Saints Triumphant – November 22, 2017

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city.
Isaiah 52:1

Saints Triumphant


Daily Devotion – November 22, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1

See series: Devotions

As we near the end of the Church Year, we focus this week on the Saints Triumphant. Properly we think first of heaven, where believers live in triumph! But believers are triumphant now too!

That being said, this verse may puzzle us. Jerusalem, described as a holy city? That seems crazy. Throughout the years, Jerusalem certainly had some high points. But there are oh-so-many low points. Let’s just consider a couple of points from the ministry of Jeremiah:

  • that Jehoiakim, one of the kings of Judah, burned the scroll of Jeremiah’s book, trying to destroy the very Word of God. (Thankfully, God had him rewrite it.—Jeremiah 36.) That happened in Jerusalem.
  • that king Zedekiah tried to kill Jeremiah by throwing him into a cistern, where he sank into the mud. (Thankfully, God led Ebed-Melech to pull him out.—Jeremiah 38.) That happened in Jerusalem too.

Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you…” (Matthew. 23:37) And of course it’s in Jerusalem where Jesus himself was crucified after a horrid miscarriage of justice. The list could go on, so we look at Jerusalem and say, “Ugh!”

As we look at ourselves, we have plenty of reasons to say, “Ugh.” Oh, how often we’ve failed! Oh, how often we’ve not lived as saints, much less as the saints triumphant. We’ve been selfish and weak, angry and doubt-filled and so many other sinful things! Our “garments” are a mess, just like the “garments” of Jerusalem were a mess! Yet God urges the people of Jerusalem to clothe themselves in “your garments of splendor,” and calls them the “holy city.” Wait, Jerusalem? A “holy city, with garments of splendor?!?” That can’t be!

Ah, but it is! Because God was clothing Jerusalem as he clothed you. In Revelation 19:8, God talks about his people, and he makes the point, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” What we don’t have, God loves to give. Jerusalem was a mess on its own, but God’s forgiving love covered her. You and I are a mess, but God’s forgiving love covers us! Jesus took our stains, our torn “clothes,” our mess and he put it on himself! In exchange he gave us his perfectly pure “garments!”

So, you are a saint triumphant! Just like people of Jerusalem could be “saints triumphant” because the forgiving love of God covered them. So, you are a “saint triumphant,” because the forgiving love of Jesus covers you too. Clothed in those garments of perfection, you are a saint triumphant!

Prayer:
Lord, assure me that I am—and then lead me to live—as a saint triumphant. Amen.

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

Enduring Encouragement – November 21, 2017

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Enduring Encouragement


Daily Devotion – November 21, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

See series: Devotions

The holiday season is upon us. There are gifts to buy, family gatherings to attend, food to prepare, houses to clean and schedules to manage. At work there are deadlines to meet, overtime hours to put in, projects to complete and stressed out people to deal with. At school there are papers to write, assignments to finish and exams to take. If that were not enough, there is something deeper. Sure, the holidays can serve as an occasion to reconnect with family and friends, but they can also serve to remind us of the loss of loved ones. There is an empty chair at the Thanksgiving meal. There are not as many presents under the tree. That infectious laugh isn’t heard anymore. That room-brightening smile isn’t seen anymore. The warmth and love of a dear one isn’t felt anymore.

Stress and sorrow are part of living in a sinful world. They can darken our lives to such an extent that we fail to see not only the blessings God gives to us daily, but also the eternal glory he has in store for his people. We needn’t let the stress run us ragged or grieve like we have no hope. We do have hope. We have Jesus, our precious Savior, whose love is so great that he gave his life on a cross to forgive our every failure. We have Jesus, our risen Savior, who has turned death from a permanent condition to a temporary sleep. We have Jesus, our Lord, who will return, who will raise back to life those who have fallen asleep and will bring all his believers of every age to the eternal home he has prepared for them. We have Jesus. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.

So, when the stress of the season is overwhelming, when the sorrow of departed dear ones weighs heavily, take every ounce of encouragement from these beautiful words: We will be with the Lord forever. Encourage one another with these words. We will be with the Lord forever. That brilliant truth brightens the darkest day. We will be with the Lord forever.

Prayer:
O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation. We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation. Your saints are waiting patiently. Come soon, Redeemer; make us free from every evil. Amen.

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

Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017

Thankful for Prayer – Week of November 20, 2017


Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:4-6



Have you watched a toddler struggling to open something, put an article of clothing on, or climb up onto a chair? When they can’t accomplish the task they set out to do, they may throw something, or perhaps themselves, onto the floor in limp exasperation. You want to help, you know what they need, and you could even just complete the task for them—but instead you give them the words, “If you need help, say, ‘I need help’”. We want them to ask us for help when they need it, even if we know what they want. How happy we are to help when they ask!

God wants us to say, “I need help”. Even though he knows what we need before we pray it, he wants us to ask. He wants us to come to him with thanksgiving for all he has done for us and humbly ask him for what we desire. In this he keeps our focus on him, the only source of help, comfort, and blessing in this world. And when we reach out to him, our loving, all-knowing God is so happy to hear and answer our prayers!

We are reminded that we can be joyful even during times of trial. Even when we are suffering, we rejoice because Jesus came to us when we most needed help. Without him we would still be stuck in our own sin. We rejoice because Jesus died for us, he destroyed sin on the cross, and promises to return to take us to heaven. We rejoice, even when we are suffering, because God has promised to help us. We thank God for this first, and then humbly bring our requests to him. How happy our loving God is to help us!



Prayer: Dear Jesus, I need help! Give me a joyful heart always. I rejoice that you have forgiven me and promise to listen to my prayers. Today I would like to pray for (insert a concern, or request, or pray for someone that is going through a troubled time right now). Please help me through this challenge, knowing that all things work for the good of those who love you. Amen.

A Question to Consider: God wants us to pray! Make a short list of concerns that you have or people that you care about and pray for them this week. And Christmas cards are going to come soon! Every time you get a card in the mail, say a prayer for them and their family. God listens, every time.



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



Christ the King – November 20, 2017

Lord, Keep us Joyful in Christ our King!

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of End Time.

God’s Word for This Week

Lord, keep us joyful in Christ our King! On this last Sunday of the church year, we rejoice in the fulfillment of God’s plan for our salvation through Christ our King. And we rejoice because our Christ our King reigns—the king who once came as a sacrifice; the king who still shepherds us day by day; the king who one day will conquer all our enemies. Rejoice in his reign and look forward to the day when every knee will bow with us before the King of kings and Lord of lords!

