What Must I Do? – Family Devotion – January 15, 2021

Read: Acts 16:25-34

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Acts 16:30-31

What Must I Do?

 

Family Devotion – January 15, 2021

Devotion based on Acts 16:30-31

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Can you picture the scene? The ground had just finished rumbling from an earthquake. A man rushes to find that the place he was in charge of, the jail, had doors standing wide open. Oh no! He was going to be in big trouble if all the prisoners had escaped! This was the worst thing that could have possibly happened for the jailer in the city of Philippi.

But suddenly this worried and scared jailer heard the voice of the apostle Paul, “We are all here!”

What? How could this be? Why would the prisoners stay? What was going on here? There was something different about these prisoners named Paul and Silas who had been singing hymns all night long!

Still scared and confused, the jailer asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now perhaps this man was worried about saving his life and not getting in trouble with his Roman government bosses. But more likely, this man recognized Paul and Silas were a different kind of people with a different kind of message. This jailer wanted to know what they knew—“How can I be saved spiritually?” Listen again to their beautiful response, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

What a wonderful message! The jailer wanted to know if he could do something to earn his way to heaven. But Paul and Silas shared with him the good news of the gospel—it’s already been done! The Lord Jesus has done it all! He came to live perfectly in the place of that jailer and all people. He came to die to pay for the sins of that jailer and all people. He rose to life to prove his victory to that jailer and to all people. There is nothing left to do, only to believe what has already been done by the Lord Jesus. And so, in the greatest miracle of this story, God worked faith in Jesus in the jailer’s heart. The jailer believed—he and his whole household—and they were then baptized as children of God’s eternal family.

Every Christian has a different story. Some join God’s family right away when they are baptized as infants. Some learn the good news of Jesus in school. Others hear about Jesus when they are adults, and still others when they are very old and near the end of life. But the wonder of God’s grace is that God has done all the work. God has saved each person through the life and death of Jesus, and God has worked faith in their hearts to believe it. What a blessing!

Want to know another blessing? You now know how to answer the most important question of all time! What must someone do to be saved? NOTHING! Simply believe in the Lord Jesus! Praise God…and tell others!

Closing Prayer:

God, I am so thankful that you have worked faith by the power of your Holy Spirit in my heart so that I believe in the Lord Jesus. Now help me to share with others the good news of our Savior so that they also might believe. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why was the jailer in this story so afraid?
  • What did the jailer want to know from Paul and Silas?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The most important thing for all people in the world is to know how to get to heaven. What’s the simple answer you can share with those who don’t know?
  • Do you know anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus? How or when could you share the good news with them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement in your own words: The jailer asked a question of works, but Paul and Silas gave an answer of faith.
  • Some have said there are really only two kinds of religions in the world—religions based on good works and religions based on grace. What does that mean?

Hymn: CW 89:1,4,6 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

Then from God’s throne with thund’rous sound Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is my Son,” was his decree, “The one I love, who pleases me.”

Now rise, faint hearts: be resolute! This man is Christ, our substitute!
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream, Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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’s Great Plan – Family Devotion – January 13, 2021

Read: Isaiah 49:1-6

And now the LORD says—
he who formed me in the womb to be his servant
to bring Jacob back to him
and gather Israel to himself,
for I am honored in the eyes of the Lord
and my God has been my strength—
he says:
“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 my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:5-6

God’s Great Plan

 

Family Devotion – January 13, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:5-6

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“I’ve got a plan!” These are always funny words for any fan of Scooby Doo. Whether you are watching the original Scooby Doo cartoons (the best in my opinion), some of the newer versions, one of the Scooby Doo movies, or the newest movie called Scoob!, it happens the same way almost every time. Fred usually comes up with some plan to solve the mystery. Then they split up. Then Daphne gets captured, Velma loses her glasses, and Shaggy and Scooby get lost looking for sandwiches. Finally, the team makes another detailed and tricky plan to catch the ghost. Something always goes wrong, but there’s a happy conclusion as the team ends up unmasking the ghost and finding out it was old Mr. Stevens the janitor.

This makes for fun and funny TV, but thank goodness God’s plans are nothing like an episode of Scooby Doo! God’s plans are perfect and precise. They always happen just as he promises, and they are always filled with love and grace.

Today we hear about one of God’s plans through the prophet Isaiah. These words are very special. They are a like a secret behind-the-scenes conversation that the Lord allows us to hear. The conversation is between God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. What are they talking about? Well, Jesus the Son, recognizes in verse 5 that his heavenly Father chose him specifically and specially to be born in our world as part of a great plan of grace. What was God’s plan? The Father tells us in verse 6. He was going to send his Son to the world to save people. But not just the tribe of Jacob (the Israelites)! The Father says, “I will make you a light for the Gentiles (non-Israelites), that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” God’s plan was that Jesus would come to this world to bring salvation to people all over the world and throughout all time.

Want to know something else incredible? Isaiah recorded these words about 700 years before Jesus was even born! God had this plan of salvation in mind long before Jesus even came! And not only did God promise this plan over and over, but he carried it out perfectly through Jesus for you and for me. Thank God for his perfect plans and promises, and thank God for Jesus who fulfilled that plan to bring us salvation!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for revealing your plan of salvation to us, and thank you for sending Jesus to accomplish that plan. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is something you or your family planned to do that didn’t work the way you wanted?
  • How did God carry out his plan to save people?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why humans are so bad at accomplishing their plans and keeping their promises.
  • How do you know you can always trust God’s promises?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • When would be a time in life when it might be difficult for us to trust God’s promises? Why?
  • Discuss things we can do when we are struggling to trust God and his promises.

Hymn: CW 89:1-2,5 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

The Savior came to be baptized—The Son of God in flesh disguised—
To stand beneath the Father’s will And all his promises fulfill.

The Father’s word, the Spirit’s flight Anointed Christ in glorious sight
As God’s own choice, from Adam’s fall To save the world and free us all.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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This is My Son – Family Devotion – January 11, 2021

Read: Mark 1:4-11

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:9-11

This is My Son

 

Family Devotion – January 11, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:9-11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Andre was beaming with joy. Friend after friend and family member after family member came to visit in the hospital room. Even after 20 different visitors, the joy didn’t get old. Each time Andre held up his new baby boy like it was the opening scene from The Lion King as he announced to each visitor, “This is my son. His name is Ty.” Every single person knew without a doubt that Andre loved his dear son so very much.

Of course, the joy of that day didn’t last so long. Soon Andre was changing diapers that looked like an explosion had taken place. Not long after that, Andre was battling temper tantrums over toddler toys. A few years later, Andre was pulling out whatever hair he had left on his head trying to figure out how he and his wife could be better parents. He still loved his growing son Ty, but sin always makes our human relationships so difficult!

Today we hear about the famous story of Jesus’ baptism. What a spectacular event! The Son of God was present in the water of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit was descending as a dove, and the Father declared from the heavens, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all present for this special event, everyone there that day and everyone who has read the story since then knows without a doubt that this Son Jesus is special and dearly loved by his heavenly Father.

But here’s something else special about this story. The relationship between Jesus and his Father was never strained by sin. There was never any sassy talk or temper tantrum for Jesus. There was never pouting or shouting and never any disobedience. There wasn’t one sin ever from Jesus! In the same way, there was never one time that the Father failed to show love to his Son Jesus. It was only a perfect relationship of love all the time between this Father and Son! If only we had perfect relationships like this in our lives!

Actually, we do! The marvel of this story is that Jesus stood there in the waters of the Jordan River for us. He came to be the perfect Son because we fail to be perfect. He came to live for us and then die for us to erase all our sins. He came to clothe us in all of his forgiveness and perfection so that we can have a new life and a new relationship with God. When the waters of your baptism touched you, God opened up the heavens once more and declared, “This is my son/my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus has given to us a perfect relationship with his heavenly Father by his grace. It’s given to you in your baptism, and it’s a relationship that will last for all eternity. Praise God for his love!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to be my substitute and Savior so that I can become a baptized and dearly loved child of God. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who were the three persons of our God that were present at Jesus’ baptism?
  • How does God act as a perfect father to us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Have you been baptized? (Check with your parents.) When? Ask your parent(s) what that day was like.
  • Your heavenly Father loves you and is pleased with you, just as he is with his Son Jesus. How can knowing that help you in your everyday life?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What are ways that your family does already—or could in the future—celebrate and remember your baptism?
  • Family discussion: What reminders of baptism and/or our three-in-one God do you have in your church or in your worship services at church? (Hint: Look for symbols or visuals in windows, on furniture, in a bulletin, etc.)

Hymn: CW 89:1,3-4 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

As Jesus in the Jordan stood And John baptized the Lamb of God,
The Holy Spirit, heav’nly dove, Descended on him from above.

Then from God’s throne with thund’rous sound Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is my Son,” was his decree, “The one I love, who pleases me.”

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Mystery of God’s Grace—Jesus is for All People – Family Devotion – January 8, 2021

Read: Ephesians 3:2-12

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6

A Mystery of God’s Grace—Jesus is for All People

 

Family Devotion – January 8, 2021

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:6

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Wow. Didn’t see that coming.” When you read a good mystery, you feel the suspense as the author unfolds the story chapter by chapter. In a movie mystery, the build-up of the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Have you ever heard of the mystery of God’s grace? It’s absolutely thrilling! Listen to how it gradually unfolded in the Bible:

  • After the first people sinned in the Garden of Eden, God made a promise that a hero would crush Satan (Genesis 3:15).
  • The entire first half of the Bible (the Old Testament) is filled with similar promises, that a Savior would come who would restore peace (cf. Isaiah 57:19) and forgiveness (cf. Jeremiah 31:34b).
  • This week, we learned that “nations will come” to this light—Jesus, the light of the world.

Even after Jesus completed his ministry on earth, the mystery of God’s grace continued to unfold. Jewish believers were part of the earliest Christian churches. They were used to being God’s special people. They sat in their pews with other Jewish people and listened to the apostles like Paul teach about God’s grace given to them in Jesus. Then Paul threw a curve ball. Listen: “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” God’s grace belongs to all people, no matter where they come from. The Jewish people were now supposed to share the grace of God with others. They might have said at the time, “Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”

That’s the amazing thing about God’s grace. Just when we think we have it figured out, God pushes the boundaries of our minds even further. Just think about God’s grace to you:

  • God loved all people—including you—so that he sent his Son to be the sacrifice for sin, so that fallen sinners can have peace with God.
  • Of all the times and places you could have been born, you were born into a family where you could learn about Jesus and his forgiveness.
  • You are free to read about him in the Bible and worship him—a blessing many people have not had.
  • He continues to strengthen your faith through the Holy Spirit every time you hear his Word.

