God Will Save Us – Family Devotion – October 28, 2020

Read: Isaiah 26:6-9

He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.
Isaiah 26:8

God Will Save Us


Family Devotion – October 28, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 26:8

See series: Devotions

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

Crying is a natural part of life. When you’re a baby, it seems like you cry all the time! When you’re a little older and in elementary school, you don’t cry as much. You still cry, though, especially when something bad happens like getting hurt or having a friend move away.

When you get older you’ll probably cry even less. But there will still be times when you need to have a good hard cry. And at those times, there’s nothing better than someone who loves you handing you a Kleenex, giving you a hug, and telling you everything is going to be okay.

One event where it is difficult not to cry is a funeral. There’s something terribly sad about someone you love suddenly being gone and knowing you won’t see them at your next family gathering or hear their voice the next time the phone rings. There are Kleenexes handed out and hugs given at funerals, but there’s no bringing that person back from the dead. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that everything is going to be okay.

And then someday, it will be our turn to die too. Someday we will be the one who is lying in that casket and having people cry at our funeral. That’s a sad thought—a thought that seems strange and unnatural—because we are so full of life right now. It is strange and unnatural, because death wasn’t part of God’s original plan. Death came into the world when Adam and Eve sinned, and death has been a part of our lives ever since.

But here is some good news! Isaiah tells us that God is going to swallow up death forever and wipe away the tears from all faces. When Jesus rose from the grave on Easter morning, he declared victory over death. He came back to life and took away death’s power. We don’t have to be scared of dying anymore, because Jesus already died in our place. On the Last Day, we will rise just like he did and will live forever with him in heaven.

Yes, all of us are going to die someday (unless Jesus comes back first). Yes, this is a sad thought, because there will be people left behind who will miss us very much. But it doesn’t have to be a scary thought, because we know that death is not the end. Heaven comes after death—so there’s no reason to be afraid. We have something much better to look forward to, and death is just the way of getting there.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for dying in my place and rising again from the dead. Even when death seems scary, help me remember that for me, it is actually the door to heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why don’t you have to be scared of dying?
  • When one of your friends is sad because someone they love dies, what can you say to them to help them feel better?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Although we will have to wait until heaven for God to perfectly wipe away all of our tears, what are some ways he comforts you in your life right now?
  • Isaiah says, “Let us rejoice and be glad in [the LORD’s] salvation” (verse 9). Why can we rejoice even when someone we love dies?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The reading for today is sometimes heard at Easter. Even though this reading doesn’t specifically mention Jesus, why is it so appropriate?
  • In verse 6, Isaiah talks about a feast that God will prepare for all people. What feast is he talking about? When and where will this feast be celebrated (cf. Revelation 19:9)?

Hymn: CW 213:1,5 – Forever With the Lord

Forever with the Lord!
Amen! So let it be.
Life from the dead is in that word,
My immortality.

So when my dying breath
Shall rend the veil in two,
By death I shall escape from death
To endless life with you.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Wedding Feast of Heaven – Family Devotion – October 26, 2020

Read: Matthew 22:1-14

“So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”
Matthew 22:9

The Wedding Feast of Heaven


Family Devotion – October 26, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 22:9

See series: Devotions

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

Getting an invitation to a party is so exciting! Whether it’s a friend’s birthday party or a cousin’s graduation party, whether it’s inside at someone’s house or outside at a local park, spending time with your friends or family at a party is always fun. Lots of planning and preparation go into a party, and saying “Yes, I can come” makes both you and the host happy.

In today’s reading, Jesus tells us a story about a party: a wedding feast that was hosted by a king. Much planning and preparation went into this wedding feast, and the king sent out many invitations. But instead of eagerly accepting the invitations, the people whom the king invited refused to come. They behaved even worse than that—they mistreated and killed the servants who brought them the invitations.

What a mess! It would have been easy for the king to give up at this point and cancel the wedding banquet. Why should he work any harder to get people to come to his wedding banquet? Instead, the king sent out even more invitations. But this time, he sent his servants out to the streets and invited the most common people he could find. These people weren’t on the original guest list. They didn’t look like they deserved to be invited to the wedding feast. But because of the king’s great love and his desire to share his feast with everyone, these common people got to experience the joy of the wedding feast.

Just like that king, God is preparing a feast too—a perfect heavenly feast that will last forever. And just like those common people, we don’t deserve to be invited to this heavenly feast. We are sinful human beings who naturally reject God’s invitation. Without faith, we would also refuse to come to God’s heavenly feast. But because the Holy Spirit has worked faith in our hearts, we joyfully accept God’s invitation and now look forward to celebrating with him in heaven forever.

