Do Not Miss the Boat – November 13, 2019

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:8

Do Not Miss the Boat


Daily Devotion – November 13, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:8

See series: Devotions

Many Christians have heard, and perhaps have even told, the fictional story of the man who finds himself on a deserted island. He prays asking God to save him. A boat suddenly appears, and the captain invites the castaway to safety. But he refuses the offer because he’s waiting for God to save him. When a rescue helicopter and airplane pilot issue the same invitation, both times the man refuses. He’s waiting for God to save him. When the man inevitably dies, he is heard complaining that God didn’t save him, to which the Almighty replies, “What do you mean? I sent a boat, a helicopter, and an airplane. What more did you want?”

The story is a bit corny but also insightful because it teaches an important biblical truth. God saves through means.

What does that mean? It means that God doesn’t normally save people in flashy, miraculous ways. Instead, he saves us through the gospel, the good news of salvation communicated by ordinary people through his ordinary Word and simple sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. No lightning. No thunder. Not even a boat, helicopter, or airplane! Just simple means of grace—Word, water, bread, and wine—all vehicles of his saving love. If you’re waiting for something else, don’t hold your breath. Nothing else is coming.

But what more could we want or need? In his Word, God assures us of his perfect and unconditional love and forgiveness in Jesus (John 3:16). In baptism he washes us with water and his Word, making us holy and perfect in his sight, “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). Through the Lord’s Supper, he feeds our faith under bread and wine with the body and blood Jesus offered on the cross “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). These are God’s rescue vehicles, sent in abundance to ensure our salvation, now and forever.

So, don’t miss the boat—the boat of God’s Word and sacraments. They are here to save you.

Prayer:
Jesus, open my eyes to recognize the work of your everlasting salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Worth the Wait – November 12, 2019

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
2 Thessalonians 1:6,7

Worth the Wait


Daily Devotion – November 12, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:6,7

See series: Devotions

Most of us hate to wait. Patience is going out of style in our fast-paced world. We want it all, and we want it now.

But some things are worth the wait, aren’t they? Like that newborn baby that takes nine months to grow in mommy’s belly. A pregnant mother might have days when she wants that baby out—now! But when she finally holds her little baby in her arms, she has to admit it was worth the wait.

That’s also true of God’s salvation and his judgment, both of which will be seen in their final, perfect form on the day Jesus returns from heaven.

If you are suffering like the people to whom Saint Paul was writing, that day can’t come soon enough. They were suffering unfairly, not because of what they had done but because of who they were: simple Christians who had placed their faith in Jesus’ saving love. Nothing more. Paul promised them that someday God would “give relief to you who are troubled.” But for now, they needed to wait.

We sometimes suffer unjustly, too. We wonder where God is with his salvation and judgment. Doesn’t he see? Isn’t he just? Won’t he rescue me?

God’s reasons for waiting aren’t always clear. But this much we know, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Did you notice who God is waiting for? He’s waiting for you and me! The good news is “he is patient with you” and with me. He doesn’t want to see anyone perish. He “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

But that often means we need to wait because to God’s way of thinking, saving people from sin and death forever through Jesus is worth the wait.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me patiently endure the wait for your perfect salvation and judgment, as I cling forever to your saving promises. 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 Last Judgement – Week of November 11, 2019

The Last Judgement – Week of November 11, 2019


All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.

2 Thessalonians 1:5-7



Have you ever just had one of “those” days, a day when nothing seemed to go right? Maybe it was day filled with trials. Maybe it was a day when you received bad news from a loved one. Maybe it was a day where you felt persecuted for proudly talking about your faith and the Good News of Gospel. It is safe to assume that the answer to this question is a yes from all people. There are days when things do not go as planned, days when chaos overtakes the day, and days when there are trials.

When trials and persecutions come, it is easy to search for answers as to why there is suffering. Where is God? Why is God letting suffering happen? Did we do something to deserve the suffering? Christians can easily begin to think that suffering is a judgement of sinning. However, 2 Thessalonians 1:5 states, “All this is evidence that God’s judgement is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering”. The comfort is that suffering happens because we are counted worthy of the kingdom of God. Suffering and trials are evidence that we are children of God.

The remainder of the passage is describing God’s judgement on the Last Day, Judgement Day. This will be a day when Jesus comes in full glory and the final judgement will take place. The promise is that everyone who suffered, especially for being a Christian, will receive the comfort of eternal life in heaven where there is no more suffering. Christians will receive “relief” from earthly sufferings.

Sufferings and trials can be difficult in the moment. It may seem like the sufferings will not end. Throughout the suffering and trials, cling to the promise of the Savior-salvation and eternal life! Any earthly suffering is temporary, but the peace of heaven will last for an eternity.



Thought to Ponder: God is just. God is judge. We have peace knowing what Jesus has done for us. There is an urgency to share God’s message of grace with those who do not have faith. Since there is a sense of urgency in sharing the Gospel, what can you intentionally do this week to share the Word with someone?

Prayer: To me he spoke, “Hold fast to me- I am your rock and castle.
Your ransom I myself will be; For you I strive and wrestle.
For I am yours, your friend divine, and evermore you shall be mine;
The foe shall not divide us.” Amen
Christian Worship 377:7



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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Third Sunday of End Time—Saints Triumphant

All Who Die in Christ Are Alive

These are the readings for the Third Sunday of End Time—Saints Triumphant.

God’s Word for This Week

“Sweet is the calm of paradise the blest,” a favorite hymn assures us. Everything is peace right now for the saints above.
“But then there breaks a yet more glorious day:
The saints triumphant rise in bright array;
The King of glory passes on his way. Alleluia! Alleluia!”

First Lesson – Isaiah 65:17-25

When will the saints be triumphant according to God’s first promise? (See 65:17.)

The saints will be especially triumphant on judgment day when God makes new heavens and a new earth.

What will the new heavens and the new earth be like? (See 65:18-25.)

In summary, God’s pictures seem to say that the new heavens and new earth will be full of joy and life. No work will end up worthless. God will be close at hand to each of us. Perfect peace will reign in Christ.

Traditional Second Lesson – 2 Thessalonians 2:13–3:5

Can you be sure God chose you in eternity to be his child? (See 2:13.) Why or why not?

You CAN be sure that God chose you in eternity to be his child. That certainty is not because of anything in you, but because the Holy Spirit baptized you with water for the forgiveness of all your sins. He brought you to trust in Christ’s merits rather than your own.

What prayer priorities does Paul give us? (See 3:1-2.)

Paul urges us to pray that many others may hear about Jesus’ death in their place and honor what they hear in their hearts. He tells us to pray that missionaries and other church leaders stay safe from evil men.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Revelation 22:1-5

We cannot see life as a concept, but God showed John life itself. What two things did it look like to John? (See 22:1-2.)