We are truly blessed! His grace to us is boundless!

The mystery of God’s endless grace continues. There are still conflicts and tensions that have to be resolved. Sin is still present in our hearts and in the world around us. God still intends for his grace to conquer all of that and for the gospel to reach all people. On the Last Day, the last chapter of this great mystery, the suspense will end and Christ will reign as the conquering hero forever!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, the grace you show us in Jesus is amazing. We thank you that we are included in your story of grace. Equip us to share your grace with others in all we do. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Think of your life as a story. How is Jesus the hero of your story?
  • Can you think of anyone who needs a hero like Jesus in their life? Name one thing Jesus did for that person.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did God include you in the story of his grace? (Hint: Your baptism connected you to God’s grace.)
  • How does God intend for the message of his grace to reach all people?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain what God’s grace is. Explain three different ways that God has shown grace to you in your life.
  • Describe a conflict you see within yourself or in the world around you. How does God’s grace conquer that conflict?

Hymn: CW 384:1-2 – By Grace I’m Saved

By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul believe and doubt it not.
Why waver at this word of promise?
Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?
So then this word must true remain:
By grace you, too, shall heaven obtain.

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,
Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own merit
That Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace alone,

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Magi Meet the King – Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

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

The Magi Meet the King

 

Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1-2

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

It’s a new year! Of all the people making predictions for the year ahead, who do you trust?

In our last devotion we heard a prediction God made through the prophet Isaiah: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Today’s reading tells us how that prediction came true. It’s the story of the first people from other nations who came to worship Jesus, the light of the world.

The story of the Magi’s visit to Jesus actually starts before they boarded the camels bound for Bethlehem. The Magi were very well-educated people who lived in the nations east of Bethlehem. These studious people knew that the Jewish nation was waiting for a Messiah to be born. How did they know? Several generations earlier, the Jewish people had spent years in captivity in the eastern nation of Babylon. The Magi likely learned about the promised Messiah while the Jews were living among them. Jewish prophets like Isaiah had called the Messiah a king. That information was passed down through generations. So the Magi began to look for the “King of the Jews.”

Although Jesus was called the King of the Jews, the story of the Magi shows us that Jesus is a King for all nations. God made it possible for the Magi to learn about Jesus, even though they lived far from where He was born. God made them curious about the predictions. Then by putting the unique star in the sky, God made it possible for the Magi to find Jesus and worship him. The Magi learned something very important: This God—the one worshiped by the Jewish people—was trustworthy and his promises came true.

Notice that the Magi’s journey to Jesus began with God’s Word and promises. Those promises were talked about and kept alive for generations. By his grace, God continues to lead people to Jesus through his true and trustworthy Word. When your family gathers together around God’s Word, you are listening to the most credible and trustworthy voice you can find. Want to know how much God loves you? It’s in the Word. Want to know the plans God has for your future? It’s in the Word. Want to point someone to Jesus and his forgiveness? Share the Word.

Every prediction in God’s Word has already come true, except one—Jesus’ return on the last day of the earth’s existence. Until then, let us worship our king and share what we know about him with all people of all nations!

Closing Prayer:

Oh Jesus, my King, thank you for leaving your heavenly throne to live here on earth and be my Savior. I know that everything written about you is true. As you led the Magi to meet you, lead me closer to worship you through your Word. In your name I pray. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did God make it possible for the Magi to find Jesus?
  • Give two ways or places that God makes it possible for you to find Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the story of the Magi teach us about Jesus?
  • A star guided the Magi’s way to Jesus. What are some ways that God leads people to see Jesus today? (cf. 2 Peter 1:19-21)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think the Magi were so interested in finding “the King of the Jews?”
  • Identify promises God makes in his Word that you have found to be trustworthy and true in your life.

Hymn: CW 81:2,4 – Arise and Shine in Splendor

See earth in darkness lying,
The heathen nations dying
In hopeless gloom and night.
To you the Lord of heaven—
Your life, your hope—has given
Great glory, honor, and delight.

Your heart will leap for gladness
When from the realms of sadness
They come from near and far.
Your eyes will wake from slumber
As people without number
Rejoice to see the Morning Star.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations – Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Read: Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

The Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 60:1

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Mom flings open the curtains to let the morning light stream in. “Rise and shine!” she proclaims. This is a common morning greeting to rouse sleepy heads out of bed. But do you know the origin of the phrase? It’s our Bible verse for today: “Arise, shine, for your light has come!”

Isaiah spoke these words to God’s people long before Jesus was born. The words were meant to tell God’s people that he would deliver them from the foreign king who had taken them captive. God wanted this small group of his children to know that when they turned away from sin and toward him, they would be rescued. Better days were to come!

Those were welcome words for the small nation of people living in captivity. But God had something even bigger in mind when he spoke these words through Isaiah. In the first portion of the Bible, the Old Testament, we find many prophecies like this—promises that God would deliver his people in a big way. Our reading today is one of those predictions. “Darkness covers the earth” is a reference to sin in the world, a “thick darkness” that covers all people. Sin is in us and all around us. We are captive to it. None of us can escape that darkness on our own. So God planned a rescue, and he used prophets like Isaiah to prepare his people.

How do we know that this is a prediction about Jesus? Bible scholars tell us that whenever the words “the glory of the Lord” are used, it’s a reference to God’s wonderful grace and his presence among us. God’s people were led by “the glory of the Lord” when they wandered in the desert (Exodus 16). The “glory of the Lord” shined brightly on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:9). Here, “the glory of the Lord” rising upon the people predicts the coming of Jesus.

Jesus is like the morning light streaming into our room, delivering us from the night’s darkness of sin. Isaiah tells us something even more wonderful about Jesus: “Nations will come to your light.” Although Jesus was born into God’s special nation of people whom he had prepared and protected for centuries, He was to be a Savior for all nations. Jesus himself said this during his ministry: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Do you know someone who is sitting alone in darkness? The Christmas message can brighten that person’s world. You can speak the words of God from Isaiah, “Arise, shine, for your light has come!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you are the light of the world. Thank you for rescuing us out of spiritual darkness. Give us the strength to rise each day in gratitude for what you have done for us. Help us shine with the light you give us, so others might see your light in us. In your name we pray. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Have you ever been afraid of the dark? How did you feel when someone finally turned a light on for you?
  • What does the Bible mean when it calls Jesus “a light” for the whole world?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think the Bible talks about sin as darkness and Jesus as light?
  • Isaiah says, “arise” and also “shine.” What did he mean by that? What are some ways you can “shine” as you go about your day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain how the captivity experience of God’s people before Jesus time parallels the spiritual captivity of all people. How does God’s rescue of his Old Testament people parallel our rescue? (cf. Colossians 1:13-14)
  • What does Isaiah call all people to do when God’s rescue comes? What effect does your “shine” have on those around you? (cf. Matthew 5:16)

Hymn: CW 81:1,3 – Arise and Shine in Splendor

Arise and shine in splendor;
Let night to day surrender.
Your light is drawing near.
Above, the day is beaming,
In matchless beauty gleaming;
The glory of the Lord is here.

Lift up your eyes in wonder –
See, nations gather yonder
From sin to be set free.
The world has heard your story;
Your sons come to your glory,
And daughters haste your light to see.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts – Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
Colossians 3:15

The Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts

 

Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Devotion based on Colossians 3:15

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“You cannot have dessert until you eat your dinner,” Mom says with wisdom. She knows that if you fill your belly with sweets, you won’t eat the good food that is nutritious and beneficial for you.

What’s true for our bellies is also true for our hearts, spiritually speaking. In our reading today, the apostle Paul tells us what God wants to fill our hearts: the peace of Christ. That’s the quietness and contentment we have because we know Jesus and his forgiveness. It’s the good stuff that allows us to grow and thrive.

Still, we look longingly at the sweets—things that are not good for us—and we are tempted. Why is that? We are born with sin in our hearts, and we sin because we are weak. Sometimes we even scheme to get the things we crave, even if they are not good for us. Who of us has not hidden some of that Christmas candy to eat between meals?

Fortunately, Jesus earned forgiveness for all our sins, big and small. When we repent, that is, turn away from our sins and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, we have it. The bad stuff is washed away, and peace can fill our hearts. Our reading even goes so far as to say that the peace of Christ can “rule” in our hearts. That means the peace of Jesus wins every time … sin loses!

With temptations all around us, we need to be strong, filled with the powerful peace Jesus provides. God in his wisdom sets good, nutritious food right before us in his Word. Each time we hear gospel-filled words like, “You are mine,” “you are dearly loved,” and “forgive as the Lord forgave you,” the Holy Spirit is giving us spoonsful of nourishment for our faith. That’s when peace fills us up and strengthens us. Then we have more power to do the kinds of things strong Christians do: show compassion and kindness to others, be gentle and patient with others, be humble. These are difficult things to do, especially if others around us are not kind, compassionate, or humble. But the peace of Christ strengthens us.

All this growth and strength doesn’t happen overnight. We are always learning and growing. We get stronger and more mature in our faith when we feast on God’s Word—the good stuff—and hear that message of peace daily, so it fills our hearts.

Soon, the Christmas candy and the sweets of the season will be gone. The peace of Christ proclaimed at Christmas will last and has the power to make us stronger. Let’s fill up on that gospel peace every day!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, please let your peace fill my heart and rule over sin. Never let me forget the peace I have in you. Help me build spiritual strength, so that others may see my behavior and know that I am your child. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Is there a sin you keep doing, even though you try not to do it? What does Jesus do with that sin?
  • How can you grow stronger in your faith? What does God provide that strengthens your faith?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the peace of Christ mean to you? Why does it matter?
  • When the peace of Christ fills your heart, describe how you think it would impact your behavior. Why does that matter?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What temptations do you struggle with? What happens to your desire for sin when the peace of Christ fills your heart?
  • Name one wholesome habit you would like to put in place to be sure you are receiving spiritual nutrition from God’s Word every day.

