Justice in Due Time – October 20, 2018

How long, O LORD, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “Violence!” but you do not save? Why do you make me look at injustice? Why do you tolerate wrong? Destruction and violence are before me; there is strife, and conflict abounds.
Habakkuk 1:2-3

Justice in Due Time


Daily Devotion – October 20, 2018

Devotion based on Habakkuk 1:2-3

See series: Devotions

Was God’s prophet preaching this 2,500 years ago or just last week?

When Habakkuk looked out his front window, he saw violence and injustice. The bad guys just did whatever they wanted to. All of Habakkuk’s neighbors seemed OK with injustice and violence. They took advantage of evil to advance their own cause without any concern for the people getting hurt. Habakkuk could not understand how God allowed all this wrong to happen. Wasn’t he a just God? Wasn’t he a loving God? Habakkuk prayed and prayed the Lord would set things right, but nothing happened.

Sound familiar? Today people abuse their authority to take advantage of others. People disrespect authority to hurt others. People jump to conclusions and ignore facts just to prove their point. No one seems concerned about the people getting hurt. Most people just want to win the argument and advance their personal agenda. Why doesn’t God punish the evil doers? Why does God tolerate all the destruction and violence we see in this world? Why doesn’t he bring an end to conflict and peace to strife-torn hearts?

God answered Habakkuk’s prayer by explaining he would bring justice in his own time and way. God told Habakkuk to be patient and trust that God would do the right thing at the right time–which God did.

Do we really want God to bring justice in our time? Think about it. Have I lost my temper? Have I cut people down with my words? How concerned am I really about people getting hurt by others? What am I doing to help relieve the pain of the suffering? If God pays back people what they deserve, will he be paying me a visit? Do I really want to beg God to bring justice to the world?

Our God already has. On a cross outside of Jerusalem 2,000 years ago, God brought justice to this world. He blasted Jesus with all the punishment deserved by all the violence and evil and wrong committed by the human race. God’s Son unjustly suffered in our place. Jesus took that burden because he did not want us condemned. He wanted us forgiven.

On the cross, God’s justice collided with God’s love. On the cross, God punished all wrong-doers by punishing Jesus. On the cross, God forgave all wrong-doers by punishing Jesus. Relying on Jesus as our Savior, we can look forward to meeting God without any fear. Because of Jesus, God will welcome us into heaven.

God will also take care of justice here on earth—in his own time and his own way. Sometimes we will have to wait patiently for God to act. Most importantly for us, we know God has already acted to forgive our sin. We never have to fear that he will punish us. Jesus took our place!

Prayer:
Lord, bring about justice in your own time and way. Give me patience when I am troubled by injustice. Give me a stronger faith that you will never condemn me, despite my sin. Jesus died in my place, for which I am eternally grateful! Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Spread the News – October 19, 2018

Declare [the LORD’s] glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.
Psalm 96:3

Spread the News


Daily Devotion – October 19, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 96:3

See series: Devotions

When you see something amazing, you just have to share it: the grandeur of a waterfall or canyon, an astounding play or accomplishment in an athletic contest, an inspiring performance on a stage, or anything else that strikes you as rare and remarkable. You want someone to know what you saw and to share in your excitement and amazement.

The Bible is filled with awe-inspiring scenes and stories, and they are all true. God speaks, and a beautiful world unfolds before him out of nothing. God intervenes, and kingdoms rise and fall according to his plan. God acts, miracles happen, and life is never the same again.

Heaven opens, and the Son of God is born of a woman. Shepherds come from near, wise men come from far, and they return home, telling others about the things they have heard and seen, declaring God’s glory among the nations.

The grave opens, first to receive the Son of God after he is crucified on a cross, and then to reveal that the Son of God has risen from the dead three days later. And friends and followers go out to tell the good news, declaring God’s marvelous deeds among all peoples.

Because people like them shared the good news with you, you know and trust Jesus, the Savior who came to live in your place, to die your death, and to rise again for you.

As you hear and read what the Bible says, you see more of the grandeur of God’s plan to save you and of the heaven that is waiting for you. You witness the awesome way that God won the victory over sin and death for you. You watch an inspiring and flawless performance that changes your life forever!

Thank God for those who have shared Jesus with you. Then go, spread the news! Tell those near and far about the marvelous deeds God has done for you and for them. Invite them to church with you. Share a devotion on social media. Talk to a friend about what you’ve heard, seen, and read. What God has done is too amazing to keep to yourself!

Prayer:
Amazing God, your deeds are marvelous and amazing. Move me to declare your praises wherever I go. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Words Are Needed – October 18, 2018

“Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?
Romans 10:13-14

Words Are Needed


Daily Devotion – October 18, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 10:13-14

See series: Devotions

“You say it best when you say nothing at all.” This 2002 song by Alison Krauss remains popular because most people know someone who shows them love in non-verbal ways. You can enjoy fishing with grandpa all day without saying a word. Conversing with your next-door neighbor may be like pulling teeth, but when you need help, he is the first to show up. “You say it best when you say nothing at all.” That one phrase can probably describe a relationship or two in your life. But that one phrase should not sum up the entire relationship! No one likes to receive “the silent treatment.” Wives appreciate the occasional spoken “I love you” from their husbands. Sometimes, words are needed!

Words are definitely needed in a human being’s relationship with God. Sure, God shows love in non-verbal ways. This time of year, we are reminded how the Almighty shows kindness to all by giving “rain from heaven and crops in their seasons” (Acts 14:17). But what happens when there is too much rain, causing homes to be destroyed and lives to be lost? A word from God is needed! A clear preaching of the truth to make sense of the seemingly contradictory “non-verbal” cues that God is throwing at us.

The apostle Paul reminds us that we have such a word from God in the good news of Jesus Christ the Savior from sin (Romans 10:17). But how can people believe in Jesus if they have never heard of him? How can they hear without a preacher? Think of some of the times when your life seemed like nothing but pain and confusion. The sunsets and gentle breezes that God sent you may have been nice, but better by far is the preacher of good news who was sent by God to tell you that your sins are forgiven! Because of Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross you are right with God. Because of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, you too will one day rise into a beautiful new heaven and new earth. Words are needed to convey these precious, saving truths to people like you and me.

Words are absolutely necessary to convey these beautiful, saving truths to everyone around us. How can they hear without someone preaching to them? Preaching means telling good news with true words from Scripture. These words don’t have to be overly complicated. It can be as simple as the apostle Paul telling a terrified jailer, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). Silent love from God is important. But only the spoken word of God’s love saves! (Romans 1:16) Words are needed. God’s Word gives us what we need.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to reveal yourself to me through your word in the Bible. Use my words, simple as they may be, to share you and your saving love with others. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Godly Advice for Troubled Times – October 17, 2018

Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.
Amos 5:14

Godly Advice for Troubled Times


Daily Devotion – October 17, 2018

Devotion based on Amos 5:14

See series: Devotions

We live in troubled times, but that has been a fact throughout the history of nations. Permanent peace doesn’t exist on earth, although in 765 B.C. the ten northern tribes of Israel thought they had it. Once a part of the great Kingdoms of David and Solomon, Israel was now divided. The ten northern tribes, still known as Israel, had fallen into open idolatry and immorality. Judah, the two tribes to the south, wasn’t doing much better. Injustice was rampant in Israel. One writer describes Israel at that time as “politically secure and spiritually smug.”

