Big Plans – January 21, 2020

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

Big Plans


Daily Devotion – January 21, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

See series: Devotions

A young father holds his baby in his arms and talks to him about his plans for their future together and his hopes and dreams for his child.

He promises, “We’ll play together and work together. I’ll teach you how to ride a bike, throw a football, and use a saw. Together we’ll change the oil in the car and plant a garden. I’ll pray with you and for you. And when I’m disciplining you and forgiving you, listening to you and loving you, I pray that you will see in me the unconditional love that God has for you.

“And when we go to church together, I pray that my faith and love for God will be unmistakable in the way I sing and pray, in the look on my face and the joy in my voice. And I pray that you’ll take that faith with you, as you go off to college and move out on your own, as you become a teacher or pastor, an engineer or doctor, as, Lord-willing, you raise a family of your own. I’ve got big plans, big dreams, for you, my child.”

Before he sent Jesus into the world, God the Father told his Son about the big plans he had for him. He would restore the tribes of Jacob and bring Israel back to God. But he would also be a light for non-Jewish people and bring salvation to the ends of the earth. Only Jesus could carry out these plans. And he did so perfectly.

Many today try to make Jesus into a Savior just for some. But God had bigger plans for him. He came to be the Savior for all. He came to be my Savior and yours. Jesus lived as the perfect Son for all people so that God will count you and me as his forgiven children forever.

What big plans! What a perfect Savior!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for carrying out God’s plan to be my Savior. 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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Pursuing the Dream – January 20, 2020

“I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing at all.”
Isaiah 49:4

Pursuing the Dream


Daily Devotion – January 20, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:4

See series: Devotions

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and described his dream. He said:

“It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.”
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’”
“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood . . .”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream today.”

The world that King imagined was a far cry from the world in which he was living. It would not come easily. How discouraged he must have felt sometimes. How often he must have felt like giving up. But he pressed on. And history changed, as it followed his dream.

The Lord had a dream too. He envisioned his Son coming to be the Savior for all people.

That dream didn’t happen without a struggle. Jesus’ own people rejected him. The ones he came to save turned against him. It seemed like no one was listening, like every word he spoke fell on deaf ears. They mocked him, abused him, and put him to death.

We are no better, are we? We let our own dreams get in the way of his plans for us. We let the noise of this world drown out his loving voice that calls us to follow him and offers us real life. We receive his forgiveness and go right back to sinning.

“What’s the use?” Jesus might wonder. “Why bother? I should just give up.”

But Jesus pressed on and fulfilled his Father’s dream. He accomplished his mission of love for us. He defeated the devil. He carried our sins to his cross and buried them in his tomb. He opened up heaven for you and me.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for not giving up on God’s dream 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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Home – January 19, 2020

“[O]n those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.”
Matthew 4:16

Home


Daily Devotion – January 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 4:16

See series: Devotions

The rear half of a truck sat on the bridge. Eventually, divers found the front half, along with the rest of the bridge. They never found the driver. The mighty waves of Hurricane Ivan that had tossed concrete spans around like dominos, swallowed his body forever.

What possessed this driver to cross a 3-mile bridge in the middle of a category 4 hurricane? Maybe his wife was waiting for him in Pensacola. Maybe, in the darkness, he thought it wasn’t all that bad. He obviously thought he could make it. He didn’t realize on this bridge, in this storm, he was driving into the shadow of death.

What possesses me to think I can make it through this life without Jesus? On this earth, in this life, I am living in the shadow of death. Death that is more than a stilled heart. Death that is a stilled soul—empty, alone, constantly trying to convince myself, “I’m OK. I’ll make it!”

I’m not okay and I’m not safe. The darkness hides the waves of sin that swallow me. I won’t make it!

Then Jesus shines his light into my death-dark heart. With brilliant love, he turns my eyes to his cross. I see forgiveness there. He runs my eyes over his life. I see perfection there. He focuses my eyes on his heart. I see my God gifting me with both—Jesus’ forgiveness and Jesus’ perfection. He lifts my head up to heaven. I see his arm bending around my shoulders as he welcomes me into an eternity of life and light.

I will make it home.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, shine the light of your love into my heart so I always know your forgiveness and your goodness are mine. 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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Approaching God with Confidence – January 18, 2020

In [Christ Jesus] and through faith in him, we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
Ephesians 3:12

Approaching God with Confidence


Daily Devotion – January 18, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:12

See series: Devotions

After being caught pushing his sister, does the naughty boy approach his parents with confidence? No, normally he hides under the covers. After the parents come home early and discover the unsanctioned party, does the teenage daughter feel at ease talking to her dad? No, normally she avoids him as much as possible.

If sinful children avoid approaching their sinful parents when they are confronted with guilt, how can it ever be possible for sinful humans to approach a perfect God? There is only one way: it is only possible in Jesus. When we trust Jesus as our perfect substitute, we trust that his life counts for ours. We believe that our sins have been paid for on the blood-stained cross. In faith, we believe that God no longer holds them against us.

We can approach God in freedom and confidence. We don’t have to hide from him; we don’t need to avoid him; we are not afraid that he will punish us for our sins…for he has already punished Christ for them instead.

What a blessing to approach God in freedom and confidence!

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for washing away everything that convicts me of wrong. Fill me with your thorough forgiveness that I might cling to Christ instead of running from you. Give me joy that I might make the most of the privilege to approach you in freedom and confidence. 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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No Favoritism – January 17, 2020

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

No Favoritism


Daily Devotion – January 17, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 10:34

See series: Devotions

Have you ever been in a situation where favoritism was at play? It’s hard, isn’t it? When favoritism works against us, the protestations are quick and real: “But I’m more qualified!” “I have more experience!” “She’s never even done that before!” No, we certainly do not like favoritism.

