Awkward – September 24, 2020

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
Matthew 18:15

Awkward


Daily Devotion – September 24, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15

See series: Devotions

Essayist Leah Hickman has spoken to what she sees as a growing fear in our society. It’s the fear of the awkward moment—the fear of experiencing what follows in the presence of someone else when you need to raise a difficult subject or when you have to deal with a difficult situation. No one ever enjoys awkward moments, of course. But Hickman makes the case that, somewhere along the line, uncomfortableness has grown into outright fear.

It can be fun recounting awkward moments. They’re part of life. On the other hand, a fearful impulse to avoid the awkward at any cost is nothing to smile about. Hickman cites an older gentleman who’s observed, “It seems as if fear of awkwardness has become a barrier to doing the right thing.”

All of which brings us to Jesus, and his unapologetic love for every soul. When the Lord puts me in a position to speak in loving concern to someone about a specific sin—a specific sin that threatens to create spiritual harm in all kinds of ways—such a moment is tailor-made to be awkward. In all candor, you and I must confess to our Lord that there have been all kinds of times when we have retreated from speaking the truth in love—often from a simple fear of the awkward.

When fear of the awkward has been our motivation, however, you and I must also confess that we have been guilty of placing our own precious comfort zones ahead of a precious soul for whom Jesus died. I am placing my convenience ahead of someone else’s need. And that is a profound wrong.

But that’s when I remember that Jesus’ blood not only washes away the sins of the whole world. He washes away my sins too—including my sin of neglecting a precious soul.

And so let’s take a walk to the cross. Be washed in the blood of God’s Son. And as we see what he was willing to suffer to save us, may it make us willing to move out of our comfort zones, when necessary, to warn others about the sins that endanger their souls.

Prayer:
Lord, my fear of awkward moments has often overpowered me. Forgive me and renew my zeal to love others enough to warn them about sins that separate them 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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Call Others to Repent in Love – Family Devotion – September 23, 2020

Read: Ezekiel 33:7-11

As I live, declares the LORD God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from their way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why should you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11 (EHV)

Call Others to Repent in Love


Family Devotion – September 23, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:11

See series: Devotions

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

If you see someone in terrible danger what do you do? You try to warn them. You call out their name. You try to get their attention. You try to move them away from the danger. You tell them to run away. You call 911. You do everything you can to help them avoid that terrible danger.

Did you know there is a danger that threatens everyone: Grown-ups. Teens. Kids. Even babies? That danger lurks in the darkness, yet appears in broad daylight. It threatens from morning to night. It can be found in your home, your school, your neighborhood, even your church. What is that danger? Sin.

Sin is a danger that threatens every one of us from the moment life begins to the moment when life ends. Sin lurks inside our hearts and minds, but also threatens us in a variety of ways in the world around us. Sin takes on all kinds of forms and is such a danger that God himself warns us to turn away from sin. Why? Sin leads to death.

The Lord knows how dangerous sin can be. Sin ruined his creation long ago. Sin has threatened every person since. Yet rather than sit back and let harm come our way, Jesus did something about it. Jesus faced the danger of sin for us and suffered all the punishment that sin deserves. With divine power and jaw-dropping love, Jesus rescued us from the dangers of sins by taking all of our sins on himself on the cross to forgive us. By his death, we have life.

Yet sin still threatens. We still sin. People we know and love still sin. The danger is still real, so what does the Lord call us to do? “Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!” today’s Word of God warns. That’s another way of saying, “Repent!” The Lord does not want any of us to return to the dangers of our sins, but to live in his forgiveness and love. He also urges us to call out to our loved ones to turn back from the dangers of sin. Calling someone to repent is not being mean, but showing that we care about them. We want them to enjoy God’s forgiveness. We want them to join us in heaven someday. So in love, let’s do everything we can help them avoid sin’s danger.

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, rescue me from the danger of sin. Lead me to repent when I fall into sin’s traps. Help me to call other people in my life to repent of their sin that they may live with 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 would you do if someone was in danger?
  • How did Jesus rescue you from the danger of sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what sin is and what it means to repent.
  • Why is sin so dangerous?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The Lord sent the prophet Ezekiel to call God’s people to repent. Why would that be difficult for any believer to do?
  • The Lord urges us to call others to repent in love. How would you do that if you knew that your best friend had broken the law—not just the local law, but God’s Law?

Hymn: CW 304:5,6 – 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.

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.

 

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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Continuing Debt – September 23, 2020

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.
Romans 13:8

Continuing Debt


Daily Devotion – September 23, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 13:8

See series: Devotions

It’s World War II. It’s nighttime. A paratrooper is about to jump out of a plane. Just before he does, he looks down from the plane’s open door. He sees that he is about to jump into an air space that is alive with explosions, bullets, and flak. “Lord,” he prays, “if you get me through this night, I’ll never have a bad day again.”

The Lord got him through that night. And, as the old veteran loved to say for the rest of his life, “I’ve never had a bad day again.”

Think about that. So profound was the man’s gratitude for the Lord’s deliverance from death, that for the rest of his life he happily obligated himself to look upon the remainder of his days as all good days—every single one.

It’s the same kind of grateful spirit that the good news of Jesus works within Christians. In Romans chapter 13, Paul speaks of what he calls, “the continuing debt to love one another.”

This turn of phrase describes something unique. This is not a debt in the sense that I need to pay something off to God before I get something good in return. Jesus has already paid the debt of my sin in full. On my behalf, he has already lived a life of perfect love. In my place, he has already carried away the guilt of my every sin at the cross. And now, through faith in my risen Savior, I live. I stand forgiven. I am at peace. Heaven awaits.

In light of all this, something wonderful happens. The more this good news sinks in, the greater the gratitude grows. As it does, the Christian soul searches for some way, any way, to show thankfulness to Jesus. And one immediate way to do it is to demonstrate love toward others.

And so there it is. Just as a grateful survivor of war happily obligated himself never to have a bad day again, Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness empowers you and me to obligate ourselves in love to others. We do it not to get something, but to thank God for what we already have.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you. Give me opportunities to thank you more every day. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Way Home – September 22, 2020

“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!”
Ezekiel 33:11

The Way Home


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:11

See series: Devotions

There’s only one road into Wabush. It also happens to be the only road out.

Wabush is a remote town in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with a population of about two thousand people. You’ll find friendly people there. You’ll find all the basic amenities, along with a post office, bank, barbershop, bowling alley, gymnasium, swimming pool, library, and hotel.

But if you find yourself in Wabush because you took a wrong turn, you cannot simply drive through it and keep going. Remember, Wabush is the end of the road. If you’re lost, and you want to get back to where you need to be, you’re just going to have to turn around. In Wabush, it’s that simple.

Left to ourselves, you and I are lost. We are lost in a wilderness of our own making. Our sinfulness makes us naturals at isolating ourselves from each other and isolating ourselves from the God who made us.

And so God marched into our wilderness to rescue us. He did so in the Person of Jesus Christ. Through the sinless life, he lived on our behalf, and through the death, he died on the cross to wash us clean, Jesus is the way out. Jesus is the way home.

Where do you find yourself in your life right now? Could it be that, for some time, you have been making a series of turns—reckless turns, distracted turns, rebellious turns, selfish turns—a series of turns where you now find yourself isolated, alone, despairing?

God does not want you to despair. As we heard him say in our Bible reading for today, he wants you to turn from your sins and live. He loves you. He proved this when he sent his Son to save you from those sins. So, don’t delay! Turn to him and live!