John saw a) the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb, and b) the tree of life, bearing fruit monthly, with even its leaves giving healing to the nations. In other words, God’s gift of life, like a river, flows constantly. It is beautiful and pure. It is refreshing. Like fruit, it is bright and good-looking, sweet and sustaining.

We will see God. We will serve God. We will belong to God. What thing will we not go through in eternity?

In eternal life, we will no longer live under the curse that is the result of our sin. There will be no more night. We will not need any light, not even the sun. God himself will be our light. And all of this will never end.

Gospel – Luke 20:27-38

Since the Sadducees of Jesus’ day rejected all but the first five books of the Bible, why was the source of Jesus’ answer to them very fitting?

Jesus’ answer to the Sadducees comes from Exodus 3, the account of Moses hearing the Lord speak from the burning bush. Sadducees officially accepted Exodus as God’s Word, so they ought to have agreed with Jesus.

Jesus quotes a verse from Exodus 3. How does that verse show that believers live on with God after death, and that believers will rise from death with new bodies?

Jesus proves his point that believers live on now, and will rise on the Last Day, by quoting himself. God, the Angel of the Lord and the second person of the Holy Trinity did not say to Moses, hundreds of years after his three servants died, “I was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” He says, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

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The Full Story – November 11, 2019

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
2 Thessalonians 1:5

The Full Story


Daily Devotion – November 11, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:5

See series: Devotions

Things aren’t always what they seem. The Antiques Roadshow proves it.

If you’ve ever watched that show, you’ll know that people often bring an item that looks like junk for appraisal. I wouldn’t give them a dime for it, but the expert tells the owner, “You could expect to fetch at least $20,000 for this at auction.”

Often these appraisals are not based on the intrinsic value of the object itself. No one needs a $20,000 flower vase! Instead, the value is found in the object’s story: Where and when it was made, who owned it, etc. In order to know something’s value, you need to know the story behind it.

That’s also true when it comes to God’s judgment. People are tempted to make snap judgments about his judgment. They conclude his judgment is unfair, unloving, and unconcerned for those who stand under it. But they don’t know the full story.

Consider a comparison from everyday life. When a concerned father promises to punish his son if he does something dangerous, it has nothing to do with craving revenge. The father takes no joy in the thought of having to hand down punishment. Instead, his words proceed from a loving heart. On the outside, he may seem unfair, unloving, and unconcerned. But that’s because you don’t know the full story. The father loves his son and wants to keep him safe.

So it is with God’s judgment—even his promise of eternal punishment—springs from a heart of love and concern for sinners. He wants to get our attention because, the truth is, he also “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He sent his Son to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He desires mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13). In his heart of hearts, he is our loving Savior, not a cold-hearted judge. And that is the full story.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me recognize your love even in your judgment. 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 – November 10, 2019

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Philippians 2:12-13

Thankful for the plan

“Aaaaachoooo!!”

He sneezed all over my lunch. Very gross. Not only did he ruin my appetite, he also spread some of his sickness my way. Getting a cold wasn’t on my agenda that day.

Did you know that frowning and complaining does the same thing? Like a virus that’s gone airborne and inhaled or ingested, our grouchiness and grumbling negatively impacts others.

We could talk about smiling more frequently, complimenting others consistently, or demonstrating our gratitude more gladly, but we should look deeper. How can we live so positively? What would make us want to live that way?

While in prison, the apostle Paul had many reasons to complain and give up. He thought he would die soon. Even so, he writes with gratitude and joy and even gives the reason why—God is working in us.

The God of heaven who has loved you from before the beginning, who has saved you through his Son, Jesus, who has claimed you in the waters of your baptism, is working in you. Think of it, the God of heaven who controls the stars is working in you for your good. The God over the earth who creates sunrises and sunsets with unrepeatable beauty is working in your life.

Consider all that went into today for you. The sun rose bringing warmth and light. God has ordered it all for us. And since his works are wonderful and his plans are always good, then you can know without a doubt that his plan for you is good. And just in case we need one more reason to thankfully trust God’s plan, Jesus’ tomb is still empty. Not only do we have eternal life, but our lives matter here and now.

You might want to know more about God’s specific plan for you. What’s next after high school? What does God want for you and your boyfriend or girlfriend? What does God seek to change through you? Whom does he want to help through you?

For all the things that we don’t know, we do know this. God loves you. He does have a plan for you. And his purpose for you is good. Since that is the case, we have reason to smile with gratitude to God.

A study conducted by Duke University and Mayo Clinic uncovered that positivity and optimism generally adds time to life. Of course, we know that the Lord is in control of that. Unlike a viral negativity, our optimistic and hope-filled outlook on life is powerful. And since we have a God who’s working in us according to his good pleasure and will, we have every reason to smile.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to trust that your plan for my life is good. Lead me to smile with joy so that my gratitude to you would lead others to know your grace as well. In the difficult days lift my eyes heavenward and remind me of the eternal hope that I have in you, all because of your great love in Jesus. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Homecoming – November 10, 2019

Homecoming – November 10, 2019


But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
2 Peter 3:13




Military Devotion – November 10, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:13

See series: Military Devotions

The mental picture of homecoming has changed over the years. There was a time when the word triggered memories of fallen leaves, crisp air, and football. The phrase was: “Celebrate Homecoming.”

“Homecoming” changed to “Coming home!” as a promise to parents who kept asking about Thanksgiving plans.

Then there was the, “Going home….” Home to bury a mother amid fallen leaves and crisp air.

Different pictures, but each one a homecoming.

No matter the changes in life and the mix-up of emotions, home was always the place to come to. It provided a base. A place to leave from and a place to go back to.

We might have called many places home as we moved around. But most likely, there is one place and time that stands out as best. When we picture “home” in our mind, this is it. We would always like to be able to come home there.

The apostle Peter reminds us that not all homecomings are in the past. He points us to a new place to come home to—one that’s better than all the rest.

He calls it “a new heaven and a new earth.” We have always lived on this planet and in this universe. It’s hard to imagine anything else. But the new home will be something else.

It’s going to be wonderfully different. It’s called “The home of righteousness.”

We’ve never lived in a place like that. Sin has always found a place to stay in some corner of our earthly home. Sometimes it took over the place. Then, joy, peace, and contentment were swept out as if garbage. Sin is a homewrecker.

Not in this new home!

“Looking forward to it!” Peter said. But first, he warned, we will need to continue on in our old dwelling until the date set by our heavenly Father.

He tells us the day will come when the old creation, the first home of all humans, will come to an end. “The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare” (2 Peter 3:10).

Hard to imagine what that will be like! It seems frightening.

It need not be. When troops see their own artillery rounds destroying enemy positions, they don’t cringe in fear. They celebrate.