Our holy God was justly offended by the sins of Israel, and threatened imminent destruction by the hand of enemy nations, which ultimately did happen. But ironically, at this point Israel still asserted that the Lord God Almighty was with them.

God chose a shepherd/farmer to announce impending judgment. Yet, Amos also offered a message of grace and hope from God: “Seek good, not evil, that you may live. Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you, just as you say he is.”

That seems overly simplistic: “Seek good, not evil.” How would you apply this to your life? How would you define those simple words?

“Evil,” perhaps, is most easily defined, but maybe not so much when our sins include complacency and smugness regarding our relationship with God.

“Good” is a profound word in the context of the holy will of the Lord God Almighty. In his holy eyes nothing short of perfection is good. Yet, the forgiveness of sins won for us by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, his Son, is GOOD NEWS, the gospel of salvation for sinners. Now, as redeemed children of God, “good” includes everything that describes the life of faith to which we are called and to which we are guided by Scriptures. It involves living and growing in faith, eager to share our faith in Jesus with those who need to hear the GOOD NEWS.

How do we “seek” good? Since the Holy Spirit creates faith in us by the gospel, the “seeking” begins there. None of us can be perfect till we are in heaven. Therefore, “seeking good” is a part of humble daily repentance. Trust in Jesus, plus “seeking” the guidance of the Scriptures in Bible study and worship, asking the blessing of the Holy Spirit, define “seeking good” for every facet of our lives.

That’s godly advice from Amos, in troubled times, and all the time!

Prayer:
Dear Holy Spirit, graciously help me to seek the good of the gospel that I may live now and forever with you, the heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus the one, true “Lord God Almighty!” Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Focus Your Attention on Jesus – October 16

Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess.
Hebrews 3:1

Focus Your Attention on Jesus


Daily Devotion – October 16, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 3:1

See series: Devotions

Do you ever find it difficult to pay attention? If so, you are not alone. According to a recent study the average American attention span has fallen to 8 seconds. 8 seconds! Professional marketers have noticed this trend and are reacting accordingly. YouTube videos and internet news articles are getting shorter. Twitter and other social media platforms limit the amount of characters users can include in their posts. Everything is sound bites and video clips.

Counter to this fast-moving culture with little or no attention span, these words from Hebrews Chapter 3 tell us: fix your thoughts on Jesus. With these words God is asking us to think very carefully about Jesus, to focus our attention on him. This involves investing more than 8 seconds of our time.

That is easier said than done, isn’t it? It is so easy to lose sight of Jesus, especially as we swipe from page to page on our cell phones in mere seconds and scroll down our social media feeds as hundreds of images flash before our eyes. But even when we put our devices away, we struggle with focus. We are distracted by sin and temptation. We think about so many things during the day that must get done. We dwell on decisions that must be made, and we bounce from one thing to the next in our hectic lives. Somewhere in all the chaos, we lose sight of Jesus. We lose our focus on the One who truly matters.

Thank God that our Savior focused his attention on us. As our Savior lived in our place on earth and journeyed toward the cross, he never lost sight of you and me. His love for us and his dedication to God’s saving plan kept him focused. He did not let himself get distracted. He fixed his eyes on the goal and he laid down his life as our substitute. His death in our place has removed all our sins, even our sin of failing to give him and his Word our attention. We are forgiven and as our verse says, we now share in the heavenly calling. We are going to heaven through faith in Jesus!

In this fast-paced world, Jesus has given us something to focus on: himself. He wants us to reach our heavenly goal. He knows that when we focus our attention on him, we will reach that goal.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for focusing your attention on me. Thank you for going to the cross to pay for all my sins. Help me always to focus my attention on you and your Word, that I may not lose the heavenly home that you have prepared for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Money becoming your god – October 15, 2018

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Mark 10:23-27

Money becoming your god


Daily Devotion – October 15, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 10:23-27

See series: Devotions

You need money. There’s no way around it. You need a job to make money. You need to perform at your job to keep receiving money. You need to plan and budget to manage your money. And you need to work with your spouse and family to communicate how to spend your money.

You can’t live without money.

So why does Jesus say that being rich is so dangerous? Doesn’t he understand that we need to pay our bills? Why does he say that having a lot of money could keep us from entering the kingdom of God? Wouldn’t life be easier if we just had more money?

Not necessarily.

Money is a good thing. But money becomes a bad thing when we make it our ultimate thing. Money can easily become our functional god.

When we look to money to give us ultimate happiness, money has become our god.

When we look to money to give us a sense of peace and security, money has become our god.

When we give all our time and effort to making money, we are worshiping money like a god.

We have all done this. At one time or another, we have looked to money to give us what only God can. If money has become our god, how then can we possibly be saved?

Jesus said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Jesus did the impossible. He left the riches of heaven to be a poor human. Through Jesus’ death and resurrection, you, a poor human, have become spiritually rich. Trusting in Jesus as your Savior, you are a child of God, an heir of the King. Now, instead of worshiping your money, by God’s grace, honor God with your money.

Prayer:
God, my Father, thank you for providing all that I need for my body and life. God, the Son, thank you for giving me the riches of your grace and forgiveness. God, the Holy Spirit, lead me to treasure what is truly valuable in your eyes. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Increase My Faith – October 14, 2018

Jesus said to his disciples, … “If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.”
Luke 17:3-6

Increase My Faith


Daily Devotion – October 14, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 17:3-6

See series: Devotions

Speaking to his disciples, Jesus addressed the issue of faith. His lesson focused their attention on the importance of this precious gift from God. As I listen to Jesus’ lesson, I find myself saying the same thing the apostles did, “Lord, increase my faith!”

It is a challenging situation. Is more faith needed to forgive someone, or is more faith needed to tell a tree to be uprooted and planted in the sea? Jesus’ point is not to decide which requires more faith. Rather, he stresses the importance of faith in a person’s life.

While some may maintain faith is unnecessary or it is only for the weak, Jesus provides a completely different perspective. It is possible for me to forgive someone who “sins” in a general way. It becomes a completely different situation when a person sins against me. Then it would be easier to tell a tree to be uprooted. However, faith makes what may seem impossible, possible.

Jesus emphasizes the power of faith. It not only trusts the words and promises of God, it puts them into practice. Faith takes hold of me, a sinner, and changes me. I receive sight to see what is pleasing to God. I receive new life to rejoice in being called a child of God. I even receive the ability to willingly do what God commands.

This is why I join the disciples in their prayer. I recognize my weakness to please God. I also recognize my hesitancy to trust and practice what he desires. Yet through faith, I can rejoice in what my Savior has done for me, and desires for me. No wonder I daily pray, “Lord, increase my faith!”