Hymn: CW 32:1,2,5 – When Sinners See Their Lost Condition

When sinners see their lost condition
And feel the pressing load of sin
And Jesus comes on his blest mission
To heal the sin-sick heart within
All grief must flee before his grace,
And joy divine will take its place.

When Jesus enters meek and lowly
To fill the home with sweetest peace,
When hearts have felt his blessing holy
And found from sin complete release,
Then calm and joy within shall reign
And hearts divided love again.

Oh, may he soon to every nation
Find entrance where he is unknown,
With life and light and free salvation,
That Satan’s power be overthrown,
And healing to all hearts may come
In heathen land and Christian home!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Alone Gives Peace to All Nations – Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Read: Isaiah 45:20-25

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:22

God Alone Gives Peace to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:22

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Arms folded, back turned, feet planted firmly in place. Can you remember a time when you assumed this position? Maybe you were defying your parents’ authority. Maybe you were trying to show them that you did not want to hear what they had to say.

To this stance, your parent might say, “Turn around and look at me!” Your parent wants you to face the situation. How do you feel in that moment? Still angry? Ashamed? Afraid to turn around?

Many of the Old Testament people of Israel and Judah assumed a similar stance toward God. They often turned their backs on him. They became friends with ungodly people. Instead of sharing their faith in the one true God, they began following the false gods of other nations. They turned toward their own ideas instead of toward God.

All God wanted was for his nation of people to be special, to live under his protection, and to see his promise of peace fulfilled. He loved them and had made promises to them—promises he intended to keep. So he called out to his people through prophets like Isaiah: “Turn to me and be saved.”

These words are not as much a command issued in anger; they are an invitation. The invitation to “turn around” shows just how patient and loving God is. He wants his children to receive the forgiveness that only he can give. The false gods the people had turned to were not capable of issuing forgiveness. Only the true God could do that, because he had a plan to pay for those sins in full. That plan included the birth of God’s Son into this world. Jesus lived perfectly, died willingly, and rose victoriously—for us! For that reason, God’s people do not have to face an angry God. Because of what Jesus did, we can turn around, tell God we are sorry for our stubbornness, and receive his forgiveness.

No other “god” out there offers that kind of grace! “There is no other,” that is like him.

So many people need to hear this message! It’s a message God intended for all people of all nations, for all time. Sure, some people will stubbornly turn their backs on him. Even then, God lovingly reaches out, through people like you and me. Using words from the Bible accompanied by our genuine love, we can tell someone who is hurting, angry, or lost that our God—the God of the Bible—invites us all to turn to him for grace, forgiveness, and peace.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I know I often stubbornly turn away from you. When I sin, please call me back. Help me turn toward you, and help me share the peace I find with others who need to hear it. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What kinds of feelings might make you cross your arms and turn your back on someone? Is that a good way to behave? Why?
  • When we turn to God for forgiveness, what will he always do? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Old Testament people of God turn away from God so often? What led them astray? Now compare that with you. Any similarities?
  • What does God’s behavior toward his Old Testament people teach us about him?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Can you think of a time you struggled to forgive someone? How does God’s treatment of his Old Testament people provide an example how we are to treat others?
  • Explain how this thought applies to us: God’s grace is free, but it is also very expensive.

Hymn: CW 54:1,3,4 – Where Shepherds Lately Knelt

Where shepherds lately knelt and kept the angel’s word,
I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;
But there is room and welcome there for me,
But there is room and welcome there for me.

How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,
His prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart I stare;
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me,
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me.

Can I, will I forget how Love was born and burned
Its way into my heart unasked, unforced, unearned,
To die, to live, and not alone for me.
To die, to live, and not alone for me.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person – Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Read: Luke 2:25-40

For my eyes have seen your salvation.
Luke 2:30

Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person

 

Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:30

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Your family is home together, and everyone is busy with school or work. Suddenly, Dad lets out a loud chuckle. Something he is watching is VERY funny.

“Let me see! I want to see!” the children cry as they run to Dad’s lap. Everyone wants to see for themselves what made Dad laugh out loud.

There is something rather special about seeing something with our own eyes. Simeon knew that. God had promised Simeon that he would see the Savior Christ with his own eyes before he died. Simeon believed God and was waiting patiently for that day.

On that special day, the Holy Spirit moved Simeon to walk out into the temple court. Maybe he needed to stretch his legs. Maybe he heard the soft cries of the baby Jesus and was drawn to the noise. When Simeon’s eyes fell upon the child in Mary’s arms, he immediately knew he was seeing something special. He broke into song:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people.”

Not only did Simeon know who Jesus was; he also knew what Jesus would do—bring salvation to all people. As a faithful servant in God’s temple, Simeon knew a Messiah, or Savior, would be born into the world (Isaiah 7:14) and he would bear the sins of many (Isaiah 53:12). Simeon was carefully and constantly watching for these promises to happen.

When God finally allowed Simeon to gaze into the eyes of his Savior, Simeon knew that the child looking back at him could see right into his heart and see the sin living there. Through eyes of faith, God allowed Simeon to see that this child would take away Simeon’s sin and give him peace with God. That moved Simeon to burst into praise!

What does God see when he looks into your heart? Sadly, he sees sin living there. Whether we like it or not, whether we see it or not, we sin daily. Happily, we know from the Bible what Jesus did with our sin: He paid for it all through his death on the cross. Like Simeon, when we look with eyes of faith at Jesus, we see our Savior for who he really is—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Now, because of what Jesus did, God sees us as his forgiven, sinless children.

Simeon could leave this world in peace. We can leave our devotion time together at peace, knowing Jesus brings us peace for each day, now and for eternity.

Closing Prayer:

Loving Savior, when I see my sins, let me also see your forgiveness. I know that you lived, died, and rose to bring me peace. Thank you for doing that for me, and for all people! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What does Jesus see when he looks into your heart?
  • What does your heart look like after you ask for forgiveness?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What prompted Simeon to burst into song?
  • How do you feel when you see Jesus through faith and remember what he has done for you?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What role did the Holy Spirit play in the story of Simeon?
  • Explain how our family can see Jesus, even though we are living centuries after his birth. (cf. John 5:39 and 1 Corinthians 2:12 for help).

Hymn: CW p. 61 – Song of Simeon

In peace, Lord, you let your servant now depart according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for every people.
A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Rejoice in the Word Made Flesh – Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Read: John 1:1-14

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

Rejoice in the Word Made Flesh

 

Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:14

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Superheroes need super cool transportation. King T’Challa’s Talon Fighter in the Black Panther is pretty sweet. Wonder Woman has an invisible jet. To be fair, Superman doesn’t have a flying machine, but that’s because he can fly by himself—and he has a cape.

When we hear at Christmas that the time was right for God to rescue his people, you might have expected the Savior to arrive in an awesome Jesus-worthy spaceship wearing some super cool outfit. Instead he came as a human, wrapped in strips of cloth, and landed inside a feeding trough in a barn. A place full of smelly animals isn’t really a place for a super Savior.

Yet that’s exactly what God chose. You see, the one true God loved you so much that he was willing to give up the glory of heaven to take on flesh and live in our dirty, smelly world. He was willing to be connected to humans by being born of a human mom. He lived his whole life knowing that his life would end on a cross, suffering the punishment we deserved. He rose from the dead so that we could live forever too. He was born in a barn, so he could prepare a mansion for us in heaven.

Even his name, Immanuel, tells us that the Word became flesh. That’s because Immanuel means God with us—not God above us, not God only watching us, not God vaguely aware of us. God with us means that God is with you. God is with me. God chose to leave heaven and become one of us. All to save us.

Merry Christmas!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us, for taking on human flesh so that you could save us from our sins. You are the God of all creation and yet you chose to be born in a room full of animals. When we forget how much you love us, help us look at your manger to remember just how good you are to us. When we feel like we are alone, remind us that you are with us.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for the Whole Family

  • Look around the home. What do you see that reminds you God is with us? (Hint: Christmas decorations…)
  • Where else can you go to be reminded that God is with us? (Some ideas: go to church, go to God’s Word… like this devotion)

Hymn: CW 56:1,3 – Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
There he lay, the undefiled, To the world a stranger.
Such a babe in such a place—Can he be the Savior?
Ask the saved of all the race Who have found his favor.

Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
He is still the undefiled, But no more a stranger.
Son of God, of humble birth, Beautiful the story;
Praise his name in all the earth, Hail the King of glory!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation – Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Read: Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7

Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation

 

Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Two and a half years ago, a soccer team and their coach went exploring in a cave. While they were in there, monsoon rains hit and the cave’s entrance flooded. The coach and twelve players, ages 11-16, were trapped two miles deep. With only a rope and flashlight—no extra food or water—they had no hope.

Cave diving experts from around the world flew in to plan the extremely dangerous rescue operation. One rescuer died trying to get to the boys. Eventually, over two weeks later, rescuers made their way to those who were stranded and losing hope. They took these boys one at a time and led them to freedom.

There is nothing in the world like seeing the face (or the feet) of someone who is there to save you.

When Adam and Eve (the first two people God created) disobeyed God, their sin trapped all of us in a cave. There was no way any of us could crawl or swim our way out. Without someone to search for us, we would be forever trapped and die alone.

God knew how desperate we were, so he planned a rescue. The Bible tells us that when the time had fully come, when everything was just right, Jesus left the glory of heaven to come to the darkness of earth. He lived perfectly in our place and then took the punishment we deserved. It cost him his life to rescue us. But he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life! How beautiful are the face and feet of Jesus, our Rescuer!

There is nothing in the world like seeing his face as a baby in a manger. It means Jesus has come to save us. But there still people who don’t know the good news about Jesus’ rescue. This means they are still trapped in the dark and don’t know how to get out.

That’s where God can use your face and feet. Go to them. Tell them that God reigns, that there is hope, that there is a way out, that there is salvation, that there is freedom. Sharing Jesus makes your face and feet beautiful!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rescuing us when we were trapped in the pit of our sins. May our feet find someone to tell the beautiful news of your rescue for us. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for All Ages

  • Hold your breath as long as you can. What did it feel like to finally get air?
  • Compare this to being trapped and finally getting freedom.
  • Name someone you know who doesn’t know or believe in Jesus’ rescue.
  • Discuss how you might invite that person to join you in worship this Christmas.

