Brag – February 2, 2023

Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:31

Brag

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Daily Devotion – February 2, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:31

See series: Devotions

Bragging is big business. It’s big business not only because it seems to be in our wiring to brag. It’s also big business because companies can make money helping people brag in a way that it doesn’t sound like bragging.

One example. A few years ago, author Peggy Klaus wrote a book entitled, Brag! The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It. The book became a best-seller, featured in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on The Today Show. Another example. Some companies have begun bragging on behalf of their customers. For instance, a fitness company posts a personal video on a customer’s Facebook page, praising that customer for becoming so fit. A resort does the same thing, praising a customer for planning such a fantastic vacation. The customer then, understandably, passes all this bragging on to their social media friends. In return, the companies receive good publicity.

Bragging is big business. And while one might debate the pros and cons of such promotion in the business world, when it comes to standing alone before God, you and I know we have nothing about which to brag. Standing alone before the God of perfect goodness and perfect justice—all I can point to is my sinful failure and rebellion. All I can point to is my sinful genius for self-absorption, disregarding others, and drifting away from God.

God would have had every right to look at me—to look at us—turn his back in contempt and walk away forever. But he didn’t, and he hasn’t. Instead, he became one of us. God the Son, Jesus Christ, lived a life of perfect humility on our behalf. For all our sins of self-absorption, he endured the full weight of divine punishment in our place. And now, through faith in the Son, God declares us holy, forgiven, and sons and daughters of the King.

Does this compel us to brag, to boast? Yes. But it’s not about us anymore. It’s all about our Savior.

Prayer:
Lord, you have rescued me from the emptiness of self. Praise be to your holy name. Amen.

Daily 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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Cinderella Story – February 1, 2023

Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
1 Corinthians 1:26

Cinderella Story

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Daily Devotion – February 1, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:26

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Harry was a carpenter and a good one. Earlier in life he’d pursued acting, but that had gone nowhere, one filmmaker telling him there was no future in it for him. One day, Harry was doing some work near the home of a young director. He remembered Harry from somewhere, and asked him to read for a part in the director’s next movie. The young director was George Lucas. The movie was Star Wars. Harry the carpenter was Harrison Ford.

Everyone loves a good Cinderella story—the story of someone of ordinary background who experiences a thrilling change in life. You can find Cinderella stories in many places: The small college basketball team that wins the big tournament. The farm girl whose singing voice is discovered on a national talent show. The penniless, single mom who writes the phenomenal, best-selling book. Or the quiet, unassuming carpenter who goes on to become one of the biggest film stars in Hollywood.

All these stories are child’s play, however, in comparison to the story of what Jesus Christ has done for you and me. In 1 Corinthians chapter 1, the apostle Paul reminds the Corinthian Christians, “Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.” Those same words certainly apply to the vast majority of us. In fact, because of our sin, the full picture is far worse. Not only are most of us invisible to the eyes of the world, by nature we are broken, toxic souls, reeking in our spiritual failure, deserving only of God’s contempt.

But God did not let the story end there. Instead, he sent his Son. On our behalf, Jesus lived the sinless life we have failed to live. In our place, Jesus washed away our every stain of guilt at the cross. Now, through faith in our Savior, the plot has changed. Our story is different. It’s not necessarily that we are now best-selling authors or famous athletes; our story is far better. We are forgiven. God is our Heavenly Father. He guides every moment for our good. Heaven is our home.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for changing my story. Thank you for sending your Son. Amen.

Daily 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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Ultimate Relief – January 31, 2023

They will eat and lie down, and no one will make them afraid.
Zephaniah 3:13

Ultimate Relief

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Daily Devotion – January 31, 2023

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:13

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The health magazine, Elemental, published a compelling article about the human experience of relief. The article begins with a simple example that goes something like this. There is an itch on your back you are unable to reach. The discomfort is terrible. Finally, a trusted friend is able to reach the spot and scratch. The relief you feel is so great that your brain lights up in the same area that responds to addictive substances.

But then the article goes on to speak of bigger things. Beyond relief of physical irritations like an itch, there is relief from another kind of pain that’s far more significant. It quotes a neuroscience professor from Dartmouth College. In part, the professor says, “Every time you think about something that makes you feel dread or concern or shame, your [deep emotional] pain is refreshed. And so relief from those negative experiences—for example, relief from…years of intermittent sadness, anger, dread, and embarrassment—can be profound.”

Which brings us to the kind of relief that God describes in the Bible. In the Old Testament book of Zephaniah, God is speaking to souls who are facing dark, difficult days. As he does, however, he gives them an assurance. He assures them that a great relief is on the way. All the things that vex them, all the things that haunt, discourage, and weigh them down—all those things are temporary. As God describes it, one day his people “will eat and lie down and no one will make them afraid.” In other words—relief that is lasting and true.

This Ultimate Relief has arrived. His name is Jesus Christ. On our behalf, he has lived a life of perfect goodness—the life you and I have failed to live. In our place, he has suffered and died to wash away our every wrong. Now, through faith in him, his full forgiveness gives us a peace that surpasses understanding. And one day, when we enter life eternal, we will experience full release from the presence and effects of sin. Relief that is lasting and true.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, through your gospel remind me of the true relief I possess in your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Daily 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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Searches – January 30, 2023

Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land.
Zephaniah 2:3

Searches

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Daily Devotion – January 30, 2023

Devotion based on Zephaniah 2:3

See series: Devotions

Want to know some of the top internet searches from 2022? Under the category of TV shows, top searches included the Star Wars series, Obi-Wan Kenobi, the modern western series, Yellowstone, and the science fiction series, Stranger Things. Under movies, top searches included Jurassic World Dominion, The Batman, and Top Gun: Maverick. Finally, in the overall category for top searches of 2022 included items such as Powerball numbers, election results, and Queen Elizabeth.