How wonderful it is, then, to hear the words of our Bible reading for today. The Apostle Peter declared that God does not show favoritism. Peter had been under the impression that his own people, the Jewish people, were the ones God loved. But God brought Peter into contact with a non-Jewish man named Cornelius who had been brought to faith in the true God. This showed Peter that God loves all people. He does not show favoritism. Once Peter discovered this, he told Cornelius and his family about what Jesus had done to save people from their sins. And, he ordered that they be baptized.

Baptism is one of the clearest illustrations of God’s unwillingness to play favorites. Because, you see, we all need baptism. It doesn’t matter how rich or poor we are, it doesn’t matter what skin color we are, it doesn’t matter how powerful we are, it doesn’t matter if our upbringing was happy or not so happy; every single one of us needs baptism. Why? Every single one of us needs to have our sins forgiven.

And in baptism, that is exactly what God does. He washes sins away. And, it doesn’t matter how rich or poor a person is, or what skin color a person is, how powerful a person is, or if a person’s upbringing was happy or not so happy; every single person who is baptized receives God’s unconditional forgiveness.

What a blessing baptism is! And what a reminder that our God does not play favorites.

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for reminding me today that you do not play favorites. 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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Beloved Child – January 16, 2020

And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”
Matthew 3:17

Beloved Child


Daily Devotion – January 16, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:17

See series: Devotions

Is the desire to please our parents built into us from birth? It seems to me that it is. Sure, that desire may be blunted or even destroyed by parents who treat their children poorly. But I’d guess for most of us, hearing our father or mother say, “I am pleased with you” would be welcome words.

Wouldn’t it be far, far better if God were to say that about you? Wouldn’t it be amazing if God were to say, “I’m well pleased with you?” Wow, that would be great!

This is precisely what the Father said about Jesus at Jesus’ baptism. He was well pleased with everything Jesus said and did. And, remarkably, this is precisely what the Father says about those who have been baptized. Not because everything they say and do is pleasing to him. But because everything Jesus said and did is applied to those who are baptized.

“But, but, but!” we sputter. “I’ve messed it up so badly!” Unfortunately, that’s true.

But God doesn’t look at us based on what we have done but based on what Jesus did in our place. That almighty, perfect heavenly Father can now look at us as if we were Jesus. Or to put it a bit differently, the Father can look at each of us and say, “You are my beloved child, too.”

Prayer:
O Father, assure me and remind me that, through my baptism, I am your beloved child. 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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Wonderful Assurance – January 15, 2020

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.
Matthew 3:16

Wonderful Assurance


Daily Devotion – January 15, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:16

See series: Devotions

Today’s Bible reading is one of the clearest narratives in which we get to see the threeness of God.

It’s true that there is one God, and only one God. The Bible also describes the true God as “three.” Jesus commands us to baptize in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Mt 28:19). There are passages which call the Father, “God,” which call the Son, “God,” and which call the Holy Spirit, “God.” So while there is only one God, there are three persons in the God-head, and this is one of the segments in which we see it clearly: the Father is speaking from heaven, the Son is coming up out of the water, and the Holy Spirit is descending in the form of a dove.

And why should we care? We care because this assures us of an amazing truth; it’s the entire God who wants you to be saved. Clearly, Jesus wants you to be saved. He lived and died for you! He was willing to be baptized to fulfill God’s holy law for you. But the Father also wants you to be saved. He said he was pleased when Jesus was baptized. And the Holy Spirit wants you to be saved. He descended upon Jesus to empower him to do what he needed to do.

And all of this gives us wonderful assurance. The Father wants me in heaven, the Son wants me in heaven, and the Holy Spirit wants me in heaven. Jesus’ baptism clearly shows me that.

Prayer:
O Father, Son, and Holy Spirit continue to assure me that you desire my salvation and continue to strengthen me that I might continue to travel on the road to eternal life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stepping Into Our Place – January 14, 2020

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Matthew 3:13-15

Stepping Into Our Place


Daily Devotion – January 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13-15

See series: Devotions

The Bible tells us that Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized. But why did Jesus even need to be baptized? It’s a fair question. After all, baptism is one of the ways that God forgives sin. That’s why each of us needs baptism. We are all sinful and need forgiveness.

But Jesus wasn’t sinful. Jesus was perfect. So, why did he need to be baptized?

The answer is in Jesus’ answer to John: “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”

Jesus was righteous; he didn’t need any more righteousness. But we needed righteousness because righteousness is the entrance requirement for heaven. God demands that for us to be able to enter heaven, we need to be perfect.

And … we can’t do that.

So, we needed a Savior who would not only die in our place but also live in our place. We needed a Savior who could live a perfect human life, in every sense. And, Jesus did that. His baptism was a part of it. It was a part of his fulfilling God’s law for us.

Jesus fully stepped into your place. He was even willing to do things that he didn’t need to do, all so that you could be fully confident that he had done all that he needed to do for you. He did what was necessary for your salvation. The measure of righteousness you needed was filled up…by Jesus!

So, as you are reminded of Jesus’ baptism today, see there your salvation. And rejoice!

Prayer:
O Savior, assure me that I now stand before you as righteous, because of all that you’ve done 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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A Better Plan – January 13, 2020

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”
Matthew 3:13,14

A Better Plan


Daily Devotion – January 13, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 3:13,14

See series: Devotions

You can understand why John the Baptist was hesitant to baptize Jesus, can’t you? He was going to baptize Jesus? That seems oh-so-backward, doesn’t it? Consider the contrast: John was mortal; Jesus was immortal. John knew a few things; Jesus knew everything. Perhaps most importantly, John was a sinful human being; Jesus was perfect.

