Fixer-Uppers – October 24, 2017

Our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.
Philippians 3:20-21

Fixer-Uppers


Daily Devotion – October 24, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 3:20-21

See series: Devotions

HGTV broadcasts several popular programs featuring “fixer-uppers”—outdated, often dilapidated homes, being beautifully transformed. Today’s passage describes another kind of “fixer-upper”—the physical bodies of all believers in our Savior from heaven, the Lord Jesus Christ.

On the earth’s last day, Jesus is coming again. For believers, his powerful acts that day will include “transforming our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.”

The Bible declares: “Man is destined to die once, and after that face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Physical death is separation. Your soul, the essence of who you are, separates from your body and is judged immediately, heaven or hell. That verdict will be made public at the Last Day, when all people will appear before the heavenly Judge.

So, at physical death each soul vacates the “house” that is his or her body and goes immediately to eternal life or eternal condemnation. To the penitent criminal on the nearby cross Jesus said: “Today you (your soul) will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The unbelieving criminal would not! All bodies remain here on earth; “ashes to ashes, dust to dust”… until… the Last Day.

That’s Resurrection Day! The bodies of believers in Christ will be raised from the dead by his infinite power as a “house” perfectly “fixed-up” for reunion with the souls returning from heaven. Whether afflicted with a defect from conception, ravaged by disease, disfigured by accident or warfare, or just worn by age, the believer’s body will be perfectly restored, “like his glorious body.” Justly, the bodies of those who rejected Jesus are raised “to shame and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).

What if Jesus comes today?! You haven’t died yet. You and all believers still living will be “changed…in the twinkling of an eye” into glorious bodies made “imperishable,” just like the resurrected believers’ bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-54). And then it’s on to the glories of eternity with the Lord.

Obviously, Resurrection Day will not be glorious for the unbelieving. That is a stark reality, but God truly “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4). That’s why he sent Jesus. God’s Son is “the atoning sacrifice…for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). Share the Good News: Salvation of soul and body is won for all by Jesus! Trust in Jesus, and look forward confidently.

Prayer:
(Revelation 22:20):
Amen. Come, Lord 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.

The Lord has given you a Vineyard – October 23, 2017

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Matthew 21:43

The Lord has given you a Vineyard


Daily Devotion – October 23, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 21:43

See series: Devotions

During the week that Jesus died, he told a story that compared God’s kingdom to a vineyard. He said that there was a landowner who rented out a vineyard. When it was time for the harvest, the landowner expected to receive his fruit. But instead the renters seized, beat, and stoned all the servants the landowner sent. They even killed the landowner’s son!

In Jesus’ story, the landowner represented God. And the renters represented the evil religious leaders of the day.

Jesus was trying to show those leaders that he knew they were planning on killing him. Jesus wanted them to see their sin, believe in him, and let their lives be transformed by his love. Sadly, they wanted nothing to do with Jesus’ message of forgiveness.

So Jesus said, “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”

The kingdom of God has been taken away from others and given to you. And he wants you to be different than those who were unfaithful. He wants you to produce good fruit.

What does that mean?

That means that you acknowledge that you are a broken sinner. But more importantly that you receive the love of God in Christ Jesus.

Then God wants his love to transform every area of your life so that you produce the fruit of good works. Because your heart is filled with the gospel, your life will be different than the religious leaders of Jesus’ day.

• They used the people to get money, but you will serve people in love.
• They prayed to be seen by people, but you will pray for the good of people.
• They used their religion to look down on others, but you will love others as God has loved you.

Just like in Jesus’ story, on the last day the Landowner (God) will return and expect good fruit. When he looks at your life, he will find it because your life has been transformed by the grace of Jesus. Jesus has done everything for you. Now do everything for him as you wait for his return.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have given me so many wonderful opportunities to serve you. Work in me that I might give you glory in my home, job, and community. 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.

Special Recognition – October 22, 2017

“So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.'”
Luke 17:10

Special Recognition


Daily Devotion – October 22, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 17:10

See series: Devotions

There are times when I feel like I deserve special recognition from God. Maybe I have forgiven someone who is difficult to forgive. Maybe I have shown kindness to someone who did not deserve it. Maybe I was simply on my best behavior. Because I have been so good, I feel I am due some special attention.

Jesus, however, directs me to consider things from his perspective. First, the only recognition I deserve is that which results in my judgment and eternal punishment. While I may do some things which are special and very good, what about the rest of my life? Am I perfect all the time? Do I do everything without excuse, hesitation or complaint? In reality instead of looking for recognition I should hang my head in shame. My life is not what the Lord expects or deserves.

Secondly, I need to remember what the apostle Paul writes to the Christians in the city of Philippi: “For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). Even though I may fill my life with good deeds, it is only because of God’s undeserved love in Jesus that I have the will and the ability to do what he desires. His love, his forgiveness, his power to overcome my selfishness is my reason to do good to all.

Finally, I need to recall what Jesus shared with his disciples. When all is said and done, even if I have done something extraordinary, I have to admit, “I have only done my duty.”

In all humility I must confess I do not deserve any special recognition. Not only is Jesus the author and source of the good I do, he is also my strength and motivation. It is in him where I find joy in serving and seeing his love at work in me and through me. It is also in him where I find satisfaction and recognition. I am blessed to know my Savior has chosen me to be his servant. I am even more blessed to hear my Savior declare in time and for eternity, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, accept my service. While I do not deserve any credit, I delight in knowing you have called, equipped and motivated me to be your servant. 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.

Answer Your Timidity – October 21, 2017

God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7

Answer Your Timidity


Daily Devotion – October 21, 2017

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 1:7

See series: Devotions

Let’s start with a moment of candor. Not too many years ago, you and I could get away with living our Christian lives without taking much flak for it. Oh, sure, we could cite cases in which a secular society was attacking our faith, but for the most part we could go about our business as Christians without a lot of fuss and bother.

