Built on a Firm Foundation – August 16, 2018

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
Ephesians 2:19-20

Built on a Firm Foundation


Daily Devotion – August 16, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 2:19-20

See series: Devotions

On June 27, 2009, a very strange site greeted the construction workers arriving at the construction site of the nearly-completed Lotus Riverside apartment complex in Shanghai, China. One of the eleven 13-story apartment towers that they had been working on was lying flat on its side. It looked as if some giant toddler had walked up to the building and just pushed it over. The building itself was, for the most part, intact. Even the doors and windows remained in place. But none of that mattered because the foundation on which the building had been built had completely given way. Without a firm foundation, no building, no matter how skillfully built, can stand for long.

The apostle Paul makes the same point about the Holy Christian Church in our Bible passage for today. In these verses from his letter to the Christians in Ephesus, Paul compares the Holy Christian Church to a building. Just like a physical building, the Holy Christian Church needs to be built on a firm foundation in order for it to stand. If it doesn’t have a solid foundation on which to stand, the Holy Christian Church will fall like that apartment tower in Shanghai, regardless of how skillfully the building may seem to be constructed.

But what can serve as a firm foundation for God’s Church? What is solid enough to enable God’s Church to withstand every storm that may try to tear it down? What is strong enough to resist the attempted erosion of centuries and millennia? What is so sturdy that no matter how many bricks are built upon it, it will never give way?

Only one foundation can do all that. The foundation is Jesus Christ and the solid teachings about him that are recorded in the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. From the beginning, the way in which God builds people into his church has remained the same. He always has worked to bring people to faith in his Son Jesus. In the Old Testament, God spoke through the prophets and told people about what his Son would do for them when he came. In the New Testament, God spoke through his apostles about what Jesus fully accomplished when he did come.

Throughout it all, Jesus remained the focus. He was, and is, the chief cornerstone on which God builds his church. Jesus’ perfect life on behalf of all people, and his innocent sufferings and death to pay for the sins of all people are the immovable foundation on which every Christian stands and on which God’s church stands. When we stand firmly on Jesus and his Word, nothing can knock us down. For Jesus is our firm foundation, and nothing built on him can ever be demolished.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my strong foundation, keep me always firmly built on you. Amen.

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

The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched [Elijah] and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.
1 Kings 19:7-8

Food for the Journey


Daily Devotion – August 15, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:7-8

See series: Devotions

The prophet Elijah was a wanted man. Hunted by Queen Jezebel, he ran for his life into the desert. Finding a tree, he sat under it and prayed: “I have had enough,LORD. Take my life.”

Do you ever feel like Elijah under that tree? Ever have one of those days, weeks, or years where you just want to curl up and die? Life is too hard; the journey is too much.

We work, we pray, we expect success, and then everything we work for falls apart. There’s pain that no medicine can numb, and diseases that wear down and destroy our bodies. There’s guilt over the things we have said and done, and the things we have left unsaid and undone.

But rather than ask God to end us, we should ask him to do what he promises, and give us food for the journey. Notice that God did not do what Elijah asked. He didn’t take Elijah’s life, he preserved it. He sent an angel to Elijah with bread and water. Not only did that meal strengthen him for his journey, it also assured him of God’s presence and reminded him that he was not alone.

God doesn’t let us starve on the journey either. He provides daily bread for our bodies and Jesus, the Bread of Life, for our souls. The good news about Jesus assures us of God’s presence and reminds us that we are not alone. Jesus journeyed to the cross to guarantee that our journey has a blessed end.

The Lord does not promise quick and easy solutions for the pains of our journey. We who eat the Bread of Life are not spared the trouble of life. Jesus isn’t magic wonder bread that takes away all our problems. He is God’s Living Bread, food for the journey that sees us through life and death to the resurrection on the Last Day.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for feeding my body and my soul. Amen.

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

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.
Ephesians 5:1-2

Change of Plans


Daily Devotion – August 14, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:1-2

See series: Devotions

They were young boys who loved to play soccer. Some had plans to play professionally when they grew up. But that’s before they entered the cave.

This past June, in Thailand, 12 boys and their soccer coach entered a local cave to look around—something they had done many times before. But heavy rains suddenly made waters in the cave rise. The rising water forced the soccer team to go back further and further into the cave. They found themselves trapped. Almost two miles of cold, murky water separated the team from the entrance. And few of the boys could swim.

Then came the Navy SEALs. They emerged from the water to find the boys after searching for them for days. They quickly saw to it that the boys and their coach would not be alone from that time forward. They brought food. They transported letters between the boys and their families. They even played checkers with them. The two-week ordeal climaxed in a miraculous rescue. Over 150 Navy SEALs took part in bringing each boy through underwater twists and turns. Every trip took hours. The difficulty was beyond words. One Navy SEAL died. The boys and their coach, however, are out, alive, and safe.

Since the rescue, several of the boys have changed their plans for what they want to do with their lives. They want to be Navy SEALs. They want to rescue others.

You and I once found ourselves trapped in a place far more desperate than even a water-filled cave. You and I once found ourselves trapped in the pit of our own sin.

But then the Son of God arrived. He did what had to be done to retrieve us from the despairing darkness into the warm light of his forgiveness. In doing so he gave his life. For us.

Now, through faith in Jesus, you and I are out, alive, and safe. And because Christ has risen from death, we know that we will never be alone again.

But this rescue has not only changed the destiny of our souls, it has changed our plans for life on this earth. Armed with the gospel message of what Jesus has done, you and I can now be rescuers too.

Right now, there are people you know who are trapped—trapped in the spiritual caves and caverns of this broken world. Seek them out. Bring them what they need. Bring them Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have rescued me and brought me into the light of your forgiveness. Through your gospel, empower me to seek others as you sought me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Life-giving Bread – August 13, 2018

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”
John 6:51

Life-giving Bread


Daily Devotion – August 13, 2018

Devotion based on John 6:51

See series: Devotions

“What’s to eat?” That’s the question heard daily, and the answer can be found in the refrigerator, the pantry, or the cupboard. Often one of those sources provides a solution and hunger is satisfied.

“What’s to eat?” This question can be understood in a completely different way. Instead of focusing on an empty stomach, it can also focus on the empty soul. What satisfies this hunger?

Many people look for answers in all sorts of places. Most rely on what I must do to satisfy the hunger pangs of my guilty soul. Unfortunately, all these self-reliant solutions will only leave me hungry. Worse yet, I soon come to the realization I am dying from spiritual starvation. Where do I turn to find life-giving bread that feeds my hungry soul?

The answer is found only in Jesus. His words are simple, yet profound: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven.” There is no doubt about what Jesus offers. It is bread which gives life. Not only does it fill my starving soul, it also nourishes me with eternal life.