And so, yes, we can understand why John tried to deter Jesus. Jesus’ plan just didn’t make any sense to John. So, John thought he needed to deter Jesus because John thought he had a better idea!

Wait. A sinful human being thought that he had a better idea than God? Really? Yes, really!

And, how easy it is for us to do it, too. How easy it is to question God’s plans for our lives. Or, how easily we think or act in ways which are contrary to God’s Word, which is really saying, “No, Lord, I have a better idea.”

Amazingly, Jesus didn’t get angry at John or even chastise John. Instead, Jesus simply, said, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15). What patient grace!

And God will always show that amazing, patient grace to you, too—over and over again.

Oh, and by the way; you can also count on the fact that God’s ideas will always be better than your ideas!

Prayer:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. Please show me your patient grace, O Savior, even when I question 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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Hold your Hand – January 12, 2020

“I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand.”
Isaiah 42:6

Hold your Hand


Daily Devotion – January 12, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:6

See series: Devotions

Remember the Beatles tune? “I wanna’ hold your hand?” Holding hands is an intimate gesture. It expresses love and affection without using words. Humans appreciate a personal touch.

Our Bible reading for today pictures a parent taking a child by the hand. Can you picture it? The parent and toddler need to cross the street. So the parent takes the toddler by the hand, guiding, protecting.

So, whose hand is being held in this Bible verse? Surprisingly, the picture is that God the Father is the parent, and it’s Jesus’ hand that is being held. It reminds us that Jesus—the true God—became truly human, with our human weaknesses and needs. And so, God the Father guided him, protected him, indeed, “held his hand” as he walked Jesus through life and finally to his death on the cross. The Father was guiding, protecting, holding the Son through it all.

But to what end? It was all for YOUR benefit and MINE. It was all so that forgiveness and eternal life could be won for YOU and ME. The Father held the hand of the Son; guiding, directing, and caring for him but ultimately with your best interests in mind.

And so now? Now God the Father—because of the work of God the Son—can look at you and say, “I wanna’ hold your hand, too!”

Prayer:
Thank you, Father, for holding Jesus’ hand so that he was able to win my salvation. Comfort me today with the assurance that, whatever comes my way, you are holding my hand through it all. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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We Cannot Keep Quiet – January 11, 2020

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory; you will be called by a new name that the mouth of the LORD will bestow.
Isaiah 62:1-2

We Cannot Keep Quiet


Daily Devotion – January 11, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 62:1-2

See series: Devotions

Have you ever had such important news that you couldn’t keep quiet about it? How much twittering and chatting and posting happen when a favorite team wins a championship?

When anything political happens the talking heads hardly stop to take a breath. When your 6-year-old gets a new Lego set you can be sure everyone will know about it. Presents, football games, politics… in the grand scheme of things, they matter so little, yet they garner so much of our time and excitement.

The prophet Isaiah had the same truly incredible news. News that was so good he could not keep silent. The news was not political but spiritual. The news was that God would make his people glorious.

What makes this news so amazing is that we, by nature, are anything but glorious. Our sins make us filthy in God’s sight. The rude words we speak, the selfish things we do, the silent lust and greed in our hearts should all rightly merit God’s wrath and eternal punishment. Yet instead of eternal separation, it’s a different “S” word for those who put their faith and hope in Jesus: SALVATION!

God gives us the gift of salvation. That means he takes away our sins and gives us Jesus’ righteousness as our own. We are glorious, not because of our own glory, but because Jesus’ glory makes us glorious.

Isn’t that great news? It’s better than any championship, political turn of events, or Lego set. Like the prophet Isaiah, we cannot keep quiet about it. We want everyone to know what Jesus has done for them. Whom can you tell today?

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the incredible gift of salvation. Help me to treasure this gift each day and open my mouth so that I too may share the good news which you have for all people. 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 Mission to Accomplish – January 10, 2020

And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route. When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
Matthew 2:12,13

A Mission to Accomplish


Daily Devotion – January 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:12,13

See series: Devotions

After the Magi visited Jesus in Bethlehem, God gave them a dream warning them not to return to King Herod in Jerusalem. Herod had told the Magi to return and tell him where the King of the Jews had been born so that he could worship as well. But Herod had no intention of worshiping Jesus. He intended to kill him. The Magi heeded God’s warning and returned home by another route. When they failed to return to Jerusalem, Herod flew into a rage. He ordered that every boy in Bethlehem two years old or younger be slaughtered, figuring that in this way he would be sure to eliminate this new King that was challenging him.

God rescued Jesus from Herod’s homicidal plans by having the Magi bypass Jerusalem on their journey home. He also rescued Jesus by commanding Jesus’ stepfather Joseph to take him and his mother Mary to safety in Egypt. God did all this because Jesus had a very important mission to accomplish. Jesus had been born to save all people from their sins. In order to do that, Jesus needed to live a perfect life, not just for a couple of years, but for thirty-three years. Jesus needed to die, but not as a young child at the hands of murderous King Herod. He needed to die as an adult on a cross on a hill outside Jerusalem.