Let’s acknowledge what’s happened—those days are gone. The reality is that if we are actively working to follow the Lord’s will, and if we are at all open about our Christian faith, we will receive mockery and resentment and hostility from others.

We need a moment of candor about one other thing. We need to confess to our God and to each other that, more often than not, you and I have responded to our anti-Christian culture with plain, ugly, old timidity. We have remained silent when we should have spoken. We have chuckled nervously when we should have remained silent. We have cowered in embarrassment when we should have been standing up for the only Savior this world is ever going to have.

But here’s the good news. Jesus Christ came to this earth for our sins of timidity as well. On our behalf he lived a life of perfect courage. In our place he died for our every failure—every episode in which you and I have given in to fear.

Repent, therefore. Repent of timidity, both you and I. Bask again in the refreshing forgiveness we possess in the Son of God. And as we do, seize the moment to be brave in the days to come. Demonstrate the Christian courage that the Holy Spirit has placed within us. Shine the light that we have in Jesus Christ. For the world needs the gospel now!

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, in a world that is hostile to the Christian faith, give me courage. Give me strength. Empower me by your gospel to let shine the light of my faith in Jesus my Savior. 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.

Proof of Payment – October 20, 2017

[Jesus] was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.
Romans 4:25

Proof of Payment


Daily Devotion – October 20, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 4:25

See series: Devotions

Years of reckless spending resulted in massive credit card debt. A couple months of following a strict budget couldn’t erase the debt, and he was beginning to feel hopeless. The house that he wanted to buy seemed completely out of reach because his poor credit made it impossible to get any kind of loan from a mortgage company.

Then the letter came. It was from an uncle that he hardly knew. “I want you to have that house. I’ve paid off all of your credit cards and deposited the money for the house in your bank account.”

“How can this be real?” he thought. “I want to believe it, but how can I be sure?” Then he contacted the bank. His account which had been overdrawn the day before now showed a balance that would easily pay for the new house. He looked at online statements from his credit cards. They all read a balance of zero.

It was all true! His debt had been paid! The proof was right there!

Years of sin have resulted in a massive debt that you cannot pay. Attempts at self-control and leading a good life can’t erase the debt. It is easy to feel hopeless. The eternal home that you would love to occupy seems so far out of reach.

Then you read the Bible—that letter from your God describing his love for you. “I want you to have that eternal dwelling in heaven. I sent my Son to pay the debt you owe for your sins. I have credited his perfection to your account so that you are justified in my eyes. Rejoice! Heaven is yours!”

How can this be real? It sounds fantastic, but how can you be sure? How do you know that Jesus’ death paid the price you owe for your sins? His tomb is empty. He died, but then he rose from the grave to life again, proving that he is not just a man, but the Son of God himself; proving that his sacrifice for you was accepted by God as payment for your debt.

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

It’s all true! Your debt has been paid! You are justified before God! Believe it and enjoy the eternal life that is yours!

Prayer:
Jesus, my Savior, thank you for willingly going to the cross to die as the payment for my sins. Thank you for rising from the grave to prove that the price has indeed been paid. Help me to rejoice in your resurrection which assures me of my forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. 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.

Bragging Rightly – October 19, 2017

Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.
Romans 3:27

Bragging Rightly


Daily Devotion – October 19, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 3:27

See series: Devotions

“What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) The wealthy young ruler believed he had to earn God’s favor, and he was confident that he was well on his way. In his estimation, he had kept the commandments, but he was concerned that there had to be more. Jesus responded, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” The man “went away sad, because he had great wealth.”

When Jesus spoke about “treasure in heaven,” that got Peter’s attention. He gave it a lot of thought and then asked Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?”

The rich young man’s response is devastating. Peter’s response is just as disappointing. Yet, the law drives us all. By nature, each of us believes that God will not bless us unless we prove ourselves to him. The better our efforts, the better God’s blessings. However, this is not how it works. All we earn for our efforts is death, because sin is a part of all we are and do. Thankfully, this is not how God works.

In the parable of the compassionate employer (Matthew 20:1-16), we learn about God and how he relates to us. The laborers are unemployed, but the landowner personally seeks them out to work in his vineyard. He gives the first laborers he hired a fair wage for a full day’s work, and the same wage to those who worked less, even only one hour. The landowner was not being cheap. He was being generous–taking a loss so that he could provide fully for the needs of these desperate men.

In God’s kingdom, the standard of measure is not the labor of our hands but the goodness of God’s heart. Jesus did all the work of salvation for us. In life, he labored perfectly to love both God and people. In death, he bore the burden of sin and suffered the punishment we deserve. He lost his life for us to give his life to us. His work is our work. His perfection is our perfection. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection.

Believe it, and boast in Jesus!

Prayer:
May I ever rest and never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Repent and Live! – October 18, 2017

“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”
Ezekiel 18:30-32

Repent and Live!


Daily Devotion – October 18, 2017

Devotion based on Ezekiel 18:30-32

See series: Devotions

When my children were little, one of the rules was, “Do not play in the street.” This rule restricted their freedom and limited their place to play. But this rule also protected them. Playing in the street could result in their injury or even death. Whenever I saw one of my children wander into the street, I would call him back. I called him back because I loved him.

Our heavenly Father also gives us rules for our lives—do not lie, do not hate, do not steal, do not commit adultery, and many more. These rules restrict our freedom. But he gives us these rules to protect us. He knows what is best for us. And he knows that when we go against his rules, we are in danger of being injured—physically or spiritually. He knows that when we go against his rules, we ruin our relationship with him. Going against God’s rules leads to eternal separation from him, to eternal death. This is why, when we go against God’s rules, he calls us back. He calls us back because he loves us. “Repent and live!” says the Lord.

