Imitate your Father’s Love – February 20, 2017

“I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
Matthew 5:44-45

Imitate your Father’s Love


Daily Devotion – February 20, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 5:44-45

See series: Devotions

We are blessed to be children of our heavenly Father. We did not earn or deserve the distinction of being members of his family. Rather, the Father graciously adopted us through the water and Word of Holy Baptism. Through the life and death of our brother Jesus Christ, the heavenly Father continues to freely pour out his grace and love upon his children.

It is the Lord’s boundless love for us that captivates our hearts with love for him and for others–even our enemies. Do we imagine that Jesus asks too much from us when called upon to love those who act lovelessly toward us? Are we tempted to limit the love that we show to certain people? When we personally experience heaped-up human hatred and read Facebook posts that are fuming with fury, are we engaged to join in the rage too?

If so, Jesus calls us to repent and to imitate our heavenly Father’s love. In a demonstration of immeasurable mercy, the rays of the Father’s sun shine upon all, even unbelievers. He shows his love for his own enemies by showering them with rain from above. Most importantly, he continues to extend his invitation of forgiveness to those who have spurned his love and his will.

Although we have felt the stabs of hurtful words and the blows of hateful actions, Christ’s selfless love for us compels us to shower our enemies with Christ’s love. We do so in the hope that our enemies may be brought to repentance and rescued from their sin as the rays of the Son’s forgiving grace penetrate their hearts and lives.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you faced the blows and hateful words of your enemies. Then you carried my sin and shame to the cross. Because of you, I am no longer a hostile enemy of God, but rather a blood-bought child of God. Your limitless love for me compels me to love others without limit—even my enemies. 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.

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – February 19, 2017

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He taught in their synagogues, and everyone praised him. He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:14-21

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus


Daily Devotion – February 19, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 4:14-21

See series: Devotions

All eyes are on you. What do you say? Do you tell a joke? Share some intriguing insights on the political and economic conditions in faraway places? Tell a personal story that has people chuckling or tearing up?

All eyes were fixed on Jesus. He was in his hometown’s synagogue (their local place of worship.) He read a section of God’s Word from the prophet Isaiah. They were waiting for what he would say. All eyes were fixed on Jesus.

“Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing,” he declared. That might not mean much when it hits your eyes and ears, but Jesus’ 1st Century audience knew what he was saying. The section of Isaiah that Jesus had just read to them talked about the promised Savior. He was clearly telling them: “I am the promised Messiah, the Savior, the Son of God.”

What did they do with that information? Was this man who had grown up before their eyes really the Savior, the Son of God? Many of them totally and emphatically rejected Jesus’ message. In fact, a few verses later it is reported that the people of Jesus’ hometown unsuccessfully tried to kill Jesus.

Jesus delivers the same message to you. Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Son of God. What do you do with that information? Don’t disregard it or dump it on the trash heap. Instead, trust this good news. Jesus is your Savior from sin and eternal death. He is the Son of God who rescued you and rules all things for you.

Trust this good news and explore it even more. Pick up a Bible and read more about Jesus. Perhaps start with one of the Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. Make public worship a regular part of your weekly routine (just like it was for Jesus.) Dig even deeper into God’s Word–join a Bible study that leads you to know more and more about your Savior. There, in the Bible is God’s message for you. And, when God, your Savior, speaks up–listen and trust him.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, to be my Savior. Help me to trust in him and his saving work more and more. Lead me to study your holy Word. Work through your Word and increase my knowledge and love of you. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Stop Making Excuses! – February 18, 2017

The word of the LORD came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign LORD,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the LORD Said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the LORD. Then the LORD Reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:4-10

Stop Making Excuses!


Daily Devotion – February 18, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 1:4-10

See series: Devotions

“But…I can’t.” “But…that’s too hard!” “But…I don’t know how.” “But…someone else can do it better than I can.” How often during our day do we focus on our limitations and make excuses why we didn’t do something or why we can’t do something. Unfortunately, these same excuses transfer from the daily activities of life to the important spiritual matters of life. Excuses abound. “But…I don’t have time for church right now.” “But…it’s all too confusing to figure out.” “But…when my kids get older then I’ll think about those things.” “But…” The list goes on.

The prophet Jeremiah had a direct call from the Lord to be his spokesman to the people of Israel. Granted, he was going to have a rough task and a very difficult message for the people to hear. However, the first thing he did was make an excuse, “I do not know how to speak.” Our sinful human nature resists the call of God.

Not many can claim a direct call from God, but we all can claim making excuses in response to God’s will. A friend brings up a spiritual discussion to which we say, “I don’t want to talk about it.” A family member invites us to come with them to church. We say, “It’s my day to sleep in.” Our child asks us about God and who he is and we say, “Go ask your mother.” A fellow church member asks us to serve and we say, “I don’t have the time.”

We can only marvel that God in his love continues to reach out to us. He didn’t cast Jeremiah aside for his excuses, but rather reminds him that he has nothing to fear. The all-powerful God, who knew him before he knew himself, was present with him.

Today God wants to remind you of two things when you are tempted to make excuses and steer away from his call. One, you are part of the Lord’s plan. He knew you before you were formed in the womb and he desires that you, now outside of the womb, come to know and believe in him. And, two, with that reality in mind, he wants us to understand that life is not about me as an individual, rather we are here on this earth to carry out the Lord’s purpose.

So stop making excuses. The Lord is calling you to believe in his Son, Jesus and live for him. Discover more about him in his Word. For help and guidance, go online to www.whataboutjesus.com and learn more about Jesus.

Enjoy living for your Lord today!