First Lesson – Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23, 24

Since the time of David, Israel had called her kings “shepherds.” The men who followed in David’s line, however, did not shepherd Israel in the paths of God. So God made a promise: the Sovereign LORD would shepherd his people. Notice the first-person pronouns in this lesson—we rejoice because we have a King who acts on behalf of his people, like a shepherd for sheep. God says, “I will guide them; I will guard them; I will seek them; I will find them.” Most importantly, God promised to raise up King David’s greater Son to be the prince of his people and their Good Shepherd. Rejoice in the Christ the King who shepherds his flock day by day!

Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

 If the story of Christ ended on Good Friday, there could be no joy at all. Had Christ not been raised, we should be pitied more than all men, as Paul says in the verse immediately preceding this lesson. But the story didn’t end on Friday—a whole new chapter started on Easter Sunday morning! Christ has indeed been raised, and that means he is the firstfruits of the dead. When the Israelites brought the firstfruit offering to the Lord, they confessed that the whole harvest belonged to God, and they rejoiced at the greater harvest that was coming. Through the resurrection of Jesus, God promised that a field full of souls will follow the firstfruits from death to life. Until then, Christ will reign as king until the Great Day comes when he reverses everything Adam ruined and destroys every enemy that stands against the Church. Then our joy will be complete, and God will be all in all. Rejoice in Christ the King who will conquer all our enemies!

 Gospel – Matthew 27:27-31

 Joyful? How can this make us rejoice? The scene would seem like bad satire if not for its sad reality. Petty little men in a tiny little fortress bully the One who created light from darkness and divided land from sea. He deserved the finest crown, but look what man gave! He deserved the noblest scepter, but look what man handed him! He deserved the sincerest devotion, but look what man offered! He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. The King of heaven came to earth, and look at what man gave him! He could have swept them all away; he could have condemned us like he had the fallen angels. Man deserved nothing more—but look at what he gave! He gave his holiness for our sin and his death for our life. This scene is joyful because we know how it ends. The picture of our King wearing a crown of thorns is not tragic, but rather it is full of grace. We have a King in Christ who left his heavenly throne and regnavit a ligno crucis (“reigned from the wood of the cross”, Justin Martyr; Augustine). Rejoice in Christ the King who came as our sacrifice!

Keep watch! – November 20, 2017

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. … Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-2,13

Keep watch!


Daily Devotion – November 20, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 25:1-2,13

See series: Devotions

Ten virgins wait for the bridegroom to arrive. Five are wise and bring oil for their lamps and five are foolish and have no oil. When the bridegroom finally arrives, the wise ones are ready to meet him with brightly burning lamps. The foolish ones, however scramble to find oil and get shut out from the wedding banquet.

Jesus uses this parable to teach about his return on the Last Day. Jesus is the Bridegroom. You are waiting for him to arrive, and he tells you to keep watch. So how do you do that? Look for him to check in on Facebook or post on Instagram? Buy a telescope and study the sky nonstop? No. When Jesus tells you to keep watch, he’s not telling you to stare up into the sky. “Keep watch” is another way of saying, “Be ready.” Just as the wise virgins had to be ready at all times, you also must be ready since you do not know when Jesus will return.

But who hasn’t lived like a fool? Hearing God’s Word one day and then living your own way the next. Hating the same people, giving in to the same sins, finding more ways to please yourself instead of new ways to serve others—all while forgetting Jesus’ pending arrival.

So Jesus speaks this parable to remind you that you need to be ready. Where does that readiness come from? Your readiness comes from God!

On the tree of the cross, God the Son was crushed for your iniquities and paid for your sins. At your baptism, God the Spirit readied you by writing God’s name on you and adopting you into his family. In his holy Word, God the Father constantly calls you to repentance and prepares you to enter the heavenly banquet.

When Jesus returns on the Last Day, you will be ready because of him and what he has given you. So keep watch! Light your lamp and live in Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, keep me ready for your arrival on the Last Day. Come quickly, Lord Jesus! Amen.

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

Battle cry – November 19, 2017

Battle cry – November 19, 2017


Oh, my anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain. Oh, the agony of my heart! My heart pounds within me, I cannot keep silent. For I have heard the sound of the trumpet; I have heard the battle cry.
Jeremiah 4:19




Military Devotion – November 19, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 4:19

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes a sound can trigger an inner alarm. The smash of the car wreck; the beeping of the heart monitor showing a flat line; the blast of an IED: any of these can panic us.

For the prophet Jeremiah, it was the sound of a trumpet with the cry of battle.

Modern warriors can relate to this. During the firefight, sounds may be scarcely noted. It is afterward; when things have quieted down; when the danger is past, that one’s mind replays the event in memories or dreams. Even years later, the sounds of an old battle might suddenly return to rattle us while walking through Walmart.

Scary sounds can echo in our minds.

But Jeremiah’s case is different. He heard sounds not of present or past battles. His heart pounded because he heard the battle cry from the future.

“Tell this to the nations, proclaim concerning Jerusalem ‘A besieging army is coming from a distant land, raising a war cry against the cities of Judah’” (Jeremiah 4:16).

This was God’s warning. He reinforced the words by providing a vision of the future complete with sound effects. The threatened disaster was as certain as if it had already happened.

Anguish, pain, and agony now welled up within Jeremiah. Bad enough if this had been a memory. Much worse to know this was yet to come.

The besieging army would be the Assyrians. Fortress walls would be breached, defenses overrun. Many would die. The rest of the ten northern tribes of Israel would be taken captive. Jeremiah would also write a book called, “Lamentations.” He had much to lament.

We might ask, “Since this disaster was certainly going to take place, why did Jeremiah need to know about it in advance? Didn’t this add to his misery?”

It surely did. But it also added to his faith and trust in the Lord his God. How so?

Jeremiah would live to see the threats of God take place before his own eyes. He would learn, When the Lord speaks, it is so. When he warns, people should fear. The Assyrian invasion would prove that.

When the Lord speaks, it is so. His promise is as certain as his threat. The unfolding of history would prove that.

When we look to the past, we see his promises fulfilled in amazing and wonderful ways. Two tribes of Israel would survive. The Savior would come. We have the testimony of Scripture. We can see the past through its words.

But that’s only part of the wonder. Like a Jeremiah, we can actually see into the future. We know how the world will end. We can already hear the cry of victory in heaven.

Though at times we may fear and worry, the bottom line is that we can say with Jeremiah: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him” (Jeremiah 17:7).