Prayer:
Dear Savior, I thank you for the gift of faith which brings me peace through the forgiveness of my sins and leads me to delight in doing what you desire. In humility and confidence, I ask you to increase my faith. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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No Greater Honor – October 13, 2018

Join with me in suffering for the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:8

No Greater Honor


Daily Devotion – October 13, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:8

See series: Devotions

Many tourists in Rome will tell you that it is one of the most difficult sites to find. The site that is difficult to find is the Mamertine Prison, the traditional place where the apostle Paul awaited his execution. Over the years, countless tourists have walked right past it without recognizing what it was. This is understandable, because the Mamertine Prison does not resemble our idea of a prison. Rather, it is simply an ancient cistern divided into two rooms, one on top of the other.

On the floor of the upper room is a hole. And through that hole is where prisoners were either lowered–or dropped–into the lower room. This lower room was called the Tullianum.

According to an ancient historian, this lower room, the Tullianum, was 12 feet underground. In his words, it was “disgusting and vile by reason of the filth, the darkness and the stench.” The room itself measures 6 ½ feet high, 30 feet long and 22 feet wide. This was where prisoners waited to die, either by execution or by simple starvation. An iron door at the end of the room opened into the city’s main sewer, where dead bodies are said to have been dumped into the river.

It was in this lower room—the Tullianum—this bottom half of an old cistern, where many believe Paul spent his final days. If that’s the case, then this was also where the Lord moved him to write his final letter. In that letter, the Holy Spirit empowered Paul to look beyond the dank, foul walls of his dungeon and to speak to his friend, Timothy. He also speaks to you and me.

Across the years, Paul says, “Join with me. Join with me in suffering for the gospel.”

The Lord may not call upon us to endure the darkness and misery of the Mamertine Prison. But as you and I carry the Good News of Jesus through this jagged, broken world, there will be all kinds of moments when we will endure difficulties and hardships of every description. For the sake of the gospel we will suffer.

And that’s all right. In fact, it’s more than all right. For as you and I join with Paul in suffering difficulty and hardship for the sake of sharing the gospel—for the sake of sharing the message of full forgiveness through faith in the life and death and resurrection of Jesus Christ—there is no greater honor. None.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I suffer difficulty for the sake of your gospel, remind me of Paul. And refresh me in your forgiveness. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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A Big Job – October 12, 2018

[Jesus] said to [the Eleven], “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.”
Mark 16:15

A Big Job


Daily Devotion – October 12, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 16:15

See series: Devotions

My wife and I assign different jobs to our children based on their age. The six-year-old is responsible for setting the table and clearing the dishes. The four-year-old needs to pick up her toys. With the two-year-old, we are just happy if he can brush his own teeth with limited assistance. We give our children different chores because we know it would be disastrous if the two-year-old tried to set out the glasses for dinner, and we want our six-year old to be able to do more than just brush her own teeth.

Before he ascended back to heaven, Jesus’ final instructions were given to a group of disciples who just weeks earlier had abandoned him. These were the same disciples who over their last three years had often been slow to believe and listen, but quick to doubt and interject. Yet it is to these same disciples that Jesus gives one of the most significant tasks the world has ever known: preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth.

Jesus’ instruction to us is still the same today. We are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Wherever we find ourselves in life, we are to intentionally bring the good news of Jesus who was crucified and raised to life, for the forgiveness of sins and life with God. Like the disciples we are to make this our mission, and like the disciples we are woefully unqualified for it.

We might be tempted to think this is a recipe for disaster, like asking a two-year-old to set the table. We may say, the job is too big and we are too small. However, Jesus never gives us a task without equipping us for that task. Jesus never gives us a command and then leaves us alone. Instead he provides for what he commands. Yes, the work of being Christ’s witnesses in all the world is nothing short of monumental. But in every circumstance Jesus gives us everything we need to share his gospel of salvation.

So, we go out into the world, wherever it is that we go, and we do this magnificent thing of bringing the good news of Jesus with us.

Prayer:
Jesus, be with us as we take your gospel to the ends of the earth. Motivate us, strengthen us, equip us, and enable us to be your witnesses in all the world. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Point Them to Jesus – October 11, 2018

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:19-20

Point Them to Jesus


Daily Devotion – October 11, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 28:19-20

See series: Devotions

There are currently around 7.6 billion people in the world. If you counted one person per second, it would take over 239 years to count them all. What is true about each and every person on the face of the earth? They are all born sinful and needing a Savior. By nature, every single person is headed straight toward eternal punishment in hell.

It’s terrifying and heartbreaking to see so many people living unaware of the consequences of sin, rejecting the truths of God’s Word, and living apart from God. The Bible says that unbelief condemns to an eternity of suffering. God didn’t create the world to condemn it. God did’t make everything for the sole purpose of seeing it brought to ruin.

Your heavenly Father wants only what is best for his creation and wants everyone to receive the benefits and blessings of heaven. That’s why he sent Jesus—to pay for your sins to rescue you from an eternity in hell and give you an eternal paradise of heaven.

God’s Word teaches that through Jesus, you are forgiven. That is good news, the best news! God doesn’t hold you accountable for the guilt of what you have done wrong. He doesn’t punish you, because he punished Jesus in your place. What does God command you to do with this good news? Bring it to others. Go and tell others the good news of forgiveness in Christ. Share your joy of peace. Through his Word and through Baptism, God creates and strengthens faith in the Savior. Through faith God welcomes you and others into eternal life. While you do this work, Jesus promises he is always by your side, protecting and encouraging you every step of the way.

7.6 billion people—that is a lot of people! Jesus calls on his believers to take up the work of reaching them with the good news of salvation. With his Word and with Baptism he equips us for bringing his saving message to the ends of the earth.

Prayer:
Gracious Savior, use me to tell others about you, that they also may enjoy forgiveness and eternal 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Listen Up – October 10, 2018

Moses brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him.
Numbers 11:24-25

Listen Up


Daily Devotion – October 10, 2018

Devotion based on Numbers 11:24-25

See series: Devotions

I wonder what God sounded like?

Moses heard him. The leaders of the people Moses invited around the worship tent in the desert certainly heard him. A few others throughout the pages of the Bible heard the voice of the Lord on those rare occasions when he allowed human beings to listen to him speak. I wonder what it was like? Was his voice loud, deep, and thunderous like the movies depict? Was it frightening? Was it soothing? Was it awe-inspiring? Whatever God sounded like, I wish I could have heard him.

Then again, even if I could hear God’s voice that doesn’t mean I would always listen to him! In this account recorded in the book of Numbers, there were two elders of the people who didn’t come to listen to the Lord. They didn’t gather with the other 68 elders at the worship tent with Moses. They didn’t follow God’s instructions even though they should have known better.