Prayer:
Lord, keep my sinful nature from resisting your precious call to faith and your will to live out my faith in you. Empower me today to stop making excuses and see every aspect of my life as an opportunity to glorify you. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

More than Conquerors through Christ – February 17, 2017

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:35,37

More than Conquerors through Christ


Daily Devotion – February 17, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:35,37

See series: Devotions

Divide and conquer can be defined as a strategy in which you gain or maintain power by breaking up larger concentrations of power into smaller less powerful pieces. Those smaller pieces can then be overcome one by one until total conquest is achieved. Three or four wolves don’t take on a herd of hundreds all at once. They separate one or two from the rest and get their meal that way. It’s a tried and true strategy employed in military matters, politics, sociology and even simple mathematics.

It’s a strategy also used by the devil, the world and our own sinful nature to conquer us. Trouble comes into our lives. Family members fight with each other, bringing strife and conflict into the home. Hardship strikes. Health suddenly takes a turn for the worse, the medical bills pile up and the prognosis is far from hopeful. Persecution rises up. You’re mocked for your faith, belittled, marginalized and shunned. Across the world, believers are marched in front of video cameras before being put to death.

We see the trouble all around us. We feel and experience it in our own lives. And soon we are caught in a frenzy of fear as the swirling worries and stresses drag us deeper and deeper into despair. At such times how easy it is to forget about God’s love for us, or to think that God neither knows nor cares about us. Feeling separated from God’s love we are easy prey.

But the apostle Paul reminds us of an indisputable, unchangeable fact no matter how bad things may look. In Christ we are more than conquerors. Jesus, our champion, conquered our sins of worry, fear, and doubt with his perfect life and innocent death on the cross. He conquered death by rising to life again. Against enemies that no one else in human history has overcome, Jesus prevailed. Through faith in Jesus, he gives us that victory. Through faith in Jesus, we are made more than conquerors over our own sin, over death and over the devil himself. Jesus died and rose again for sinners one and all. That love conquers strife and brings peace. That truth comforts and encourages the worried, the fearful, the persecuted and the dying, because no matter what we face he gives us everlasting life in heaven.

So in all circumstances and especially in trouble, hardship, persecution, famine, nakedness, danger and even death, remember this: Jesus conquers it all, and in all these things we are more than conquerors through Christ who loved us.

Prayer:
Savior Jesus, when I face trouble and hardship, hold your cross and empty tomb before my weary and worried eyes. Remind me that in you I have forgiveness of all my sin and life eternal in heaven. Comfort and encourage me that in you, I am more than a conqueror in all things. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

Love One Another – February 16, 2017

This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.
1 John 3:11

Love One Another


Daily Devotion – February 16, 2017

Devotion based on 1 John 3:11

See series: Devotions

It was one of the most touching acts of love which I’d ever seen. The elderly woman was nearing the end of her life, and the family wanted her to be able to live her final days at home. They’d put the hospital bed in the living room of their home. Her elderly husband was caring for her, doing his best to keep her comfortable. Her mind wasn’t as clear as it had been; she became easily angered because of it.

It was late in the afternoon. Husband had made some soup, and asked her if she wanted some supper. “No.” “Are you sure.” “No.”

And then in a few moments, “Yes.” So, husband helped her out of the bed so that he could help her to maneuver the few feet to the table, a difficult task. As husband tried to help, she began to scream at him, in the frustrated anger which springs from a failing body. She accused him of being rough, of being mean, of not caring, of not trying. Words of anger and frustration spilled out of her mouth.

Yet husband was wonderfully patient, speaking her name calmly, and continuing as gently as possible to help her move to the table as she continued to scream at him. It was one of the most touching acts of love I’ve ever seen.

I wondered if I would be as patient, as kind, as loving. I pray that I would have been. But the very fact that I wonder forces me to deal with an ugly truth: my love for others isn’t perfect. It’s often reluctant, or slow, or driven by some selfish motive. Yes, I should love others, but how often I struggle to do it! Oh how I need the love of my Savior!

Thank God, you and I have the love of the Savior! Jesus’ love for you and for me was never “reluctant” never “slow,” never driven by selfish motives. Jesus’ love was willing, perfectly timed, totally unselfish. Jesus loved you and me—indeed, loves you and me—more than and better than anyone ever could.

It’s that wonderful, unselfish love of Jesus which motivates us to love one another. Oh, true, we’ll often struggle with it. That drives us right back to Jesus, and we’re reminded of his forgiving love for us.

And then every once in a great while it will happen: the love of Jesus will lead us to do exactly what God asks us to do, to love one another. To love one another with unselfish, giving, patient, caring love.

Kind of like that elderly husband.

Prayer:
O Savior, as you loved me, lead me to love others. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

Choose Life – February 15, 2017

See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess. But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Choose Life


Daily Devotion – February 15, 2017

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 30:15-20

See series: Devotions

Finally, after forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the people of Israel were almost to their destination. Across the Jordan River lay the land of Canaan, which God had promised to give to them. But before the people entered the Promised Land, Moses, who had led them for the past forty years, confronted them with a monumental choice.

The choice was no less than the choice between life and death. If the people obeyed the Lord and followed his ways, they would enjoy the Lord’s blessings and live long in the land that God was about to give to them. However, if they chose to turn away from God and instead worship the false gods of the pagan peoples who lived around them, they were, in effect, choosing death. They would forfeit God’s blessings and would not live long in the land God had promised them.