God’s intense desire for the eternal salvation of all people led him to warn the Magi about Herod’s deceitful scheme. And for that, we can be eternally grateful. Because God protected the young Jesus in the way that he did, Jesus did indeed live to accomplish his mission. He lived, died, and rose again for us and all people so that through faith in him we might live in his kingdom forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, all praise to you for accomplishing your mission as our Savior. 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 King Worthy of Our Worship – January 9, 2020

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

The King Worthy of Our Worship


Daily Devotion – January 9, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:11

See series: Devotions

When was the last time you looked at a baby registry, either for yourself or for someone else? What kinds of things did you see listed there? Most likely, you saw a lot of very practical things that the new parents could use in taking care of their new baby. Perhaps there were diapers, bottles, blankets, washcloths, onesies, books, and even a few toys.

But have you ever seen a baby registry that listed gold, frankincense, and myrrh? Probably not. For us, those three things don’t seem all that practical for taking care of a young child, unless you sold them and used the proceeds to buy other things that you might need.

However, those were the gifts that the Magi gave to Jesus when they finally found him. And they were extremely appropriate gifts, given what the Magi knew about who Jesus was. The Magi understood that this child, whom they had traveled a very long distance to see, was more than just a child. He was God’s promised Messiah. He was their Savior. As their Savior, he was worthy of all their worship, which they gave him as they bowed down before him. And he was worthy of their best, which they gave him as they opened their treasures of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

We who have seen much more of what Jesus did as God’s chosen Messiah have even more reason to give him our worship. We, after all, know exactly how Jesus fulfilled his mission as our Savior. We have seen the perfect life he lived on our behalf. We have seen the death he died to pay for all our sins. We have seen his glorious resurrection, through which God declared that Jesus’ saving work was complete. For all that and more, we cannot help but join the Magi in worshiping Jesus and giving him our best. He most certainly is worthy of every bit of worship we can give him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, to you I give myself in worship, for you are worthy of all honor and praise. 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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Promised by God – January 8, 2020

When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
Matthew 2:4-6

Promised by God


Daily Devotion – January 8, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:4-6

See series: Devotions

Jerusalem seemed to be the logical place for the Magi to look for the one who was born King of the Jews. After all, where but in the capital city would a king be born? But the newborn King of the Jews was not to be found in Jerusalem. So where would the Magi find him?

Herod called together all the religious scholars and asked them if they knew where this new king, this Messiah, was supposed to be born. The religious scholars knew immediately where the new king was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they told Herod.

How did they know? Had they received some special revelation from God? Had they overheard people talking about some strange events that had happened in Bethlehem some months ago? No. They knew where the Messiah was to be born because they had read the Old Testament. There, in the book of Micah, God had said, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).

If what the Magi said was true and this new King of the Jews had been born, then he must be in Bethlehem, for that is what God had promised. And, of course, that was exactly correct. Jesus had been born in Bethlehem, just as God had promised. This was just one of the many, many promises of God that Jesus fulfilled throughout his life. And when you take all these fulfilled promises together, they can only mean one thing. Jesus, who was born in Bethlehem as King of the Jews, truly is the Messiah God promised to send. He truly is our Savior.

Prayer:
All praise and thanks to you, Lord Jesus, born for me in Bethlehem just as God promised; you truly are my Savior. 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 Different Kind of King – January 7, 2020

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him.
Matthew 2:3

A Different Kind of King


Daily Devotion – January 7, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:3

See series: Devotions

Herod the Great ruled the region of Judea from 37 B.C. to 4 B.C. He is known for his many great building projects, including his massive expansion of the temple complex in Jerusalem. He was also famously jealous and paranoid. Whenever he suspected that someone was becoming a threat to his power, he wasted no time in having that person killed. Victims of his murderous paranoia included his brother-in-law, mother-in-law, wife, and three of his sons.

So, it is no wonder that when Herod heard that some new King of the Jews had been born, he was disturbed. It also is no wonder that all Jerusalem was troubled right along with him. The people of Jerusalem knew what Herod was capable of. They knew that news of the birth of some supposed rival to Herod’s throne could not mean anything good.

Neither Herod nor the people of Jerusalem had any reason to be disturbed, however. The one who was born King of the Jews posed no threat to Herod’s rule over Judea. In fact, this newborn king had no designs at all on holding any sort of earthly authority. He was a King, to be sure. But he was a different kind of king than Herod was. Herod was an earthly king ruling an earthly kingdom. Jesus, the king whom the Magi were seeking, was a heavenly King ruling a heavenly kingdom.

Jesus’s kingdom does not occupy any territory that you can locate on a map. Rather, his kingdom is his rule in the hearts of his people through faith. His kingdom is established in a person’s heart when the Holy Spirit, working through the good news of Jesus, leads that person to trust in Jesus as their Savior. And Jesus’ kingdom spreads, not through military conquest, but as more and more people hear the good news of Jesus and, through the power of the Holy Spirit, also come to trust in Jesus as their Savior.

Jesus’ kingdom has extended to you also, as God the Holy Spirit has led you to trust in Jesus as your Savior. Through faith in Jesus, you are a member of his kingdom and a citizen of heaven.

Prayer:
King Jesus, reign always in my heart through faith. 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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Born King of All – January 6, 2020

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1,2

Born King of All


Daily Devotion – January 6, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1,2

See series: Devotions

Elizabeth II is the queen of the United Kingdom and the countries in its Commonwealth. Therefore, if you are a citizen of one of those countries, Elizabeth II is your queen. However, if you’re not a citizen of one of those countries, she’s not your queen.

When the Magi came to Jerusalem, they were looking for Jesus, “the one who has been born king of the Jews.” The Bible doesn’t tell us what nationality the Magi were. But since they came from “the east” (perhaps from Persia or Arabia), people have always assumed that they were not Jewish. So, why did these non-Jewish Magi travel so far to worship this king of the Jews?