Prayer: Lord of time and space, whose hands hold the future and the past, open our ears to hear your voice as you call out to us in your Word. We tremble before your fist of justice, but we smile at your assurance of forgiveness and peace. We wait for the battle cries to cease, and the songs of victory to sound forth. Give us your peace. Amen.



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

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




Heaven Will be Different – November 19, 2017

Jesus replied, “The people of this age marry and are given in marriage. But those who are considered worthy of taking part in that age and in the resurrection from the dead will neither marry nor be given in marriage, and they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God’s children, since they are children of the resurrection.
Luke 20:34-36

Heaven Will be Different


Daily Devotion – November 19, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 20:34-36

See series: Devotions

Tell a little girl that heaven is the happiest place to be, and then ask her to describe what she thinks it will be like. She may compare it to the happiest things she knows: free candy and no cavities, ice cream any time you want it, new clothes to wear every day. Heaven is indeed the happiest of all places, but there is nothing on earth that can compare. As different as God is from us, that’s how different heaven is from earth.

For some, this is a real sticking point. In today’s reading, some Sadducees came to Jesus with a question. The Sadducees believed only in the things they could see and touch, and so they didn’t believe in angels, or heaven, or the resurrection from the dead. Their question was a trick question, intended to trip Jesus up over his own words. In effect they asked: if a woman was married more than one time in this life, to whom will she be married in heaven? For the Sadducees, heaven seemed so strange and different, so outside their realm of experience, that it couldn’t be real.

Sadly, we all struggle with a similar problem in our relationship with God. When we compare the words of the Bible to the words of this world, we are struck by how different the Bible is. God has high expectations for how we live, but we’re just trying to get by. God has a plan to save us, but we tend not to think we even need saving. Because God’s Word is so different, we find ourselves wanting to set it aside. Even when we know God’s Word is good for us, we neglect it. And so we become living proof of another key difference between us and God. He is holy, and we are sinners.

The differences between us and God lead us to run from him, but they don’t lead him to run from us. Just the opposite: God’s Son Jesus became one of us. He took the guilt of all sins onto himself, and he paid for them with his own blood, and why? He did it so that he could be with us, and we could be with him, now and forever.

Jesus didn’t apologize to the Sadducees for how different heaven is from earth. In fact he described it in terms more foreign to them than they had imagined. In heaven, like angels, we will never die, and there will be no marriage.

As believers living in this world of pain and sorrow, we are happy to hear that heaven will be different. In fact, the best part about heaven is the thing that makes it the most different of all. In heaven, we will get to see God face to face, serving him and one another in sinless joy forever.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, forgive my sinful neglect of you. Thank you for sending your Son Jesus to take my sin away. Help me remember the glorious future you have in store for me and all who believe in you. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – November 19, 2017

I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.
2 Timothy 1:5

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of because you know those from whom you learned it.
2 Timothy 3:14

Thank you, God, for faith sharers.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Grease the pan, cream the butter and sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla; stir in the cake flour, pour it into the pan and bake for 75 minutes. I remember doing that as a kid. I was interested in how to make more than PB&J, so I listened, watched, and learned. Now I take that knowledge and continue to hone my skills. I still love to bake today; I love to build on what I learned as a child in the kitchen.

It’s fun when you can continue to do the things you were taught when you were little. It’s fun to build on what you learned from the important people in your life.

My parents taught me a lot of other things too. I worked on our cars and built computers. I planted a garden and learned to do the laundry. I learned habits too—like patience, compassion, and hard work. Most importantly, my parents taught me about Jesus. I say “most importantly” because if they had not shared Jesus with me, who would have?

Maybe you have had some of the same thoughts. Maybe you’ve thought something like this: “If so and so wouldn’t have shared the good about Jesus, would I have ever learned about my God and my Savior?”

The good news is that many of you do know who Jesus is because someone told you about the need for a Savior and Jesus, the solution. Maybe it was a pastor, a teacher, a friend, parents, or another family member. Maybe you’re just starting to hear about Jesus from these devotions. All of that is God’s work in your life, sending faith-sharers to help you know who Jesus is.

So, remember to take the apostle Paul’s words to heart and continue to grow in what you have learned. Keep growing so that you can be that person who shares Jesus with someone else. In the meantime, say “Thank you, God” for bringing me Jesus through my own personal faith-sharer.

Here’s this week’s challenge: Identify who God used to tell you about Jesus. Send them a text, or write them a note to say “Thank you for telling me about Jesus.”

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for sending ___________ into my life to share the good news about Jesus. Through your Word and sacrament, I have the greatest treasure ever given to me. Amen.

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

Eternal Encouragement – November 18, 2017

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God chose you to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word. Finally, brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.
2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

Eternal Encouragement


Daily Devotion – November 18, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13-3:5

See series: Devotions

Life can be pretty discouraging at times. There is depressing news happening all over the world and the media is more than willing to bring us down by sharing every detail. Health problems, family problems, financial stress, and much more are very depressing. Christian people can feel pretty lonely and stressed trying to believe and defend all the teachings of Scripture, as God wants us to, in a world that cares little for what God says in his Word. And looming on the horizon for each one of us is the great equalizer—death, and the eternal questions that death brings.

Encouragement from family and friends is most welcome at times like this. Vacations, hobbies, and entertainment can distract us from our problems for a time. Unfortunately, those things don’t provide “eternal” encouragement. We need to look to God for that and he does not disappoint. “From the beginning God chose you to be saved.” Before you were even conceived and born God chose you to be saved from the eternity in hell and determined heaven for you instead. “He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Those God has chosen to be a part of his eternal family he also makes sure they hear and believe the good news (gospel) that Jesus Christ loves you so much that he was willing to suffer hell in your place so you wouldn’t have to. And just like Jesus rose victoriously from the grave and now lives in the glory of heaven forever, those who are connected to Jesus in faith will experience that same resurrection from the dead and will share the same awesomeness of heaven…forever.

“The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” God will not let anyone or anything, including the Devil, get in the way of you spending eternity with him in heaven. My friends, as you navigate through the discouraging things that happen in life, be eternally encouraged by God’s promises.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, help me to treasure the physical life you have given to me as a gift. Even more so, help me to treasure the spiritual and eternal life you give to me as a gift through faith in Christ Jesus. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Worth it? – November 17, 2017

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Romans 8:18

Worth it?


