Chickens and Eggs, Blessings and Obedience – February 6, 2023

Read: Exodus 19:1-8

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Exodus 19:4,5

Chickens and Eggs, Blessings and Obedience

Family Devotion – February 6, 2023

Devotion based on Exodus 19:4,5

See series: Devotions

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

Which came first—the chicken or the egg? It’s a fun question that teaches us something about the order of things. Go ahead and debate it for a moment, just for fun! Then let’s apply it to today’s Bible reading.

In our reading, God assembles the people of Israel and asks them for their obedience. Listen again: “…If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then … you will be my treasured possession” (verse 5). In other words, “Be good, and you’ll be blessed.”

That doesn’t sound too hard to do, does it? Maybe we’ve heard or said these things:

  • “Be good and we’ll go to the park.”
  • “Be quiet and you’ll get extra recess.”
  • “Eat your dinner and I’ll give you a cookie.”

So it’s easy to hear today’s Bible reading and think, “I want to obey and be good because I want God to bless me.”

But like the chicken and the egg, which comes first—the obedience or the blessing?

What really helps to answer that question is verse 4: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

This verse comes before the part about obedience. God reminds the people of Israel what he has already done for them. There they were trapped and suffering in Egypt—their freedom taken away by harsh masters. But God rescued them and brought them safely to a place where they could live freely. All this God did before he asked the people to live as his obedient children. First, he rescued them and made them his family. Then he asked them to obey and live like the special family members they were.

We are like the people of Israel. Without Jesus, we would be trapped in our sins, in a life without hope. Jesus rescued us from sin and death and carried us into his grace. By faith in Jesus, we are treasured and loved as members of God’s family. Now, God asks us to live as thankful children.

Do you see the real reason we obey God (or our parents, or others in authority)? Because we are loved, now we can show love in return.

So which comes first—the blessings or the obedience? The blessing of God’s grace comes first. Let’s remember the true order of things and live as grateful children.

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, we thank you for rescuing us and giving us the chance to live as your treasured children. Help us live with gratitude and obedience. 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

  • How do you know that God loves you?
  • Name a way you want to show your love for God.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Reread Exodus 19:4 and compare it with Galatians 3:23-27. How did you become a child of God?
  • Name two choices you can make in life that demonstrate to others that you are a thankful child of God.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Describe the difference between obeying for a reward and obeying out of love and thankfulness for God’s grace.
  • Discuss the meaning of this phrase: “God’s grace is free, but it is not cheap.” How does understanding the value of God’s grace motivate your Christian living?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Bad or Good? – February 3, 2023

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11,12

Bad or Good?

Family Devotion – February 3, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 5:11,12

See series: Devotions

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

Devon was having a rough morning when he came down to breakfast. He hadn’t slept well because of all the thunder and lightning from the storms last night. And then his morning got worse when he looked out the window and saw his favorite tree lying in pieces on the ground. Devon was ready to cry until his dad said something surprising: it was a good thing the storm caused the tree to fall down.

Devon didn’t understand how his dad could be glad about a tree falling down. What a mess! Yes, Devon’s dad explained, that was true. But the tree was old and rotted. It needed to be taken down because it could have easily fallen on the house or on power lines. Instead, the tree fell in a way that didn’t hurt anybody or cause any major damage. So what looked like a bad thing to Devon was actually a good thing.

Jesus taught his disciples lots of things during their three years together. Some of those things were surprising—like the Sermon on the Mount. In this special sermon, Jesus talks about people who are blessed (or happy). How surprising when Jesus identifies them as the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the meek, and so on. He then says something even more surprising: that his followers are blessed when people insult them and mistreat them and tell lies about them because of him. Not only are they blessed when these things happen—they should even rejoice and be glad!

Thankfully, Jesus also explains why his disciples should rejoice and be glad. Everything bad that might happen to them because they believed in Jesus was only temporary. Yes, life would be hard for them on this earth because they followed him, but that was only for a short time. They had something much better to look forward to—an eternity in heaven where they would receive their reward.

You likely won’t be treated badly in the same way Jesus’ disciples were. But what if someone makes fun of you because you believe in Jesus? What if they say you spend too much time at church or that going to church is stupid? Even though it hurts when people are mean to you, remember this: you can rejoice and be glad, because someday you will see God face to face, and that will be your greatest reward!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, it can be hard when people make fun of me for believing in you. Thank you for reminding me to be glad even in those hard times and to look forward to my reward 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 did Jesus tell his disciples to do when people made fun of them for believing in him?
  • What could Jesus’ disciples look forward to?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why can we rejoice and be glad even when people are making fun of us?
  • Sometimes our reward in heaven seems so far away. Name one thing that helps remind you of heaven.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Matthew 5:1-12 is called “The Beatitudes” or series of “Blessings.” Read the whole section. Which “blessed are you” statement stands out the most to you? Why?
  • When you endure something humiliating because of your faith, why is it important to remember your greater reward in heaven?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Striving to Be Foolish and Weak – February 1, 2023

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31

God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.
1 Corinthians 1:27

Striving to Be Foolish and Weak

Family Devotion – February 1, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:27

See series: Devotions

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

Foolish. Weak. What do you think of when you hear these words? Do you feel like you want to be foolish and weak, or would you rather be wise and strong? That’s a silly question, isn’t it? You go to school every day so that you can be wise instead of foolish. You eat healthy foods and get enough sleep so that you can be strong instead of weak. Who would want to be foolish or weak if they could be wise or strong?

The apostle Paul gives us a surprising answer to that question. He says that God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Why? Why would God choose weak or foolish things when he could have something strong or wise instead? Does God actually want you to be foolish and weak? Yes…and no…

God doesn’t want you to stop going to school so that you can be foolish. He doesn’t want you to eat junk food all day and stay up all night so that you can be weak. He does want you to remember where your strength and wisdom come from, though.

Trying to be wise and strong on your own apart from God isn’t going to get you very far. Instead, that attitude will bring you to shame sooner or later. You’ll eventually run into a problem you can’t solve or a task you can’t tackle, a problem or a task where your own wisdom or strength just isn’t good enough. But when you turn to God for your wisdom and strength, you can be confident that he’s walking alongside of you and giving you everything you need to live a life of faith.

Relying on God for your wisdom and strength might make you look weak and foolish to those around you. They might say that it doesn’t make sense to believe in God. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus must have looked foolish and weak to the world when he was hanging on the cross, but that’s how he saved us. So when you appear foolish and weak to the world, when you turn to God for your wisdom and strength, you’re doing exactly what God wants you to do. Without God, you have nothing. With him, you have everything!

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for being my wisdom when I am foolish and my strength when I am weak. 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

  • Would you rather be foolish and weak or wise and strong?
  • Who should you rely on for your strength and wisdom?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  •  Agree or disagree. God wants you to be foolish and weak.
  • Why might you look foolish or weak to the world when you rely on God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In Philippians 4:13, the apostle Paul says, “I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.” Explain what he means.
  • What would you say to someone who says, “It doesn’t make sense to believe in God”?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Give Thanks for the Little Things – January 30, 2023

Read: Zephaniah 2:3, 3:11-13

Seek the LORD, all you humble people of the earth who have carried out his commands. Seek righteousness. Seek humility.
Zephaniah 2:3

Give Thanks for the Little Things

Family Devotion – January 30, 2023

Devotion based on Zephaniah 2:3

See series: Devotions

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

What’s something you’re really good at? Maybe it’s a sport where you’ve helped your team win trophies and championships. Maybe it’s a musical instrument where you’ve played a really hard piece perfectly at a recital. Maybe you’re good at school and can solve hard problems.

When you’re good at something, you naturally want to tell someone about it. You want your friends and family members to come watch your game or concert or listen to what you’re learning in school. It’s fun when people compliment you on something you’re good at, when they give you recognition and praise.

There’s nothing wrong with being proud of things you’re good at and accomplishments you’ve worked hard to achieve. But in today’s reading, the prophet Zephaniah reminds us that there’s something else we should be good at. He says to be a humble person and “seek humility.” It means not bragging about things you’re good at. But when you’re good at something, you naturally want to share that with people! So how can you be both proud and humble at the same time?

If you rely on yourself, you can’t. If you think you’re really good at something just because you worked hard and practiced, you can’t. But if you remember where your abilities came from, if you remember who made you good at something in the first place, then you can be both proud and humble.

You are special to God. He made you just the way he wanted you to be and gave you exactly the gifts and talents he wanted you to have. Without God, you wouldn’t be good at anything. So when you remember you’re only good at something because of God, when you remember to say thank you for your successes, when you get your strength from God rather than from the things you’re good at, then you’re being humble and proud at the same time.