Which would they choose? To us, the answer seems obvious. They should, of course, choose life. Why would anyone choose death and curses instead of life and blessings? The problem is that no one—neither we nor the people of Israel—has the ability to choose life on their own. The sad truth that God reveals to us in his Word is that if left to ourselves, we all would choose death rather than life.

But even though the people of Israel on their own had no power to choose life, with God’s help they could. As God continued to work in their hearts and strengthen their faith, they would be able to love him, listen to him, hold fast to him, and find in him their life.

The same is true for us. As God works through his Word and sacraments to create and strengthen faith in our hearts, he enables us to remain faithful to him. He works in us both the desire and the ability to obey him, listen to him, and hold fast to him. He alone is our life. And with him dwelling in our hearts, our choice is clear. By his strength, we choose life.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, always dwell in my heart, that with your strength I may always choose 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.

The Basement – February 14, 2017

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him”–but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10

The Basement


Daily Devotion – February 14, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

See series: Devotions

In 2004, author Susan Shaw published a work of fiction with a dark title. She called her book, The Boy from the Basement.

The Boy from the Basement is the story of a 12-year-old boy named Charlie. Charlie has lived his entire life in the basement of his home, kept there by his psychotic and abusive father. He knows nothing about the world beyond his basement walls. In fact, he fears it. He accepts his miserable existence as normal.

That all changes when the city authorities discover his plight. Before long, Charlie’s entire sense of reality is different. He moves into the home of a foster family–a foster family that is caring and kind, affectionate and patient. From there he discovers things he has never known before. He discovers the telephone. He discovers learning. He discovers Christmas. He discovers friendship. Most of all, Charlie discovers unconditional love. Although the road is difficult and long, in time Charlie does find healing. The Boy from the Basement is in the basement no more.

Before the arrival of Jesus, you and I were in a basement. It was a basement of our own making. It was the basement of our own sin. Because of that basement, you and I could not see what was beyond it. Left to ourselves, you and I would have accepted our basement as reality and lingered there until we died.

But God changed all that. He sent his Son. Through his life and death on our behalf, Jesus destroyed our basement of sin, wrapping us in the blanket of his forgiveness. And now his Holy Spirit speaks to us by the power of his Word. He describes all the things we may now enjoy beyond our basement walls. And he tells us that even better things are on the way.

Yes, the road for us can still be difficult and long. But our healing has come. We are in the basement no more.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have rescued me. Thank you. In your Word, help me to discover more and more the wonderful things I now have in 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.

Keep It Simple – February 13, 2017

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:37

Keep It Simple


Daily Devotion – February 13, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 5:37

See series: Devotions

Stan had a problem with the truth. It wasn’t that he was a blatant liar. He just had a problem with embellishments and exaggerations. As a result, people were skeptical about everything he said.

On one occasion Stan actually told the unvarnished truth. While he assured his hearers there were no exaggerations, he couldn’t convince them. To offer some assurance he added, “with God as my witness,” to his testimony. Even then people were still slow to accept he was trustworthy. He finally resorted to taking an oath, “cross my heart and hope to die!”

Stan’s problem can be mine. I color the truth to fit my needs. I rely on “white lies” to avoid accusations. I even call on God to serve as my witness. But what am I really doing with my words?

The moment I ask God to be my witness, I am inviting him to be the judge of all I say. I also permit his just judgment if I mishandle the truth. The effects of such an invitation could be disastrous. What if God would decide to strike me dead as soon as I didn’t tell the truth?

This is why Jesus’ lesson is so relevant. Not only does he say, “keep it simple,” he further adds that I should be a person who delights in and relies on the truth.

Certainly telling the simple truth is a challenge, because my heart is full of lies. I am also easily swayed by the devil who is the author of every lie. I can only overcome this propensity to lie when I rely on Jesus to make me a person who delights in being truthful.

During his earthly ministry Jesus established and proclaimed the truth. It convicted. It convinced. It converted. Along with the truth, his innocent death and shed blood washed away every stain and stigma of my lying nature. His blood cleansed my heart. It also purified the words of my mouth.

It is only because of Jesus I can be truthful in all things. It is also only because of Jesus I can keep all my conversations simply ‘yes’ and ‘no’.

Prayer:
O Jesus, overcome the deceitfulness of my words with your truth. Replace the sinful weakness of my heart with your strength. Fill me with joy in speaking what is simple and pure. 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.

The Lord looks at the Heart – February 12, 2017

The LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

The Lord looks at the Heart


Daily Devotion – February 12, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:7

See series: Devotions

Samuel had a difficult task before him. He was to go and anoint a new king because the current king, Saul, had abandoned the Lord. So the Lord told Samuel to go to the house of Jesse. There he would anoint the next king of Israel. So Samuel went and when he saw Jesse’s oldest son, he was impressed and thought that this fine looking young man would be the next king. That is when the Lord rebuked him with the words that our Bible devotion is focusing on today.

It is so easy to do the same thing as Samuel. It is easy to look at the appearance and make our judgments based on what we see. We can do the same thing when it comes to our relationship with God. We can look at what we do, or what we say, and begin to think to ourselves that we aren’t all that bad; especially when we compare ourselves to other people. Except “the LORD does not look at the things man looks at…the LORD looks at the heart.” In human hearts he sees a pool of selfish, self-centered sin. He sees hearts that want to dwell on themselves over everything else.

Because God saw sin-filled hearts, he determined that he was going to send his Son to take care of that problem. So Jesus came into the world to remove the sin that was inside our hearts. He did so by using his blood to wash our dirty hearts and make them pure. Then Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live in our hearts as the Spirit plants and nurtures the faith that trust in Jesus. So also Jesus sends his Holy Spirit into your heart through his Word. As you trust in Jesus’ cleansing blood for your sinful heart, the Holy Spirit continues to nurture your faith by the power of the gospel.