Jesus can rightly offer this living bread from heaven. As the source of life, he came into this starving and death-ridden world. He endured the pain, the emptiness, and even the horrible death it demanded. He triumphed over everything, and with his victory he offers food that gives life.

This life-giving bread is mine only through faith. When I put my complete trust in him and in his precious work, my hungry soul is filled. No longer do I search to find nourishment. No longer do I yearn to be filled. No longer am I resigned to endless starvation and death. Jesus is my life-giving bread from heaven. Daily I long to eat what he offers, and joyfully I find the food which gives eternal life.

Prayer:
O gracious Jesus, bread of life from heaven, come and feed me with your life-giving food that my hungry soul may be filled. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Mistaken Identity – August 12, 2018

During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
Matthew 14:25-27

Mistaken Identity


Daily Devotion – August 12, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 14:25-27

See series: Devotions

Often embarrassment follows a case of mistaken identity. What also quickly follows is an apology with the explanation, “I thought you were someone else.” It is a situation that will repeat itself regularly, but likely will not have any lasting consequences—except when it happens regarding Jesus.

On the night the disciples witnessed the miracle of Jesus walking on the lake, their fears escalated. Instead of seeing their friend, teacher, and Savior, they mistook Jesus for a ghost. As a result, they were filled with terror and believed their demise was near. I need to learn a lesson from the disciples, and even more importantly, I need to know who Jesus is and what he does for me.

It is easy for Jesus to experience a case of mistaken identity. It happens when I fail to see Jesus for who he is and try to make him into something he never came to be. Without the guidance of the Scriptures I would only identify Jesus as a good man, a fine teacher, or someone after whom I would like to model my life. The problem comes when I need Jesus to be more than this.

This is why I need to get back to what God’s Word reveals. There I see Jesus’ true identity. He is my Savior who by his obedient death on the cross rescues me from the condemnation of sin. He is my Redeemer who by his victorious resurrection frees me from the power of the devil. He is my Shepherd who by his unsurpassed power lovingly leads me through this life to eternal life. He is, finally, my ever-present God and Lord who says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

While situations of mistaken identity will happen from time to time, I can never afford to see Jesus as anything, or anyone other than my Savior, my God, and my Lord.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 358)
How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believer’s ear!
It soothes our sorrows heals our wounds, and drives away all fear!

O Jesus, Shepherd, Guardian, Friend, my Prophet, Priest and King,
My Lord, my Life, my Way, my End, accept the praise I bring.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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The Rescue – August 11, 2018

… from [the patriarchs] is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all.
Romans 9:5

The Rescue


Daily Devotion – August 11, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 9:5

See series: Devotions

During World War II, an American soldier by the name of Bert Frizen was on the front lines in Europe. One day, his patrol reached the edge of a wooded area with an open field before them. But unknown to the Americans, a unit of Germans waited in trenches about 200 yards across that field.

Bert was one of two scouts who moved out into the clearing. Once he was halfway across the field, the remainder of his battalion followed. Suddenly the Germans opened fire. Bullets ripped into both of Bert’s legs. The Americans immediately withdrew into the woods for protection. A rapid exchange of fire continued, but Bert lay helpless where he had fallen.

Then things got worse. Bert noticed that a German soldier was crawling towards him. He closed his eyes and waited for his enemy to arrive and put him to death. Time passed. Finally, he dared to look. There was the German soldier kneeling at his side. Then Bert noticed something else. The shooting had stopped. The shooting had stopped because every man on both sides wanted to see what this mysterious German soldier was going to do next.

And this is what he did. In the middle of that field, the German picked up Bert in his arms and carried him to the safety of the American side. Then, without speaking a word, he turned and walked back across the field to his own troops. Moments later the fighting resumed, but not before all those present had witnessed how one man had risked everything for his enemy.

By nature, you and I were God’s enemies. Our sinfulness had infected us so much that our very minds were hostile toward God. But God did the unthinkable. He became one of us. He became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. On our behalf he lived the holy life we had refused to live. Then, for our sin he suffered and died the death we had deserved to die. Then he rose from death to assure us that we were enemies no more.

And now we are rescued, you and I—rescued and forgiven through faith in the One who refused to stand by and watch us die. That is what we have in our God. That is what we have in our Savior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, at a time when every fiber of my being was your sworn enemy, you chose to rescue me. And now you are my dearest friend. Thank you, Lord. Thank 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.

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Priests to Serve – August 10, 2018

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
Revelation 1:5b-6

Priests to Serve


Daily Devotion – August 10, 2018

Devotion based on Revelation 1:5b-6

See series: Devotions

Today when we hear the word “priest,” we may picture someone wearing a black shirt with that one-of-a-kind clerical collar. We may think of someone being addressed as “Father.” Yet in these verses from the book of Revelation, the title “priest” does not strictly apply to Roman Catholic clergy. It applies to every believer.

Permit a little history to complete the picture. For Old Testament Israel, God had established an order of priests. Their role was to serve as the intermediaries between God and his people. Why? God is holy. His people are not. Holiness and sin do not mix. So, if the people were to offer to God the gifts, offerings, prayers, and sacrifices he commanded, they would do so through the priest. They could not offer God anything on their own. They needed a priest.

Jesus has changed all that. We do not need priests to go between us and God anymore, because Jesus loves us to such an extent that he offered his holy life as the payment for our sins. We are neither slaves nor prisoners to our sin any longer. We are free. When God looks at his people, he doesn’t see their sin. He sees the holiness of his Son, Jesus.

As a result of that, all believers are not just “members” of the Holy Christian Church, Jesus has made us all priests. We get to offer gifts to God ourselves. We do so not just in giving money to church or charity. We do this when we, ourselves, go to God in prayer, when we help those who need it, when we provide for those under our care, when we treat others with love and respect. He transforms our lives so that every day in what we do, we serve him. He has made us priests to serve.

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 469)
Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee. Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.

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

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Ephesians 5:25-27

The Beauty of the Church


Daily Devotion – August 9, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:25-27

See series: Devotions

I am a fan of the tradition that on the wedding day the groom should not see his bride before she comes down the aisle. I think it came from superstitious notions, which I do not believe in, but the upshot is that the expression on the groom’s face is often one of the best pictures of the day. What he sees is a breathtakingly beautiful bride. She is the woman of his dreams. She is radiant, and in that moment, she is without blemish. It is a beautiful moment.

Now men, put yourself on the other end of the aisle. You are walking down the aisle to meet the church’s groom, Jesus, who loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy. The Church—all believers in Christ, collectively—is the bride and she is beautiful.