When I get an invitation to a party, I usually ask my friends if they are going. I know I’m going to have fun at the party, and I want to make sure my friends are going to go and have fun too. The heavenly feast that God is preparing is going to be better than the best earthly party we can imagine, and we want to do everything we can to make sure our friends will be there too. So don’t just accept your invitation and look forward to heaven someday—tell others about the heavenly feast too. God wants as many people as possible to be there!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for inviting us to your heavenly feast—a perfect feast that will last forever. Help us to tell those around us about this feast so that many more people will be able to celebrate with us in heaven someday. 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 is the king in Jesus’ story?
  • God is hosting a party and says you can invite someone! Who would you want to invite that doesn’t about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Sadly, why would someone reject God’s invitation to his great banquet?
  • None of us is perfect—we think, say, and do wrong things more often than we want to admit. What assurance does your baptism give that you aren’t in danger of rejecting God’s invitation to his heavenly feast?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In 1 Timothy 2:4, we read that God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” If God wants all people to be saved and be a part of his feast, why doesn’t everyone believe in him?
  • Evaluate with your parents how often you take advantage of God’s invitation to the “banquet” of his Word and why it is so important for you and your family.

Hymn: CW 213:1,3 – Forever With the Lord

Forever with the Lord!
Amen! So let it be.
Life from the dead is in that word,
My immortality.

My Father’s house on high,
Home of my soul, how near
At times, to faith’s foreseeing eye
The golden gates appear.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Believers Have the Goal of Heaven – Family Devotion – October 23, 2020

Read: Philippians 3:12-21

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:14

Believers Have the Goal of Heaven


Family Devotion – October 23, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 3:14

See series: Devotions

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

Alyssa had run cross country for a while, but this season was different. Before this year, she usually finished somewhere in the middle of the pack. But all her hard work and practice was finally starting to pay off, and she kept moving up. 13th place, 8th place, 5th place—she was so close to a medal.

There was only one race left in the season, and it was the toughest race on the schedule. Alyssa knew that it would take more hard work to earn a medal. It would have been easy for her to just give up and quit. Instead, she spent even more time practicing and training. She dreamed of crossing the finish line first and could almost feel that medal hanging around her neck.

The apostle Paul uses the picture of a race to describe his life as a Christian. Paul had a very hard life. It would have been easy for him to just give up. He had been beaten, stoned, shipwrecked, left for dead, and spent a lot of time in prison—all because he told people about Jesus. Nobody would have blamed Paul if he had said, “I quit. Christianity is just too hard.”

But Paul refused to give up. Instead, he did the very opposite. He didn’t focus on all the bad things that happened to him in the past. He kept looking ahead and dreaming of crossing the finish line. And his prize for crossing the finish line was something much better than a cross country medal that wouldn’t last. His prize was being with God forever in heaven.

Paul worked hard at spreading the gospel. He traveled far and wide and shared the good news of Jesus with many people. But all of Paul’s hard work didn’t get him any closer to winning the prize. God called Paul to be a Christian and gave him faith in Jesus—a faith that led Paul to travel the world and be a missionary for the gospel. And when Paul’s life ended, God gave him the prize of heaven that Jesus had won for him on the cross.

You might not travel the world and be a missionary like the apostle Paul, but you do have something in common with him. God has also called you to be a Christian and given you faith in Jesus. And when your life ends, God will also give you the prize of heaven that Jesus won for you. That’s the best prize that you could ever receive!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, help me to be strong in my faith while I am running the race of life. Remind me always of the prize of heaven that is waiting for me—a prize of being with you forever. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Sometimes heaven seems so far away. What can you do to keep thinking about heaven and looking forward to going there someday?
  • While he was “running his race,” the apostle Paul told lots of people about Jesus. Do you know someone that needs Jesus? What’s their name?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think the apostle Paul compared the life of a Christian to a race?
  • What would you say to someone who claimed that all their hard work and good deeds should earn them a spot in heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Later in this section, Paul says that we should “live up to what we have already attained” (verse 16) and that “our citizenship is in heaven” (verse 19). How do these phrases influence the way you run the race of your life?
  • Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 and 2 Timothy 4:7-8. What other athletic word pictures does Paul use to describe the life of a Christian? What additional advice does he give for living our lives as Christians?

Hymn: CW 431:1,6 – I Walk in Danger All the Way

I walk in danger all the way;
The thought shall never leave me
That Satan, who has marked his prey,
Is plotting to deceive me.
This foe with hidden snares
May seize me unawares
If e’er I fail to watch and pray;
I walk in danger all the way.