Prayer:
Many times, Lord Jesus, I’ve gotten so lost. Thank you for coming to find me. Remind me of your love and forgiveness and empower me to turn from my sins to you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Talk to Each Other in Love – Family Devotion – September 21, 2020

Read: Matthew 18:15-20

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.
Matthew 18:15 (EHV)

Talk to Each Other in Love


Family Devotion – September 21, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15

See series: Devotions

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

“Mah-ahm!!!” Mom knew that voice. Something had happened down the hall. Ruth’s brother said something mean. Ruth’s sister responded with something unkind. There was no way Ruth was going to let that mean word or unkind act go unnoticed. So she cried out, “Mah-ahm!!!”

Soon the kids would be standing in front of mom. Each child would present their side. Each child would try to avoid getting in trouble for what they actually did or said. Each child would argue louder and louder over the top of the other . . . until finally, Mom hands out consequences. Now, both children go away angry at each other and Mom.

What mom would want to be in that situation? Yet how often do we shout for “Mah-ahm!!!” when someone sins against us? We do not react calmly. We do not try to talk to the person who has wronged us. Instead, we get angry. We yell. We respond strongly and try to find someone who will hand out consequences on the sinner, all while conveniently forgetting that we are sinners too. If someone is not available to hand out consequences, we go and tell everyone how bad, rude, or unkind that person is without talking to them about how they have sinned against us.

Is that how God wants you to treat someone who has wronged you? No! Jesus encourages you, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin, just between the two of you.” Jesus says nothing about going off, yelling, or telling on everyone else. Instead, he wants you to show love by calmly helping someone to see their sin.

Why does Jesus want you to do that? He wants you to regain them—to bring them back by helping them turn back from their sin back and follow Jesus. You see, Jesus loves them and cares for their soul as much as he loves and cares for yours. In love, Jesus came to forgive the sins of even the worst person you can think of, which means he came to forgive your sins, my sins, and the sins of those who wrong you.

The next time someone sins against you, what will you do? You could yell, “Mah-ahm!!!” Or you can remember how Jesus loves you and has forgiven you. Then, talk to that person out of love for their soul that they might enjoy Christ’s forgiveness too.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in love you have forgiven my sins though I do not deserve it. Help me to forgive the person who sins against me. Help me to love them as you love me that I may bring them back 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 do you sometimes react when someone is mean to you?
  • Who should you talk to first if someone is mean to you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what it means to repent.
  • What does it mean to regain your brother or sister?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it important to first talk to the person who sinned against you rather than talking to your friends or family members?
  • Demonstrate how Jesus’s love and forgiveness for you can motivate you to speak with love and forgiveness to someone who has wronged you.

Hymn: CW 304:1,2 – 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.

We deserve but grief and shame, yet his words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace, and life proclaim; here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe—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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Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020

Washed Perfectly Clean – Week of September 21, 2020



Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
Psalm 51:1-2



What is it about red juice and little ones? You can give them a cup of water and the spills will be minimal. But when red juice is involved, it seems like the possibility of spills grows exponentially! And when it spills, it’s as though it is drawn to anything white or light colored. The stains are brutal, and often no matter what you do a hint of the stain lingers as a constant reminder.

Our verses from Psalm 51 were written by David. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had given orders that her husband should be sent to the front lines of battle where he was killed. Nathan the prophet had come to David to confront him regarding his sin. David was overwhelmed with grief and penitence. He felt the stain of sin covering him. He pleaded to God for his forgiveness with words such as: “Have mercy on me,” “blot out my transgressions,” “wash away all my iniquity, “cleanse me from my sin.” He repeated his plea four times in this short section highlighting the intensity of his grief.  David had sinned.  He had rejected God and his will.  Sorrow filled his heart and he felt a deep need for forgiveness.

Notice in the verses how David included what he knew about God’s mercy. He asked for God’s forgiveness because of God’s “unfailing love” and his “great compassion”. While overwhelmed in sadness over his sin, David prayed for God’s mercy, his love, and his compassion. What an amazing statement of God’s love for David and for all sinners. God hates sin and expects perfection. Yet God also dearly loves his people to the point of sending Jesus to wash away every sin. And when God forgives sins, David’s and our own, they are gone…washed away…covered with God’s grace. There is no hint of stain left in God’s eyes. Because of Jesus, God looks at us and sees his dearly loved and redeemed children. No greater statement of love has ever been made than when Jesus washed away our sins on the cross.

You and I can scrub all day and some of those red juice stains are there permanently. You and I have times where sin and guilt can be overwhelming. We can struggle with where to turn and how to resolve our guilt. It’s then that we turn to God just as David did. When we go to God in faith, his mercy and grace are ours because of Jesus. We are perfectly clean in God’s eyes and at peace with him. Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23) Thank you, dear Savior!



Prayer:
Dear Father, when I am overwhelmed by my sins, remind me of your mercy, compassion, and grace. Thank you for washing me clean of my sins through Jesus. Help me to reflect your grace in all I do. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.



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

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Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Church Forgives as God Forgives

These are the readings for the Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

One timeless truth that we review Sunday after Sunday is this: God, in his boundless grace and mercy, has forgiven me, a poor, miserable sinner. One of the special blessings of having Christian friends is that they, too, forgive. Today, in his Word, God speaks to us about the correlation between being forgiven and being forgiving.

First Lesson – Genesis 50:15-21

Joseph wept as his brothers spoke to him. Were these tears of sorrow or tears of joy?

Likely, both. There were tears of sorrow as it grieved Joseph to think that his brothers believed him capable of such retaliation. Also, his eyes welled with tears of joy over the evidence of his brothers’ complete repentance.

What comfort does the Christian find in verse 20?

God, in his love and providence, frustrates the evil intent of those who oppose us and turns the intended evil to work good in our lives, in this case, for the salvation of many.

Second Lesson – Romans 14:5-9

What advice does Paul give for the maintenance of Christian harmony and charity in the church?

Let him that eats not despise him that doesn’t eat, thus looking down with contempt on the weaker brother and his scruples with regard to food. On the other hand, the one that refuses to partake of meat should not condemn him that eats, as though he were less spiritual. Thus, the warning against judging is substantiated in this, that God has accepted him. Do not pass judgment on a brother who is Christ’s own.

“Whether we live, therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (v. 8b). Apply these words to your life.

The mind of the Christian, whether he partakes of certain foods or not, whether he observes certain days or not, is always directed to the Lord, because the whole life of the Christian, as well as his death, is devoted and consecrated to the Lord. Since his soul and body, thoughts and acts are dedicated to the Lord, the believer will naturally think of his honor first in all things.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 4:29-5:2

Paul commands us not to act like the unmerciful servant, but rather: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling, and slander, along with every form of malice.” The Church is comprised of people who have been sealed for redemption, so let’s act like it! Not only kindness and compassion, but forgiveness is the primary mark of the Christian. We forgive because God forgave us in Christ. That makes us imitators of God. Every Old Testament sacrificial victim pointed ahead to the death of Christ, the fragrant offering, and the atoning sacrifice that won our forgiveness, and inspires our forgiveness for others.

Gospel – Matthew 18:21-35

Put into practical terms the meaning of Jesus’ command to forgive “not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Christ’s answer is staggering! Jesus did not begin with an insignificant number, nor would he be tied down to any definite sum. No number can begin to show the greatness of forgiving love that is found in the hearts of Christians. There is no set number of times that we should forgive an erring brother and reinstate him in our good graces. Love and forgiveness go beyond petty calculations.

