His Victory – February 20, 2019

Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him.
Deuteronomy 26:5-10

His Victory


Daily Devotion – February 20, 2019

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 26:5-10

See series: Devotions

After accomplishing some great success in life, perhaps you have been given the counsel: “Don’t rest on your laurels.” A sign of victory in ancient times was to wear a wreath made of laurel leaves as a kind of crown. To rest on your laurels, then, means to be so satisfied with your past achievements that you make no further effort to improve. Such a person basks in the glow of glory years gone by.

When the people of Israel entered into the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness, they would be tempted to “rest on their laurels.” After years of suffering, they had found success. They had journeyed to a land “flowing with milk and honey” with rich soil that produced abundant crops. But Moses reminded them that the laurel wreath of victory was not theirs to wear. The Israelites, descendants of Abraham, owed everything they had to the Lord, the God of their fathers. When they were helpless, the Lord had saved them from slavery and had led them safely to this new land. By all rights, the Lord deserved their thanks and praise.

Can Christians be tempted to rest on their laurels? After all, we believers have been promised an eternal home in heaven. As God’s children we have the privilege of going to him in prayer. By his grace we even see some successes in our struggles with sin and may have been able to resist temptations that have been the ruin of others around us. But no, the crown of victory does not rightly belong to us. We sinners could never earn peace with God ourselves. It was won by Christ Jesus the Son of God, who with his outstretched arms on the cross defeated sin, death, and the devil for us. He gives salvation as a gift to all sinners through faith. We rest secure on Jesus’ laurels—his victory—rather than our own. And responding to such a Savior in faith and gratitude, we bring the firstfruits of godly living, setting apart for him the best of our resources, our schedule, and our heart.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you used your mighty power to win me back from death and the devil. Let all my thinking, speaking, and doing this day reflect your great love for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Necessary – February 19, 2019

The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.
1 Corinthians 8:2

Necessary


Daily Devotion – February 19, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 8:2

See series: Devotions

Several years ago, a high school in Port Huron, MI, needed a commencement speaker for its spring graduation. The school decided to invite businessman Ross Perot. Mr. Perot accepted. As a result, what the senior class received that year was a commencement address few of them would soon forget.

Not far into the speech, Mr. Perot made it clear that he had a deep concern about a certain portion of the graduating class. His concern, however, was not about those who had to struggle to get through school. Nor was his concern necessarily about those who had certain disadvantages or difficulties. Rather, his deep concern was about those in the class who had sailed through their four years of high school with straight A’s.

In many cases, Mr. Perot told them, “you don’t know what it is to strive, fail, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again and again; and, finally, never to win a medal but just finish the race.” Because that segment of the class had not yet tasted that bitter but necessary slice of life, Mr. Perot was telling them that even though they knew many things, here was one vital thing they did not yet know.

God’s Word has a similar thought for you and me, but the thought is even more profound. It’s easy for us to picture the devil at work when we encounter setbacks or failure or grief. What may not often occur to us is what the devil can do when we experience success. Satan can use even the head-rush of achievement to lessen our appreciation for God’s grace. Satan can use that moment of victory to distract us from God’s undeserved love for us in Jesus Christ.

Keep that in mind when the Lord chooses to allow disappointment and failure into your life. His goal is not to give you an unbroken chain of success stories. Rather, it is to do whatever is necessary to keep you close to him. After all, he died for you. He loves you that much.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I ask you to carry out great things to your glory through my life. I also ask you to do what is necessary to keep me close to 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Bold in the Gospel – February 18, 2019

Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.
2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

Bold in the Gospel


Daily Devotion – February 18, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 3:12–4:2

See series: Devotions

What makes a person bold? A husband and wife can go to the bank to secure a mortgage for purchasing their first home because their credit score is top notch. An athlete can go into the big game with boldness because he has put in hours of training, practice, and preparation. A young aspiring business professional walks into his interview with boldness because he has a shiny new degree from a prestigious university.

But what makes us bold as Christians? When we look at what God’s law has to say, we have no right to be bold because it shows us that we are sinners who deserve God’s judgment and punishment. Surely a sinful human being cannot be bold before a holy God. Our boldness does not come from God’s law, but from the gospel. God’s gospel tells us that our sins are forgiven in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus our Savior. The Bible says, “For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Through that message, the Holy Spirit works saving faith in our hearts and thus sets us free from the curse of sin. So we can be bold not because of what we have done or can do, but because of what Jesus has done for us!

That freedom and hope also makes us bold to share the wonderful news of the gospel with others, just as Paul did. We dare not change it or speak falsely about it. We set forth the truths of God’s law and gospel plainly because, “…the gospel…is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).

So be bold. Know that in Jesus, your sins are forgiven and through faith in him you are made a dear child of your heavenly Father. Then share that gospel message boldly that others may hear it and be saved. Be bold in the gospel!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in you and your work of salvation alone do I have freedom from sin and the hope of eternal life. Strengthen my faith in you and make me bold to serve you with 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Basement – February 17, 2019

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

The Basement


Daily Devotion – February 17, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 2:9-10

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Long Walk – February 16, 2019

[Love] is not self-seeking.
1 Corinthians 13:5

The Long Walk


Daily Devotion – February 16, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 13:5

See series: Devotions

An old, gray-haired man walked into the headquarters of General George Washington. When Washington saw him, he took notice and stopped what he was doing. The old man’s name was Peter Miller. Washington treasured him as a friend, and for good reason. During the dark days of Valley Forge, when Washington’s men were cold and starving and sick, it was old Peter Miller who had worked so hard to deliver as much relief and medical help as he possibly could.

Now here the old man stood, having walked a long walk to see the general. He was there to plead for the life of his neighbor back home, one Michael Widmon. Through some foolish act, Mr. Widmon had been found guilty of treason and sentenced to be hanged. Only Washington could grant a pardon, and a pardon is what Peter Miller sought.