Thank God for what you’re good at. Thank him when you do something well. Remember that all your abilities come from him, and then you’ll be both proud and humble.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for the special gifts and abilities you gave me. Remind me to always give you thanks for all the things you equip me to do well. 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’s something that you’re really good at?
  • Who gave you the gifts to be good at it?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean to be humble?
  • How can you be both proud and humble at the same time?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or disagree. It’s wrong to appreciate recognition and praise when you do something well.
  • When you do something well, what is something you can say or do to show people around you that you’re thankful to God for your success?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Answer the Call – January 27, 2023

Read: Matthew 4:12-23

As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Matthew 4:18-20

Answer the Call

Family Devotion – January 27, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 4:18-20

See series: Devotions

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

Katie loves her dad. She loves it when he swings her up on his shoulders when he comes home from work, and when he helps her with her homework after a long day at school. She especially loves when he tackles home improvement projects on the weekend. He often lets Katie follow him out to the garage or down to the basement when he works on something. There, he takes the time to explain what he’s fixing, patiently answering all of her questions, and showing her what she can do. Katie loves her dad, and she loves answering his call to come and help.

It’s easy to imagine Peter and his brother Andrew feeling the same way in today’s Bible reading. Jesus had already been preaching in the area where they were fishing, so it’s possible Peter and Andrew had heard Jesus before and maybe even met him. But that day was different. That day, Jesus came right up to them and spoke to them. That day, Jesus called them to leave their nets and catches of fish behind and instead come fish for people. That day, Jesus called Peter and Andrew to follow him.

And so they did! The two fishing brothers left their nets at once—immediately—and followed Jesus. They didn’t hesitate or wonder how they were going to earn a living now or try to sell their fishing supplies. They left everything to follow Jesus and trusted that he would show them how to fish for people.

You don’t get to see Jesus face-to-face or hear his voice in the same way that Peter and Andrew did, but Jesus still calls you today. He calls you to be his child through his Word. He calls you to learn more about him by reading the Bible and listening to your pastor at church. He calls you to follow him by doing your best to live according to his teachings and commands. He calls you to fish for people by telling those around you about him and how he came to earth to save us from our sins. And one day, Jesus will call you home to heaven where you will get to see him face-to-face and hear his voice.

Are you ready to answer the call? You don’t have to leave everything like Peter and Andrew did—just remember that Jesus is the most important part of your everyday life. And he calls you to fish for people too!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for calling me to be your child. Be with me as I daily carry out your call to fish for 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 job did Peter and Andrew leave to follow Jesus?
  • What job did Jesus call Peter and Andrew to do?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why might it have been scary for Peter and Andrew to answer Jesus’ call?
  • What does it mean to fish for people?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it important that Peter and Andrew left their nets at once—immediately—to follow Jesus?
  • Why is it important for you to answer Jesus’ call to fish for people?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Walking as Jesus Walked – January 25, 2023

Read: 1 John 2:3-11

This is how we know we are in [God]: The one who says he remains in him should walk as Jesus walked.
1 John 2:5b,6

Walking as Jesus Walked

Family Devotion – January 25, 2023

Devotion based on 1 John 2:5b,6

See series: Devotions

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

The Bible tells us lots of things about Jesus. We know where Jesus was born and who his parents were. We know where he grew up and how his ministry first began when he was baptized. We know where Jesus preached and what he taught his disciples. We know about how he died on the cross, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven. And we know that he’ll come back again someday.

Yes, we know lots of things about Jesus. But there are also some things about Jesus that we don’t know. We don’t know what Jesus looked like or what color his hair was. We don’t know whether he was tall or short, and we especially don’t know how he walked. So how can the apostle John tell us that “we should walk as Jesus walked”?

You’ve probably figured out by now that John doesn’t mean to physically walk like Jesus did. Instead, walking like Jesus means living in the same way that Jesus lived. It means learning as much as you can about what Jesus taught and putting that learning into practice every day. When what was important to Jesus is also important to you, then you’re walking as Jesus did.

In today’s Bible reading, John reminds us of one specific thing that was important to Jesus: that his disciples love one another. One of the last things Jesus told his disciples before he was crucified was to love one another. As one of Jesus’ disciples, John heard those words firsthand and wrote them down for us to hear too.

It’s not always easy to love people, though! What about the classmate you just don’t get along with? What about your brother or sister or friend when they say something mean about you? What about your parents when they scold you for doing something wrong? How is it possible to love everybody all of the time?

On your own, you can’t. With God’s help, you can. You can love other people because God loved you first. Even though we’re all sinners, God loved us anyway. He loved us enough to send Jesus as our Savior and rescue us from our sins. And because of that, you can love other people too—even people who are sometimes really hard to love.

No, we don’t know what Jesus looked like. But we do know how to walk like him: by loving everybody around us and reflecting the love God has shown to us.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for loving me even though I am a sinner. Help me to walk like you and love other people too. 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 are some people you especially love?
  • Before any person loved you, who loved you first?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How are you able to love people even when they aren’t nice to you?
  • Think of two ways you can show love to your parents, your brothers or sisters, or your friends?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Can you think of a person in the Bible whom Jesus loved? How did he show love to that person?
  • When what was important to Jesus is also important to you, then you’re walking as Jesus did. Discuss two things important to Jesus that you want to be important now to you.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Better Than a Flashlight – January 23, 2023

Read: Isaiah 8:19–9:4

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

Better Than a Flashlight

Family Devotion – January 23, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:2

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever been in your house at night and had the power go out? It can be scary when this happens, especially if you’re in your room all by yourself. You’re suddenly surrounded by thick darkness, and sometimes you can’t even see your hand in front of your face. Every noise seems louder, every shadow seems more frightening, and you can’t help but imagine that there are monsters under your bed just waiting to pounce.

But then a flashlight beam carried by a parent shines in the doorway, and you don’t feel so scared. It’s amazing how one little flashlight (which isn’t really all that bright) can pierce through the darkness and take away all your fears. There’s something about a little light shining in the darkness that makes everything better.

In today’s reading, the prophet Isaiah talks about something worse than the power going out. He writes about people walking in darkness and living in the land of deep darkness. You can turn on a light anytime you want, so you might think these words aren’t meant for you. But they are.

Isaiah isn’t talking about darkness you can see with your eyes. No, he’s talking about something much scarier—he’s talking about darkness in your heart. You’re a sinner, and that means you naturally have darkness in your heart. On your own, you wouldn’t have any hope of breaking free of this darkness. You’d walk around in it and live in it and eventually die in it.

If Isaiah would have stopped writing there, there wouldn’t be any reason for hope. But did you hear what else he said? He said that the people living in darkness—you!—have seen a great light, that a light has dawned. And unlike a little flashlight beam, this light is brighter than any light the world has ever seen.

Can you guess where this light comes from? If you said “Jesus,” you’re absolutely right. Jesus is the One who shines brightly as a light in the darkness of sin. He’s the One who lights your path as you live each day here on earth. And he’s the One who will shine so brightly in heaven that there will be no more night.

So the next time you see a flashlight beam, think of Jesus. Remember that he is the light shining in the darkness of sin. You don’t have to be scared, because Jesus, your light, has come!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to this world and being a light to save me from the darkness of sin. 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 feel better when you’re scared of the dark?
  • Who is the light that today’s devotion is talking about?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean that we used to have “darkness” in our hearts?
  • What is something you can do to show people the light of Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness, why do some people prefer to not believe in him and live in darkness?
  • Think of someone you know who is living in spiritual darkness. What could you say to them to tell them about the light of Jesus?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Lamb of God – January 20, 2023

Read: John 1:29-41

The next day, John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

The Lamb of God

Family Devotion – January 20, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:29

See series: Devotions

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

Today, let’s take an imaginary visit to a really old church from the Bible. It was called a tabernacle, and later the temple. There was an altar. On it, animals were sacrificed. During the thousand-year history of God’s people of Israel, how many animals were sacrificed on that altar? Hundreds of thousands of animals, if not millions. So many that you lose count. Does the thought of that altar make you sad?

Why would God want his people to sacrifice so many animals? He did it to teach them some very important lessons.

The first lesson that God wanted to teach his people is that death is very serious. Death is the end result of sin. If an Israelite sinned, they would bring an animal to the temple where it would be killed. The two go together: if there’s sin, there has to be death.

But the second lesson that God wanted to teach his people is that even though there has to be death, it doesn’t have to be your own death. If an Israelite sinned, an animal could be killed as a substitute. The animal would take your place.

There was a problem with all those lambs offered at the temple. They didn’t actually have the power to take sin away. The blood of millions of lambs isn’t worth enough to pay for even one sin.

Those sacrifices pointed ahead to Jesus, just like John the Baptist pointed at Jesus and said, “Look! The Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

When Jesus went to the cross, all of the world’s sins were put on him. When Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, his blood was valuable enough to pay for all those sins.

So yes, because of your sin, there had to be death, but because of Jesus, it didn’t have to be your death. He loved you so much that he was willing to die for you, in your place, as your substitute.

Because Jesus died for you, you get to live for him now. Because the Lamb of God died for you, you get to live with him forever.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us and give us your peace. 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

  •  In today’s devotion, you heard of an altar in a temple. What happened on that altar that might have made you sad?
  • What makes us happy is the word “substitute.” What is a substitute? How is Jesus your substitute?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Read Isaiah 53:4-9. How do those verses add to the idea of Jesus being the Lamb of God (the sacrifice)?
  • How do those verses add to the idea of Jesus being our substitute?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How might you respond to someone who doesn’t like the Bible focus on bloody sacrifices?
  • Why don’t we offer animal sacrifices anymore? Check out Hebrews 9.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Erased and Taken Away – January 18, 2023

Read: Colossians 2:6-15

God erased the record of our debt brought against us by his legal demands. This record stood against us, but he took it away by nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:14

Erased and Taken Away

Family Devotion – January 18, 2023

Devotion based on Colossians 2:14

See series: Devotions

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

Imagine a list of every single sin you committed. On that list there is a section for all the times you worried about something instead of trusting God. It’s followed by another section for all the times you got distracted and didn’t listen to God’s Word. A detailed record of every mean thing you ever thought and every hurtful thing you ever said about your parents, your brothers and sisters, your classmates.

