Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself – Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Genesis 28:10-17

The Lord said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac… All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:13-15

Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself

 

Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 28:13-15

See series: Devotions

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

“I can do it myself!” The little boy declares to his mom as he tries to put his shirt on himself. But the more he tries, the more tangled his arms and head become. Finally he cries out, “Help!!” Mom comes to his rescue, helping her little boy get his head and arms back where they need to go.

Do you ever think “I can do it myself” when it comes to following Jesus? A man named Jacob had a lot of trouble with that. God promised that the Savior would come from his family. But Jacob’s father wanted to give that promise to his twin brother Esau. Jacob tried to get that promise for himself. He deceived his father to get the promise. Unfortunately, Jacob’s attempt to “do it himself” made his brother so angry, Jacob fled for his life.

Jacob got himself into a tangled mess. What was he going to do? He needed help, even though it may seem he did not deserve help. Yet the Lord still loved him. One night while Jacob was running away, he slept under the stars with a rock as his pillow. God gave him the most amazing dream. Jacob saw angels going up and down a stairway to heaven. At the top, the Lord made promise after promise to Jacob. Even though Jacob did not deserve it, the Lord would still send the Savior through Jacob’s family. The Lord would still watch over him and never leave him.

Sometimes you might think you can follow Jesus yourself. Yet how often don’t we find ourselves tangled up in temptation, hurting with guilt, or lost and confused? In moments like that, we need help, even though we do not deserve it. Jesus comes to our rescue. He untangles us from temptation, heals our hurt, and helps us follow him once again on the journey to heaven. Why? He loves us. Remember that Savior is with you. He watches over you. He forgives you, and he will bless you.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, so often I get myself tangled in temptation because I don’t think I need your help. Forgive me and help me with your mercy and love. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why did Jacob run away from home?
  • Describe something amazing from Jacob’s dream.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Lord make promises to Jacob even though he did not deserve them?
  • List ways that Jesus “did it all for me” when I could not save myself.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recount a time when you were so mad, you wanted to run away from home.
  • How can you use the story of God’s love for a runaway Jacob to encourage someone whose life seems all tangled up at the moment?

Hymn: CW 429:1,2 – What God Ordains Is Always Good

What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.
As he directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In ev’ry need
Knows well how he will shield me; To him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good; He never will deceive me.
He leads me in his righteous way And never will he leave me.
I take content What he has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness Will turn my tears to gladness.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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The Big Picture – March 3, 2021

“Get behind me, Satan!” [Jesus] said, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Mark 8:33

The Big Picture


Daily Devotion – March 3, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:33

See series: Devotions

Are you a “big picture” kind of person? Do you have the ability to anticipate what might happen in the future as you weigh this alternative versus that one? Can you analyze the pros and cons?

Some people seem to have the uncanny ability to foresee the future and stave off disaster. We call that gift wisdom or prudence. Especially when making big decisions, it’s important to see and consider the big picture.

But no sinful human being has perfect prudence. Worldly wisdom often fails. The reason for this is simple. We cannot know with certainty what the future holds based on our human understanding and intuition. At best, we make educated guesses. But our calculated wisdom and painstaking prudence offer no guarantees. The Bible says, “No one knows what is coming—who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Peter thought he was prudent by imploring Jesus to avoid his cross. It made perfect sense! Why would anyone purposefully go up to Jerusalem so that he could “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law,” only to “be killed” (Mark 8:31)? Which one of us would have argued that Peter was wrong?

We wouldn’t have, but Jesus did. And why? Because our Savior sees the big picture. Unlike us, he knew the future and understood what lay ahead on the road for sinners like you and me should he listen to Peter’s prudence and shun his suffering and cross. His evasion would mean our devastation.

Jesus didn’t mince words. He knew who was hiding behind Peter’s iron-clad logic. It was the devil himself, who would have loved nothing more than to watch Jesus abandon us to the grave and hell forever.

But our Savior saw right through it. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter was only noticing the short-term disadvantage to Jesus. Our Savior saw the big picture. His cross meant our salvation. His death meant our life. His resurrection meant our eternal victory.

That’s all that mattered to Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me from my broken logic and shortsightedness. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Unanswered Prayers – March 2, 2021

[Jesus] spoke plainly about [his suffering], and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.
Mark 8:32,33

Unanswered Prayers


Daily Devotion – March 2, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:32,33

See series: Devotions

Have you ever wanted something so badly—prayed for something passionately—only to discover later in life how thankful you ought to be that you didn’t get what you once wanted so desperately? So often, we have to thank God for “unanswered” prayers, requests that we’ve made to him, which he replied with a big, fat “no.”

Why doesn’t God give us everything that we want? Because he loves us too much, and he knows that what we want is not always what’s best for us in the long run.

That’s what our Savior wants for us most of all, the very best things that last forever. He’s not interested in our instant gratification that ultimately ends in ruin and destruction. What good does that do? He wants to give us his blessings and life that last eternally, even when we beg him for the opposite and rebuke him when he refuses.

When Jesus told his disciples about the suffering he must undergo as our perfect Savior, Peter begged him to stop talking that way. Indeed, Mark tells us, he “began to rebuke him.”

Don’t get Peter wrong. This wasn’t hateful, nor was it necessarily selfish. His intentions were sincere. He loved Jesus, and he wanted to prevent the horrible series of events that his master had just outlined for his future. So he prayed earnestly to Jesus, “Keep this from happening to you!” If Jesus wouldn’t prevent it, Peter would do his best to block him in love.

But Jesus resisted his dear disciple’s pleadings, even though he realized the prayer was offered in good faith. Why resist him? Because he knew that, even though granting Peter’s request would result in a much better outcome for himself, it would have doomed Peter and us to everlasting destruction.

But that’s not what Jesus wants. No, he “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). What is that truth? Jesus loves you. He’s saved you completely. Your sin is forgiven. Heaven is yours. Believe it, it’s true.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for doing all things to grant me the gift of everlasting life. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Third Sunday in Lent

Jesus Rescues Us From God’s Law

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

For centuries Christians have spent Lent meditating on Jesus’ suffering and death, which atoned for our guilt. Lent is the “serious season” of the church year in which we put extra emphasis on recognizing and confessing our own sins. Congregations with special mid-week services usually keep a somber, reflective tone. The Sundays in Lent, however, serve as “mini Easters;” their readings and hymns bring comfort to the believers who are reflecting on their sins and Jesus’ passion. The third Sunday in Lent reminds us of God’s perfect law and his demand that we fear and love him. Thankfully, Jesus has fulfilled God’s law in our place.

FIRST LESSON – Exodus 20:1-17

Why does God remind the Israelites that he brought them out of Egypt before giving the Ten Commandments?

The holy God who demands we keep his commandments wants love and trust from his children. His law cannot instill that love and trust. Only his gospel can. By reminding the Israelites of how he rescued them from Egypt, he is putting in the forefront of their minds his love and mercy. That rescue from Egypt reminds us that the same holy God sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin.

Since God already put his commandments on our hearts, why did he etch them on stone (and in the Bible) for us?

Our own sin and the sin around us combine to darken and callous our hearts, so we need God’s law written down―in detail―for us so we know exactly what his will is.

SECOND LESSON – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

How is ‘Christ crucified’ foolishness to many people?