Hymn: CW 38:1-3 – From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

“From heav’n above to earth I come To bear good news to ev’ry home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring, Whereof I now will say and sing:

“To you this night is born a child Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
This little child of lowly birth Shall be the joy of all the earth.

“This is the Christ, our God most high, Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will himself your Savior be From all your sins to set you free.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Rejoice that God Sent his Son – Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Read: Luke 1:26-38

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Luke 1:31

Rejoice that God Sent his Son

 

Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:31

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When kids are little, they often want something right now, but often they just need to wait. One mom asked her impatient children, “What’s Grandma’s word?”

They’d sigh and reply, “Patience.”

And then they’d wait.

When you’re reading the book of Luke, the story of an angel appearing to Mary comes so close to the story of Jesus’ birth that it seems like Mary didn’t have to be patient. Actually, when the angel told Mary she’d have a baby, Mary had to wait about nine months until Jesus was born.

You want to know how long nine months is? That’s how long it’s been since COVID-19 began to shut down our country. How much have you done since then? School online or in person. You’ve played in the backyard, done puzzles, watched a lot of movies, read books, played basketball, listened to music, went to the beach, taken a walk. Maybe you even went on a small trip.

Nine months was a long time for Mary to patiently wait. But she waited, God kept his promise, and Jesus was born.

You know what? The truth is that people had to wait a whole lot longer than nine months for this baby. After Adam and Eve first sinned and God promised he’d send a Savior, believers waited 4,000 years for the Savior to arrive. While they wanted the Savior right now, God was telling them, “Patience.” God knew when the time would be right to send the one who would save us from our sins.

He knew the exact right time to send Jesus to take our place, to live perfectly for us, to endure pain and suffering and death for us. Three days later he rose from the dead to defeat Satan—and give us the victory.

You know what else? We are still waiting for Jesus to come back again. At that time, Jesus will come to take us to heaven with him. Sometimes we want him to come right now, but God knows when the time is right.

So rejoice! Be happy! Be patient. God sent his Son once, and he will send him again.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for always acting when the time is right. Thank you for sending your Son the first time to save us from our sins. Give us patience while we wait for you to come again so that we can all live together in heaven.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why is waiting for Christmas so hard?
  • Until Jesus comes again, how does he want us to wait? (Hint: “What’s Grandma’s word?”)

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name two promises God gave you.
  • How have you have seen God keep those promises—even if it took a while?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss a time when weren’t happy that you had to wait, but God’s timing turned out better than yours.
  • What promise of God means the most to you and why. Talk about how you have seen him keep that promise.

Hymn: CW 59:1,4 – Christ the Lord to Us is Born

Christ the Lord to us is born, Alleluia!
On this joyous Christmas morn, Alleluia!
Refrain:
Of a virgin lowly, He, the King most holy,
Born this day to save us.

God has saved us through his Son, Alleluia!
Conquered lies the evil one, Alleluia!
Refrain

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Live Your Life in the Light – Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Live Your Life in the Light

 

Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Some families have a “chore board.” It’s a list of things for children to do to help out in the family, whether it’s wipe off the counter, help with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn, or mop the floor.

God, your heavenly Father, has a chore board for you too. But they aren’t really chores. It’s more like God’s list of things that people who are part of his family naturally do. It’s part of a longer list, but today’s Bible reading gives us three to start with:

First, he wants you to rejoice always. Rejoice is a pretty church-y word. It means God wants you to show joy all the time. Not only when things happen that you like, but even when you’re sad and hurting. It’s more than the joy you feel at Christmas or when you get a new puppy. It’s the happiness you feel when you know you’re safe and secure because Jesus has made you part of God’s family. It’s the joy of knowing you belong to him—forever.

Secondly, God wants you to pray continually. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything except pray. It means that you never stop talking to God first, all the time. When you’re sad, let God know how much your heart hurts and that you need him. Then go get a hug from your mom or dad. When you’re wondering how you should deal with a bully, talk to the school counselor, but don’t forget to also ask God to give you his wisdom and courage. When you have good news and want to share it, thank God first for the amazing news! Then share it with your friends.

Thirdly, God wants you to give thanks in all circumstances. Corrie ten Boom is a good example of this. She and her sister were in a big prison, called a concentration camp. Their bed was full of bugs. That’s when her sister thanked God for the fleas. Corrie didn’t think she’d ever be thankful for bugs that bit her. While stuck in this miserable situation, they studied their smuggled Bible with other prisoners. Later they learned that the fleas kept the prison guards away, which let them tell the other prisoners about Jesus. Corrie was now thankful for the fleas.

God’s to-do list isn’t long, but it’s what he truly wants us to be doing. May God help you rejoice, pray, and give thanks your whole life!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, I don’t pray all the time, I’m not joyful all the time, and I’m not thankful all the time. I’m sorry. Thank you that Jesus paid for all the times I don’t do these three things. Help me see your to-do list as a blessing and not a chore.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name two things that makes you happy.
  • If it’s a person, who should we pray for?
  • If it’s a thing, what are you thankful for?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What in your life feels like bugs biting you? How can we thank God for them?
  • Name three blessings from God in your life that make you happy.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss with your parents the one thing really bothering right now that God wants to use for your good. (Hint: It can’t be a sibling.)
  • Today’s devotion encouraged more happiness, prayer, and giving thanks. Which of those three do you want to focus on the rest of this week?

Hymn: CW 19:1 – O Lord, How Shall I Meet You

O Lord, how shall I meet you, How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you, My Hope, my heart’s Delight.
O Jesus, let your Word be A lamp to light my way,
To show me how to please you, To guide me ev’ry day.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son – Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Read: Malachi 4:1-6

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
Malachi 4:2

See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son

 

Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Devotion based on Malachi 4:2

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If you live in California, you can wear flip flops in December. But not if you live in the Midwest where it’s dark and cold in winter. Wintry weather means you have to bundle up to go to work, school, shopping, and basketball games. As much fun as it is to go sledding, ice fishing, ice skating, have snowball fights, and drink hot chocolate, by March you just want to feel the warmth of the sun again. That’s why so many people go to Florida, Arizona, and Texas for a spring break.

Living in this world is like living in the middle of winter. Some of it is fun—like friends, family, sports, toys, dances, volunteering—but some parts are so hard. Parents fight, people get sick, friends can sometimes not be so nice, teachers don’t always seem to understand you, or you get cut from the team. That’s why we yearn for the “sun of righteousness”—Jesus, the Son of righteousness. He will come back and heal all the hard times.

And he will do that—because he promised he would! He said that we would have problems in this world, but that he has already overcome them. Plus, after he rose from the dead, he went to heaven to get your room ready for you. There’ll be no more crying, sadness, or pain. There will just be healing, joy, and happiness because you are with God!

When that day comes, you are going to frolic like a baby cow who gets let out of the barn. To give you a better picture, the prophet Malachi could have said it like this: When Jesus comes, “you will run around like kids who have been let out of school for the summer!” or, “You will jump up and down like kids entering Disneyland!”

There’s just one problem. People who don’t believe in Jesus don’t have this hope or promise. There isn’t a future full of joy for them. God says there will only be even more sadness for them. Do you see why Jesus wants you to tell them about a “sun of righteousness” who brings healing for them? Tell them that he’s paid for their sins. Tell them that he’s coming back. The good news is for them too!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you know that this world can be sad. Thank you for your promise to come back and take us to a place where there will be no more sadness or darkness, only your Light—a place where we will jump with joy and excitement forever!

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Do you have a friend who is sad or sick right now?
  • Consider making a card to help him or her feel better and know that Jesus loves them.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What one thing do you wish Jesus could come back and fix for you right now?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, how might Jesus use you to make a difference and be a ray of light in the dark?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name the hardest thing that’s happened to you—something that still bothers you to this day?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, Jesus doesn’t want you to stay sad. Name three things he’s done or given you that makes you really happy.

Hymn: CW 31:1,2 – Oh Lord of Light Who Made the Stars

O Lord of light, who made the stars, O Dawn, by whom we see the way,
O Christ, Redeemer of the world: Come now and listen as we pray.

In lowliness you came to earth To rescue us from Satan’s snares,
O wondrous Love that healed our wounds By taking on our mortal cares.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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John Proclaimed the Light of the World – Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Read: John 1:6-8, 19-28

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
John 1:7-8

John Proclaimed the Light of the World

 

Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:7-8

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I am pretty sure an angel didn’t show up at your dad’s job to let him know you’d be born. But that’s how Zechariah learned about his son John. (Some people call him John the Baptist.) God had a specific job in mind for John’s life: Tell the truth about Jesus to as many people as possible.

When he was old enough (after his parents had raised him and taught him all about the Scriptures and the promise of a Savior) John didn’t head off to college. Instead, John went into the desert wearing camel’s hair clothes and eating locusts and honey. He started to preach, telling people to repent, be baptized, and prepare for the Savior who was coming very, very soon.

You might not think that would make him popular, but it did. Crowds of people—children, teens, and adults—all came out to listen to him. That’s because what sounds like bad news (repent of your sins) was actually good news instead. He pointed to the Savior who would be punished for their sin and give them credit for his perfection.

You weren’t announced by an angel, but God still has a specific plan for your life. When God says that he “knit you together” at birth, it means he made you exactly as he wanted you to be.

And if that isn’t amazing enough, he knew you would be his child before he even created the world. Now your whole point of living is the same as John’s: “to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.” The bonus is that you don’t have to shout in a desert and wait for people to come to you like John did! You can wear normal clothes and eat normal foods. Just be yourself! Whether you are walking into school, sports practice, music lessons, or around town , use the special gifts and talents God gave you to share him. That glorifies him and how he created you. You get to use your words to tell people about the one who saved them from their sins. Then tell them that the Savior who came once is coming back again.

As much as that is good news, it isn’t always easy to say. It might get hard for you too. Someone might get mad at you, or they may think you’re weird. That’s okay. Just remember, you’re sharing God’s good news!