What makes the first servant’s lack of mercy so revolting?

Moments after receiving an immeasurable present of mercy from the king, the servant hunted down, seized by the throat, and choked a fellow-servant who owed him an insignificant sum, then wreaked his vengeance upon him by casting him into prison.

Paraphrase the parable’s application as found in verse 35.

Ignorance and forgetfulness of our own guilt leave us harsh and unforgiving toward others. But remember, God will be merciless to the merciless. Without exception, he wants us to be ready at all times to forgive from the heart, just as he in mercy has forgiven our enormous debt.

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Watchman – September 21, 2020

I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel.
Ezekiel 33:7

Watchman


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7

See series: Devotions

In 2019, Israeli soldiers made a discovery. On a remote part of their army base, the soldiers uncovered what turned out to be an ancient Israelite watchtower. The watchtower is massive, its boulders weighing up to eight tons. It is twelve feet wide and rises to seventeen feet. It stands on a hill. Even today, you can see why the watchtower is there. From that hill, you have a commanding view of the ancient city of Ashkelon. In the days of the Israelites, Ashkelon was a hostile city, an enemy of God’s people.

Go back three thousand years. You’re in Israelite soldier. It’s nighttime. It’s your turn to stand watch in the tower. You climb to the top, relieve the watchman on duty, and begin. The length of your watch will be four hours. During that time, you will exert all the powers of your perception—your sight, your hearing, your sense of smell, your trained instinct—to protect your loved ones from forces that wish them harm. As the watchman, you do not sleep, you do not daydream, you allow no distractions. You are the watchman, and you are on the front lines. You are the watchman. People’s lives are depending upon you.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the Lord told Ezekiel, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel. He was a watchman, however, not in the sense that he stood in a physical watchtower to keep an eye out for physical threats. Rather, Ezekiel was a spiritual watchman. His role was to keep an eye out for spiritual threats—anything that could invade or displace his people’s relationship with their Savior-God.

Which brings us to one of the great blessings of belonging to a Christian congregational family. The Lord, through congregations, calls leaders to help serve as a spiritual watchman. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps distractions to my faith at bay. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps my focus on Jesus, the One who lived a perfect life in my place, suffered and died for my every sin, and who now lives for me.

If you are a member of a Christian congregation, thank the Lord for your pastor who keeps watch over you. If you do not have a church home, find one that faithfully teaches the Bible so that you, too, can be blessed by the gift of having a spiritual watchman.

Prayer:
Lord, bless those who serve as a spiritual watchman. Keep them faithful to your Word so that your people are protected from the lies that might harm them. 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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The Pain of Loneliness – September 20, 2020

None of us lives for ourselves alone and none of us dies for ourselves alone . . . whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7,8

The Pain of Loneliness


Daily Devotion – September 20, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 14:7,8

See series: Devotions

A couple of years ago, the magazine Psychology Today had a fascinating article about the function of the human brain. Our diagnostic equipment is now so good that we can actually map the human brain. As we do, we can see what area of the brain becomes active when a person is facing a certain situation. For instance, one area of the brain becomes active when a person is facing danger. Another area of the brain becomes active when the person sits down to a favorite meal.

Researchers decided to try an experiment. They placed someone in a situation where the person had to face loneliness. Their diagnostic equipment lit up. What it told them was a bit jarring. It told them that the area of the brain that becomes active when facing loneliness is the same area of the brain that becomes active when facing physical pain.

Think about that for a moment. According to this experiment, our emotional makeup is such that we process loneliness the same way we process physical pain.

Then again, maybe we don’t need researchers to tell us what we already know. Loneliness hurts. Loneliness brings real pain.

Jesus knows this. He knows this from his own turn at living in this fallen world. More than anyone else, he knows what agony it is to feel isolated, abandoned, alone.

But Jesus doesn’t just feel our pain. He’s done something about it. At the cross, his blood washed our sins away. He removed the wall of our sin between himself and us. That means those who follow him will never be alone again.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I hurt from loneliness, heal my hurt with your presence. Remind me that, in you, I am never alone. 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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Not timid – September 20, 2020

Not timid – September 20, 2020


For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7




Military Devotion – September 20, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:7

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes, even the most brave and most bold become the most timid. It can happen quickly. It might happen when asked to speak in front of a crowd. It may happen before a high-ranking officer.

For many Christians, it could be when we suddenly have a chance to share the gospel with an unchurched friend.

That’s the spirit of timidity.

It lives inside of us. It’s a cousin to fear. It’s the child of doubt. In matters spiritual, it is the enemy of faith.

Sometimes, it takes special power to do the right thing and special courage to say the right thing. At such times, it requires a special gift from God.

For young man Timothy, this was one of those times.

If we find ourselves being timid about showing our faith in a land with freedom of religion, if we shy away from saying the right thing because we fear we may be laughed at, imagine how Timothy felt when he knew he could be imprisoned for being a Christian.

Yet, fear of jail wasn’t the biggest threat. Instead, Saint Paul warns him against another. Its name was “Shame.”

“So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner” (v.8).

Wasn’t it shameful to be arrested and imprisoned? Not in this case.

The apostle explains that he was appointed by God to share the gospel—and that had consequences. “That is why I am suffering as I am.”

If he had kept quiet about Jesus, he would not be in prison.

“Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day” (v.12).

What did he entrust to Jesus? His life? His faith? His soul?

Yes.

In return, he received a gift. He described the spirit that God gives to his people: “…a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Power instead of timidity—that we might expect. Love listed as a replacement for timidity may also not surprise us. But self-discipline? How does self-discipline push aside timidity?

Then we remember. When we lose control of our faith-life, even the bold and brave can become timid.

Discipline gives us that kick in the pants to remind us of who we are, how we should act—and how we should feel.

How about, “God’s own child, I gladly say it! I was baptized into Christ!” (from CWS 737:1)? What about, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

Not embarrassed to reveal faith in the Son of God, my Savior. Not ashamed that he was executed as a criminal.

Never ashamed of Jesus! Not afraid to live for him.

Not timid.



Prayer:
Ashamed of Jesus, that dear Friend On whom my hopes of heaven depend?
No, when I blush, be this my shame, That I no more revere his name.

Ashamed of Jesus? Yes, I may When I’ve no guilt to wash away,
No tear to wipe, no good to crave, No fear to quell, no soul to save.

Till then—nor is my boasting vain—Till then I boast a Savior slain;
And oh, may this my glory be: That Christ is not ashamed of me. Amen.
(Christian Worship 347: 3-5)



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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 20, 2020

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
Psalm 8:1

Play the song that moves me

Glo Germ. Shortly after the days of the Corona pandemic hit us, this product became popular because it could be utilized as a tool to show how germs spread. After pouring some powder or gel on your hands and rubbing it in, it becomes undetectable to the naked eye. But under a black light, it is clearly visible.

By nature, we don’t see the handiwork of God. His fingerprints are undetectable apart from the eyes of faith, although God has given us nature and a conscience to sense God who is unseen.

In Psalm 8, the psalmist is picking up on one of the signals out there pointing to God’s awe-inspiring existence. The psalmist is looking at the earth with all its beauty and the heavens as well. Then, through eyes of faith—like a blacklight flipped on—he sees God’s fingerprints everywhere.

Do you see the handiwork of God? Are you looking through your eyes of faith regularly and taking in all that God has done? If we’re not careful, we can so easily miss it, like germs which spread unseen. In both cases, the effects are disastrous. Germs kill. So does not seeing God in faith. To live without awe for God is to live in awe of ourselves and die. So, again, do you see the majesty of God?