And when we do, when we turn away from our sin and turn to our Father for forgiveness, we can be sure we have it. After all, he was willing to give up his own Son to pay the price for our sins. He is always willing and eager to assure us that we are forgiven when we turn from our sin and turn to him for forgiveness.

Whatever sin is putting you in danger this day, turn from it. Repent and live!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for warning me about the things that endanger my life and my soul. Thank you for calling me to repentance. And thank you for assuring me of your forgiveness when I do repent. Please provide the strength I need…to repent and live! 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.

Unimaginable Humility – October 17, 2017

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Unimaginable Humility


Daily Devotion – October 17, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 2:1-11

See series: Devotions

A homeless man sits next to the exhaust vent at the local dry cleaners. It’s a good spot, one of the best in town for staying warm through a brisk fall night. As a local lawyer arrives to pick up his suits from the previous week, he reaches into his pocket and hands the homeless man a $20 bill. A couple of hours later, an investment banker comes by and invites the man to lunch. He spends a good hour talking to the man, and of course, picks up the tab. Later in the day a woman pulls up in her Mercedes and sees the man taking a nap. She gently nudges him on the shoulder and asks him his name. She then gives him the keys to her Mercedes and tells the man that the garage door opener is on the visor and her purse with all her cash, credit cards, and account numbers is on the passenger’s seat. He can have it all, if only she can have his cardboard seat cushion and spot next to the exhaust fan.

The first two scenarios are believable. The last one is unimaginable. Yet, Jesus Christ, God himself, did something even more inconceivable than giving up his luxury car, home, and savings. He left God’s side in the heavenly realms to be born into our world as a human being. He made himself nothing so that we could be something. He took on our nature, carried our sins, and suffered on the cross, so that we could be with him forever. Jesus did this not only to be the greatest example of humility, but to offer his life for sinners—to give his righteousness for our unrighteousness.

Jesus did all of this, even though we had done nothing to earn or deserve it. In fact, he did all of this, because we couldn’t do anything to earn or deserve it. However, because of his perfect humility and selfless death on the cross, God exalted him to the highest place imaginable. He is the world’s Savior and King.

Jesus has done it all. Now those who live in his kingdom of grace and mercy are called to imitate his humility in their lives. How might you do that today?

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts and comfort us with your love, so that we can imitate your humility in our everyday lives. 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 Third Son – October 16, 2017

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Matthew 21:28-32

The Third Son


Daily Devotion – October 16, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 21:28-32

See series: Devotions

“What do you think?” Strange, right? Jesus, the Son of God, asks mere human beings what they think. I think that this story called the parable of the two sons, is best understood if we see it as a story of three sons.

The parable features two sons whose attitudes and actions cannot be pleasing to the father. We are like those two sons. Sometimes we think we will just skip Sunday worship for no good reason, but when we awake Sunday morning we change our mind and we get up and go. Other times we wake up, fully intending to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” but a bright sunny morning calls us to the great outdoors.

The same disconnect between attitude and action can apply to all areas of Christian faith and life. I might strive to be completely honest at all times or to work hard and cheerfully each day, but find myself fudging on the truth and slacking in the workplace. Because I sin and fall short, I need to know the third son in the story.

The third son, Jesus, the Son of God, not only tells the story but is the story. Jesus told the people, “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness…” Jesus is the way of righteousness. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he entered the world without sin and living as true God in human flesh, he committed no sin. Jesus is the Son whose attitudes and actions are perfectly pleasing to God the Father.

Those who see in Jesus the righteousness of God, as did tax collectors and prostitutes, and believe in him as they did, have his righteousness credited to their account. The significance is that Jesus secures our place in heaven not only by his death on the cross where he removed our sin, but also through the crediting of his righteousness to our account.

Let us not forget that Jesus lived righteously for us and then died sacrificially. His life and death compel us to change our mind about less than God-pleasing attitudes and actions.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the third son, your Son, our Savior. Lead us to turn from sin to faith in him. 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.

Quality of Life – October 15, 2017

Godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6

Quality of Life


Daily Devotion – October 15, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 6:6

See series: Devotions

It’s said that, around 40 years ago, a diplomat from the old Soviet Union was visiting the United States. Part of his tour of the country included a visit to a typical American grocery store. The moment he entered the store, the diplomat was astounded. He was astounded because he was looking at something he had never seen before. In that grocery store he was feasting his eyes on food of such quality and quantity and variety that he simply could not believe that what he was seeing really was a typical American grocery store. In fact, it’s said that he convinced himself that his American hosts had arranged to have all the food brought there just to impress him.

At that time the typical American grocery store carried 9,000 items. Today the typical American grocery store carries 39,000.

It’s an astounding thing, isn’t it? Over the past 4 decades, our food choices alone have more than quadrupled. But as marvelous as that is, experience has also taught us that having more and better things does not, in and of itself, guarantee a greater quality of life. In fact, some would make the case that the one has very little to do with the other.

And that’s where the Apostle Paul comes in. Do you want to see your quality of life make a significant jump? Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Imagine a life lived in the full forgiveness earned by Jesus Christ. Imagine a life basking in gratitude and joy for that forgiveness. Imagine a life focused on serving Jesus by serving others. And imagine a life that’s content and pleased with what the Lord provides regardless of changing circumstances. In Paul’s mind, such a life is “great gain.” Such a life is robust and rich and sweet.

Does this mean we can’t go to a grocery store with 39,000 items? Of course not. Go there and enjoy that store. Enjoy it to the glory of God. Just remember where our quality of life really resides. Our quality of life is in Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to re-examine my quality of life. Remind me that a life that is truly robust and rich and sweet lies in you alone. 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 Warning—do you like them or hate them? – October 14, 2017

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.
Amos 6:1-7

A Warning—do you like them or hate them?