My walk is heav’nward all the way;
Await, my soul, the morrow,
When you farewell can gladly say
To all your sin and sorrow.
All worldly pomp, begone!
To heav’n I now press on.
For all the world I would not stay;
My walk is heav’nward all the way.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Own People Didn’t Believe – Family Devotion – October 21, 2020

Read: Isaiah 5:1-7

“What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”
Isaiah 5:4

God’s Own People Didn’t Believe


Family Devotion – October 21, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 5:4

See series: Devotions

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

I love fruit. Cherries, peaches, watermelon, pineapple, grapes—one of my favorite parts about summer is all the good fruit. Whether you buy it at the grocery store or pick it from your own garden, fruit is one of the best parts of summer.

Growing fruit isn’t an easy process. It can take three years from when a grapevine is first planted to when it produces grapes, and there’s a lot of work that needs to happen during that time. The prophet Isaiah describes that work in the beginning of today’s reading: digging the vineyard, clearing it of stones, planting it with the best vines. Such a well-cared-for vineyard should produce good fruit—but it didn’t.

Isaiah tells us that this vineyard represents Israel and Judah. God chose them as his people and gave them everything: deliverance from Egypt, safe travels to the Promised Land, the promise of the Messiah who would save them from their sins. But they produced bad fruit instead of good: they disobeyed God and turned away from him. So, God allowed them to be taken off into captivity.

On our own, we would be exactly like that rotten vineyard. On our own, we would produce nothing but bad fruit. And on our own, we would deserve exactly the same punishment that happened to the vineyard Isaiah described: being trampled and destroyed. The song that Isaiah sings about the vineyard ends sadly, and the song of our life should end sadly too.

But because of God’s great love for us, our song doesn’t end sadly. Jesus came to suffer and die in our place. He came to take the consequences for our sin upon himself. He came to live a perfect life and produce good fruit—perfect fruit—the kind of fruit we could never produce on our own. What would be a sad ending to the song of our life is replaced by the happy ending of heaven.

Jesus did something more than produce good fruit in our place. He also gave us the ability to produce our own good fruit by how we live. The fruit that we produce—our words and actions here on this earth—won’t be perfect. Some days will be better than others; sometimes our fruit will be good and sometimes not-so-good. But when we stay close to Jesus, the perfect Vine, we will grow in our ability to produce good fruit, fruit that God loves. And one day, we will be with Jesus in heaven where we can enjoy perfect fruit for all eternity.

Closing Prayer:

Almighty God, on our own we would only produce bad fruit. Thank you for sending Jesus, who produced good fruit in our place and gives us the ability to produce good fruit. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is something you say or do that shows you are producing good fruit?
  • What can you do if you are having a hard day and producing bad fruit?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Isaiah tells us what the owner did for the vineyard to care for it and help it produce fruit (verses 1-2). What has God done for you in your life to care for you and help you produce good fruit?
  • Even though the owner cared for the vineyard, it still produced bad fruit. Why? How can you avoid being a vineyard that produces bad fruit?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The punishment described by Isaiah in verses 5-6 sounds very harsh. If God is a loving God, how can he carry out the punishment described here? (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34)
  • In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Galatians 6:23-24). Which are the easiest fruits from that list for you to produce? Which are the hardest?

Hymn: CW 431:1,5 – I Walk in Danger All the Way

I walk in danger all the way;
The thought shall never leave me
That Satan, who has marked his prey,
Is plotting to deceive me.
This foe with hidden snares
May seize me unawares
If e’er I fail to watch and pray;
I walk in danger all the way.

I walk with Jesus all the way;
His guidance never fails me.
He takes my ev’ry fear away
When Satan’s pow’r assails me,
And, by his footsteps led,
My path I safely tread.
In spite of ills that threaten may,
I walk with Jesus all the way.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Warning for Those Who Don’t Believe – Family Devotion – October 19, 2020

Read: Matthew 21:33-43

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

A Warning for Those Who Don’t Believe


Family Devotion – October 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 21:43

See series: Devotions

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

What is your favorite thing to do? Color and draw? Read a book? Play video games? When you’re coloring, reading, or playing at the computer and your parents want you to do something, do you listen right away? Or do they have to call you lots of times—and even then you don’t always do what they’re asking? Your parents are patient with you, but their patience eventually runs out. Then there might be consequences for not listening to them.

The same thing happened in today’s story from Jesus. The people who were supposed to work the land ignored all the servants the owner sent. They did worse things than that: they treated the servants badly and even killed some of them. When the owner sent his own son, they killed him too. That’s when the owner’s patience ran out, and he punished the people.