Reports are that Peter Miller’s words moved Washington to tears. Nevertheless, Washington said no. After all, he said to Peter, how could he justify granting a pardon to a man just because he happens to be your friend?

What the old man said next put Peter Miller’s long walk in an entirely different light. “Friend?” he said to Washington, “Michael Widmon is not my friend. In fact, he has been my bitterest enemy.” And it was true. The townspeople knew that Widmon had taken to treating Peter Miller with contempt, even going so far as to spit in his face.

For Washington, that settled it. He granted the pardon. He granted the pardon not because Peter Miller had made the long walk for a friend. He granted the pardon because Peter Miller had made the long walk for an enemy.

You and I might flatter ourselves to think that, on our good days, we might be willing to “walk the long walk” for a friend, or for someone who kindles our compassion. But to do it for someone who has hurt us, or disrespected us, or humiliated us? That’s something else entirely. Our inability reminds us how far short you and I fall when it comes to God’s command to love.

That’s why we need Jesus. Jesus walked the long walk in our place. He suffered and died for our every self-seeking moment. Because he did, he has secured for each of us a permanent pardon from eternal death.

And there’s more. God’s Word tells us that the same love which Jesus demonstrated for us is also what empowers us to lengthen our walk for others—friend and foe alike.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, by your Gospel promise of forgiveness, move me to walk the long walk for those in my life who need me to do 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Friend in a High Place – February 15, 2019

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

A Friend in a High Place


Daily Devotion – February 15, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 59:16

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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That Perfect Love – February 14, 2019

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:18-19

That Perfect Love


Daily Devotion – February 14, 2019

Devotion based on 1 John 4:18-19

See series: Devotions

There can be a lot of fear in our relationships. We fear that the other person will find out who we really are. We fear that we do not really know the other person. We fear that we will be misunderstood, or that we will disappoint the other person.

There can be a lot of fear in our relationship with God. We fear that he will punish us when we fail to follow his Word. We fear that we misunderstand what he wants and that he will be disappointed. We fear that we have not been good enough, and that we will end up in hell as a result.

God’s perfect love for us drives out those fears. God promises that he has punished his own Son, Jesus, for our sins, so he will not punish us with hell. Instead, in his perfect love, he promises us heaven through faith in Jesus, and tells us, “Don’t be afraid.” The perfect forgiveness we have through Jesus takes away our fears.

That perfect love leads us to love God. Even though he is holy, he has reached down to us unholy people and lived with us in the person of Jesus Christ. Today he promises to be with us wherever we go, wherever we live.

That perfect love also leads us to love other people. Because God has forgiven us, we do not withhold our forgiveness from others. When we need the strength to show that love and forgiveness, even to people who don’t deserve it, we remember that God has loved us and forgiven us even when we don’t deserve it, and we are moved to love.

We love because he first loved us.

Prayer:
Lord of life and love, take away our fears, and give us confidence to live our lives for you in love for one another. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Prophet of Grace and Truth – February 13, 2019

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the LORD our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded him to say, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, must be put to death.”
Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The Prophet of Grace and Truth


Daily Devotion – February 13, 2019

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 18:15-20

See series: Devotions

Anyone who has begun studying the Bible might come away from it a little overwhelmed. So much to learn! So much to remember! So many changes I need to make in my life! What if I mess up?

God’s people Israel had received much instruction from Moses over the course of forty years. They would be blessed if they remembered to obey all that the Lord had commanded them through the prophet. But now Moses was soon to die—just as they were on the verge of finally entering the Promised Land! What if they forgot all he had taught them?

Unfortunately, they did just that. The people that God had chosen to be his own forgot about him and turned to serve false, make-believe gods that could not help them. They did what pleased their sinful hearts and brought the curse of the law down upon themselves.

But the Lord kept his promise through Moses to send another prophet, a greater prophet. Jesus Christ, the Son of God in human flesh, did not just come to remind the people of what they should be doing or point out how they had failed to do what God had commanded. Jesus came to keep that law perfectly as everyone’s substitute and to bring forgiveness of sins to all who trust in God’s promise of grace through him. The Bible teaches: “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made him known” (John 1:17-18).

When it comes to following God’s holy commands, we can make mistakes. We can, and we do. But with the coming of Jesus, the Prophet of Grace and Truth, we are free from the fear of failure. The Lord has revealed himself to us as a God who has removed our guilt through the death of his Son on the cross. Our faith in his forgiveness allows us to look at each day as an opportunity to show our gratitude for his love.

Prayer:
Holy Father, I thank you for sending your Son Jesus to reveal yourself to us as a forgiving God. Let his word and work of salvation be my greatest hope and joy. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Greatest Expression of Love – February 12, 2019

“Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

The Greatest Expression of Love


Daily Devotion – February 12, 2019

Devotion based on John 15:13

See series: Devotions

In two days, many in the United States will celebrate Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day is now observed in many countries as a day celebrating love and affection. Though the date may be different in different places, in most cases it has become a day on which gifts are given as expressions of love.

Common expressions of love include cards, flowers, and heart-shaped boxes filled with chocolates. Sometimes these gestures are empty of real meaning. A grade school student may give cards to everyone in her class, regardless of how she feels about the individual members. An adult may give a gift, not because he really wants to, but because that is what everyone does on Valentine’s Day. More often these gestures are true expressions of love and affection, and those for whom we do such things are those for whom we would do even greater things.

If it came right down to it, who of you wouldn’t give your life for those you love? Your spouse. Your child. Your dear friend. Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Life is the greatest expression of love one human being can offer for another.

For Jesus, the Son of God, the greatest expression of love goes even farther. He didn’t just send you a card—though he did give you an unsurpassed love letter in his Word. He didn’t just get you flowers—though he does hold out to you the beauties of creation and the bounties of the earth. He didn’t just give you a box of chocolates—though he does open his heart so that you may taste and see that the Lord is good. Jesus gave more; even more than a human life. Jesus gave his perfect life for you. Jesus shed his holy blood for you. Jesus endured the agony of hell for you. And now Jesus lives for you.