Later in this letter, Paul explains that people don’t naturally understand or believe in Jesus, but only by the Holy Spirit can people recognize God’s wisdom in sending Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit, the message of Jesus dying on a cross to save us makes no sense. With the Holy Spirit, we see God’s wisdom and love in providing the perfect Savior.

What is the essence of a Christian’s message to the world?

“Christ crucified” is the heart of the gospel. The only way sinners can stand before a holy God is if their sins are removed. The only way sins are removed is by Christ being crucified for us.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECOND LESSON – Romans 8:1-10

Were you born neutral toward God and his commands? Or even favorable toward them? (See 8:7.)

No. We were all born hostile to God. We did not submit to God’s law. We could not.

How much does God blame you in his courtroom now? (See 8:1.)

You are completely innocent in God’s courtroom because of Jesus’ blood. There is no condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus. None.

GOSPEL – John 2:13-22

Why do you think the Jewish leaders allowed the buying and selling of animals in the temple courts?

The Jewish leaders let people buy and sell in the temple courts, presumably, because those who sold animals and changed money made a profit. Nothing should disturb God’s people from hearing God’s Word, though, or coming to God in prayer and praise in thanks for God’s mercies.

How do you know that Jesus was not sinning by angrily overturning the tables and driving out the money changers?

Jesus was not sinning because what was at stake was the glory and honor of God. His temple was to be a place for worship. But isn’t anger always sin? No. God the Father “expresses his wrath every day,” but never sins (Psalm 7:11). Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He could not.

Why are Jesus’ words in verse 19 significant?

In John 2:19 our Savior predicted his own resurrection from the dead. When he fulfilled his promise, he proved he truly is God and keeps his Word. That truth gives us sinners hope and comfort. Only God can save us; Jesus is God. He has rescued us! (See Romans 4:25.)

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Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross – Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Mark 8:31-38

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross

 

Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:34

See series: Devotions

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

Crosses are heavy. You might not think that when you see a cross hanging on your wall… and the wall is not collapsing. You might not think that when a cross hangs from a necklace around your neck… and you are not falling over under its weight. You might not think that when you see a cross on top of your church… and the roof is not caving in. Yet crosses can be heavy and even painful.

Back in Jesus’ day, criminals had to carry their crosses. A cross was made of solid pieces of heavy wood. That wood would be rough and full of splinters. Even more painful was what happened as a person’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Crosses were heavy and painful. If you lived in Jesus’s day, a cross was the last thing you would ever want to carry.

Jesus told his disciples that he would soon suffer and die on a cross, but they did not want to hear that. They loved Jesus very much. They did not want him to suffer such a painful death, but Jesus knew he had to take up that cross. You see, Jesus had to suffer and die on a cross for you and me. Jesus needed to suffer and die on a cross because we love ourselves more than we love God.

“I want to do what I want! I want to get what I want! I want… I want… I want…” Every one of us is selfish, no matter how young, no matter how old. We are all selfish, but Jesus was selfless for us. He willingly took up his cross to suffer and die for our selfish sins. Why? Because he loves you. He loves every one of us with a love that cares more about us than himself.

Out of amazing love for us, Jesus took up his heavy, painful cross. Now we follow him by taking up our crosses—not made of wood, but rather the “cross” of saying “No” to our selfish desires in order to honor Jesus with our lives. That is not easy. In fact, it can be painful. Still, we follow Jesus and carry our cross, because he carried his cross, until we join him in heaven someday.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, following you isn’t easy. Support me to carry my cross because you carried yours for me. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Count how many crosses you see in your home.
  • How does a cross help you think about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain the difference between being selfish and selfless.
  • Why did Jesus have to take up his cross?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Following Jesus can be a heavy, painful cross.
  • Why is it necessary for a Christian to deny themselves and take up their cross if he or she is going to follow Jesus?

Hymn: CW 428:1,2 – Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me

Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With his cheer; Never will he leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God’s Son For me won When his life was given?

When life’s troubles rise to meet me,
Though their weight May be great, They will not defeat me.
God, my loving Savior, sees them;
He who knows All my woes Knows how best to end them.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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How Are You Doing? – Week of March 1, 2021

How Are You Doing? – Week of March 1, 2021



Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35



How are you doing?  If you gave up something for Lent, are you still holding strong or have you abandoned your sacrifice?  The tradition of denying something of pleasure for the six weeks leading up to Easter has been a challenge taken on by millions over the generations.  The motivation to sacrifice chocolate, as an example, is supposedly to lead the self-disciplined individual to remember Jesus’ suffering and ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  Six weeks does not sound that long!  A small sacrifice should not be that difficult!  Yet, for many the Lenten denial is surrendered in favor of the easy way out.

It is challenging to give up something you love, to deny yourself what you want.  Sometimes, we even act like our children when we must sacrifice something we value.  However, in our text we see Jesus gather up his followers for a special tutorial on discipleship instructing them to do exactly that.  “… deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

To be sure, denying ourselves- taking up our cross and following Jesus, is vastly different than sacrificing a pleasure for six weeks.  Denying ourselves is understanding that nothing in this life is more important than our faith in Jesus and the salvation of our souls- not money or property or personal connections.  Heaven is not gained with those.

But how are you doing?  Are you taking your faith life seriously or are you, like me, hanging your head in shame over the time you binge watched a TV series but did not find time to have a personal devotion?  Are your shoulders slumping, like mine, over the time you did not feel well enough to attend worship but work was too important to miss?  Do your eyes lower, like mine, over all of the times you prioritized this life instead of your eternal life.

We groan, “God forgive us!”  Then Jesus lifts our sin-weary head and takes our wretched hands and says, “You are forgiven!  Look!  See the cross I took up for you?  That is where I spread my arms to bear each time you denied me instead of this world.  That is where I give you strength to live for me!”

So how are you doing?  Well, on our own, we fail!  Only in Jesus do we have the strength to deny ourselves, bear our cross and follow him.  Draw near to Jesus.  Hear his Word.  Receive his forgiveness.  Then bear your cross with his strength.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving me when I deny you!  Help me remember your cross as I daily live for you!  Amen!

Question for Reflection: What part of my day denies Jesus?  How can I move forward in Jesus’ forgiveness and strength?

Want to know more?  I’m not perfect; I make mistakes!  So what?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Bucket List – March 1, 2021

[Jesus] then began to teach [his disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
Mark 8:31

Bucket List


Daily Devotion – March 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:31

See series: Devotions

Do you have a bucket list, a list of things you must do before you die?

I don’t have a bucket list. Maybe that means I’m unimaginative or that I’m content. Perhaps it’s a little of both. But I really can’t say that there’s any one thing I must do before I die. Otherwise, I might feel as though my life would end unfulfilled.

I suppose that there are some people who have taken the time to put together a bucket list. And I imagine that the activities on their lists include every type of fun and enjoyable adventures, things meant to bring a smile to a person’s face. After all, that’s why bucket lists exist. Right? They’re all about me, my self-fulfillment, my self-indulgence.

Did you know that Jesus had a bucket list? He absolutely did. But his list didn’t include a bunch of fun, self-indulgent activities. No, Jesus’ bucket list was all about his suffering in self-sacrificing love for you and me and every sinner.