We all struggle to. If this is the case, I’d encourage you to not only lift your eyes to the hills and skies to take in the glory of God’s handiwork, but to look to the cross of Jesus. There is no greater work of God than that. Even the psalmist hints at this when he says, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them…? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).

It’s only at the cross that we are God’s crown of creation. For God did not take on any form of creation but our humanity, and in our place, he took us whom God should not be mindful of because of our sin and raised us to sit at the throne of God itself in Christ. Truly, there is nothing more awe-inspiring which opens our eyes!

Live always in view of the cross. Then, you’ll live seeing the handiwork of God in all the beauties of creation with you as the crown. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, when I stop to think about all your work, I am overcome with a rush of emotions of joy and amazement. Your created world is beyond what I can understand. Your work of love at the cross puts a lump in my throat. Your masterpiece that you’ve made of me in Christ fills my heart with unbelievable happiness. Help me to always think on these things. Keep this song of Psalm 8 always on repeat in my head. 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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Restored by God to Serve God – September 19, 2020

The LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me . . . I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you . . . from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel.”
Jeremiah 15:19-21

Restored by God to Serve God


Daily Devotion – September 19, 2020

Devotion based on Jeremiah 15:19-21

See series: Devotions

Jeremiah had a difficult ministry. For fifty years, he preached a message of repentance to the Jewish people, but his message mostly fell on deaf ears. He was shunned, beaten, and imprisoned. He had few friends. No one sympathized with him.

Can we blame Jeremiah for getting frustrated with God? He had done everything God had asked of him. He was a faithful witness to God’s word. In return, he had received nothing but pain and loneliness. Didn’t he deserve a better life than that? Where was God’s mercy for Jeremiah? Where was God’s deliverance?

Such frustration is understandable but hardly excusable. Jeremiah expected God to change, to give him a break. Instead, God changed Jeremiah. He led the prophet to repent and believe God’s promises about his ministry. God still had work for Jeremiah to do.

When we suffer through difficult times, we also may question God’s faithfulness and demand that he set us free.

However, let’s not forget what God has already done for us. He has been faithful to us. Jesus suffered and died for our sins, and God raised him from the dead as proof that he has dropped all charges of guilt against us. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you are free indeed.

In this world, we will have trouble, but we can rejoice because Jesus has overcome the world. Persecution will always be a part of the Christian’s life. However, God will make us strong enough to stand up under it. God has work for us to do. Like Jeremiah, we are here to bring God’s Word to the world, even if we suffer for it.

Prayer:
Lord, your words are a delight to me and the joy of my heart. If I must suffer for them, give me your strength to be faithful to you so that I may receive the crown of 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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Living for the Lord – Family Devotion – September 18, 2020

Read: Romans 12:1-8

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:1-2

Living for the Lord


Family Devotion – September 18, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:1-2

See series: Devotions

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

“Do five jumping jacks!” the leader shouted. Only two people of the entire group did them though. Everyone else stood still as could be. The group laughed. It was actually the two who did jumping jacks that had made the mistake. The leader never said, “Simon says do five jumping jacks!”

“Simon Says” is one of the easiest games to play. All you have to do is what the leader says when he speaks those magic words. And yet, it’s easy to get carried away, isn’t it? Once you play for a while, it can be easy to lose your focus. And just when you’re not paying attention, you get in trouble—you’re out because you do what others are doing and not what “Simon Says.”

Being a Christian is also one of the easiest things you could do. You simply believe in the true God and then do what he says. Pretty simple, right? Yet you and I know how difficult this can be!

Everything might be going fine, until we lose our focus and concentration. Suddenly we start to see what other people do—how they lie, cheat, steal, say bad words, tell bad jokes, or other sins—and we start following their lead instead of what God says. There is danger in following the world instead of Jesus. You won’t just be out of the game, you’ll be out of heaven! That’s bad! And that’s why we hear the warning today, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” In other words, don’t follow the lead of sinful people and do what they do!

Thanks be to God for Jesus! He washed us clean of all the times we’ve followed the world instead of following him. His mercy and undeserved love bring us forgiveness. They guarantee that we can and will be with him in heaven.

Because of his great love then, let’s follow Jesus’ lead instead and show him how thankful we are. That’s also what the apostle Paul says to us today. He said, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” What he means is that when we think about God’s love and forgiveness, we can use our lives to serve and follow Jesus. We can thank Jesus by listening to him, loving him, and obeying him. “Simon Says” may be a fun game, but doing what Jesus says is even better. What a cool thing! We get to live for the one who lived and died for us!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to stay away from the sins of this world. Instead, lead me to follow you. Fill me with your love that I may live for 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 sins do you think are easy to fall into?
  • How do you know that Jesus forgives those sins?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do some people say that the ways of this world are “fun,” but the ways of God are “boring?”
  • What are ways that you can offer yourselves as a living sacrifice of thanks to God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain in your own words why peer pressure is such a difficult thing to deal with.
  • When you are older and have your own family, what things in this world do you think will distract you from staying connected to Jesus?

Hymn: CW 465:1,4 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

Haste, my soul, from grace to glory, Armed by faith and winged by prayer.
All but heav’n is transitory; God’s own hand shall guide you there.
Soon shall end this earthly story; Swift shall pass the pilgrim days,
Hope soon change to heav’nly glory, Faith to sight and prayer to praise.

 

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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Boasting In Christ- September 18, 2020

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Boasting In Christ


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 6:14

See series: Devotions

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians draws a stark line of contrast between two opposing approaches to salvation—one by grace, the other by works. He wrote the letter as a response to false teachers who were insisting that what Jesus did was not enough to make us right before God. We must also do our part, by obeying the law in every detail. This is a tempting thought. We naturally feel proud of our accomplishments and want recognition when we’ve done something good. Why shouldn’t I get credit for the times I have helped others? Surely I should be rewarded for the sacrifices I have made! This is the thinking of most people in the world.

But those who want to be rewarded according to their obedience to the moral law will be judged by that same law. And that law quickly exposes our secret sins and reveals the darkness in our hearts that we try to hide from others. We need God’s grace, which was poured out on us when his Son, Jesus Christ, died to pay our debt and rose from the dead to give us life.

At the end of his letter, Paul made it clear which side he was on. He was ready to not get credit for any of the good works he had done in his lifetime, but rather to put his trust entirely on what Jesus had done for him. And Paul understood that taking his stand on Christ alone would separate him from others. “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” A person killed on a cross was not only permanently separated from the community, but he was also publicly shamed and humiliated in the process. Those who stand by faith on the works of Christ alone and those who put their trust in their own self-righteousness are worlds apart from each other.

But the blood of Jesus was spilled for every person on earth. God’s promises of forgiveness are meant for all nations. So boast and brag to everyone you know about the love of God for us sinners!

Prayer:
Jesus, you are my dearest treasure. I will praise your name always. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Gifted by Grace – September 17, 2020

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:3-5

Gifted by Grace


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:3-5

See series: Devotions

It was Stewardship Week at St. James Lutheran Church, and Ginny was looking at a sign-up sheet on a table in the church lobby. It said that volunteers were wanted to host small-group Bible studies in their homes. A kindly-looking, older couple approached her—Ginny knew them only as Mr. and Mrs. Kleibert. Gesturing towards the sign-up sheet, Mr. Kleibert held out a pen and said, “You won’t regret it!”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s for me,” Ginny said. “I haven’t been a member here for very long.”