When you take even a moment to consider what is at our fingertips to read, watch, research, and study—the prospect is staggering. Think about it: any contemporary figure, movie, event in history, scientific discovery, definition, culture, newsworthy headline, how-to video, book discussion, or speculation about the future—all of it and more is just waiting for you to type the word in the search engine and hit, “Enter.”

But even before the internet, humanity found itself surrounded by countless ways we could spend our time and energy. Countless ways we could use our eyes and ears.

Several hundred years before Jesus’ birth, God’s people had taken their spiritual search engines and hit “Enter” on all kinds of things—things that seemed important, that promised pleasure, happiness, purpose, and fulfillment. But they were wrong. They were wrong because all their searches were at the expense of spending time in the presence of their Lord and Savior.

And so, God called them to repentance. “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the land,” he said. He called upon them to acknowledge their sinful, wandering ways and look to him once again.

Many times, you and I have wandered in the same way. We searched the wrong places. We sought out the wrong people. And in doing so, we drifted from the Lord—the only one who gives us lasting peace, life, and joy.

But God still pursues us and calls us to repentance. And through faith in the Christ Child who has washed us clean at the cross—all is forgiven. And we are his.

Prayer:
Lord, I come to you in repentance. Forgive my foolish searches. Embrace me in your grace. Cleanse me in your blood. I am yours. Amen.

Daily 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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Wisdom and Strength – January 29, 2023

Think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 1:26,27

Wisdom and Strength

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Daily Devotion – January 29, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:26,27

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Most people are drawn to the rich and famous or those who are intelligent or powerful. We aspire to be at the top of the heap.

It’s interesting to note that God has completely different ideas about wisdom and strength. What truly makes us wise is knowing that we have broken God’s laws with our actions, words, and even in our thoughts. We realize that we don’t deserve anything good from God. The knowledge that Jesus Christ came to this earth to be our Savior makes us wise beyond all measure. Jesus did what we could not do when he followed his Father’s will to the letter. Jesus also suffered and died on the cross to pay for our sins so we wouldn’t have to. When Jesus rose from the dead, he announced to the world that he had completed everything necessary for our salvation.

It may have appeared that Jesus was weak when he gave up his life for us. Yet, God was actually showing his strength in controlling the situation so that our salvation would be accomplished. He further showed the strength of his love for us when he willingly sacrificed his Son so that we would be saved.

Many will not agree with these standards of wisdom and strength. We thank God that he has revealed these standards to us.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for using your wisdom and power to bring about my salvation. Lead me always to trust in your wisdom. Amen.

Daily 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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Fishers of Men – January 28, 2023

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-20

Fishers of Men

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Daily Devotion – January 28, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 4:18-20

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The fishermen Peter and Andrew had met Jesus before. They seem to have been disciples of John the Baptist before they became disciples of Jesus. But John the Baptist gave Andrew a nudge in his Lord’s direction one day when he said, “Look! The Lamb of God!” (John 1:36) Andrew went and got his brother, and Jesus called them to not only be his followers but also into the work of being fishers of men.

Some of the most difficult fishing we do as Christians is to share our faith with a close relative such as a brother, sister, or spouse. There can be many reasons for this—lack of confidence because of something in the past, a concern not to get Christianity in the way of a relationship, or other factors. Our reasons may be legitimate, or they may be sinful, or we might even be uncertain which it is. But we take comfort in something Peter said about his Lord, the “lamb without blemish or defect,” when he assured us that “through [Jesus] you believe in God… for you have been born again… through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:19-23). It is the word of God that works. We simply do our best to let the word itself do the work and to present ourselves as living examples of faith in Jesus.

As his followers, Jesus calls us to be fishers of men. We don’t fish for our own benefit but for God’s kingdom. We are people-fishers, using the only bait that works: the good news about Jesus. The gospel always accomplishes what God wants it to. God’s word is powerful. It’s perfect. It’s effective. And it’s yours.

Prayer:
Jesus, when I have the opportunity to tell other people your word, give me the courage to speak and the ability to communicate the truth about you as Savior. Amen.

Daily 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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Walk in the Light – January 27, 2023

Dear friends, I am not writing you a new command but an old one, which you have had since the beginning. This old command is the message you have heard. Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and in you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining. Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates a brother or sister is still in the darkness. Anyone who loves their brother and sister lives in the light, and there is nothing in them to make them stumble. But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.
1 John 2:7-11

Walk in the Light

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Daily Devotion – January 27, 2023

Devotion based on 1 John 2:7-11

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Jesus once said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). What did he mean by that? Did Jesus mean he had special LED skin pigment? Or did he use the term “light” like the philosophers of the 17th and 18th centuries, who said the truth made them enlightened? In other words, is he the light of the world because of what he knew in his head?

In the reading above, John explains what Jesus meant. Jesus is the Light of the world because he took God’s ancient command, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18), and made it new by living it. He loved his neighbor so much that he gave up his life to pay for their sins, including yours and mine. John says his act of love brought light into our dark world.