Samuel’s trip to Jesse’s family was not in vain. The very last son of Jesse was a boy named David. As the Lord looked into David’s heart, he saw a boy who trusted in his Lord and loved him with all his heart. This is what the Lord was looking for, so he had Samuel anoint David as the next king of Israel. As the Lord looks into our hearts, may he also find hearts that trust in our Savior Jesus and are filled with love for him.

Prayer:
Jesus, your precious blood cleanses me of all sin. With the pure heart that you created in me, give me the ability to trust you in all things and love you above all things. 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.

The Meaning of Mercy – February 11, 2017

When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Titus 3:4-5

The Meaning of Mercy


Daily Devotion – February 11, 2017

Devotion based on Titus 3:4-5

See series: Devotions

In the early 1800’s, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as emperor of France. His word was final. A woman appeared before him one day. She was seeking a pardon for her son.

Napoleon explained to her why this was not possible: Her son was guilty of committing a serious crime not once but twice. Under the law of the land, he had been sentenced to death.

But the mother persevered. “I plead for mercy for my son,” she said.

“But your son does not deserve mercy,” pronounced the emperor. It was then that this mother got to the heart of the matter. “You are correct,” she said. “My son does not deserve mercy. But if he did, it would not be mercy. And mercy is all I ask for.”

“Then I will have mercy,” Napoleon said. He spared her son’s life.

This woman understood the meaning of mercy. The Apostle Paul did too. Paul said that, with the arrival of Jesus Christ, “God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” The Son of God invaded our time and space to conduct a rescue mission. He rescued us from the curse of our own sin. He did this through the perfect life and innocent death he lived and died on our behalf.

But why? Here is where Paul gets to the heart of the matter. God did this not because we deserved it; not because he saw us as diamonds in the rough; not because we’ve done something that made us sparkle in his eyes. He did it because of his mercy.

It’s his mercy through Jesus Christ that makes your relationship with God so secure. It doesn’t depend upon what you have done for God. It depends on what the Savior, in mercy, has done for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in my moments of anxiety and doubt, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Through your Word, remind me that my relationship with you rests not on what I do for you, but upon your mercy. 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.

Love Others – February 10, 2017

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

Love Others


Daily Devotion – February 10, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

See series: Devotions

If you don’t really love the other person, it doesn’t matter that you go all out for Valentine’s Day next week. You can find the sweetest thing to say and you can be very impressive with the presents that you give and the outing that you plan, but it doesn’t mean anything without love.

You can appear very spiritual and be genuinely good at understanding and speaking spiritual truths, but without love for people, you are missing the point.

God demonstrates his love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He took the punishment for our sins and grants us forgiveness through faith in him. That love inspires us both to love him and to love others.

Without the genuine love of God in our lives, we can try all that we want to impress people with our speech or our intelligence or our faith, but we will be missing the point. God gives us all of his gifts so that we can show his love to one another.

God is love. He is patient and kind; he keeps no record of wrongs. He does not delight in evil, but rejoices in the truth. He always protects and always perseveres. God never fails.

When we fail in our attempts to love one another, God calls us to repentance. He comes to us in his perfect love and forgives all of our sins. Because of his love, we are not resounding gongs or clanging cymbals. Our words of love have power, and we gain everything in Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, lead me to love as you have loved me. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

Thanks for Growth – February 9, 2017

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
2 Thessalonians 1:3

Thanks for Growth


Daily Devotion – February 9, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:3

See series: Devotions

For a high school graduation party my wife put together a picture board to commemorate and celebrate the eighteen years of our daughter’s life. She assembled pictures all the way from birth to graduation and every stop in between. And trust me, these years had some interesting moments. At three years old my daughter fell and knocked out one of her teeth. At ten she broke her wrist while roller blading. At twelve she got braces. At sixteen she got her license and at seventeen her first fender-bender. There were a few heartaches and more than a few disagreements with mom and dad along the way, but we couldn’t be more proud of the mature young woman that our daughter has grown up to be.

If you have ever watched someone grow up, you know the range of emotions you can feel as you watch her sometimes stumble and fall, but eventually learn and grow from all of the experiences in life.

The apostle Paul had the privilege of watching a group of new Christians in Thessalonica grow up. When he wrote the book of 2 Thessalonians, he had time to reflect on his relationship with them. He actually spent a relatively short period of time with these people in person, but made the most of it. He had the opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with them. He taught them from God’s Word that Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. He proclaimed to them the good news of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and the certain hope of heaven his children have as a result. These people heard and believed Paul’s message.

But it was not easy for this young church. Shortly after his arrival, Paul had to leave because of persecution in the city. The Thessalonian church had to grow up in a hurry. Very early in their walk with Christ they experienced firsthand the hate that many have for Jesus and his followers. They were verbally and physically abused. Their community marginalized them. They suffered financial loss. All of these things happened as a direct result of their relationship with Jesus.

But a remarkable thing happened. Instead of abandoning their faith in Jesus, a deeper relationship with Jesus was developed. When just about everything else in their lives was taken away, they realized that what they had in Jesus far outweighed what they lost in the world. Not only did the faith of these individuals survive, it thrived. They took advantage of the many opportunities to show love for God and one another.

In the book of 2 Thessalonians the apostle Paul took a moment to reflect on the journey that these men and women had taken and to thank God for how far they had come.