True, Jesus didn’t concoct his own list. It was given to him by his Father before he was born. But it wasn’t crammed down his throat either. Not at all. Jesus accepted it joyfully and willingly. And he strove with all his being to carry out the items on that list perfectly and passionately.

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus revealed his list to his closest friends. He told them how he “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

This was more than a premonition on Jesus’ part. It was a promise. Each item on his bucket list was going to get crossed off, no matter what.

And why? Because Jesus loves you that much. Because he wants you to know that heaven is yours. Trust him! His bucket list is complete, and it wasn’t about him. It was about you!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for your faithful and perfect love and your willingness to sacrifice all things 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 28, 2021

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
2 Samuel 12:7

Conflict avoidance

The Question: I’ve decided not to talk with my friends to avoid conflict. It is better for everyone, right?

Not talking to your friends when there is conflict between you is definitely the easier option, but is it really the better option? Is it what God wants you to do?

Nathan was a prophet while David was king of Israel. David created conflict with God, and it was up to Nathan as the prophet of God to resolve it. David wanted another man’s wife. He had sex with her. He lied and tried to cover it up. When he was in danger of being discovered, he had her husband murdered. In the end, David looked like the good guy because he took the mourning widow into his own home as his wife. God told Nathan to confront David about his sin.

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. Put yourself in Nathan’s shoes! Nathan was to confront the king with what he had done, though David could easily have him killed. David had already shown that he was willing to murder to cover up his sin. Would Nathan be next? It would have made sense for Nathan to avoid the conflict, but he didn’t. He went to David and said, “David, you are the man. You are the sinner, the murderer, the liar.” Nathan addressed the conflict head on. Why?

Nathan loved David so much he confronted him with the truth. God’s people are sometimes called not just to do what is safe and easy. They do what is best for others. David’s eternal life was at stake due to dangerous, unresolved, and unrepentant sin. Nathan put David before himself and confronted him.

That is what God wants you to do in your conflicts. Avoiding conflicts may at the moment be the easy way out, but it doesn’t make them go away. Confront conflict! Love your friend. Put them first just like Nathan did his king, like Jesus did for you.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, I experience many moments of being weak and afraid. Comfort me with the assurance that you still love and will always forgive me. Reach down and take hold of my hand and lift me to a higher level of strength. Give me courage to speak when I should, and to know when best to be silent. Give me wisdom so that your will, not mine, be done. Use me to accomplish your purpose in Christ. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peace With God – February 28, 2021

Jacob had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the LORD, and he said, “I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac . . . I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:12,13,15

Peace With God


Daily Devotion – February 28, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 28:12,13,15

See series: Devotions

Jacob was a mess. He had to leave home much earlier than planned, and some of that was his fault. His brother Esau was so angry at him that he was comforting himself with the thought of murdering Jacob. As if that weren’t terrifying enough, there was more fuel for fear as Jacob fled from his homeland and found himself in unfamiliar surroundings. His pillow was a rock; the ground was his bed. He faced many dangers, and his only companion was his guilty conscience. There was no peace in his heart.

That’s when the LORD revealed himself to Jacob in a dream, to bring Jacob the peace he desperately needed. In the dream, there was a stairway with angels going up and down. The LORD himself was at the top. He assured Jacob, “I am with you. I will watch over you, wherever you go. I will bring you back. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised.” God gave Jacob the one thing that he could find nowhere else—peace. There were many questions, but there was no question about whether Jacob was at peace with God.

Why are you afraid today? There are many possibilities, for there is plenty of fuel for fear in our world. And just like Jacob, peace is impossible for us to find—until we discover God’s gracious promises in Jesus. All sin is paid. We are forgiven through Christ. There may be questions, but in Christ, there is no question about where we stand with God.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your peace that surpasses all understanding. When I am filled with fears, and when those fears raise questions, remind me that in Jesus there is no question about my status as your eternal, forgiven child. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Wages of sin – February 28, 2021

Wages of sin – February 28, 2021


Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu took their censers, put fire in them, and added incense; and they offered unauthorized fire before the LORD, contrary to his command. So fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Leviticus 10:1,2




Military Devotion – February 28, 2021

Devotion based on Leviticus 10:1,2

See series: Military Devotions

The day would never be forgotten by any of them. It began with high excitement and ended with shocking sorrow.

It could have been the best day of Aaron’s life. Instead, it was the day that he saw two of his sons killed.

Killed by God.

We know that the Bible says the wages of sin is death. But death does not usually come so quickly after sin—and not so dramatically.

Aaron had been chosen to be the high priest by the Lord himself. Four of his sons were selected to share the honor of officiating at the worship services of Israel.

On this first day of ministry, Aaron had just slaughtered an ox and ram. He sprinkled their blood against the sides of the altar. He placed pieces of the animals onto the altar. The fat was then burned off. He offered the sacrifice for sins exactly as the Lord God had commanded.

Then, the Almighty himself appeared there in the form of the glory of the Lord. They had seen this pillar of fire leading them across the wilderness. It had been a reassuring sight.

Now, fire shot out from it and burned up the offering still on the altar. We hear, “And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown” (Leviticus 9:24).

They had reason to rejoice. The fire, which might have appeared as lightning, showed that the holy Lord God was with them. He had accepted their sin offering. They could sing, “The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge.” They need fear nothing in life or death.

They needed to fear nothing else—except God, himself.

This lesson was taught in a most fearful way.

On that grand and glorious day, fire from the Lord killed Nadab and Abihu.

Their bodies were dragged out while still in their priestly clothes and buried outside of the camp.

Moses then explained to his brother, “This is what the LORD spoke of when he said: ‘Among those who approach me I will show myself holy; in the sight of all the people I will be honored.'”

And the shocked father? “Aaron remained silent” (Leviticus 10:3).

It wasn’t just the shock of seeing his sons killed that silenced him. He was under orders. The rest of the nation could mourn the death of his boys. But not Aaron, nor his two remaining sons.

“Do not let your hair become unkempt, and do not tear your clothes, or you will die and the LORD will be angry with the whole community” (Leviticus 10:6).

No form of grieving was allowed him. No hint of disagreement with God’s actions was to be shown.

The Lord God is a just God. On this day, justice was served.

But what was the crime? “They offered unauthorized fire before the LORD.” We don’t even know what that was—except it was “contrary to his command.”

They sinned.

It’s enough to frighten us—and frightened we should be. But frightened away from sin, not from God!

It reminds us of another time when a Father kept silent as his Son was being killed. It also was a time when justice was served. On that dark Friday, the greatest sacrifice of all was made—for us.

We were sentenced to live, not die. We can live because he died.

The way we live is to demonstrate that we fear, love, and trust in him above all things.

It’s true: “The wages of sin is death.” But this is also true: “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

The hymn reminds us:

If you think of sin but lightly Nor suppose the evil great,
Here you see its nature rightly, Here its guilt may estimate,
Mark the sacrifice appointed, See who bears the awful load—
‘Tis the Word, the Lord’s Anointed, Son of Man and Son of God.
(Christian Worship 127:3)

We do remember.





Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Our Substitute – February 27, 2021

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.
Genesis 22:15-19

Our Substitute


Daily Devotion – February 27, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 22:15-19

See series: Devotions

At Mount Moriah, God swore an oath to Abraham. Swearing is calling a higher authority to be a witness. God swore by himself because there is no higher authority.