I should know better too. We should all know better! We understand that we are supposed to listen to God’s Word and follow his instructions, but we are inconsistent at best. At worst, we are belligerent and rebellious, prone more often to do whatever we want instead of what God wants. I’m not so sure I would want to hear the tone of voice God would use if he were to speak to me!

But he does speak to me. And he speaks to you too. We don’t hear his voice audibly as he talks from heaven, but we do “hear” his voice in a very real way through the pages of the Bible. And when he speaks, he isn’t angry or bitter or disappointed. He speaks with a softness and with a compassion that comforts our hearts. “You’re forgiven,” he says. “I have sent my Son Jesus to bear the brunt of the punishment you deserve and have cleared you of any offenses by his cross. I love you because you are my child through faith and I will always be your caring Father.”

What a relief! What a message! What a pleasure to hear the voice of our God!

Prayer:
Lord, help me listen to your voice through your written Word. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Photograph – October 9, 2018

Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Hebrews 2:11

Photograph


Daily Devotion – October 9, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:11

See series: Devotions

This past June, the world of commentary lost one of its most elegant writers. When Charles Krauthammer died, people across the political spectrum knew they had lost someone special. They may or may not always have agreed with his opinions, but the thoughtfulness and eloquence of his columns were beyond dispute. For his writing he received the Pulitzer Prize.

In the wake of Krauthammer’s death, admirers began to share with each other some of his most beloved columns. A piece his fans mentioned repeatedly was the one he wrote about his brother, Marcel, when Marcel died in 2006. To read it, do an online search: “Marcel, My Brother.” Of this article one reader wrote, “I’ve never read any other column—from anybody else—that resonated so deeply.”

When Charles wrote about his brother, he wrote about their years growing up. Marcel was four years older than Charles and a magnificent athlete. But in his column, Charles remembers how his big brother always included him in everything he did. Every summer they were inseparable. And even though, as Charles says, “four years is a chasm [when you’re young],” all of Marcel’s friends knew Marcel’s rule whenever they got together for a neighborhood game. Marcel’s rule was, “Charlie plays.” And so, Charlie did.

Perhaps the most poignant portion of Charles’ piece on his big brother comes near the very end. He writes, “There is a black-and-white photograph of us, two boys alone. He’s maybe 11. I’m 7. …In the photo, nothing but sand, sea, and sky, the pure elements of our summers together. We are both thin as rails…dressed in our summer finest: bathing suits and buzz cuts. Marcel’s left arm is draped around my neck with that effortless natural ease—and touch of protectiveness—that only older brothers know.”

When the living Word of our God tells us, that Jesus is our brother, perhaps it happens too often that you and I do not stop to take in what that means. The Son of God became a human being, yes. He lived a holy life on our behalf, yes. His suffering and death washed away our every wrong, yes. He rose from death and lives, yes.

But as he lives, he watches over us not simply as if we were some divine assignment he needs to protect. He’s our brother. He’s been where we are. He knows how hard and lonely life can be. He understands.

Remember the photograph of Marcel and Charlie? Marcel’s arm draped around little Charlie’s neck says it all. Remember that picture when you think of Jesus’ love for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my brother. I’m sorry how often I forget that. But your arm is around me always. Thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Arrogance – October 8, 2018

Some Pharisees came and tested [Jesus] by asking, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?”
Mark 10:2

Arrogance


Daily Devotion – October 8, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 10:2

See series: Devotions

The Pharisees came with a deviously devised test for Jesus. Even though they themselves could not agree on an answer, they believed Jesus would take one side or the other. In this way they could subject Jesus to accusation and disgrace. It was nothing more than arrogance on their part, and Jesus revealed their sin for what it was—a rejection of God’s Word.

There is a sense of indignation which wells up in me. How could they do this! How could they reject God’s Word! How could they be so arrogant! Before I convince myself that I would never do anything like that, I need to look at myself honestly and humbly.

I can be just as arrogant as the Pharisees. It surfaces not only regarding beliefs on divorce and marriage, but in every aspect of my life. God’s Word is clear in its commands and prohibitions. I, however, think I know better. I try to convince myself that my situation is different. I might even believe this really doesn’t apply to me. There is no other way to describe my thoughts than arrogance. And God will hold me accountable.

In sincerity, I turn to the cross of Jesus my Savior. At his cross I receive the assurance of my forgiveness for arrogance and all other sins. I also receive the will and the desire to accept all that God commands. Instead of arguing my position with the Lord, I accept his. In humility, I submit to his will.

Honestly, I know from sad experience that I will always struggle with the Lord’s will for my life. I will rely on rationalizations, justifications, or just weak excuses. I will even argue that his accusations are untrue. This is nothing more than the arrogance of my sin-stained heart. It is why I pray daily, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10).

Prayer: Psalm 51:10-12
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God is Patient and Gracious – October 7, 2018

Jesus said to [the chief priests and the Pharisees], “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Matthew 21:42-43

God is Patient and Gracious


Daily Devotion – October 7, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 21:42-43

See series: Devotions

These words of Jesus come at the end of a parable (a story that relates a truth about God and his kingdom). A landowner had rented his vineyard to some tenant farmers. They were to give him a share of the harvest when his servants came to collect. Instead, the tenants beat and even killed those servants. In response, the landowner sent more servants. Same treatment. Finally, the man sent his son. Certainly, he thought, they would respect and receive his son. But instead, the wicked tenants killed the son and claimed the vineyard as their own! The point was not lost on Jesus’ hearers. They knew what that landowner would do next. He would avenge the death of his servants and son and rent his vineyard to new, faithful farmers.

How patiently and graciously the Lord had dealt with the people of Israel! God had chosen them to be his special people. They would bear his name, have his Word and be the nation from whom the world’s Savior would be born. They were not special because they were better than other people. They were not sinless or righteous in themselves. They needed the Savior from sin as much as anybody else. God had chosen them by his grace. He called on them to believe his promise that the Savior would come. He called on them to produce the thoughts and actions that come from faith. In large part, though, the people of Israel rejected the Lord’s promise. They became proud of the position that was theirs only because of God’s undeserved love. God sent them prophets to turn them around. They mistreated and rejected those prophets. Finally, he sent them his Son! They crucified him, the one who had come as proof of God’s patience and mercy. They had rejected God’s chosen one.

Rejecting Jesus is rejecting the Father who sent him. Refusal to listen to the Lord and to believe his promises is to treat him the same way the tenant farmers treated the landowner. There is a message there for all of us. God has been and still is patient and gracious. He still sends a message of pardon and peace to those who realize just how much they need it because of sin. Jesus Christ still holds out his nail-pierced hands to lead us to his Father. He still gives his Word that our hearts might be filled with faith and might burst forth with fruit.