Daily Devotion – October 14, 2017

Devotion based on Amos 6:1-7

See series: Devotions

It’s a dreadful feeling. You’re cruising down the freeway, enjoying the countryside; up one hill and down the next…and then in your rearview mirror coming down the ramp with red and blue lights flashing—a police officer! Your heart sinks as your foot hits the brakes. Your eyes scan the speedometer to see that you were 14 over. As the officer pulls in behind you and you come to a stop, you’re hoping that you’ll just get a warning.

When it comes to warnings, there are some we like and some we don’t. When the officer graciously gives a warning, we’re relieved—mainly because we won’t have to pay a fine, or worry about points on our record, or have to appear in court. Yet that warning hopefully serves its main purpose: to get us to slow down and obey the laws of the land, for our safety and the safety of others.

Through the Prophet Amos, God gave a spiritual warning to his Old Testament people. They weren’t speeding; they were actually too slow, too lethargic, too complacent, too satisfied in the status quo of their faith-life. In the warning, Amos points out that these people were more concerned about their own lives, their own comfy couches, having fine meals and tasty wine to drink. “All is well,” they thought, but nothing could have been further from the truth. They—the descendants of Joseph—were in spiritual ruin and they would be exiled. What a strong warning and call to repent!

Amos’ words of warning must not fall on deaf ears today. We must take a close look at our lives. Are we feasting on the creature comforts of this world? Are we investing in things that only rot and decay, while the preaching and teaching ministry of God’s Word struggles? If we fail to heed the warning of the way sin and selfish living permeates our lives, we’re heading for much worse than a speeding ticket or traffic court. We desperately need to hear God’s warning and call to repent.

Do you see how we can be thankful for God’s warnings? These spiritual warnings come from our God who is merciful and doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants all to repent and live. What is more, our God gives us a promise, that whoever believes in Jesus, his Son, as their Savior from sin will not perish but will have eternal life. May we heed God’s warning this day, and trust in his Son always!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for warning me about my sin and its terrible consequences. I repent of my sin and I trust in Jesus. Help me to turn from sin and follow your holy, precious Word each day. In Jesus my Savior’s name I pray. 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.

Little Words are Important – October 13, 2017

But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known…through faith in Jesus Christ…justified freely by his grace…redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:21-24

Little Words are Important


Daily Devotion – October 13, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 3:21-24

See series: Devotions

Text messages are really convenient and helpful…until they’re not. Sometimes they are sent in the heat of the moment to hurt and wound. Sometimes autocorrect takes over and produces a sentence that is confusing, funny, or potentially harmful. But maybe the most frustrating and maddening are those texts sent in haste where a little, but very important word is accidentally left out.

Husband and wife have been feuding and giving each other the silent treatment. When the tension has reached its climax, she writes, “You said some hurtful things…I am mad at you!!!” But what if she meant to write: “You said some hurtful things…but I am not mad at you!!!” Those two missing words are really important. They change the meaning of the text entirely.

Small words in the Bible can be very important too. In the middle of chapter 3 of his letter to Roman Christians, the apostle Paul writes these two very little, but very important words: “But now…” He has just used much ink laying out the situation in which all human beings find themselves when it comes to their standing before God. God sees blatant godlessness and bold wickedness in some cases. In others, it is hypocritical judging. In many “religious” hearts he views prideful, but blind and worthless self-righteousness. He witnesses people who concur with his law, written in every human heart at birth, yet go against conscience. He sees others who know his law by heart and sin anyway. The final conclusion? No one is righteous before God. Everyone is accountable before God, but all they have to show is a ledger full of sin and disobedience.

What shall we do? How can we fix it? The truth is we can’t do anything. “But now…” God himself enters to fix it for us. Where we are unable to produce the righteousness he expects, he brings it to us and gives it to us. Where we fail at keeping the law through our own strength, he tells us that this gift comes through faith…in Jesus Christ. Where we have failed, he has emerged victorious. He has joined humanity, putting himself under God’s law and keeping it…perfectly in every way. He has given his innocent life in our place that we might be justified, declared “not guilty” in the Judge’s courtroom. He has paid the price that sets us free and makes us whole, forgiving our sins and freeing us from the chains of sin and death. Two small words that change everything. Hang on to them!

Prayer:
Lord God, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for bringing it to us and pointing out the little words that make such a big, eternal difference for us. Help us to hold on to these words and trust them for our comfort and confidence. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Jesus Gives Life – October 12, 2017

Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.
Romans 3:19-20

Jesus Gives Life


Daily Devotion – October 12, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 3:19-20

See series: Devotions

There’s a dead raccoon on the side of the road not too far from my house. Poor guy. He must’ve been hit by a car. One day he’s as alive as a raccoon can be, doing whatever it is raccoons do and the next, he’s gone.

I mention that lifeless critter because I think it can help us understand what the apostle Paul says here in Romans chapter 3. See, if I stopped my car and started yelling at that raccoon to get out of the road, people would think I was crazy. Yelling at a dead raccoon isn’t going to help. It won’t move away from the road because it can’t. It’s dead. But spiritually speaking, that’s how we are too! Dead in sin—that’s how the Bible describes all people. By nature, we’re dead to all things spiritual and therefore unable to do anything spiritual. Attempting to obey God’s law in order to earn his love and salvation is simply impossible. Is there any possibility a dead raccoon will jump up and run away? No. Is there any chance for us to win God’s love and a place in heaven by obedience to the will of God? No. We’re spiritually dead and completely incapable of such a thing.

That’s what Paul is talking about when he writes, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law…” The purpose of God’s law isn’t to show us what to do to get to heaven; God’s law shows us that we can’t get to heaven on our own.

Our Savior wants us to understand our helplessness and hopelessness only so we depend on him alone for rescue. The Lord makes us conscious of sin so that we look to the only One who can take our sin away. And Jesus doesn’t disappoint! Where there is only death, Jesus not only takes away our sin, he gives us life.