Your job this Christmas is this: Proclaim the Light! Just like John.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, just as John had a purpose to be a witness about you, I know my purpose too. Give me courage to testify about you as the Light of the world and tell people the truth about you, forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name a friend of yours who doesn’t know about Jesus.
  • Say out loud what you want them to know about Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Who are your best friends?
  • What are ways that your friends know you believe in and belong to Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Talk about a time you weren’t picked for something special. What did you feel like when that happened?
  • Read Ephesians 1:4. How does hearing that God picked you before creation for his purpose change how you feel about yourself?

Hymn: CW 13:1 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway, A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places Where the Lord our God may go!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Foretold Comfort for His People – Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Read: Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for.
Isaiah 40:1-2a

God Foretold Comfort for His People

 

Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 40:1-2a

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When children are little and they get hurt, they will come running to a parent. There is nothing more healing for little ones than the hugs and kisses of a mom or dad. There is an invisible magic in how quickly a kiss will heal whatever is making them cry. Kisses and hugs bring great comfort. As children grow and their difficulties and pains become more complicated, will hugs and kisses still solve their problems?

During Isaiah’s time, God’s people were in captivity. But God loved his people, even when he had to discipline them because they disobeyed him and did wrong. He sent them prophets to try to keep them faithful to him, to bring them comfort, and to remind them of his promise that his son Jesus would more than cover the payment needed to save them from their sins. What comfort these words must have been for God’s Old Testament children!

What brings you comfort? We do not always look in the right place for comfort. We sometimes look for it the possessions we own. Other times, we brag about our achievements. We hurt the people that hurt us, thinking that getting even will make us feel better. But this is wrong. We need to look to Jesus for comfort and to God’s promise that he gives his peace and comfort to all his people. In a world of sin and darkness, pandemics and death, interrupted schedules and lives, Jesus’ birth and his perfect life and death are our comfort and our salvation. Our God comforts us. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (v11).

So this Advent season, sit back and get comfortable. God’s got you. He will comfort you when hurting. He will carry you through any trouble.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for speaking tender words of comfort to us. In these days before Christmas, use those words to cheer us when we feel sad and to encourage us when we are afraid. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Tell your parents how best they comfort you when you get hurt by someone?
  • How does God comfort you when you get hurt by sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Israelites need comfort from God?
  • Before God comforts you with his forgiveness, recount how you hurt someone today that you feel sorry for. What tender words do you now want to say to them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Read Isaiah 40:9. What should you say when you see someone struggling and sad?
  • Recount a Bible story that gives you comfort and why.

Hymn: CW 11:1 – Comfort, Comfort All My People

“Comfort, comfort all my people; Speak of peace,” so says our God.
“Comfort those who sit in darkness, Groaning from their sorrows’ load.
Speak to all Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell them that their sins I cover, That their warfare now is over.”

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return – Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-14

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief … [so] what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.
2 Peter 3:10-11

Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return

 

Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:10-11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Tom and Jennifer’s home on a school morning can best be described as organized chaos. Parents of three children, a typical morning goes something like this: Child 1 intently watches videos about lawn mowers. Child 2 is bouncing off the walls with excitement that he gets to go to school. Meanwhile, Child 3 is still in bed ten minutes before everyone has to leave. Jennifer works full time, so both she and Tom work hard to be on the same page and get out the door in time for school and work. To assist them, they lay out the day’s clothing that everyone will wear the night before. They pack the backpacks before going to bed. If cold lunch is the school choice of the day, then lunches are made the night before. All these little steps may not seem like much, but they help to make an already hectic morning go smoothly so everyone gets out the door and to school on time.

As we look to the manger and to the sky for Christ’s return, we do not know when that will be. His timing is on a completely different level than ours. Peter says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. … Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The best place to be ready is in your heart. What steps help get us ready? We can pick out clothes to wear like patience, kindness, and gentleness. We can take the time to be in God’s word to start, end, and get us through our day. We can pack our spiritual lunches with little prayers asking God to help us be ready for his return. We can fill our backpacks with his promises that he came as the babe of Bethlehem to give us rest and peace, and he will come again as the Prince of peace to take us from the chaos and craziness of this sin-darkened world into his light-filled presence.

Missing or being late to school is one thing. Missing or being unprepared for Christ’s return is a completely different and more serious matter. So pack up, dress up, and be ready!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, strip away from my holidays this year anything that would keep me from being ready for your arrival. Take away any pressure and weariness. Give me a quiet mind and a heart spilling over with joy. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • When Jesus returns for us, what special place does he want to take us?
  • Like getting ready to go to school, name one thing that will help you get ready for Jesus this Christmas.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Discuss a time you were late or missed out on something. How did you feel?
  • Why does God want us to be ready for his sudden return on judgment day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: We should be afraid of judgment day.
  • Which one best prepares you for Jesus’ return on judgment day: 1) your parents 2) your phone 3) your Bible? Explain why.

Hymn: CW 14:1,5 – Arise, O Christian People

Arise, O Christian people! Prepare yourselves today.
Prepare to greet the Savior; Who takes your sins away.
To us by grace alone The truth and light were given;
The promised Lord from heaven to all the world is shown.

Prepare my heart, Lord Jesus; Turn not from me aside,
And help me to receive you this blessed Advent-tide.
From stall and manger low Come now to dwell within me;
I’ll sin your praises gladly And forth your glory show.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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John the Baptist Prepared the Way – Family Devotion – December 7, 2020

Read: Mark 1:1-8

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Mark 1:3

John the Baptist Prepared the Way

 

Family Devotion – December 7, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 1:3

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Living in the Midwest, one becomes familiar with the changing seasons. That means shovel, swat, and construction. We learn to shovel snow, and by the time our backs are aching we are swatting the mosquitos that land on our arms. However, a season that never seems to go away is construction. Whether it’s rural farm roads, busy city streets, or highways, the orange barrels and “Construction Ahead” signs line our path from January to December. However, construction is necessary. Without it, the roads would be worse than what they are. But ignore those signs and damage can happen to our vehicles. When these projects are done, which can take years sometimes, the finished product is worth the drive (especially in the summer with the top down on your car).

We are in a new church season called Advent. It means “coming.” In Advent, we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming as a baby and as the King of kings. Like a road sign that prepares you for what’s coming on the road, God sent John the Baptist to pave the way and make straight the path for people to see the coming of God’s long-promised Messiah. John’s whole mission was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3).

Like us, the people of John’s day needed to hear the message of repentance. It’s a message that warns, “Your hearts and lives are on the dangerous road of disobedience. Turn back! But it’s a message filled with the amazing, good news of, “Look! Jesus is coming to save you!”

Whatever season of life you are in, whatever road you are traveling, pause to look, listen, and prepare your hearts to meet Jesus in the stable this Christmas and in the sky for his glorious return.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, this Advent, pave the path of my heart with humility. Clear away any obstacles that would block me from clearly seeing you coming this Christmas for me. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why is waiting so hard this time of year?
  • Why is it important to watch and wait for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did John the Baptist get people’s attention?
  • Explain how John the Baptist was like a road sign for the coming of Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain: The road I am on does not matter, what matters is that Jesus is with me on this road.
  • Our hearts can be messy. Identify two things in your heart you would like to ask God’s help to clean up before Christmas comes.

Hymn: CW 16:1,2 – On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come then, and listen, for he brings
Good news about the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every life from sin
And furnished for a guest within,
And let us all our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Baptism Prepares Us for Jesus’ Coming – Family Devotion – December 4, 2020

Read: 1 Peter 3:18-22

This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:21

Baptism Prepares Us for Jesus’ Coming

 

Family Devotion – December 4, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 3:21

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Is it four or five? What exactly am I asking you? That’s the number of baths and showers Ian, Lincoln, and Nolan took in one day this past summer. Their parents recently built a new home, and with new construction comes new and exciting things to play with … particularly MUD. Lots and lots of mud! Sprinkle in some of God’s rain, and they had themselves a muddy mess. Add a pinch of three boys drawn to dirt and grime and, voila! The three little brothers were covered from head to toe … in mud.

The first time the parents cleaned them up was amusing. But by the third and fourth times in the SAME day, for multiple days? Um, not so much. There was mud on new white walls, lost clothing because of mud, plugged bathtub drains … mud made for a real disaster.

On a bigger scale, the human race in Noah’s day really “muddied” things up with their lack of trust and love for God. We are no different today. We can shower and put on our best clothes, but beneath the dress pants and shirt lies a heart caked with the mud of our sin. Left to ourselves, we deserved to sink into the pit of despair. But enter our Savior Jesus who in his willingness said “As you wish” to God and laid down his life for us. He lowered himself into the muddy pit to rescue us! And now the water of baptism is not only simple water that washes away dirt, it assures us that ALL our sins are washed away. Not a single muddy streak remains!

Coming this Christmas is someone who will make us clean and keep our consciences clear. So look to the manger, look to the skies, and take heart. Jesus is coming to earth so he can one day take us to be with him in heaven. Be assured that you, as a baptized child of God, are already showered and ready to go!

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, heavenly Father, for the Christmas gift of my baptism. In it, you washed away all my sins and said I am your child. Help me improve my obedience to live my life for you. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Because we are muddy inside, what water did God use to wash us?
  • Ask your parents to share the story of your baptism day.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Have your parents help you find your baptism certificate. Then read it out loud and discuss what it says.
  • What were the most important words spoken at your baptism? (hint: every WELS Family Devotion begins with them!)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Growing up can be hard. If you struggle being comfortable with who you are, how does your baptism give you identity?
  • If baptism is an important part of our identity, name someone you know and care about who may not yet be baptized. Discuss what you might say in order share with them God’s wonderful promise of washing!

Hymn: CW 299:1 – All Who Believe and Are Baptized

All who believe and are baptized
Shall see the Lord’s salvation;
Baptized into the death of Christ,
They are a new creation.
Through Christ’s redemption they shall stand
Among the glorious, heav’nly band
Of ev’ry tribe and nation.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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’s Judgment Saves His People – Family Devotion – December 2, 2020

Read: Genesis 6:1-3,5-14,17-22

Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark.
Genesis 6:17,18

God’s Judgment Saves His People

 

Family Devotion – December 2, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 6:17,18

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

If you listen to the news on TV or read the latest top story on your smart phone, it doesn’t take long before you hear news about bad storms and bad people that result in damaged homes and destroyed lives. It’s hard to hear of it. It hurts our hearts.