It’s easy to read this story and think, “I would never do that! I would always listen to Jesus and never cause God’s patience to run out!” But is that really true? Do you always listen to your parents during devotion time? To your pastor in church on Sunday morning? No. None of us listens to Jesus all the time, because none of us is perfect.

So what’s the difference between us and the people in Jesus’ story? We sin every day; we test God’s patience, just like the people in Jesus’ story. Should we be worried that God’s patience with us will run out? God punished those people! How do we know that he isn’t going to punish us too?

We know because God gave us faith. God’s Word assures us that instead of punishing us for our sins, God punished Jesus instead—even for the sins that we have done over and over again. So we trust in Jesus as our Savior. With his forgiveness in our hearts and heads, we stop worrying that God is going to lose patience with us. Because the Holy Spirit created faith in our hearts, God loves and sees us as his children. He will always forgive us and is always patient with us for Jesus’ sake.

Yes, we are to listen to God and do what he says. But even when we don’t, his Word tells us that we can be sure that he still loves us and won’t take his kingdom away from us like he did with the people in Jesus’ story. What an amazing gift!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank you for giving us the gift of faith. Remind us that because of this gift, we can be sure that you will never lose patience with us. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What might make God lose patience with you?
  • When you are afraid that God will punish you, of what does God’s Word assure you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus told this story to the chief priests and Pharisees who deeply disliked him and wanted to arrest him. How do you think they felt when they heard this story? How should we feel?
  • Before our verse Jesus says, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” Some people reject Jesus, but we know he is the cornerstone of our faith. Why is this important?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Read the assigned text and then look at the three actions of the tenants in verse 35. What do you notice about the intensity of their actions? Why do their actions make the owner’s actions in verse 37 even more extraordinary?
  • Recount with your parents the last time their patience ran out with you. Discuss how together you can better display godly obedience and God’s patience.

Hymn: CW 431:1,2 – I Walk in Danger All the Way

I walk in danger all the way;
The thought shall never leave me
That Satan, who has marked his prey,
Is plotting to deceive me.
This foe with hidden snares
May seize me unawares
If e’er I fail to watch and pray;
I walk in danger all the way.

I pass through trials all the way,
With sin and ills contending;
In patience I must bear each day
The cross of God’s own sending.
Oft in adversity
I know not where to flee
When storms of woe my soul dismay;
I pass through trials all the way.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Came to Take Away our Sin – Family Devotion – October 16, 2020

Read: Philippians 2:1-11

Being in very nature God, [Christ Jesus] did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8

Jesus Came to Take Away our Sin


Family Devotion – October 16, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:6-8

See series: Devotions

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

Doing something to help someone else instead of yourself is being selfless. Firefighters are selfless when they fight the extreme danger of a burning building. They race to a fire when everyone else is running away. Soldiers go to battle for their country and for their fellow soldiers. Doctors and nurses risk catching disease because they want to help others. When a child is sick or afraid, parents will give up a restful night of sleep to comfort their child. A thoughtful young person might invite someone to a school event who others might never consider inviting. All of these are acting with others in mind first. These are examples of selflessness.

As wonderful as these examples are, they are nothing compared with Jesus’ selflessness. Jesus is true God. It means he possesses all power and all glory. He is able to heal every disease. He creates all life whether human life or life in nature, he can control the weather, he can control the universe and everything in it. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, he still had all that power, but he set it aside. He humbled himself by becoming a human. He experienced everything we do: being cold, hungry, tired, criticized, humiliated, and even tempted by Satan. He could have used his power to avoid all these things, but he didn’t. He came for one reason, and that reason was the most selfless act ever. He came because he loves you. He came because he loves all people. He came because the only way that you and I could receive God’s forgiveness is for Jesus to take our punishment. That doesn’t make sense to our heads, but it was God’s plan for us. Jesus came so that he could take away our sins, every one of them.

What do we do with that amazing gift of love? We can share it selflessly with others. We can go to God in repentance knowing that his forgiveness is ours. We don’t have to worry about whether we’ve done enough good things in God’s eyes. We can focus on showing love to each other simply out of love for God. We can live with peace and joy in our hearts and reflect that to others all to God’s glory. We can be selfless because everything we truly need, has already been done for us by Jesus. Thank you, dear Savior!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you love me more than I can even imagine. Your willingness to come to earth, to become a man so that you could live and die for me, is a gift that is beyond words. Thank you for being my dearest friend and Savior. In your name. 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

  • Selfless means to do something for someone else and expect nothing back, not even a thank you. What are some of the many things your parents do for you without you asking and sometimes without you saying thank you?
  • Jesus did a lot of selfless things for people while he was on earth. Name as many as you can.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus healed the sick, comforted people, raised people from the dead, and taught people. Of all the things he did, what was the most selfless?
  • God expects us to be perfect to get into heaven. But we aren’t perfect. We sin every day. How does Jesus dying on the cross give us life in heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name as many situations as you can where things were difficult for Jesus and he could have used his power as God to fix them but didn’t. (Example: When they captured him in Gethsemane.) Why didn’t Jesus use his power more often?
  • Jesus’ death on the cross paid for our sins and fulfilled God’s expectation of living a perfect life. When he did all this, he was thinking of you. How does knowing this help you when you are worried, or feel alone, or when you feel guilty? How can this help you to help others?