Now John turns to us, applying this truth to our hearts. He says if we claim to be in Jesus’ light but don’t love our brother or sister, then we are mistaken. On the other hand, when we love our brother or sister, we show we are genuinely enlightened by Jesus. In other words, to be in the light as Jesus is in the light does not mean we glow or even that we have some kind of special knowledge. It simply means we live a life of love. Or as John puts it, “We love because (Jesus) first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the light of the world. Let your light of love shine in my heart. Amen.

Daily 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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Bringing Light Into the Darkness – January 26, 2023

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-20

Bringing Light Into the Darkness

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Daily Devotion – January 26, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 4:18-20

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God created everything without outside help. He spoke the plants and animals into existence and gave them life, energy, and potential. Then he formed humans and commissioned them to fill the world and rule over it. God did all this by himself. Nobody helped him create this good world. But when it comes to telling this world about who he is and what he has done to save the people of this world, he decided to use humans to spread the good news.

Interestingly enough, instead of going to the temple to find religious professionals or to the king’s palace to enlist the so-called influential people of the world, Jesus went to day laborers, fishing by the sea of Galilee. He said to them, “Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people,” meaning he would use them to rescue people from sin and death by preaching the good news about what he had done to save them.

And that’s precisely what happened. After Jesus died on the cross and rose again, he sent out his disciples to proclaim the good news. People worldwide believed this message, continuing to pass on this good news until it even reached our hearts.

Now the God who created this world wants to use us to continue proclaiming this good news. Wherever we go, we are to bring his light with us. God’s light shines as we communicate God’s love in words and actions and tell those around us about our Savior, Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for calling me to participate in your mission. Fill me with the joy of your light and lead me to spread that light wherever I go. Amen.

Daily 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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Turn From Darkness to the Light – January 25, 2023

From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Matthew 4:17

Turn From Darkness to the Light

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Daily Devotion – January 25, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 4:17

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The darkness and evil in our world are overwhelming. Where does a person begin to make a positive difference? Should we start by protecting the unborn? Or maybe feed the poor? What about those who are lonely? How about victims of abuse? Or who is going to confront injustices at the institutional level? What should we be doing to bring light to a grim world?

When Jesus began his public ministry, he told us where to start. He said first repent, which means acknowledging and turning away from the darkness in our hearts. All that wickedness in the world is also in us. So any real change must begin with a change in our hearts.

Then he tells us that the kingdom of heaven is near. In Jesus, God’s good and gracious rule dwells among us. King Jesus governs his people with forgiveness and love. We know that because he laid down his life for us. And so, we now lay down our lives for others.

From this place of humble gratitude, we can now make a difference in our small corner of Christ’s kingdom. Maybe we take care of the sick or teach children. Perhaps we run for office or a business in service to our community. Whatever we do to make this world better, we must start by letting God’s light shine in us before we can illuminate others.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are the light of the world. Shine your light into the darkness and evil of my heart. Then help me to be your light in the world. Let me use the gifts and opportunities you have given me for your glory. Amen.

Daily 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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Jesus Brings Light to the Darkness – January 24, 2023

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Jesus Brings Light to the Darkness

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Daily Devotion – January 24, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:2

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Have you noticed that many movies in the last decade are dark, dystopian films? In the past, movies had happy endings. But now, it seems the setting, characters, and even the conclusion are dark. These movies resonate with large audiences because many people feel unstable in our cultural moment. Corrupt politicians, the potential of war, and the isolation our technology brings have darkened our hope for a better future.

This is not a new feeling. Twenty-seven hundred years ago, in the days of Isaiah the prophet, Israel had lost all hope. The ruthless Assyrian Empire swallowed up the Northern Israelites. And the big, bad Babylonians were crouching, ready to pounce on what remained of God’s people. Eventually, these two enemies decimated the nation of Israel.

Since the beginning of their history, God promised to send them a Messiah-King who would set them free from their oppressors. But after hundreds of years of suffering, they abandoned their dream of freedom. In their distress, they began to believe they lived in a dark story with no happy ending. But Isaiah the prophet continued to preach a message of hope. He said those living in darkness would see a great light.

When Jesus arrived hundreds of years after this prophecy, he declared he was the light Isaiah predicted. Yet, instead of just conquering their earthly enemies, Jesus had a bigger goal. He came to conquer sin and death and rule their hearts with his peace. And so, hanging on a cross, he absorbed the darkness of the world into himself until it killed him, and then he rose again as the light of life.

Now, all who believe in his name, enjoy God’s forgiveness, the promise of the resurrection, and the hope of the world to come.

Don’t let the daily news or Hollywood’s latest film distort your faith in the promises of God. The glory of God has brightened your dark heart. And soon, Jesus will bring our story to a happy ending.

Prayer:
Lord God, darkness covers this world and casts a shadow on my heart. Fill me with your light until your last and glorious return. Amen.

Daily 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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In Times of Darkness – January 23, 2023

When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn.
Isaiah 8:19,20

In Times of Darkness

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Daily Devotion – January 23, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 8:19,20

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I know of a woman who lost her son in a tragic accident. In her intense grief, she consulted a psychic, hoping to make some connection with the spirit of her son.

You may never have participated in a séance or tried a Ouija board, but we have all been tempted to look for answers to life’s questions in places other than the one place God promises to speak to us–the words of the Bible.

This is not a new temptation. Almost three thousand years ago, the nation of Israel felt utterly helpless, wondering if God had abandoned them. The pagan Assyrians attacked and destroyed their country. And they were beginning to wonder if the God of Israel was real, willing, and able to rescue them from their enemies. And so they started to consult mediums and spiritists, who promised power and access to the spiritual realm. The prophet Isaiah confronted them, calling them to abandon such deadly dark demons. Instead, he challenged them to consult the truth found in God’s Word.