How long would that list be? How sad would it be to read through it? How guilty would you feel after reading it?

Don’t worry! In our reading, we hear the good news that God has gotten rid of that list. The apostle Paul uses two different pictures to describe what God has done to the list of all the sins we’ve committed.

First, he tells us that God erased the record of our sins. How big would an eraser have to be to get rid of so much writing? There’s no eraser in this world big enough to do it.

Instead, God erased the list of all our sins through the blood of Jesus. The blood that Jesus shed while he was hanging from the cross was so precious and so pure that it was able to wash away every sin ever committed by every person who has ever lived.

Second, the apostle Paul tells us that God took that list of our sins and nailed it to the cross. Jesus took every one of our sins away from us, and he put them on himself. He took the blame and the punishment for everything we’ve done wrong. When they nailed Jesus to the cross, it was like they were nailing your sins to the cross.

Psalm 130 says, “If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness.”

In Jesus, all your sins are forgiven. Erased. Dead and gone. God doesn’t remember them. He isn’t angry with you because of them. He won’t punish you for them. Thank you, Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for carrying all our sins to the cross and washing them away with your blood. 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 it easy or hard to forgive other people? Why?
  • Why did God forgive you all your sins?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Do the math. How many sins do you commit in a minute? An hour? A day? A year? A lifetime? How does that help you appreciate how much God has forgiven you?
  • If God has forgiven you so generously, what does that mean for the way you forgive others?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Go through each of the Ten Commandments and consider ways that you have sinned against each one.
  • How does God give you a fresh start each day? How can you make the most of it?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Light for the Whole World – January 16, 2023

Read: Isaiah 49:1-6

The Lord said:
It is too small a thing that you should just be my servant
to raise up only the tribes of Jacob
and to restore the ones I have preserved in Israel,
so I will appoint you to be a light for the nations,
so that my salvation will be known to the end of the earth.
Isaiah 49:6

A Light for the Whole World

Family Devotion – January 16, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

See series: Devotions

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

What do you need if you’re trying to find something in the dark? If you answer, “Light,” you’re correct! The amount of light you need depends on what you’re searching for and where you’re searching for it. If you’re looking for a toy that rolled under the couch, a small flashlight will do the job. If you’re looking for someone who has fallen overboard from a ship in the middle of the ocean in the middle of a moonless night, you’re going to need lots of ships and lots of helicopters with lots of really bright spotlights.

In our reading for today, Jesus, the Servant of God, is sent on the biggest search and rescue mission in our very dark world.

Who was Jesus sent to find? We can answer that question with one word: everyone.

Some people thought that the Savior would be sent just to save the descendants of Jacob, people who came from the twelve tribes of Israel. But God the Father tells his Son, Jesus, that saving only the Israelites would be way too small a mission. Jesus was sent to rescue people from all nations, from one end of this dark world to the other.

Why is this world so dark? We can also answer that question with one word: sin. It may seem small, but it’s our biggest problem. Sin doesn’t make it hard for your eyes to see. It’s a darkness inside us. It makes it impossible to see the truth with your heart and soul and mind. Because of sin, no one is able to figure out how to save themselves. Worse, it makes it impossible to find Jesus by ourselves.

That’s why Jesus had to come to find us. He didn’t use a big light—Jesus is the Light. Here’s what the apostle John wrote about Jesus: “In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind. The light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:4,5)

You have a Savior who loves you so much that he came into the darkness of this world to search for you, to find you, to rescue you, and to give you life.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, you are the light of the world. Shine in my heart and give me life and salvation. 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

  • Are you afraid of the dark? Why or why not? Why is it so good to know that Jesus is our light?
  • What did Jesus do to rescue you from the darkness of sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • If Jesus came to save the world, how can you be sure that he came to save you?
  • In what ways is sin like darkness? In what ways is Jesus like light?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If you ever feel like hiding some dark part of your life from Jesus, what can you remind yourself of?
  • It can be difficult to know how best to show support to someone who is experiencing the darkness of depression. What would you want them to know from today’s devotion?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Son Is Baptized – January 13, 2023

Read: Matthew 3:13-17

After Jesus was baptized, he immediately went up out of the water. Suddenly, the heavens were opened for him! He saw the Spirit of God, descending like a dove and landing on him, and a voice out of the heavens said, “This is my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with him.”
Matthew 3:16,17

God’s Son Is Baptized

Family Devotion – January 13, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 3:16,17

See series: Devotions

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

How does it make you feel when a teacher praises the project you spent so much time on? How does it make you feel when a coach tells you how proud they are of your hard work? How does it make you feel when a parent tells you how pleased they are by your good behavior? It feels amazing, right?

Unfortunately, because of sin, God couldn’t say those things to the people of this world. Adam and Eve disobeyed God and sinned against him. We have to admit that we have also disobeyed God and sinned against him.

God is holy. That means that he can’t praise disobedience. He isn’t proud of sinners. He’ll never be pleased when people turn their backs and walk away from him.

When God’s Son, Jesus, came to this world, he was just like us in so many ways. He had eyes and fingers and feet, just like us. He got hungry and tired and sad, just like us.

But Jesus was different from us in one very important way. He never disobeyed God. He never sinned against any of God’s commands. Jesus was perfect and holy in every way.

That’s why, when Jesus was baptized, God could praise Jesus and shout from heaven how proud he was of him: “This is my Son, whom I love. I am well pleased with him.”

Well, that might be amazing for Jesus, but how does it help sinners like us? Here’s some really good news. When you were baptized, you were connected personally to Jesus. His perfection became your perfection. His holiness became your holiness.

Imagine Jesus wearing a pure, white robe, without a single stain or spot on it. Then imagine him taking that robe and wrapping it snugly around you. That’s what happened when you were baptized.

Now, when God the Father looks at you, he doesn’t see any spots or stains or sins. He sees the perfect life of Jesus. That means that God can (and does) look at you now and say, “This is my son/daughter, whom I love. I am well pleased with him/her.”

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for wrapping your holiness around me when I was baptized. Help me please you in everything I think, say, and do. 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 three ways that Jesus was just like you. What are some ways he’s different?
  • How does it make you feel to know that God loves you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • You were baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. How do you see all three persons of the Trinity) at work in today’s Bible reading?
  • Describe the trade that Jesus made with us. What did he take from us? What did he give to us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think Jesus’ baptism was accompanied by such miraculous sights and sounds?
  • Discuss why your baptism (so long ago!) is still important for your life (today!).

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Anointed One – January 11, 2023

Read: Acts 10:34-38

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:37,38

God’s Chosen Servant

Family Devotion – January 11, 2023

Devotion based on Acts 10:37,38

See series: Devotions

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

In our last devotion, we heard about some of the people that God chose to be his special servants. How did those servants know that God had chosen them? How did all of the people around them know?

Sometimes God showed who he had chosen by anointing that person. Here’s how it was done: a bowl of olive oil would be poured on top of their head, dripping down and drenching them from head to toe!

How would you like it if someone poured a bowl full of olive oil on your head? It would probably feel pretty strange and slimy as it ran down your face and onto your clothes.

It might seem strange to us, but during Old Testament times, it was a very special and important thing to have someone pour oil on your head. It meant that you had been chosen by God to accomplish an important mission, like being a priest or a king.

Just like all of God’s servants in the Old Testament were pointing ahead to God’s perfect Servant, Jesus, all the people who were anointed in the Old Testament pointed ahead to the perfect Anointed One.

Did you know that two of Jesus’ titles, “Messiah” and “Christ,” both mean “Anointed One”? Jesus truly is God’s Anointed One!

Jesus, though, wasn’t anointed with oil. Jesus was anointed with water. John the Baptist poured water on Jesus’ head to show that Jesus had been chosen by God to accomplish an important mission, the most important mission of all—saving the world.

But Jesus was anointed with more than just water. Our Bible reading tells us that he was anointed “with the Holy Spirit and power.” Jesus showed his power by healing people who were sick and setting people free from the power of the devil. Later, he showed his power by rising from the dead.

Did you know that you’re an anointed one too? You haven’t been anointed with oil. Like Jesus, you were anointed when you were baptized and water was poured on your head. That means that you are a holy priest. You are a royal king or queen in God’s kingdom. And you have a special mission to accomplish—living each day of your life as the special person that God made you to be.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, you are the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One. Give me your power so that I live each day as your special, holy 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

  • You know when your birthday is, but do you know when your baptism day is? Ask your parents to tell you if you don’t know.
  • Why is it so special to know that you are baptized?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • In today’s reading, the apostle Peter is giving a brief summary of Jesus’ life. If you were telling someone about Jesus because they don’t know anything about him, what details from his life would you include? Why?
  • What does it mean to live as a baptized child of God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Though you don’t offer animal sacrifices, how do you serve as a priest in God’s kingdom? (Hint: how can you help be a link between someone who needs a Savior?)
  • Though you don’t sit on a golden throne, how do you serve as a king or queen in God’s kingdom? (Hint: how can you help lead and guide someone into God’s kingdom?)