As long as we are in the world, each of us is also on a journey of faith. Perhaps yours is just starting. The thought of a loving and just God might be hard for you to understand. It is hard to wrap your mind around the concept of Jesus giving his life for yours. Maybe you are at a time of tension in your walk. You have family or friends who don’t seem to appreciate or understand your relationship with Jesus. You feel like you are being pulled in different directions, all of them away from God and his Word. Maybe your walk is nearing an end and you have time to reflect on how God has been with you all the way.

No matter where you are on the journey, may your faith grow and your love continue to increase. Paul prayed this prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica and God answered. God’s promises are just as certain today. He will give the comfort, strength and courage you need to face the difficulties of each day and even use them to bring you closer to him.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for planting your Word in my heart. Make my faith continue to grow and let my love continue to increase. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

Fasting that God has Chosen – February 8, 2017

“Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists. You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high. Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the LORD? “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.”
Isaiah 58:4-9

Fasting that God has Chosen


Daily Devotion – February 8, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 58:4-9

See series: Devotions

What a horrible thought, that God would reject our worship and offerings and leave the building! God requires a lot more than a little bending here, a little bowing there. Real worship is more than an hour when I feel like it.

Real “fasting” starves selfishness. Fasting demands that I stop thinking about my stomach’s growls and start thinking of my God’s command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That love breaks the chains of injustice and unties the cords of oppression. Our love for God leads us to share food, clothing and shelter with the hungry, homeless, and helpless people all around us—including our own relatives!

Then God matches his demands of selflessness with these selfless promises: (1) HEALING of body and soul–think of Jesus’ miracles; (2) SHIELDING, both fore and aft; (3) HELPING–He says words that all the sick and suffering, defeated and dying wish to hear, “I am here.”

Prayer:
Lord, provide us with your help and your healing. Be our shield and our rock. Then let us be for others what you have been for us so that your light shines through us. Amen.

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

One Thing – February 7, 2017

I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.
1 Corinthians 2:2

One Thing


Daily Devotion – February 7, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 2:2

See series: Devotions

Ready for a bit of movie talk? Here goes. Last year marked the 25th anniversary of the academy award-winning film entitled, City Slickers. City Slickers is a comedy about a neurotic New Yorker played by Billy Crystal. He decides to spend two weeks at a dude ranch in order to sort out his mid-life crisis. Once he arrives, he comes face-to-face with a seasoned old cowboy by the name of Curly, played by the legendary Jack Palance. Curly is the roughest, toughest – and wisest – man Billy Crystal’s character has ever met.

Even though City Slickers is a comedy, its most memorable scene is serious. Billy Crystal is riding side-by-side with Curly during a cattle drive, and Billy is pouring out his heart to Curly about his confusing and complicated life. After a time, Curly stops riding. He turns in his saddle and looks right at Billy. Curly says to him, “Life is about one thing. You find out what that one thing is, and you’ll be all right.”

You and I can watch City Slickers and laugh as a nervous Billy Crystal tries to play cowboy. As we do, however, many of us see more of ourselves in him than we care to admit. It’s very easy to get lost in the weeds of life. It’s very easy for our deadlines and crises and worries and regrets to smother us in a thousand distractions.

Curly is right. “Life is about one thing.” When we have that one thing firmly in hand, everything else will be all right.

Enter the Word of God. Enter the Word of God through the apostle Paul. In his first letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul simply says, “I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

And that’s it. Life is about Jesus. Life is about what the Son of God was willing to do to rescue us from the abyss of our sin. Life is about our forgiveness, purchased at the cross. And life is about living for him.

Thank you, Lord Jesus. For the One Thing in my life is you.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, when distractions and worries of life begin to smother me, refresh my focus through your gospel. Remind me that my life is about Jesus. Amen.

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

Better than the Best – February 6, 2017

“I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 5:20

Better than the Best


Daily Devotion – February 6, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 5:20

See series: Devotions

Will anyone ever enter the kingdom of heaven? According to what Jesus says, no one will. His words cannot be debated. No one can attain the standard required. How could anyone be better than the best?

Although the Pharisees and the teachers of the law were perceived as likely candidates for heaven, Jesus said even their lives of countless good works were not sufficient. His lesson was not to plunge people into hopelessness or despair. It was to turn them away from their attempts to enter heaven by their own works.

It is a lesson which still applies to me. It is tempting to believe I can win God’s favor by what I do. It is just as tempting to reduce God’s requirements to fit my ability to accomplish them. To both of these views Jesus says, unless you are better than the best you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.

A part of me bristles with anger that God would be so demanding. Still, his demands leave me with two options. I can either reject God in my self-righteous anger, or I can rely on the solution he has provided in his Son.

Jesus came into this world to be my Savior and my Substitute. He lived the life of perfect righteousness God required. He offered God the perfect payment which released me from the guilt of sin. He even provided the means whereby I can put my full confidence in what Jesus has done.

It is because of Jesus I am not left hopeless or filled with despair. It is because of Jesus I can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is because of Jesus that God has declared I am better than the best.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal: 401)
Your works, not mine, O Christ, speak gladness to this heart.
They tell me all is done; they bid my fear depart.
To whom but you, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

Your righteousness, O Christ, alone can cover me;
No other righteousness can set a sinner free.
To whom but you, who can alone for sin atone, Lord, shall I flee?

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.

Unexpected! – February 5, 2017

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.” At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. “Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” Then one of the seraphs flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:1-8

Unexpected!


Daily Devotion – February 5, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 6:1-8

See series: Devotions

Red lights are fine. Blue lights are nice. But when they are together and flashing in your rearview mirror, your heart races and your mind reacts, “Woe is me! I am ruined! Speeding ticket…points on my record…increase in insurance…” When face to face with one who could punish, fear takes over.