Lifeless, dead, and unable to help ourselves—that’s us. “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law.” Jesus alone gives us life… and hope and joy as well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to look to you alone for forgiveness, life, and salvation. Amen!

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

Infinitely Wise – October 11, 2017

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:8-9

Infinitely Wise


Daily Devotion – October 11, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:8-9

See series: Devotions

“To Infinity and Beyond!” Children and adults alike recognize Buzz Lightyear’s famous catchphrase from the Toy Story films. Can the toy astronaut’s words catch anything of God’s own description of himself, revealed in the Bible verses for today?

We make some progress toward the height of God’s wisdom and ways when we ponder the wonders and precision of his creation. A total eclipse of the sun, or the complexities of the human brain are amazing, but we’re still so very limited in understanding. More profound are the unsearchable things that God permits or sends into our world. They perplex us, frighten us, and can take us to the verge of doubt. “How could God permit or send such a thing?”

The continuing evils of life began with the disobedience of Adam and Eve, that day when sin entered our world. To this day, however, God has not forced anyone to obey his holy will or to believe his holy Word. An inherited sinful nature is demonstrated in the thoughts, words, and actions of every human being. “Why does God permit such lovelessness and violence? When will his judgment come?”

When God sends Judgment Day warnings, whether by disastrous hurricanes or earthquakes or by personal calamity, we often fail to grasp the wisdom of such ways, and unbelievers scoff: “Why should we trust God, if his ways are so unsearchable?”

Jesus is the reason! Jesus is the reason to rely on what the Holy Spirit has revealed in the sacred Scriptures. It’s the most amazing thing! God so loves sinners that he sent his holy Son to be a man as mankind’s substitute. Jesus paid the full debt for the sins of us all. He lived, he died, HE ROSE AGAIN! It truly is finished! Jesus’ payment is the sufficient price for all sinners to reach heaven. Forgiveness in Christ, along with the Bible’s revealed truth for thankful living, are enough for now. We don’t have to understand everything. God does!

God is infinitely wise. Trust him! Yes, his saving wisdom reaches “to infinity and beyond.”

Prayer:
Lord God, help me overcome any uncertainties about your infinite wisdom with humble trust in Jesus and in your trustworthy promises. Amen.

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

Remain – October 10, 2017

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain…
Philippians 1:23-24

Remain


Daily Devotion – October 10, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 1:23-24

See series: Devotions

Is your body worn out? How many of your friends already died? Do trips to the doctor and stays in the hospital now dominate your calendar? Has your world grown small—perhaps to the size of the inside of your home or to the size of your room? Do you wonder why the Lord doesn’t just call it a day and take you to heaven?

If so, meet the apostle Paul.

By the time he wrote his letter to the Christians in Philippi, Paul had lived a very full life. For decades he had been on the move, proclaiming the gospel to a cynical and hostile world. By this time he had completed several major missionary journeys. Through those years he had been stoned and left for dead. He had survived multiple shipwrecks. He had been beaten with rods at least three times. He had been whipped at least five times. He had faced angry mobs. He had faced plots against his life. He had faced the hardships of travel and the stress of constant danger. And through it all he had endured a serious physical problem—his “thorn in the flesh,” as he called it—that made his life even harder. And now he was in prison in Rome.

After so many years, so many miles, so many scars and broken bones, perhaps we should not be surprised at Paul’s candor when he simply said, “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.”

But then Paul went on to say something else. The gospel message of sins forgiven through faith in Jesus is the same message that empowered Paul to remember that his time on this earth was not about Paul. Rather, his time on this earth was all about Christ. With that in mind, Paul’s complete thought to his fellow Christians was this: “I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain.”

Think about that for a moment. At this point in his life, Paul was more than ready to be done with his work and go home to heaven. But because he was convinced that continuing his gospel ministry would be an advantage for his hearers, he was ready to remain.

Despite the hard years, Paul knew what a priceless treasure he had in Jesus. He knew the unspeakable joy of living every moment as a forgiven child of God. He knew the thrill of basking in the light of God’s undeserved love. Despite the many hard moments, Paul knew how God was using him to reach people with the message of salvation through Jesus. And so if the Lord needed Paul to remain a little while longer, that was all right with Paul.

The same holds true for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I have been on this earth for many years. I look forward to heaven. But I’m glad to serve to your glory, if you want me to remain a little while longer. 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.

God’s Generosity – October 9, 2017

“Are you envious because I am generous?”
Matthew 20:15

God’s Generosity


Daily Devotion – October 9, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 20:15

See series: Devotions

“We deserve more!” This is what some of the hired men thought. They worked long hours, and they bore the heat of the day. No wonder they complained against the owner of the vineyard who paid all the workers the same amount.

The lesson Jesus wanted his hearers to understand was that heaven is prepared for all who believe in him. It makes no difference whether a person is a life-long believer, or someone who came to faith much later in life. Faith saves, because faith takes hold of God’s undeserved love in Jesus.

It is a lesson I need to understand. It may be easy for me to think I deserve more from God because I have believed for most of my life. At the very least, I should be guaranteed a greater reward, because I endured more hardship and sacrifice. Naturally I may feel disappointed, even disheartened, when someone who believes only a short time has the same promise of heaven and blessings as I do.

I shouldn’t be disappointed. Because whether I am a life-long believer or a last-day believer, my confidence of heaven comes as the result of God’s generosity.

It was his generosity which brought his Son into this sin-darkened world to become my Substitute. Jesus lived a sinless life replacing my disobedience. Jesus secured my forgiveness enduring my punishment on the cross. Jesus prepared my place in heaven triumphing over the grave which held me captive. It is because Jesus lived, died and rose for me, I know heaven is mine. The same is true for all who put their faith in him—regardless of how long they have believed.