So will the Christians who will be watching the end of this sin-stained creation. Jesus tells us, “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

But the apostle Peter will not be standing on earth to see this happen. Neither will all of the other people of God who have already moved on to heaven.

Maybe we will already be there too.

But we all will celebrate.

It will be like cheering at a homecoming game victory.

Can’t beat that!



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for the creation we live in. You made it beautiful. You made it perfect. We can still see the beauty. But we also see how it has been ruined by sin. Enable us to see the danger that lurks around us. Keep us safe until we can celebrate our heavenly homecoming with you. Amen.



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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Be Still – November 10, 2019

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
Psalm 46:10,11

Be Still


Daily Devotion – November 10, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 46:10,11

See series: Devotions

I was studying in my dorm room at the seminary when one of my roommates walked in with a stunned look on his face. He asked if I could drive him to the hospital. He explained that his fiancée had been in a car accident. She and her younger sister had been driving to the hospital to visit their father who was dying of cancer when the accident occurred. Her sister did not survive. It is difficult to imagine a more tragic situation.

After a few hours at the hospital, I dropped my friend off at his future in-laws’ house. He was exhausted. I will never forget what he said to me. “Be still, and know that I am God.” The Holy Spirit had brought these powerful words from Psalm 46 to his mind in the hour of his greatest need. He could not possibly imagine why the Lord would have allowed such a tragedy to occur. He was completely powerless to fix it or make it all better for his fiancée and her family. All he could do is be still…and remember that God was in control.

What a difficult thing to do! We are so convinced that we are in control of our lives, that we are masters of our own fates. But…we…are…not. There is only One who is in control. There is only One who is God. And we are not he.

But that is alright. It is better than alright. It is a sigh of relief to our anxious hearts. Who better to be in control than the One who loved us enough to give his one and only Son to live and die for our sins? Who better to be in control than the One who conquered death when he rose from the grave?

Whatever burdens your heart this day, whatever causes you anxiety or worry or stress—be still, and know that the LORD Almighty is God. And he loves you; he forgives you; he cares about you. And he is all the God you will ever need.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, when I begin to believe that I am the master of my own fate, remind me that my times are in your hands. Give me the courage to be still and know that you are God. 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 Forgives and Forgets – November 9, 2019

“No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34

God Forgives and Forgets


Daily Devotion – November 9, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:34

See series: Devotions

Are you forgetting things more than you used to? Do you find yourself staring at someone you’ve known for years but, for the life of you, you can’t remember her name? Do you walk into a room and then wonder what you came there to do? We all forget from time to time, some of us more and some less, but forgetting is a reality of the human condition.

Forgetting is not, however, a reality of God’s condition. God cannot forget because God is all-knowing. God knows everything that has happened, is happening, or will happen. This is what makes Jeremiah 31:34 so amazing. God promises that he will both forgive and forget our sins. In other words, he will treat us as if we had never committed a single sin. He can do this because Jesus already paid the price of all sins by his death for us.

Whatever sin is troubling you, whatever guilt is burdening you, whatever memory is haunting you, forget it. Leave it behind. Leave it at the foot of the cross where it belongs. Go into your day free and filled with joy because God forgives and forgets.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus thank you for erasing my sin from God’s mind. Let my life today reflect how thankful I am for this great gift. 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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Pointing People to the Truth – November 8, 2019

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31,32

Pointing People to the Truth


Daily Devotion – November 8, 2019

Devotion based on John 8:31,32

See series: Devotions

Every January 20th we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr. He was a great social reformer who exposed the wickedness of racism by leading the United States to more fully express its founding principles of equal rights for all humans.

Did you know that Martin Luther King, Jr. was named after another great reformer? The original Martin Luther was a pastor in Germany who lived about 500 years ago. Martin Luther reformed the church by exposing the false teachings that had crept into the church and returning God’s people to Jesus as the author and finisher of our faith.

Every October 31st we remember the day when Martin Luther began the movement to reform the church by publishing a document called the 95 theses. These theses, or statements, uncovered the corruption in the church, pointing people back to the Bible as the true authority for all our teaching and practices.

Martin Luther was a courageous leader who stood up for God’s truth no matter what the consequences. We still need courageous leaders who will point people to God’s truth. Jesus told us that if we hold to his teaching then we will know the truth, and the truth will set us free. The truth about Jesus’ forgiveness sets us free from guilt and shame. This frees us to serve others, giving our lives true meaning and purpose.

You may not think of yourself as a courageous leader. But, like Martin Luther, you can point people to Jesus and his truth. And you can be sure that the truth will set those people free.

Prayer:
Lord God, use me to point people to the truth so that the truth might set them free. 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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Why We Worship – November 7, 2019

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. . . . For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31,34

Why We Worship


Daily Devotion – November 7, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:31,34

See series: Devotions

Why should we go to church? Everything we get at church we can get online, right? I can Google great sermons. I can put together the perfect playlist of worship songs. So why should I go to a building, when I can get all the biblical information I could ever want on the internet?

That is a legitimate question. You can get all sorts of great biblical information online. But attending a worship service is much more than gaining information. At worship, you will be surrounded by fellow Christians. It might just be the only time during the week that you are not in the minority. The value of this cannot be overestimated. We become like those with whom we gather.

Worship is also where God confirms his covenant with us. The heart of this agreement is found in the book of Jeremiah, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” God upheld his side of the agreement by sending Jesus to pay for all our sins. We are reminded of this every time we worship as the pastor announces that our sins are forgiven. What a blessing! It is no wonder we want to be in worship so that we can hear those sweet words.

It is true that there are plenty of great spiritual resources online. But God has designed our weekly gatherings to deliver his forgiveness uniquely through worship. So where are you going to worship this week?

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the gift of the Church. Lead me to gather with other believers so that I might receive your forgiveness and be strengthened to live for 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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From the Heart – November 6, 2019

“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Jeremiah 31:33

From the Heart


Daily Devotion – November 6, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:33

See series: Devotions

Going to the pool used to be quite stressful for me. I felt like I spent all my time reminding my kids of the pool rules. I’d yell, “Stop running by the pool! You are going to get hurt.” They would walk for a moment, but sure enough, the next time they got out of the pool they would run to the other side.

It’s much better now. My kids are older and they seem to understand that if they run, they can slip and fall and hurt themselves. They don’t need external reminders because they internally understand the reasons for the rules.

In a certain sense, this is what it means to be a New Testament Christian. Before Jesus came, the Old Testament believers behaved like my young children. They needed lots of rules and reminders. And even when God sent special prophets to point them back to the written code of God’s law, they still slipped back into their old rebellious ways.

But the prophet Jeremiah looked forward to the day when God would do something new. The prophet spoke of a day when the Lord would establish a new covenant with his people. He would write his laws in their minds and their hearts. God’s people would no longer need all the rules and reminders to follow him because they would be his mature sons and daughters.