Hymn: CW 593:1,2,4,5 – Now the Light Has Gone Away

Now the light has gone away;
Father, listen while I pray,
Asking you to watch and keep
And to send me quiet sleep.

Jesus, Savior, wash away
All that I’ve done wrong today.
Make me ever more like you,
Good and gentle, kind and true.

Now my evening praise I give;
You once died that I might live.
All your precious gifts are free—
Oh, how good you are to me!

Ah, my best and kindest Friend,
You will love me to the end.
Let me love you more and more,
Always better than before.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sinners Need to Repent – Family Devotion – October 14, 2020

Read: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32

Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
Ezekiel 18:30b-32

Sinners Need to Repent


Family Devotion – October 14, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 18:30b-32

See series: Devotions

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

The vase lies broken in pieces on the floor. Olivia and Michael stared at the mess with eyes that reflect how upset they are. Mom approached them to get the details of the story. Olivia was unhappy that her brother was in her way. Michael knew he was in the way but refused to move. Instead of politely asking him to move, Olivia pushed him. He fell onto the table where the vase had been, and down it came. As Mom slowly uncovered the details of the incident, she considered what should be done. Both Michael and Olivia would need to find a way to replace the vase. “That’s not fair,” Olivia cried. “It’s not my fault! It’s Michael’s fault!”

We can all be tempted to try to blame someone else when we sin. In the reading for today, you heard how some other people said the same thing. They felt that God was unfairly punishing them and that they were not as guilty as their fathers had been. God responded quite clearly. He was the one who created each one of them. He was the one with authority over them. He would decide what was best for them. He expected each of them to obey him perfectly. Each person was responsible for the way they lived and were answerable to God.

Why would he speak so strongly to them? Well, why do your parents sometimes speak strongly to you? Why do they expect you to behave in a way that is kind and loving to each other? Why do they warn that there are consequences for our actions?

It’s really quite simple. God loved those people dearly. God loves you dearly. He loves all people dearly. God doesn’t want anyone separated from him. He wants everyone to believe in him and be in heaven with him forever and ever. God said to the people in Jerusalem and to you and me, “Repent and live!” The word “repent” means “to turn away from sin.” God wants us to repent. He wants us to turn to him in faith. He wants us to turn to each other in love.

After a fight, it’s hard to admit when we’ve made a mistake. But denying our mistakes, our sins, doesn’t fix anything. Admitting our sin and repenting does. God’s forgiveness heals our relationship with him and leads to a healed relationship with each other.

The vase Olivia and Michael broke eventually was replaced. A lesson was learned about patience, repentance, and forgiveness. Above all, it taught them about God’s love for each of us.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, it’s sometimes hard to understand how you can forgive us over and over and yet, because of what Jesus did on the cross, you do. Help us to always treasure the peace we have with you because of your forgiveness and grace. Help us to show that to others. In your name we pray. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why is it so hard to say, “I’m wrong”?
  • When you and I do something wrong, we can feel badly about it inside. But when we admit that we’ve done something wrong, what do God promise to do?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • In the story today, Olivia blames Michael and Michael blames Olivia. If Mom or Dad were to believe one of them and not the other, will the situation be fixed? Why or why not?
  • Even if we don’t get caught when we’ve done something wrong, we can worry about it, and the guilty feeling doesn’t go away. What is the only way to make it better?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What did God say in the final two sentences of the key verse that can be an encouragement when you are feeling guilty?
  • Your mom and dad, your teachers, and especially God, want you to be at peace with them. How can daily prayer to God help you?

Hymn: CW 593:1,2,4 – Now the Light Has Gone Away

Now the light has gone away;
Father, listen while I pray,
Asking you to watch and keep
And to send me quiet sleep.

Jesus, Savior, wash away
All that I’ve done wrong today.
Make me ever more like you,
Good and gentle, kind and true.