God’s generosity knows no limits and his undeserved love knows no boundaries. This leads me to rejoice, because through faith I know heaven is mine. It also leads me to even greater joy, because through faith God has prepared heaven for all who put their faith in his Son.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I thank and praise you for your generous and undeserved love which you have shown to me and all people through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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

Trustworthy Character – October 8, 2017

“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
Luke 16:10-11

Trustworthy Character


Daily Devotion – October 8, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 16:10-11

See series: Devotions

Dishonesty. Unfaithfulness. Misplaced trust. We hear and read about it all the time. A secretary in a small company’s accounting department has been secretly stealing money. A politician has misused thousands of taxpayer dollars for expensive trips and luxuries. A spouse can’t trust his or her partner with the checkbook or credit cards because of broken promises.

How about you? The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). Everything really belongs to God. That means everything in your possession is on loan to you from God. God simply asks you to be a good manager of everything he has lent to you. God lends you your time, talents and your treasure so that you can use them to serve your Savior, your family, and others less fortunate than you.

What kind of manager have you been? Are you making time not only for your employer, but also for your spouse and family, and for service to your church? Is your talent focused just on your job and personal hobbies, or do you view your gifts as opportunities to benefit others? When that paycheck arrives, do you always wonder first how you can use that money for your benefit, to bring you pleasure? Or, as the Bible says, do you first set aside a sum of money for the Lord in keeping with your income? (See 1 Corinthians 16:2)

And what about the greatest treasures God has given you, the treasures that money cannot buy? What about that forgiveness for our selfishness? What about that knowledge of Jesus’ suffering and death—what he went through—just so we could have that forgiveness? What about that sure and certain hope of heaven which we never could have earned or purchased on our own? What about the promises of God to give us what we need, even if we don’t have all that we want? Are you sharing those treasures? Does your family know about them? Your friends and neighbors? Are you using your gifts to help others in places all over the world to find real and everlasting treasure in Jesus?

What it comes down to is this: What matters is not the amount of gifts or the value of the treasure God has given. It’s the trustworthy character and the faithfulness of the one to whom those gifts have been given.

Look to Jesus. See the trustworthy character of Jesus as he faithfully obeys his Father’s will to die for you. Let that be your guide to developing Christian honesty, trust and faithfulness with all the gifts God has given and loaned to you.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for all your gifts: food and family, spouse and children, home and job, earthly and heavenly treasure, forgiveness and salvation. Forgive my stinginess in serving others or in sharing with others. Make me more and more generous like 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 Better Place – October 7, 2017

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6

A Better Place


Daily Devotion – October 7, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 2:1-6

See series: Devotions

“What can I do to make this world a better place?” A look at the sad, scary state of current events, both local and worldwide, can lead one to wonder, “Is there really anything I can do that will make a difference?”

Today the apostle Paul says to us, “Yes. Pray.” Paul urges us to pray for everyone—to pray for everyone who means anything at all to us, and for some who don’t mean anything to us. He urges us to pray for our spouses, our children, our family members, our friends, our neighbors, our countrymen, and for people around the world. Do you want to make things better? Pray.

Pray, Paul says, especially for all those in authority. Pray for your local authorities and your national authorities. And pray for kings and authorities around the world. It may not always be easy. Do you find it difficult to pray for the tyrants and despots of the world? Do you find it difficult to pray for the leaders you don’t agree with? Then remember, the Roman emperor when Paul wrote these words was Nero, a vicious and villainous man, a man who eliminated his opposition, a man who had his own mother and wife murdered, a man under whom the active persecution of the Christian church flourished.

Whether it is the authorities at home or abroad, Paul doesn’t say, “Ridicule them.” He doesn’t say, “Put them down.” He doesn’t say, “Make sure everyone knows their faults.” He doesn’t say, “Try to understand them.” He doesn’t say, “Explain them.” He doesn’t say, “Pity them.” He says, “Pray for them.” Pray for them so we can live peaceful and quiet lives.

When we live peaceful and quiet lives, we can live in all godliness and holiness. And then we can proclaim the real difference-maker, Jesus. God wants all people to be saved. That happens when people come to a knowledge of the truth. Not just any truth, but the truth that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and man. The truth that Jesus Christ is the one who has established peace between God and man. The truth that Jesus Christ is the one who has opened the door to heaven. He did that by giving himself as a ransom, by taking our sins upon himself, by offering his body and blood for us on the cross.

Life with Jesus—that’s what truly makes this world a better place.

Prayer:
Lord God, guide and bless all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Then guide and bless us as we proclaim Jesus, the difference-maker for this life and for eternity. 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.

Seeing God in Creation and in the Savior – October 6, 2017

Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Romans 1:20

Seeing God in Creation and in the Savior


Daily Devotion – October 6, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 1:20

See series: Devotions

My family traveled to Yellowstone National Park this summer. The beauty and majesty we witnessed are indescribable. Rivers, waterfalls, rocky ridges and wildlife combine to inspire awe in every observer. Over and over my family and I commented on how great our God is to have created such a world as ours.

This is precisely how the God of our universe wants us to react when we observe his creation. In fact, the Bible says that anyone who sees what God has created and denies that there is a God who created it, is a fool (Psalm 14:1). In the book of Romans, the apostle Paul wrote that anyone who claims there is no God is without excuse. The majesty and complexity of the universe insist that an all-wise and all-powerful God is behind it.

But the God of this universe was not content with just letting nature tell us about himself. He wanted us to know him more personally. So he became one of us in the person of Jesus Christ. He walked among us for thirty-three years. He showed us, in word and deed, who God is and what God is like. He performed miracle after miracle to demonstrate his power and his love. Then he gave himself up to his enemies and allowed himself to be put to death on a Roman cross. There he suffered the punishment for all the sins of all people of all time. There he suffered the punishment for YOUR sins.