Isaiah’s reaction was no different when confronted, not with a speeding ticket, but a vision of the Lord, seated on his throne with his robe filling the temple. Three times the word “Holy” resonates in the vision. Smoke filled the room. Isaiah’s first reaction when faced with the power and holiness of the Almighty God was the exclamation, “Woe to me! I am ruined!”

While we haven’t been confronted with a personal vision of the Almighty, one day we too will “meet our Maker.” Fear takes over. He is holy. We are not. He can punish. We are at his mercy.

What do you think Isaiah felt as the burning coal was brought to his lips? Was it punishment? His ruin? He soon experienced the unexpected. With the coal the Lord purified Isaiah. He did not punish him as his sins deserved. Isaiah was told, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”

This is the great reality of the LORD Almighty. He has every right to punish us for our sin, but his love brings not the coal of judgment, but the coal of purification. Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, he assures us “your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” What relief! What joy! Like the joy and relief if the officer did the unexpected when he came to your car window and said, “While I clocked you fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit, I will pay your fine. Your record is clear.”

No wonder Isaiah then answered the Lord’s call, “Here am I. Send me!” May our response to God’s unexpected grace be the same! “Send me! I will live for you!”

Prayer:
Lord God Almighty, purify my heart and life with your grace and mercy. Use me today to spread your glory and grace to others I know. 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.

It’s Time to Grow Up – February 4, 2017

Brothers, stop thinking like children.
1 Corinthians 14:20

It’s Time to Grow Up


Daily Devotion – February 4, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 14:20

See series: Devotions

Imagine a large eagle’s nest high on a rocky cliff. Inside are several young eagles. So far their lives have been easy. Their mother brings them food. They are safe from predators. And the lining of their nest is nice and soft with feathers and fur.

But it’s time for them to leave. It’s time for them to grow up. The problem is that, with such a comfortable nest, they don’t want to leave and grow up. They want to remain children in their soft and easy little world.

And so the mother eagle does what she always does. She stirs up the nest. She uses her powerful talons to pull out all the softness, exposing all the sharp branches, thorns and rocks that lie underneath. She makes the nest uncomfortable. In this way she gets her children to stop thinking like children. They grow up and go away from their nest.

My sinful nature loves to think like an immature child. It loves to avoid responsibility. It loves to keep pet sins. It loves to be lazy and impatient and self-absorbed. Most of all it loves to avoid painful truth. No doubt yours does, too.

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that Jesus lived a life of perfect maturity on my behalf. And thank God that he faced the cross with courage to pay for my every childish moment.

And thank God, also, for those times when he stirs up my nest. For even the discomfort he allows into my life can be his way of getting me to realize that it’s time to mature in some way. It’s time to grow up. And with my Savior beside me, I can.

Prayer:
Father, I confess to you all my moments of sinful immaturity. Thank you for sending your Son to wash me clean. Empower me by your Gospel to grow and mature in my walk with you. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

A Friend in a High Place – February 3, 2017

I will sing of your strength, in the morning I will sing of your love; for you are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble.
Psalm 59:16

A Friend in a High Place


Daily Devotion – February 3, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 59:16

See series: Devotions

The man who wrote these words had some enemies in high places. David, the composer, wrote the words of this song when the king at the time, Saul, had sent men to watch David’s house in order to kill him.

I can hardly imagine the danger I would be in if the ruler of my country were trying to kill me. I’m not sure I would be singing. I think I would be trying to keep as quiet as possible, especially if people were watching my house with a view toward ending my residency there.

David was a brave man. In the face of danger, he sang. But he did not sing about his own strength, or his own ability to defeat the king. David sang about the strength of the Lord his God, and not just about his strength, but also about his love. David knew that God was stronger than any king, and David knew that God loved him.

David had a friend in an even higher place than the top of the government. David had a friend in heaven.

No matter who or what your enemy is, God is stronger. He is able to control the events of the world, large and small. There is nothing happening in your life that is too big for God to handle.

Even better, God loves you. He proved his love by sending his Son into the world to save you. He proves his love today by providing you refuge from your enemies, refuge in times of trouble. He forgives your sins, and silences the mouths of your accusers, even of a guilty conscience. His promises are meant to give you security and comfort. He is your fortress, your trusty shield and weapon.

It’s great to have friends in high places. But it’s even greater to have a friend in heaven.

Prayer:
Deliver me from my enemies, O God, and protect me from those who rise up against me. Keep me safe in Jesus. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

An Inconceivable Future – February 2, 2017

“No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.”
1 Corinthians 2:9

An Inconceivable Future


Daily Devotion – February 2, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 2:9

See series: Devotions

A beloved grandmother, born in 1910, lived to be 95 years old. She was blessed with a sound mind and good health right up to the end of her life. One of her favorite pastimes was to reflect on how the world had changed since she was a child.

Imagine going through the changes that took place in the last 100 years. Just think of the typical home. There was no indoor plumbing or electricity. That means no indoor bathroom, no electric refrigerator, no microwave, no television, no Internet or telephone. If we have a bad storm and are without these basic services for a few hours, we don’t know what to do.

We have also shrunk our world with technology. 150 years ago it was considered impossible to go around the world in 80 days. Now one can jet around the world in under 48 hours. A letter took months to reach a remote location, now we can send an email that arrives in just seconds. 100 years ago no one could have imagined how the world would change.

In our verse above, the writer is talking about an even more incomprehensible change. He is writing about a spiritual change that was going to take place between God and his people.