When you face tough times and are looking for answers, look to the words of the Bible. There you will find the many promises God has made to love and care for you. Even if he doesn’t provide an answer to every question, he provides answers to the most important questions. Questions such as: does God love me? (He loves you so much he died to pay the price for your sins.) Will God take care of me? (He promises to take care of you in whatever way is best for you.) Is God listening to me? (He promises to hear and answer every prayer.)

There are many places you could go to try to find answers to life’s most important questions. Go to the one place you can be sure to hear the truth from God himself—the Bible.

Prayer:
Lord God, in my moments of darkness and despair, comfort me with the promises in your Word . Amen.

Daily 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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Jesus Is Our Light – January 22, 2023

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

Jesus Is Our Light

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Daily Devotion – January 22, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:2

See series: Devotions

Light is certainly one of the most precious things in our world. Without it, the simplest tasks can be a challenge or—in some cases—altogether impossible.

A lack of light can also strike fear into our hearts and be quite dangerous. If you have ever tried navigating your way through complete darkness, you know this to be true. That is what life is like without Jesus. Without the light of Jesus we would not know where our lives are heading or how to live a life pleasing to the God who made us. Without the light of Jesus we would stumble through life, bumping into blessings without knowing where they come from and tripping over trials and temptations.

Thank God for sending Jesus to be the light that illuminates our lives. He gives us hope and purpose. He came to remove the darkness of sin by shedding his blood and scatter the shadow of death by rising from the grave. Since our sins have been paid for by his blood, we have the sure confidence that every one of our sins has been removed—even the ones that weigh us down with the most guilt. Since he rose from the grave, we have the rock-solid guarantee that death is not the end for us. We too will rise with him to live eternally.

With Jesus lighting up our lives, we can live with confidence and purpose. The confidence comes from knowing that nothing can change the fact that our sins have been washed away by his blood and our eternal life guaranteed by his resurrection. Our purpose now is to live every moment to his glory. We strive to make the best use of all the gifts he has given us and do everything we can to share Jesus with others so they too, may walk in his light.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, this sinful world is a dark place. Thank you for scattering the darkness of sin and death for me. Continue to light up our lives that I may live for you and share your light with others. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not Satisfied – January 21, 2023

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Not Satisfied

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Daily Devotion – January 21, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

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Head hung low; the young man approached his father. “Dad, I didn’t do very well on my last test.”
“Oh? What grade did you get, son?”
Shaking his head in disgust, “I messed up on a couple of questions and got a B.”
“And how has that impacted your final grade?”
“Oh, I still have a solid A.”
“I don’t think you have anything to worry about,” his father encouraged.

You might smile and completely agree with the father, “Wow, that kid is really hard on himself. He should just be happy about his overall grade. Clearly, he worked hard and should be satisfied with what he has done so far.”

There is, however, a certain amount of respect we have for someone who is constantly striving to do more and isn’t satisfied with “good enough.” Thankfully, that is the kind of God that we have.

The one and only God is not satisfied with bringing just a few people into his family. It is not enough for him to spend eternity with some. He wants all to be saved. That’s why he sent his Son, Jesus, to bear the sins of everyone who has ever lived and to pay the price for those sins with his life.

That means his desire is for you to be saved. It doesn’t matter where you live, what language you speak, or even what you have done. God loves you so much that he sent his Son to be punished for your sins so that you can live with him forever.

It is not good enough for just some to be saved. God wants you to be his forever.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for including me in your plan of salvation. Without your incredible love, I would have been stuck in my sins and lost forever. But because of your love, you sent your Son for me and all people. Thank you. Help me to live as the forgiven child you have made me so that others can see your love too. Amen.

Daily 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 Hidden Reality – January 20, 2023

“I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all. Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”
Isaiah 49:4

The Hidden Reality

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Daily Devotion – January 20, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:4

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Can you identify with what Jesus says in today’s Bible passage? Have you ever felt like you believe in vain and all your faith is for nothing?

The bills pile up, and the stress of making ends meet weighs you down. Where’s God? The pain continues, and there’s no relief in sight. Where is the Lord? Your kids make bad choices, and you can’t understand why. Where has God gone? Why doesn’t he fix these problems and make things better?

But that is not how God operates in this world. That’s why Jesus also said, “Yet what is due me is in the LORD’s hand, and my reward is with my God.”

When Jesus did his work, it looked like labor with no purpose and strength spent in vain. By every standard the world uses, being nailed to a cross means that your life was a failure. But that visible reality could not blot out another reality, the hidden one. Jesus knew that the outcome of his work was in God’s hands, and even though he could not see it, he trusted God for victory.

This is a difficult lesson to learn: our God is a God who hides himself (Isaiah 45:15). This means our faith in God is not based on what we see or feel. It is based entirely on what God has said in his Word.

So never lose sight of the hidden reality that God makes known in his Word. He may hide himself by not giving you vast amounts of wealth so that you remember what a great treasure he is. He may hide himself by not eradicating sickness and pain so that you never forget to rely on him. He may hide himself by allowing you to suffer so that you never stop longing for your heavenly home. He may hide himself so that you look forward to the day when he will be hidden no more and you “shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Prayer:
Lord, help me believe in what I cannot now see. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Hidden Weapon – January 19, 2023

Before I was born the LORD called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. He made my mouth like a sharpened sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in his quiver.
Isaiah 49:1,2

God’s Hidden Weapon

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Daily Devotion – January 19, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:1,2

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Some of the most effective weapons are hidden ones. Your enemies don’t know the danger, and you catch them with their guard down. No one expects a hidden weapon. So here is the question: What is God doing with one?