Look to him as God’s chosen one. See him as the sure hope of a right relationship with God. Look to serve him with lives that reflect genuine thanks and love.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for your patience with me. Help me to see just how much I need Jesus, and then fill my heart with joy to know how he has lived and died to save me. Help me to live a life that shows my gratitude and love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Forgetting What is Behind – October 6, 2018

I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:12-14

Forgetting What is Behind


Daily Devotion – October 6, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 3:12-14

See series: Devotions

After a long day, that glorious moment has finally arrived. However, as your weary head sinks deeper into its pillow your mind begins reviewing the events of the day, and you find that sleep is not going to come as quickly as you would like. Unfinished tasks, disappointing events, words that you regret speaking … there are all sorts of things that happened during the day that you wish you could go back and change, but you can’t.

One of the most frustrating things in life is also one of the most solid truths. We cannot go back and change anything that has happened in the past. Neither the hasty words spoken five minutes ago, nor the foolish decisions of youth can be undone. There is no time machine that allows us to go back and avoid making the mistakes we have made.

How awesome our God is! He does undo the past. He has erased those mistakes, not by using a time machine, but with the blood of his Son. Every hurtful word spoken, and every selfish decision made, all the sinful acts we have ever committed—they have all been erased by Jesus’ death on the cross.

Now we have been given a tremendous gift—a future. Because of Jesus’ death on the cross in our place, all our sin and guilt have been removed and by faith in Jesus we have been given eternal life in heaven. Instead of ending the day with a mind that is spinning, filled with the regrets of the past, we can rest in peace with our eyes focused on the wonderful future God has graciously given to us.

Each day we struggle to make decisions that are pleasing to God. Sometimes the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to win that struggle. Other times our human nature prevails, and we fail. Trusting in the forgiveness that is ours through Jesus and confident of his gift of eternal life, we can sleep in peace every night. The sins of our past have been erased forever. Instead of focusing on them, we can focus on the future—the eternal future we have been given—and how we are going to strive to live our next moment to the glory of the gracious God who has given it to us.

May the Holy Spirit graciously enable us to echo the apostle Paul’s words: “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, fill my heart with a faith that focuses on the eternal prize that Jesus, my Savior has won for me with his blood. With my eyes focused on heaven, help me to live my life here on earth as the forgiven child of God that I am. In Jesus’ name I ask it. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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To the Ends of the Earth – October 5, 2018

This is what the Lord has commanded us: “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 13:47

To the Ends of the Earth


Daily Devotion – October 5, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 13:47

See series: Devotions

Coca-Cola is one of the most recognizable companies in the entire world and for good reason. Last year they spent almost 4 billion dollars, nearly 12% of all the money they earned, on advertising. As a result, more than 90% of the world’s population has seen the Coca-Cola logo. In the 200 countries where it is sold, the average person consumes a coke product every four days.

While that is impressive, it is nowhere close to what Jesus has done and continues to do. Without a huge budget and promotional expertise, Jesus has brought salvation to the ends of the earth.

Jesus lived a perfect life obeying all of God’s commands. Whether you are in America, Africa, or Asia, or anywhere else, God gave you the righteousness of Jesus who perfectly loved God with all his heart, soul, and mind, and loved his neighbor as himself.

He died an innocent death paying for the sin of the whole world. More valuable than any dollar amount, Jesus’ blood was poured out on Calvary’s hill. It was only with this greatest cost that all the sins of the world were taken away.

In the vital mater of our salvation, it’s not a trendy slogan or recognizable logo that are memorable. It’s the outstanding truth that Jesus defeated our greatest enemy for us. He rose from the grave, justifying us before God and defeating death. With his grave forever empty Jesus left the world the greatest gift: a tomb that would stay forever empty.

All of this our Savior did for the whole world that he might bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Jesus is the light of salvation for all people. We see evidence of this today because there are Christians in every corner of the world and the gospel is preached in every country. May this gospel find a place in our hearts and may we share it even to the ends of the earth.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Give to each of us your peace of salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You Will Be a Witness for Jesus – October 4, 2018

“You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:8

You Will Be a Witness for Jesus


Daily Devotion – October 4, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 1:8

See series: Devotions

In court cases, both the prosecution and the defense look for witnesses to help make their cases. The testimony of someone who saw a crime take place or who gives an alibi for the accused can greatly affect the outcome of a trial. When witnesses are summoned, they must testify to what they know.

Jesus summoned his disciples to be his witnesses. He didn’t say that they could or that this was possible for them; he said that they will be his witnesses. The disciples had seen what Jesus had done. They heard him preach, saw the miracles, witnessed his death, and saw him after he rose from the dead. By faith, their responsibility was to testify to others about what Jesus had done and what his work means—the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus still calls his believers to be his witnesses. The Savior calls them to tell what he has done to save the world from sin and death. That can be a scary thing. Fear is a powerful motivator to keep quiet. Fear often leads people to disobey God’s command and fail to be witnesses for Jesus. Fear then becomes what they serve rather than God.

God has called on you to testify to the work of Jesus. By Jesus’ death and resurrection God forgives all of your sins, including the sin of fear-induced silence. Because God forgives you, he also empowers you to testify what you know. It’s not an option. This is what Jesus calls his followers to do. By faith in him as their Savior, they joyfully proclaim Jesus’ saving truths.

Jesus told his disciples to start their work right where they were. God calls you to do the same. Be a witness of Jesus with friends and family. Take your Savior with you wherever you go, faithfully testifying about him.

Prayer:
Lord, make me your witness. Use me to testify your saving work to others. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Perfect – October 3, 2018

The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”
Genesis 2:18

Perfect


Daily Devotion – October 3, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 2:18

See series: Devotions

“Perfect!” the waitress said to the customer when he placed an order. “That’s perfect,” the woman said to the person adjusting a picture. “Everything is perfect,” a bride commented as she looked over the decorations in the reception hall.

But that’s not really what “perfect” means, is it? It’s not just okay or correct or nice. Perfect means holy, sinless, spotless, pure. And that is what God himself meant when he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

God’s standard of “good” is nothing less than perfect. His creation would not be perfectly complete until he created Eve to be a suitable helper for Adam. And so that is what he did. Before the sixth day of creation was over, God formed Eve out of the rib of Adam and brought her to him for the first and best marriage on this earth. At that point everything truly was perfect.

But it didn’t stay perfect for long. Soon after this perfect marriage, Adam and Eve succumbed to the trickery of the devil and ate that piece of fruit from the tree that was forbidden. Instantly sin rushed into the world affecting nature, the weather, and especially the bodies, minds, and hearts of human beings. We are still suffering the fallout from that event. Because of the fact that perfection was ruined in the Garden of Eden, we carry around with us that inbred natural sinful disposition today. We are not truly “perfect” anymore.

And yet the Lord compares his relationship with us to marriage! Even though every marriage in this world has been subverted by sin, selfishness, stress, and frustration, God calls himself our groom and lovingly accepts us as his bride.

The most amazing part of it all, however, is that he declared us perfect. Through Jesus’ bloody cross and his now-vacant tomb, we are counted holy in his sight, forgiven, precious, and more important to him than anything or anyone else. We might not have good and right relationships with others here on this earth, but our marriage to the Lord will always be “good” because of him. In fact, it’s perfect.