To understand the change, we need to explore mankind’s spiritual reality. Because of sin, one could say that we live in the spiritual dark ages. Just watch the news or read the headlines. There is crime and hurt and hate. It seems that society is going from bad to worse with no hope in sight for the future.

But this sin-problem also affects each one of us personally. Love for God is replaced with self-centeredness. Concern for others with selfishness. The result is a broken relationship with God and strained relationships with others. Besides the day-to-day pain we experience on account of such behavior, God himself pronounces the punishment of death and hell.

In such a bleak spiritual reality God promises an inconceivably bright future. It all starts at the cross of Jesus. It is there that God shocked the world by substituting his Son as the sacrifice for sinful mankind. Who does that? Who makes his perfect Son pay for the wrongs of others? No one but a God who does what we cannot imagine.

Three days later Jesus rose from the dead. Perhaps we have heard and read this truth in the Bible so many times that it seems commonplace. But on the first Easter morning words like confused, bewildered, and even unbelieving were used used to describe Jesus’ followers who tried to comprehend something that was beyond their ability to fathom: Jesus rose from the dead! And as if that weren’t enough, he promises that he will raise you from the dead one day too.

As this resurrection reality starts to sink in, remember also that Jesus changes your identity. Instead of connecting you to your past sinful behavior, he connects you to himself by faith. Now God knows you as his child. You are a child of God washed with the blood of Jesus. What a dramatic change!

And the future God has prepared for those who love him is inconceivably wonderful. He gives glimpses of it. Try to imagine a body that is no longer crippled by sin—no aches, no pains, no sickness and no death. Try to imagine life with no hunger or thirst, no fighting, no conflict and no sin. We don’t know all the details about the future which God has prepared for us through Christ. God simply tells us that it is bright and it is now beyond our ability to fathom. So until God shows us what is to come, we hold on to Jesus and his promises.

Prayer:Lord, you have given me a bright future by giving me a certain hope in Jesus. Keep me going through difficult days by reminding me of what is to come. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in February is Truth for Today.

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.

Copy God’s Goodness – February 1, 2017

Listen to what the LORD says: “Stand up, plead your case before the mountains; let the hills hear what you have to say. Hear, O mountains, the LORD’s accusation; listen, you everlasting foundations of the earth. For the LORD has a case against his people; he is lodging a charge against Israel. My people, what have I done to you? How have I burdened you? Answer me. I brought you up out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. I sent Moses to lead you, also Aaron and Miriam. My people, remember what Balak king of Moab counseled and what Balaam son of Beor answered. Remember your journey from Shittim to Gilgal, that you may know the righteous acts of the LORD.” With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.
Micah 6:1-8

Copy God’s Goodness


Daily Devotion – February 1, 2017

Devotion based on Micah 6:1-8

See series: Devotions

It’s common for God to be judged in the court of public opinion. There are even people who want to accuse God of “crimes against humanity.”

But God pleads his case: “What have I ever done to you?” “Why would you turn away from the LORD who brought you out of slavery?” “Why rebel against the God who led you with his humble servants?” Why follow false leaders who defy my righteous ways?

What is the right way to worship the God who saves and rescues? Regular offerings that are modest, or special offerings that are very large like “ten thousand rivers of oil”? Does God require the death of my firstborn son to pay for my sins?
Our good God tells us to copy his GOODNESS; he requires our actions toward others to be equal and fair. We love them as we love ourselves. We pour out mercy and grace on the sick, the suffering, and, yes, sinners like us. In thankful response to the goodness that God has shown to us through Jesus Christ, we set aside our arrogant attitude and walk humbly with our God.

Prayer:
God help us walk humbly with you according to the great goodness you have shown to us through Jesus. Amen!

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

Wisdom from God – January 31, 2017

Brothers, 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. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:26-31

Wisdom from God


Daily Devotion – January 31, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

See series: Devotions

It’s tempting to think that if you are a Christian, you should have fewer problems in life, less sickness, fewer struggles, and more success. This false approach to the Bible has been called the theology of glory, because it begins with the assumption that God always wants his message and his people to look visibly glorious. What the Bible actually teaches is something Martin Luther called the theology of the cross. Luther noticed that in the Bible God routinely hides his wisdom and power behind a guise of foolishness and weakness. The cross of Jesus is the most notable example. When the world looked at the cross they saw Jesus looking foolish, weak, and lowly. They couldn’t see what was really happening. By his suffering and death, Jesus paid for the sins of the world. In what looked like the world’s darkest moment, God was working the divine wisdom and power of his forgiveness.

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, the apostle Paul wrote, the weak things to shame the strong, the lowly and despised things, the things that are not, to nullify the things that are. What was true for Jesus is also true of his followers. Believers in Jesus may at times feel like they are beaten and hopeless. We may feel weak and foolish. But in spite of what we see, God has chosen believers to be his own, and he works through us to bring his message of life to the world.

Why does God work in such a strange way? Why does he use the theology of the cross when he could use the theology of glory? God’s Word answers that question when it says, so that no one may boast before him. The goal is that we are empowered to join our hearts with that of the hymn writer who said: “Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.”

Do you ever feel sad, weak, lonely? Use those times to glorify God who rescued you from sin through Jesus. Let his glory shine through your weakness. In other words, Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, in times when I feel weak and foolish, help me to boast in the cross of Jesus. Amen.

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

Blessed through Christ – January 30, 2017

Now when [Jesus] saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed through Christ


Daily Devotion – January 30, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 5:1-12

See series: Devotions

“Don’t worry, God has wonderful plans for your life. He wants you to be happy.”