“Where does it say you have to have tenure in the congregation to host one of these groups?” Mr. Kleibert pretended to search the paper for what he knew wasn’t there.

“Besides,” Mrs. Kleibert added, “We’ve noticed how active you’ve been in Sunday morning Bible class. You ask lots of great questions.”

Ginny looked at the two of them. “You’ve noticed?” she asked.

Mr. Kleibert assured her, “I’m one of the elders here at St. James and my wife Janet leads the Altar Guild. We’re always on the lookout for ways to involve new members into the life of the congregation, find ways for them to feel at home, and use the gifts that God has given them. The Holy Spirit makes sure that every Christian has something to offer to the rest of us.”

Ginny was still hesitant. “You’re sure it’s a good idea?”

Mrs. Kleibert said, “My dear husband here will be the one leading the study, and I’ll be there too. You’ll be just fine. Now quick sign your name so I can introduce you to the gals on the Altar Guild too.”

Prayer:
Father, by grace you have united me with Christ and called me into your family. Help me to value the gifts of my fellow believers and encourage them to use those gifts for your glory. 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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God Will Give You Strength – Family Devotion – September 16, 2020

Read: Jeremiah 15:15-21

“I will make you a wall to this people,
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
to rescue and save you,”
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 15:20

God Will Give You Strength


Family Devotion – September 16, 2020

Devotion based on Jeremiah 15:20

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever been to a castle before? There aren’t too many around the United States, but there are lots of castles in other parts of the world. If you ever have the chance, make sure you visit one. They are amazing! There are huge rooms, fancy furniture, beautiful artwork, and so much more. But maybe one of the coolest parts of a castle is the simplest part—the walls.

Castle walls are huge. They are big, solid, and very strong. They had to be though. The walls needed to protect everyone on the inside and keep all the enemies out. The stronger the walls were, the safer everyone would be. Some castles even had an extra wall around the entire property for extra strength and safety.

The prophet Jeremiah was a person who felt very unsafe. Sadly, his own people that he preached to also became his enemies. They didn’t like Jeremiah, and they definitely didn’t like his message from the Lord. This made Jeremiah feel sad, lonely, unsafe, and completely defeated.

God had another message to give though. This time it was for Jeremiah himself. God told Jeremiah to trust in him. God said, “I will make you a wall to this people.” God was going to give strength to Jeremiah to be like a castle wall. He would be strong and courageous and keep on preaching to them. The people would attack against him but wouldn’t defeat him. How could this be with so many enemies? “For I am with you to rescue and save you,” God said.

There are so many things that make us feel unsafe in life. There are many mean, wicked, and evil people in the world. Some people commit awful crimes. Some don’t like Christians and want to stop us from telling others about Jesus. Then, there are all the temptations and sins that we battle as we fight off the devil.

But don’t worry, Christian friends! Jesus has already defeated all of our enemies. The God who created this world also came to save this world. At the cross, Christ crushed Satan and saved us from sin and death. We are safe with him! Just as God told Jeremiah, so he tells you, “I am with you to rescue you and save you!” That’s right, with God on your side, you are a strong and mighty wall that will stand up against every enemy until you are safe forever in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

God, give me strength to stand firm in my faith and to be bold in sharing the good news of Jesus. 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 to us that he is stronger than any of our enemies?
  • How does God protect us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does God make us stronger as Christians?
  • When are times today that people might feel defeated and lonely as Christians, kind of like the prophet Jeremiah felt?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain why remembering your baptism can be a source of strength every day.
  • Explain why the Lord’s Supper can be a regular source of strength for those who commune.

Hymn: CW 465:1,2 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

Let the world despise and leave me; They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; You are not, like them, untrue.
And since you have smiled upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends may shun me—Show your face, and all is bright.

 

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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Pleasing God – September 16, 2020

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Pleasing God


Daily Devotion – September 16, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:2

See series: Devotions

Ginny looked up from her chai tea and smiled when she saw Nancy approach her at their usual table. The two of them had been meeting Wednesday mornings outside a local coffee shop for conversation and encouragement.

“Hey, friend! How’s your day going?” Nancy asked as she sat down across the table from Ginny.

“Well, I keep thinking about our discussion at the end of Sunday morning Bible class,” Ginny answered. “Pastor explained to us that the ‘true and proper worship’ of Romans 12:1—or ‘spiritual worship’ of some Bible translations—means that we want to please God in everything we do because of his mercy for us. I get that, and I want to do that. I still can’t get over how patient God has been with me, despite all of my wrong turns in life. How Jesus was willing to give his life for me. But I still struggle. There are so many times I just don’t know what the right and ‘God-pleasing’ thing to do is. Remember, I’ve only been coming to church for a little over a year now.”

Nancy sipped her latte and thought for a moment. “Pretty heavy thoughts for a Wednesday morning!” she finally said. “But I know how you feel. Every Christian struggles that way. Even the apostle Paul described his own inner fight between right and wrong in Romans chapter 7.”

“That’s true,” said Ginny.

Nancy continued, “But you are on the right path. You’re coming to church; you’re coming to Bible study, and you’re doing your best to put all that into practice in your life. I’ve learned to trust the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and mind through his Word and sacraments. He started it when we were baptized, and he continues to work in us whenever we’re reading or talking about his Word. Believe me, I know from experience that it’s a life-long process, full of ups and downs. That’s what makes me so grateful for his forgiveness!”

Prayer:
Dear God, you called me to be your child. Keep me from sin and teach me to know and do what is pleasing to you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Desertion – September 13, 2020

Desertion – September 13, 2020


Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica.
2 Timothy 4:9,10




Military Devotion – September 13, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 4:9,10

See series: Military Devotions

Desertion is dangerous. It puts others at risk. If it happens during a battle, the deserter may be shot.

Yet, desertions occur not only during military battles. A father may desert his family. A Christian might desert his faith.

The main causes of desertion appear to be fear and love. We quickly think of the soldier who is afraid of losing his life—so he decides to desert his post.

A fellow by the name of Demas is mentioned in the Bible because he deserted out of love—love for this world.

Demas the deserter is not as well-known as Judas the traitor. But the lesson we learn from him is just as important.

He was in the company of Saint Luke the two other times the Bible mentions him. More importantly, he was with Saint Paul when the apostle was imprisoned in Rome.

Paul was about to be sentenced to death for preaching about Jesus. In this second letter to his former student, he begs Timothy to hurry to his side. As far as we know, Timothy did so and remained with the apostle until his execution.

By that time, Demas was long gone.

We might assume he was afraid he would also be arrested since he was associated with Paul. But we are told it wasn’t fear that drove him away. It was love that drew him away.

“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me…”

We remember the warning Jesus gave as he explained the parable of the sower and the seed: “The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful” (Matthew 13:22).

There is much in this sinful world that attracts us. It offers acceptance, applause, excitement, fun, and wealth.

It is difficult to not love such things.

Demas gave in to that. What the world offered meant more to him than what faithfulness to God offered.

After all, who would want to hang out with someone on death row? What could that get him? What fun was that? What would he lose if he left?

His place in the brotherhood of believers? His peace with God? His place in heaven?

Maybe.

We don’t know what happened to Demas. We hope that, like a Peter, he returned to faithful service in his Savior’s kingdom.

We hope that he remembered Jesus was once deserted by his heavenly Father so that a Demas might not be left to a fate worse than death.

Demas should have stayed in Rome. He should have followed the motto: “No one left behind.”