In so many ways and with infinite depth Jesus’ love surpasses yours and mine. Praise God that his greatest expression of love has made you a child of God. It has prepared you for life to come, and it empowers you to truly love those around you.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for extending the greatest expression of love to me. May I live in the love of Jesus today and always! 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Devil Shrieked – February 11, 2019

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The evil spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.
Mark 1:25-26

The Devil Shrieked


Daily Devotion – February 11, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 1:25-26

See series: Devotions

Following the first sin in the Garden of Eden, God promised to send “the seed of the woman to crush the serpent’s head” (Genesis 3:15). It was that promise which guided and strengthened all who put their faith into what God had said. When the time was right, God the Father sent his Son into the world to fulfill his long-standing promise. (See Galatians 4:4-5.)

Jesus’ ministry was clear from the start. His reason for coming was not to make people feel better about themselves. Nor was his mission to make life easier. He came to destroy the devil’s power and release people from his tyranny. It is a ministry for which I am eternally grateful.

In an early account of Jesus’ ministry, Mark provides a glimpse of the precious work Jesus came to accomplish. Jesus had gone to Capernaum and into a synagogue to teach. While he was there an evil spirit revealed himself and challenged him. Sternly Jesus silenced him and commanded him to come out of the man. The evil spirit left with a shriek. It was that display of power which offered a preview of what Jesus would later do for me and for all people.

Through the authority of his teaching, and later through his death on the cross, Jesus did battle with the devil. No matter how hard the devil tried, he could not overcome Jesus with his temptations or defeat him with his power. Whatever authority the devil had come to an end when Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. The risen Jesus descended into hell and there proclaimed his complete and ultimate victory. The head of the serpent was crushed. All the devil could do was shriek in defeat.

It is because of Jesus’ overwhelming victory that I am able to say, “No to sin and all ungodliness” (Titus 2:12). This means I can stand “toe to toe” with the devil in the good fight of faith. I am no longer a hapless victim. I am no longer hopeless or helpless in the battle. I can draw on the victory Jesus has secured for me, as well as the strength he provides in his Word.

When I rely on Jesus and depend on the power of his victory, the devil will flee from me with a shriek.

Prayer:
O blessed Redeemer, you have freed me from the devil’s control. You have also enabled me to fight and win the good fight of faith. Help me draw on the victory and the strength you offer and keep me faithful until the end. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Reconciled – February 10, 2019

God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:19

Reconciled


Daily Devotion – February 10, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 5:19

See series: Devotions

Do you ever feel like the whole world is against you? No matter where you turn, you find opposition, and where there is no active opposition, there is simply apathy and ignorance. You think you know people, and then they turn against you. Nothing goes right for very long. On most days, most things go wrong.

What is your reaction when that happens? Frustration? Anger?

You may feel like the whole world is against you some days, but God has the right to feel like that every day. No matter where he turns, he finds opposition, and where there is no active opposition, there is simply apathy and ignorance. Even when people claim to know him, they end up with mixed motives and deeds that fall short of their aspirations. Nothing goes right for very long. On most days, most things go wrong.

What is God’s reaction when that happens? It’s not frustration and anger.

Instead, God’s reaction was to send his Son, Jesus, into the world to be the Savior. Jesus is not the Savior of only a few people. He is the Savior of the world. God does not count people’s sins against them because of the perfect life and innocent suffering and death of Jesus. He does not count your sins against you.

That is the message of reconciliation from me to you. God is not your enemy, even though he could easily be disappointed by your life. He is your Savior, and he is there for you even when the whole world seems to be against you. He invites you to repent and to trust in his promises of forgiveness in Christ.

Prayer:
Lord God, when nothing goes right, remind me that, in Christ, you have reconciled me to you. Let me live in the joy of full forgiveness. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Path of Life – February 9, 2019

You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Psalm 16:11

The Path of Life


Daily Devotion – February 9, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 16:11

See series: Devotions

The late Yogi Berra, a famous baseball player, once said, “When you come to a fork in the road, take it.” He made that saying the title of a book of his many well-known “Yogi-isms.” It’s a silly saying, because everyone knows that when you come to a fork in the road, you have to walk down one path or the other. The point of a fork in the road is that you can’t walk both directions.

The Bible says that life has two paths. The one is the path to eternal life. The other is the path to eternal death. You can’t walk both directions.

We give thanks to God that he has made known to us the path of life. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” he says. “Whoever believes in him will not perish but will have eternal life.” The path to life is the path of faith in Jesus as Savior.

The path to eternal life has some sacrifices along the way, because faith in Jesus as Savior means that we do not believe in ourselves as saviors, or in other people who want to entice us to follow them rather than Jesus.

But the path to eternal life ends with joy in the presence of the Lord. All of the joys of heaven, all of the eternal pleasures, involve being in the presence of God forever.

The other path, the one leading to eternal death, may look good, but at its end there is only destruction. Many are on that path. Through Jesus, the Lord leads you on the path to heaven, the one less traveled, and that will make all the difference.

Prayer: : (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 422)
Jesus, lead us on till our rest is won; and although the way be cheerless, we will follow, calm and fearless. Guide us by your hand to our fatherland. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Walk as a Bride Today – February 8, 2019

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

Walk as a Bride Today


Daily Devotion – Walk as a February 8, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 5:25-27

See series: Devotions

Though the first word of today’s Bible passage says, “Husbands,” this devotion is not directed to husbands; it is directed to the bride. But not the bride of an earthly husband. It is directed to the bride of Christ. It is directed to you—one who believes in the holy Christian church, the communion of saints.

As St. Paul talks about the relationship between husbands and wives, he holds up the beautiful relationship between Christ and his bride, the church. In this relationship we see a bride who is beautifully dressed for her husband. In fact, she is holy. She is blameless. She is radiant. Without any stain or wrinkle or blemish. She is the perfect bride!