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Chosen Servant – January 9, 2023

Read: Isaiah 42:1-7

Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight.
I am placing my Spirit on him.
He will announce a just verdict for the nations.
Isaiah 42:1

God’s Chosen Servant

Family Devotion – January 9, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1

See series: Devotions

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

During the time of the Old Testament, God chose many different people to be his servants and carry out special missions. Moses and Aaron served God by leading God’s people out of slavery in Egypt. David and Solomon served God by ruling over God’s people as kings. Elijah and Elisha served God as prophets, calling people to believe in the one true God.

But God’s plans for his people included something—someone—even better. He had chosen to send his perfect servant, his own Son, Jesus Christ, into the world.

All of the servants he sent during the Old Testament gave us clues about what Jesus Christ, God’s perfect servant, would do.

  • Moses gave the people freedom from slavery in Egypt, but Jesus gives us freedom from slavery to death.
  • Aaron offered animals as sacrifices, but Jesus offered himself as the perfect, final sacrifice for sin.
  • David defeated Goliath, but Jesus defeated the devil.
  • Solomon was wise, but Jesus is all-knowing.
  • Elijah miraculously fed 3 people, but Jesus fed more than 5,000.
  • Elisha raised a boy from the dead, but Jesus raised himself from the dead.

How wonderful it is to know that the Father chose to send his own Son to serve us! How wonderful it is to know that the Son, Jesus Christ, was willing to come to this world to serve God by serving us!

But Jesus didn’t come just to serve you and me, he came to serve the world. In the Scripture reading, God promised that Jesus would “announce a just verdict for the nations.”

What does that mean? It means that Jesus is going to get rid of all the wrong things in this world and make everything right. He started that work when he came to this world the first time, and he’ll finish that work when he comes again soon. What an exciting day that will be!

And one more exciting thing: while we wait for Jesus to come again, we get to be servants of God too. God has chosen us to serve him by listening to his Word and by loving the people around us.

For the rest of today, think of yourself as God’s servant to serve someone. What an honor that is! God bless you as you carry out your special mission!

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, thank you for being the servant of God who came to save me. Lead me to serve you every day. 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 it mean to be a servant? How was Jesus a servant?
  • List at least two ways that you get to serve other people.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How many chosen servants of God can you think of from the Bible?
  • How did each of those servants teach something about Jesus in what they said or did?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What was the work of a prophet? A priest? A king?
  • In what ways is Jesus our perfect prophet, priest, and king?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Wise men want to be by him – January 6, 2023

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

When [the Wise Men] saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Matthew 2:10,11

Wise men want to be by him

Family Devotion – January 6, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 2:10,11

See series: Devotions

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

Four-year-old Gabriella and her older brother Justin loved the nativity set under the Christmas tree. They would gaze at the figurines of Mary and Joseph with Jesus in between them. Standing off in the distance were the shepherds. Justin liked to add his superhero figurine to help them keep watch over the sheep by night. Gabriella positioned her Barbie doll dressed in pink to join the heavenly hosts adorned in white singing their angel praises. Meanwhile, on the other side of the nativity set, Hot Wheels cars were carefully positioned next to the camels in order to get those wise men to Bethlehem at top speed.

Gabriella and Justin’s mom didn’t mind their playing. That’s why she gave them the Fischer Price toy nativity to play with. The gift was on the condition that they would leave the Precious Moments porcelain nativity set exactly the way it was. You see, the previous Christmas, she carefully set out the fragile porcelain figures. But she would find all the pieces crammed inside a very crowded stable. Finally, the frustrated mom grew tired of resetting the pieces and confronted her daughter. Gabriella replied, “But Mom, they all want to be by Jesus!”

In Matthew 2, we see the great lengths that the wise men went to in order to be by Jesus. We don’t know exactly what or who they left behind to take this trek. We don’t know exactly how long their trip was or how long it took to pack for this journey. We do know that when they saw the star that led them to Jesus, “they were overjoyed” (verse 10). And when you have that feeling where the joy you feel is spilling out into every aspect of your life, things like time or money don’t matter. All that matters is being with Jesus because he is the source of our joy.

The wise men brought their treasures to present before the baby. In the same way, we present our treasures before the baby. Not gifts of gold, but perhaps talents on the athletic field or good grades in the classroom. Not gifts of myrrh, but maybe time spent baking treats to share others. Not gifts of frankincense but time spent practicing music that makes worship beautiful.

Give thanks, we get to be by Jesus! Let’s live for him this new year!

Closing Prayer:

Dear newborn Savior, no matter what our age—we all want to be by you! While we are still here on earth may we sing with the hymn writer: “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to thee; Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise.” Amen. (Christian Worship 695:1)

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 favorite nativity set in your house? Why is it your favorite?
  • What figurines are included in a nativity set? Tell the part that each piece plays in the nativity set.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The wise men knew how to look up at the night sky and use stars to guide them. Instead of “wise” men, what would they be called today?
  • Name all of the gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. Then, think of an equivalent to them in 2023 (gold – money; incense – essential oils; myrrh – body lotion).

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recount a time when you were absolutely overjoyed. What happened? Describe how you felt and the actions that followed.
  • Not everyone wanted to be by Jesus. Read Matthew 2:3-8. Identify who that was. Then discuss what it means to be “two-faced.”

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Bumpa – January 4, 2023

Read: Galatians 4:4-7

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

Bumpa

Family Devotion – January 4, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4-7

See series: Devotions

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

At 6’3” tall, Coach was a large and intimidating presence. When he stood at the entrance of the gymnasium, his frame nearly filled the entire doorway. With his arms crossed in front of his body, you knew that there would be no shenanigans happening on his watch.

Coach was a hefty man—not only in size, but also in reputation. He earned it from over forty years of experience in education, coaching, and athletic directing. That’s why as the basketball coach, when he asked his players to do something they responded with, “Yes Coach!” and jumped to it. Everyone—players, coaches, even referees—addressed him with respect.

Everyone, that is, except for ten adorable bundles of energy who were his grandkids. They approached Coach without any fear or hesitation and got to call him a different name. These little people lovingly called him “Bumpa.” Their special relationship of grandchild to grandpa gave them the right to call him something no one else dared to.

In Leviticus 11 we read about God and his daunting reputation. He demands that we be perfect in the way we act and speak. “I am the LORD your God,” he reminds us. “So be holy as I am holy.” How intimidating as he stands in the in the doorway of our lives, arms crossed and shaking his head because in his Word he clearly tells us to do something, and instead of jumping to it, we ignore him or walk away in the opposite direction. There is no way that on our own we can approach our just and holy God, let alone call him “Father.”

That’s when God, our coach, called a time out and benched us. He sent the perfect substitute into our game. When the time was just right God made the call to send Jesus to earth, not just to wear our human jersey, but to become one of us, our perfect teammate. Our jerseys were stained with sin and sweat, but Jesus’ jersey stayed spotless. He played the perfect game of life. He won the game when he slam dunked death and rose victoriously from the grave. Because Jesus is on our team, we can approach our coach, not with trembling knees from all the missed shots in our lives, but we can joyfully jump into his arms because he’s more than a coach. He’s our Father on whom we can depend for everything. We call him “Abba, Father!” And that is a nickname even better than “Bumpa”!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Abba Father, we are sorry for all the missed shots and opportunities to do your will. But praise be to God that because of our teammate Jesus, we are no longer slaves destined to lose but your sons and daughters through baptism. Thank you for being our Father! 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

  • Do you have a grandpa or grandma? What special names can you call them?
  • Why can we call God our “Father”?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The word “Abba” means “Father.” What are some other names for “Father”? What is the difference between the terms “Dad, Daddy, Pops, Father”? Which do you think is the most loving?
  • If God is our “Abba” (Father), what does that make Jesus? How is it possible to call people that you aren’t related to “brothers and sisters”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Do you have a nickname? How did you get that nickname? How did God get the nickname, “Abba”?
  • Sadly, some children don’t have a good relationship with their earthly father. Why is it a comfort knowing you can call God, “Father”?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 kindness is better than a mocha – January 2, 2023

Read: Isaiah 63:7-9

I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us—yes, the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy, he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Isaiah 63:7-9

God’s kindness is better than a mocha

Family Devotion – January 2, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 63:7-9

See series: Devotions

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

It was a rainy, gray Monday after a long weekend. The first graders were already a little squirrely because they missed morning recess due to a steady, cold drizzle of rain. Now, news reached their teacher that noon recess would also be spent inside, and since it was the upper graders turn to use the gym, their class would have to stay in their classroom for the noon hour recess.

The teacher was just as distressed as her students. Then, she glanced up from her desk. A parent of one of the students was standing in the classroom door, holding out a steamy cup of liquid gold. “I thought you might need a mocha coffee today,” she said.