The answer lies in the fact that while Jesus was indeed born king of the Jews, his kingdom was not limited only to the Jews. Jesus also came to be the King and Savior of all people, regardless of their nationality. The citizens of his kingdom were all those from every nation on earth who trusted in him as their Savior.

The Magi recognized this about Jesus. They recognized that even though they were not Jews, the one who was born king of the Jews was also born to be their King. He was born to be their Savior. They trusted that the forgiveness of sins that this king of the Jews would win was also for them. They knew that through faith in him, they too were citizens of his kingdom, regardless of their nationality.

Jesus also was born to be your king. It doesn’t matter who your ancestors were. It doesn’t matter what earthly citizenship you now hold. If you are a member of the human race, then King Jesus was born for you. He was born to be your Savior. The forgiveness he came to win he also won for you. Through faith in him, you are a citizen of his kingdom, for he was born King of all.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I praise you that you came to be the King of all people, including 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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A Painful Memory Can be a Blessing – January 5, 2020

Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ.
Ephesians 3:8

A Painful Memory Can be a Blessing


Daily Devotion – January 5, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:8

See series: Devotions

Have you ever had a memory from your past that’s so painful you close your eyes and cringe whenever you think about it? For some, such memories are so powerful that they fill themselves with anything to deaden the hurt: alcohol, pills, pleasure, TV, mindless busyness. Do you have such a memory? Perhaps something from your past is haunting you right now.

If so, sit down for a moment next to the apostle Paul. It seems that Paul grappled with the same thing. In spite of all that the Lord did through Paul’s amazing ministry, Paul still considered himself “the least of all God’s people.” Let’s be clear: Paul did not say this just so he could appear gracious or humble before his readers. Elsewhere in his writings, Paul said the same thing. And he also explained why. You see, through the years Paul had never shaken the searing memories of what he had done before becoming a Christian. For that reason, the reality of his own sinfulness never left his side.

But there was the beauty that because Paul was now forgiven in Christ, even his painful memories were a blessing. Whenever they haunted him, they also served to highlight God’s grace in Paul’s life. It was God’s undeserved love for a sinner like Paul that continually filled him with gratitude and peace. And it was this gratitude and peace that helped inspire Paul to follow his Lord for the rest of his life.

Do you have a memory from your past that can sometimes paralyze you with pain and regret? Join the club. But consider what else that memory does. In Christ, that memory spotlights the Lord’s grace, his undeserved love, in your life. In him, you are forgiven. In him, you possess a peace that no bad memory can ever take away.

Remember that as you begin this new year. And thank your Lord that he can turn even your painful memory into a blessing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me for the times I have allowed painful memories to prevent me from seeing you. Use my painful memories to remind me of your grace 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Time for Jesus – January 4, 2020

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

The Time for Jesus


Daily Devotion – January 4, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

See series: Devotions

What a mess things were at the time of Jesus’ birth! The Jewish people in Palestine had to live under the iron fist of Herod the Great, a cruel king who had actually put his own sons to death to retain his power. And the tyranny did not stop there.

Beyond Herod was the boot of the Roman Empire, known for its willingness to crucify thousands at one time in the name of keeping order. Then there were religious factions in the Jewish leadership—from the Pharisees, who were all about retaining religious laws and traditions of their people, to the Sadducees, who wanted to do what was necessary to get along with the Romans. There was a wide disparity between the upper, middle, and lower classes of Jewish society—a disparity that was ongoing and a disparity that created its own tension.

Finally, over the years a terrible distortion developed over what the promised Messiah was supposed to do. Many assumed he was supposed to bring political and social change. Few seemed to understand their need for a Savior from sin.

But in spite of the mess, brutality, unrest, ignorance, cynicism, and trouble, God chose this moment in time to send his Son. He did so because he determined that the time had come.

As it was 2,000 years ago, so it is this moment. The time for Jesus is now. In spite of what is dominating the headlines, in spite of the noise, in spite of what is demanding your attention in your personal world, the time for Jesus is now. The time is now to come to him in repentance and to bask in the forgiveness he purchased at Calvary’s cross. The time is now to tell others what you have heard and seen about the Savior God sent for us when the time had fully come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming into the mess of this world in order to save it. Thank you for coming into the mess of this world to save 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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An Amazing Inheritance – January 3, 2020

[S]ince you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:7

An Amazing Inheritance


Daily Devotion – January 3, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 4:7

See series: Devotions

I was adopted into my family. My brother was born naturally into it. I am the executor of my parents’ estate, so I have seen their will. It’s split evenly between the children. I am receiving the same inheritance that my natural-born brother is receiving. Isn’t that remarkable?

As remarkable as my inheritance from my parents is, the inheritance Christians receive is far more remarkable. The Bible says that although Jesus is God’s natural born Son while Christians are adopted sons and daughters, they still receive a wonderful inheritance.

What will that inheritance include? It starts with the forgiveness of our sins. This was purchased not with gold or silver, but with the holy, precious blood of Jesus in his innocent suffering and death. Everyone connected to Jesus by faith receives that forgiveness, more precious than any earthly inheritance.

Our spiritual inheritance continues with resurrection from the dead. Our actual souls and our actual bodies, separated at death, will come together again. The disciples saw it happen with Jesus, and they realized that it would also happen to them. Our bodies will be glorified, ageless, unable to die. It’s an amazing inheritance.