When you witness the beauty and majesty of this world, think about God who created everything. Remember how much he loves you, enough to come into the world he created so that he could save you. And look forward to the new world he promises to create for all his followers when this world comes to an end.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the wonderful world in which I live. Thank you for living in this world for a time to be my Savior so that I might live for an eternity. 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 Truth about Righteousness – October 5, 2017

For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
Romans 1:17

The Truth about Righteousness


Daily Devotion – October 5, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 1:17

See series: Devotions

At the end of this month the world will celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany protesting the religious teachings of the church in his day. To a certain degree the entire Reformation hinged on one word—righteousness. Luther had been taught that righteousness was something that humans had to offer to God. He was told that the only way for a person to be acceptable to God was to love the Lord above all things and to love others selflessly. But no matter how hard he tried, even devoting himself to the strictest level of obedience as a monk, he always came up short. If God’s standard of righteousness is perfect obedience in thought, word, and deed, which it is (Matthew 5:48), how can anyone count themselves “righteous?”

If you’ve ever tried to get really good at something, then maybe you’ve come to the realization that the better you get, the harder it is to make improvements. For example, if you have the natural gifts and devote yourself to hours of practicing the piano, you will probably be able to get pretty good—maybe even better than most. But if you want to reach the level of a professional concert pianist, you’d have to devote your entire life to practice, and you still might not reach that level. The closer you get to perfection the amount of practice necessary increases exponentially. That’s kind of like what Luther discovered when he tried to earn God’s righteousness. The harder he tried the more he realized how far away he was.

Luther’s “aha” moment came when God opened his eyes to see that the righteousness we need, is not something that we can give to God, but something that God gives us through faith. This is the good news. We could never offer God the righteousness he demands in his Law. But God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, came to live a perfectly holy and righteous life in our place. He then offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to credit us with his perfect obedience.

This is the truth about righteousness. It’s a truth that led Luther to stand before Emperor and Pope and risk his life. It’s a truth that gives us peace and confidence. We can’t do it, but Christ has. “For in the gospel the righteousness of God has been revealed” and it’s for you!

Prayer:
(Martin Luther):
“Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on you what was mine; yet set on me what was yours. You became what you were not, that I might become what I was not.”

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.

Do Not Fear Forgiveness – October 4, 2017

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.”
Genesis 50:15-21

Do Not Fear Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – October 4, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 50:15-21

See series: Devotions

Do you have phobias? Massive storms, like hurricanes, create cases of aquaphobia (fear of water) and astraphobia (fear of thunder and lightning).

Joseph’s brothers were afraid. They had done terrible things to Joseph and now Joseph is a powerful ruling official in Egypt. The lives of the brothers were in his hands. They were afraid!

The brothers’ problem was the fear of not being forgiven for what they had done to Joseph. They had sold their brother into slavery. They were afraid of forgiveness. Does that sound strange? It might, but we can all have “forgiveaphobia”.

Like those men, we fear the repercussions of confessing what we have done wrong. And lying about our situation does not help at all. The man or woman who cheated on their spouse, the worker who misappropriated funds, or the student who cheated on a test gain nothing positive by lying about it. Instead, though difficult, there is great benefit in confessing and asking for forgiveness.

Joseph said to his brothers, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?” God’s forgiveness dismisses fear. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross takes away all our sins—even those that are horrific. Followers of Christ dismiss fear because God freely forgives them. In response, as God does for them, they fully and completely send away the sin of others. Forgiveness is freely and lovingly given.

Forgiveness offered in love is the most powerful agent of change the world has ever seen. Joseph forgave because he knew God is a God of forgiveness. We forgive because we are forgiven by God through Jesus.

So then, don’t be afraid.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, may your gracious forgiveness of all my sins through Jesus my Savior lead me to forgive others even as I have been forgiven. 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.

Belong – October 3, 2017

None of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone…whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7-8

Belong


Daily Devotion – October 3, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 14:7-8

See series: Devotions

Why is it that many combat veterans are often eager to rejoin their units even when it means exposing themselves to more danger? Why is it that citizens of London who lived through The Blitz in WWII often look back on that time with nostalgia? Why is it that people sometimes remember living through natural disasters with more fondness than they do weddings or tropical vacations?

These are questions that set the stage in a book released in 2016. The author of the book is a journalist by the name of Sebastian Junger. The title of his book is Tribe. It’s a compelling read. In his book, Junger makes the case that a significant reason why many have been willing to embrace periods of danger or hardship or disaster is that during those extreme periods they experience something they crave.

What they crave is a sense of belonging. And so it is not the danger or hardship or disaster in and of itself that they seek. Rather it is the intense bonding with others that these periods of extreme difficulty often create.

For any number of you reading or listening to this, perhaps this does not come as a surprise. Because you are in a place in your life right now where you feel so isolated, so detached, so lonely that you would be willing to endure some danger and some discomfort if you knew it would give you a profound sense of belonging.

Sebastian Junger’s book points out a problem in our society. For all of our conveniences, for all of our creature comforts, for all of our instant communication, we are lonely people. But this problem is not just a product of 21st Century life. The root of the problem is ancient. The root of the problem is sin—yours and mine. And sin’s natural self-absorption not only isolates us from each other. Far worse, it isolates us from God.

And so God chose to bring our isolation to an end. Jesus came. Through his life and death in our place, he annihilated the walls of our sin—the walls that had separated us from him and from each other. Now, through faith in him, we belong. We belong to him. We belong to each other.

Want to savor this bond of belonging that you have? Find a challenge to tackle with some fellow believers. You’ll find that, in Jesus, you have never been alone.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in you I belong. I belong to you. I belong to my fellow believers. By your gospel, empower me to seek opportunities to savor this present reality in my 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.