I can think of many things about Christian people and me that I know are not beautiful. It is a stain and wrinkle on my record when I think how I do not love my wife as Christ loved the church. And yet, here we are, walking down the aisle to stand by Jesus. His sacrificial death makes us holy. The washing of baptism cleanses us, and Jesus in his beautiful love for us presents us to himself as a radiant church.

Prayer:
Jesus, your great love for us and the remarkable transformation from stained and blemished sinner to radiant bride is marvelous to ponder. Lead us in gratitude to love each other as you have loved 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.
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Bread from Heaven – August 8, 2018

In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the LORD‘s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.” Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you…. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat.
Exodus 16: 2-4,15

Bread from Heaven


Daily Devotion – August 8, 2018

Devotion based on Exodus 16: 2-4,15

See series: Devotions

The future—what lies ahead—is totally unknown to us and often wildly unpredictable. But that doesn’t stop us from having feelings about the future. How do you feel about your future?

In his book Enlightenment Now, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker finds that majorities in fourteen leading countries believe the world is getting worse rather than better. Pinker goes on to say, “This bleak assessment of the state of the world is wrong.” Using statistical insights, Pinker shows that people are living longer, healthier, and happier lives.

So why aren’t we more optimistic? Just because things are getting better, doesn’t mean they are good enough. Just because we have made improvements and advancements doesn’t mean we have achieved perfection.

For the Israelites, life was getting better than it had been. However, you would not know that from today’s Bible verses. Just one month earlier they were all slaves in Egypt. They seemed to think they spent their days in Egypt gorging themselves. They even went so far as to suggest it would have been better if they had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! But their recollection of those days was incorrect.

Selfishness is always easier to spot in someone else. Our own reactions to the troubles and frustrations of life are all too often just as selfish and sinful as the Israelites in these verses. The sinful nature of all mankind can be most ungrateful.

Certainly, God could shower us with blessings that make life in this world more pleasant. And he does! Our lives are already filled with comforts and conveniences that previous generations would never have imagined. But these can never truly satisfy us. We need something better. We long for the perfect life. Whether we realize it or not, we desire someone divine.

In John chapter 6, Jesus told people that the Bread of Life is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. His listeners longed for this bread. Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life.… Whoever comes to me will never go hungry and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Whoever believes in me will have eternal life.”

Your life might not be everything you think it should be, but it is probably better than you realize. Give thanks to God for all the blessings from his hand. The Lord who loves you gave his one and only Son so that you might have life to the full. You can confidently say that the best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you know how quick I am to gripe and complain. Help me to see how you have opened your hand and given me many good things. Fill my heart with gratitude and appreciation for your many blessings, especially your Son Jesus Christ who lived, died, and rose again so that I might have eternal life. Amen.

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

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, … to be made new in the attitude of your minds.
Ephesians 4:22-23

The Ride Home


Daily Devotion – August 7, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:22-23

See series: Devotions

Dale Hammock is 65. He is bald with a gray mustache. He is wearing shorts and a white T-shirt. He steps into a Denny’s restaurant for a bite to eat. The hostess walks him over to a booth where he sits down. Around him are the usual sights and sounds—the muffled drone of a dozen conversations, the crying child, the shouts of food orders to the kitchen, the burst of laughter, the clack of plates. And Dale Hammock is afraid.

He keeps looking around. He feels vulnerable. He is terrified of letting his guard down. Then the server comes with questions he’s not sure how to answer. And the knives and forks—so many knives and forks.

For the past 21 years, Dale Hammock has lived within the walls of a prison. Today is his first day of freedom. It’s the first day of his new life. But to discard the old mindset from prison is going to be a monumental task. “This is going to take a minute,” he quietly says with a grand understatement. “This is going to take a minute.”

Fortunately for Dale, he is not alone. Carlos is with him. Carlos is part of what is called “The Ride Home Program.” Carlos has been where Dale now is, and so he knows exactly how Dale feels. Carlos has done this many times. He picks up a just-released prisoner outside the prison wall and spends that crucial first day with him. He shares his own story. He talks about the challenges. He listens. He gives a lot of encouragement. And he tells the ex-prisoner that he is not alone.

But Dale Hammock needs far more than just one day, and Carlos knows it. And so at the end of the day, Carlos introduces Dale to others—others who can encourage him, others who can be there for him, others who understand.

You and I were prisoners too, prisoners within the four walls of our own sin. But then Jesus came. His life and death on our behalf broke down the walls and, through faith in him, brought us into our new life. In our new life there is forgiveness, light, freedom, and joy.

But the old prison mindset is stubborn. The old fears and darkness can so easily return. That is why you and I have a Ride Home Program as well. It is the Church. It is our fellow ex-prisoners. They all know that discarding the old prison mindset is a monumental task. They are there to share their stories. They are there to talk about the challenges. They are there to listen and give encouragement. They are there to remind me that I am not alone.

And most importantly, Jesus is there too.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have washed me clean and set me free. Never stop refreshing my mind in this one beautiful truth. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Stomach or the Heart – August 6, 2018

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”
John 6:26-27

The Stomach or the Heart


Daily Devotion – August 6, 2018

Devotion based on John 6:26-27

See series: Devotions

Crowds were always following Jesus. They became even larger and more determined after he fed them. For most leaders, they would welcome the crowds and their adulation. Jesus was not your typical leader, though. This became clear from his observation: “You are looking for me because you ate the loaves and had your fill.” His point was clear. The people were more interested in having him fill their stomachs than their hearts.

Jesus’ observation should make me seriously consider my motives when I come in prayer. Do I seek him only to fill my empty stomach, or do I want him to fill my empty heart? The answer is critical for my eternal well-being.

On a daily basis I urgently pray for the obvious needs of my stomach. Earthly problems are a concern. Earthly emergencies demand attention. Earthly conflicts need solutions. In contrast, I must confess the needs of my heart are not as pressing. Still, I need a stronger faith. I need the peace of forgiveness. I need greater strength to overcome temptation. My prayer life is a good indicator as to which is more important—my stomach or my heart.

What I find comforting is that Jesus always responds first and foremost to the needs of my heart. He gives me his Word to refresh me. He gives me his forgiveness to renew me. He gives me his Spirit to regenerate me. In the end, what more could I ever want for my heart’s desire?

Still, I struggle. My stomach is powerful. It controls my decisions, and it makes countless demands. Yet, my heart strengthened by the Lord is more powerful. It leads me to make God-pleasing decisions, and it helps me recognize what is most important.

How blessed I am to live with a heart filled with Jesus and his rich blessings.