“What an angel!” the teacher exclaimed as she teared up. She told everyone about the coffee kindness. She took a selfie of herself enjoying her first sip and texted in all caps “THANK YOU!” to the amazing parent. She even posted about it on her social media. Why? She wanted everyone to know about the mocha that made her day.

Today, Isaiah the prophet writes, “I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord.” He was experiencing an even more dreary situation than a miserable Monday. Isaiah and his people were trapped—not in a classroom, but in the darkest, gloomiest place imaginable. A place not just absent from sun but from the SON. And no weather forecast or amount of coffee could change the mess they had made—not because of their mistakes, but their sins. Imagine having to spend forever trapped in a place where you don’t want to be.

This Christmas, God steps through the door of our distressed world and lives and “in his love and mercy, he redeemed them” (verse 9). Jesus has come to pay in full the price needed to set us free. We get to enjoy an eternal recess in heaven, because of Jesus.

We are redeemed, and heaven is ours! Now say it with the pent-up energy of a first grader: “We are redeemed, and heaven is ours!” Coffee may carry a teacher through an afternoon, but God’s compassion lifts us up and carries us through not just one afternoon—but all the afternoons of our lives until we get to heaven.

Let us take every chance we get, whether it be in text or tweet, in prayer, in post, or in person to “tell of the amazing kindnesses” of our God!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Redeemer, forgive us for the times we are so “blah” to all the blessings you give us. Make us alert to and thankful for all the many ways you sustain us—from the whipped cream on top of a mocha to fun recesses and thoughtful children and parents. Make us bold to tell of your kindnesses everywhere we go! 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 many blessings can you name in 30 seconds? (Ready, set, GO!)
  • What is the best blessing of them all?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Do you know someone who drinks coffee? Describe how coffee makes him/her feel. How do they feel when they haven’t had their morning coffee? Now describe how you feel if didn’t have Jesus to wake up to in the morning.
  • Talk about a time when someone showed kindness to you. Can you think of a way to show kindness to others? How can our actions point someone to Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What is the heaviest thing you have ever lifted? How far did you carry it? Discuss how that relates to Jesus in verse 9: “In his love and mercy, He redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.”
  • When Christmas break is over, think of at least one way you can encourage someone with an act of kindness. How does it reflect God’s kindness to you?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Small Words That Are Big at Christmas – December 30, 2022

Read: John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made. In him was life and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children born not of natural descent nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-14

Small Words That Are Big at Christmas

Family Devotion – December 30, 2022

Devotion based on John 1:1-14

See series: Devotions

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

Do you know what a preposition is? Someone once explained it this way: A preposition is everything a mouse can do to a box. A mouse can go in a box, by a box, under a box, over a box, through a box, etc.” A preposition is that little word that explains where the mouse is and where the box is.

In the first 14 verses of the book of John, there are 25 prepositions! They help identify who Jesus is and how closely connected he is to God, to our world, to us, and to our salvation.

For example, God’s plan of salvation was set in place before the first clock in the world began to tick. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God. He was with God in the beginning.” “The Word” is a nickname for Jesus. John is telling us that before Jesus came into our world as a baby, he was there with God when it was created. Jesus was with God and now Jesus is with us! It means when Jesus was born, he was both God and human being like us. That’s amazing!

Here’s another example: Jesus once said, “I am the Light of the world.” Where does the light shine? John tells us, “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.” (vs. 5) Just as Christmas trees are lit up with lights, Jesus comes to light up our dark world that couldn’t see or find God without his help.

BUT, the best prepositions are the ones that connect you to Jesus. Listen: “To all who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God!” (vs. 12) “Believing in Jesus’ name” and becoming “children of God” are the best because they show us how close Jesus wants his name to be near your name.

This Christmas, thank God for even little words like prepositions. Jesus is with us!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father in heaven, we are in awe of you! That you gave up your throne above to come down to earth makes our hearts shake with joy! Thank you for making your dwelling among us. Please help us tell others about you that they too may know 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

  • What is the name for the little words today’s devotion said are so important?
  • Fill in the following blanks with a preposition: Jesus died ___ the cross. Jesus rose ____ the grave! Jesus sits ___ the right hand of God!

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Prepositions are important! From today’s devotion, name four things a mouse can do to a box.
  • Prepositions are important! From today’s Bible read, name four things that Jesus did to connect with you and with God’s love.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Get a Bible and find John 1:1-14. See how many prepositions you can find. (Goal: 25!)
  • In those verses, which prepositional phrase meant the most to you? Be ready to tell why that one was so meaningful.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Golden Jubilee – December 28, 2022

Read: Hebrews 1:1-9

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. About the Son he says, “Your Throne, O God will last forever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom.”
Hebrews 1:2,8

A Golden Jubilee

Family Devotion – December 28, 2022

Devotion based on Hebrews 1:2,8

See series: Devotions

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

After ruling England for over 70 years, Queen Elizabeth II passed away on September 8, 2022. In the days following her death, there were many stories that highlighted her kindness. With tears in their eyes, common English folks recounted the compassion that the Queen had shown to them during some bad time in their lives. Whether it was presenting flowers to grieving parents of a school bombing or visiting a man who acted heroically during a fire, every person seemed to have a story of how kind the queen was. They wanted their story to be heard and shared.

Seventy years is a long time to live—let alone rule a country! The term silver jubilee was even coined to describe the Queen’s record-breaking reign. In a way, Christmas celebrates the record-breaking arrival of a King whom we dearly love and serve. This King didn’t just rule a country for 70 years, our Bible reading says, “Your throne, O God will last for ever and ever and righteousness will be scepter of your kingdom.” The One who made the universe also rules the universe. Our King did so much more than offer condolences or flowers to his hurting people. He offered himself to save us. He loved us so much he entered our sin-sick world, was born of a woman, lived life in a carpenter’s house (a perfect life!), and at the end gave up his life to pay our debt and free us from sin and shame. But the King rose again so that we—his people—will live with him in his heavenly palace forever.

After our King won salvation for his people, he didn’t abdicate the throne and forget about his people. Our King sustains us, not with bread and games, but with his powerful Word. At this very moment, he is ruling and reigning at the right hand of God for us. When we die and go to heaven, we will inherit a crown of life and begin a golden jubilee that will last forever thanks to our King—Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

O King of Heaven, we praise you for so many reasons. Thank you for our government that you have established for the good of your people. Please end any dishonesty that may occur in it. Point us ahead to the sweet and blessed country of heaven that our eager hearts expect. 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 a king or queen walks into the room, it is common practice to bow or curtsy before them. Can you bow or curtsy?
  • Have you ever pretended to be a king or queen? What items do kings and queens wear or hold in their hands in order to rule? What does God use to rule the world?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it common practice to bow to royalty?
  • In what ways can you “bow” to your heavenly king?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What is the definition of a monarchy? What is the definition of a democracy? Which one would you rather live in?
  • Sometimes being a “princess” or “prince” can have a negative connotation even though the title itself is a good one! Example: “Oh! The princess only drinks 1 % percent milk.” In what ways does the world give our title, “Child of God!” a negative connotation? No matter what the world thinks, why is it important to wear that title proudly?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Gus’ Song – December 26, 2022

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!” The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Isaiah 52:7,10

Gus’ Song

Family Devotion – December 26, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7,10

See series: Devotions

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

During this special season of Christmas, it’s not uncommon to see a group of preschoolers outfitted in their plaid red and black dresses and little suit coats singing the Christmas lullaby, “Be near me Lord Jesus! I ask you to stay close by me forever and love me I pray; bless all the dear children in your tender care and take us to heaven to live with you there!”

That was 2-year-old Gus. One night at bedtime, he asked, “Mom, Dad—can I sing my song?” At first, Gus’ parents were unsure which song he was asking for his bedtime prayer. Was it, “Now the Light Has Gone Away” or maybe “I Am Jesus’ Little Lamb”? However, when they started singing, “Be near me Lord Jesus” and got to the line, “And take us to heaven,” Gus pointed to himself and said “Me! Me!” He took the words to be, “And take GUS to heaven to live with you there.”

Gus is correct in realizing that Jesus was born as a baby for him! And Gus is absolutely right in realizing that he will go to heaven because of Jesus’ birth, death on the cross for his sins, and resurrection. The personal assurance we have in our salvation is such a blessing!

However, in our reading for today, we see that Jesus didn’t just come for one person but for the whole world. What a day that will be when (vs. 10) “The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations.” Together, we will burst into songs of joy with brothers and sisters of all sizes, skin types, and smiles. But how will those people from all nations learn about this wonderful promise? Whether they wear Teva sandals, Nike tennis shoes, Jimmy Choo high heels, or just bare feet, the Bible tells us that the feet of those who bring this good news are beautiful.

Right now, there are missionaries across the world who may not be sitting by a cozy fire, sipping on hot chocolate, and hanging Christmas stockings. Rather, they may be hundreds, even thousands of miles away from these traditions and away from family and friends. And for what reason? Because they have good news to proclaim in all the earth! Glad tidings of great joy!