Who’s Counting? – October 2, 2017

Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21-22

Who’s Counting?


Daily Devotion – October 2, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21-22

See series: Devotions

Peter didn’t know what to think. He assumed he understood forgiveness. Then he watched and listened to Jesus. He became confused, just as confused as I can be.

Peter thought forgiving a person up to seven times was sufficient. That certainly appears to be more than generous. I may have a challenge forgiving a person just once. This is why Jesus’ words are so important.

There are two ways to look at what Jesus taught. It could be seventy-seven times, or it could be seven times seventy—490 times. His point is clear, who’s counting?

Jesus draws me to the forgiveness he secured and now freely offers. That forgiveness is complete, free, and knows no limits. I can live knowing I am always forgiven. This is a priceless truth because the devil is always trying to deceive me. He wants me to think, maybe God hasn’t forgiven all my sins. I can answer his deception with the truth that I am forgiven through faith in Jesus my Savior. The best part of this forgiveness is it never runs out.

As I live in this forgiveness, I come to understand why I can be forgiving to others. It is because of what I have experienced from my Savior which makes me forgiving, and not just seven, seventy-seven or 490 times! I can always be forgiving because I am always forgiven.

It is this understanding of forgiveness which changes me and the way I deal with others. Instead of keeping a running tally of sins, I keep on forgiving. Instead of demanding specific requirements to merit forgiveness, I rejoice to see a humble and repentant heart. Instead of withholding forgiveness, I can freely dispense it. I can do all of this because I know Jesus has done the same for me—first. As I live in his forgiveness, I joyfully adopt his mercy, his compassion, and his attitude which says—who’s counting?

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, give me a grateful and merciful heart. Lead me to forgive others just as you have forgiven 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.

Repent of Your Sin – October 1, 2017

Now the tax collectors and ‘sinners’ were all gathering around to hear Jesus. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them . . . “there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
Luke 15:1-3,7

Repent of Your Sin


Daily Devotion – October 1, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 15:1-3,7

See series: Devotions

He was almost forced off the road and muttered, “How could anyone drive so recklessly?” She read about the senseless murder and muttered, “How could anyone be so brutal?” After seeing another politician or athlete confess a sin, we mutter, “How could they lie, take performance enhancing drugs, text such lewd photos?”

Luke 15 is the great chapter about the lost—the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. It begins with some muttering. Awful sinners had gathered around Jesus to hear his message. But some of the religious elite muttered. They wondered how Jesus could welcome “sinners” into his presence and even sit down for a meal with them. If Jesus were truly God, he would know who they were. He’d know better than to associate with them.

But those “sinners” were people who recognized their sin. Those “sinners” understood how awful they had been, how they had hurt people, how they had said shameful words. They knew they were sinners who needed the forgiving love of Jesus.

How different those sinners were from the religions elite who thought they were so good that they didn’t need the forgiving love of the Savior Jesus who was right there in their presence.

Next time you mutter, remember the religious elite who thought they were so much better, who believed they were so much more righteous than the sinners around them. When you mutter about a lousy driver, remember those times when you drove recklessly and endangered the lives of those in your car or others outside of it. Next time you mutter about someone’s brutality, remember the times when you said shameful words or thought brutal thoughts, all of which your Lord heard. Next time you wonder, “How could someone . . . ?” remember what you have done, how you have been that someone who lied, who took something you shouldn’t have, who texted words that you shouldn’t have, etc.

When you’re tempted to mutter, don’t be judgmental about the sins of others. Repent of your sin. Rejoice in that Savior who came to forgive the sins of “sinners” no matter who they are, even sinners like you and me. Give the angels a reason to rejoice in your repentance, rather than shake their heads in dismay over your judgmental self-righteousness.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, keep me from being judgmental. Help me to humbly and daily repent of my sin. Help me to rejoice in your forgiving love for lost sinners, even sinners like me. 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.

Place Your Confidence in Christ – September 30, 2017

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me faithful, appointing me to his service. Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief. The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:12-17

Place Your Confidence in Christ


Daily Devotion – September 30, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 1:12-17

See series: Devotions

It is an advertising message we hear and see quite often. We hear it when we see the knife being twisted and pounded on, cutting through wood and tin cans, then slicing a tomato like it’s not even there. We hear it when we see the vehicle going through thousands of hours of grueling tests, being driven over terrain most of us will never see, and emerging without a flaw. The message can come in many different ways, but the thought is essentially the same: If our product can do this, then it can certainly handle your needs.

The Apostle Paul had a similar message for his younger colleague, Timothy. Timothy was now on his own, leading the congregations around Ephesus while Paul, his mentor, returned to Macedonia. In the days ahead Timothy would face some tough challenges. Perhaps Timothy was thinking: “I’m not ready for this. I can’t do it.” Perhaps he was thinking: “Maybe I could do it if Paul was still here with me, but by myself?…” Perhaps he was doing some comparing: “I could never be the kind of church worker Paul is.”

Do you ever think that way? When God puts a challenge before you, do you ever look at it as something someone else, someone with a greater faith, could handle much better or instead of you? Do you ever find yourself thinking, “I could never do what he or she does”? Are you struggling with questions of faith in your life? Are you struggling with particular sins that plague you? Do some of the things that God leads you to do seem overwhelming?

To Timothy and to you Paul says, “If God can work with me, God can work with you. In fact, I’m a perfect example of what God can do with a sinner. Take a look at what Jesus has done in my life, and place your confidence in Christ.”

The grace of our Lord has also been poured out on you abundantly. Your sins are forgiven in Christ. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t let the devil convince you that you are beyond God’s help or beyond hope. Don’t let him convince you that, because of your sin, God can’t use you.

Christ Jesus came into the world to save you. You have been shown mercy. Christ Jesus has appointed you to his service. And he will give you strength.

Prayer:
Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. 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.