Prayer:
O faithful Savior, teach me to recognize what I truly need. Guide me in every prayer. Fill my heart with your gracious presence. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Greatest Miracle – August 5, 2018

As evening approached, the disciples came to [Jesus] and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.” “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered. “Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Matthew 14:15-21

The Greatest Miracle


Daily Devotion – August 5, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 14:15-21

See series: Devotions

Life is not about “getting what you want, but about wanting what you get”. When Jesus fed more than 5,000 people, he drove home that point. In that remote place no one was in a position to complain about the menu. Five dinner rolls, two fish, and the all-powerful and compassionate Son of God would have to do. Apparently, the crowd was happy with what they got: “They all ate and were satisfied …” What they got was a miracle.

Sadly, the great crowd missed the true significance of the event. They followed after Jesus looking for more bread. Jesus said to them: “I tell you the truth, you are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill” (John 6:26). They wanted bread and a “bread King”. Jesus had so much more to offer. He said: “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35), and explained that through faith in him they would have the life that never ends.

Jesus came to be the Savior of the world, not the supervisor of the world’s largest soup kitchen. I wonder, however, if that is what people want Jesus to be. We want God to wipe out poverty and put everyone back to work.

Maybe we miss out on the greatest miracle of the all-powerful and compassionate Son of God: the forgiveness of sins, spiritual life, and a place at the banquet feast of heaven. What we get from Jesus is an answer to the deepest hunger of our soul.

When we leave our house in a crabby mood with harsh words spoken to our children and spouse, our greatest concern is not what we will eat for lunch. Deep inside, we don’t want a sandwich; we want forgiveness. We care about our soul and then we want what we get from Jesus. We get the Bread of life. We get the One who did not have a crabby day. We get the One who died for all of us who have. We get the One who performed great miracles on earth so that we see him as the almighty God he really is and live with him who is our Savior both here on earth and in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord, lead us to see in Jesus the One who gives himself to be the bread that gives eternal life. Create a hunger in us for his forgiveness and great thankfulness for his abundant spiritual provision. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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A Free Gift – August 4, 2018

Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; hear me, that your soul may live.
Isaiah 55:1-3

A Free Gift


Daily Devotion – August 4, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:1-3

See series: Devotions

Have you ever heard the axioms: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” or “You get what you pay for?” We would have to agree that usually those sayings are true. Everything comes with a cost. When someone offers us something for “free,” we’re automatically skeptical, aren’t we? We’ve been burned one too many times before. So we think to ourselves, “What’s the hidden cost? It must not be that valuable if someone is willing to give it away for free.”

Is that your initial reaction to God’s invitation to you in our verses for today? Wine and milk are not inexpensive. The richest of fare can’t come without cost. God is offering a deal that sounds too good to be true, isn’t he? It goes against all of our natural sensibilities. We have to do something to get something. We’re going to end up paying for it in the end, right? That’s just how the world works!

If you feel like this offer sounds too good to be true, you’re right! We don’t deserve anything that God offers here. Even if we had all the money in the world, we could never pay enough to buy what God offers us. Only one person could pay the price, only one person could do what was required and that person is Jesus. Jesus earned the salvation of the world by his perfect life on earth and then he paid the cost for the sins of the world with his innocent death. God offers all the benefits of Jesus’ work to you as a free gift. He gives you life for your soul!

Everyone in this world is spiritually bankrupt. Everyone is thirsting for salvation. There are all sorts of earthly, sugary solutions that will not satisfy. But God offers the good food of salvation in the good news about Jesus. You get what Jesus paid for! It’s the richest of fare. It will always satisfy. And unlike your lunch, it really is yours for free!

Prayer:
O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his mercy endures forever. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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The Holy Christian Church – August 3, 2018

To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy, together with all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ—their Lord and ours.
1 Corinthians 1:2

The Holy Christian Church


Daily Devotion – August 3, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:2

See series: Devotions

What is the church? Is it a building of brick and mortar that Christians meet in? Is it a group of Christians who own that building? Or is it something else?

We usually use the word church to refer to buildings or Christian denominations, but the Bible uses the word church differently. In Scripture the word church either refers to a group of people who believe in Jesus or the grand total of all believers in every time and place. Today’s verse makes this point in an interesting way.

Paul greets the church in Corinth as those who are “sanctified in Christ Jesus.” That means they have been made holy, a word that means pure or sinless. Their sins made them impure and sinful, but they were sanctified when the Holy Spirit gave them faith in Christ. That is why they are also “called to be holy”—not because they never sin, but because by faith their sins are forgiven, and they are covered with Jesus’ holiness.

The church of God in Corinth, then, is a group of people who believe in Jesus. But Paul also makes it clear that the church is not limited to them. It includes “all those everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

There are people everywhere who believe in Christ and pray to him. He is Lord of them all, and you are included! Like the Corinthians, you are holy, even though your life does not always look like it. The way you treat others, the way you talk, or what you do when no one is looking—all these things look the opposite of holy.

But God doesn’t call you holy because of how you look. He calls you holy because of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection for you. In Christ you are called holy, blameless, sinless, perfect. You are as much a part of Christ’s church as the Corinthians because the holy Christian Church is all those everywhere who believe in Jesus as their Savior.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for giving me faith in Christ and calling me into the holy Christian Church. Amen.

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

Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.
Ephesians 5:23b

Christ is the Head


Daily Devotion – August 2, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:23b

See series: Devotions

Back in 2003 the movie “Bruce Almighty” was released. It tells the fictional story about a news anchor named Bruce Nolan who is not able to advance in his career and life like he wants to. Frustrated, he ends up blaming God for it. So, God offers Bruce access to all his power and tells him to do better. Bruce takes the opportunity and soon uses his new-found power for selfish purposes and ends up making a mess not only of his life, but also of the world around him.

Let it be stated that Hollywood movies are not the place to go to learn theology. Yet, for all the movie’s theological downfalls, the main lesson of the movie does have a sizable grain of truth to it: It is good that God is in charge and naturally sinful and selfish people like us are not. I may like to think that I know better than Jesus, but then again, I do not have his infinite wisdom. As a sinner, if I have all the power I become like Bruce Nolan and serve myself, even if it comes at the expense of everyone else.

Human beings struggle to willingly submit to someone else. Yet consider what Ephesians chapter 5 tells us about to whom we submit: “…Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” Believers submit to Jesus, the one who was willing to suffer for the guilt of all their sin on the cross, so they would never have to. Believers submit to Jesus, the one who rose from the dead and gives them eternal life. If believers are the body of Christ, then they can rest assured that what Jesus, the head, says and does is ultimately for their eternal good. So believers can gladly submit to their head and Savior, Jesus.

Christ is the head. We are the body. And that’s a good thing!