God’s oath promised that Abraham’s descendants would become very numerous. They would enjoy material conquest, capturing cities, and possessing land. And from them would come a man through whom everyone on earth would consider themselves blessed: Jesus Christ. And it is believers in Christ who are truly the spiritual descendants and offspring of Abraham.

The conquest for Christians was won by Christ on Good Friday and Easter Sunday. He paid for our sins with his death, freeing us from the bondage of Satan and hell, and he triumphed over the grave, freeing us from the bondage of death as well. We have the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ because he offered up his life for us as a substitute on the cross and when God brought him back to life and raised him from the dead, he showed us that death has been conquered, for all of us.

Prayer:
Jesus, you have taken away my fear of death by becoming my substitute in death. Give my heart the peace of the forgiveness of sins and the joy of your victory over 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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We Are Champions – Family Devotion – February 26, 2021

Romans 8:31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:31-32,37

We Are Champions

 

Family Devotion – February 26, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:31-32,37

See series: Devotions

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

Sometimes there are people who are so great at sports that their teams feel like they will never lose. Lakers fans think, “We have LeBron James now. We’ll win every championship.” In the past, Chicago fans used to think the same about Michael Jordan. Some football fans have thought, “We have Tom Brady… We have Aaron Rodgers; how can we lose?” And U.S. Olympic fans have good reason to believe, “We have Simone Biles. We will win every gymnastics gold medal.”

While it is true that some athletes are so great that they help their teams win a lot, no athlete is perfect. Sometimes they miss shots, throw interceptions, or fall off the balance beam. As great as they are, sometimes they lose and leave their fans disappointed.

Thanks be to God that Jesus is nothing like those worldly athletes. Jesus’ record is perfect! He never failed to defeat a single temptation from Satan. He won the ultimate and eternal championship when he crushed Satan at the cross. Jesus is Victor, Champion, and King of all! We will never ever be disappointed with Jesus on our side!

The apostle Paul reminds us of this with beautiful words today from Romans 8. Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In other words, if God is on our side, who can possibly defeat us and keep us out of heaven? You know the answer: No one! With God on our side, we can be confident and trust that we will win the victory of eternal life!

This is such comforting news! No matter what happens at school; no matter what disaster might happen like an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane; no matter what sickness or disease someone gets; nothing can separate us from God’s love. That’s right—not one person, not one problem, not Satan, and not even death itself can ever separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. We are conquerors! We are champions! We are winners forever in Jesus! Praise the Lord!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, you showed us your power over all things at your cross and your empty tomb. You also showed us your great love and forgiveness. Give us confidence and courage knowing that nothing will ever separate us from your power and love. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How has Jesus shown to us that he has power over all things?
  • How has Jesus shown to us that he loves us so much?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What things in this world do you think make people the most afraid?
  • Explain why not even death can separate us from God’s love.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does Satan use bad things in our lives to try and lead us away from God?
  • What are ways that we can grow more confident in our trust in God’s love?

Hymn: CW 200:1,4 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

The Word they still shall let remain, Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain With his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will—Hate, steal, hurt, or kill—
Though all may be gone, Our victory is won;
The kingdom’s ours forever!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Love Calls For a Change – February 26, 2021

“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:15

Love Calls For a Change


Daily Devotion – February 26, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:15

See series: Devotions

The Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem stands over the supposed place where Jesus was born. The main entrance is a low framed door. This four-foot-high door forces pilgrims to bow face-first while entering—as an outward sign of humility.

I didn’t get the memo. Because of my height, I bowed and stepped in backward. I didn’t make it through the Door of Humility. A security guard stopped me, forced me back outside, and instructed me to enter properly.

For hundreds of years, the Christian Church has observed a season of the year called Lent. Lent is like that door in the Church of the Nativity. It is meant to make us bow our heads in humility.

It is an important reminder. We have all sinned. None of us measure up to God’s approval. We cannot enter his kingdom with our heads held high. If we try, we will not remember how desperately we need Jesus. Though Jesus had no sin of his own, he was condemned and crucified for ours. His death sets us free from death, and his resurrection opens the way to God’s kingdom for all who trust in him.

That’s how much God loves us! And, having been so loved, we are changed. Instead of fear, there is faith. Instead of guilt, there is joy. Instead of judgment, there is forgiveness. Instead of hell, there is heaven. Instead of death, there is life. A life that delights to live to serve and please the Savior who so perfectly served us.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, cleanse me, comfort me, change me with your abundant love! 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Optimistic Love – February 25, 2021

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.
Mark 1:14

Optimistic Love


Daily Devotion – February 25, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:14

See series: Devotions

A painkiller. That’s what 19th Century philosopher Karl Marx called religion. He saw Christianity as a cop-out. A way for people to avoid the hardships of current reality by doping up on the promises of religion.

You might think that’s what Jesus offers when you see how he responded after King Herod imprisoned Jesus’ cousin, John. John had spoken out against the king’s illegitimate marriage. John’s followers must have been distraught. And what did Jesus do? He went around proclaiming the good news. It seems a little harsh or insensitive, at least.

Jesus didn’t need sensitivity training. He just knew the bigger picture. John’s job was to point the world to Jesus. Jesus’ job was to save the world from sin, death, and hell. John must decrease so that Jesus could increase. Jesus wasn’t a fool; he knew what would happen to him. He knew he must endure cruelty and crucifixion. He endured it anyway because he knew he would triumph. He would rise from the dead and be the source of eternal life for all who trust in him.

This Good News of Jesus is not an opiate from the reality of the world’s bad news. It is our optimistic reality despite the bad news of the world. While hardship will always be part of this life, Jesus gives us the freedom to respond to those hardships in a positive way. Because he lived and died for us and now lives again, we are free to be the victor rather than play the victim. Forgiveness is ours! God’s love is ours! Eternal life is ours! Victory is ours!

Come what may—distress, or deprivation, or danger, or death—you are more than victorious through Jesus who loved you and gave himself for you.

That’s Good News!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, how optimistic your love for me is. I can face any danger or disaster victoriously! 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Test – Family Devotion – February 24, 2021

Genesis 22:1-18

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Genesis 22:2

A Test

 

Family Devotion – February 24, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 22:2

See series: Devotions

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

It’s a word that is dreaded by almost all students. Everyone knows it’s coming eventually, but no one ever likes to hear the word come off the teacher’s lips—test. “Whaaat??? Nooooo!” It’s funny how kids act surprised, upset, or frustrated when the teacher announces a test. But no matter what class you are in and no matter how old you are, eventually there will be a test. And if the teacher is any good, there will likely be lots of tests.

That’s right. You heard me correctly. Good teachers give lots of tests. Now before you end this devotion and run away angry, consider this: Good teachers want you to be better students. They want you to gain knowledge and experience. They want you to show that you can handle things. They also want you to know where you could improve a little bit. Tests help with this. So can we agree maybe tests aren’t that bad?

In a very similar way, God tests us, his people. God doesn’t do bad things to us, and God doesn’t want us to sin. However, God does allow us to have difficult things in our lives… to test us. These tests help us to grow stronger in our faith and to remember how much we need God in our lives.

Today we heard about one of these tests—and it was a big one! Abraham was tested by God when he was asked to sacrifice his one and only son whom he loved, Isaac. God was testing Abraham to see if he would come up with excuses, refuse to obey, or do anything else to get out of it. But by faith and with God’s strength, Abraham passed this test. He was about to sacrifice his son when God finally stopped him and provided a ram to take Isaac’s place as the sacrifice.