Now my evening praise I give;
You once died that I might live.
All your precious gifts are free—
Oh, how good you are to me!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Wants Us to Repent of Sin – Family Devotion – October 12, 2020

Read: Matthew 21:28-32

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Matthew 21:31-32

God Wants Us to Repent of Sin


Family Devotion – October 12, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 21:31-32

See series: Devotions

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

Does this ever happen in your house? Mom or Dad come to you and ask you to do something. One of you whines, “I don’t want to!” After Mom or Dad walks away, you think about what you said and change your mind. You get to it and complete the task. Another one of you immediately says “yes” when asked, but then you go off and never do the job.

It’s good to say “yes” when parents ask. It’s good to obey when parents ask. It’s disrespectful to say no and to disobey. Which one ends up doing what Mom or Dad wanted? Which of the two sons in today’s story did what his father wanted?”

In today’s account, Jesus was talking to a group of chief priests and elders. They were people who knew a lot about God. They had been challenging Jesus with questions about who he was and by what authority he had to preach. Jesus took this opportunity to teach them. Jesus often used stories to teach. The story he shared is one that they could relate to. In the story, the one who first said “no” and then changed his mind and obeyed was like the tax collectors. They were known to cheat the people by overcharging them. In a different story, Zacchaeus changed his mind after meeting Jesus. He left his sinful occupation and repented of his sin. The original word for “repent” literally means “to change your mind.” Through the Holy Spirit’s work in his heart, Zacchaeus came to faith and looked to do God’s will because he believed in Jesus.

There were also people called Pharisees. They often bragged about keeping God’s law. They seem like the son in Jesus’ story who said, “yes.” On the outside, they appeared to follow God’s will. Jesus showed them that God wants both repentance and faith. Repentance is a turning away from sin. Faith is a turning toward God. Jesus taught them that God wants us to repent because we believe and have faith in him.

Often you do what your parents ask because you love them. There are times though, that you and I disobey our parents or others. When you disobey your parents, it can make your relationship with them hard. It’s tough when they are disappointed in you because you disobeyed. But when you apologize, that relationship feels so much better. God wants the same from you and from me. We sin every day. We disobey his will by the things we say, the things we do, and sometimes by the things we don’t do. God wants us to repent, to turn away from our sin, to change our minds about sinning. And God wants us to turn to him, to believe in him, to have faith in him. He wants this because of his love for you and for me.

It’s not easy to apologize, to say you’re sorry, to repent. But the blessings of forgiveness from those around us and even more, from God, are overwhelming!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, it can be hard to repent, and it’s hard to live with the guilty feeling after we’ve sinned. Thank you that we can come to you and repent. Thank you for your free forgiveness. In your name we pray. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Tell about a time when you said “yes” to a parent but then didn’t do what they asked. Or, remember a time when you said “no” but changed your mind and did what they asked.
  • What was wrong with each of these? Explain how Mom and Dad likely felt.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Describe what you might do when you feel uncomfortable after hurting a friend or classmate or disobeying a parent.
  • After you say you’re sorry, explain what you are hoping for from your mom or dad or your friend.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • When you’ve done something wrong, do you ever wish you could go back in time and “undo” it? What makes it difficult so difficult to repent or to apologize?
  • Your parents love you and want you to come to them and repent. Even more, God wants you to repent. Think of two blessings that come from repenting.

Hymn: CW 593:1,2 – Now the Light Has Gone Away

Now the light has gone away;
Father, listen while I pray,
Asking you to watch and keep
And to send me quiet sleep.

Jesus, Savior, wash away
All that I’ve done wrong today.
Make me ever more like you,
Good and gentle, kind and true.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God is Gracious to Us in Life or Death – Family Devotion – October 9, 2020

Read: Philippians 1:18b-27

Because of this I rejoice. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:18b,21

God is Gracious to Us in Life or Death


Family Devotion – October 9, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 1:18b,21

See series: Devotions

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

It’s Saturday morning. Your family is trying to decide if they will spend the day at the park or playing your favorite games together. Both are great choices. You’d love to do either. That’s what they call a win-win situation!

Paul was one of the greatest missionaries of all time. He spent all his time going from place to place starting churches and then encouraging people in those churches. He started churches in places named Corinth and Philippi. He would visit them, and when he couldn’t be with them, he’d write letters to them.

God’s Word for today comes from one of Paul’s letters. He wrote it from a prison cell. You see, Paul was in jail for telling people about Jesus. He didn’t know if he would go free or be put to death. How frightening!

However, when you read Paul’s letter, you can hear in his words that he was not afraid. Just the opposite, Paul used words like rejoice and joy, hope and courage! Whether he lived or died, Paul saw this as a win-win situation. If he was set free, he was excited to continue his work of sharing the gospel with the people of Philippi and many others. He was especially eager to reflect his joy in Jesus so that others could see it. His courage came from knowing that Christ would always be with him and that Paul’s work would bring Christ praise and glory.