And that inheritance continues with heaven. That’s where the Son of God lives, and that’s where we will live eternally with him. We can look forward to an eternal existence without sorrow or pain, in the company of all those have been adopted into God’s family. Jesus, our brother, is preparing our place for us right now.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for making me your child. I delight in your inheritance, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. 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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Child of God – January 2, 2020

“Abba, Father.”
Galatians 4:6

Child of God


Daily Devotion – January 2, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 4:6

See series: Devotions

It’s amazing how quickly and deeply children become attached to their parents. Mothers and fathers carry out their roles, and children learn to depend on them for nourishment, comfort, support, and boundaries. When children have stable parents, emotional bonds to one another last for a lifetime.

God, our heavenly Father, creates similar emotional bonds in us when he feeds us with his Holy Word and Holy Supper. He comforts us with his promises, and those promises support us when we are weak. He sets boundaries for us, showing us the blessings of keeping his laws, and the curses for breaking them.

Although we do not see him, God sends his Spirit into our hearts, and the emotional bonds to God that the Spirit creates in us last a lifetime.

It’s also amazing how children learn language from their parents. Parents speak, and children imitate the sounds. If bilingual parents speak both languages, their children grow up bilingual. You can often hear the speech patterns of parents in children’s speech even after the children move away.

The Holy Spirit teaches us the speech patterns of God, our Heavenly Father. We learn to speak about him and to him in an endearing way. The same way that English-speaking babies say “Dada,” and Galatian babies said “Abba,” we call God our Father in heaven. With these words, God tenderly invites us to believe that he is our true Father and that we are his true children so that we pray to him as boldly and confidently as dear children ask their dear father.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for making me your child through faith in Christ Jesus. Keep me close to you all of my life until I join you in eternal life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Making It Possible – January 1, 2020

God sent his Son . . . that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Galatians 4:4,5

Making It Possible


Daily Devotion – January 1, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4,5

See series: Devotions

It’s a new year! No matter what happened in the previous year, this new year opens with all kinds of opportunities. People make New Year’s resolutions because it’s a good time for starting over. It feels like anything is possible, right?

And it’s not just a new year that can make us feel excited. New shoes make kids feel like they can run faster and jump higher. A new car has a special feel and smell. New books and movies intrigue us no matter our age.

If a new year or new things are exciting, imagine what it would be like to join a new family. That’s what anyone who has been adopted has experienced. They will tell you that joining a new family by adoption is an adventure. Most children adopted into a family feel like they have been given a new lease on life. A former family had disintegrated, but this new family offers opportunities and possibilities. Being adopted into a family offers security and love.

But no family offers more security and more love than God’s family. Sadly, none of us has the authority or ability to join God’s family. Thankfully, God does have the authority and ability to adopt us into his family. This is why he sent his Son, Jesus, into the world, to make all of the arrangements necessary for us to be adopted into his family. Jesus earned forgiveness for us, declaring himself to be our brother. He did everything to make it possible for us to be adopted into the family of God.

When someone is baptized, and the name of the only true God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is pronounced over them, God is writing that name on them and claiming them as his own. They get his family name, and God promises that all of the privileges of being a family member come along with faith in Jesus.

And when you are in God’s family, all kinds of wonderful things are possible.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me enough to send Jesus to do everything necessary for me to be adopted into your family. 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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Just in Time – December 31, 2019

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

Just in Time


Daily Devotion – December 31, 2019

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

See series: Devotions

Forty years ago, just-in-time manufacturing changed everything in the auto industry. There was less inventory and quicker production times, delighting both managers and customers. When it was done well, just the right part was available at just the right time, every time.

Two thousand years ago, a just-in-time event changed everything in the world. For thousands of years, God had promised a Savior. The people who believed his promise awaited the day when it would be fulfilled. In times of both injustice and despair, they cried out to the Lord, “How long? How long will it be until you keep your promise?”

Then, at the set time, God kept his promise. The Son of God took on human flesh. He became fully human yet was without sin. He came to earth to do the will of his Father.

It was the perfect time in human history. Everything was in place for Jesus to do exactly what his Father wanted him to do. And what was that? Jesus came to bear the sins of the world, earning forgiveness for you.

On the last day of the calendar year, you can look back and see how some things have gone well, and other things—well, probably not so well. But when you look back on what Jesus has done for you, you will see only perfection, because Jesus came at just the right time. And as you look forward to the new year, Jesus will be with you, supplying you with whatever you need, just in time.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the blessings of the past year. Give me the confidence to face the new year with your forgiveness there for me at just the right time, every time. 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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Jesus Did Your Job – December 30, 2019

God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law.
Galatians 4:4,5

Jesus Did Your Job


Daily Devotion – December 30, 2019

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4,5

See series: Devotions

It’s nice to have a job that gives you some holiday time off between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s just pleasant not to have to get up at a certain time in the morning, get yourself to work, and follow someone else’s routine. And isn’t it especially nice when a co-worker volunteers to take a shift for you to give you a little time off?

As you celebrated the birth of Jesus last week, did you think about why he came to earth? He didn’t have to do it. He had enjoyed existence from eternity without a human body, but he chose to humble himself and take a human body anyway, arriving not as an adult, but as an infant.

Just as amazingly, he chose to put himself under the law. That means that he had to be perfect in every way—every thought, every word, every action. Just one slip-up, and he would not be able to serve as our Savior.

But he is called Jesus, which means “Savior,” because he did it. He kept the law perfectly, refraining as a true human being from doing or even thinking anything wrong. Then, instead of taking the reward of heaven that he deserved for living that perfect life, he took the punishment of hell that you deserved for living an imperfect life and declared that his perfect life would be your ticket to heaven.

Through faith in Jesus, you have that perfect life credited to your spiritual account. You are redeemed from hell and death, and you are promised forgiveness of your sins and eternal life.