This Christmas, let’s join Gus and sing with confidence, “Take us to heaven to live with you there!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to earth for me! But also, thank you for coming to earth for the whole world. Please use my feet to bring the news of your birth to everyone I meet. Be with our missionaries who may be far away from their families but are doing such important work. Strengthen and protect them. 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 your favorite bedtime prayer to sing or say?
  • Are your feet beautiful? Even if your feet are a little dirty or stinky right now, how can they be beautiful according to the Bible passage we just read?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How many different countries can you name? How are those countries different from where you live? How are they the same?
  • What does a missionary do in those countries? Could you be a missionary?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Share a time that you burst into cheer either by yourself or with a team or group of others. Now multiply that feeling times 1,000,000 and that’s what it will be like when “the LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations.”
  • The next time you put on your shoes in front of others—whether it be in a locker room, bowling alley, a beach bench or ice hockey rink—challenge yourself to make your feet beautiful and tell someone around you about what Jesus’ birth means to you.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Exactly as Planned – December 23, 2022

Read: Matthew 1:18-25

An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
Matthew 1:20,21

Exactly as Planned

Family Devotion – December 23, 2022

Devotion based on Matthew 1:20,21

See series: Devotions

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

The wedding license was signed. The invitations had been sent out. Joseph hummed to himself as he was busy building another room onto his father’s house, where he and his new bride would live for the first few years of their married life. Having his parents nearby would be so helpful to take care of children that were born in the coming years.

Joseph had plans to provide for his family. And then, he got the worst news of his life: Mary was going to have a baby and it wasn’t his! Heartbroken, Joseph was ready to crumple up his plans and throw them all away. It looked like his plans had completely fallen apart.

Maybe you can feel sorry for Joseph. After all:

  • You had been excited for the game… and then got a fever and a cough.
  • You were looking forward to a trip to the playground, but then it rained.
  • You knew what you wanted on your ice cream, but the ice cream shop ran out of chocolate sprinkles.

Sometimes our plans fall apart. Sometimes we are hoping for more—and it just won’t work, not right now. We feel let down.

Joseph had plans for his family, and it looked like his plans were falling apart. But while his plans fell apart, God’s plan of salvation was just coming together:

“An angel of the Lord suddenly appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’”

Joseph did his best to plan, provide, prepare—and God had something better. When it looked like Joseph’s dreams and plans were failing, God’s plan of salvation was fulfilled.

Maybe your plans have fizzled. That’s okay, and it’s okay to be disappointed when plans fall apart. But when they do… remember that God’s Son was born into the middle of messed-up plans—exactly as God had planned!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for when I get angry because my plans fall through. Lead me to see your blessing in every event, especially in your birth at Christmas. 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

  • God told Joseph “Don’t be afraid.” Why is this important to remember?
  • When we hope to do something fun—and then we can’t, for some reason—what is important for us to remember?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What did God promise about Mary’s son?
  • How does the truth of a Savior (God with us) help us deal with disappointment?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, and also true man, born of the virgin Mary, is my Lord.” Where do we see this truth reflected in our reading?
  • When our plans fall through, what can we learn from Joseph?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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What’s it all about? – December 21, 2022

Read: Romans 1:1-7

This gospel is about his Son—who in the flesh was born a descendant of David, who in the spirit of holiness was declared to be God’s powerful Son by his resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Romans 1:3,4

What’s it all about?

Family Devotion – December 21, 2022

Devotion based on Romans 1:3,4

See series: Devotions

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

“What’s it about?”

Maybe a friend is recommending a movie or a book. Perhaps you were invited to a party… of some sort… but you’re not sure what to bring. “What’s it about?” That question is a question of curiosity, a question of value:

  • Will this book, this movie, this party bring joy and connection to my life?
  • Will I enjoy attending this going-away party, or should I schedule some time to say goodbye privately?
  • Does this book have content that’s suitable for my child, or is it a little beyond their age level?

“What’s it about?” It’s a question that we ask about everyday events, entertainment, movies, and so much more!

If someone asked you that question about the Bible… what would you say? “This Bible on your shelf—I’ve seen one before, but I’ve never read it. What’s it about?”

It’s a question of curiosity, a question of value: Will this book be worth my time? Is this book going to bring joy to my life, or will it be boring? Will it drag down my day?

What’s it about? In our reading from Romans 1, Paul gives us his answer: This gospel is about his Son—who in the flesh was born a descendant of David, who in the spirit of holiness was declared to be God’s powerful Son by his resurrection from the dead—Jesus Christ, our Lord.

What’s it about? Jesus Christ, true man, descended from Adam and Abraham and David and Mary. Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, whose resurrection means that sin is forgiven and death is broken.

Wow, what a joy! Now you know what this Advent season is all about! It’s about the most fascinating person in the whole world—Jesus!

What’s it about? It’s still a question for us to consider—a question of curiosity, a question of value. Is this Jesus worth your time? Is his Bible going to bring joy to your life, or will it be boring?

Listen again to Paul and Paul’s answer: “This gospel is about his Son.” This gospel is worth your time—and your eternity.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for becoming a human and showing how much you want us to be with you forever. Lead us to your Word and to always be curious about what you say there and respond, “You are so worth it! 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’s the Bible about?
  • In our devotion, we named a few people who were ancestors of the Savior. Can you name one person who was an ancestor of Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What would you tell someone who said that they’ve never read a Bible?
  • How can our family stay focused on the events of Advent this year?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • “He has redeemed me, a lost and condemned creature… with his holy, precious blood.” Look again at the Bible verses in today’s devotion. Why does Paul say that Jesus’ blood is holy and precious?
  • Someone says: “I don’t really care what the Bible’s about, because I can be a good person without a book.” How could you respond?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Did You Forget? – December 19, 2022

Read: Isaiah 7:10-14

Listen now, you house of David. … the Lord himself will give a sign for all of you. Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and name him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:13,14

Did You Forget?

Family Devotion – December 19, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 7:13,14

See series: Devotions

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

A new church came to a town offering perfectly designed music, lights, sights, and sounds for worship. Their musicians were talented, their church members very friendly, their pastor a really good speaker. On a giant billboard next to their church, they advertised to the thousands of cars driving by: “Not your grandma’s church.” They’re saying that their worship and church were more exciting than the memories of the church your grandmother grew up in.

It’s possible that some people decided to attend church there because of their advertising “Not your grandma’s church.” Maybe some people went there not because that church is better—but that it’s simply different from what they knew growing up. Is it also possible that they forgot the blessings—the Jesus—that their grandparents tried to teach them? Is it possible for people to forget about the blessings that Jesus gives through his Word and sacraments because they get distracted by something that feels easier and more entertaining?

It’s not the first time that’s happened.

In our reading from Isaiah chapter 7, we hear about a wicked king named Ahaz. He forgot about the blessings God promised to his great-great-great grandfather, King David. Ahaz worshiped other gods and forgot about the promised Messiah, who would come from David’s family.

In his grace, God sends Isaiah to remind King Ahaz: “Listen now, you house of David. … the Lord himself will give a sign for all of you. Look! The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and name him Immanuel.”

Maybe your grandparents grew up Lutheran. Maybe your grandparents aren’t Christian at all. But either way, we need reminding today. We need to be reminded that church is the place where God’s Word is preached, where God’s work takes center stage, where Christ forgives our sins and gives his personal assurance of it in his miraculous meal called the Lord’s Supper.

This time of year God reminds us: The Lord himself has promised a miraculous baby, the Messiah. This one is Immanuel—God with us.

That’s the message we all need, grandmothers and grandchildren alike: Immanuel has come to live among us!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for living among us during your ministry; thank you for continuing to be in the midst of your people in Word and sacrament, and thank you for reminding us of your grace this Advent season. 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 two actions that we do in the worship service on Sunday mornings. Which is your favorite?
  • What kind of things do you like to be reminded of? What good thing did God remind us about in our devotion today?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do we need to be reminded of good things?
  • What is one thing that God reminds us about during the worship service?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In the Words of Institution, after promising his body and blood are present in the Lord’s Supper, Jesus says: “Do this in remembrance of me.” Why is Jesus so concerned that Christians remember him?
  • What can our family do to help remember Jesus on a more regular basis?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Or Should I Look Somewhere Else? – December 16, 2022

Read: Matthew 11:2-11

While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples to ask him, “Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go, report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor.”
Matthew 11: 2-5

Or Should I Look Somewhere Else?

Family Devotion – December 16, 2022

Devotion based on Matthew 11: 2-5

See series: Devotions

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

The three readings this week talk about a few different emotions: surprise, patience, and now—disappointment. In the Gospel reading from Matthew 11, we hear that John the Baptist is disappointed: “While John was in prison, he heard about the things Christ was doing. He sent two of his disciples to ask him, ‘Are you the Coming One or should we wait for someone else?’” Wow. Talk about disappointment! John had preached that Jesus was the Messiah; John had pointed to Jesus and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John said that this Jesus, the promised Messiah, would destroy his enemies with fire and judge the world with justice!

Now John was in prison for preaching what God’s Word said. John was in jail because he had clearly taught what God’s Word said. And it certainly seems that John was disappointed in Jesus. If Jesus was the powerful Messiah that John had preached about . . . where was the justice? Why was John in jail? Why did John suffer for simply doing what God had commanded him to do?