Jeremiah’s words have come true. Jesus has come and made us right with God. He sends his Holy Spirit to us so that we might follow him internally, from the heart.

Call upon the Holy Spirit to show you Jesus and the power of his love. Ask him to lead you in the process of maturing in your faith, so you would follow him.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, live in me that I might live as a mature follower of Jesus. Write God’s precious laws on my heart and give me the desire and strength to follow 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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Division – November 5, 2019

There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:22-24

Division


Daily Devotion – November 5, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 3:22-24

See series: Devotions

The United States seems to be more divided than ever. We are divided politically, socially, racially, and economically. All this division has made us hostile and judgmental. Just turn on your TV, look at your Facebook feed, or read the editorial column in your local newspaper, and you will hear angry voices defaming their opponents.

How does God’s Word respond to all this division?

God responds by clumping all the different groups into one group. He says, “There is no difference . . . all have sinned.” God does not divide people based on their politics, social views, race, or finances. He puts everyone into one category. All are sinners.

At first, that might seem depressing. You might be thinking, “There is nobody who does good, not even one, really?”

But keep reading.

The writer of these words, the Apostle Paul, continues, “and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” When Jesus died, he died for the sins of the whole world. All humanity has been declared “not guilty” in Jesus. Not everyone believes they need his forgiveness or have his forgiveness. But, because Jesus accomplished it, his forgiveness is there for them.

If we embraced what God says, our world could be a much better place. If we believed that all people are sinners, including ourselves, we wouldn’t look down on other people. If we believed that God had mercy on them all in Jesus, then we might begin to have mercy on them as well.

So, when you find yourself adding to this world’s hostility and division, remember that you are no different than anyone else. You are a sinner just like them. When you struggle to care for someone with opposing views, love them with the same love that Jesus showed you on the cross. After all, we are all equally sinners and equally saved.

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for the times I was judgmental and looked down on others. Lead me to love others just as you have loved me in Jesus Christ. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Reformation – Justified by Faith – Week of November 4, 2019

Reformation – Justified by Faith – Week of November 4, 2019


For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Romans 3:28



Silence falls across the courtroom as the verdict is being read. Guilty, the defendant is found guilty! From the start of the trial, the evidence and questioning foreshadowed the guilty verdict. Countless hours were spent in court showing the laundry list of wrongs that this defendant had committed. Judgement is finalized, the defendant will be punished for his crimes.

Just as the defendant is being led out of the courtroom to be punished, the judge bangs the gavel and hands the defendant a piece of paper that reads, “PAID IN FULL”. How could this be? The judge knows full well that the defendant is guilty and has all the evidence stacked on courtroom table. The judge looks past the stack of evidence and explains to the defendant that his punishment is paid in full and the defendant is free. The courtroom is now filled with surprise and amazement.

This courtroom scene is a beautiful and touching picture of the meaning of justification. To be justified is to be forgiven and accepted into right standing, to be righteous in God’s sight, to be declared not guilty.

You and I are the guilty defendant in this scene. Countless hours are spent with our never-ending list of sins. The fact is we are sinful and deserve to be punished for our sins! We stand condemned before God our judge. There is no amount of good works that can be done to fulfill the sentencing of the guilty verdict.

The comfort is, just when we feel hopeless and in despair, God, the judge, bangs his gavel and declares us “NOT GUILTY”. God looks at the stack of evidence, and all he sees what Jesus has done for us! The punishment of sin and death has been paid in full through Jesus suffering, death, and resurrection! There is nothing left to be done, salvation is complete!



Prayer: By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, came down to earth to bear our sin. Was it because of your own merit that Jesus dies your soul to win? No, it was grace and grace alone that brought him from his heavenly throne. Amen.
Christian Worship 384:2



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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Second Sunday of End Time—Last Judgment

Jesus’ Judgment Is Always Right

These are the readings for the Second Sunday of End Time—Last Judgment.

God’s Word for This Week

The Lord wants you to take his judgment of all people seriously. He also wants to encourage you: Hanging on to his cross until the Last Day is worth all the difficulties that will come your way, for Jesus will call all people to account on the Last Day. Believers in Jesus will keep the eternal life they already have. Unbelievers will go away from Jesus to eternal death.

Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 26:1-6

List the ways Jeremiah and the people would know how serious God is about judgment.

God instructs Jeremiah not to omit a word. God also tells the people to listen to him and his word and to his messengers which he sent.

What would it mean “to be made like Shiloh”? (See 26:6.)

Shiloh was the location of the sanctuary after Canaan was conquered. Jeremiah warns that if the people do not repent their beloved temple of Solomon will suffer total destruction as the sanctuary at Shiloh.

Supplemental First Lesson – Ezekiel 9:1-11

After a vision of vile pagan practices in God’s temple in Jerusalem, Ezekiel saw judgment fall. Whom did God’s servants spare? (See 9:4.)

In the second part of the vision, Ezekiel saw God’s servants spare those who grieved and lamented over all the detestable things done in Jerusalem. (Do you grieve over this wicked world or take it for granted?)

Why did God say he would show no pity? (See 9:9.)

God said that he would show no pity because a) people were filling the land of Judah with bloodshed and b) people claimed that God did not see all the injustice.

Second Lesson – 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

What are the two sides of God’s judgment? (See 1:5,6.)

God’s judgment means; a) he judges the wicked worthy of eternal suffering, b) and he also counts those who trust in Christ worthy of living with him in his eternal kingdom.

How does the threat of “everlasting destruction” encourage us? (See 1:9.)

Everlasting destruction may seem a contradiction in terms. But for those who do not believe in Jesus as their Savior, God’s judgment is a process of destruction that will never end. Though we believers suffer persecution, we know a day is coming when persecutors of the gospel will pay the severest price.

How we might become complacent? (See 1:10.)

We must not gloat about our trust in the Word of God which promises that Jesus will come again to take us to heaven. We must also not let down our guard as we struggle to fight the good fight of faith until Christ comes.

Gospel – Luke 19:11-27

What happened immediately upon the king’s return? (See 9:15.)

The newly appointed king called each to account as soon as he returned. The servants who made more minas for their master were given credit, each in proportion to what they had earned.

What should the last servant have done, instead of burying his talent? (See 19:22.)

He should have put it on deposit, to increase its value. The king did not accept his flimsy excuses.

How does the unfaithfulness of the last servant show in our time?

The last servant shows up when people entrusted with the Word of God claim to be too busy to do the work of God. They neglect it. They say it will not profit them.

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A New Covenant – November 4, 2019

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.”
Jeremiah 31:31

A New Covenant


Daily Devotion – November 4, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:31

See series: Devotions

The Bible can be hard to read for many reasons. For one thing, it sometimes contains unfamiliar words. One of those words that keeps coming up in the Bible is “covenant.”