What is it that makes this bride so beautiful? What is it that makes you so beautiful in God’s eyes?

Notice, there is no talk of the dreams the bride had from little on. There is no talk of the plans the bride outlined in the years and months leading up to her wedding day. There is no talk of the detailed preparations the bride made as the hour of her wedding drew near. What we do hear, what we do see, what we are blessed with, is the loving work of the bridegroom–the loving work of Christ.

Christ made his bride holy and blameless. Christ cleansed her and made her radiant. He did that by giving himself up for her. The Son of God offered his holy, blameless life for his beloved. The Lamb of God, without stain or wrinkle or blemish, sacrificed himself—the perfect payment for sin making the sinner perfect.

This is not a dream or a fairy tale. This is the story of God’s love for you.

Dear friend in Christ, walk as a beautiful bride today. Walk up and down the aisle, out the door, across the street, around the corner, along the path in front of you, with complete confidence in your bridegroom and with eager anticipation of what lies ahead. Walk as a bride who knows that her bridegroom is beaming at her with love.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for cleansing me by the washing with water through the word. May I rejoice to live as your bride 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Truth Hurts – February 7, 2019

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.'”… All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
Luke 4:23,28-29

The Truth Hurts


Daily Devotion – February 7, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:23,28-29

See series: Devotions

“You need to hear this.” When Phil heard these words, he didn’t know what to think. He could sense it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Still, he figured he needed to hear what his friend had to say. But was it going to be a gentle correction, a needed criticism, or a stern rebuke? In any event, he prepared himself because he knew the truth would hurt.

The truth was what Jesus shared with the people in Nazareth, and there was an honesty which was hard to accept. The truth hurt. Because of the painful truth Jesus revealed, many rejected him. They were also ready to silence him. The account provides a much-needed caution for me.

While I prefer to hear about God’s goodness and love, I desperately need to hear when he speaks honestly with me. I have to hear the whole truth, and, the truth hurts. I am a sinner. I am rebellious and hostile to God. By nature I don’t want to do what God desires, nor am I inclined to even think about obeying him.

As Jesus opened the eyes of the crowd, so he opens mine. He confronts me with the truth of my rebellion. He also confronts me with the truth of my condemnation. The truth hurts. It is when I feel the sting of this harsh reality and am broken under its pressing burden, that I long to hear what Jesus has done for me.

He accepted the punishment I should have endured. He experienced the condemnation I should have received. He rescued me from the painful sentence I should have borne. This precious truth brings relief. It also renews me through faith, so I can delight in doing what he desires.

By faith, Jesus has set me free from the painful reality which confronted me and replaced it with the peace only the whole truth can provide. In this truth I now live and rejoice.

Prayer:
O blessed Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for the precious truth you provide. This alone reveals the burden of my sin, and leads me to you, the one who has released me from that burden. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I Knew You – February 6, 2019

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I Knew You


Daily Devotion – February 6, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 1:4-5

See series: Devotions

“I knew you.” You might hear those words from someone who thinks you’ve changed. They knew you at one point in your life, but now you’ve apparently changed. You might hear them from someone you’ve drifted apart from. At one time you were close, but then one of you moved—off to school, off to a new job, off to a new you.

The perspective is one of looking back on who you once were. Time and distance have changed you. What they knew about you no longer seems to be true.

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him: “I knew you.” But the Lord isn’t surprised at Jeremiah—who he is, how he’s changed, or what he’s up to now. No, the Lord’s perspective was different. Before Jeremiah even existed, the Lord knew him and what he would do.

From our perspective, life can feel like a chaotic tornado or a giant game of Plinko (a “Price Is Right” reference for those of you who don’t know game shows). When we feel that way, we all too easily give in to temptations. When it feels like no one is in control, we decide to take the reins. We start making all the decisions ourselves, regardless of what God says. When it feels like our lives are stuck in a dangerous swamp of question marks, we worry about everything, even though worrying has never worked. The list could go on, but the point is simple: when we think no one knows or cares, we sin.

The Lord is here to tell us differently. He knows. He cares. The Lord has plans for you. The Lord’s plans started before you were even born. He planned for you before this world was created. His plans included a cradle where his Son, your Savior, was born. He planned for the cross where Jesus’ punishment brought you peace. In your life, God brought you his Word and Jesus. And, Jesus is planning and preparing a room for you in heaven.

The Lord, who has known and planned those HUGE details for you, knows every little detail, too. The Lord knows. He knows you. He loves you.

Prayer:
Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Forgive me for not trusting your loving care. Give me confidence always that you know me, you love me and your plans for me culminate with my happy home in heaven with 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Life is Short – February 5, 2019

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.
1 Corinthians 7:29

Life is Short


Daily Devotion – February 5, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 7:29

See series: Devotions

In the history of TV ad campaigns, few have been more successful than the series of commercials that ran for Chevy Trucks. The slogan was, “Like a Rock,” and if you’ve ever seen one of the ads, chances are that you’ve never forgotten the sound of the strong, gravelly voice that sang those three words. Thanks to that voice, the “Like a Rock” series of TV spots lasted for years.

The strong, gravelly voice that convinced us that Chevy Trucks are “Like a Rock” belongs to a singer/songwriter by the name of Bob Seger. And here’s the twist. If you google the song and listen to the lyrics, you soon learn that Bob Seger is not celebrating toughness or power. Instead, he is a man mourning the passage of time. As a young man, Seger sings, he was “Like a Rock.” But then the years came and went. The strength of his youth disappeared. And it all happened so quickly that Seger finds himself sitting at night in front of his fireplace bewildered, stunned, wondering where those years have gone.

The message of his song is devastating and clear: Life is short. Whether you live to be 24 or 94, the years will pass through your fingers with startling speed. And when they do, your moment on this earth is done.

Which brings us to Jesus Christ.

Without Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter how strong you are in your youth; it doesn’t matter how successful you are in your prime; it doesn’t matter how golden life is in your golden years. Without Jesus Christ, this moment on the earth is the best you will ever have.