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 536)
Lord Jesus Christ, the church’s head, you are her one foundation. In you she trusts, before you bows, and waits for your salvation. Built on this rock secure, your church shall endure though all the world decay and all things pass away. Oh, hear, oh, hear us, Jesus.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Beauty of the Sacrifice – August 1, 2018

When Moses went and told the people all the LORD‘s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the LORD has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey.” Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.” Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
Exodus 24:3-11

The Beauty of the Sacrifice


Daily Devotion – August 1, 2018

Devotion based on Exodus 24:3-11

See series: Devotions

As you envision the scene recorded in these verses from Exodus, do you think “Ew? All that blood!” There is blood everywhere. Blood from the sacrificed bulls. Blood poured on the altar. Blood sprinkled on the people. It is gross, right? Not if we understand it. Not if we know that the blood of sacrificed animals sealed the covenant relationship between God and his people.

God had commanded many things and in one of Israel’s better moments, they exclaimed, “we will do everything…” They promised to worship as God said, sacrifice as he wished, and live in his holiness. It was a beautiful moment for seventy-four leaders who saw God and ate and drank with him.

So which one is it: beautiful or gross? When we understand that sacrifice establishes the relationship with God where we see him and eat with him, then it is a beautiful thing. When we understand that Jesus is the last and perfect sacrifice that brings us to God, it is not only beautiful, it is also precious. And when we understand that Jesus is really present with us, and we receive his body and blood in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, we are privileged. We see God and we eat and drink with him.

What a beautiful sacrifice Jesus made for us! What a precious covenant God gave to us!

Prayer:
Lord, we thank you for your sacrifice on our behalf. We are privileged to stand in your presence and worship you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Speaking the Truth in Love – July 31, 2018

Speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ.
Ephesians 4:15

Speaking the Truth in Love


Daily Devotion – July 31, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:15

See series: Devotions

What’s that on your face? Emma asked. After a few moments, when it seemed like none of the big people were listening to her, she repeated her question. What’s that on your face? This time she pointed directly at the mole. This thing. What is it? Emma was nothing if not persistent. She would not let it go.

Most of us have been through moments like this. Sometimes, you’re the parent of the too-persistent child. Other times, you’re the one being pointed at and pinned down with questions. Either way, it can be a very uncomfortable situation.

As we grow up, we tend to become more aware of these social blunders. Often adults do their best to avoid them. We think our silence is a mark of maturity. We’d rather be nice than be truthful. But silence can kill. Imagine you’re very sick and in your doctor’s office. In this moment, you want the truth, don’t you? You don’t want someone who knows the truth about you to remain silent.

That is why God sent his Son into the world. Jesus knew the truth about all people. Yet, as Jesus spoke the truth, he always did so in love. He told the crowds to repent. They needed to turn from their sinful ways. When Jesus met with the learned teacher, Nicodemus, he told him the truth that his efforts to be saved would never be enough; he must be born again. When Jesus sat down at Jacob’s well with the Samaritan woman, she came with all kinds of sinful baggage. She had been married five times and was now living in sin with a new man. Most people shy away from such touchy subjects. Not Jesus. He exposed her sin and then revealed that he was her Savior from all sin.

We often think truth clashes with love. But the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ show us something different. Truth and love can be a beautiful combination. The God who is love—the Son who tells us he is the Truth—came into a world desperately in need of both truth and love. It took the truth and the love of God together to save us from sin, death, and the devil.

This is why it is so vital that Christians speak the truth in love. This is real, godly maturity. Christian maturity is not always speaking what’s on your mind in an unfiltered way. Nor is it silently ignoring problems to preserve a friendship. Rather it is recognizing the real threat sin and temptation pose and still speaking the truth to an individual in love. Real love sets aside egos and a desire to be liked to communicate the truth.

At first, it might be uncomfortable. But there is nothing more soothing, nothing more relieving, nothing more loving than telling people the truth that sets them free from the burden of sin, guilt and shame. So speak up, in love.

Prayer:
God, grant me wisdom and the maturity to speak the truth in love—even when it’s hard. Lord, bless me with the humility to listen to the truth when others find the courage to speak with me—even when their love is hard to see. Amen.

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

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Eight months’ wages would not buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!” Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten. After the people saw the miraculous sign that Jesus did, they began to say, “Surely this is the Prophet who is to come into the world.” Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself.
John 6:5-15

What kind of Jesus do you want?


Daily Devotion – July 30, 2018

Devotion based on John 6:5-15

See series: Devotions

“I really need to find a better job. I just can’t live off what I am making right now, and I can’t stand the place I’m working. There is so much stress. But the thing is, none of the places where I have applied have called me back.”

A friend replies, “What you need to do is get back to going to church. Then everything else will fall into place. About a year ago, I started going back to church. Look at the new job I just got.”

The thinking illustrated in this brief conversation between friends is very common. You can even find churches that will tell you that Jesus wants you to be rich, and he will make you rich if you pray hard for it and trust him to bless you.

Is that the kind of Jesus that you want? Do you want him to be something like your personal genie, granting your every wish and making your life easier? Do you wish that someone would share with you the secret of tapping into the unlimited power of Jesus so that you can start enjoying life more?

That’s not why Jesus came into our world. He did not come to fulfil all the physical needs and desires of those who are struggling. He came here for a much more important reason: to forgive sins; to restore the relationship between sinful rebellious creatures and their Creator; to grant eternal life to those who could never achieve it for themselves.

While he was physically living in our world, Jesus saw the needs of people, and at times he met those needs in miraculous ways. But when the people got so excited about those miracles that the only reason they were drawn to him was so that he could meet their physical needs, Jesus withdrew because he had a much more important role to fill than that of a king who could miraculously provide for his people.

Jesus came to be the Savior to take away our sin and guilt by taking it upon himself and willingly enduring the full punishment of God for us. Jesus came to give us a perfect relationship with God that lasts eternally.

What kind of Jesus do you want? A Savior who loves you so much that he willingly laid down his life so that you are forgiven of every sin and live eternally, or a bread-king who miraculously provides for physical but very temporary needs? What kind of Jesus do you need?

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for providing for my greatest need. Forgive me for the times that I have become so fixated on this world that my physical wants and needs have become my highest priority. You made my eternal salvation your highest priority. Send your Spirit into my heart that I may rejoice in who you are. In your name I ask it. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You can be an Optimist – July 29, 2018

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Romans 8:28-30

You can be an Optimist


Daily Devotion – July 29, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 8:28-30

See series: Devotions

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass half full or half empty? Are you the kind of person who can find a rainbow hiding behind every stormy cloud? It seems that most people tend to lean in one direction or the other. But is there really any basis for optimism? How do we know that everything is going to work out, or that things will get better, or that everything we experience is really for our good?

Without faith in Jesus there really is no basis. Things could just as well turn out for the worse. There really is no reason that they should get better or be for our good. But Jesus changes everything. That’s why the apostle Paul confidently wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

How do we know this? We know this because God backs his wonderful promise up with an unbreakable chain of proof. In eternity God chose us to be his very own. Before we were even born God knew us and planned in advance to conform us to the likeness of his Son. His love in Christ began even before he created the universe when he decided to send Jesus to take up the sin of the world and pay for it, so that as God’s dear children together with Jesus we can share in the boundless blessings of eternal life.