Daily Devotion – November 17, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:18

See series: Devotions

Is it worth it? We ask ourselves this question many times every day. Is it worth it to drive out of our way to save a few pennies on gas? Is it worth getting the kids out of the car or should we just use the drive-through? Is it worth it to pay for two-day shipping or can we wait a few extra days?

Thankfully there is one decision that is so clear we have no need to wonder, “Is it worth it?” God tells us that our present sufferings are not worth comparing to the glory that will be revealed in us. In other words, if you piled all your sufferings on one side of a scale and on the other side the glory that awaits you in heaven, the scale would tip fast to the side of glory. In fact, the answer would be so obvious you would wonder why you even bothered to weigh them at all.

Is it worth it to go through sufferings on your way to heaven? Is it worth it to continue to fight against sin? Is it worth it to be made fun of and looked down on for your faith? Is it worth it to go through loneliness, poverty, disease, trusting in God’s power to save? Is it worth it to suffer things like these? God says that it will be so worth it that it isn’t even worth comparing.

Think about your worst day. No matter how bad it was or what happened, a time is coming when you will be so happy, content, perfect and at peace, that your worst day won’t even be remembered. No matter how bad things get, God promises you that the good coming in your eternal future will far outweigh any bad you go through now.

Is it worth the suffering to be with Jesus? God’s Word tells you to not even compare the present with the future. The glory God has in store for you is better by far.

Prayer:
Father in heaven, keep my eyes focused on the glory you promise me that I may not despair of my sufferings. Amen.

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

Led by the Spirit – November 16, 2017

Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.
Romans 8:14-16

Led by the Spirit


Daily Devotion – November 16, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:14-16

See series: Devotions

Today in your prayers, pause to give thanks to the Holy Spirit. He is true God, whom we worship together with God the Father and God the Son—the Triune God. Pause to give thanks to the Holy Spirit because his work is vital for your eternal relationship with God.

Without the work of the Holy Spirit, you would be terrified of God’s judgment. Your spirit would be enslaved by the fear of death. You would be lost in the hopelessness of eternal separation from God.

However, in his amazing love for you, God the Father gave you his Holy Spirit. The Father gave the Spirit to you through the gospel—the good news of salvation in his Son, Jesus Christ. By the power of gospel, the Holy Spirit connected you to God. He led you to trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of all your sins and brought you into God’s holy family. The Spirit made you a child of God.

Now as you are led by the Spirit, you are not afraid of God. You are one of his children! He dearly loves you. He proved his love by giving his own Son, Jesus, to suffer and die so that you can be so closely united with God that you can call him, “Abba, Father.” You can live in the firm confidence that God is your loving Father and you are his dear child—for time and eternity!

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, I thank you for making me a child of God through faith in Jesus as my Savior. Live in my heart to instill my spirit with the confidence of life with God now and forever. Amen.

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

A Sight to Keep in Mind – November 15, 2017

“As I looked, “thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”
Daniel 7:9-10

A Sight to Keep in Mind


Daily Devotion – November 15, 2017

Devotion based on Daniel 7:9-10

See series: Devotions

Out of sight, out of mind. You don’t often think about the memorabilia you have stuffed into storage. Out of sight, out of mind. Unless you’re a mechanic, you don’t often think about your vehicle’s engine. Out of sight, out of mind.

Then suddenly you find yourself thinking about those things. You crave to see some old pictures because a dear friend has died. You pop open your car’s hood because that one noise has gotten so much louder.

Too often God drifts out of our regular thoughts. We see and experience the people, the things, the joys, and the struggles of life—they’re right in front of our faces. But God doesn’t visibly occupy a chair at the supper table. He doesn’t physically hug you when you cry. Is God out of sight and often out of mind?

One day, God will be very much “in sight.” We’ll be standing face-to-face with our God, our righteous Judge. About 550 years before Jesus was born, God showed a man named Daniel a vision. As Daniel described that vision, he wrote how God appeared. God’s clothing was white as snow and his hair white like wool. The throne he sat on was flaming with fire. Daniel was seeing God in his holiness and power. God was seated to judge.

One day, you will stand before God who will judge you. If you go alone and trusting in yourself, you can expect God’s anger and eternal punishment. Your own goodness is not good enough. Hoping and wishing God won’t care about your sin against him won’t change his heart or judgment. If you are on our own, you should be terrified of that day.

You will stand face-to-face with God. But if you believe in Jesus as your Savior, you will not be alone. Jesus, your Savior, is at your side. What will your holy and all-powerful God declare? His judgment will be the same as he now gives you through his gospel of salvation. Through faith in Jesus, God has credited you with the perfection of his Son’s holy life, and God has declared you not guilty of your sins on account of Jesus’ innocent sufferings and death for you. He proved it by raising his Son from the dead. With Jesus, you have peace with God. You stand in God’s grace.

Keep that day in mind—the day you’ll stand face-to-face with God. Keep Jesus in mind—his life and death and resurrection for you. Keep in mind your forgiveness and peace with God. Keep them in mind even though now God is out of sight. One day that will change and you will see God face-to-face.

Prayer:
Dear God, it is so easy to forget about you and the day I will see you face-to-face. Forgive my sins for Jesus’ sake. Fill my heart with your peace and my life with love for you and others. Amen.

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

Normalcy Bias – November 14, 2017

The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.
1 Thessalonians 5:2

Normalcy Bias


Daily Devotion – November 14, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:2

See series: Devotions

Want to learn a new term? Here it is. The term is Normalcy Bias.

Normalcy Bias is the assumption that just as things have been in the recent past, so they will always be in the future. Normalcy Bias is extremely common. We are all vulnerable to it and observers of human nature have said it can be one of the most dangerous biases we have. For instance, Normalcy Bias is responsible for many car accidents. If you carelessly breeze through the same unmarked intersection hundreds of times without meeting another car, you can begin to assume you will never meet another car. That assumption will work—until the day it doesn’t. Normalcy Bias was a factor in causing the builders of the Titanic not to include enough lifeboats. And even after the Titanic struck the iceberg, Normalcy Bias prevented people from getting into the lifeboats. So powerful was the assumption that ocean liners could no longer sink. It was Normalcy Bias that convinced a lot of people not to flee Nazi Germany when they had the chance, because they felt sure that the homeland their families had known for years could not possibly turn into a nightmare.

When it comes to our relationship with God, Normalcy Bias can be a factor as well.

If I live my life without paying much attention to God and his Word; if I rack up day after week after year of going to work and coming home without any kind of shocking crisis, it can be easy for me to assume that this is how it will continue. This is life as it should be and that God is not important. Such an assumption on my part will work—until the day it doesn’t.