In today’s Bible passage, Jesus says that before he was born, he was called by the Lord for a specific job: to be God’s hidden weapon. He mysteriously compares himself to a sword hidden out of sight and an arrow concealed from view. What does that mean?

To understand his point, think about who Jesus is and what he possesses. Jesus Christ is true God, hidden in human flesh. “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2:9). For millennia before he was born, God kept him ready—hidden in his hand, concealed in his quiver—waiting for just the right moment to shoot him into the world.

Before his birth, an angel spoke his name: “You are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). His name revealed his targets. He was aimed at sin, death, and hell. And “when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son” (Galatians 4:4).

Like a sharpened sword, the Savior had speech that sliced and severed. Like a polished arrow, he did not fly off course. He hit the exact targets that God wanted him too. He hid himself in the form of a servant who was willing to sacrifice his life to pay for your sins. He was revealed as God’s hidden weapon at his cross and empty tomb, where he decisively defeated his enemies. And he is still a weapon so powerful that he can cut and pierce an unbelieving heart with God’s saving Word!

Prayer:
Praise to you, Lord Jesus, for defeating my enemies and saving me. Amen.

Daily 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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What do you want? – January 18, 2023

When [John] saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
John 1:36-38

What do you want?

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Daily Devotion – January 18, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:36-38

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When someone asks, “What do you want?” how often do you say what you really want? When the waitress asks that, do you tell her the truth? You want the twenty-ounce porterhouse steak, but you order the club sandwich because it’s less expensive.

Sometimes “What do you want?” can be a simple question, but other times it can be difficult. Jesus asked that question of the two disciples that John the Baptist sent after him. How would you answer if Jesus asked it of you?

Do you say what you really want, or do you settle for the safe answer? You know the safe answer, “Jesus, I want you to take away my sin!” And that is, obviously, a good thing to want.

But what about later when you’re not reading this devotion? What will you want then? Admit it, there are a lot of other problems in your life that Jesus could take away. It would be nice if Jesus made life a little bit easier and took away the world’s crime, hunger, and poverty.

But don’t devalue the gift of forgiveness. Jesus taking away the sin of the world is nothing like settling for the sandwich when you want the steak.

Realize that you fight a daily struggle to remember that the reason life is hard is because you are a sinner who lives in a world broken by sin. Sin is the reason you’re unhappy. Sin is the reason life is a pain. Sin is a problem you cannot solve on your own.

So when the Lamb of God came, he took away the sin of the world. And by doing that, Jesus did not just give you what you need; he also gave you what you want! He stopped your problems at their source and guaranteed that, in the heaven he won for you, you will have the perfect life you want.

Prayer:
Lamb of God, help me to want the forgiveness that you earned for me. Amen.

Daily 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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Jesus Is the One – January 17, 2023

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.”
John 1:32-34

Jesus Is the One

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Daily Devotion – January 17, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:32-34

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When you search for something, how do you know when you’ve finally found it? For example if you’re shopping for shoes, how do you know when you’ve found the right pair? Do they have to be just the right size, just the right color, or the right price? Chances are the right pair are the best combination of all three of those criteria.

What about the search for a savior—someone who can rescue you from all of the sins you have committed against the holy God who made you? How do you know that Jesus already dealt with all of your sins, so you don’t have to? How do you know that Jesus saved you and not just those who followed him when he walked the earth two thousand years ago? How do you know that Jesus is the One?

Because God said so—yes, it is that simple. God gave John the Baptist specific criteria to identify the Savior, and when he baptized Jesus, they were met. He saw heaven torn open and the Holy Spirit descend on Jesus like a dove and remain on him. John saw it and gave us his eyewitness testimony. That’s how we know that Jesus is the one—the one chosen by God to take your place under his wrath, to die for your sins, and to rise from the dead to guarantee your eternal salvation!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for making sure I know that Jesus is your Chosen One, my Savior. Amen.

Daily 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 Lamb of God Appears – January 16, 2023

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

The Lamb of God Appears

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Daily Devotion – January 16, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:29

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About fourteen hundred years before Jesus was born, God told his people to use animal sacrifices when they worshiped him. Under this sacrificial system, the priests started and ended every day the same way: take a lamb, slit the lamb’s throat, drain the lamb’s blood, sprinkle the blood on the altar, then burn all of the lamb’s meat until it was nothing but ashes.

In addition to these daily offerings, there were other sacrifices mandated for different religious festivals and life occasions. Following God’s laws resulted in a minimum of 1,273 animal sacrifices every year, not counting the thousands of voluntary sacrifices that the people offered on top of all that.

Over the centuries, God’s people shed an ocean of sacrificial blood. It was supposed to deal with their sin, but it was never enough because “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). But that does not mean that the sacrifices were a waste of time. God was using them to teach his people something important.

Repeated sacrifices reminded them that they had sins that needed to be taken care of. The gallons of spilled blood taught them that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). The constant slaying clearly showed that “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Most importantly, the countless lambs offered to God pointed to the Lamb of God, who would take away their sins.

So when that Lamb of God finally appeared, John the Baptist made sure that everyone knew who he was. Jesus was the sacrifice the people had been waiting for. He was the Lamb of God, not only because he was chosen by God, but also because he was God.