Can you imagine how disappointed John felt? You may have felt let down by someone. Maybe there was a time when you were disappointed in what someone did or said. But… John is disappointed with God!

Jesus gently directs John—and us—back to his clear Word. Our happiness with God doesn’t hinge on what he does for us, or how he blesses us; our joy in Jesus is completely because Jesus has done everything that he promised. That’s why Jesus points John (and us) back to Isaiah 35. Jesus says that he is doing, and will do, exactly what the Messiah said he would do—so there’s no reason to be disappointed in Jesus: “Go, report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the gospel is preached to the poor.”

Whew! Jesus is the One!

Closing Prayer:

Lord, I confess my disappointment. My heart wants things to happen on my schedule and in my way; yet just like John, you direct me back to what you promised to do. You have brought your gospel to me, and your certain Word has promised me forgiveness! Grant that I am never disappointed in this truth. 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 John in jail? (Reread that portion of the devotion as needed.)
  • How do you think John felt?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What was the message John sent to Jesus?
  • What answer do you think John was expecting?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What message does Jesus give to John through the messengers? (This phrasing is a direct fulfillment of Isaiah’s words about the Messiah.) Why does Jesus send this message for John?
  • Name two bad ways and two good ways that Christians can handle disappointment.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I’m Too Busy to be Patient – December 14, 2022

Read: James 5:7-11

Therefore, brothers, be patient until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the valuable harvest from the ground, patiently waiting for it, until it receives the early and late rain. You be patient too. Strengthen your hearts because the coming of the Lord is near.
James 5:7,8

I’m Too Busy to be Patient

Family Devotion – December 14, 2022

Devotion based on James 5:7,8

See series: Devotions

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

It’s a joke that your pastor has probably heard a few times, the kind of joke that is funny enough to tell at a potluck—and true enough to mention in a sermon: “Be careful when you pray for patience. The last time I prayed for patience, I got stuck in a traffic jam for two hours!”

Patience doesn’t come naturally for any of us. We know what we want, and when we want it:

  • If we’re meeting friends at the park, I want to go—now! And I don’t need a nap.
  • Do you open the microwave when there are five seconds left rather than wait for it to beep?
  • When you’re in line at a store, do you scan the lines to see which one is moving quicker and wish you had picked that one?

Patience. We learn patience in everyday life, and God uses the time of Advent to teach us patience. Advent is the time of waiting for Christmas—the time of patiently waiting for our celebration of Christ’s birth. We wait, patiently, as we look forward to God’s promises fulfilled.

Doesn’t that describe our Christian life?

We patiently wait for God to do everything that he has promised to do. We humbly bow our heads and set aside our schedule; we admit that God knows better than we do, that God’s timing is better than ours, and that we simply wait for God to do everything he has promised.

That’s exactly what James talks about in our second reading: “Therefore, brothers, be patient until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the valuable harvest from the ground, patiently waiting for it, until it receives the early and late rain. You be patient too. Strengthen your hearts because the coming of the Lord is near.”

Patience doesn’t come naturally—not to any of us. But patience is exactly what God gives. Patience is the attitude of faith that recognizes: It might not come on my schedule, or in exactly the way I had hoped—but I have a Lord who has promised me everything that I need, at the best time and in the best way possible. He has proven it in the past with the coming of his Son; he teaches me patience today as we await Christmas; and together, the Christian Church waits patiently for Christ’s return.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, teach me patience—and teach me to trust your timing in all things, even as we look forward to the celebration of your birth. 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’s something that you have to wait for?
  • How can waiting for something be a good thing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think that most people aren’t very patient?
  • Think of a farmer who plants a field of corn or wheat. Why does he have to be patient? What will happen if he isn’t patient?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How can we practice more patience (or learn more patience) in our family?
  • Think of the Fourth Petition to the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” How does God both teach and give patience in this petition?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Surprise! Things Don’t Always Happen That Way . . . Do They? – December 12, 2022

Read: Isaiah 35:1-10

The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. Waters will flow in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland. The burning sand will become a pool, and in the thirsty ground there will be springs of water. . . . A highway will be there, a road that will be called the holy way. The impure will not walk there. It will be reserved for those who walk in that holy way . . . and the redeemed will walk there.
Isaiah 35:5-8

Surprise! Things Don’t Always Happen That Way . . . Do They?

Family Devotion – December 12, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 35:5-8

See series: Devotions

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

Surprising. Unexpected. Impossible.

That is what makes a story, a movie, or a TV show interesting. The reader is surprised when Charlotte spins a web, and Wilbur lives out his days on Zuckerman’s farm. The movie plays out with the unexpected servant girl becoming a royal bride, or the impossible problem is miraculously solved. When something is surprising, unexpected, or impossible—it catches our eyes, our interest, our hearts.

In our reading from Isaiah chapter 35, God talks about some things that are surprising, unexpected, even impossible: The blind can see? The deaf are able to hear again? Those who can’t walk—now can run, and jump, and play soccer? Someone who cannot talk . . . sings praises to God?

That sounds impossible. That’s just not going to happen!

But that is exactly what God promises in our reading today. And God is completely certain that he will do the impossible, the unexpected, and the surprising. He says that he’ll turn the desert sand into a place where people swim, and—most importantly of all—he’ll build a highway in that wasteland. Wow, talk about surprising! God will build a highway . . . so that you, his baptized and beloved child, will have a clear path through life to eternity.

God didn’t use a spider’s web or a movie’s princess. God sent his promised Messiah, exactly as he promised: “The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unplugged. The crippled will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will sing for joy. Waters will flow in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland. The burning sand will become a pool, and in the thirsty ground there will be springs of water. . . . A highway will be there, a road that will be called the holy way. The impure will not walk there. It will be reserved for those who walk in that holy way . . . and the redeemed will walk there.”

That is God’s surprising, impossible, unexpected promise: His Messiah has come to save you, and this Messiah has come to change your life today—and your eternity tomorrow. God did the impossible by sending his Son, and God did the impossible by giving you faith in Holy Baptism. God did the impossible by placing you on the way to heaven, and God will continue to do the impossible by keeping you on that path.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you promised to come in vengeance and to do the surprising, unexpected, and impossible. You raised yourself from the dead and baptized me into your household of faith. Keep me on your highway of grace. 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 impossible that God talked about in today’s reading?
  • Name something that seems impossible at the moment for you, and let’s pray about it.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the most impossible or surprising thing God ever did?
  • From your own memory, name one or two “impossible” things Jesus did. What do we call these “impossible” deeds?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify something impossible that God accomplished in your own life. (For a hint, consider Luther’s explanation to the Third Article: “I believe that I cannot, by my own thinking or choosing, believe in Jesus Christ, my Lord, or come to him. But the Holy Spirit has called me by the gospel . . .”)
  • This reading finishes with God’s promised forgiveness through the Messiah. Why do you think God spent so much time describing the impossible things that the Messiah would accomplish, before finally describing the forgiveness that Messiah would win?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Let’s get ready for the King of peace – December 9, 2022

Read: Matthew 3:1-12

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.
Matthew 3:1-6

Let’s get ready for the King of peace

Family Devotion – December 9, 2022

Devotion based on >Matthew 3:1-6

See series: Devotions

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

Don’t you hate it when you get caught doing something wrong? We don’t want other people to know about our sins. We’re ashamed of them, and so we try to hide our guilt so no one finds out.

But look what happened when John the Baptist arrived. John was the last great prophet that God sent to prepare people for Jesus. And as John preached, people lined up just to be able to confess their sins! They were eager to admit the things they did wrong. Imagine that!

But why?

When they heard John’s preaching, they realized that they could try to hide their sins, but that doesn’t get rid of them. It’s like pushing a splinter deeper into your finger because you’re too scared to pull it out: it’s just going to make the problem worse. And they weren’t there just to admit they did bad things. John was baptizing them. He was washing them with water and promising them that God forgave all their sins. That’s how he got people ready for Jesus: he told them to confess their sins and told them that Jesus was bringing forgiveness.

As we get ready for Christmas, there are so many things to do: we wrap presents and get the house ready for visitors or help our family make a big dinner. Those are wonderful things, but that’s not really what it means to be ready for Jesus. Do you want to be ready for him? Then be honest about the sins you’ve done; there’s no point in hiding them and no reason to hold onto that guilt. Sometimes that’s hard to do—almost as hard as knocking down mountains or straightening out crooked roads. But there’s a reason why we want to get those things out of the way: Because Jesus is coming to share forgiveness and peace with us and to wash us clean from our sins.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, you didn’t come to bring us guilt, but to take guilt away. You didn’t come to fill me with sadness, but with peace. So help me to recognize that my guilt, my fear and my sadness all come from my sins. As I confess those sins, fill me with your peace. As we remember your birth this Christmas, give me faith that this peace is really 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

  • What made John the Baptist look different?
  • What was John’s message?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • After the people confessed their sins, what did John do for them?
  • What does God do for us in baptism?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • John the Baptist told people they needed to repent. Why do you think so many people were eager to confess their sins?
  • Why is it helpful for us to think about our baptisms?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Let’s get ready to share peace – December 7, 2022

Read: Romans 15:4-13

For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
Romans 15:4-7

Let’s get ready to share peace

Family Devotion – December 7, 2022

Devotion based on Romans 15:4-7

See series: Devotions

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

In the first book of the Bible, we hear about a man named Jacob. He tricked his brother Esau and had to run away from home. Years later when they meet again, Jacob was sure Esau was going to kill him, but Esau forgave him. God can heal old grudges. In Exodus we read that the Israelites were enslaved by Egypt for 400 years. But then God sent Moses to free them. There isn’t a problem too big for God to solve. In the New Testament, we see Jesus’ disciples hiding in fear after he was crucified. They thought death had conquered Jesus, but then they saw their Savior and understood that Jesus defeated death.

