were present at the baptism of Jesus?

The Father spoke from above and sent the Spirit to the Son. Likewise, we were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). We are all sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:26).

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Further Instruction Required – January 7, 2019

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Further Instruction Required


Daily Devotion – January 7, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1-2

See series: Devotions

It is easy to marvel at the journey of the Magi. They went to great lengths, faced many challenges, and endured many hardships. Even after all of that, upon their arrival in Jerusalem they didn’t achieve their goal. They still had to ask, “Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews?” They required further instruction to find the answer to their quest.

Like the wise men, I too search for the one who is born King of the Jews. While my journey is noble and sincere, if I rely only on my own efforts and knowledge I will fail to find him. Further instruction is required.

In my search I need to avoid the temptation to be satisfied with a king and god of my own making. This kind of deity and ruler would delight my sinful flesh, but it would accomplish nothing to bring me closer to the true God. Once again, further instruction is required.

The only way I can find the true God and his Son is to go directly to the Scriptures. In the Bible, God’s inspired book for instruction, I come to know who God truly is. I also come to understand what he has done for me. He sent his Son to this earth to be more than a king of one nation of people. God sent Jesus to be the King of kings and Lord of lords, “so that every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10,11). What is even more important is that through the instruction of God’s Word I come to know what Jesus has done for me. His unquestioning obedience to fulfill his Father’s will in my place. His sinless sacrifice on the cross to secure my release from guilt. His innocent death to rescue me from the power of the devil. His victorious resurrection to proclaim my freedom from death and the grave. He did all of this so that I could come to him and worship him.

In order to know Jesus as my Savior I need to be guided to him. Without the instruction God the Father has provided in his Word, I would remain lost and condemned to a fruitless and futile search. This is why I rejoice, because God has provided all the instruction I required.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, heavenly Father, I rejoice in your Word of Truth. Through that Word I receive the instruction I need to know that Jesus is my Lord and 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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How Long Have You Been Waiting – January 6, 2019

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
Luke 2:28-32

How Long Have You Been Waiting


Daily Devotion – January 6, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:28-32

See series: Devotions

How long did you wait—for that perfect partner, that perfect job, that perfect house? Once you had what you were waiting for, was it everything you had hoped it would be? Is your marriage perfect in every way? Do you absolutely love driving to work every day? Is your house without defect of any kind? I didn’t think so. Most of the time, the people and things we wait for fail to live up to our expectations.

Simeon was waiting for the promised Savior. And, unlike your marriage partner or job or house, when Simeon received what he was waiting for, it was perfect in every way. It is why Simeon was able to tell the Lord, “You now dismiss your servant in peace.” Simeon could die in peace because his eyes had seen his salvation. Imagine Simeon letting the baby wrap his little hand around his finger, the way babies do. That same hand would be pierced by a spike and nailed to a tree. That same precious face would be darkened by fists and bloodied by a crown of thorns. But that act would mean light for a sin-darkened world.

And that means you, dear friend. Jesus was born for you, to die for you, to win forgiveness for you. Like Simeon you can say, “Lord, now dismiss your servant in peace. For even though I may not have the perfect marriage, perfect job, or the perfect house, I have peace—the peace of knowing I have eternal life through you.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when you finally dismiss this servant through death, I know that when I open my eyes again, they will see your face, for you have done what you have promised for me. May I always sing your praises as Simeon did. 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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Motivation – January 6, 2019

Motivation – January 6, 2019


Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1




Military Devotion – January 6, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 12:1

See series: Military Devotions

Fear can be a great motivator. Fear of failure, fear of disease, or the fear of a drill instructor can inspire a person to do things never before attempted.

Some people even use fear as motivation to serve God. That’s understandable, but sad.

Fear does, indeed, enter into our relationship with the Lord of life and death. Our conscience quickly tells us that we have violated his laws—and there will be consequences.

His Word tells us that our violations are greater than we imagined, and the penalties are so severe that they go beyond our imagination.

So, who is not going to be driven by fear to try to do that which God commands?

The child of God.

A small child may help put away some groceries lest his mother becomes angry. The mature child will help put them away out of love for her. The Christian is that loving child.

As the new year begins, we give thought to what we want to do in the days ahead. We will be considering how we want to live the rest of our life. Maybe we want to make some lifestyle changes: lose weight, exercise more, pay all of our bills on time.

All this might be good, but it is not as important as deciding how we want to live our lives in relation to God’s expectations.

The apostle Paul told those Christians in the capital city of the Roman Empire: “offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.”

Whoa!

This goes beyond deciding to curse less, go to church more, and be kind to others. This involves giving up our lives. The word is, “sacrifice.”

We know what it means to sacrifice a life for our nation. Are we also supposed to sacrifice our life for our God? Isn’t that a bit extreme?

But didn’t the Son of God sacrifice his life for us? Isn’t every good thing we have in life a gift from him?

What enables us to keep breathing? Who provides the food and air that we cannot live without? If he would withdraw his support, we would be like a brain deprived of oxygen. We could only whimper and die.

So, why did the holy God give us life and salvation? We recall the famous words, “God so loved the world….”

Why should we freely want to live our life—not for ourselves, but for him?

Because, “God so loved the world….”

We love him because he first loved us.

We enter the new year thus motivated.



In the Second Article of the famous Apostles’ Creed we admit that we believe, “in Jesus Christ.” We acknowledge that he is our Lord who bought us with his “holy, precious blood….” Then, we make our commitment: “That I should be his own, and live under him in his kingdom, and serve him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness.” We reaffirm that loving commitment for yet another year with the words: “This is most certainly true.” 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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