Someone else has done your job, and he wants you to get credit for it. Join other Christians and thank him. Stop worrying, take a deep breath, and get some rest.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for sending your Son to become a human being and live under the law in my place. I will rest my soul 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Perfect Timing – December 29, 2019

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4-7

Perfect Timing


Daily Devotion – December 29, 2019

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4-7

See series: Devotions

There is something soothing about watching sand sift through the waist of an hourglass. It is mesmerizing. In our Bible passage for today, the apostle Paul tells us that when Jesus was born, the last grains of sand in God’s celestial hourglass had fallen from the top chamber and filled the bottom one. In other words, Jesus came at precisely the right time. We can be certain because it was the time that God in his wisdom had chosen since the beginning of time. The One who fulfilled the hopes and dreams of God’s people for all those years was born. For centuries God had promised to send a Savior, and when the time had fully come, he sent his one and only Son.

We don’t know for sure why God sent Jesus when he did, but we can be thankful that he did. God’s own Son became human and put himself under the law, to redeem us from all of our sins and failures under God’s law. He did this so we might receive the full rights of sons. Through faith in Christ, we have been brought into God’s family and can now call out to our Father in heaven with words of heartfelt intimacy, “Abba, Father.” God’s timing was perfect, and so was his gift—Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to continually rejoice in your perfect timing in sending your Son into the world. Lead me to continually thank and praise you for your perfect gift and for making me your child. 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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God With Us – December 28, 2019

“The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).
Matthew 1:23

God With Us


Daily Devotion – December 28, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 1:23

See series: Devotions

During World War II, a gloom swept over England as Hitler’s Luftwaffe dropped tons of death and destruction upon London. There was a legitimate fear for the safety of King George VI and his family. His staff made secret arrangements to transport the king and his family to safety in Canada for the duration of the war. Despite the urgings of his advisors, George refused to leave his countrymen in their dark hour. In fact, the king inspected a bombed-out section of London after an air raid. While walking through the rubble, an elderly man walked up to King George and said: “You, here, in the midst of this? You are indeed a good king.”

That is what the manger says to us. That God is with us in the ugly part of our lives as well as the good! He does not desert us in the darkest hour of our despair. He is there in the midst of the rubble of our broken dreams and the ruin of our tangled lives. That’s what the gift of Christmas is! GOD IS WITH US. He is with us here. That’s the most important gift we could ever receive.

God is indeed a good king. He is One who came here and lived among us. He not only sympathized with us. He took our pain for us and suffered for our sins. Through our coming King Jesus, God made peace between himself and us.

Matthew 1:23 says: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

That must be the most amazing, incredible, and comforting news there could be. That is the meaning of Christmas.

May the certainty that God is with us, in the midst of this dark world together with us, bring comfort to your soul this Christmas!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank you for coming to this world to be with us so that you might save me. When I face dark days, remind me that you are always with 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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The Responsible Child – December 27, 2019

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The Responsible Child


Daily Devotion – December 27, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:6

See series: Devotions

They say that first-born children often feel a greater weight of responsibility than their younger siblings do. Sometimes parents put extra pressure on the oldest child to succeed without even being aware of what they are doing. The firstborn may also naturally feel that it is their duty to protect or provide for their younger brothers and sisters.

God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, came into this world with the heaviest burden of responsibility ever placed on a child. From the moment of his birth—even from his conception—the pressure was on him to succeed. God the Father had sent him to accomplish what no other person on earth could do: to defeat Satan and rescue humanity from the curse of death. Jesus’ entire life needed to be absent of sin and full of grace and truth. He was born so that the rest of mankind could benefit from his life and death.

Read through any of the four Gospels of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John) and you’ll see for yourself that Jesus accomplished all that was prophesied about him in the bible verse above. Everyone who heard him speak marveled at his wisdom and the authority of his teaching. The many miracles he performed showed his mighty power and his divine compassion for all. To look on Jesus was to see the face of his Father in heaven. He displayed genuine love for everyone, even his enemies. Even as they nailed him to a cross, Jesus was heard to be praying, “Father, forgive them.” His death on that cross was the sacrifice that won forgiveness of sins and true spiritual peace for all.

The holy Child placed in the manger by his mother Mary was born for you. He came to take the weight of your sin and guilt upon himself. And he has defeated your enemies—sin, death, and the devil. Now he reigns forever at the right hand of the Father. Turn to him daily; put your life in his hands. He will not let you down.

Prayer:
Christ Jesus, you alone fulfilled the Father’s will. I trust in you for my 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Contemplating Humanity – December 26, 2019

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Contemplating Humanity


Daily Devotion – December 26, 2019

Devotion based on John 1:14

See series: Devotions

If you spend any amount of time on social media or television these days, it might soon strike you that we seem to have lost our sense of humanity. As a human race, we no longer seem capable of treating each other humanely—with patience, kindness, and respect. We show contempt to all who disagree with us. There appears to be no room in this cultural climate for polite discussion, let alone considerate and thoughtful debate. We have lost sight of what it means to be human.

The account of the Garden of Eden has much to teach us about ourselves. The first lesson is that we humans are creatures, responsible to our Creator. As one pastor said: “To be human means to be in this world, to live in dependence upon God, to be humane to each other—in other words, to be servants rather than lords.” But we could define Adam and Eve’s first sin as refusing to be merely human and wanting to be like God. To this day their descendants still struggle to appreciate what it truly means to be human. It is a gift of God that we have too often despised.