Through the apostle Paul, God’s Word says, “The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” God tells us this as a warning. But even this warning comes from a heart of supreme love.

Throughout Scripture, the Lord’s call to us is urgent. “Listen, listen to me,” he says (Isaiah 55:2). “Seek the LORD while he may be found,” he says (Isaiah 55:6). “Now is the day of salvation,” he says (2 Corinthians 6:2).

The heart of love that puts out such an urgent call to you and me is the same heart that drove God to become one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s the same love that drove him to carry our every sin to the cross and make full payment for all of them.

This is how passionate our Savior’s love is. He wants to shatter the deception of our Normalcy Bias. And he wants to replace it with the reality of sins forgiven through faith in him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, where I have a sinful Normalcy Bias in my relationship with you, do what you must to break it. Embrace me in your grace. Amen.

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

Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017

Thankful for Peace – Week of November 13, 2017


Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15



What rules your heart? What has “first place” in your heart and mind? Is it something worldly like money and status? Does family life and the daily schedule occupy your heart and mind the most? The devil doesn’t care what is in your heart, as long as it isn’t the peace of Christ!

God tells us to let the “peace of Christ” rule in our hearts. This peace comes from knowing that God has saved us through the death of Jesus, who took all our sins on the cross when he died. We feel peace because we know that Jesus always forgives us.

Our Christian colleagues, friends and families have this same peace. We were all together lost in our sins, and Christ died for all. For this we should be thankful! We are also thankful that God gives us co-workers and families that share the same peace in Christ. When this peace is in our hearts, we can work through challenges even when plans, opinions, and personalities clash.

With peace in our hearts, it is easier to forgive others. A peaceful, forgiven heart is happy to forgive others. We are “sinners living with sinners” and want to share the forgiveness and peace God has given us with those God has placed in our life. How thankful we are that God places others in our life to work through the challenges in this world! How thankful we are for the peace of Christ!



Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the peace of Christ. Let this peace rule in my heart as I work with children, parents, families, and co-workers. Let my words and actions reflect your love and the peace that you have given me through your son, Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Question to Consider: Think of a specific challenge that you have with a co-worker or family member. How can “having the peace of Christ” help you work through this challenge?



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



The Time Will Come – November 13, 2017

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
Matthew 25:31-33

The Time Will Come


Daily Devotion – November 13, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 25:31-33

See series: Devotions

“God will have to take me just the way I am.” George sincerely believed he was good enough for heaven just the way he was. When his friend Bob tried to gently correct his friend’s lack of understanding, George became even more set in his beliefs. Although Bob tried to get George to listen to what the Scriptures had to say, George only became more adamant. In the end all Bob could say was, the time will come when things will be different.

What Bob tried to get his friend to understand is the very lesson Jesus taught his disciples. It is a lesson I need to hear, learn, and believe. The time will come when Jesus will return to the earth. At his return he will separate the sheep from the goats, namely the believers from the unbelievers. What I need to understand is I have to be ready when that time comes.

There is only one way for me to be ready. It is through faith in Jesus as my Savior. As I prepare to stand before him on the day of judgment, I need to be perfect—completely free from every spot, stain and blemish of sin. By myself this is impossible. However, through faith in Jesus I am declared perfect. His sinless life becomes my sinless life. His innocent death becomes my innocent death. His victory over the devil becomes my victory.

This is why I cling to Jesus’ precious work with the strength he provides. It is only through him I am declared one of his sheep. It is also only through him I am called to his right hand and eternal life.

Prayer:
O blessed Jesus, the time will come when you will return in glory. Give me the faith I need to trust in your precious work. Give me the strength I need to stand firm until you come again. Amen.

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

Saints Triumphant – November 13, 2017

Lord, Keep us Watchful for our Triumph!

These are the readings for the Third Sunday of End Time.

God’s Word for This Week

Lord, keep us watchful for our triumph! Today the Church hears strains of the distant triumph song and affirms, “Blessed are they who are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb.” Jesus wants us to be the waiting Church—the Church that watches for her Savior and cries, “Come, Lord Jesus!” As we journey through these latter days, however, our vigilance slips, and our hearts grow drowsy because the bridegroom seems to be taking so long. So while we wait, the Church prays, “Keep us ever watchful for the coming of your Son that we may sit with him and all your holy ones at the marriage feast in heaven.”

Prayer of the Day

Almighty God and Savior, you have set the final day and hour when we shall be delivered from this world of sin and death. Keep us ever watchful for the coming of your Son that we may sit with him and all your holy ones at the marriage feast in heaven; through your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

First Lesson – Isaiah 52:1-6

Isaiah prophesies to captive Israel who is sleepwalking through life, because they are lost in the stupor of grief over their afflictions. “Awake!” the prophet cries, and hear God’s promise of coming triumph that will give you strength to face your present problems. God would reveal his glory by redeeming his people and leading them safely home. Captive Israel here is a picture of the waiting Church, and one day God will fulfill this promise also in us. The Church of the End Times labors in a world held captive by sin, and is tempted to sleepwalk through these last days. So the prophet cries to us, “Awake!” for the day of triumph is coming when God will lay bare his arm and redeem us from sin, death, and the devil forever. He will lead us to the New Jerusalem where we will sit enthroned at the marriage feast of the Lamb. The day is coming—watch for it!

Who are the “uncircumcised and defiled” that will never enter the holy city of Jerusalem?

Throughout its history, Israel had been invaded and attacked by foreign nations (most recently by the nation of Assyria). Due to their disobedience, pagan armies entered and even conquered Jerusalem. God promised that a day would come when Jerusalem would be freed from such invasions. In the New Testament we find that the true Israel and the true Jerusalem are God’s holy people–his church. We will see the deliverance foretold by Isaiah when we put on our “garments of splendor” in heaven.

Verse three tells us that we were redeemed without money. Define the term “redeem”.

To redeem means “to buy back” or “to pay the price of freedom.” Jesus paid the price necessary to free us from our slavery to sin and death. He did this, “not with gold or silver, but with his holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death.”

Second Lesson – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

To the new Christians in Thessalonica, Paul explains the certain hope we have to be saints triumphant. His words are so simple, yet so profound! We believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that all who die in Christ will go with him to heavenly triumph. And we will be with the Lord forever. This is the crown jewel of the Christian faith: blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. Paul’s main point: encouragement. Encourage each other with the hope of saints triumphant so that there is neither ignorance nor hopeless grief, but rather faithful, expectant watching for the triumph we know is coming.