On the other hand, when you walk by faith in the Savior who has washed away your sins and covered you in his holiness—when you live in him, everything in your short life changes. Regardless of circumstances, your life has eternal purpose. Regardless of difficulties, your life has eternal joy. And regardless of the pleasures or pains you experience here, you know that the best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my life here is short. But you are eternal. Empower me by your gospel to live my life in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Love and Forgiveness – February 4, 2019

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come, “he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Mark 1:14-18

Love and Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – February 4, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 1:14-18

See series: Devotions

There are many people who want to describe Jesus’ ministry in their own terms. Some focus on his love and use it to condone just about anything. Others focus on his forgiveness and rely on it to excuse every indiscretion and act of disobedience. But, how do I describe Jesus’ ministry? Actually, a better question might be, how should I describe Jesus’ ministry?

Mark provides a valuable description when he records a portion of Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee. Three words stand out: repent, believe, and follow.

Repentance is turning away from sin and returning to the Lord. Certainly I can be sorry, but repentance takes on a greater sense of urgency. I must realize that I have sinned against God and humbly confess my disobedience. Jesus’ ministry calls me to repent daily and sincerely.

Jesus also invited people to believe the good news, the good news that by his life, death and resurrection he rescued sinners from their guilt and punishment. When I turn from sin in repentance, my first and only, response is to turn to him. I am filled with peace and joy to hear that good news of forgiveness which Jesus not only secured, but which he also freely offers through faith.

As I receive his undeserved love through faith, I also receive the invitation to follow him. Jesus didn’t forgive me so that I could go on with my life as I please. He provided me with his mercy, so I could follow him and serve him in love and obedience. Jesus’ ministry is, and always will be about the change he works in me. He gives me life when I was dead. He gives me sight when I was blind. He gives me faithfulness when I was rebellious.

Certainly love and forgiveness would be two proper ways to describe Jesus’ ministry, but it would leave much to my personal interpretation. A better description is repent, believe and follow. In these I experience his undeserved love and forgiveness. Through these I acknowledge he is my Lord and my Savior.

Prayer:
O dearest Jesus, I thank you for coming into the world to be my Savior. At your invitation lead me to repent of my sins, hear the good news of my forgiveness, and follow you—faithfully, willingly and joyfully. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Day by Day – February 3, 2019

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Matthew 6:24

Day by Day


Daily Devotion – February 3, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 6:24

See series: Devotions

Many people pray that the Lord would allow them to win the lottery. It seems like such a good solution to life’s problems! People imagine that if they had all of that money, their needs would be met and their cares would disappear.

Lottery winners generally tell a different story. Their needs seem never-ending, and their cares multiply. How can that be?

In today’s Bible verse, Jesus explains that money is really a master. If you serve it, you depend on it as the answer to everything, and you spend all of your time trying to accumulate more of it. You trust it to give you everything you need, and when you realize that you still are not happy, you figure that you just need more. When that does not work, you are tempted to despair, to hate and despise God, because he has not blessed you with everything you desire.

By contrast, when you serve God, you realize that money is a gift to be used to his glory. You take care of your obligations and your family. You figure out how to use your money to promote the gospel, which promises you forgiveness of sins and peace through Jesus Christ. You come to hate and despise the love of money as “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). You gain a perspective on life that can only come through service to God.

Christians pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and they trust that God will take care of their monetary and other physical needs, day by day.

Prayer: (Christian Worship Supplement: 765)
Day by day, your mercies, Lord, attend me, bringing me comfort to my anxious soul. Savior, lead me to the home I treasure, where at last I’ll find eternal rest. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Risky Proposition – February 2, 2019

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:10

A Risky Proposition


Daily Devotion – February 2, 2019

Devotion based on James 4:10

See series: Devotions

You wonder if James was thinking about his brother, Jesus, when he wrote these words. Certainly, there was never anyone humbler. Perhaps, James had heard of how Jesus took little children in his arms, spent time with the outcasts, and stooped down to wash his disciples’ dusty feet. Then in his greatest act, Jesus humbled himself by submitting to the Lord’s plan and allowing himself to be crucified like the worst of criminals. But the Lord lifted him up. On the third day he raised Jesus from the dead proving that his death for sinners was accepted. Jesus’ humility was for you and for me.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord.” Humility is not something that comes easy to us. Maybe that’s because it seems kind of risky. If I don’t draw attention to the good things that I do at work, then who will notice? Or if I don’t stand up and speak out for my own interests, then who will take care of them? Humility can be a difficult thing to put into practice in our everyday lives, and especially as we consider our relationship with the Lord. Human reason tells us that if we openly and freely admit that we deserve nothing, that is exactly what we will get.

But notice that these words are not just a command, but a promise. James writes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” When you come before the Lord, you don’t have to pretend that you are better than you are. The Lord knows your sinful thoughts, words, and actions, better than you do. But nevertheless, because of your humble Savior, the Lord will lift you up. He will not and he cannot turn away those who come to him with nothing but the cry, “Lord, have mercy on me!”

It might seem risky to practice humility in your life, but God promises blessing. He promises to bless you in your relationships with others, and most importantly, when you come before him trusting in your Savior alone.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, your Son humbled himself for all. Help me to trust in you and to practice true humility as I approach you and as I interact with others in life 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Great Light – February 1, 2019

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

The Great Light


Daily Devotion – February 1, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:2

See series: Devotions

Are you afraid of the dark? If so, you are not alone. Whether we like to admit a true fear or not, there are things that are scary about the dark: we can’t see where we are going, and we can’t identify hazards that might be surrounding us. Darkness that is so enveloping keeps us from knowing what is going on around us and sometimes puts us in danger.