So, what is a covenant? And why does it matter?

A covenant is an agreement between two individuals or groups. It’s like a legal contract where both groups sign on the dotted line and promise to uphold their end of the deal.

The surprising message of the Bible is that God made a covenant with his people. He wanted to partner with them.

In the second book of the Bible, God made a covenant with the nation of Israel. He agreed to bless them and make them into a great nation while they agreed to obey his laws. Unfortunately, the Israelites broke their side of the agreement almost immediately and the nation unraveled like a runaway ball of yarn.

We can relate. We have made promises to follow what God says. We said we were going to love him and love people. But almost immediately we found ourselves breaking our promises.

That’s why we need to hear the comforting words of the prophet Jeremiah. He said that God was going to make a new covenant with his people. It wasn’t going to be like the old covenant, where the people promised to hold up their end of the agreement.

No, this time, God was going to make a covenant where he fulfilled all the requirements of all his laws. That’s what the story of Jesus is all about. Jesus came into this world to fulfill all of God’s commands on our behalf. Then he died to receive the punishment we deserve for breaking God’s covenant. This new covenant is a one-sided covenant. God simply forgives our sins for Jesus’ sake, period. What a gift! What a God!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for your new covenant and for the peace and forgiveness it gives. 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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Terrible terror – November 3, 2019

Terrible terror – November 3, 2019


We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.
Jeremiah 8:15




Military Devotion – November 3, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 8:15

See series: Military Devotions

The Great Generation did not hear the word “terrorist” very often. They did, however, become acquainted with terror. Every generation has.

Even during the times when a nation was at peace, such as Israel during the reign of Solomon, individual people still faced terror.

Terror has many faces. It can show itself in many places. It may threaten with a bomb or a cancer cell. However, when we use the word “terrorist” today, we are most likely thinking of a person who intends to do grave harm to others. Whatever form terror takes, living with it is terrible.

But no terror is as terrible as the terror that the omnipotent God brings upon a people.

Jeremiah is labeled “The Weeping Prophet.” A book of the Bible is called “The Lamentations of Jeremiah.” He had much to lament. The Lord revealed to him the terrible times he would bring to his people, Israel.

The Lord warned many would fall before an invading enemy: “They will not be gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.” There would be survivors, but many would be taken as prisoners to a foreign land: “Wherever I banish them, all the survivors of this evil nation will prefer death to life, declares the LORD Almighty” (Jeremiah 8:2).

When people wish they were dead, their lives are terrible.

Thus, the lament: “We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there was only terror.”

No hope for peace. No time to heal. Only terror. A terrible time.

We need to understand why this happened. We need to ask if this could happen to our nation, to us. It could.

Let’s look in at ancient Israel. The Lord had showered his blessings upon those people. With abundance of crops and strength in defense, other nations looked upon Israel with envy. The greatest blessing was the presence of the Word of God in its midst.

His Law mirrored his will. His promises brightened their future. The history of Israel was a record of his powerful faithfulness. They were living in the land “flowing with milk and honey.”

What went wrong?

The people. The people went wrong.

They turned away from his paths; discarded his Word; and came up with their own answers for the meaning of life, and their own sources of joy in life.

They rejected the Lord—and then, he rejected them.

Terrible!

But there was hope. Through the same prophet, Jeremiah, the Lord God told them, “‘I am with you and will save you,’ declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:11).

Then he added: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Almost unbelievable, isn’t it? Did he really do this for Israel of old? He did.

Would he make such forgiveness possible for us? Jesus did.

The Lord God—the answer to all that is terrible.



Prayer: Holy and merciful God, you are our guard and our friend. We know the times are perilous. We admit our failures, our sin. But with Israel of old, we look to you for forgiveness. Keep us from all things terrible. Deliver us from evil. Amen.



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 – November 3, 2019

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

Thankful for people

While he was incarcerated, he spent two days in solitary confinement. He had been in several prisons. He’d seen many jail cells. This tall, buff, bald, and tatted man helped run a drug empire. This man wasn’t scared of anything. But solitary confinement? That made him almost shake with fear.

We aren’t made to be alone. Several studies have shown that children, teens, and adults suffer when they are alone.

Maybe you know what that’s like. Does it seem like other teens have a great group of friends while you are on the outside looking in? Does it feel like you might be an after-thought when others are getting together? Or worse, does it ever cross your mind that you don’t have the number of friends others do? Maybe you wonder if people even notice you.

You’re not alone.

A man by the name of Paul knew what that was like. He had been persecuted and run out of cities. Worse than having only a few friends in Philippi, he had several sworn enemies. But that is where God stepped in.

Through the people of Philippi, Paul knew what it was like to have true friends who cared when few others did. He experienced the joy of having people who prayed for him, supported him, and were his partners in sharing the good news of Jesus. It was through the gospel that God gave them the joy of encouraging Paul. That joy was the source of his prayer of thanks to God.

Jesus too understands what it is to be alone. Crowds gathered for all the wrong reasons and ditched him by the thousands. Even his closest disciples left him when he asked them to watch and pray. After spending a night in solitary confinement, he was brutally beaten and nailed to a cross. And on the cross, he became more alone than anyone in the history of humanity. He was left all alone—even by his Father—as he suffered for our sins. But in this way, he paid the price so that we would never be alone from God.

Now the connection that we have with others means so much more.

We get to enjoy the company of our friends. More than that, in our faith family, we have partners who share eternal joy. Not just in this life, but as brothers and sisters in our Father’s eternal family. So, every encouraging word we share, every friendly moment, and every step we step we take together is all part of God’s plan in leading us to our heavenly home.

Remember that rough-around the edges character described at the beginning? He later admitted, “The only thing that got me through was knowing that I had just come to know my God and Savior. And I had a cell-mate who said he would pray for me.” He was never alone ever again. Neither are we.

Take some time this week to thank God for the people he has put in your life so you are not alone and with whom you might walk to heaven.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of friends who share my faith. I get to share not just my life with them, but by your grace eternity as well. Help me to be a support to them as they are to me on our way to heaven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Wrong Turn – November 3, 2019

No one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.
Romans 3:20

Wrong Turn


Daily Devotion – November 3, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 3:20

See series: Devotions

The name of Leopold Loyka is not a household name. Nevertheless, Leopold Loyka is the man who made one of the most consequential wrong turns in human history.

Leopold was a chauffeur and a prestigious one at that. His job was to serve as the official driver for a high-ranking official from Austria, a man by the name of Franz Ferdinand. In June of 1914, Ferdinand decided to visit Sarajevo, a city that harbored hostility toward Austrian rule. As Leopold drove the car through the city with Ferdinand as his passenger, he made a wrong turn. When he stopped to correct his mistake, it so happened that he passed directly in front of a man who very much wanted to see Franz Ferdinand dead. The man seized his chance and shot Ferdinand to death.