Don’t you get excited reading those stories? They remind us that God can really fix the broken things in our life, he is always ready to forgive us and will never leave us. God had prophets and apostles write down those true stories for us, so that when we read them, we find hope in Jesus.

But God gives us hope for another reason—so that we can give hope to others. He wants us to share it. In our reading he tells us two ways to do that:

  • We glorify God together with one mind and voice. One way we do that is by worshiping with each other. As we gather together and hear God’s Word and sing our praises, we help encourage each other in our faith. And,
  • We accept one another as Christ accepted us. That doesn’t mean we ignore sins—after all, Jesus didn’t ignore ours! What did he do? He forgave our sins and made us God’s children. So we forgive others, and we treat them as part of our family.

We have that hope because someone shared God’s Word with us. Christmas is two weeks away. There are plenty of people all around us who feel guilty or hopeless. Let’s invite them to hear the true story of God’s love. Let’s give them the peace God has given us.

Closing Prayer:

Almighty God, thank you for the people who have shared your Word with us. Thank you for giving us hope through your promises. I’m sorry for the times I act like that hope is just for me and forget to share it with others. In these next weeks especially, help me forgive other people and invite them to church this Christmas so that you can give them hope, too. 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 “hope” mean?
  • When do people need hope most?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How do Christians praise God “with one mind and one voice”?
  • Paul tells us to accept each other. That means forgiving each other. How does forgiving someone help give them hope?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Describe a way you might give hope to someone who needs it.
  • Paul says that the Bible was written to give us hope. What’s a Bible story that has taught you to have hope?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Let’s get ready for peace – December 5, 2022

Read: Isaiah 11:1-10

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6-10

Let’s get ready for peace

Family Devotion – December 5, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 11:6-10

See series: Devotions

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

When you heard Isaiah’s words, did you smile a bit? A wolf and a lamb living side by side? A lion eating straw? That’s not the way it really works! Put straw in front of a lion and he won’t touch it. Put a lamb in a cage with a wolf, and you’ll just have a well-fed wolf. Cows and bears, leopards and goats can’t get along. They’re natural enemies!

Actually, they aren’t. When God created the world, it was a perfect place. There was no fighting, no animals eating each other, no death. Sin changed all of that. Now we live in a world where wolves want to eat lambs and a child who puts his hand into a viper’s nest is going to be taking a trip to the hospital. We’re so used to sin, it’s hard for us to picture a world that isn’t like that.

That’s why God gives us these pictures. To help us understand that Jesus brings peace to the world. He uses these pictures that seem so strange to make this point: Jesus will bring peace, even where it seems impossible.

And he tells us where to find it: on his “holy mountain.” That’s a picture God uses for his church. When you and I hold to God’s Word, he brings us peace. It doesn’t always feel like it—sometimes we still hurt each other. We do something completely unnatural: we sin against people God created us to love. That will always be the case this side of heaven. But the more we’re filled with the knowledge of the Lord—as we go back to his Word for forgiveness and guidance—he’ll help us forgive those hurts, even in people that feel like our enemies. That’s the peace Jesus brings to us. And then one day, he’ll bring us to himself in heaven, where there will be no more sin or pain again.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, there are some problems in my life that I can’t imagine ever getting better. It seems as impossible as picturing a wolf and a lamb lying down together. As we listen to your Word, teach us about the peace that Jesus brings. Help us confess our sins to each other and forgive each other. Help us share our faith so that other people find your peace too, until you bring us to perfect peace 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 was your favorite animal picture from today’s Bible reading?
  • What is so strange about a lion eating straw?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Are these images “literal” (talking about real wolves living with real lambs) or “symbolic” (trying to help us picture peace)?
  • What, at the end of our reading, is bringing such great peace to the world?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How can you help spread God’s peace?
  • When we look at the world, we don’t see peace like Isaiah pictured. Does that mean God failed? Why or why not?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 comes in gentleness – December 2, 2022

Read: Matthew 21:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Matthew 21:1-5

Our King comes in gentleness

Family Devotion – December 2, 2022

Devotion based on Matthew 21:1-5

See series: Devotions

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

The president of the United States rides in a limousine nicknamed “the Beast.” It’s a fitting name! His car has armor plating and bullet-proof glass; it carries weapons and rides on tires that can’t go flat. When you see a car like that coming down the street, you know a powerful leader is coming.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem to die for our sins, he wasn’t riding anything like that. He wasn’t in a chariot or riding a powerful horse. He was riding on a small, young donkey. But he was coming to be a King.

There were at least two reasons why Jesus rode a donkey. Hundreds of years before this, God made a prophecy—a promise!—through one of his prophets: When God’s true King came to his people he’d be riding on a young donkey. God said, “When you see this sign, pay attention. You’ll know I’m keeping my promise.”

And riding a donkey showed what Jesus was like. You wouldn’t ride a donkey out into war. Donkeys were lowly and humble. Gentle. Jesus wasn’t coming to attack people; he was coming as a gentle King who would lay down his life for his people.

Jesus still comes to us today. We’ll celebrate Christmas soon and rejoice in the miracle of God coming as a baby. But there’s a miracle taking place, even right now. God comes to us in his Word. He promises he’s speaking to us through the Bible. So are you reading the Bible tonight? Are you going to church soon? Then, pay attention! God’s keeping his promise to you.

And it shows what God is like, too. He doesn’t come to us in a thunderstorm or an earthquake, but in words that help us see our sin and promise us salvation. He doesn’t want to scare us; he speaks gently because he wants us to know him. That’s the kind of King you have.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, when you entered Jerusalem on a donkey, you came exactly the way you promised, but so many people didn’t recognize you. You promise to come to us in your Word. As we read it tonight, as we worship you on Christmas Eve, help us to recognize you and receive you as our gentle and loving King. 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 animal did Jesus ride into Jerusalem?
  • What did that show about what Jesus was like?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did Jesus riding on a donkey actually show that he had complete control over what was happening?
  • Jesus is described as “gentle.” How else in the Bible do you see Jesus’ gentleness?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Jesus entered Jerusalem in this way as he was getting ready to die. Explain how his “gentleness” wasn’t the same as “weakness.”
  • List as many ways as you can that this reading shows us that Jesus is a powerful king and a loving king.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 can turn worry to joy – November 30, 2022

Read: Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Our King can turn worry to joy

Family Devotion – November 30, 2022

Devotion based on Philippians 4:4-7

See series: Devotions

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

A preacher came to a new church. Everyone liked his first sermon. He preached it again the second Sunday. And the next Sunday! An elder asked him why he kept preaching the same sermon. He replied, “None of you were doing what I said the first time, so I needed to tell you again!!”

Paul repeats himself in our reading: Rejoice! Rejoice! But it’s not to get us to do more. He wants us to worry less. Maybe you think, “Yeah, that’s easy for you to say, Paul! If you lived my life, you’d worry a lot, too!” But did you know Paul was in prison when he wrote this? Paul had reasons to worry.

Here’s a lie that most of us believe: We can’t do anything to stop worrying. It’s just the way we feel. But Paul tells us there’s a lot we can do to change how we feel.

First, you can be gentle to others. You have control over your words and actions. If you treat people with kindness, it will help calm your own heart.

Second, remember that the Lord is near. Paul didn’t mean that Jesus was close to us (even though that’s true!). He meant that Jesus was coming back soon. Whatever problem you have, you won’t face it forever and you’ll never face it alone.

Third, pray. Cast your cares on the Lord. He’s listening, and he can help.

Fourth, give thanks. When you take time to thank God as you bring him your prayers, you’ll find reminders that he really is in control and is giving you so many blessings.

Those are things you can do that will help with your worrying, but maybe you noticed something. As you do these things, God is really the one doing the important work. He’ll give you peace that you can’t even understand. Your King Jesus will be turning your worry into joy.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes I think I worry because I can’t control the things in my life. But the real reason I worry is because I forget that you’re the one controlling them all in love for me. As I show your love to others and remember your love for me, as I bring you my fears and give you thanks for your kindness, bless me with peace, even when I don’t understand how it will all work out. 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

  • Right after Paul tells us to rejoice, what does he tell us to do?
  • Why does Paul say we can always rejoice?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Describe something in your life that makes you feel anxious.
  • If there’s something you’re worried about, what can you do?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Instead of worrying, Paul tells us to give thanks to God. How does giving thanks to God actually help stop us from worrying?
  • What do you think it means that God’s peace “guards our minds”?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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