In Noah’s time, the world was no different. People didn’t care about God. They did not live as God wanted them to live. Instead, they did what they wanted, married who they desired and disrespected everything God asked them to do. When God saw that the people were very bad and were always thinking only evil in their hearts, it hurt his heart.

So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

As we read this, we do not need to look at our phone or watch the news to see the same disrespect. Go look in a mirror. The answer is staring right at us. Each one of us has, at times, cared more about what we wanted instead of God.

The weeks before Christmas (called the Advent season) are no different; we are more concerned about stuff than we are our sins. God should say, “I will wipe you from the face of the earth.” But he doesn’t. Listen: “I will establish my covenant (a mutual agreement) with you, and you will enter the ark.” God directed Noah to build an ark that would save him and his family. That ark would also keep safe God’s promise to send a Savior.

This same Jesus saves you and me. Jesus was “wiped out” on the cross, not you. As the waters lifted Noah and his family in the ark, the waters of baptism assure us that we are saved. We are God’s favorites! Now there’s some good news that brings joy to our hearts!

Closing Prayer:

Use your power, Lord, and come to help us! Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did God tell Noah to build to save him, his family, and two of every living thing?
  • Who did God send to save you and your family?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Admit an evil thought in your heart that proves we are no different than the people of Noah’s day.
  • Why is God’s promise to save Noah and his family in the ark so important for us to know our badness is 100% forgiven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How did God use the destruction of the flood to save the world?
  • Read 1 Peter 3:18-20. Then compare the waters of the flood and the waters of your Baptism.

Hymn: CW 6:1 – Come, O Long-Expected Jesus

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our sins and fears release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Watch for Jesus Coming – Family Devotion – November 30, 2020

Read: Mark 13:32-37

“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:37

Watch for Jesus Coming

 

Family Devotion – November 30, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 13:37

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Two brothers rode the bus to school every weekday morning. Between 7:00 and 7:30 am, the bus would stop outside their home. The boys would run outside and hop on for the short ride to their grade school. Mom made them responsible to get ready each morning and to watch for the bus so that it didn’t come and go without them on it.

One morning, they were playing with each other and fooling around instead of watching for the bus. The unthinkable happened—the bus arrived and then left, but they weren’t on it. Despite having a small window of time to keep watch, they were not alert to its coming and going. They missed the bus. Their mom was upset when they called and admitted their mistake. She had to rearrange her schedule and drive out of her way to come home in order to take them to school.

The Christmas season will soon be here! The days before it are called the season of Advent. Advent is like a small window of time to keep watch. For what should we be watching? How easy to be distracted by the glitz and glitter of Christmas lights and trees. Will our eyes miss the true reason we love this time of year? It is not gifts, decorations, and holiday parties. It’s the incredible, almost unbelievable blessing of Jesus who once left a perfect heaven and came to this imperfect earth to be with us. Why? Because that’s the only way we someday can leave this imperfect earth to be with him in a perfect heaven.

The people of the Old Testament did not know when that first Christmas would arrive. They heard God’s promises that it would be coming. So they watched for them to be fulfilled. As we celebrate Jesus’ first coming to earth on Christmas, we also need to keep our focus on the day of his second coming to take us away from earth to be with him in heaven. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus promised, “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Because we are unaware of the timing of Jesus second coming, it is so important that we be prepared to go at all times. That’s why Jesus encourages, “Be on guard! Be alert!” If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. (Mark 13:33,36).

Our God loves us enough to give us a warning to keep watch, to keep our eyes locked on Jesus despite the distractions and sin of the world.

So keep watch! When Jesus comes, you don’t want to miss the bus.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, you have planted in us the hope of your coming again. In these days of Advent, keep us alert and watchful for an eternal Christmas that will never end. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Whose birth do we celebrate at Christmas?
  • Until it’s Christmas, what does Jesus want us to be doing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • When will Jesus return to take us to heaven?
  • Why does Jesus warn us to keep watch?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name two specific ways that you can stay focused on Jesus during the Advent season.
  • Think of the name of one person who may be unaware of Jesus’ coming. How can you help them keep watch for Jesus?

Hymn: CW 9:1,5 – Jesus, Your Church with Longing Eyes

Jesus, your church with longing eyes
For your expected coming waits.
When will the promised light arise
And glory beam from heaven’s gates?

Teach us in watchfulness and prayer
To wait for your appointed hour,
And fit us by your grace to share
The triumphs of your conqu’ring pow’r.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Our King is Victorious Now and Forever – Family Devotion – November 27, 2020

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Our King is Victorious Now and Forever

 

Family Devotion – November 27, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Do people ever tell you that you look like your parents? Parents pass down their traits, or the way they look, to their children. You can probably recognize such things as the color of your hair, the shape of your nose, the color of your eyes, or your height as being passed on to you from your mom, your dad, or a combination of the two. Other things get passed down from parents to children as well. Children often have similar personalities to their parents, similar interests, or hobbies that they enjoy.

Today’s Bible verses remind us of something else that was passed on to us from our parents. But this time, it’s not good. From the moment we begin to exist, the Bible tells us we have inside us a sinful desire that naturally wants to do whatever we want, not what God wants.

Where did this sinful nature first come from? Today’s Bible reading tells us. These passages remind us about the how Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden shortly after creation. They disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever since, every parent has passed the same sinful nature to their children. Sin separates us from God and leads to eternal death in hell. That is why 1 Corinthians says that “death came through one man” and “in Adam all die.” How sad!

God loved us too much to let us die like that. If our inner sinful condition can be traced back to one man, Adam, so our rescue from it can be traced back to one man as well—Jesus! Jesus was born a human being from a mother just like us! Unlike us, Jesus was born the Son of God! He lived a perfect life—inside and out. Jesus kept God’s commandments perfectly. He died in place of every parent and person born with a sinful nature. Why? So that Christ’s pure nature would replace our human nature. His coming alive at Easter means we can look forward to an eternity with God in heaven. Death has no power over us anymore! In Jesus, the day we die will be the day we open our eyes to our heavenly home! “In Christ, all will be made alive!” Jesus has won the victory over sin and death!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for loving us despite our sinfulness! Thank you for taking upon yourself the punishment of hell that we deserved and dying to forgive our sins! Give us the confidence that heaven is our home and that we have the victory over sin and death through you! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How do you look like your parents?
  • What did Jesus “pass on” to you so that you can look like him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did death come from one man? How did life come from one man?
  • Why does our sinful nature make baptism so important—even for newborn babies?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why was it important for Jesus to be both true God and true man?
  • A common belief in our world is that someone gets to heaven by being a good person. Use our Bible passages for today to explain why that isn’t true.

Hymn: CW 378:1,5,6 – All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall

All mankind fell in Adam’s fall;
One common sin infects us all.
From one to all the curse descends,
And over all God’s wrath impends.

As by one man all mankind fell
And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
So by one Man, who took our place,
We all were justified by grace.

We thank you, Christ; new life is ours,
New light, new hope, new strength, new pow’rs;
This grace our ev’ry way attend
Until we reach our journey’s end.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Our King Heals Body and Soul – Family Devotion – November 25, 2020

Read: Luke 17:11-19

Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?” Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.
Luke 17:17-19

Our King Heals Body and Soul

 

Family Devotion – November 25, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 17:17-19

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Melpomeni Dina is a 92-year-old woman. Over 75 years ago, during World War II, Melpomeni and her family hid a family of Jewish people in their home in Greece to protect them from the German Nazi soldiers. Because Melpomeni and her family bravely hid this Jewish family in their home, the family survived World War II and were kept safe from those who wanted to harm them.

Seventy-five years later, one of the surviving children of that Jewish family asked to be reunited with Melpomeni. The first thing this person, now 86-years-old herself, did was throw her arms around Melpomeni in a hug and tell her, “Thank you,” over and over again. How good it felt for that Jewish woman to find the person who had rescued her so many years earlier and thank her face to face!

In our Bible verses for today, we also see someone returning to say thank you for saving their life. Ten men with leprosy had begged for Jesus to heal them. Leprosy was an awful disease that often led to a slow and painful death . When the lepers begged Jesus to have pity on them, Jesus did something interesting. Jesus told them to go to the priest and show themselves to him. While on the way there, they were suddenly healed of their disease! Jesus had healed them! Their lives were spared!

Sadly, only one of the ten men healed returned to thank Jesus for being healed. How good it must have felt that day for that cured man to thank Jesus face-to-face.

In this story we see the awesome power of Jesus to heal both our body and soul. Jesus loves us and cares for all our needs—both physical and spiritual. Whenever we are sick, we can pray to Jesus for healing with full confidence that he has the power to heal us!

Even more importantly, when we recognize the sickness of our sinfulness and repent of the sins we commit each day, we can trust how Jesus healed us by removing the horrible disease of our sins. Cleansed and forgiven, let us return often to Jesus and thank him for what he has done to make us well! Someday, in the glory of heaven, we will be able thank him face to face!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for loving us and having care and compassion on us. You have proven that you have the power to heal both our physical and spiritual sicknesses. Thank you for taking care of our worst sickness—sin—and earning us an eternal home in heaven where there will be no more sickness or sin to bother us! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • After hearing today’s devotion, what is the sickness Jesus came to cleanse us from? Why is it the worst? (Hint: It’s not a physical sickness!)
  • Name a sick person you would like to pray for Jesus to help today.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Discuss why you would take the time to cry out to Jesus when you or someone in your family is sick.
  • Sometimes sickness ends in death. Why can we still be thankful?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Today’s reading tells us the one leper who returned to thank Jesus was a Samaritan. Why was that surprising?
  • What are three ways you can thank Jesus today for the spiritual and physical healing he has given you in your life?

Hymn: CW 385:1,4 – Chief of Sinners, Though I Be

Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed his blood for me,
Died that I might live on high,
Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine,
I am his and he is mine!

Chief of sinners though I be,
Christ is all in all to me.
All my wants to him are known;
All my sorrows are his own.
Safe with him in earthly strife,
I await the heav’nly life.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Our King Suffered and Died for Us – Family Devotion – November 23, 2020

Read: Matthew 27:27-31

After they [the soldiers] had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his [Jesus’] own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:31

Our King Suffered and Died for Us

 

Family Devotion – November 23, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 27:31

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Imagine your best friend’s birthday is next week. You spend hours shopping for the perfect gift to give them on their birthday. When you finally find that perfect item, you spend some of your own money to buy that gift and wrap it in beautifully colored wrapping paper.