Supplemental First Lesson – Ezekiel 37:15-28

This lesson immediately follows Ezekiel’s prophecy about the dry bones. God had promised Israel that he would raise them up from their graves and settle them in the land. He promised to restore captive Israel to the land of Abraham. The rescue and return of the remnant provides a picture of what the Church waits and watches for. In this lesson God extends that prophecy beyond physical Israel to the Church and to the Messianic kingdom of his Son. Earthly troubles like the captivity or our struggle with sin are temporary. The triumph that’s coming won’t be. Notice that in the last four verses God repeatedly talks about the unending nature of the kingdom waiting for us. It will be a kingdom without divisions caused by sin, but exemplified by oneness (one stick, one nation, one king, one shepherd—forever). How will this be? Look at how many times God says that he will act for us! We are purely passive in acquiring the triumph in store for us. God will act to save and to cleanse and to renew his covenant: I will be their God, and they will be my people. As Ezekiel held his bound sticks before the eyes of his countrymen, so the Church holds God’s promises of pending triumph before us and continually cries, “Wait for it! Watch for it!”

Supplemental Second Lesson – Revelation 19:1-9

What kind of triumph are we watching and waiting for?

For the persecuted Church, Jesus gave the Apocalypse of St. John, to let his people know: Jesus will win. Revelation 18 foretold the fall of Babylon and the destruction of every enemy of the Church. “After this…” John heard the reaction of the saints and angels and all creation—they cried, “Hallelujah!” The word used so prevalently in the Old Testament was not heard in the New Testament until its final vision of the saints triumphant. George Handel tried to capture the glory of what John witnessed with his Hallelujah Chorus, but his work will certainly pale by comparison to that distant triumph song. John lets us see behind the shut door of the parable in our Gospel for the Sunday—he lets us see what we watch for: the consummation of the marriage of Christ and the Church. Blessed are they who are called to the marriage feast of the Lamb! Keep us watchful for our coming triumph!

Gospel – Matthew 25:1-13

Jesus pictures the time before his return as virgins waiting for a bridegroom and the start of a wedding feast. The parable divides all people (ten virgins) into two groups: foolish and wise. They weren’t described that way because of what they did in the parable, but their actions showed what they were. The foolish virgins acted utterly foolish, bearing empty lamps. The other virgins’ actions showed that they indeed were wise. The wise went into the joys of wedding banquet, but the foolish lost both invitation and even recognition. Jesus’ central instruction in this parable calls for the waiting Church to be the watchful Church. Keep watch for you do not know the day or the hour!

Know What I Have – November 12, 2017

Jesus replied, “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away. But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.”
Luke 19:26-27

Know What I Have


Daily Devotion – November 12, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 19:26-27

See series: Devotions

Bigger is better. Greed is good. Selfishness is acceptable. This is the world’s message, and it is alluring. It puts me first. It also gives me permission to get whatever I can. Jesus offers a different perspective, and it demands my full attention.

Jesus addressed the many misconceptions people had regarding the kingdom of God. Some thought it should be a clearly visible and an immediately recognizable earthly kingdom. Others thought it didn’t make any difference how one lived, God would be more than happy to welcome all.

Strange as it seems, nothing has really changed. People still have the wrong idea about God’s kingdom, and I am confronted by the same misunderstanding. This is why I need to listen to Jesus’ lesson, and know what I have.

The temptation is to always want more, bigger and better. It is just as tempting to put myself first. Unfortunately, the pursuit of the things of this world and self-gratification put me outside of God’s kingdom. It also places me under his just judgment.

I need to listen to Jesus’ clear call to look at what I already have. Through God’s undeserved love in Jesus and the gift of faith, I am already a member of God’s kingdom. Not only do I have the assurance of his care and protection, I also know what the future holds. When I leave this world, I will be with him in heaven. My life under his ruling care will only get better. This is why I delight in living under his loving rule as my Lord. Yes, serving myself brings certain joys, but these will eventually be lost in death. When I serve the Lord and put him first, I know I have an even greater treasure waiting for me in heaven.

So, do I choose what the world offers? Will I indulge myself and satisfy my selfish desires? Or, do I choose what the Lord offers? Will I serve him and rejoice in his loving direction? My answer is found at the cross of my Savior Jesus Christ. Here I see what God has done for me. Here I know what I have.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, open my eyes to see the great blessings which are already mine through faith. Remove every earthly desire and rid me of my selfish ways. Renew me by your undeserved love and restore my joy in living under your good will and direction. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Transformed – teen devotion – November 12, 2017

The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Psalm 145:15–16

Thank you, God, for your support in life.

A personal note of thanks:

Heavenly Father,

I just wanted to say thank you for ice cream. It’s so good! It’s cold! It’s tasty! In all honesty, Lord, I want to say thank you, not just for the ice cream but for all the good things you give me. So often I forget to do so. You are so generous, and I often fail to give thanks. Thank you, God.

God, you don’t just care for me, you care for everyone. You love everyone and everything, even the creatures of this world that are a distant thought to me. Without you, your creation would not make it. I would not survive. But there you are, taking care of all people, all creatures, and all creation. Thank you!

And you’re more than just there—your hand is open, and your blessings overflow. You give the squirrels their nuts, the birds their worms, and the mighty lion his food. Then there is me. I’m just a speck of sand on this earth. But I have your attention! I have your love! And you take care of all my needs. Thank you!

As I sit here and think, I can’t help but remember that you not only give, but give so generously. My closet, my home, and my heart are full of your blessings. You have blessed me with so much variety and continually give me more than what I need to get by. You give me my life and breath, my time and talents. You give me my loved ones, my friends, and so much more. I am so blessed! Thank you!

I especially thank you, Lord, for the gift of Jesus, my Savior. In him, I have the joy and confidence of knowing that even when my earthly strength fails or tragedy hits, no matter my age, I have eternal life. Thank you for Jesus. You are my ultimate blessing in this life and the next. Thank you, God. Amen.

This is my personal prayer of thanksgiving. Here’s is this week’s challenge. In your journal or notes app, write your own prayer of thanksgiving to God for all his blessings to you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you created the world and continue to care for it even though it is filled and tainted with sin. Thank you! Help us all to turn our eyes to you as the animals do and give thanks to you for all your blessings, especially Jesus. Amen.