But the holy Child born in Bethlehem calls us to contemplate our humanity. The eternal Son of God took on our human nature. And he exemplified, in every way, what humans were created to be in the first place. Jesus walked among us in this world as a brother, understanding our human weaknesses and needs, and making them his own. He displayed genuine love for all people and humble obedience to his heavenly Father. And when the time came for him to lay down his life as a sacrifice for the sins of the rest of humanity, Jesus went willingly to his death on the cross.

Our human race would have no hope of surviving the final judgment if God had not come to live among us. But Jesus Christ has redeemed us by acting as our substitute. Now the truth of his incarnation and resurrection forces us to reconsider the way we look at our fellow human beings. In his love, God has not only created them but sent his Son to redeem them, along with us.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let me learn from you to love all people. 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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Pondering Christmas – December 25, 2019

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

Pondering Christmas


Daily Devotion – December 25, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:19

See series: Devotions

It has often seemed to me that Christmas Day has a different feeling than the weeks leading up to it. Throughout the previous month, the whole world had joined in a collaborative effort to create an atmosphere of otherworldliness. Decorations, lights, and family traditions combine to create a feeling of nostalgia, perhaps a longing to restore something that was lost. Sometimes even Christians can become distracted, allowing Christmas Eve to be more about maintaining old traditions than reveling in the news brought by the angel.

But by Christmas Day, the world has moved on from the fantasy that it had conjured. Next week, stores will stock their Valentine’s Day cards and reduce their TVs to Super Bowl Sunday prices.

Let’s not do that. No longer caught up in the countdown to Christmas, we can sit quietly in a corner of the Bethlehem stable for a few moments more.

By the end of that first Christmas Day, Mary and Joseph had experienced their own flurry of activity. First, the birth of the Child himself, truly a Miracle Baby, the Son of God in human flesh. Then the shepherds running breathlessly into the room, with their excited descriptions of angelic choirs and heavenly glory. And when these visitors finally returned to their flocks, shouting out praises along the way, the young family may or may not have had time to themselves. But Luke tells us that “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

What have you taken away from your time with the Word during this Christmas celebration? Were you struck by the unexpectedness of the almighty God coming to take on our human condition? Did you take time to consider your sins, for which the Christ child came to die, and repent of them? Did you reflect on how God’s gift of his Son is exactly the gift you need today and every day? May Jesus be your heart’s treasure all year round!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 38)
Ah, dearest Jesus, holy Child,
Prepare a bed, soft, undefiled
Within my heart, made clean and new,
A quiet chamber kept for 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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Celebrating Christmas – December 24, 2019

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
Luke 2:10,11

Celebrating Christmas


Daily Devotion – December 24, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:10,11

See series: Devotions

All across the world today and tomorrow, people are gathering together to celebrate Christmas. Which means yesterday all across the world, preachers were preparing their Christmas messages. Neither pastors nor worshipers have a particularly difficult job because Christmas is both easy to preach and a joy to celebrate.

I suppose that if a preacher wanted to get creative, he could go for many years without repeating his Christmas message. The account of what happened 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem offers many different topics to speak about. One might choose to focus on Mary or Joseph and their roles in the nativity, or on the humble conditions in which Jesus was born, or the appearance of the angels, or the evangelism efforts of the shepherds, or the star in the sky.

But when I say that Christmas is easy to preach, I’m not talking about the variety of topics available. And when I say that Christmas is a joy to celebrate, it’s not because of all the parties, good food, and getting together with family and friends. As wonderful as those things are, there’s only one detail in the nativity scene that’s worth preaching and celebrating year after year for centuries all around the world. When the angel appeared to the shepherds, shining with the glory of God, he didn’t say, “Fear not. For you will eat cookies and drink eggnog for many years to come.” Nor did he say, “Fear not. For there are some nice people who just had a cute baby boy. You should totally give your mom a call.” No, it was so much more than that. The angel proclaimed: “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”

The message of the birth of our Savior will only grow stale when we have no more sin left to forgive. The joy of Christmas will only fade when we take our eyes off Jesus, who left heaven to save us from death and hell.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, my only Savior, my heart rejoices as it remembers again the good news of your coming to save 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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Naming a Child – December 23, 2019

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:21

Naming a Child


Daily Devotion – December 23, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 1:21

See series: Devotions

In some cultures, parents put off naming a child for weeks or months after birth. Superstitions and high infant mortality rates lead parents to avoid inviting “bad luck” by naming the baby too soon. In other cultures, the family waits years to see signs of the child’s personality before giving them a permanent name.

But months before he was born, a name had already been chosen for the virgin Mary’s son. An angel from heaven announced it first to Mary and later again to her husband, Joseph. There would be no doubt about his future. The child was destined to die, but not for some time. And there was no doubt about what sort of man he would grow up to be. “You are to give him the name Jesus,” said the angel, “because he will save his people from their sins.”

Unlike Jesus, the perfect Son of God, you and I came into this world with the burden of a sinful nature. And that sinful nature displays itself in all kinds of ugly ways—beginning already in our childhood and lasting all through life. We bring pain on ourselves and others through our selfishness and greed, immoral desires and behaviors, hurtful talk and actions, and so much worse. Our life is full of struggles; our death is unavoidable, and then we will face God’s holy judgment. The human race is a people in desperate need of a Savior.

How comforting to know that the child whose birth we celebrate on Christmas came into this world to be our Savior! His very name means “the Lord saves!” If there was no doubt about his future accomplishments before he was even born, how much more confident can we be now that he has lived, died, and risen again from death! All through his life, Jesus was our Savior, living a sinless life as our substitute. And in his death, Jesus was our Savior, paying the debt that we owed God for our disobedience. Jesus has lived up to his name. The Lord God himself has saved us from our sins.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, what a joy to know your name and to know that you have saved me!

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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