The assassination of Franz Ferdinand of Austria was the spark that started World War I. World War I, in turn, set the stage for World War II. In all, 77 million people perished. And it all began with a wrong turn.

There is another wrong turn in human history that has even greater consequences. It is the false assumption that we can make our own way into God’s favor. It is the false assumption that we can chart our own course into a right relationship with God. Such thinking is not only wrong-headed and self-absorbed; such thinking also has consequences that are fatal, and eternal.

Enter Jesus. Jesus did far more than chart a safe course. He created a path where none had existed. The path was himself. He alone was the way. As our substitute, he lived and died on our behalf. Through faith in him, God’s favor is ours, forgiveness is ours, peace is ours, life is ours. And not just for a while, but forever.

Through faith in Jesus, we will one day arrive safe and sound in our heavenly home.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive all of the wrong turns in my life—all of the times I have turned away from you. Turn me again and again toward you until I see you face to face in the heaven you are preparing for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Suffering for the Gospel – November 2, 2019

[J]oin with me in suffering for the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:8

Suffering for the Gospel


Daily Devotion – November 2, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:8

See series: Devotions

Tour guides in Rome will describe what the Apostle Paul’s dungeon was like—the dungeon he lived in as he awaited execution. Many think that it was like an empty cistern in the ground, with only a hole in the top for light.

So picture Paul at the bottom of that dungeon. He’s alone. He’s cold. He knows he is going to die. Then the Holy Spirit moves him to write one final letter, a letter to his friend Timothy. From the darkness of that pit, the living and enduring Word of God comes to Timothy. And across the miles and centuries, that same Word comes to you and me.

Among the many extraordinary things that Paul includes in his last letter is this: “Join me in suffering for the gospel.” As Paul considered all that the Lord Jesus had done for him, he was gladly willing to suffer for the sake of standing up for the Good News of Christ.

You and I live in a society that, to a great degree, has gotten used to avoiding pain and inconvenience at all costs. For this reason, it’s easy for us to go on automatic pilot and avoid standing up for the gospel if doing so involves any discomfort or trouble. Such abandonment of our Lord is wrong. It’s sin. And deep down we know it.

So look to Jesus again. Come to him in repentance. Be washed clean in his blood. Then, as a forgiven child of God, recognize the opportunities you have every day to join with the Apostle Paul. Perhaps it is remaining faithful and Christlike during a difficult stretch in your marriage. Perhaps it is refusing to fill your conversation with complaints about your physical aches and pains. Or perhaps it is accepting ridicule because you are open about your Christian faith.

Just remember. In light of what Jesus has done for you, suffering for the gospel is not a burden. It is a sweet privilege.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in you I am forgiven. In you I have life. Empower me to endure any trouble for the sake of serving as a witness for 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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Teach Believe Love – November 1, 2019

What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 1:13

Teach Believe Love


Daily Devotion – November 1, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:13

See series: Devotions

It’s a great blessing to have Christians in your life who know the pattern of sound Christian teaching and who pass it on. Some of what the Bible says matches your conscience, but most of it does not come naturally. It has to be taught and learned, and nothing is more valuable. For example, when someone teaches and shows you how to make forgiveness in Jesus a main focus of your life, you appreciate it because of the tremendous comfort it brings.

You also appreciate it when Christians in your life demonstrate their faith in Jesus. It’s especially helpful to see them in action during the difficult times. They are sure of the promises of God even when it’s not easy to see how God will keep those promises. The confidence of believers is reassuring when everyone else seems to be panicking.

Along with passing along Christian teaching and demonstrating faith in Jesus, we are also blessed when our fellow Christians demonstrate the love God has placed in their hearts. Nothing makes life more pleasant than people who love you. Christians in your life reflect the love of Christ Jesus and love you even when you don’t deserve it. You can teach the truths of the Lord, and you can believe his promises, but those two very valuable things ring hollow to other people if you do not demonstrate love to them.

Christians around the world celebrate November 1st as All Saints Day, remembering all of the people who lived Christian lives and died in the faith. What is the best way to honor them?

Teach. Believe. Love.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 551)
For all the saints who from their labors rest, all who their faith before the world confessed, your name, O Jesus, be forever blest. Alleluia! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You Will Suffer – October 31, 2019

Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace.
2 Timothy 1:8,9

You Will Suffer


Daily Devotion – October 31, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:8,9

See series: Devotions

It’s Reformation Day! Other holidays are being celebrated today around the world, but for the next few moments, we will concentrate on Reformation Day.

October 31st is the day over 500 years ago when a German man named Martin Luther nailed a sheet of paper to a church door in the city of Wittenberg. The piece of paper invited people to debate what the Bible said about a number of religious topics.

Some of the positions that Martin Luther took in that invitation to debate were not real popular. He talked about repentance and forgiveness through faith in Jesus rather than through traditions of the church. He noted that some religious leaders of his day offered a false peace, while real peace was found only through Jesus. He said that God saved us because of grace, not because of our own good works. He insisted that God wants us to live holy everyday lives, and we don’t need to have a special position in the church to do that.

Holding to those truths of the Bible got Martin Luther excommunicated from his church and declared an outlaw by his government. But he was not ashamed of the gospel. He continued to teach and preach what the Bible said, and people around the world called for reform of the church. That’s why it’s Reformation Day!

Will you suffer today if you insist that Jesus is the only way to heaven? People are going to call you intolerant. Will you suffer if you insist that holiness comes through faith in Jesus and not through the traditions of a church? There are people injured and dying today somewhere in the world because they dare to confess that.

Do not be ashamed of those who suffer. Join with them in confessing the truth. You’ll suffer, but God will provide his power, and it will be worth it.

Prayer:
Lord God, be my mighty fortress when I suffer for speaking your truth. 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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Keep on Forgiving – October 30, 2019

[Jesus said] “If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”
Luke 17:3,4

Keep on Forgiving


Daily Devotion – October 30, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 17:3,4

See series: Devotions

The key to a Christian life is so simple and yet so difficult. People are going to sin against you. They are going to treat you poorly, they are going to think of themselves before you, and they will be oblivious that they have done anything wrong. What do you do then? Jesus says to lovingly rebuke them.

You are going to treat others poorly—sometimes obliviously, and sometimes, you have to admit, on purpose—because you are thinking of yourself. What do you do when they call you out? Repent. Tell them that you are sorry for what you have done.

When you rebuke people—calling them out—and they respond by saying, “I’m sorry” or “I repent,” what is your next step? Forgive them! It’s so hard. You want to teach them a lesson, and you don’t want to get hurt again, but Jesus is very clear here. “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them.”