Now, imagine your friend’s birthday has arrived. You can’t wait to give the present you picked out. You hand your friend the gift and watch eagerly. After unwrapping the present, your friend unexpectedly says, “Ugh! I hate it!” If that wasn’t bad enough, your friend begins to make fun of the present you chose and say unkind things to you. How would you feel?

You might be hurt and devastated, maybe even a little mad at your friend. Humiliated, you might even be thinking, “How can we stay friends after all I did to pick out a special gift?”

In today’s Bible verse, Roman soldiers make fun of Jesus before he was sent to be crucified. They spit on Jesus, put a crown of thorns on his head, and hit him over and over. Little did they know, they were making fun of and hurting the one who was about to give them the best gift they would ever be given. Little did they know, they were ridiculing the very Savior who was about to give his life for them to forgive them of all their sins.

We must admit that we, too, daily show ourselves to be ungrateful towards our Savior and all that he has done for us. Each day we must admit that we often ignore God’s commandments and choose to sin. Rather than treasuring Jesus and putting his Word first in our lives, we often put ourselves and our wants ahead of God.

Yet, despite the actions of the soldiers and despite our own daily sins against Jesus, we see the amazing love of Jesus. Humiliated, he still chose to die for those soldiers, for us, and for all people who have ever lived. At any moment during his suffering, Jesus could have put a stop to it. He could have used his awesome power or commanded his angels to defend him. Yet Jesus had you in mind when he selflessly chose the way of suffering and the cross. He laid down his life for his friends. Because of the forgiveness Jesus won for us, through faith we are right with God and fully forgiven! Heaven is our home!

We thank God for this amazing gift of grace. It’s truly the greatest gift of love that we will ever receive!

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Savior, your love for us is amazing! Even though we daily fall short of your commandments and expectations for us, you still choose to love us with a deep and undeserved love. Thank you for dying on the cross to take away our sins and earn us heaven! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is the most loving thing someone has ever done for you? Why did they do it?
  • What are some ways you can thank Jesus for his great gift of love for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What do you think of when you hear the word grace? Why is this a great word to describe what Jesus did for us?
  • To prevent us from being ungrateful for the gift of Jesus, name at least one way you can express your heartfelt thanks and love for Jesus.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recall a moment you were made fun of or ridiculed. How did that make you feel? How did you respond to the people who gave you a hard time?
  • In light of today’s devotion, discuss how you would respond the next time someone is rude or unkind to you.

Hymn: CW 379:1,3 – Amazing Grace

Amazing grace—how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind but now I see.

Through many dangers, toils, and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Death is Only Sleep – Family Devotion – November 20, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

Death is Only Sleep

 

Family Devotion – November 20, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What are you most afraid of? Is it spiders? Thunderstorms? Scary things happening on the news? Getting a shot at the doctor’s office? Are you afraid of the dark? Do you have a fear of heights?

There is one more fear we need to talk about: the fear of death. We may fear our own death or the death of someone we love.

Death can be an uncomfortable topic. It is not something we enjoy talking or thinking about. Thankfully, God knows that this is something we often have fears and worries about! He wants to take away our fear. That’s why in today’s Bible verse God compares death to something that doesn’t show up any list of fears young people have. Did you catch what God compared death to?

If you answered, “Sleep,” you are right! Is going to sleep at night something that you fear? Sleep is typically not something we would ever fear! Rather than being afraid of sleep, we often look forward to lying down, closing our eyes, and resting after a long and busy day.

As a believer in Jesus, thanks be to God that death is just like sleep. It is not something we have to fear! Because Jesus died and woke again to life on Easter, death lost its sting! It’s as harmless as closing our eyes and going to bed! Just like we look forward to our comfortable bed, pajamas, and blankets at night because we are tired, we can look forward with eagerness to our eternal home in heaven. There in heaven we will have an eternal rest from all the challenges, fears, and disappointments that sin brings to our lives in this world.

When a fellow believer in Jesus whom we love dies, there certainly will be sadness. We will miss them and be sad that they are no longer with us. However, we don’t have to be sad like people who have no hope or see that as the final ending. We look forward to the day where we will be together with our loved ones again in heaven forever! In heaven death will never be able to separate us from our loved ones again!

On judgment day, Jesus will bring all believers, those still living and those who have fallen asleep to be with him forever in heaven. How we long for that day when Jesus comes back again!

Closing Prayer:

Risen Lord, thank you for defeating sin and death on our behalf! Help us to view death as just sleep and as the day you will bring us home to our eternal home in heaven. Help us to look forward to our eternal home in heaven where we will live with you forever! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What makes you afraid? How does Jesus help you with your fear?
  • What are you looking forward to most about heaven?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • List your top five fears in life. How does Jesus help us with each of them?
  • Do you think death is something we should talk about more? Why or why not?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What things do you see in the world around you that show people are afraid of getting older and dying? Why are people so afraid of death?
  • Imagine a friend just lost a loved one who was a believer in Jesus. What from today’s devotion would you use to comfort your friend?

Hymn: CW 376:5,6 – Jesus, Your Blood and Righteousness

When from the dust of death I rise
To claim my mansion in the skies,
E’en then this shall be all my plea:
Jesus has lived and died for me.

Jesus, be worshiped endlessly!
Your boundless mercy has for me,
For me and all your hands have made,
An everlasting ransom paid.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus – Family Devotion – November 18, 2020

Read: Isaiah 52:1-6

For this is what the Lord says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.”
Isaiah 52:3

Redeemed by the Blood of Jesus

 

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Family Devotion – November 18, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:3

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sarah helped her family lug all sorts of unwanted furniture, household items, and clothes out to the garage to sell at their family garage sale that Saturday.

Among the items hauled out was a doll that Sarah considered herself too old to play with anymore. She hoped that she could sell the doll and use that money toward the phone she had her eye on.

During the garage sale a handful of people looked at the doll she had for sale. However, after seeing the price, everyone passed on buying it. Disappointed, she asked her mom why no one bought her doll. Her mom responded, “While that doll may have been worth that price when it was brand new, it is now slightly worn and well-used. You’ll have to lower the price if you want to sell it. Things are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for them.”

Things are only worth as much as people are willing to pay for them. How much are you worth? God’s Word tells us our worth and how much someone was willing to pay for us.

In our Bible passage today, we heard the word redeemed. The word redeem means to buy back. This is a beautiful word that describes exactly what God did for us. Because of our sinfulness, we were like slaves to sin. On our own, we were helpless to be free. We were destined to be enslaved forever.

Then, along came Jesus. Jesus loved us so much that he bought us back from our slavery. However, Jesus didn’t buy us with money. No, we are so valuable to Jesus that he paid the full price with his life. On the cross, Jesus suffered the punishment of hell that we deserved. On that day, Jesus declared how much you are worth to him! You’re priceless! Through faith in Jesus, our sins are fully forgiven! We have been redeemed—set free from sin and death!

This is why we are able to eagerly look forward to Jesus’ return on judgment day. He has already redeemed and forgiven us by his blood. That day will be a joyous day reunion with him! On that day, Jesus will bring us to be with him in our eternal home in heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for redeeming us from our slavery to sin. Thank you for suffering the punishment for sins that we deserve and giving your life to save us! Help us to find comfort every day in knowing that we are your dearly loved children and to eagerly look forward to the day you bring us home to heaven! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How much are you worth to God? How do you know?
  • Why will judgment day be a happy day for us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the word redeem mean? From what did God redeem you?
  • Many people mistakenly believe that someone gets to heaven by being a good person. How would you explain to them how someone gets to heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Many young people and teenagers struggle with negative thoughts and opinions about themselves. How does thinking about the way God views us help us deal with these feelings?
  • Identify a bad habit in your life that has enslaved you. How does Christ’s redemption through the cross free you from it?

Hymn: CW 304:2,7 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

We deserve but grief and shame,
Yet his words, rich grace revealing,
Pardon, peace, and life proclaim;
Here their ills have perfect healing
Who with humble hearts believe
Jesus sinners does receive.

Jesus sinners does receive.
Even I have been forgiven.
And when I this earth must leave,
I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to him I cleave
Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Keep Watch for Jesus to Return – Family Devotion – November 16, 2020

Read: Matthew 25:1-13

Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Matthew 25:13

Keep Watch for Jesus to Return


Family Devotion – November 16, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:13

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Don’t forget to prepare and practice your presentation about a United States president for next week,” Jeff’s teacher reminded his class on Friday. “Each day, starting next week Monday, I will randomly choose five students from the class to give their presentation to the class. Make sure you are ready to go on Monday in case your name is chosen!”

With 25 kids in his class, Jeff didn’t think it was likely that he would be chosen to give his presentation right away on Monday. Rather than work on his presentation for class that weekend, Jeff chose to hang out with his friends and play video games.

That following Monday, the teacher put all of the student names on slips of paper in a bag and drew one slip prior to each speech to randomly choose the next person to present to the class. Jeff sighed with relief each time his name wasn’t chosen for any of the first four presentations. Following the fourth student’s presentation, the teacher reached her hand into the bag of names one last time.

“Last up to present to the class will be…,” the teacher paused for a moment as she reached in to grab a slip of paper with the name of the next student. “…Jeff!”

Jeff’s heart sank the moment he heard his name called out. Ashamed, he turned bright red. He had to admit to his teacher and to his entire class that he had nothing prepared and was not ready to present.

Today’s Word of God warns us to make sure we are not caught unprepared for something far more important than a presentation for school. God tells us to be ready for when he comes back again on judgment day. God has kept the date and time of judgment day hidden from us because he wants us to always live ready for that day to come at any time.

How can we make sure we are prepared for judgment day? God tells us that every time we read and listen to his Word, the Holy Spirit is at work in our hearts strengthening our faith and preparing us for judgment day! Rather than distancing ourselves from God’s Word or being distracted by other things in this life, God wants us to stay connected with him so we hear his important warning to be ready.