But Abraham didn’t always pass his tests. Sometimes he failed and sinned. The same is true for us. When God allows us to be tempted or tested, sometimes we fail the test and sin too. Thank God that, just like Isaac, we have a substitute who took our place. It was the one and only Son whom God loved, Jesus. Jesus is our perfect substitute who never failed a test or fell into temptation, and Jesus is also the perfect sacrifice who paid for all the times that we have failed. Because of Jesus and his forgiveness, God looks at us now like we have straight A’s in his gradebook. We are now God’s perfect children through Jesus!

When you have difficult things come up in life (yes, even tests in school), or when you face temptations, know that God is allowing you to be tested. But don’t worry! You have God’s strength, God’s love, and God’s forgiveness every step of the way. In Jesus, we can pass each test just like Abraham!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, we thank you for allowing us to be tested by things in life. We know that you use these things to teach us, to help us grow in faith, and to help us grow closer to you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did God test Abraham?
  • Why was this test so difficult for Abraham?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What difficult things does God allow in your life to test you?
  • Even though they might not be fun, what things could God be teaching you through these difficult things?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: God proves he loves us when he allows us to be tested. Explain your answer.
  • Ask your parent(s) what has been the greatest test or challenge to their faith so far in life.

Hymn: CW 200:1,2 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done; Soon were our loss effected.
But for us fights the valiant one Whom God himself elected.
You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is,
The almighty Lord. And there’s no other God;
He holds the field forever.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Attentive Love – February 24, 2021

He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.
Mark 1:13

Attentive Love


Daily Devotion – February 24, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:13

See series: Devotions

Imagine coming home from a hard day. You call a friend, talk to your spouse, or pour out your heart to your mom or dad. You are hoping for comfort and encouragement. But you get no response, no reaction. Your confidant just sits there, staring into space, saying nothing. After a few minutes of silence, if you don’t say it out loud, you might be saying it in your head: “Don’t you care?”

Although there may be times when the people in your life don’t seem to care, you can be sure that God cares. He cares when you cry. He cares when you worry. And he cares when you are being tempted to do the wrong thing and go the wrong way.

Fighting against temptation is a daily battle for every Christian. When we want to do the right thing, evil is always there to sabotage us. We do the evil we are trying to avoid and avoid the good we are trying to do. It is exhausting.

Thanks be to God; we don’t fight those battles alone, and we don’t win them on our own. God attends to our every need. He puts his name on us and claims us as his own. He gives us the victory Jesus won by resisting every temptation for us and paying for our failures to resist temptation with his holy lifeblood. You are God’s child. He loves you.

He even has special, powerful allies to assist him in caring for you. The Bible says that God sends his angels to attend you in all your ways. When you face temptation, his angels are at hand to reinforce you. When you fight temptation and the devil flees, the protection provided by God’s angels refreshes you in keeping with God’s life-giving Word.

God cares. All day, all night, his angels watch over you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, let your holy angel be with me that the devil may have no power over 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sympathetic Love – February 23, 2021

He was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.
Mark 1:13

Sympathetic Love


Daily Devotion – February 23, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:13

See series: Devotions

“Unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, you wouldn’t understand.”

Have you ever had this thought? Every day we experience troubles, trials, and temptations. Every day, most people—even those closest to us—won’t know the half of it. Sometimes this is because people are too busy to ask or too self-focused to care. Other times it is because, to protect ourselves, we keep what we think and feel and experience bottled up and locked in.

But no matter who you are or what you have experienced, you have someone who knows you intimately. His name is Jesus. And he is not out of touch with your reality. He knows your triggers. He knows your turmoil. He has walked in your shoes. He went through weakness and testing in all the ways you have. He has experienced it all, except for the sin. And because he has, he can protect you.

He was born to protect you. The reason he came into this world was to destroy the devil’s work. The devil’s work is sin, and his end goal is our damnation. But Jesus fought the devil for us and won. God put our sin on Jesus, who never sinned so that Jesus could make us right with God. He endured our hell. He experienced our death. And in exchange, he offers us his righteous life. Because Jesus was perfectly obedient—even to death on a cross for us—those who trust in him are perfectly holy. God does not judge us guilty.

Jesus doesn’t just protect you from future judgment. Every moment of every day, he is ready with his power to protect you. This doesn’t mean that you will never again be tested, tried, or tempted. But when temptations come, Jesus’ protection is just a prayer away.

Jesus understands. He died and was raised again to free you from the devil’s work. Go to him at any time, in any trouble. Ask him for his strength to stand up against the devil. Jesus will give it. And the devil will flee.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Second Sunday in Lent

Jesus Calls Us To Follow Him

These are the readings for the Second Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

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

FIRST LESSON – Genesis 28:10-17

Whom did Jacob see on the stairway? Above it?

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

What promises did Jacob receive, which include you?

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

SECOND LESSON – Romans 5:1-11

What amazing gifts do we receive by trusting that Jesus died for our sins? (See 5:1,2.)

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

Why do we rejoice in our sufferings? Isn’t that a bizarre way to act? (See 5:3.)

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

In Christ, what three things are no longer true about us? (See 5:6,8,10.)

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

GOSPEL – Mark 8:31-38

Why did Jesus have to suffer and die? (See 8:31.)

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

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

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

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

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

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God Has Mercy on Me, A Sinner! – Week of February 22, 2021

God Has Mercy on Me, A Sinner! – Week of February 22, 2021



“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Luke 18:13-14



“I want to be the mom. I know the most about taking care of babies!”
“I’m putting the last block on the tower, so it doesn’t fall!”

In a room filled with children under the age of five, you’ll hear sentiments like these all day long. Many children think they are the very best at, well, everything!

As grown-ups, we know better. Given thirty seconds to think, we could come up with a pretty good list of things that aren’t our strengths. That said, aren’t there so many times when we are just like the kids? Prideful thoughts and attitudes can sneak in so easily. It might sound like:
“Why does she always hold him like that? It never helps him to calm down.”
“I play on the floor with the kids all morning, while he pulls up a chair and just sits and watches.”
“She always wants to do all these art projects, and they’re amazing, but I’m always left cleaning everything up.”

In each of these examples, we’re not only complaining, we’re pridefully thinking of ourselves as better than someone else.

In the verses for today, Jesus was telling a story to those who were “confident in their own righteousness.” Jesus cuts right to our prideful hearts. Even while we know Jesus is our Savior, our sinful nature loves to puff itself up and put down those around us.

Jesus knew this about us, so in his love, he came to think, speak, and act differently in our place. Instead of choosing to stay in the perfection of heaven, Jesus became a lowly human. He perfectly put others before himself, always!

Then, Jesus gave the ultimate gift of humble service by giving his life for all, so that now, when we recognize the sin of pride and pray, “God forgive me. Have mercy on me, a sinner,” we can leave that prayer with this solid promise in our hearts, “God has had mercy on you, a sinner, for Jesus’ sake.” Knowing this precious truth fills our hearts with peace and moves us forward in humble service to others, in Jesus’ name.