How comforting, then, that in today’s Bible verse, God describes his Son, our Savior, as a great light in the darkness. Jesus is the light that came to illuminate the way for those who couldn’t see where they were going. That’s us. We were all living in the darkness of sin, unable to see our way out, unable to find the path to eternal life, unable to even see the dangers that are all around us. This verse tells us we were not just living in physical darkness and ignorance, but we were living in the land of the shadow of death. In other words, we were on the path to hell. This is much more serious than feeling a little lost in a dark house, or worrying about imaginary monsters hiding under our bed.

When Jesus came into this world to live a perfect life, suffer and die for the sins of the world, and rise again, he secured our salvation and revealed it to us. That’s why Jesus is called the Light. He made a way out of our darkness, and he guides us on the way to heaven. We no longer have to wander around in the darkness and guilt of our sin. Thank God for caring enough about us that he sent the Light to save us from the darkness.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for rescuing us from the darkness of sin and for leading us on the path that leads to heaven. Help us always trust you to guide us. In Jesus, our Light’s name we pray, Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sure Hope – January 31, 2019

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Sure Hope


Daily Devotion – January 31, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:3

See series: Devotions

Can you imagine how horrible Peter must have felt on Good Friday evening and Saturday? He’d blown it, blown it, blown it! He couldn’t have failed more miserably! Just as Jesus had told him, he had denied his Savior three times! How horrible those days must have been for Peter!

Peter of course is not the only one who’s blown it. As I consider my life, I see my failures over and over again. I’ve failed to fight temptation, failed to show love, failed to be faithful. I’ve failed! And sometimes I’ve failed spectacularly. I can relate to Peter and how disappointed he was in himself. Perhaps like him I even weep bitterly.

But oh how things changed for Peter on Easter Sunday, as Jesus came popping into the room and showed the disciples his hands and side! He was risen! He had conquered! Sin was forgiven! The proof was in those nail-scarred—but risen—hands of Jesus! In fact, even Peter’s sin was forgiven!

And so are yours! Your sins are fully forgiven, because Jesus died and rose! And so you have a new birth into a hope which is living and ongoing! Trusting in Jesus, you ARE going to heaven! That is true today, will be true tomorrow, and someday you’ll enjoy the full blessings of it! It’s proven true by Jesus’ rising from the dead!

And so you have real hope, sure hope. No matter if your life is going great or poorly, if you’re old or young, if you’re successful or struggling, you have real, sure hope! You ARE going to heaven! Jesus’ resurrection proves it!

Prayer:
O risen Savior, remind me of your resurrection, that I might live my life in hope, every 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Mission Accomplished – January 30, 2019

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Mission Accomplished


Daily Devotion – January 30, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: Devotions

There was no spark left in his eyes, not even a flicker of joy in his heart. Life had become a mere existence that he didn’t even want to hold on to anymore. He had lost track of the number of sleepless nights he had spent on the hard “mattress,” if you could call it that. The days spent in darkness had long since begun to run together. Thoughts of escape no longer occupied his mind. He had lost hope.

It’s the kind of situation they make movies about, but few of us have ever experienced. Being held prisoner in the worst of conditions by an enemy who has no intention of releasing us is something that few have experienced–physically that is.

Spiritually… that’s a different matter. Each one of us was born into this world under those conditions. Our enemy, the devil, had full control and no intention of releasing his prize. With the shackles of sin and guilt fastened securely and the very real terror of inevitable death there was no hope. Escape was out of the question.

Then our Savior came. His mission was to rescue prisoners, and that is exactly what he did. He broke your shackles by sacrificing his life as payment for your sin and guilt. He scattered the darkness of death by rising from the grave. He now proclaims to you the good news that the perfect life led has been given to you. You are no longer a prisoner, but a perfect, and perfectly free, child of God.

The darkness of death that haunts the dreams of all people no longer haunts you. You have been set free from that fear because through faith in Jesus you will rise to life just as he did.

Jesus came into our world on a rescue mission, and he now proclaims, “Mission accomplished.” You have been set free. Now you can live in peace and hope. Now you can live forever with your Savior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to make it your mission to rescue me. Thank you for being my Savior. Give me the strength to live in the freedom you have won for me. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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All the Right Parts – January 29, 2019

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:12-21,26,27

All the Right Parts


Daily Devotion – January 29, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-21,26,27

See series: Devotions

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is!

I am one of the least musically inclined pastors you can find in our church body, but I have yet to serve in a congregation that did not more than make up for my shortcomings: a keyboard player with her baby in a playpen behind her; a quartet in a small congregation that rivaled any vocal musicians anywhere; an organist who soaked her arthritic hands in hot wax to loosen them up for the morning service; a man who could play and lead others to play just about any instrument; a computer program called HymnSoft and a solid, sound system to play it.

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is!

I enjoy yard work and tried to make it my practice to always attend work days at church and pitch in with the mowing, trimming, weeding, etc. that needed to be done. Nevertheless, I couldn’t always be there, and church maintenance was not my strongest gift, but I have yet to serve in a congregation that did not have those men and women who said; “Pastor, would it be OK if I planted flowers around the church?” or those who were always, without being asked, changing light bulbs, trimming hedges, and picking up trash.

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is! We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. This mystery and this marvel is the work of the Holy Spirit, so today, this “mouth” says, “I need you, hands and feet. Thank you for your service. You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Prayer:
Holy Spirit of God, thank you for so richly supplying the needs of our individual congregations and, on a much grander scale, equipping the entire Christian church for service to Jesus our head. Bless the hands and feet, the eyes and ears, as they serve Jesus, our Head, now and forever. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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An Amazing Claim – January 28, 2019

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him, and he began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Luke 4:17-21

An Amazing Claim


Daily Devotion – January 28, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:17-21

See series: Devotions

Have you ever heard somebody make a claim about themselves that you had a hard time believing? “I used to be in the secret service and worked for five US Presidents.” “I met legendary coach Bobby Knight and was asked to assist with his summer camp.” “My parents competed on the US National Curling Team.” “I worked under Hillary Clinton in the State Department.” If we know the person to be a liar or if we just can’t see it because of what else we know of the person, we meet such claims with a shake of the head or a raising of the eyebrow: “It’s not true!” If we know and trust the people who make the claim, we are fascinated by such connections and accomplishments. Perhaps we begin to think differently or more highly about that person, and our respect and awe for them grows.