As we study God’s Word, we hear how Jesus made us fully ready for that day. The forgiveness Jesus won for us on the cross has made us right in God’s sight and made heaven our home! Through faith in Jesus, we have nothing to fear about judgment day. On that day, our heavenly Father will identify us as his dearly loved children and bring us to our eternal home with him in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Savior, thank you for lovingly reminding us that the world we live in is only temporary. Help us to always put hearing your Word on the top of our priority list. Thank you for forgiving us and earning an eternal home in heaven on our behalf, so that we can look forward to judgment day as the day where we will be forever in heaven! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are some ways we can hear God’s Word this week as a family?
  • What are some things you are looking forward to most about heaven?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What are some things you and your family can do each week to make sure you are ready for judgment day?
  • What are some things that can distract us from putting Jesus first in our lives? What can we do to avoid letting that happen?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Being ready for judgment day means making sure that we set aside time to grow in our faith. Identify what other priorities may be getting in the way of God’s Word in your life? Discuss what you want to do that will help your priorities?
  • Read all of Matthew 25:1-13. What evidence do you see in the world around you that people don’t believe there will be an end to the world as Jesus says there will be? Why is it important for us to understand this truth from God’s Word?

Hymn: CW 219 – Lord When Your Glory I Shall See

Lord, when your glory I shall see
And taste your kingdom’s pleasure,
Your blood my royal robe shall be,
My joy beyond all measure!
When I appear before your throne,
Your righteousness shall be my crown;
With these I need not hide me.
And there, in garments richly wrought,
As your own bride I shall be brought,
To stand in joy beside you.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Encourage Each Other About Judgment Day – Family Devotion – November 13, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness… Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, 11

Encourage Each Other About Judgment Day


Family Devotion – November 13, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, 11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have you ever played hide-and-seek? It’s a fun game to play! The rules of the game are simple. First, you wait for your friends to hide. Then, you look high and low, near and far, searching for the spot where your friends might be. One way to make the game even more exciting is to play in the dark with a flashlight! Now, the game is more challenging! You have to shine your light into every corner and hiding place to see who might be there. For those who hide, the darkness can be a big help. They can sneak around without anyone noticing… until the light shines on them! Then, they’re “it!”

The Bible talks about people who like to live in darkness and people who are called to shine a light. While the idea of hiding in the dark might make for a fun game, it’s not a good way for us to live. God warns that sometimes people prefer to hide in the dark because that’s where their sins and shame can’t be seen. A person in the dark can cheat and steal without anyone else noticing… not a good place for a Christian to be! God gives us the light of his Word to keep us out of the darkness and away from sin. In that Word, God reminds us that Jesus died for us and we are his dear children who live in the light of his love. God’s Word today reminds us, “You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”

When King Jesus returns in glory on judgment day, his holy love will shine a light on everything we have ever done, just like a flashlight reveals everything that is hidden in the dark. Have you ever had the lights turned on first thing in the morning? What a shock! People who live in the darkness of sin and unbelief will be surprised when Jesus returns! But believers will be ready for Jesus to come back because we are awake in faith, living in his light. We are protected by his love and we are guarded from judgment by faith.

Games like hide-and-seek’ can be fun, but we know that they are only games. When it comes to the life that Jesus has given me, it’s not a game, it’s for real! Jesus calls me to live in his light and shine his light into the world. God wants me to stay connected to his Word. Let’s encourage each other and encourage others, so all live in the light of faith until Jesus returns to take us to be with him forever in heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, without your love, I would be lost in the darkness of sin. But your perfect love and bright shining Word have shown me who I really am—your own child, called to share your love in a dark world. Make me strong to share your light until you come back to take me to heaven. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • When we do bad things, we might be tempted to hide them and not tell anyone. Why is that a bad idea? What good things happen when we come clean and admit our sins?
  • We are children of the light. What are some things we can do to shine like lights for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it look like to live in the “darkness” of sin? What does it look like to live in the “light” of faith?
  • What can you do to encourage someone else to walk in the light with you?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In this passage, Paul encourages us, “Let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober” (v. 6). Compare and contrast what life looks like for a person who is spiritually “asleep” vs. one who is “awake and sober.”
  • Describe a time when someone’s encouragement meant a lot to you or impacted your life. What did they say that meant so much to you?

Hymn: CWS 771:1 – I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light

I want to walk as a Child of the light
I want to follow Jesus
God sent the stars to give light to the world
The star of my life is Jesus
In Him, there is no darkness at all
The night and the day are both alike
The Lamb is the light of the city of God
Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Is Our Great Judge – Family Devotion – November 11, 2020

Read: Daniel 7:9-10

As I looked,
“thrones were set in place,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat.
His clothing was as white as snow;
the hair of his head was white like wool.
His throne was flaming with fire,
and its wheels were all ablaze.
A river of fire was flowing,
coming out from before him.
Thousands upon thousands attended him;
ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him.
The court was seated,
and the books were opened.”

Daniel 7:9-10

Jesus Is Our Great Judge


Family Devotion – November 11, 2020

Devotion based on Daniel 7:9-10

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In a scene from one of the most famous movies of all time, a girl named Dorothy and her three friends enter the throne room of a great and powerful wizard. They shake in fear as flames explode and a great voice booms: “I am OZ, the great and powerful! Who are you?” But anyone who has seen this movie knows the truth. The so-called “wizard” has no real power, just some clever tricks. The flames and fireworks are made by a machine. The booming voice comes from a hidden microphone. He looks mighty and powerful, but Dorothy and her friends have no reason to be afraid.

The story of Jesus we heard today is very different. Jesus is great and powerful! When he sits on his throne with flames of fire, there are no tricks involved. When he calls himself “the Ancient of Days,” he reminds us that he has eternal authority to judge the world. If he were to make a list of all our sins, we would have no way to defend ourselves. If he were to judge the world with fire or send his voice booming over the whole earth, there would be no stopping his incredible power! Our God, the Ancient of Days, is truly a great and powerful judge!

But we do not need to tremble or shake when we stand in God’s presence. We do not need to be afraid of God’s judgment. When he looks at our lives and considers the list of everything we have ever done, he sees his loving mercy stamped on every page of the book. It means that because of Jesus, we are forgiven and the record of our sins wiped clean! If God were to look at us and thunder the question, “Who are you?” he would already know the answer: This is someone I love, someone for whom I died, someone I want with me forever in heaven!

God, the Ancient of Days, allows us to see him as he actually is—mighty and powerful on his throne! But because we know that Jesus our judge rules in mercy and truth, we are not afraid. May we be amazed by his power! May we trust in his love.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you are so great and powerful that no one can stand up to you.
Lord Jesus, you are so true and right that there is nothing false in you.
Lord Jesus, you are so gracious and merciful that no one could ever fully thank you.
Lord Jesus, Ancient of Days, look on me in love, now and always. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What kind of people sit on thrones? What does it mean that God sits on a throne, too?
  • How does God use his almighty power to take care of you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the job of a judge? When God judges you for your sins, will he find you guilty or innocent? Why?
  • Jesus shows himself to us in many ways in the Bible. What do each of these pictures of Jesus teach us about him?
    ○ Baby Jesus in a manger
    ○ Jesus on the cross
    ○ Jesus the judge sitting on a throne of flames

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Re-read the detailed description of God and his throne in today’s Bible verses. What do we learn about God’s power and nature through this vivid portrayal of him as the “Ancient of Days”?
  • Even when our lives and our world seem to be in chaos, God is all-powerful and reigning on this throne. How does remembering that bring you comfort?

Hymn: CW 243:1 – Oh, Worship the King

Oh, worship the King, all-glorious above;
Oh, gratefully sing his pow’r and his love,
Our shield and defender, the Ancient of Days,
Pavilioned in splendor and girded with praise.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Sheep and the Goats – Family Devotion – November 9, 2020

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.
Matthew 25:32-34

The Sheep and the Goats


Family Devotion – November 9, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 25:32-34

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jason was excited about his new job for the summer. He would be working as a helper at the petting zoo. Working with animals sounded like fun! At the end of each day, he would get to bring different animals out of the big corral and sort them into their own pens. The sheep had to go into their pen, the rabbits needed to be herded into their hutches, and the stubborn goats needed to be sorted, too. Jason found that sometimes it was hard to get all the animals moving in the right direction! But the easy part was figuring out which animal was which. Jason could easily tell the difference between a rabbit and a pig or a sheep and a goat. He knew the animals, so he could sort them.

One of Jesus’ jobs when he comes back to earth on judgment day is to sort out the people who believe in him and the people who do not. It will be easy for Jesus to tell the difference. Jesus can tell who loves him and who doesn’t, just like a shepherd can tell the difference between sheep and goats. Jesus knows all things. He sees everything we think, say, and do, and he can see the faith in our hearts. Everyone who has faith in Jesus will live forever with him in heaven. But people with no faith in Jesus will go to hell.

So, how will Jesus sort us? Will we go to heaven or hell? We know the answer to that! Because Jesus died on the cross to take away our sins, we know that we will live forever with him in heaven! He is our Good Shepherd and we are his sheep. We do not need to worry when Jesus comes back on judgment day. The same Jesus who died to save us will come again to sort us. On the Last Day, he will take all believers to a special place in heaven he’s prepared “since the creation of the world.”

We don’t know what day Jesus will come back to judge all people, but we know what group we will be in! By faith, we will go to heaven! By grace, we are his precious sheep! And until Jesus returns, he will fill us with faith by the power of his Word and will strengthen us to live as his own sheep every day.

Closing Prayer:

Lord, it is only by your grace that I am who I am—one of your children, one of your lambs, one of your own. Keep me close to you until the day you return. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What will happen on judgment day?
  • How do you know that you will go to heaven?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Does the thought of heaven or hell make you feel at all concerned or nervous about judgment day? Why or why not?
  • How could people around you know that you believe in Jesus without a word being spoken?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • It’s easy for Jesus to tell the difference between ‘sheep and goats’. What might we look at to tell if a person is a believer or an unbeliever?
  • What would you say to someone who argues that people can be saved through good works?

Hymn: CW 442:1,4 – Have No Fear, Little Flock

Have no fear, little flock; Have no fear, little flock,
For the Father has chosen To give you the kingdom;
Have no fear, little flock!

Thankful hearts raise to God; Thankful hearts raise to God,
For he stays close beside you, In all things works with you;
Thankful hearts raise to God!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email