God works for the good of those who love him, and the proof extends from eternity into the here and now when God called us through the gospel. Through the good news of a Savior from sin God creates faith in people’s hearts. It is through this faith that he justifies us by declaring us not guilty of sin. This is how he glorifies believers right now and will one day glorify them forever in heaven.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” You can be sure of it. Because of Jesus you can be sure of it, even when you suffer all kinds of pain and disappointment in this life. You can be sure of it, even when your friends disappoint and relationships dissolve. You can be sure of it, even when your body begins to wear out and your energy fades. You can be sure because God has done everything to make you sure. Because of God’s great love for us, we can be optimists.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, when things in life get me down and I struggle to find hope, point me to your promises in Jesus Christ and assure me of your constant love and compassion. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Whatever You Want – July 28, 2018

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, … “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.
1 Kings 3:5-6,9-12

Whatever You Want


Daily Devotion – July 28, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Kings 3:5-6,9-12

See series: Devotions

We’ve seen it depicted in so many different ways. A man finds a lamp or a bottle. He rubs the bottle and out pops a genie. “I’ll grant you one wish, whatever you want.” How many times haven’t we thought, “I’d wish for more wishes!”

King Solomon was presented with a similar situation, only it wasn’t a genie in a bottle offering to grant a wish, it was God himself. Imagine being in Solomon’s place! “Whatever you want…” God said. How would you have answered?

We’d all like to think we would have answered honorably. Truthfully, though, we likely would have answered the way that God describes in verse 11. Our sinful nature would have asked for unlimited wealth or a long life or that someone who has hurt us gets hurt just as badly. Yet, all of those things are selfish. They only seek to serve us and not serve God.

Solomon realized the great responsibility placed before him as the king God chose for his people. So he asked God for the wisdom to choose between right and wrong. Solomon knew that he would choose poorly if left to himself. So he asked for God’s blessing to choose wisely. And God was pleased.

Each and every day we face a battle. We battle between choosing what God wants and what our sinful nature wants. If left to ourselves, our sinful nature would always win. But we are not left to ourselves. Because of Jesus’ saving work, we have been given the Holy Spirit. He works in us through his Word to help us choose what God wants, to discern between right and wrong. He strengthens us by the power of the gospel so that we can show our thankfulness to God for all that he has done for us. And there’s nothing better we could ask for!

Prayer:
Gracious Savior, thank you for giving us your Spirit that we might distinguish between right and wrong and in so doing, serve you in thankfulness. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Doing Good – July 27, 2018

As we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Galatians 6:10

Doing Good


Daily Devotion – July 27, 2018

Devotion based on Galatians 6:10

See series: Devotions

During the school week, the little kindergarten student dreaded getting out of bed in the morning. When it was time to get up, she grouched. If her parents turned the light on, she threw the covers over her head. If they tried to lift her out of bed, she became like dead weight. But on Saturday mornings, she was always up bright and early, ready to make the most of her free time.

This is like the miraculous change that Jesus works in us. He saw us grousing about, blind to, and incapable of doing good to others. But in love, he could not leave us that way. So, Jesus did good to all. No one was a nuisance. No time was inconvenient. No price was too high—not even his own life. On the cross, Jesus paid the debt for all our sins—even our failures to do good to others.

Now, the risen Jesus sends his Holy Spirit to work in us through the gospel. He awakens in us the desire to make the most of our freedom—to do good to all people, especially those who follow Jesus in faith.

Can you imagine the impact we would have if we made the most of our freedom in Christ? If we did good to all with the exuberance of a child on Saturday morning? What if we jumped at every opportunity to love one another, honor one another, live in harmony and not judge but accept one another, encourage and serve one another, bear patiently and forgive one another, and spur one another on toward love and good deeds?

It would be much like the early church in Jerusalem where God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. And more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. (See Acts 4:33,34, & 5:14.)

What are we waiting for? Because of the freedom we have in Christ, every day is an opportunity to do good.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, as you have done good to me, move me to do good to all. Amen.

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

Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:17

Ways We Can Thank God


Daily Devotion – July 26, 2018

Devotion based on Colossians 3:17

See series: Devotions

“Mom, I’m so happy you asked me to do the dishes today! Thanks so much!”

“Dad! You really mean it? I get to mow the lawn today? Sweet!”

“I can’t believe it, honey! I was hoping you’d say it was my turn to go and pick up all the messes the dog left in the yard this week. What a chance to serve God!”

I’m guessing you haven’t heard those kinds of statements in your household lately. Instead, we all tend to grumble, whine, and complain when presented with opportunities to serve God by serving others. We selfishly think that someone else should do whatever task we are presented with. We fail to see that, in reality, each of our daily tasks at work, home, and school is a chance to serve our God. As we look back at the end of the day, how many times did we begrudgingly do something that our Lord had prepared in advance for us to do? Even one time is more than sinful enough to fall under God’s eternal judgment.

Thankfully, Jesus never missed a chance to glorify God. He was always looking to do whatever his Father in heaven had prepared for him that day. Sometimes that meant healing and helping. Other times it meant preaching and teaching. Still other times it meant patiently working with someone one-on-one. There was even the time when he washed his disciples’ feet! Jesus’ entire life was one of doing everything he could for the glory of God. His death was that way too. God had asked him to suffer and die for sins that he did not commit. And he did it. He did it all without grumbling or complaining. He did it because he loved us. He did it because he wanted to glorify his Father in heaven. He did it, so we could be forgiven and saved from eternal condemnation.

There are so many ways that we can thank God for all that he has done for us in Jesus. Most of them are found right in our daily routines! Maybe it is doing the dishes for mom with a smile on your face and love in your heart for the Savior. Maybe it is mowing the lawn because dad asked you to and that is a great way to show gratitude to God. Maybe it is even picking up the dog’s messes in the backyard because it is a way to show God how thankful you are for the blessings he has given to your family. Ways to glorify God are all around you and the good news is, God has built many of them into your schedule for today!

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, forgive me for the times when I have grumbled at opportunities to serve you. Thank you for your love that you have shown me in Christ Jesus. Help me to see all the ways I can glorify you each day. Amen.

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

“I myself will gather the remnant of my flock … and will bring them back to their pasture … I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:3-4

God Takes Matters into His Own Hands


Daily Devotion – July 25, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:3-4

See series: Devotions

“If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.” A parent gives a child a task but feels compelled to step in and fix it when things go wrong. A church leader assigns a project to a volunteer but is frustrated when it doesn’t turn out as planned.