Early in his earthly ministry Jesus of Nazareth made a claim about himself. He visited a Jewish house of worship, a synagogue, and read a passage written some 700 years earlier by the well-known prophet Isaiah. Those who took God’s Old Testament words seriously knew this selection to be talking about the long-awaited Messiah. This Anointed One (did you know that the words Messiah and Christ are both titles that mean “the anointed one?”) would come and do wonderful, fantastic, beautiful, yes miraculous, things! How the people looked for and longed for this Messiah who would bring a message of good news, freedom, and healing. Can you imagine the stunned silence in the room when Jesus made the claim that he was the one Isaiah had been talking about? Many of the people there in his hometown rejected him and his claim. They just couldn’t see it.

It has been several thousand years since Jesus made that claim about himself to a small group of people in a Galilean synagogue. But he still makes that claim about himself in the Bible today. Jesus is rightly called the Christ because he fulfilled every word written about him. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He tells us and shows us that God so loved us he sent a Savior from sin. Jesus proclaims that God looks on us with favor because he himself has done everything to wipe away anything that would bring God’s disfavor. He frees us from the prison house of sin and slavery to the deceiver. He promises life and heaven as he speaks to us about his resurrection from death and ascension into heaven. By Spirit-worked faith we trust Jesus’ amazing claim and receive all the blessings the truth of his claim brings to us!

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, open my eyes more and more through the power of the gospel to see Jesus as the anointed one, my Savior from sin, death, and hell, that I might live and face death with peace, joy, and hope. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Outsider – January 27, 2019

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism.”
Acts 10:34

Outsider


Daily Devotion – January 27, 2019

Devotion based on Acts 10:34

See series: Devotions

The bus was crowded. But it was a good kind of crowded. The bus was full of young Christians on their way to a weekend retreat. There were smiles. There was laughter. There were the happy sounds of people getting re-acquainted or getting acquainted for the first time.

But then there was the young man sitting on an aisle seat about a third of the way from the front. He looked to be in his twenties. His hair was a bit greasy. He had forgotten to shave. His clothes were shabby and carried a faint whiff of dried sweat. His body language oozed with awkwardness. Clearly he seemed uncomfortable to be there. For the most part he kept his head down and said nothing.

And how did those around him react? They were pleasant, and they were polite. But it was the kind of pleasant politeness that we have all seen at one time or another. It was the kind of pleasant politeness that looked past him, that looked through him—the kind of pleasant politeness that quietly dismissed him.

The bus arrived at the retreat. Everyone piled out, retrieved their luggage, found their rooms. Later they all gathered for their first big meal together. The food was delicious. And now it was time for the keynote speaker. The printed program said that he would give a compelling presentation on the subject of favoritism. From behind a small curtain the speaker emerged. It was the awkward, shabby man on the bus. Only he wasn’t awkward and shabby anymore. Instead he was clean-shaven, well-dressed, gracious, and smiling. But before he said a word he had already made his point. And no one who had ridden with him on that bus would ever forget it.

In this broken, sinful world full of broken, sinful people, each of us gets a turn at feeling like the awkward, shabby outsider. When that happens, think about two things. First, thank and praise your Lord that he does not show favoritism. He loves you and accepts you completely in the blood of his Son. Second, remember that the time will quickly come when an awkward, shabby outsider will cross paths with you. When that time arrives, treat that person as your Lord has treated you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, forgive my sins of favoritism. Wash me in the blood of your Son. Thank you for embracing me in Jesus. Empower me to treat the outsiders in my life with love. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not Fair – January 26, 2019

Wanting to satisfy the crowd, Pilate released Barabbas to them. He had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.
Mark 15:15

Not Fair


Daily Devotion – January 26, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 15:15

See series: Devotions

“It’s not fair!” the five-year-old pleads as his mother takes away his toy truck.

“It’s not fair!” the teenager protests when her father grounds her for two weeks.

We all want life to be fair. Or so we claim. One of my professors in college had formerly served as the vice-principal of a high school. As such, he was responsible for disciplining students. He told us how often students would insist, “That’s not fair!” after he announced their punishment. He always responded the same way, “You don’t want it to be fair. You want it to be unfair in your advantage.”

This is truer for most of us than we would like to admit. As the police officer approaches your car after pulling you over and you KNOW you were going fifty-five miles per hour in a forty mile per hour zone, you are not hoping he will be fair. You are hoping he will be unfair in your advantage and let you go without giving you a ticket.

In the history of this world there has never been an event less fair than the sentencing of Jesus Christ to die on a Roman cross. He had broken no law. He was, in every sense, completely innocent. He was not just innocent of crimes against the government; he was innocent of a single sin against God. Yet, the Roman Governor, Pilate, sentenced Jesus to death and freed a known murderer named Barabbas. It was not fair.

And we can thank God that it was not fair. You see, it was not just Barabbas who was set free on that Friday in Jerusalem. We were set free as well. Our sins against God deserved his eternal anger and punishment. But, Jesus was punished instead. He went to the cross. We were set free. By faith in him, we are free from our sins, free from guilt, free from fear, free from punishment.

What Jesus endured was not fair. But he was willing to endure it because of his great love for us. When it comes to our salvation, thank God it’s not fair!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, how grateful I am that you were willing to take my place. Rather than object to the injustice, you accepted it. I can never thank you enough. But, may my life this day be a demonstration of my gratitude. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Loved by God – January 25, 2019

If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
2 Corinthians 5:17

Loved by God


Daily Devotion – January 25, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 5:17

See series: Devotions

A woman got a new job in customer service. All day, every day, she answered complaints with a smile on her face. One day when she came home, her husband asked how things were going at work. She said, “Customer service would be a wonderful job if it weren’t for the people.”