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, it can be so easy to fall into the sin of pride. Thank you for being perfectly humble in our place, and for dying for us so that this sin could be forgiven. Help us now, with hearts of faith, to work each day to think of others ahead of ourselves. In your name we ask this, amen.

A Question to Consider:
Pride often comes when there is a misunderstanding of others’ gifts or abilities or a different value system given to those diverse gifts. Take a moment to jot down the names of your coworkers. What are some of the strengths you see in their work each day?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Ready? Repent! – Family Devotion – February 22, 2021

Mark 1:12-15

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:12-15

Ready? Repent!

 

Family Devotion – February 22, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:12-15

See series: Devotions

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

“Kids! We have to get ready! We have guests coming over tonight!” Jose and Gabriella looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and did one big sigh at the same time—“Ugh, really?” They knew exactly what was about to happen. Jose and Gabriella would have to do a whole pile of house chores—empty the dishwasher, vacuum, clean their rooms, and more. They also knew they would need to shower and change into nicer clothes. After all, their Abuela was coming over, and everyone knew how picky their grandmother would be. She always pointed out every speck of dirt or dust!

What things do you have to do when guests come to your house? Cleaning and chores like Jose and Gabriella? Do you need to help make food or set the table? Maybe something else? Have you also noticed that when there is an extra special event with guests, there’s always more you have to prepare?

Here’s one more question to consider today: How much have you prepared for one other special guest . . . for Jesus? We heard today that Jesus preached the message that the kingdom of God has come near. That’s still true today. God’s kingdom is near us because God comes to us in his Word in Baptism and in Communion. We also know that Jesus will be coming back soon on judgment day with his eternal kingdom.

Whenever Jesus comes to us, he’s looking for more than just dirt or dust. Jesus sees every dirty speck of sin in our lives. That could be scary! How am I supposed to prepare for Jesus when I struggle to fight temptations and I sin so often?

Take comfort in God’s Word for today about Jesus’ temptation by Satan. Remember that Jesus fought Satan and won. Jesus resisted all temptations and sin. And then, Jesus took away all our sins on the cross. He washed us squeaky clean in his blood so that there are no more sin-stains on us! So how can we be ready for Jesus? You heard what he said today, “Repent!” Be sorry for your sins, turn away from them, and find forgiveness in Jesus. He alone will make you ready and prepared for him as your special guest.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, thank you for defeating Satan with your life and death. I know that your power alone will help me to resist temptation and avoid sin. Help me with this every day. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did Jesus show his power over Satan?
  • What are good choices around the house that Jesus can help you to make instead of sinning?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • In what special ways does Jesus come to us now? (Hint: There were three mentioned in the devotion.)
  • Name two big temptations that Satan brings to children your age.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Jesus defeated Satan with his life and death.
  • What are ways that you can grow stronger in faith and resist temptation and sin?

Hymn: CW 200:1,3 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done!
One little word can fell him.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Eager Love – February 22, 2021

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan.
Mark 1:12,13

Eager Love


Daily Devotion – February 22, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:12,13

See series: Devotions

“Just a minute.”

How often has someone said that to you? Your child when you tell her it’s time for dinner. Your spouse when you ask for help with the dishes. Your friend when you have important news you want to share.

Sometimes, “just a minute” is a valid response. At the moment, you are wrapped up in something that you cannot walk away from. You want to help but just physically can’t. Other times, “just a minute” is simply a selfish response. You just don’t want to listen. You just are feeling lazy. You just would rather do your own thing.

What a difference “at once” makes! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every time you needed someone’s help or needed someone to listen, they were there? We could all use the power and possibility of an eager love like that in our lives.

God’s love is like that. The Son of God, Jesus, had just been baptized in the Jordan River. As soon as the Holy Spirit inaugurated him into the office of Savior, he wasted no time in sending Jesus into the wilderness to begin his work of saving us. His work began with battling the devil and ended with bowing to death. But God raised Jesus from the dead because he did his job perfectly. Believing in him, you are instantly free from the due penalty and punishment of sin.

If God didn’t hesitate to love you in that way, he certainly won’t stop gladly and freely loving you. When you call on him for help, he won’t drag his feet to do what he knows is right and best for you right this minute.

That’s how willingly, eagerly, and urgently God loves you.

Prayer:
Lord God, you are my hope and salvation. You will not forsake or abandon me. In temptation and trouble, come quickly to help me. Do not delay! 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 21, 2021

Then the king [David] said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”
2 Samuel 15:25-26

Squad problems: Drama queens

The Question: Some of my friends do things for attention all of the time. It’s really annoying. How should I deal with them?

Remember David? He was that famous king of Israel who killed Goliath with a stone and slingshot. God blessed King David with many long years of prosperity and peace.

There was someone in David’s life who wanted all the attention—David’s son, Absalom. Absalom would sit at the gate of the city, listen to people’s problems and say, “If I were king, things would be different.” Absalom wanted the attention. He wanted to be loved by everyone. He wanted to be king. And it worked! Absalom was able to turn the country against David.

David, his whole family, and the people who were faithful to David had to pack their things and run for their lives. Some priests brought the ark of God with David. They knew that where the ark is, God is. So, if the ark was with David, God would be with David and will bless him. But what did David say? “Take the ark back.”

What’s the lesson for us? David knew and trusted that God is fully in control of everything that is happening. If God wanted Absalom to be king, he would be king. If God wanted David to be king, David would be king.

Yes, our friends can grab the spotlight, and that can be frustrating especially if it comes at our expense. Take a deep breath. God knows what is happening. If God allows your friend to have that attention, it is for a reason. If God wants you to have more attention, you’ll get it. There is no need to stress over something that God is in complete control of. This truth also comes with a promise. God works out all things for the good just like he did for David.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, too often I stress over things that are beyond my ability to control. Sometimes my heart gets so heavy, and I feel insignificant and invisible. O Savior, tell me that isn’t so! Come close to me, my Lord. Whisper again into my heart your warm words of forgiveness, love, and promise. Only you can truly fill my inner emptiness. Help me not to seek the spotlight. Instead, I will trust you to lift me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Just do it – February 21, 2021

Just do it – February 21, 2021


Then the LORD’S anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do.
Exodus 4:14,15




Military Devotion – February 21, 2021

Devotion based on Exodus 4:14,15

See series: Military Devotions

We know the slogan. We have seen it on shirts and banners. It’s meant to inspire us. It is intended to make us throw away our excuses. It tells us: “Just do it!”

It’s not a new command. The Lord God could have used that phrase when he called up Moses to active duty.

He had just explained to Moses that he was about to activate his plan to rescue Israel from slavery in Egypt. His command was clear: “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10).

The command was answered with excuses: “Who am I?” “What if they do not believe me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you?’” “I am slow of speech and tongue.”

Finally, Moses simply said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it” (Exodus 3:11-4:13).

That’s when the omnipotent God could have shouted at him: “Just do it!” and threatened to strike him down with fire from heaven if he did not.

God was angry. But his anger is always under control. He recognized that Moses was tempted to be a “draft dodger.” He had an answer for that temptation. It is written: “And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).

God provided Moses a way out. He provided him with his brother, Aaron—and divine help for both of them.

No more excuses.

But what an amazing solution! The brothers had not seen one another for at least 40 years. They had grown up in different worlds. Moses was raised as royalty. Aaron grew up as a slave. Now, an 80-year-old Moses, stripped of his royalty and scratching out a living as a herder of sheep in a desolate place, is called to do the seemingly impossible. “I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

Quite a promotion! But it seems like a futile, perhaps suicide, mission.