How do you forgive them when it gets difficult? Think about how God has forgiven you even when you don’t deserve it. God does that because of what Jesus Christ has done, and that’s the same place you get your strength. Think about what Jesus Christ has done—for you and the other person—and forgive that person because of Jesus.

It’s so simple! It’s so difficult. But it is the key to living a Christian life. God bless your efforts to forgive others as you have been forgiven.

Prayer:
Dear Father, forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. 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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Revealed by the Resurrection – October 29, 2019

This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:9,10

Revealed by the Resurrection


Daily Devotion – October 29, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:9,10

See series: Devotions

God always planned to love us even when we didn’t deserve it. He called that “grace,” and even before he created the world, he knew how he was going to square that grace with his perfect justice. He was going to do that through the work of Christ Jesus.

Jesus lived an absolutely perfect life, which no other human being had been able to do. But instead of taking the heaven that he deserved, he took the death and hell that we deserve. He gave eternal life in heaven to everyone who believes in him, plain and simple. We call that grace because we don’t deserve it.

God told his people about this grace for thousands of years after the creation of the world. But it was not until Jesus’ appeared that God’s plan was fully revealed. Jesus destroyed death by coming back from it, and he promises that everyone who believes in him will do the same. The good news that we will not stay dead, but instead will rise again, body and soul, is called the gospel.

Anyone can make promises, but by rising from the dead, Jesus showed that God could deliver on his promise. Now you can be confident that you will rise too. It’s not a mystery any more what happens after death. The truth has been revealed by the appearing of our Savior.

Prayer:
Lord God, we praise you for your grace, given us in Christ Jesus. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019

If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019


Your will be done.

Matthew 6:10



If only. Do you ever find yourself pondering these two little words? “If only I could get a bit more sleep.” “If only I was able to pay off the bills just once.” “If only we had a few more students or another staff member.” “If only I had a new vehicle so I wouldn’t have to worry about the next inevitable repair bill.” “If only God would take away my headaches or cancer or fatigue.” “If only we knew what day the licensing rep would be dropping in for an inspection.” “If only God would answer my prayer the way I’ve asked.” If only.

There are a couple of places that the words, “Your will be done” are spoken in the Bible. Two that come to mind are when Jesus teaches his disciples and us, the Lord’s prayer. Another time is when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest and crucifixion. Wouldn’t we expect that Jesus wouldn’t even need to say those words? Wouldn’t God automatically respond to his own Son’s prayer with a “yes?” No. God didn’t for Jesus, and he doesn’t always for us. And we are left to ask why.

Each time we pray, our words are eagerly heard by the God who made the universe, who made each of us. His love and care for us extends beyond seeing us as a mere creation. He loves us deeply, deeper than any love than any parent for their child. More than the parent anticipating their child coming home, God wants each one of his creations to spend every day of eternity in his home, in heaven. That love sent God’s only Son, Jesus, to the cross, the grave, and then to rise on Easter morning. A God who loves us that much, truly wants only what is best for us. When we pray, “Your will be done,” we are making a statement of faith that recognizes that we may not see the big picture for our lives, but our God does. We know what we want, but God knows what is best for us.

Sometimes our prayers are hard. We feel the weight of our burdens and can be thinking, if only God will answer this prayer the way that I hope, all will be fine. “Your will be done.” What is God’s will? What are we saying when we pray these words? God’s will is that his name is made holy and that all would know and believe in him. His will is grounded in a deep love for us. More than just asking God’s will to be done, we are also asking that the Lord bring our will into harmony with his good and gracious will. We can trust his will for us and boldly pray that he would bless and encourage us as we face the challenges of life. We can pray that he will help us to use each of our blessings and challenges as a way to give glory to him for all he has done for us.

The most important “if only” in our lives has already been done. We have forgiveness and peace with God because of Jesus. The heartaches and stresses of life continue but we can face them with courage and with confidence knowing that God’s will is for our good and that whether the answer to our prayer is a yes or a no, he is with us. “Your will be done, indeed!” We wouldn’t want it any other way! To Him be the Glory!



Prayer: Dear Lord, give me confidence and comfort in prayer trusting that your will for me and those I love is good and gracious and founded in your love. In your name I pray. Amen



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

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First Sunday of End Time—Reformation

Grace Alone, Faith Alone, Scripture Alone

These are the readings for the First Sunday of End Time—Reformation.

God’s Word for This Week

By grace alone, by faith alone, by Scripture alone—these are the three “watchwords” of God reforming his church.

First Lesson – Jeremiah 31:31-34 – Grace Alone

God says to Israel that he will make a new covenant with them. Where will he write that covenant? (See 31:33.)

God promised to write his covenant in believers’ hearts and minds. (His main concern is our insides—our attitudes, beliefs, etc.—not merely our appearance.)

The heart of God’s new covenant is found in 31:34. What does God graciously do for you and me?

God forgives our sins and remembers them no more.

Second Lesson – Romans 3:19-28 – Faith Alone

Paul first points out the main purposes of God’s law. What are those purposes? (See 3:19-20.)

God did not give us his law to work our way to heaven. He means it to remove all our rationalizations and excuses. (“What do you have to say for yourself?” Silence.) God’s law is a mirror, showing clearly our ugly sin, showing that we cannot save ourselves.

There is righteousness. Whose is it? From where does it come? (See 3:21-22.)

Perfect righteousness before God is God’s. It comes from God. It is not from us.

We have fallen woefully short, but we are also justified, innocent in God’s courtroom. Why? How? (See 3:24.)

Our justification is free, by God’s grace, through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God piles up descriptives to say, “This is my work, my work, my work, not your work.”

Gospel – John 8:31-36 – Scripture alone

What does Jesus say is the mark of his disciples? (See 8:31.)

One of the marks of Jesus’ disciples is that they hold on tightly to God’s Word.

What blessing does God give as we hold on tightly to the Word? (See 8:32.)

We will know the truth, and the truth sets us free.

God has blessed you with full freedom in Christ. How does knowing that it comes from his Word lead us to reprioritize our lives?

What joy! God’s Word brings us freedom. Knowing that freedom from sin and death comes from God’s Holy Word motivates me to keep focused on the Word. I want to keep hearing it, reading it, and studying it. God brings me great blessings through it.

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Really No Choice at All – October 28, 2019

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

Really No Choice at All


Daily Devotion – October 28, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 6:23

See series: Devotions

Let’s say your employer gives you a choice. At the end of the week, you can receive what you have earned, or you can receive something that your employer has chosen as a gift instead. Which do you choose?

You might be tempted to take what you earned. After all, you have earned it. But then you remember that your employer told you to get a project done, and you aren’t even close to finished. Suddenly you’re not so sure that it’s smart to take what you have earned.

But will your employer’s gift be any better? It depends on who your employer is, doesn’t it? If you trust that the gift will be something good because your employer is good, you’re more likely to go that direction. If you’re not sure you can trust your employer, you will be suspicious of the gift.