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

The Lord Calls to You – November 11, 2017

“This is what the LORD says: Stand in the courtyard of the LORD’s house and speak to all the people of the towns of Judah who come to worship in the house of the LORD. Tell them everything I command you; do not omit a word. Perhaps they will listen and each will turn from his evil way. Then I will relent and not bring on them the disaster I was planning because of the evil they have done.”
Jeremiah 26:2-3

The Lord Calls to You


Daily Devotion – November 11, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 26:2-3

See series: Devotions

A car speeds down the Interstate. The red signs blaring out “DO NOT ENTER” and “WRONG WAY” make no impression on his drunken senses. Then it’s all over in a head-on collision.

Which direction are you headed in? How tempting to point out how others are going in the wrong direction rather than examining our own hearts! Yes, the sexual pervert, the murderer, the abuser, and the thief are headed in the wrong direction. The Lord calls out to them: “I have no take no pleasure in the death of anyone … so turn, and live” (Ezekiel 18:32 ESV).

But his call is not only for them. Notice where the Lord sent Jeremiah to speak the words of today’s reading, which call the people to turn from their evil ways. Not to a brothel, tavern, or prison, but to the temple. He was to speak to those coming to worship.

Rather than honestly confessing our own sins, how easy to let the act of worship (or let other good things that are meant to bless us) dull our sense of guilt and deaden our desire to serve our Savior. We tell ourselves: “I’m not perfect, but God forgives. So what’s the big deal if I mess up? Do I have to listen to everything he says? Just let me live life my way.”

That mindset speeds down the Interstate of life in the wrong direction, oblivious to the warning signs. How soon before the fatal crash that ends in hell?

The Lord calls to you and me each day: “Turn and live. Turn from your evil ways. For I want to bless you. How earnestly I want to bless you! For I gave up my own dear Son for you.”

Prayer:
How fervent is your love, heavenly Father! How precious the blood of your Son! Lead me each day to turn from my own ways and follow him alone. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Only an armistice – November 11, 2017

Only an armistice – November 11, 2017


When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
Mark 13:7




Military Devotion – November 11, 2017

Devotion based on Mark 13:7

See series: Military Devotions

They poked their heads out of the trenches, half-expecting to hear the rattle of machine guns. Only silence. They began to walk onto no-mans-land standing up. Still nothing. They saw enemy uniforms appear. No weapons threatened.

The report was true. On this 11th hour of the 11th day of this 11th month the Great War ended. Former enemies shook hands. Comrades hugged. America’s doughboys would soon be headed home. An armistice had been signed.

Waves of relief flowed over hearts and minds. Millions wept with joy. The “war to end all wars” had come to an end.

But it was only an armistice.

The terms of the agreement to stop fighting would sow the seeds of another round of fighting. This would be a worse war. The killings would triple.

Then another round of war would come into the world after that. And another one. And still another.

War does not end. It just pauses for a while. The best we can hope for is an armistice.

Those who have heard the words of Jesus are not surprised. He described our times. He warned that wars and rumors of wars would happen up to the day he would return.

We believe him.

That’s why we support those who train for war on behalf of our nation. That’s why we pray for those in harm’s way. That’s why we tend to the needs of those who have returned from war.

We renamed Armistice Day to become Veterans Day. We learned that an armistice does not last. Veterans, however, we will always have.

A veteran of WWI once said something about this special day that those who have never seen the face of war need to know. He wrote that for people like him, it is: “Not a day of solemn commemoration, but a day of agonized remembrance.”

Civilians may commemorate, they may show respect for those who waged war on behalf of them. They should.

Combat veterans do the same. But alongside the respect, lies the agony of remembrance.

What do we tell them? We point them to the One who knew agony beyond measure so that we might be free from it forever.

Concerning wars, “Such things must happen” Jesus assures us. He is still in control.

But the day is coming when all painful remembrances and every other agony will stop in an awesome moment.

Jesus tells us now, “The end is still to come.” It is not here yet.

But it will come. All war will end. He will make it so.

And that ending will not be only an armistice.



Prayer:
The Lord bless you and keep you.
The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you.
The Lord look on you with favor and give you peace. Amen.



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

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




Enjoy the Blessings of the Spirit – November 10, 2017

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

Enjoy the Blessings of the Spirit


Daily Devotion – November 10, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:5-8

See series: Devotions

Some people are openly disobedient. They seem to delight in daring the authorities by finding ways to break the rules aggressively and defiantly. They do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Other people are quietly, subversively disobedient. They are so sneaky that they are not usually caught. They know that no one suspects them, and they get away with a lot.

Both groups of people do not please God. He wants people to follow his laws happily and obediently, even the laws that are counter-cultural or counter-intuitive. God is not even pleased by good people who follow his laws but for the wrong reasons. God looks for perfect integrity.

Instead, everywhere he looks God sees disobedience and hostility. People resent his high standards. But God has a surprising solution to that problem.

Rather than punishing people, God sends his Spirit into their hearts. The Spirit comes by hearing God’s message from the Bible and the Spirit changes things.

The Spirit causes people to believe that Jesus was punished for their sins even though he had done nothing wrong. People are grateful when they hear that they are forgiven and that they are going to have eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus. People like to know that they are at peace with God and that he is not going to punish them because he has already punished Jesus in their place.

Because the Spirit gives people joy and peace, they set their minds on what the Spirit desires, which is faith in Jesus and from that faith flows love and kindness. Hang around those people and enjoy the blessings of the Spirit.

Prayer:
Martin Luther, whose birthday is celebrated today, often prayed: Heavenly Father, keep me this day from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. Amen.

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

Eternal Innocence in Jesus Alone – November 9, 2017

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Eternal Innocence in Jesus Alone


Daily Devotion – November 9, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:1

See series: Devotions

Can there be anything as sweet as God uttering that I am innocent in his eyes? Nothing refreshes the weary sinner more than the pardoning proclamation of my Lord whose love for me is limitless.

His utterance of my innocence astounds me for I know that this is the opposite of what I deserve. God’s holy law unleashes the unsettling truth that I stand convicted of my many sins in his righteous courtroom. So too, my conscience constantly reminds me of my corrupt nature that makes me an enemy of the just Judge of all. I can only conclude with the apostle Paul that I am a “wretched man” bound for the eternal ruin of hell (Romans 7:24).

Instead of proclaiming my ruin, God promises my rescue! The Lord provided the perfect rescuer—his innocent Son, Jesus Christ. In unspeakable love, he carried all my guilt to Calvary’s cross and suffered the wrath of God for every one of my wretched offenses. He was condemned in my place to pay the complete price for my sins.