People can be a challenge for us all. When there’s a breakdown in a marriage relationship, it’s like having a disease; you feel it in every part of your life. When children argue and disobey, they test their parents’ patience. An uncaring boss can make you hate your job. Troublesome neighbors make you want to move somewhere far away. How do you deal with people who make your life difficult? God’s Word speaks of an old way of doing things and a new way.

The old way is to count people’s flaws and hold them against them. The old way is to view people as obstacles to our happiness. In other words, the old way is to do the opposite of what God tells us. God tells us to love others. The old way ignores God and puts ourselves, first. For all the complaining we may do about people, we don’t always stop to consider that God has that much of a right and more to complain about us.

Instead, God sent us his Son. When people did their worst to Jesus, he turned the other cheek. When they crucified him without cause, he prayed for their forgiveness. On his cross, Jesus paid for the sins of everyone, including you. Because of what Jesus has done for us, we no longer view people from a worldly point of view.

Loved by God, forgiven in Christ, connected to Jesus by faith, each of us is a new creation, and God has given us a new way of doing things. We can love as we are loved. We can forgive as we are forgiven. The old is gone; the new has come.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me and paying for all my sins. Help me fight against my old sinful nature. Help me love others as you love 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Crazy – January 24, 2019

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”
Luke 1:35

Crazy


Daily Devotion – January 24, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 1:35

See series: Devotions

When God first made the promise, to human ears it must have sounded crazy: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son…” (Isaiah 7:14). The virgin will conceive? That just doesn’t happen!

But it did happen. It happened to Mary, as the Holy Spirit miraculously caused her to become pregnant with Jesus. And so we confess in the Apostles’ Creed, “I believe in Jesus Christ…who was conceived by the Holy Spirit.” It sounds crazy, but God made it happen.

And so God the Holy Spirit has the power to make all sorts of other crazy-sounding promises come true too. He promises that in Baptism he will wash your sins away; he does it. He promises that the gospel is God’s power for salvation; it is. He promises that in the Lord’s Supper he’ll give us Jesus’ true body and blood; he does. He promises to make all things work for your good; he has, and he’ll continue to do so. He promises that by faith in Jesus he’ll take you to heaven someday; he will.

For, you see, ultimately it doesn’t matter how “crazy” God’s promises may sound to our ears. What matters is the power behind those promises. And just who is the power behind those promises? The power behind those promises is the Almighty Holy Spirit! So, just as God’s “crazy” promise that a virgin would conceive came true, so God the Holy Spirit will fulfill all his promises. That’s crazy all right–crazy good!

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, assure me that you have the power to fulfill all your 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You make God Smile – January 23, 2019

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her righteousness shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your righteousness, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the LORD hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or name your land Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD will take delight in you, and your land will be married. As a young man marries a maiden, so will your sons marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.
Isaiah 62:1-5

You make God Smile


Daily Devotion – January 23, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 62:1-5

See series: Devotions

As the music played quietly in the background, another look at his watch revealed that it was time. “Any moment now,” he anxiously thought. Then the doors opened, and there she was—more beautiful than he had ever seen her. Flashes popped as she slowly made her way down the aisle. Pictures that captured his face revealed a smile that would not be going away anytime soon. He couldn’t help it. There was his bride!

That joy and delight is what God has for those who believe in him. That’s right. You make God smile. Allow your jaw to drop in awe at that beautiful truth.

We know what makes God happy—total perfection. “Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Leviticus 19:2). We also know that God hates sin and will absolutely never allow any sinner to enter into his kingdom. “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful” (Revelation 21:27). Yet he takes delight in you. Seeing you makes his face light up like a groom seeing his bride on his wedding day.

Every sin and imperfection that should cause God to look at you in disgust was removed by Jesus when he died for you on the cross. Through faith God has clothed you with the perfect life of Jesus so that now when he looks at you he sees beautiful perfection and nothing that would prevent you from entering his kingdom.

No matter what is going on in your life, or what others think when they look at you, God looks at you with loving eyes. What he sees gives him great joy and will continue to give him great joy for all of eternity.

Prayer:
Gracious Lord, thank you for removing my sin and making me a delight to your eyes. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Right Tool for the Right Job – January 22, 2019

Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant. You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols. Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11

The Right Tool for the Right Job


Daily Devotion – January 22, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11

See series: Devotions

Everyone has heard the saying; “the right tool for the right job.” This is an important truth to learn. But what if we could find the one tool that does it all?

When I moved to Alaska, wise men gave me sage advice: “Get a Leatherman multi-purpose tool.” Before I went anywhere—hiking, camping, fishing—I was told, get the real deal and not an imitation. Because outdoor activities in Alaska often take place in remote places, you need to be prepared for anything. Leatherman tool, duct tape, and mechanics’ wire were always in the backpack. With this tool and these supplies you could do amazing things.

When I read today’s devotion text I thought: “Leatherman tool! The Holy Spirit is God’s ‘multi-purpose tool'” The Spirit is the real deal that does amazing things.

In Alaska I got to know a woman who said to me; “I wish I believed what the people of this church believe, but I just don’t.” It can be frustrating and disappointing to hear someone say that. But the confession of faith, that “Jesus is Lord,” happens only by the Holy Spirit.

Equipped with the Word of God we can only do what we can. We can only share the message of Jesus who is the Lord of life and Lord over all things. Then we watch and wait as the Spirit does what only the Spirit can do: bring sinners to faith in Jesus, gather them into his church and equip them for service.

As you hear today’s words you see that the Spirit has many functions, gives many gifts, and confers many blessings. Truly the Holy Spirit is God’s “multi-purpose tool” for the building of his church.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit of God, as we think of those who do not have the blessing of faith in Jesus, we ask you to give that gift freely and frequently. To those who wish to serve in your kingdom, grant our gifts for the common good. For all our other needs in life and eternity, we pray that you would work in us just as you determine. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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