His sacrifice on the cross took away the world’s sin because it was God who shed his blood and gave his life. It is impossible for the blood of animals to take away sins, but “the blood of Jesus, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Prayer:
Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world; grant me your peace. Amen.

Daily 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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Go Big or Go Home – January 15, 2023

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Go Big or Go Home

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Daily Devotion – January 15, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

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“Go big or go home.” That motto reflects a characteristic that we tend to admire in an individual. It says that doing just enough to get by isn’t good enough. These individuals are not satisfied unless they give everything they have and do something spectacular.

“Go big or go home,” could be a motto that God uses. It wasn’t enough for God to put together a plan through Jesus to save a chosen few people from the damning results of their sin. His plan was to bring salvation to everyone no matter where they live or what kind of ethnic blood flows through their veins.”

He certainly carried out this plan in a “go big or go home” kind of a way. He didn’t just carry some sins to the cross. He carried every sin of every person who has ever and will ever live in this world. To say that he gave his all would be an understatement. He gave himself. He gave up his perfect life because that was the only price big enough to pay the debt owed by sinners of the world.

The God against whom we sin every day was not content to make salvation available to just a few. His love for you refused to let him exclude you from that group. It doesn’t matter where you live, what language you speak, what color your skin is, or what nationality you claim as your own. Your sins were carried to the cross and their punishment was suffered by the Son of God. Your debt has been paid. Salvation is yours.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for loving me enough to include me in your plan of salvation. Thank you for sending Jesus to do whatever was necessary, even dying on a cross, to remove my sins. Help me to treasure, above all else, the gift of salvation he has won for me. Amen.

Daily 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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Here Is My Servant – January 14, 2023

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” This is what God the LORD says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Isaiah 42:1-7

Here Is My Servant

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Daily Devotion – January 14, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1-7

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“No one knows the trouble I’ve seen; nobody knows but Jesus.” So says the famous African-American spiritual. All of us can feel this way at times. And it’s true. Jesus is the only one who truly knows all of the troubles we have experienced.

When we are drowning in distress, grasping for anything to save us, the Lord answers with the promise, “Here is my servant.” He is talking about Jesus, the one who served us perfectly in order to save us.

Reach out to him! The Lord’s Servant isn’t arrogant like so many world leaders. He restored the most broken of lives—lives that no others cared to touch. To carry out justice, he didn’t come guns-a-blazing. He suffered beatings, taunting, and the humiliation of death on the cross to save us.

Maybe we don’t feel worth rescuing. Jesus sees us differently. It cost him dearly to redeem us; he won’t dispose of us. Rather than snuff us out, he restores us. Rather than grind us down, he makes something new. Jesus needed true grit to save us. But the moment we struggle, he stoops like a mother to care for us.

Prayer:
Lord, when the tempest rages, I need not fear; for you, the Rock of ages, are always near. So take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way. Amen.

Daily 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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Jesus Is Our Savior – January 13, 2023

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Isaiah 42:6,7

Jesus Is Our Savior

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Daily Devotion – January 13, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:6,7

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When you’ve been hurt, you can feel like a captive. Long after it is over, your mind may be a prison of memories. You can feel that you are all alone. Does anyone care to understand? Can anyone understand?

You are not alone. God called his Son, Jesus, to set you free. He faced the same evil and sin that we do. He was betrayed, abandoned, manipulated, and ridiculed. He was beaten and bloodied and nailed to a cross. He was forsaken by his Father. Jesus understands.

He could have stayed away from his betrayer and slipped through the hands of his captors. He could have come down from that cross; but he did not because he cares about you. He would not come down until it was over. Until all your guilt, shame, and pain had been drowned in his blood. Until he had been held captive by death and broken free for you.

That’s how much he loves you. You are the apple of his eye, his joy and delight. Take his hand and walk with him. Bask in his light.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, nobody knows the trouble I have seen, but I rejoice that you do. When darkness deepens, other helpers fail, and comforts flee, you are my help. Abide with me. Amen.

Daily 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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Your Covenant Savior – January 12, 2023

This is what God the Lord says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out, who spreads out the earth with all that springs from it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.”
Isaiah 42:5,6

Your Covenant Savior

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Daily Devotion – January 12, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:5,6

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The man and his wife were on the two-hour trek from Bethlehem to Jerusalem with a 40-day-old baby. They were going to present him to the Lord at the temple in keeping with the law of Moses.

As they walked through the courtyard, a man stepped out of the crowd to greet them. Taking Jesus in his palms, eyes beaming with joy, Simeon proclaimed, “My eyes have seen God’s salvation. He will be Israel’s glory and a light for people everywhere.”

This child was the covenant promised through the prophet Isaiah. God would care for his people through the gift of his Son. The child born of Mary would crush the devil and his evil work, saving us from our sin.

Although we have not seen Jesus physically as Simeon did, God has shown us his salvation in the words of the Bible. There we read about who he is and what he did to save us. Through those words, he creates and strengthens our trust in him as our Savior. And so, like Simeon, we rejoice because we are receiving our soul’s salvation.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my light and life, my joy and salvation, my everything. Amen.

Daily 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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Your Consistent Savior – January 11, 2023

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. . . In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
Isaiah 42:1,3,4

Your Consistent Savior

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Daily Devotion – January 11, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1,3,4

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“It is not fair! Why can’t I have ice cream just because I didn’t eat my peas?” complains the seven-year-old at the dinner table.