And his second-in-command is a senior-citizen slave?

And we thought God asked us to carry out tough assignments at times!

Maybe we are still facing some of those tough ones.

An old hymn carries the words, “With the Lord begin thy task.” That’s good advice. It was good for Moses. It’s good for us.

We don’t always get to choose the tasks assigned to us. Sometimes, they come down through a chain-of-command. Sometimes they are doctor’s orders. Sometimes they are responsibilities for loved ones.

It isn’t always easy to be an officer or a parent, or a nation’s protector. Most likely, we come across tasks we do not want to do, and at times, tasks that we feel we cannot do. Sometimes, there are expectations we doubt we can measure up to.

One of the most difficult is living our lives the way God wants us to. Just ask Moses.

Then remember the rest of his story as he led Israel for 40 years until they were ready to march into the Promised Land.

Jesus had once said that it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to be saved. It prompted the disciples to ask, “Who, then, can be saved?”

His answer stands for all time: “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God” (Mark 10:27).

“All things are possible with God.”

Begin the God-given task with God by your side. Then, “Just do it.”



We remember the words of the hymn:
With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it.
Every morn with Jesus rise, And when day is ended,
In his name then close your eyes; Be to him commended. Amen.
(Christian Worship 478:1)



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Christ Removes the Crushing Weight – February 21, 2021

But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness.
Romans 8:10

Christ Removes the Crushing Weight


Daily Devotion – February 21, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:10

See series: Devotions

From time to time, we hear of human beings doing extraordinary things, like the woman who managed to lift the end of a 3,600-pound car off her son when the jack slipped. In extreme emergencies, people have been known to reach back into a resource of hidden physical strength and mental resourcefulness they didn’t know they had. Can they do this all by themselves? Or is this a miraculous help from God?

The author of the book of Hebrews devotes his 11th chapter to Old Testament men and women who were heroes of faith. It was from God that they drew their strength. In one dimension of life, however, human strength cannot avail. It does not enable us to save others or ourselves from the power and the punishment of sin. By the labors of our hands, we cannot fulfill God’s demands, earn salvation, or pull ourselves out of the dilemma of doing things we don’t want to do and not doing the good God demands.

What is more, the psalmist declares, “No one can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him” (Psalm 49:7). The ransom demanded would be entirely too great. But what we can’t do, Jesus did for us. He gave his life as a ransom for the whole world of sinners so that all who believe in him as the Savior are freed from the burden of unpaid spiritual bills, the fear of death, and the crushing weight of sin—just as that woman lifted the weight of a car off her son. WOW! Nothing short of a miracle of God! Jesus was lifted up on a cross that he might remove our load and bring us to himself.

Prayer:
God of heaven and earth, please stand near me with Your strength that makes me perfect in my weakness. In Jesus’ name, I 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Escaping Death – February 20, 2021

As [Elijah and Elisha] were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind.
2 Kings 2:11

Escaping Death


Daily Devotion – February 20, 2021

Devotion based on 2 Kings 2:11

See series: Devotions

Death and taxes—these are two certainties of life for everyone—everyone except for the prophet Elijah. God granted him the privilege of escaping physical death. God took him directly into heaven. The question that begs to be asked is ‘Why?’

As we read through the life of Elijah, we see that he was a prophet of God. But that wasn’t the reason he escaped death. God had called others to be prophets, and they faced death. Elijah fought against idolatry, but so did others, and they died. Elijah proclaimed the Word of God as countless others have done throughout the ages. It was not his office, courage, or faithfulness that earned him the right to escape death and go straight to heaven. It was only by the grace of God that Elijah was taken to heaven without facing death.

We cannot escape death on our own. The grave awaits us as the Bible teaches, “Man is destined to die” (Hebrews 9:27). We have no power to escape the death that we deserve for our sins. This is death that separates us from God forever under his judgment. But God gives us an escape from the death that we face as sinners. He sent his Son, Jesus, and heaped the guilt of our sin on him, making him pay the penalty of eternal death that should have been ours.

Just as God revealed his grace to Elijah by sparing him from physical death, so God reveals his grace to us through Jesus. In Jesus, we are raised to a new life of faith. The death we will face at the end of our lives loses its sting because, in Jesus, we will be raised from the dead and taken to live forever in heaven with Elijah and all believers of all time.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I give you thanks for releasing me from the power of death. Keep me steadfast in your word until I see you in your glory 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You Are the Man – Family Devotion – February 19, 2021

2 Samuel 12:1-13

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
2 Samuel 12:5-7,13

You Are the Man

 

Family Devotion – February 19, 2021

Devotion based on 2 Samuel 12:5-7,13

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t know. Maybe it was Kylah,” Caleb said. His heart was racing so fast you could almost see it beating through his Spider Man T-shirt. Caleb couldn’t even look at his father as he was talking to him. He felt terrible.

You see, Caleb’s father was very upset when he came home from work and noticed that every single light switch in the entire house had been circled with a black Sharpie permanent marker. He had been asking Caleb for five minutes about it, but Caleb kept insisting, “It was Kylah! She should be punished!” One problem though… Kylah was a baby and couldn’t even walk yet!

“No, Caleb, it was you. You did it.” Caleb couldn’t take it anymore. He felt too guilty. Finally he said, “Yes, dad. I did it.”

Have you been in a situation like that before? Sometimes when we sin, the last thing we want to do is admit it. We make up excuses. We blame other people. We even lie at times.

King David found himself in that situation. He had done some very sinful things. He took another person’s wife for himself, he had that man killed, he lied about it, and he hid his sins. Finally the prophet Nathan came and told David a story about a man who had done something wrong, too. David was angry and said the man should be punished and die! That’s when Nathan said the famous words, “You are the man!” David finally realized his sins and repented, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

During this time of the year we call Lent, we remember what we have done. We have done so much wrong by what we think, say, and do. We need to join David in saying, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

But dear friends, do not worry! God is merciful and gracious and compassionate. During Lent we also remember that Jesus came to take our sin onto himself. He paid for our sin at the cross and has washed us clean in God’s sight. Because of our Savior Jesus, what the prophet Nathan said to David is the good news that we can rejoice in every day, “The LORD has taken away your sin.” Thanks be to God for his forgiveness for every sin!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I have sinned so many times in my life. I am so sorry. Thank you for washing me clean in your blood and forgiving all I have done. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • In the story today, why did Caleb blame his sister for what he did?
  • When we do sinful things, why shouldn’t we lie to others about it?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean that someone feels guilty?
  • How did Jesus make us to be not guilty in God’s sight?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Describe how people feel on the inside when they hide and lie about their sins like David did.
  • What are ways that we respond to the good news of God’s forgiveness when we are at church?

Hymn: CW 304:1,6,7 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Jesus sinners does receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander.
Here is hope for all who grieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

Oh, how blest is it to know, Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow By your blood and bitter passion,
For these words I do believe—Jesus sinners does receive.