That’s not a good approach to parenting or leadership. It is usually better to let people grow and learn from their mistakes than to just do it for them. But sometimes, you have no choice. You have to step in and do it yourself.

Six centuries before Jesus was born, the spiritual shepherds of Israel weren’t doing their job. They were hurting the people instead of helping them. Instead of speaking the truth and leading the people to the Lord, they were telling lies and leading them to pray to and worship false gods.

It still happens today. Some who claim to be Christian pastors and teachers lead people away from the Lord. They change or ignore what God says in the Bible. They lead people away from God by teaching their own ideas or what is popular instead of the truth. Watch out!

When God saw this in Jeremiah’s day, he was furious. Out of love for his people, he punished those false teachers. And he took matters into his own hands. He sent faithful pastors and prophets to speak the truth and care for the people.

Six hundred years later, his love for you and me showed even more vividly. He took matters into his own hands when he sent his own Son. Jesus came to rescue us, who too easily believe the lies and wander from the truth. He knew we were helpless to save ourselves, so he did it for us, dying in our place to save us from death.

God loves you too much to let anything go wrong with your eternity. He took matters into his own hands so that you could be with him forever.

Prayer:
Father, thank you for taking my salvation into your own hands. Send faithful shepherds to care for your flock on earth. Amen.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Citizenship – July 24, 2018

Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Ephesians 2:13-22

Citizenship


Daily Devotion – July 24, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 2:13-22

See series: Devotions

There is no greater citizenship than that of God’s kingdom. To have a relationship with the One who created you, to know his unfailing love and protection, and to have a place reserved in his kingdom of heaven where there is no more sadness, disease, or death, and where you will be face-to-face with your Savior God forever—it doesn’t get any better than that!

But there are strict requirements when it comes to this citizenship. God is very clear that anyone who wants to be a citizen of his kingdom needs to be holy just like he is. There is absolutely no place for sin in the kingdom of God—which makes sense when you consider who God is and the disdain he holds for anything that is impure and unholy.

This creates more than a significant problem for us as human beings. No matter how hard we try we still do things every day that are not pleasing to God. It’s called sin. Even if somehow, we could stop, there is still the issue of all the sins we have committed in the past which disqualify us from citizenship in God’s kingdom.

That’s why Jesus came to this world. He became a real human being to give you citizenship in God’s kingdom. He accomplished this by removing that which would prevent you from holding that citizenship. Through his innocent death on the cross, Jesus removed your sin forever. Now, through faith in him as your Savior from sin, you have been given an eternal place in God’s kingdom that can never be taken away.

One of the wonderful things about this gift is that it unites you with your fellow citizens of God’s kingdom. No matter their background, skin color, or spoken language, you have a special bond with the other citizens of God’s kingdom. They are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and they will be your neighbors forever in heaven.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me to send your one and only Son to die so that I can be a citizen in your kingdom. Help me to rejoice in the unity that citizenship gives me with other believers in your Son. In his name I pray it. Amen.

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

The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.
Mark 6:30-34

Take a Break with Jesus


Daily Devotion – July 23, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 6:30-34

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Everyone needs a break from people, even those who regularly serve people. A doctor cannot always be with patients. A teacher cannot always be with students. Even Jesus took time away from the crowds of people who were coming to see him. He did this to be with his disciples. He did this to show his closest followers some one-on-one attention. Jesus said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

How does such an invitation sound to you? You who pour yourself into service to others. You who cry for others, worry about others, seek to reach out and help others. Take a break from those others. Remember God loves you. Remember how Jesus died on the cross for you. Remember how he rose from the dead to guarantee your forgiveness and a place in heaven with him. When we lose patience with others, feel anger, disgust, or even hatred toward others, Jesus is near in his Word, calling us to take a break with him. In our busy lives of service, we too need to be served by the Word. We need to lay our guilt and our burdens at the foot of his cross, and let the Scriptures remind us again of Jesus’ love for each individual.

Here we see the extent of Jesus’ human nature. The Son of God became true man in every sense of the word. Unlike us, Jesus served people perfectly. But like us, Jesus needed a break from people. Jesus’ escape from people was never permanent. “When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things.” Back to work Jesus goes! Faithfully serving others in love, Jesus’ compassion led him to teach others one at a time. That’s how Jesus teaches us in the Word.

May the few moments you have spent with Jesus in the Word today strengthen you in your service to others.

Prayer:
Compassionate Lord, I thank you for the time you have spent with me today in your Word. May the love and attention you have shown me, help me to show love and attention to those I meet today. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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In Due Time – July 22, 2018

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, the weeds also appeared” … The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.'”
Matthew 13:24-26,28-30

In Due Time


Daily Devotion – July 22, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 13:24-26,28-30

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It is easy to wonder why the Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side. Wouldn’t the world be a better place, if the Lord would uproot everything evil and allow only good to exist?

This might be an easy assumption to make since I consider myself to be “good.” Unfortunately, I tend to forget the Lord’s standard of good is different than mine. This is why I need to understand why the Lord does allow both to exist.

One reason is fairly obvious. If the Lord would rid the world of everything evil, where would that put me? As I look at my life according to his standard, I am resigned to accept what the Lord declares: “There is no one who does good, not even one” (Psalm 53:3).

The Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side as a result of his undeserved love for me. Instead of dealing with me immediately and justly, he provides a time of grace through which I can come to know Jesus and his gift of forgiveness, and then enjoy living in the peace of his forgiving love.

Another reason why the Lord allows good and evil to exist is his gracious will for all people. “He wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). The same time of grace he gives me, he offers to all. He wants no one to perish. This is why he sent his Son Jesus to be the Savior of all.

In due time, however, when his time of grace comes to an end, he will separate the good from the evil, namely believers from unbelievers. This promise of divine and eternal separation exhorts me to daily repent of my sin and focus on Jesus to strengthen my trust in him as my Savior. It is this life of faith which gives me the confidence to know, that also in due time, the Lord will gather me to himself and bring me into his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, how can I ever thank you enough for your compassion and mercy. Give me the strength of faith I need to trust what you say, to look to Jesus for forgiveness, and to be prepared for the day when you will bring your harvest in. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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When the Words Don’t Come – July 21, 2018

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
Romans 8:26

When the Words Don’t Come


Daily Devotion – July 21, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 8:26

See series: Devotions

Give some careful thought to the following statement: The times we find it hardest to talk to God in prayer are often the times we need to talk to him the most. Here it is again. The times we find it hardest to talk to God in prayer are often the times we need to talk to him the most.