He should have stayed in the band of believers.

As should we.



Along with generations of Christians before us, we say to Jesus:
Thou hast not left me oft as I left thee.
On to the close, O Lord, abide with me.” Amen.
(From Christian Worship 588:4)



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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True and Proper Worship – September 15, 2020

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

True and Proper Worship


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:1

See series: Devotions

After many months, Sunday morning Bible class was finally meeting again, and Ginny couldn’t wait. Pastor Schroeder wasn’t surprised to see her hand shoot up when he asked if there were any questions.

“Pastor,” she said, though muffled by her mask, “while we were all stuck at home, I watched streamed worship services from a few other churches. It struck me how many different styles and ways of worshiping there are. But it also made me wonder if there is a right way to worship?”

Pastor Schroeder interrupted her, “Well, that might take longer to answer than we have time for this morning.”

Ginny continued anyway, “So I did what you always tell us to do. I looked in the Bible for answers. One verse I found was Romans 12:1 where the apostle Paul talks about ‘your true and proper worship.’ But what does that verse mean?”

“Great catch, Ginny!” said her pastor. “In the first eleven chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes at length about God’s grace for sinners and how we are saved only by what Christ has done for us, not by anything we do. Then, before he gets into describing the way that Christians should live, Paul reminds them of what God has already done. ‘In view of God’s mercy…’ That motivates us to dedicate every part of our lives—body and soul—to serving him. When every moment and every choice in life flows from gratitude to God for his mercy, our bodies are like living sacrifices, made holy and acceptable through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us on the cross.”

Ginny’s eyebrows raised above her mask. “So, ‘true and proper worship’ means not just going through the motions—either in life or in church?”

Pastor Schroeder nodded. “Yes. It means always keeping before our eyes everything that God has done for us and then letting our words and actions flow from that.”

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for your many blessings to me, though I haven’t deserved them. Let me never forget your love for me. Help me to live in a way that pleases you. In the name of Jesus, 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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Take Up Your Cross – Family Devotion – September 14, 2020

Read: Matthew 16:21-26

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “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 will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

Take Up Your Cross


Family Devotion – September 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:24-26

See series: Devotions

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

“Candace! How could you? What did I tell you?” Candace had a very sad and sorry look on her face. She clearly had disappointed her mother. They were just about to eat dinner, but Candace wasn’t hungry at all. She had crumbs all over her shirt, chocolate all over her face, and a belly all full of…chocolate chip cookies.

They looked so delicious, so warm and fresh and ooey-gooey, sitting there on the countertop. But her mom had told Candace three separate times, “Candace, no cookies before supper. No treats yet. You have to control yourself.”

But she didn’t, and because Candace couldn’t control herself, she had now missed out on the important part of the meal before the treat at the end. Now Candace had a sick feeling in her stomach for two reasons—too much sugar, and even worse, she had disobeyed her mother.

It’s really easy for us to think about life the way Candace did about dinner. Wouldn’t it be nice to do whatever you want? Wouldn’t be nice to have all the fun you want, no matter the consequences? And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just skip all the problems of this life and have the glory of heaven right now, kind of like skipping dinner and only eating cookies?

Peter thought that way in the Bible once, too. Jesus told him how he was going to suffer and die for all people, but Peter tried to stop him. He only wanted the good times with Jesus. He only wanted the glory of Jesus. He didn’t want to think about suffering. Peter was kind of like Candace, who only wanted to think about chocolate chip cookies.

That’s when Jesus spoke the words we heard for today’s devotion: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” What Jesus means is that his followers need to learn to spiritually control themselves. We need to learn to put Jesus first, before our sinful desires, before our friends, and before anything else. That’s so hard to do! Good thing Jesus came to this world and put us first when he died for us on the cross to bring us forgiveness! Now with a new life in Jesus, his love for us and his strength can help us learn to control ourselves and make good and God-pleasing choices. Be patient, friends! After a short time of taking up our cross in this life, the sweetest dessert is yet to come—better than cookies—eternal life in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes it is very hard to control ourselves and keep away from sin. Give us strength to deny our own desires and put you first. 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 sin is hard for you to stop doing?
  • Why did Jesus have to go and suffer and die?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what Jesus means when he says we should “deny ourselves.” Can you give an example?
  • What are ways that we can work on becoming stronger to resist temptations and sins?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Which do you think is more difficult about following Jesus—facing persecution and enemies, or denying yourself and facing personal temptations and sins? Why?
  • Explain what Jesus meant when he said this: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Hymn: CW 465:1 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

 

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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Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020

Mercy – Week of September 14, 2020



Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2



She wipes her eyes over and over again. The tears don’t seem to stop. She is crying so hard that she can barely get the words out. “I’m……… sorry.” She struggles to make eye contact with you as she waits for your response. She knows it was wrong and she is so very sorry. You quietly say to her, “I forgive you.” As the words slowly sink in and she sees the gentle look on your face, she eventually calms to hiccups. “Really?” she asks. “Really,” you respond.

You can’t believe you’ve done it again. You’ve let the sharp words fly out and wound a colleague. You see the hurt in their eyes, but you add to it all with justification in your mind for what you’ve just said. “I’m only saying what is true. I can’t help it if they can’t take it.” Later, as you reflect on your day, you realize the likely impact of your words. The guilt floods over you.

Mercy. What a simple word with a powerful impact. I’ve heard it defined as “not getting what you deserve.” What do you and I deserve? Think of the many, many times you’ve been impatient with a young child. Think of the many, many times that you spoke harshly to another adult. Think of the many, many times that you criticized someone when they weren’t around. Think of the many, many times you were jealous, greedy, or lazy. What do you and I deserve in God’s eyes?

You look to him and you see mercy. Don’t get me wrong. God’s standards and expectations are perfection and you and I fail at that constantly. But when you and I look at him, we see and hear mercy because of Jesus. Jesus said to his Father, “I’ll take her punishment because I love her.” Mercy.

Each time you are tempted to be impatient, harsh, unkind, jealous, greedy, lazy, ungrateful, look at his mercy for you. Focus on his mercy. Be overwhelmed by his mercy. Let that mercy be your motivation to reach out in kindness to others, to defend others, to forgive each other, to reflect his mercy in your life each day. Let the mercy he shows to you, lead you to want to do God’s will.
“I forgive you,” God says to us. “Really?”, we ask. “Really. You are forgiven because of Jesus,” God says to us. Live each day wrapped in that love, that forgiveness, that mercy.



Prayer:
Take the world, but give me Jesus!
In his cross my trust shall be till with clearer, brighter vision face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy;
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption, pledge of endless life above!
Christian Worship 355:3

A Question to Consider: Sometimes a visual reminder can be very helpful. Some people use notes on the mirror, the refrigerator, the dashboard. What are ways that you can keep God’s mercy for you in view as a constant reminder?



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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Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Christian Obligations Over God, Neighbor, and Government

These are the readings for the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

The apostle Paul wrote frequently about the obligations and duties resting upon Christians in their capacity as church members, citizens, and neighbors. These can be summarized in the law of Christian love, an ideal which, out of gratitude to God, believers strive and work for all the days of their lives.

First Lesson – Ezekiel 33:7-11

Who is held responsible when a wicked man dies in unbelief?

The reading speaks of dual accountability: a.) the unrepentant sinner is clearly responsible for his unbelief and will pay the penalty for his guilt, and b.) the watchman who fails to speak up to “dissuade” the unrepentant sinner also bears responsibility. God is admonishing us against neglect and indifference.