Jesus sinners does receive. Even I have been forgiven.
And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to him I cleave—Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Listen to Jesus – February 19, 2021

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Mark 9:7

Listen to Jesus


Daily Devotion – February 19, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 9:7

See series: Devotions

The city of New York is one of the busiest, most stress-filled cities on the planet. Yet even in the middle of New York’s chaos, you can find some encouragement. On the corner of 5th Avenue and 14th Street, there is a dog named Loubie with her owner. Loubie is there for one reason: to give hugs to anyone who wants one. She’s there almost every day, ready to give an encouraging hug to anyone in need of one. She’s been there giving hugs for multiple years now, and she has not yet run out of people to hug. You probably know why.

God does too. He knows how hard your life often is. God knows how difficult it can be to live with your disappointments. He knows the pain this broken world can so quickly bring. It’s why he urged the disciples on the mountain of the transfiguration to listen to Jesus. He wanted them, and us, to know about the encouragement that is waiting for us in the middle of everything.

You may never get a hug from Loubie on the corner of 5th Avenue and 14th Street, but you will always find the loving encouragement of Jesus in the Bible, which is where we can hear his voice over and over, again and again.

Find a quiet place away from the busyness of life. Away from the hurt. Away from the stress. You don’t need to stay long. Just long enough to be reminded of what kind of God is listening whenever you cry out to him. He’s the one whose powerful arms are always wrapped around your precious life and whose glorious grace and mercy will never fail to bring you all the way to the home Jesus won for you when he walked down the mountain of transfiguration and made his way to the cross.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, open my ears to the loving voice of Jesus as I open your Word so that I am led through life by the voice of the Savior, who knows my name and is stronger than any enemy that would take me from you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Remember Who Our God Really Is – February 18, 2021

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them.
Mark 9:2

Remember Who Our God Really Is


Daily Devotion – February 18, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 9:2

See series: Devotions

Do you wonder why Jesus chose to bring his disciples to that mountain and briefly reveal his true glory to them? We find a clue in the first three words of today’s verse: “After six days.” As we look at this event, God wants us to keep in mind what had happened six days earlier. And what was that?

Six days earlier, Jesus told his disciples that he was soon going to die by crucifixion. At this point, Jesus is nine months away from his death, and he knew his disciples were going to see it happen. He knew they were going to see some very difficult things that were going to challenge their faith and make them wonder if following Jesus was worth it. So Jesus showed them a glimpse of his true glory. He gave them a reminder of how different and beautiful our God really is.

Based on what they were going to see, that was an important reminder for them, just as it is for us. We also have times in life when it doesn’t seem like anything good is happening, when our faith is challenged, and when the troubles of this world make us wonder if we have the right to expect anything glorious from the God who promises us so many good things.

The day of Jesus’ transfiguration is a reminder that we do. Just as Jesus bolstered the fragile faith of his disciples with a brief reminder of his glory, he invites us to find strength for our journey by remembering, moment-to-moment, who our God really is. He invites you to look past the human skin and see the glorious identity of our Savior, always eager to love, always ready to forgive, always ready to sacrifice whatever is necessary to be there for you when you cry out to him.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, help me to remember everything Jesus is and everything Jesus did so that I will never forget that I am your own child through him. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Ash Wednesday – Family Devotion – February 17, 2021

Luke 18:9-14

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:10-14

Ash Wednesday

 

Family Devotion – February 17, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 18:10-14

See series: Devotions

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

You couldn’t find two people who were more different than these two guys. One was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group of people who set themselves apart as special by doing extra things for God. They thought God would love them more when they did these extra things. This man in particular really thought he was special. He even bragged and boasted out loud in front of other people that he was so great—that he gave so much money to God and that he wasn’t as bad as other “sinners.”

The other man was a tax collector. This means that he collected tax money from his own Jewish people and gave it to the Romans. While many didn’t like this, the bad part was that most tax collectors cheated people and stole some of the money for themselves. This particular tax collector felt terrible about all his sins. He felt so guilty that he couldn’t even look up to heaven. Instead, he bowed his head and begged and pleaded, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

So . . . which guy are you?

That may sound strange, but remember that Jesus told this story to teach us something. Jesus wants us to understand that sometimes we sin by being proud and boastful, by thinking that we don’t sin much and that we are better than other people—just like the Pharisee. But other times we are like the tax collector and feel so bad and guilty about all that we have done! So which guy am I? I am both! Sometimes I’m a proud Pharisee and sometimes I’m a guilty tax collector.

Now here’s the most important question—which of the two in the story had a good relationship with God? Or in other words, which sinner did God forgive? Jesus tells us that God forgave the tax collector. Why? Because the tax collector repented. He was sorry for his sins, asked God for forgiveness, and wanted to make a change in his life.

This week includes Ash Wednesday, the first day of the church season we call Lent. Lent is a time for us to be like the tax collector. We remember our many sins, and we repent—we turn to God for forgiveness. But friends, rejoice! During Lent we will follow Jesus to the cross where he paid for all our sins so that we can be forgiven just like the tax collector. God bless our journey with Jesus to the cross this year!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, have mercy on us. We are sorry for our sins. We look to you for forgiveness, and we rejoice that you have paid for all we have done at the cross. Thank you! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What made the Pharisee so proud that he would brag to others?
  • Why did the tax collector feel so guilty and sad?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain how people sometimes act like the Pharisee in this story.
  • Explain how people sometimes act like the tax collector in this story.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The word repent literally means to change your mind or to turn around. Explain in your own words then what it means for us to repent of our sins.
  • Agree or Disagree: God will not forgive any sin unless you first repent of it. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 304:1,4,5 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Jesus sinners does receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander.
Here is hope for all who grieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

Come, O sinners, one and all, Come, accept his invitation.
Come, obey his gracious call; Come and take his free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe—Jesus sinners does receive.

I, a sinner, come to you With a penitent confession.
Savior, show me mercy, too; Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Jesus Gave Up His Glory – February 17, 2021

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them.
Mark 9:2,3

Jesus Gave Up His Glory


Daily Devotion – February 17, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 9:2,3

See series: Devotions

Today is the first day of the season of Lent. During this season you might hear some people say what they will be “giving up for Lent.” Some give up eating dessert, drinking alcohol, watching television, or checking social media during the 40 days of Lent. Why do they do this? Willingly giving up the use of something meaningful to them helps them better appreciate what Jesus was willing to give up during his time on earth. And what was Jesus willing to give up?

He gave up his use of the glory he revealed to his disciples on, what is named, the mountain of transfiguration. The dazzling whiteness that was brighter than anything the disciples ever could have imagined was something they had never seen when they looked at Jesus for as long as they had known him. Indeed, when Jesus called these men to be his disciples, when he walked with them from town to town, when he sat with them and taught them the truths of God’s Word, in every moment, Jesus looked very … normal. He looked just like them. But he wasn’t just like them. The Bible is clear that Jesus has always been “the radiance of God’s glory” (Hebrews 1:3).

Yet Jesus willingly gave up the use of that glory, not just for 40 days, but from the moment he entered the womb of a virgin as a fragile human until the moment his crucified body was placed into the grave in which he was buried. Why?

Because God wanted to give you a human friend who is “not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) who is also, as this glimpse of glory reminded the disciples, able to offer God a better sacrifice than any you or I could give him.

Jesus willingly gave up his glory so that we would never have to give up holding on to the certainty that we are forgiven of our sins through his sacrifice and eternal members of God’s own family.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, thank you for the glorious sacrifice of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

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