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus my groom, for bringing me into this special union with you through faith. May your perfection and forgiveness surround my life until I meet you face to face. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Attitude – October 2, 2018

Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7

Attitude


Daily Devotion – October 2, 2018

Devotion based on James 4:7

See series: Devotions

Evangelist Barry McGee shares the story of a woman by the name of Lexy Fowler. Lexy was a sheep rancher in Montana, and she had a problem. Her problem was coyotes.

Coyotes were killing her sheep, and not just one here and there. She was losing scores of sheep every year. She had tried all kinds of things to stop them. She’d tried odor sprays, electric fences, and battery-operated radios. She’d corralled them at night and herded them by day. Nothing seemed to work.

But then, Lexy Fowler discovered what other sheep ranchers in the West have discovered. She discovered the llama.

As it turns out, the llama has a real attitude whenever it sees a coyote. It recognizes the coyote for the deadly threat that it is. At the first sight of a coyote, the llama gets aggressive. It assumes a certain posture. It makes a certain sound. It stares the coyote down and even spits. And if the coyote hasn’t gotten the message by then, the llama will walk straight toward it. “[Coyotes] won’t have anything to do with that,” said Lexy Fowler. “Coyotes are opportunists, and llamas take that opportunity away.”

The attitude of the llama changed everything for Lexy Fowler. Whenever the coyotes encountered one of her llamas, the coyotes fled.

The attitude of the llama is a vivid reminder for you and me. The devil is real, and his mission is clear. When the devil approaches us with sinful temptations, he is not playing some half-hearted game for his own amusement. He is playing for keeps. Ever and always it is the devil’s ultimate goal to separate us from our Savior Jesus.

“Resist the devil,” God tells us in his word. Do not tolerate him. Do not make peace with him. Do not pretend you can share the same space. Resist him. Recognize him for what he is. Stand firm in the full forgiveness and new life Jesus has purchased for you at the cross.

When you do, the devil will flee. But remember—he will flee not because of your attitude in and of itself. He will flee because of the One who gives you reason for that attitude. He will flee because of Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the devil prowls around me every day. When he comes, empower me by your Spirit to resist him. Remind me that he will flee. And remind me how terrified he is of you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not One of Us – October 1, 2018

“Teacher,” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us.” “Do not stop him,” Jesus said. “No one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.”
Mark 9:38-40

Not One of Us


Daily Devotion – October 1, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 9:38-40

See series: Devotions

The disciples were seemingly concerned about Jesus’ ministry. They believed the man driving out demons was exercising an authority that wasn’t rightly his. Unfortunately, the disciples were more concerned about their privileged position.

Jesus needed to correct his disciples, and there are times I need the same correction. It is easy to look at others outside of my circle of contacts and be suspicious of them. They may not worship the way I do. They may not have the same practices I have. They may not use the same hymnal and Bible translation I do. So, I come to the conclusion the disciples did, they are not one of us.

Jesus’ lesson makes me rethink my conclusion. The man who was driving out demons did it by the power of Christ. Jesus recognized him as one of his believers. Otherwise the Lord’s command to not stop the man would have been quite different.

Jesus focused on the importance of doing work “in his name.” I will need to always practice everything the Bible teaches about unity with other believers, but when believers work in the name of Jesus and for the rescue of souls through faith in him, instead of stopping or silencing them, I can appreciate the good that God accomplishes through them.

They teach about Jesus. They proclaim the good news of the salvation that Jesus won by his death on the cross. They lead sinners to know the peace of God’s forgiveness through their Savior. And the Word of God that they spread in the name of Jesus accomplishes God’s gracious will—the saving of souls.

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, you died to make me yours. Lead me to praise you for all who put their trust in you and appreciate all who are dedicated to proclaiming your saving name. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Grace and Forgiveness – September 30, 2018

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.
Matthew 21:28-31a

Grace and Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 30, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 21:28-31a

See series: Devotions

Jesus’ question was not hard to answer. Could it have been any simpler? Although the first son answered his father harshly and rudely, in the end he did what was asked. Although the words of the second son sounded sweet and polite, in the end he only paid lip service to his father.

It was meant to be an easy question with an obvious answer. But then Jesus transitioned to his true intent. The deeper spiritual point was meant to be just as clear to his hearers. That audience was made up of upstanding people, including the religious leaders of the day: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:31b-32).

The first son represented the openly sinful. They had turned away from God and his will. They had lived a life that was obviously contrary to the commands of God. But then John the Baptist came. He called out to sinners to turn from their sinful ways. He urged them to place their trust for forgiveness in a coming Savior. Many heard the message, believed it and lived!

The second son represented the outwardly righteous. They boasted about their relationship with God. They believed they had earned that relationship by who they were and the good they had done. But then John came. When he pointed out that they too were sinners who needed a Savior, they rejected his message and the Messiah (Jesus) who followed.

God the Father comes with this message today: “Go and work in the vineyard.” Jesus himself tells us that “the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). Jesus was sent into this world as Savior of all. He lived, suffered, died, and rose again to redeem you and me and everyone else from the punishment of God that our sins had earned. Now, he calls on us to place our trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you lived an openly sinful life? Turn to Jesus and his promised forgiveness…and live! Do you place your confidence of a good relationship with God on the goodness that others can see in you? Listen to Jesus’ call today and turn from that misguided idea. Place your trust in the righteousness Jesus alone can give…and live!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, help me always to see my need for your grace and forgiveness. Help me always to turn to you in humble faith for the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and life that you alone can give. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Humility – September 29, 2018

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-5

Humility


Daily Devotion – September 29, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 2:3-5

See series: Devotions

These are words that burrow deep into the soul. Humility is not something that comes naturally to us. The three-year old who figures out how to tie his shoes runs to his mother with a pride-filled smile, directing her attention to his feet and his accomplishment. His greatest desire at that moment is to receive her praise. That desire for others to recognize our greatness and the grand things we have accomplished does not diminish with age.

Scripture does not just command humility, it gives us the ultimate example. Of all the people who have ever walked upon this planet Jesus certainly had every reason to think that he was better than everyone else. The fact is that he was. As true God and Creator of everything, the power, wisdom, glory, and authority that he had could not even be compared to that of the greatest ruler our world has ever seen.

Yet he did not pound his chest and stand on the highest mountain for all to see his greatness and praise him. His greatest goal was not for all people in the world to serve him, waiting on him hand and foot, and immediately providing for his every desire. Instead we are told that Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Instead of looking to his own interests, Jesus was focused on yours. Setting aside his glory, he humbly entered into our world with one purpose: to sacrifice himself for you and pay the price for your sins. That meant humbling himself to the point of being publicly humiliated and executed, suffering the wrath of God for sins he never committed.

Thank God that Jesus showed such humility! In doing so, he not only provides us with an example, he saves us from our sinful lack of humility.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I struggle with humility. I long for the praise of others. I would rather have others serve me than give my life in service to others. Forgive me. Thank you for your love and humility. Thank you for your willingness to place the needs of others, my needs, above your own. Thank you for dying that I may live. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Christian Teammates – September 28, 2018

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:3

Christian Teammates


Daily Devotion – September 28, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 1:3

See series: Devotions

When professional athletes quit playing their sport, we often hear them say, “I’ll really miss the guys in the locker room. I’ll really miss my teammates.”