What is God’s immutable will for all mankind? (v.11)

How much more emphatic can God be? “Turn! Turn from your evil ways and live!” His gracious will is the salvation of all.

Second Lesson – Romans 13:1-10

What are we ultimately guilty of when we resist or disobey our government?

In his providence, God has vested power with the incumbents of governmental office. They are our superiors (in the sense of the 4th Commandment) according to God’s establishment and designation. If we resist the authority God has instituted through our disobedience or rebellion, we are guilty of resisting God himself.

What is the Christian’s attitude toward paying taxes?

For necessity’s sake, Christians are subject and duty-bound to government. It’s part of our obedience to God. Since the government is established for the benefit of society and the protection and defense also of believers, we cheerfully pay for its support.

What does the phrase the obligation of Christian love mean?

God’s injunction is clear and simple. Be under obligation to no one except in this: love your neighbor with the same love with which we regard our own interests. This is the one duty that can never be discharged adequately or exhausted completely.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Galatians 2:11-21

Being your brother’s keeper will lead at times to uncomfortable situations or even confrontations. Here Paul tells how he had to oppose Peter to his face. Paul did not do this out of jealously of this reputed pillar; this was no power play pitting the apostle to the Jews against the apostle to the Gentiles. This had to do with the eternal salvation of everyone involved. Trusting in anything other than Christ is like sleeping in a burning house. Paul took his job of being a watchman seriously: if righteousness could be gained through the Judaizers’ demands, then Christ died for nothing! So Paul woke his sleeping neighbor with the harsh reality of Peter’s hypocrisy. But the Word did its work; Paul didn’t merely keep his brother; he won his brother over.

Gospel – Matthew 18:15-20

What is the primary purpose of church discipline?

The purpose of this entire passage is to show how a weak and erring brother or sister may be won back to Christ, even if it be a matter of difficult work.

Which step in church discipline is perhaps the hardest and thus often skipped?

The first step, speaking to a brother/sister face-to-face, is often bypassed. Problems are only escalated when we publicly expose him/her by talking about it with others first.

What is meant by the congregation’s power to “bind” and “loose”?

Christ gives his church the power to forgive the sins of the penitent but to retain the sins of the impenitent. These are the keys that lock or unlock the door of heaven. Needless to say, God gave this power for edification, not destruction.

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Motivated for Action – September 14, 2020

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 16:21-23

Motivated for Action


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:21-23

See series: Devotions

Do you struggle with procrastination? Is there something really important that you know you should do, but you have been putting it off? Maybe you delay doing those things that are difficult or where the outcome is uncertain.

Productivity gurus will often tell their clients that motivation is the key to getting things done. Very often the reason we procrastinate on a task is that we lose sight of the project’s purpose. When you find yourself dragging your feet and putting off an important task, a consultant might advise you to ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish? What will the outcome be if I carry through with my assignment?

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, never needed to attend a productivity seminar. He came into this world fully aware of his priorities and was completely dedicated to accomplishing his goal. The Bible tells us that, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). That goal of our salvation was only possible by sacrificing himself. So, Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer, he must die, and he must rise to live again. There was no alternative. This was God’s plan from eternity. This is the way he would cancel the debt of your sins and win the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life for you. Nothing would distract or delay him from accomplishing that blessed goal!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that nothing could keep you from going to Jerusalem to save me from my sins. 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 – September 13, 2020

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14

Play the song of unfailing love

Think back to all the times you wandered away from God’s presence. It never ends well, does it? After so many times, you’d think that our God would say, “I’ve had enough already!” You’d think for all the times that we go wandering through this desert life looking for a drop of water anywhere but from the Rock of our salvation, that God would finally turn away. I mean, how long does a guy continue to pursue a girl who isn’t interested? Or, how many times does a girl allow her heart to be broken by someone who has eyes for everything else but her? Only so much.

But, not our Lord.

This was the reality of God’s relationship with his people during the desert wanderings described in Psalm 90. The One who had rescued his people over and over again through miraculous plagues and parting waters was refused at every turn by his wayward people. If there was ever unrequited love, this was it. God had fallen in love with a people. But they were prone to complaining and straying.

But God never gives up. That’s the amazing thing about God and his pursuit of us too! He never gives up. At the same time, he never forces himself on anyone. He will never make you love him. For those who refuse to turn to him and only complain, there is only a hard reality—a thirsting one, a desert one. God sometimes allows us such an experience so that we come to our senses before we perish in the wilderness of this life and enter into the absence of God, his eternal wrath. That’s precisely Moses’ experience and that of his generation in the verses leading up to the song being played for us today in Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

God’s love finally broke through! His people who loved to stray finally began to cry out to him for rescue and true love. Though they didn’t deserve it, they realized all their pursuits only left their souls desperately parched. God’s love finally won over their stony hearts. It melted their cold complaining. It revived an attitude of faith and gratefulness. God’s love rescued those who returned to him in repentance and trust.

Such a beautiful song is the same song Jesus Christ puts on our lips and in our hearts. He suffered in the wilderness of our rebellion on the cross and withered in the depths of hell so we could be revived in every way. Has such a love broken through to you? It has! You have been baptized into Christ! May we never wander from his love! And when we’re tempted to grumble and go astray, may we quickly turn back in that moment to his unfailing love.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, don’t give up on us, even when we stray. Should complaint flow from our lips, forgive us. Soften our hearts by your unrelenting love in Christ. Give us a renewed love for you and satisfy us every morning! 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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Become an Imitator of God – September 13, 2020

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:32–5:2

Become an Imitator of God


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:32–5:2

See series: Devotions

When actors need to imitate someone in a skit or movie, they spend many hours preparing for their role by watching videos of the person they are going to imitate. This ingrains the subject’s mannerisms and speech patterns into the actor’s mind. When show time comes, the actor can then imitate the subject quite naturally.

God wants us to imitate him. It is a tall order, to say the least. It is actually impossible for sinful humans like us. Fortunately, Jesus did what we cannot do. He perfectly imitated God because Jesus is God. His perfect life is why we have been forgiven by God for our sins.

Although we will not be able to do what Jesus did, we still strive to imitate God every day as a way of thanking him for forgiving us. Just like an actor preparing for a part, we imitate God best by watching Jesus. Hour after hour, day after day, we read about Jesus in the Bible. This ingrains God’s mannerisms and ways of speaking into our minds. It leads us to be kind and compassionate, to forgive each other, and to live a life of love. Keep watching Jesus and become a better and better imitator of God.

Prayer:
Thank you Jesus, for doing what I could not do. Help me to do what you have done. Help me to imitate God today. 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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The Most Amazing Person – September 12, 2020

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:15-17

The Most Amazing Person


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:15-17

See series: Devotions

The disciples of Jesus had lived with him for more than two years. They had seen him heal many, feed thousands, and even raise people from the dead. They knew the public opinions about Jesus: that he was a holy man, perhaps even a great prophet. But they had also been listening carefully to their Rabbi and knew who he really was. So when Jesus asked the big question, “Who do you say I am?” Peter was quick to respond with an amazing answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Peter was saying that Jesus was the long-promised Savior, our gracious God’s one and only Son, true God and true man who had lovingly come to rescue this world, which was totally broken, totally lost in guilt and sin and without hope. All history revolves around him. He’s the most important and most amazing person who ever walked on this earth. He brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven. God had revealed that truth to Peter. In the next year, Peter would learn much more about all this when he saw Jesus on the cross and then risen from the dead.