If you have lived more than a few years in this difficult place, you know how true that statement is. What words do you speak to God, exactly, when you walk out the doctor’s office with the news that your spouse has stage 4 cancer? What words do you speak to God when your finances are on the verge of collapse? What words do you speak to God when you can no longer process how stressful your place of work has become? What words do you speak to God when it feels as though a member of your family has run a sword through your soul? What words do you speak to God when your marriage begins to implode? And what words do you speak to God when all the regrets from your past begin to smother you like a heavy shroud?

These are the times when the words don’t come. These are the times when coherent thought disappears. These are the moments when you and I cannot even articulate a simple cry to the Lord for help.

Enter the Holy Spirit. He knows. He knows very well how the wreckage of this sinful world can overwhelm us, paralyze us to the point of stunned silence. In those moments he comes to us. He intercedes for us. On our behalf he speaks to our heavenly Father “with groans that words cannot express.” And to such groans God listens and responds.

You are a forgiven child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. That means you possess the exclusive privilege of talking to the Lord in prayer. But when you set aside time for him and the words do not come, take heart. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need. What he says on your behalf will go beyond human words. And God will listen. And he will answer.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, there are times when the words just do not come. Speak on my behalf with groans that words cannot express. And fill me with the peace that is mine in Jesus. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Good Works are God’s Work – July 20, 2018

It is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
Philippians 2:13

Good Works are God’s Work


Daily Devotion – July 20, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 2:13

See series: Devotions

“I’m doing it, daddy!” the little girl said excitedly.

What a sight! A four-year-old behind the wheel of an oversized Sport Utility Vehicle. Her little hands not fully grasping the steering wheel. Her feet dangling inches from the floor board. Her neck craned upward, chin thrust out, eyebrows raised as high as they would go. Still, she could barely see over the dash board. But she was doing it.

“Daddy, I’m driving!”

Or so she thought. She was proud of her efforts behind the wheel, but dad was in control. His eyes were watching for any obstacles in the vacant parking lot. His foot was hovering over the brake ready to stop the behemoth vehicle in an instant. His hands were firmly grasping the steering wheel. His voice was instructing her when and how far to turn the wheel.

Spiritually, we are more hindered than a four-year-old. From the moment our life begins, we are dead in sin and separated from God. Without faith in Christ, we cannot do anything that pleases God. But the Holy Spirit works through the good news about Jesus. He connects us by faith to him who died for our sins and was raised again. He gives us life in Christ, so we can live like Christ.

The funny thing is, it looks like we are doing the work. Others see us humbly serving without expecting anything in return. They see us work without grumbling and talk without complaining. They see us lead upright, innocent lives. But really, it is God at work in us. The loving Father empowers us. The living Christ motivates us. The enlightening Spirit guides us.

Do you want God to fulfill his good purpose in you? Do you wonder what God’s good purpose for you is? The little girl skillfully moved the over-sized SUV because she was connected to power—her father. As we stay connected to Jesus in Word and sacrament, God’s power is at work in us. We will know God’s good purpose and offer our lives and lips in thanks because God is working in us.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, work in me by your Word the desire and the drive to fulfill your good purpose. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Fully Meeting God’s Standards – July 19, 2018

Without faith it is impossible to please God.
Hebrews 11:6a

Fully Meeting God’s Standards


Daily Devotion – July 19, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 11:6a

See series: Devotions

Has there been anyone in your life who always had expectations of you that were too high—so much so that you never felt like you could live up to what they expected? Maybe it was a parent who had really high expectations when it came to your grades at school. No matter how hard you tried, your grade point average was never good enough. Or maybe it was the football coach who was never satisfied with the way you ran that one particular play in the playbook. Even when you thought your team had it down, he shook his head and said, “Run it again!” Perhaps it was the boss who was never satisfied with your sales numbers, even when you surpassed the projected earnings for the company.

Often it feels impossible to live up to the expectations that others have for us. All of the above examples are nothing compared to the expectations that God has for you and me. God is holy. The bar he has set for us could not be any higher than it is. God commands us to be perfect. He demands that we be holy as he is holy. His expectations for sinners cannot be any loftier than that.

God’s Word states that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” On our own, sinners like you and I have no hope of ever meeting God’s expectations. Because of sin, we fall short day, after day, after day. Some days we don’t even try to meet God’s standards. Scripture speaks the truth when it states that, “we all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We are powerless to meet God’s standards and because of that we deserve his eternal punishment.

That’s where faith comes in! The word faith in this verse describes a confident trust that an individual has in someone else. We know we have fallen short of God’s demands, but we are confident that someone else has met those demands for us. We trust that a Savior has taken our place under God’s law and fulfilled it perfectly for us. We have faith that because of our Savior’s life, death, and resurrection, our status before God has changed. In Christ, God no longer sees our failures. He no longer sees how far short we have fallen from perfection. Instead, through faith in Jesus, God sees works that please him. God sees his own forgiven children serving him in love. By faith in Jesus, God sees us as ones who have fully met his standards!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for keeping the demands of the law perfectly for me and for taking away all of my sins. Help me to live in thanks for your blessings. Help me to live by faith and to serve God in all I do. Amen.

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

Then Amaziah (the priest at Bethel) said to Amos, “Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah. Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there. Don’t prophesy anymore at Bethel, because this is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was neither a prophet nor a prophet’s son, but I was a shepherd, and I also took care of sycamore-fig trees. But the LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the LORD.”
Amos 7:12-16a

When the Pressure is On


Daily Devotion – July 18, 2018

Devotion based on Amos 7:12-16a

See series: Devotions

It was a time of prosperity in the northern kingdom. Sadly, comfort and ease led to complacency, slipshod worship, superficial offerings, then open idolatry, immorality, self-indulgent/selfish living, and cruelty to the poor. Amos was called to announce God’s judgment on Israel. The people and the king did not like it. Amaziah gave Amos his “marching orders.” “Get out, you seer!” “Who do you think you are?” “This is the king’s sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom!” Oh, oh, the pressure was on!

Amos recognized the threat, but respectfully answered, “The LORD took me from tending the flock and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now then, hear the word of the LORD.”

Today, the Lord Jesus calls Christians to be witnesses for him, to share the “word of the Lord” with people in our lives, starting with our own families. In addition, we have a sphere of friends, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors to whom we can tell the good news about Jesus the Savior. Since trusting the Savior begins with recognizing a need for the Savior because of one’s sinfulness, the reaction can be that heard by Amos. “Who do you think you are?” Oh, oh, the pressure is on!

If someone asks, “Who do you think you are?” be ready to give an answer. The apostle Peter gives excellent instruction in his first New Testament letter: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

Israel needed to hear what God had to say through Amos. People today need to hear what Jesus has to say, and that can happen through you!

Prayer:
Dear Holy Spirit, help me listen and learn from Scripture so that, with your blessing, when the pressure is on, I am prepared to give an answer. Amen.

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