God has knit humans together in such a way that we long for fellowship. We long to have friendships, to have people with whom we can share experiences. It is certainly true that it shows up in different measures in different people, but all of us need other people at least to some extent. We need fellowship.

And God wants you to have it! So, what does he do? He tells us about Jesus! He tells us about how Jesus really came to this earth, how he really died and rose. God tells us how he won forgiveness for us and eternal life for us. As God tells us these things, he works faith in our hearts, which connects us to himself! Wow! What companionship that is!

But in grace, there is even more. Faith connects us to God; by connecting us to himself, God also connects us to other people. If I am connected to Jesus, and you are connected to Jesus, that means we are also connected to each other, through Jesus! Because of God’s grace, we are teammates! And we will be forever!

Keep on hearing the message! Hear it regularly! Rejoice that God has connected you to himself and rejoice that he is connecting you to Christian “teammates” all over the world!

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, unite me to you, and unite me to my fellow believers. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Most Precious Family Heirloom – September 27, 2018

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.
Joel 1:3

A Most Precious Family Heirloom


Daily Devotion – September 27, 2018

Devotion based on Joel 1:3

See series: Devotions

I have a photograph which is very dear to me, taken on the day of my confirmation. It shows four men standing in a line, with about one foot and twenty years between each of them. Earlier that day, I had made a public confession of my faith in Jesus together with my fellow eighth-graders and then received Holy Communion for the first time. After the service I posed for that picture with my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather. Four generations who had grown up in the Christian faith thanks to the faithfulness of each generation that came before them. I am eternally grateful to these men and their Christian wives for passing down their most valued possession—the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and a commitment to remain in his Word.

I learned in catechism class all those years ago that I inherited my sinful nature from my parents, and they inherited it from theirs, and so on. Every generation passes along original sin to the next. We are born outside of God’s grace, foreigners to his kingdom, and ignorant of his promises. That is why every generation needs to hear of their desperate need for a Savior and the good news of God’s forgiveness. Every child needs to learn about their Savior Jesus who loves them to death and beyond. Even Christian parents can’t simply assume that their children will somehow pick up their faith by osmosis. A conscious effort needs to be made to share God’s Word with our children.

In more recent family pictures, I am farther up the generational ladder. Over the years nothing has given me greater joy than to worship together with my wife and children. And what a privilege it is now on those occasions when my grandson sits on my lap in the church pew! I watch as his daddy reminds him to fold his hands when we pray. I love to hear his little voice sing Bible songs with his mommy. I’m thankful their young family attends a church where they receive support and encouragement in raising their child to walk with Christ.

If your family does not attend church together, it’s not too late! It may seem challenging at first but remember that this is God’s will for your family, so he will most assuredly help you. Your efforts to speak with your children about Jesus today will bring blessings to your family for generations to come.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your child. Help me teach my family about your love so that together we may receive your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Danger of Sharing the Gospel – September 26, 2018

Because the LORD revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
Jeremiah 11:18-19

Danger of Sharing the Gospel


Daily Devotion – September 26, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 11:18-19

See series: Devotions

On August 15, 2015, a Christian pastor in India was abducted from his home by anti-Christian forces. They had warned him on four previous occasions to stop sharing the gospel. He refused. Family members found his body the next day. Shortly after that, the family buried their beloved son, husband, father, and brother, saying goodbye to a man who only wanted to share the love of God in Christ Jesus our Savior. In an interview with a Christian organization, the wife of the slain pastor wept as she told a reporter, “I am happy that my husband…died for Christ. He is in heaven. I am happy with that. I cannot lose the faith. I am still faithful. God forgive them. I forgive the person who did all of this.”

The prophet Jeremiah could relate to the danger this pastor faced because he was in danger for much the same reason. God sent him to proclaim a message of severe warning to his Old Testament people who had turned away from the Lord to worship idols. Naturally, Jeremiah’s message enraged the people and they didn’t want to hear it; in fact, they were plotting to kill him.

Most of us have never faced the possibility of death for the privilege of sharing God’s Word, but that message is still despised and those who share it are still hated by the unbelieving world we live in. Should that stop us? Of course not! It didn’t stop Jesus. His love for all people moved him to risk and sacrifice everything—even himself—to establish the way of salvation for us.

That pastor in India knew the love of Christ. He shared the gospel of salvation with his people even though he was in great danger. He prayed that some would hear and believe God’s saving message and he took the risk. God’s love filled him with love for his people.

Jeremiah continued to proclaim God’s Word for the same reason. And so should we.

Prayer:
Dearest Savior, may your love for us fill us with love for all people and make us willing to share the good news of salvation no matter what the risk. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Wisdom – September 25, 2018

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:13-18

Wisdom


Daily Devotion – September 25, 2018

Devotion based on James 3:13-18

See series: Devotions

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” Well, that depends on your definition or standard of wisdom.

Are you wise?

There is a kind of wisdom that is fueled by selfish ambition and bitter envy. Such wisdom wants to get ahead in life; it wants to fulfill its desires at whatever cost. It is willing to deny the truth to do so, even to the point of resorting to evil practices. Though it leaves a trail of disorder in its wake, it boasts of the great things it has accomplished. The Bible calls this earthly wisdom. It also calls it unspiritual, even of the devil. It is wisdom which is characterized chiefly by a selfish focus on me.

There is, however, another kind of wisdom. It is never willing to sacrifice the truth; it is pure. Rather than seeking to get ahead of others, it is peace-loving and considerate. Rather than striving for personal gain, it is submissive and full of mercy. Instead of resorting to evil, it bears good fruit; it is impartial and sincere. Such wisdom has no room for boasting; it is full of humility. The Bible calls this heavenly wisdom. It points out that it produces a harvest of righteousness. It is wisdom that is characterized chiefly by a loving focus on others.

Are you wise?

As you fight the temptation to be me-focused and strive to lovingly focus on others, remember where true wisdom comes from. It comes not from within or below. It comes from above, from God. It comes from the One who was and is wisdom personified. It comes from the Savior who never sinfully focused on himself and always lovingly focused on the spiritual and eternal welfare of others. Remember that this wisdom is revealed in and fueled by the gospel.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” The one who knows and trusts and walks with Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for the times I have embraced earthly wisdom and left behind me a trail littered with hurt and hardship. With eyes focused on you and others, may my faith shine as I pursue and practice heavenly wisdom. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Our Greatness – September 24, 2018

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:35-37

Jesus Our Greatness


Daily Devotion – September 24, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 9:35-37

See series: Devotions

Children are adorable. They can say hilarious things and have endearing antics. But often children can be seen as the least of us. On the one hand they are helpless. They rely on adults for shelter, clothing, and food but yet have little ability to help adults provide for them. On the other hand, they can be extremely self-centered.