You might receive such well-intentioned consolation from other Christians. In contrast, Jesus spoke about persecution that his followers would experience. He told his disciples, “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20). And his disciples told the next generation of believers, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

Modern human wisdom believes that the earth’s axis is tilted in favor of the strong and successful. Top-heavy with the “religion of me,” the perception that meekness is weakness, instant gratification, and a pill for every kind of pain, the world is spinning madly out of control.

Jesus, though, tilts the earth in favor of the oppressed and brings balance to our lives. He was tested as we are, yet remained sinless. He carried the burden of our guilt, and paid for it in full by his death on the cross. Three days later he rendered sin, death, and the devil powerless by his resurrection from the grave.

In Christ, our forgiveness and an eternally trouble-free future are guaranteed. Because Jesus suffered for our wrongs, we are blessed. Without worry, we can live humbly before the Lord, do all things to God’s glory, and suffer all things for Jesus our Savior.

Prayer:
O bless the Lord, my soul, for by him you are blessed now and forever. Amen.

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

Love Never Fails – January 29, 2017

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Love Never Fails


Daily Devotion – January 29, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 13:1-8

See series: Devotions

Can you imagine a person’s faith that was so strong that God enabled him to pick up and relocate the Rocky Mountains? What would you think of that kind of faith? I’m guessing that most of us would be impressed. But what would make that tremendous faith nothing? If that person lacked love.

Apply that to yourself. Don’t think of that “mountain-mover”–think of yourself. You and I are such sinners that we often fail to do the right, God-pleasing thing. Then, even when we do the right thing, it does not spring completely out of the right motivation or out of pure love for God and others. Correct actions without love and faith in Christ are worth nothing.

God gives us a list of what love does and what love does not do. Then, God tells us that “Love never fails.” It doesn’t take long to see that our love often fails. But the love of Jesus is unfailing and perfect. Without fail, Jesus was patient–he tirelessly taught and healed. Jesus was perfectly kind as he cared for all–from greatest to least, the young and the old, and everyone in between. Jesus rejoiced in the truth every time he preached, taught and followed his Father’s will. Jesus’ love did not fail when he took nails and death on the cross in our place.

When our love fails, we look to Jesus. Because Jesus’ love never failed, we are forgiven and loved by God. God loves us. We love God. God tells us to love others, too.

How will you express your faith in God and your love for him? Take a look at God’s “Love List” in our reading from 1 Corinthians. Pick a few to work on today. Perhaps your love will shine by being patient when you’re stressed out, or not keeping a record of wrongs when you tell someone you forgive them. Put your love into action.

And, when your love fails, turn to the forgiving and unfailing love of our God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your love that never fails. You loved me and sent your Son, Jesus. Jesus loved me and won my forgiveness and salvation. As you continue to unfailingly love me every day, empower me to love without fail. 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.

Speak Your Truth – January 28, 2017

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” “Ah, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am only a child.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “Now, I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”
Jeremiah 1:4-10

Speak Your Truth


Daily Devotion – January 28, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 1:4-10

See series: Devotions

You know you have to talk to the other person. You even know what you have to say. You know it’s what God wants you to say. But it doesn’t look easy. You’ve never had to do something exactly like this before. You’re feeling awkward, almost like a child.

Does it help to know that the Lord knew you would be in this situation even before you were born? He has equipped you for this moment. He has led you to a clear understanding of his word. He has given you a humble spirit of repentance and faith in Jesus, your Savior.

Does it help you to know that the Lord will be with you? He is everywhere, of course, but when you speak his word, he promises his special presence. He will not abandon you; in fact, he will strengthen you at that moment.

Does it help you to know that the word of the Lord is powerful? It uproots and tears down, destroys and overthrows, builds and plants. You can count on it accomplishing exactly what the Lord wants it to.

Prayer:
Lord, give me the confidence to speak your truth faithfully. 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.

Choose Your Battles – January 27, 2017

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:12-13

Choose Your Battles


Daily Devotion – January 27, 2017

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:12-13

See series: Devotions

I knew parents once who had a helpful philosophy for raising their children. The rule of thumb around the house was “everything is negotiable, except the Ten Commandments.” The point was to avoid unnecessary wrangling over issues that did not involve sin. If their son wanted to wear an earring or have a rattail haircut for example, it was not a sin to do so. Despite a parent’s personal distaste for earrings on boys and unusual haircuts, they left the issue “negotiable”.

The Ten Commandments reveal sin. They do not save us from sin, but they do make us aware of our sin. We face a real, spiritual battle. The apostle Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” When we are battling the “powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms”, we have to know that we are fighting for our souls. We are fighting against sin.

Satan’s business is to drag people down into the darkness of sin and unbelief. Because of that, we have to choose our battles. We have to fight, not against each other, but against sin. We have to fight in such a way as to win the battle and finally enjoy victory forever. Therefore, put on the full armor of God. We could enumerate all the pieces of armor at our disposal or we can say simply, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians. 6:11).

Jesus’ mighty power is the power to save us from our sins. He lived not to show us how we should look on the outside, but on the inside to have the holiness and perfection that our Savior freely gives us. Jesus died, not to forgive unusual haircuts or questionable fashion sense. He died to take away real sins, real violations of the holy will of God. Jesus lived, fought, died and rose in a winning battle against the darkness of sin, death, hell and Satan.

Put on Jesus in faith and you will have put on the full armor of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, remove my sin, surround me with your holiness and give me the victory over the spiritual forces of evil, now and forever. Amen.

The focus of devotions on Thursdays and Fridays in January is Truths for Today.

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.