“It is not fair!” mumbles the student after being grounded for getting bad grades.

“It is not fair!” sighs the groom-to-be upon hearing the terminal diagnosis just months before his wedding day.

Life is full of unfairness. Loved ones die before their time. The guilty go free. The wicked prosper. Life’s unfairness is a consequence of the sin we bring into the world. For our sin we should be cast away from God’s presence forever. That is God’s fair and just response.

Yet, when God our Savior saw us broken and dying under the weight of sin, he did not squash us, snuff us out, and start over. He chose to send his Son to bring justice into the world. And Jesus did not break or burn out under the pressure of saving us from our sins. He was tempted in every way but never sinned. And though he was without sin, he carried our sin to the cross. He willingly faced God’s judgment for us so that he could bring God’s justice to us.

And his justice rolls on like the tides. As the good news about Jesus is declared and shared throughout the world, people will come to his justice. He does not show favoritism or judge by appearances or hearsay. Because of his sacrifice for our sin, he declares us forgiven. Because of the righteousness he credits to us by faith, he declares us not guilty.

There is no condemnation for those who hope in the Lord, who live by faith in Jesus. Not now. Not on the Last Day. Not ever.

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

Daily 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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Your Consoling Savior – January 10, 2023

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out.”
Isaiah 42:1-3

Your Consoling Savior

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Daily Devotion – January 10, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1-3

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When I was ten, I got kicked out of gym class. The teacher told us to take turns playing a pantomime game of tennis. While two of us pretended to hit the ball back and forth, the rest were supposed to cheer.

Since I had never watched a tennis match before, I had no idea there was a proper way to cheer. So, I started clapping, whistling, hooting, and hollering during play. The teacher thought I was being disrespectful and sent me to the principal’s office.

Every time I hear the words of our Bible reading for today, I think of that event in my life, and I rejoice. I rejoice because these words remind me that Jesus, our Savior, does not kick us out of his presence for the wrong things we have done and said. Instead, Jesus carried the crushing weight of our guilt to the cross and had his life snuffed out for our sin.

This is our Savior. When we get it wrong, Jesus does not yell at or humiliate us. When we sin against God, he does not parade us through the streets shouting, “Shame!” When we are bruised and broken, when we are feeling small and insignificant, he summons us to come to him and find rest in him for our souls.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for not crushing my spirit but for constantly consoling me with your mercy and forgiveness. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Chosen One – January 9, 2023

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will bring justice to the nations.”
Isaiah 42:1

God’s Chosen One

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Daily Devotion – January 9, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1

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Although Jesus Christ has been alive for two thousand years, only recently has he been authenticated. On November 9, 2022, Twitter blessed Jesus Christ with a “blue check verified mark.”

In this Age of Information, fact-checking services and identity verification software are a necessity. Companies have official websites, so you do not accidentally surf into and spend your money in the wrong store. Influential users on social networks receive checkmarks as verification that they are really who they claim to be.

But Jesus does not need a blue check. God himself has verified Jesus. In the Old Testament, God made over three hundred prophecies about who the Messiah would be. The gospels show that Jesus Christ matches all of them. In comparison, an average fingerprint has 150 unique points. Yet, most legal systems only require a twelve-point match to be irrefutable evidence.

What evidence does God provide in our Bible passage today? He identifies his servant as his chosen one in whom he delights. Seven hundred years later, God echoed these same words over Jesus. Not once, but twice, God verified Jesus as the Messiah. First, at Jesus baptism, as he stepped out of the Jordan and the Holy Spirit descended upon him like a dove. Then, near the end of his ministry at the transfiguration, Jesus’ appearance changed before three of his disciples on top of a mountain.

God chose this Jesus to set everything right. And God delights in this Jesus because he has pioneered our salvation. Not by forcing his will upon us but by crediting us with his perfect life. Not by shedding our blood but by shedding his own as payment for our sins.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, you also are God’s chosen one. For the sake of Jesus Christ, you are God’s delight. Filled with his Spirit, you are God’s servant to share the forgiveness, life, and salvation of Jesus with the world.

Prayer:
O Lord, I praise you for choosing me in Christ, calling me by his gospel, and giving me your Spirit that I may serve you. Amen.

Daily 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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Approval Rating – January 8, 2023

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented. As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:13-17

Approval Rating

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Daily Devotion – January 8, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13-17

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Whether at work, school, or home, we are constantly graded, compared against others, and rated. The boss gives us our annual review. The teacher hands out report cards. The son informs mom that her mac and cheese isn’t as good as what Dylan’s mom makes.

It is interesting how these “ratings” can affect our day, isn’t it? If they’re good, we feel good. If they’re lousy, we feel lousy. If they’re nothing special, then we are tempted to feel that we’re nothing special.

How’s your approval rating with God? How have you been keeping up with those Ten Commandments? Remember, they’re not God’s suggestions; they are his commands. How’s it going between you and your neighbor, all your neighbors? Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

If we’re going to talk comparisons, why not go all the way and, as God says, compare ourselves to him? “Be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy.” Will I ever meet with God’s approval? Will God ever say of me, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased”?

This is what makes Jesus’ baptism, as well as our own baptism, so special. God, in his grace, has connected me to Jesus. God has given me faith in Jesus as my Savior. Jesus has taken away all my sins and gives me his perfection and holiness. When God looks at me, he can say, “This is my son, my daughter, whom I love! With him, with her, I am well pleased.” Approval ratings don’t get any higher than this. God be praised!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, when doubts of my worth come, drown them in the waters of baptism and remind me of your love for me in Jesus. Amen.