“Who do you say I am?” is also the biggest question we will ever face. Thank God that we have the same source of truth as Peter did in the Bible.

Thank God every day of your life if you can answer, “Jesus, you are my Savior and my hope for heaven!”

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for revealing yourself to me! Thank you, Holy Spirit, for putting faith in my heart! Help me to grow in your grace so that I, too, can boldly confess with Peter that you are my Savior! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Mercy is for All People – Family Devotion – September 11, 2020

Read: Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

God’s Mercy is for All People


Family Devotion – September 11, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 11:33-36

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t get it!” Have you ever said that before? “I don’t get it, dad! I don’t know how to tie my shoes!” “I don’t get it! I don’t know how to play the game.” “I don’t get this math problem.”

There are so many things that we don’t get in life. Even as we grow older and learn from our parents or at school, we still struggle to understand different things.

You want to know what’s even harder to understand? God! But you probably already knew that. I bet you have had lots of tough “God questions” before. Why did God create the world in the first place? Why did he make Adam out of dust? Why did God make the sky blue and the grass green? Why did God make koala bears so cute? And why can’t God make my parents give me a new phone?

Maybe this one is the toughest: Why does God love us? Why would God love us when we sin and disobey him so much? How could he be so loving that he would send his Son Jesus to die for sinners? Why would God forgive me and welcome me to heaven one day? I don’t get it!

God’s Word for today reminds us that God’s love and wisdom are so great that we could never ever understand him. God is so great and so awesome that we humans won’t “get it” all the time. But do you know what we can do? We can praise and thank him every day! We may not understand how wonderful God is, but we definitely can say every day, “To God be the glory forever! Amen.”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, I don’t always understand you. You are so big, great, powerful, and loving that I don’t get how amazing and awesome you are. But I do know that you love me. For that I will thank and praise you always. 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 is one big question you have always wondered about God?
  • Name at least one awesome thing God has done that we can praise him for.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think there are so many things that we don’t know about God?
  • Even though we don’t understand much about God, identify some things that God has made very clear to us.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: If God fit the thinking in your brain so you could understand him, he wouldn’t be much of a God.
  • Explain how God showed his greatest wisdom in something so “foolish” as a person on a cross.

Hymn: CW 538:1,5 – The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

Mid toil and tribulation And tumult of her war
She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore
Till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest.

 

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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In Jesus We Have Everything – September 11, 2020

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:16

In Jesus We Have Everything


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:16

See series: Devotions

By the grace of God, Peter saw Jesus as the promised Savior of the world—the One and only! Peter knew that Jesus is the answer to sin—the only one God will provide. Peter knew that Jesus is the central figure in God’s plan of salvation and that no one can possibly be saved without him. Peter believed that Jesus is the only one who fulfills all the world’s needs.

It is not hard to see why so many people fail to recognize the significance of Jesus. Limited, sinful human minds simply cannot grasp such an amazing miracle. Why would God send Jesus to die for a world of sinners? Why would God save me? Why would God care at all what happens to us when we die? In a word: GRACE. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s loving plan to save us from sin, death, and hell is beyond anything we could have dreamed or imagined.

It is only by faith that we can confess Christ and believe what Peter claims about him. Jesus himself says: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” In a world clouded by unbelief, God had seen fit to bless Peter with faith, and Jesus wanted Peter to know what a priceless gift that is. Without Jesus, we are lost. In him, we have everything. May we confess him as clearly as Peter.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, grant me a strong faith, bold to confess you as the Savior this world needs. 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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Put Your Faith in Jesus – September 10, 2020

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked, “Who do you say I am?”
Matthew 16:15

Put Your Faith in Jesus


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:15

See series: Devotions

There is no shortage of opinions on who Jesus is. Throughout history, there has been a wide range of opinions about him. But how about you? “Who do you say Jesus is?”

Before you answer the question, realize the answer is more than just words. What we say about Jesus affects the way we live our lives. If we believe the Bible when it says that Jesus is the one and only Savior of the world, then that changes everything. Let me put that another way. If Jesus is everything to us, why is it so hard for us to be in his house for worship on a regular basis? If Jesus is our greatest treasure, why do we go entire days without reading his Word or praying to him? If Jesus is the light of our world, why do we not invite everyone we know to come and see him so they can know him too?

Sadly, our lives do not often match our confession of who Jesus is. This is precisely why we need him so much. We need him to wash our sins away. We need him to love and save us and make us right before God. We need him to be who he says he is. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Jesus is the answer to sin and death. He is the one who has come to live and die in our place to make sure that we could be saved and live with him forever.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your answer to that question has eternal implications. Jesus is your salvation. He is everything you need. Put your faith in him.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me to never forget who you are. You are my Savior, my all. Lead me to love you and serve you always. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Never Changes – Family Devotion – September 9, 2020

Read: Exodus 6:2-8

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord.”
Exodus 6:6

God Never Changes


Family Devotion – September 9, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 6:6-8

See series: Devotions

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

“McDonald’s again? Really? Well . . . thanks . . . I guess.” Ty had a very disappointed look on his face, and his mom could tell. “What’s the matter, Ty? I thought you loved McDonald’s,” she said. “I used to, but not anymore. Now I love Chick-Fil-A. I don’t like burgers either. I like chicken,” Ty told her. “When did this happen?” she asked. “Yesterday,” he said. “The Chick-Fil-A commercial was really funny, so I like that more McDonald’s!” His mom couldn’t believe it. In a single day, Ty changed his favorite food because of one commercial!

Have you ever noticed how often we do this? One day we like one food, then the next day we change our mind. One day a kid loves to play with Legos or Barbies and the next day they are hidden under the bed because they “aren’t cool” anymore. One day we cheer for our favorite athlete, but then he gets traded to a different team. We change our minds and our feelings a lot in our lives!

Can you imagine if God did the same thing? What if God changed his mind about you? What if God said one day, “I love you so much,” but on the next day said, “Well, you just sinned really badly so I don’t love you so much anymore.” What if God made a promise to you in the Bible, but then changed his mind as fast as Ty did about McDonald’s? That would be awful! How would you ever know how God felt about you? How could you ever be certain of what he would do for you?

Thankfully, that will never ever happen with our God! In today’s devotion we hear God’s promise to the Israelites to bring them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Three times in these verses God said, “I am the Lord.” Those very special words are a very special name. When God uses the name, “I am . . .,” he is telling us who he is. He will never change, and he will always be the same. When God uses that name, LORD, he is telling us that his love and promises will never change either. And sure enough, God kept his promise to lead his people out of Egypt.

God reminds us today, “I am the Lord.” He is not going to change. He will always be our loving and forgiving God. His promises aren’t going to change either. He will always be with you. He will always forgive you. And best of all, he will never break his promise to take you to the Promised Land of heaven. God will never change his mind about that. You are loved today, tomorrow, and always!

Closing Prayer:

God, I know that when you say you love me and forgive me, you will never change your mind. I also know that you will keep your promise to bring me to heaven, too. 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 does it mean that God made a promise to us?
  • When God makes a promise, what do you know he will always do?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What makes it so hard for us to keep our promises? Explain your answer.
  • Give examples from the Bible of promises that God made and kept for his people.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • A Bible verse with a similar thought to today’s devotion is this one: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Explain in your own words what that verse means to you.
  • Explain this statement: Because God never changes, I don’t need to be afraid of changes in my life.

Hymn: CW 538:1,3 – The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

The Church shall never perish. Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her And strive to see her fail,
Against both foe and traitor She ever shall prevail.

 

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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