Christ is my everlasting comfort. He is my only refuge in which I am able to withstand every accusation of the devil and all the consternation of my conscience. God does not promise me an earthly life of ease and freedom from all misfortune. What he does promise is far greater than any treasure the world can provide. He grants me the marvelous gift of faith to grasp the glorious promise of pardon and peace that are mine in Jesus alone.

If ever I begin to doubt the fact that I am freely and fully forgiven, the gracious hand of God points me again to the unfailing words of his glorious gospel. There he declares with eternal certainty, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Lord’s infinite love for me deserves my endless thanks and praise.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, your eternal gospel wondrously declares my innocence in Jesus. Grant me a firm faith to always believe and reflect that truth in the freedom of my new life in Christ. Amen.

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

Don’t Fear the Lions – November 8, 2017

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:19-23

Don’t Fear the Lions


Daily Devotion – November 8, 2017

Devotion based on Daniel 6:19-23

See series: Devotions

What would you have done if you had been Daniel? The king has just issued a decree that for an entire month no one can pray to anyone except him. If anyone does pray to someone other than the king, that person will be thrown into a pit to be torn apart by hungry lions. You, however, worship the true God. And everyone knows that you pray to him in your room three times each day. Your enemies, who want you dead, are watching you to see if you will continue praying to your God in spite of the king’s decree. So, what will you do? Will you keep praying to God as you always have been and risk being thrown to the lions? Will you perhaps change your routine and pray privately rather than where people can see you? Will you even stop praying for a month so that you can stay alive?

It didn’t take long for Daniel to decide what he was going to do. Right after Daniel heard about the king’s decree, he went home and kept on praying to God just as he always had done. He didn’t change his routine. And he certainly didn’t stop praying to the true God. Even if it meant that he would have to deal with hungry lions, Daniel was determined to remain faithful to the true God. He was confident that God was able to protect him even from the jaws of lions.

Daniel’s confidence in God was not disappointed. After spending the night with the lions, Daniel was still alive. God had sent an angel to close the lions’ mouths. And the lions hadn’t harmed Daniel at all.

It’s a great blessing to live in a country where we don’t have to face the exact dilemma that Daniel faced. But that doesn’t mean we don’t face similar challenges to our faith. Daily we face pressure to hide our faith. Daily people tell us, perhaps not in so many words, that it would be better for us not to be so public about believing the Bible. Our culture makes it very clear that those who do show their love for Jesus in the way they live will face, not literal lions, but metaphorical lions of disdain, hatred, and ridicule.

But none of this gives us any reason to back down or hide our faith. Like Daniel, we can keep on living our faith and sharing it with others without any fear of the “lions” that threaten us. We know that God is more than capable of overcoming any “lion”. In fact, he has already overcome of the most dangerous “lion” of all, Satan himself, through the work of his Son Jesus. If Satan cannot harm us, then neither can anyone else. And we can boldly live our faith, confident that the God whom we serve can—and will—rescue us from any “lion” that we may face.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, shut the mouths of the “lions” that threaten me and strengthen me to boldly live the faith that you have given me. Amen.

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

Two Unspoken Words – November 7, 2017

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Two Unspoken Words


Daily Devotion – November 7, 2017

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1

See series: Devotions

In the 1930’s, a group of Americans took on an extraordinary project. They armed themselves with audio-recording equipment, and with that equipment they made it their goal to capture the voices of men and women who had once lived under slavery.

We still have those recordings today. If you search around a bit online, you will find them. Some of the sound quality is so poor that it’s difficult to understand everything. Nevertheless, the impact of these recordings is powerful: Actual voices of men and women who know what it is to live under slavery.

In addition to the recordings, there are transcriptions and written notes. Meet a man by the name of Charlie Aarons. Charlie says he grew up with a father and mother, a sister and a brother. But when Charlie was about 10 years old, his master put him up for sale. Charlie says he remembers the extreme anxiety he felt as he stood on the block and various people bid for the right to take him home.

A Mr. Jason Harris purchased Charlie that day. And Charlie never saw his family again.

Slaves worked hard on the Harris plantation, Charlie says. They were in the fields from 6 in the morning until 6 at night. When asked if he had ever had a chance to escape, Charlie says that the dogs would capture you soon enough, and then you would get a beating. And when asked if his master ever taught him to read or write, Charlie smiles and says, “No, Madam, only to work.”

Two unspoken words permeate the voices of these ex-slaves. The words are, “Never again.”

Through faith in Jesus Christ, you and I are free. We are free from the guilt of sin. We are free from the power of sin. We are free from fear, free from isolation, free from the darkness and despair that sin can bring. But as you and I bask in God’s forgiveness, and the peace and joy we now have, there are also two unspoken words that live and thrive within our Christian faith. Those words are, “Never again.”

For the agents of the old slavery of sin are always on the prowl. The temptations to sin are always on the watch.

Thank God that for every time the claws of sin try to drag us into slavery, Jesus is here. He is here to call us to repentance. He is here to cleanse us in his blood. He is here to refresh us in the freedom he purchased for us at the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in you I am free. By your Spirit, keep me free. Stay by my side. Amen.

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

Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017

Thankful for God’s Love – Week of November 6, 2017


Give Thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 106:1



I don’t know how the argument would start, but my brother and I routinely got into a “who is better” feud that escalated to “I’m better forever”, and then “I’m better as far as outer space” and then “I’m better to infinity” and, my brother’s final word “I’m better infinity plus one”. He always won, because who can argue with infinity plus one?

God’s love endures forever. His love endures “infinity plus one”! No love is greater than God’s love for us. This is especially amazing because he is perfect and we are not. He is always faithful to us, even though we are not. God is always good—and we are not. We continue to disobey our good, loving God by hurting our colleagues and family, by our evil thoughts, words, and actions. We fail to regularly learn his Word through church and personal study. We fail, but God’s love never does.

We are thankful for God’s undeserved love. That love moved him to send Jesus to be our substitute. Every imperfection, every moment of unfaithfulness, every instance of evil actions, words or thought were placed on him, paid for, and removed forever. We call this love grace—the love that God has for us even though it is not deserved, and even though we fail. We give thanks to God for his goodness and love that is ours forever. God’s grace and love endures “infinity plus one”!



Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for showing me your love and goodness every day. Help me show my thankfulness to you by my work, thoughts, and words. Amen.

A Question to Ponder: How can you show your thankfulness for God’s grace, his undeserved love, in your work and your home life?



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