God says that without him at the end of life you will be paid for what you have done, and since you have sinned, the wage you receive will be death. When God mentions death, he’s not just talking about the separation of soul and body. He’s talking about eternal separation from him.

But God has a gift for you. That gift is eternal life with him in heaven. You have that gift only through Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus earned that gift for you by living a perfect life—without sin—and then taking the punishment for your sin when he died. Through faith in Jesus, you have his perfect life credited to your account. It’s a gift, and it comes with the forgiveness of your sins and eternal life in heaven.

Thank God he has promised not to give us what our sins have earned. Thank him that he has chosen instead to give us the gift of eternal life.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. 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 – October 27, 2019

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:14-18, 24-30

Monster killer: Risk

This parable seems pretty harsh. At first glance it can seem like the master (God) is mean and overacts concerning the man with one bag of gold.

But, Jesus is giving us some key insights through this parable into how seriously God takes our relationship with him.

Imagine you just got a boyfriend or girlfriend that you’ve always wanted. They’re kind, smart, ambitious, generous and make you feel special. You never thought they’d like you, but now you’re actually together! They are committed to you.

Now imagine that every time you ask them to hang out, they say no. They justify their answer by saying they fear that if you hang out together you might discover something you don’t like about them and then you’d breakup with them.

Seems pretty crazy, right? A boyfriend or girlfriend that never wants to do anything with you? You might say there’s no relationship at all. Their inaction killed your relationship. Inaction is a monster.

God is the master of taking action! He moved heaven and earth to have a relationship with you. He sacrificed his Son, who got into the mess of this sinful world and even faced the wrath of God himself in our place. God saved us from an eternity without him. We now get to call him our Father and get to look forward to a life of perfect happiness with him.

And, God saved us for something, not just from something. He saved us for a life filled with purpose and action. He gave each of us spiritual gifts and talents that are beautiful. When we use them it’s like we’re “hanging out” with God and showing him we’re glad we’re in this relationship.

The man with one bag of gold knew that in order to gain more bags of gold he’d have to take a risk. He knew he could face ridicule, failure, jealousy, and pain if he used what he had. He didn’t want to take that risk. But his inaction produced more severe consequences than his risk would have.

The men who had five bags of gold and two bags of gold took a risk. They went out into the world and used their gifts. They knew their master would value the risk they took. They knew his heart—that if they failed he would welcome them still and love them.

Don’t just settle with being saved from something. Live for something. Take risks for God and use what he’s given you. Even if you get a little bruised and beat up along the way, you’ll end up stronger, more resilient, and even more reliant on God because you’ll realize you need his grace even more.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for saving me from death and saving me for a purpose-filled life. Forgive me for my inaction. Forgive me for burying my gifts. Help me step out in faith and take risks for you. Convince me that there is a certain thrill to living my life for you. It’s what I was made to do. And when I stumble (because I will) you will be right there to comfort me, encourage me, and empower me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The good that I would – October 27, 2019

The good that I would – October 27, 2019


For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:19




Military Devotion – October 27, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 7:19

See series: Military Devotions

An old saying declares, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That might infer that following through on those good intentions could lead a person to heaven. In 1517, it surely did mean that to most people.

The idea that someone could earn the way to heaven by doing good works was firmly entrenched in the minds of most people at that time. It is the natural religion of mankind.

The Reformation brought back the good news that salvation is a free gift from God, paid for with the blood of Jesus. That’s what the apostle Paul had preached and believed. But that did not mean he was not bothered by good intentions gone astray.

Sin is obvious to the person who compares his life to what God expects. The child of God laments the black marks against his record. He knows the sin is paid for, but he is also aware that it is dangerous. It can lead him away from his Savior. And sin is shameful. To be a follower of the Savior is to reject the works of Satan.

Sin is something to fight against.

But the battle is not only against the powers of darkness and the pressure of a sinful world. The enemy is not just out there; it is in here—inside the perimeter of our personal life.

The enemy is inside the wire!

No wonder the apostle Paul was concerned.

He was disgusted with himself. He knew what the right thing, the good thing, was. He wanted to do it. But time and again, he had to admit, “The good that I would (do), I don’t do.”

That’s only half of the sad story. Not only was good left undone, but evil was carried out: “The evil I don’t want to do is what I end up doing.”

In anguish, he called out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

Wretched, indeed!

How else does one describe the person who knows that his loving God paid such a high price to free him from slavery to sin—and yet he keeps going back to it?

Does he not know the danger? Does he not appreciate the rescue? Does he not want to remain a child of the heavenly Father?

He does know. He does appreciate. He does love his Savior God. But the enemy inside the wire is smart and strong.
“Who can deliver me?” the apostle asked. Then he went on to say: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)

There’s the answer! Jesus is the answer! Satan may tempt. Sin may control. But only for a while. And not in the end.
Looking at the final verdict, Saint Paul could say: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

We join him. We, too, confess: “The good that I would, I do not…” But there is more to say.

“The good that I would but did not—that, Jesus did for me.”

The road to hell is closed to those following Jesus.

The road to heaven is paved with the perfection of the Savior God—and that is the road upon which we are walking.



Prayer: Jesus; you did it all for us. You continue to lead the way to heaven. We know we are weak. We admit we stumble and fall. Give us the courage and strength we need to continue our spiritual fight. Lead us by the hand on the road of life. Amen.



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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The Lord is Near – October 27, 2019

The LORD is my light and salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?
Psalm 27:1

The Lord is Near


Daily Devotion -October 27, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 27:1

See series: Devotions

A man was walking down a very dark and unfamiliar road late at night. His car had broken down and he decided that he would go for help. Clouds blocked any light from the sky. It was pitch black.

As he walked, he gingerly took each step hoping to stay on the road. Suddenly, he slipped off the edge and found himself falling. Certain that he was falling to his death somewhere below, he desperately reached out for something to break his fall. His hand found a bush growing from the side the hill and he hung on for dear life.

His calls for help were in vain. His arms grew weaker by the moment. He was tired and afraid. As his grasp slipped and he began to fall, he thought he was going to die. A moment later, however, his feet landed on the soft grass below. Safety had been only inches away. If only he had let go sooner! He could have avoided all that effort, stress, and fear.

As we face the troubles and dangers of life, we often forget that help is close by. But “the LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth” (Psalm 145:18). Worried about your sins? Afraid of death? Concerned about the future? Don’t be. Your Lord and Savior is always there for you. Don’t be afraid! Just let go! Put your trust in the Lord!

Prayer:
In this world, I am constantly surrounded by dangers. But with you at my side, Lord, I need never be afraid. Teach me to turn my troubles and cares over to you. You are my help and my salvation. Amen.

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