The disciples had been quite childlike. They were helpless, failed to recognize their helplessness, and were acting quite self-centered. Jesus had shown them their helplessness when he had warned them that he was going to be killed and was going to rise from the dead. They didn’t get what he meant, so instead they found something else to talk about—their own self-centeredness—or as they saw it their own greatness. And so, the disciples argued and argued until Jesus asked them, “What are you arguing about?” And maybe quieted by embarrassment, they had nothing to say.

As much as we hate to admit it, we are childlike too. We often fail to see our own helplessness. You may think that if you do some good here and there that God will send some good things your way. Maybe you think that you have earned every single thing that you have been given without realizing you could lose it all in an instant. You may fail to see your own helplessness because you, like the disciples, try to focus on how great of a person you are.

Jesus says that true greatness is letting go of self-centeredness and pride by understanding your own helplessness. Greatness comes through Jesus’ cross. He handed himself over for you so that he would die for your self-centeredness and vanity. He is the one who conquered death and defines greatness in his life and death for you.

Doesn’t this move you to care for those who do not seem as great or deserving? If Jesus thinks you are great, then you can humble yourself without losing value. If Jesus thinks those who are least deserving are great, then you can care for those you think do not deserve it.

When children are self-centered, be patient. When children are helpless, continue to care. Encourage them and show them love. Jesus says you receive him because he cares for all those who are least deserving.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself for me and going to the cross to die for me. Because of your death and resurrection, you are great. Help me to understand my own need for you and empower me to serve those who are least deserving. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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More than Fair – September 23, 2018

“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'”
Matthew 20:13-15

More than Fair


Daily Devotion – September 23, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 20:13-15

See series: Devotions

Some people might argue that God isn’t fair. He doesn’t punish quickly enough. He doesn’t punish severely enough. He even allows bad things to happen to good people. God’s fairness is also questioned when it comes to people entering heaven. It doesn’t seem fair that some people are excluded.

While I might be tempted to think God is unfair, I need to remember the truth which Jesus teaches. God is more than fair.

Jesus’ parable of the workers in the field (Matthew 20:1-16) reveals God’s goodness and his mercy. The landowner, who is the Lord, graciously calls many to come into his field. Some are there for a long time. Others are there only for a short time. At the final accounting, the Lord gives everyone what he promised. Unfortunately, the fairness and the generosity of the Lord is called into question.

The landowner’s response is critical: “Are you envious because I am generous?” The parable addressed the jealousy of the descendants of Abraham who assumed they deserved more from the Lord. The Lord’s answer gave them a completely different perspective, and it becomes a valuable lesson for me when I harbor doubts about the Lord’s fairness.

While I may be tempted to think I deserve more from the Lord, I need to start with what I actually deserve. I should be punished, rejected, and separated from God forever. My sin is the reason why God should have turned away from me. God’s love, however, brought about a different response. Through the sacrificial work of Jesus, as well as through the substitution of his righteousness for my lack thereof, I am saved. If God were fair, none of this would have happened. Instead, God would judge me and sentence me to eternal punishment.

Through his wonderful love the Lord leads me to rejoice in my rescue and the promise of heaven. It also leads me to rejoice that God offers the same rescue and promise of heaven to all people. He wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. This is more than fair. It is grace.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, you have poured out your grace into my life. Bless me through the work of the Holy Spirit so that I acknowledge your love, rejoice in your love, and daily grow through your love. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Remembering What We Have – September 22, 2018

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Philippians 1:27

Remembering What We Have


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:27

See series: Devotions

There’s a story of a child who seemed apathetic about everything. He was reckless. He was careless. He didn’t work hard. His life seemed to have no purpose or direction. That all changed when a group of people decided to sit down with him and have a talk. This group of people revealed to him something he had not previously understood. They revealed that, one day, by succession, he would become the leader of their country. From that moment on, that young man’s life changed. He had focus, direction, and drive. Knowing that he was the one who would inherit the highest position of leadership—knowing that made all the difference in how he conducted his life.

Which brings us to the portion of God’s Word we have before us. Here’s the setting. The Christians living in the town of Philippi were facing people who were openly hostile towards them and what they believed. The apostle Paul knew that this was no time for Christians to appear apathetic or careless. Rather, this was a time for focus, direction, and seriousness of purpose. In light of this, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to say this to the Philippian Christians, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Paul wanted them to remember what they possessed in Jesus. He wanted them to understand that the message of the gospel is the most profound truth that the world will ever know. For this reason, he called on them to proclaim with their lives how priceless and supreme the gospel really is.

In our sinful weakness, you and I often forget this. In a world filled with active opposition to Christianity, you and I often lapse into carelessness. There are times when you and I can appear indifferent or apathetic. There are times we don’t even show up. In doing so we fail our Lord and we fail to live his gospel and proclaim it.

But Paul wants us to remember. He wants us to remember how God became one of us to live and die as our Substitute. He wants us to remember the full forgiveness we have through faith in what Christ has done. He wants us to remember that Jesus lives to embrace us with his promises. He wants us to remember the crown of life that Jesus purchased for us at Calvary’s cross.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” Paul says. Empowered by that gospel, you and I can begin to do just that.

Prayer:
Son of God, in love you became a human being. You became my Substitute. You died for my every sin and rose from death. Move me to proclaim your gospel with my life. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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The Ultimate Encourager – September 21, 2018

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-2

The Ultimate Encourager


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 10:24-2

See series: Devotions

“He just found out that he’d been cut from the high school basketball team.” “She didn’t get accepted to the college she wanted”  “They knew that layoffs were coming, but they hadn’t expected their jobs to be lost.” “What a challenging health report!”

Each of us has times in life when we’re discouraged and need encouragement. God is the ultimate encourager, as he assures us that he loves us, that our sins are forgiven, that we’re on the road to heaven.

Because he’s gracious, God also gives us tangible ways to be encouraged. One of the key ways that God brings that encouragement to us is through our church-home. As we worship and study together, God encourages us, and we encourage each other.

For example, as we confess our sins together, we’re reminded that we all have the same problem. That’s encouraging; I’m not alone. As we hear the message that our sins are forgiven, we’re reminded that each of us stands before God as right, as innocent. That’s encouraging! I know what God thinks about me, what he feels about me, and that’s true for each of us gathered there. As we study the Word together, we find out how the Bible applies to our lives, and how it has applied to the lives of our fellow Christians. That’s encouraging!

In fact, we encourage each other just by being there. Coming to the worship service or Bible study brings encouragement to those around us, because it says, “We are united in our belief in the true God; we treasure the same message of forgiveness; we look forward to eternal life together.” By our attendance, we give encouragement to many others. And they encourage us.

No wonder God, who loves us dearly, encourages us to not give up meeting together. As we meet together, God encourages us, and we encourage each other. And that’s just what I need!

Prayer:
O Savior God, encourage me in my walk of faith. Then use me to encourage those around me. Amen.

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