Daily 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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Our Heavenly Father – January 7, 2023

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.
Galatians 3:26

Our Heavenly Father

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Daily Devotion – January 7, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 3:26

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There are hundreds of names for God in the Bible. Each teaches us a little something about who God is and how he acts. In some places God is called “Almighty.” Other places God is called “The beginning and end.” He even has some unique names that describe him as the “Root of David” or “launderer’s soap.”

However, when Jesus taught his disciples to pray, he encouraged them to call God “Our Father.”

That name “Father” has a special meaning. Whether we had a good earthly father or not, we know what fathers are supposed to do. Fathers love and care for their children. They want the best for them and strive to teach them all they need to know.

You can’t expect these kinds of things from a stranger. When you need something, you can count on your father.

This is what God wants for you. He is your heavenly Father who loves you so much that there is nothing he wouldn’t do for you. He cares for you so much that he promises to guide all the steps of your life. He wants the best for you so that you may spend all eternity with him. He strives to teach you all the things you need for this life and the next.

How did you arrive at this most special relationship with God? It is only “in Christ Jesus.”

It is because Christ Jesus was willing to give his very life for you on the cross and to defeat death for you by rising from the grave that you can now be called sons and daughters of God. He is your dear Father and in Christ you are his dear child. Through faith these gifts become yours.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in Christ you have called me to be your child. Through faith help me to always look to you as my Father. Amen.

Daily 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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After the Wise Men Left – January 6, 2023

When [the Wise Men] had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2:13-15

After the Wise Men Left

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Daily Devotion – January 6, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 2:13-15

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It’s the Twelfth Day of Christmas! On this day, often called Epiphany, many Christians celebrate the visit of the Wise Men to Jesus. That account is fairly well known. But less well known is what happened after the Wise Men left.

The visit of the Wise Men had alerted King Herod that a rival to his throne had been born. He did not understand that Jesus’ kingdom would not be of this world. Since he was a bloodthirsty man in this world, he arranged for all the young children around Jesus’ age and around Jesus’ birthplace to be slaughtered.

The Lord knew what would happen, so he arranged for Jesus’ parents—Mary and Joseph, to get out of that geographic area. They fled to Egypt, where Herod was not in charge. Egypt had played a large role in the history of the people of Israel before the birth of Jesus, so there was a lot of historical significance to staying in Egypt and eventually leaving Egypt. God knew what he was doing.

What can we learn from this account? God is in charge. Bad things still happen, but God protects people connected to Jesus. Wise Men may leave, but the source of all true wisdom remains.

Prayer:
Dear God, protect me from all threats, and bring me safely to my heavenly home through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Real Member of the Family – January 5, 2023

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:7

A Real Member of the Family

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Daily Devotion – January 5, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:7

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It’s a pretty dramatic story when a person who was hired as a servant or conscripted as a slave becomes a member of the family. You can imagine the complicated emotions of the natural-born children in the drama. Do they welcome the new member of the family with open arms? Or are they jealous because someone who is not natural born will get part of the inheritance?

At one time, we were slaves to sin and the devil, forced to go along with them because their will was all we knew. But God has freed us from that slavery, promising us forgiveness of sins through faith in Jesus. And where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also salvation and eternal life.

When God made us his children, true members of his family, there was an only begotten Son who could have been angry that he had to take on flesh, suffer, and die in our place. But Jesus, that Son was not jealous. He played his part in our salvation willingly. He did it out of love.

He was the first to receive the inheritance, a glorified body that will live eternally in heaven. But he is not the last. We have the same promise for our bodies and souls, and there is plenty of the inheritance to go around. We are heirs of eternal life, not just our souls, but our bodies as well—glorified, ageless, and perfect.

It’s an extraordinary privilege to be a member of God’s family, his child, with our brother Jesus Christ. Let’s look forward to the family reunion!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for dying to put God’s will into effect and earn my inheritance. Amen.

Daily 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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Recognizing Your Father – January 4, 2023

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:6

Recognizing Your Father

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Daily Devotion – January 4, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:6

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My son and his wife had a baby last year. I think she already recognizes my son as her father. She reacts differently to him than she does to me, her grandfather. That’s probably because she sees him far more often than she sees me. She has learned to rely on him as a source of comfort. She has learned to recognize his love. She has learned to say his name.

Just as my granddaughter recognizes her earthly father, you can recognize the love of your heavenly Father. He sent his only Son into the world, Jesus Christ, to be your Savior. Jesus laid down his life for you. As a result, you are declared a child of God.

So how do you recognize God the Father, your true spiritual Father, in your life? God sends not only his Son but also his Spirit to prompt you to do that.

The Spirit comes to you through baptism. That’s why his name is one of the words spoken when people are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Baptism puts the Spirit into your heart and causes you to believe in the only true God.

The Spirit comes to you when you read or hear the words of the Bible. Those words are Spirit and truth. Those words go right to your heart, confirming and strengthening your faith.

The Spirit leads you to confess the name of God. You can do that in a very formal way, and you can do that in a more informal, tender way. Our Bible verse for today uses a tender, childlike word for father—the word “Abba.” That’s what the Spirit prompts you to call God the Father, Abba. He takes care of you. He is a source of comfort. You have learned to say his name.

Prayer:
Abba, Father, I love you. Be with me wherever I go. Amen.

Daily 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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