But what if he was not set free? What if they put him to death? Paul still expressed joy. While he was eager to continue his work for Jesus, he knew that when he died, he would be with Jesus—the one he served and told others about. When he went to heaven, there would be no more pain or suffering, only the joy of being with Jesus forever!

The choice of living or dying was not up to Paul, and it’s not up to us either. But, like Paul, we can live each day rejoicing because of what Jesus has done for us in forgiving our sins and preparing a place with him in heaven. Some days are hard. Some days are really hard. Even on the hard days, we can have hope and joy knowing that Jesus can bless all that we do. It’s all for his glory!

Life is a win-win. We get to live each day knowing Jesus is with us, forgives us, and loves us dearly. Someday, when it is God’s will, he will take us to be with him in heaven. For now, do what Paul did and share this amazing message of God’s grace with everyone around us. “I will continue to rejoice!”

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Savior, because of your love, we can face the challenges and hard times of this world. Calm our fears and give us joy in knowing that you are with us in all things. It’s in your name we pray. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Describe the two things that Paul knew might happen to him. How did Paul feel about both possibilities?
  • What promise did Jesus make to Paul that he has also made to you to help when you are facing a hard thing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Paul was in prison and yet he said, “I will continue to rejoice!” How could he be so happy in that very difficult situation?
  • Paul did not say that we will never have hard days. When you are having a bad day, how can Paul’s words be a reminder to you and help calm any your fears?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Paul said, “For me to live is Christ.” What does this mean for you? What might that look like in your life?
  • Describe a difficult situation you faced recently or are now facing. How can knowing that Christ is with you in all things help you to face a challenge with courage and with joy?

Hymn: CW 391:1,6 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe
Should ever lasting life receive.

Glory to God the Father, Son,
And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity,
Be praise now and eternally!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Freely Forgives – Family Devotion – October 7, 2020

Read: Isaiah 55:6-9

Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Isaiah 55:7b

God Freely Forgives


Family Devotion – October 7, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:7b

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever gotten anything for free? Maybe you got a free t-shirt for signing up for a team. You might have gotten a coupon for a free scoop of ice cream. Or a free hamburger from McDonald’s for every A on your report card. Sometimes when things are free, it can be very exciting. Most often, they aren’t really free. You got a free t-shirt because you paid a fee to be on the team. You got a free cup of ice cream because you bought lunch. A hamburger may have been free, but first you had to work hard to get those grades.

Today our reading is talking about something that is free—absolutely free. See if you can hear what it is: “Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.” Pardon means that whatever bad thing you did, the punishment is taken away. You don’t have to pay a fine or endure a consequence. That’s pretty amazing, right?! Usually, when a car is caught speeding, the speeding ticket involves a fine that you have to pay. When someone commits a serious crime, they often have to serve time in jail.

But God doesn’t think like we do. When we sin, God will freely pardon. That doesn’t make sense to us. In this world, that’s not how it works. The Lord declares, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…” God promises that when we turn to him in faith, he forgives our sins for free. Free! You and I don’t have to do anything to get this pardon except to believe it. Believe in him. To help us believe all this is true, he gives us the Holy Spirit. That’s amazing!

Is this easy to understand? No, but that’s okay. God’s thoughts are way beyond our thoughts. His thoughts are always perfect and always full of love for us. God’s way of doing things is so much better than anything we could imagine. While we may not understand how he can forgive and pardon us for free, it’s still true. It’s true because of what Jesus has done for us by going to the cross. Paid in full! Thank you, Lord!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, it can be hard to understand how you could take all the punishment for every sin I have ever made or will ever make. But I believe it! Help me to never forget how much you love and freely forgive me. Help me to share that love and forgiveness with others. In your name I pray. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What does it mean when someone says, “I forgive you”?
  • Why does Jesus forgive you when you sin, when you disobey, or when you hurt someone else?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Think of a time where you did something wrong and you were expecting a parent to give you a significant consequence. Instead they simply said, “I forgive you.” How did that make you feel?
  • You and I sin many times every day. Why would God forgive us each time?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Sometimes when we get something for free, we may not see much value in it or we might take it for granted. How is God’s free forgiveness for us different?
  • Knowing you are forgiven because Jesus paid for your sins in full, discuss two new ways you might respond when a sibling or a friend does something hurtful to you because you are grateful for God’s forgiveness.

Hymn: CW 391:1,4 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe
Should ever lasting life receive.

Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son
Forgives the sins that you have done.
You’re justified by Jesus’ blood;
Baptized you are a child of God.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Doesn’t Give as We Deserve – Family Devotion – October 5, 2020

Read: Matthew 20:1-16

“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 20:13-16

God Doesn’t Give as We Deserve


Family Devotion – October 5, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 20:13-16

See series: Devotions

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

“That’s not fair!” Have you ever said those words? Maybe you were on a team and the referee made a call that you didn’t agree with. Maybe Mom or Dad asked you to help with a task while your brother or sister got to go out and play.

We might think fair means that everyone gets the same. If someone in the family gets ice cream for dessert, you will likely get ice cream as well. If the rules in a game apply to one team, they should apply to both teams. That’s fair.

When we think about fair in that way, it can make Jesus’ story of the workers in the vineyard seem a bit confusing. A landowner hired a number of people to work for him. As he hired each one, he agreed to pay them a denarius (a Roman coin) for a full day’s work. Did you see what happened at the end of the day? Whether someone worked all day, a half-day, or just the last hour or so, they all got paid the same—one denarius. If you were one of the workers hired first that worked the entire day, your first reaction would likely be the same—“That’s not fair!” But is that really true? When the landowner hired the first workers, he agreed to pay them a denarius, and he kept his promise. That’s fair. It was up to the landowner what he would pay each person hired later. He was generous to every person who worked for him, no matter when they started.

Jesus is teaching us something about God’s grace and love for all people. His grace is not decided by how much we’ve done to earn it. To earn his grace, we would need to be perfect! If God was being fair by those standards, we wouldn’t deserve any of his grace, his forgiveness, his love. God gives us his grace and forgiveness as a gift. Why? He does it because he loves us so much. He is an amazingly generous God. He sent Jesus to take all the consequences we deserved. While it doesn’t seem fair that Jesus would take our punishment, it was God’s loving plan for you and for all people.

Rules in a game should be fair. God punishing us for all that we do wrong would be fair. Thank God he treats us according to his grace! God generously loves you and me so dearly that Jesus took care of all of our sins. Live each day knowing we are loved and forgiven by him.

Closing Prayer:

Merciful Father, thank you for not treating us in a way that we deserve but always treating us with your love and forgiveness. Help us to show that same love and forgiveness to our friends and family. 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

  • What does it mean to be fair?
  • It seems fair that if you did something wrong, you should take the consequence. Why would Jesus pay for all your sins and for the sins of the whole world when he never did anything wrong?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain how the owner of the vineyard paid each worker fairly even though they worked different amounts of time.
  • How does this explain what God does for each of us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Today’s message is about fairness. If you reflect on all the things you do and know God expects us to be perfect, what would be fair?
  • How does knowing that God doesn’t treat us in a way that’s fair, but rather in a way that’s grounded in his love, change how you think about how you treat others?

Hymn: CW 391:1,3 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave
His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe
Should ever lasting life receive.

God would not have the sinner die—
His Son with saving grace is nigh.
His Spirit in the Word does teach
How we the blessed goal may reach.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Forgive as Jesus Forgave You – Family Devotion – October 2, 2020

Read: Ephesians 4:29-5:2

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:32-5:2

Forgive as Jesus Forgave You


Family Devotion – October 2, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:32-5:2

See series: Devotions

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

Little kids imitate their moms and dads. Like the little girl who put her hands on her hips and shook her finger at her older brother, “You are in big trouble!” Mom chuckled because she knew her little girl was imitating her. A little boy folded his hands and bowed his head to pray before dinner without anyone telling him. His Dad noticed that the little guy was praying just like him.

When children act, speak, or even stand the same way as a grownup or an older sibling, they are imitating what they see and learn because they respect them and want to be like them. Yet you do not have to be a little kid to imitate someone. In fact, we all imitate other people no matter who we are or how old we are.

Sometimes imitating a person is good. Sometimes it’s not so good.

If you imitate someone who speaks in a sarcastic or hurtful way, such as tearing someone down rather than building them up, your words can harm the very people you love. If you imitate someone who is quick to argue or fight with someone who offends them, people may not want to spend time with you. If you imitate someone who lies about others, gossips about them, or says unkind things about them behind their back, people will not trust you.

God’s Word gives us another option. Imitate Jesus. Jesus had every right to be bitter and angry against the many people who refused to listen to him or wanted him to suffer and die. Yet Jesus set all of that aside. Instead of imitating their sarcasm, Jesus spoke with kind words that built up others. Instead of being harsh, Jesus was compassionate. He cared deeply for every person that crossed his path. Instead of anger, Jesus forgave the sins of others. Instead of hatred, Jesus loved others, even giving himself up for their sins.

How will you imitate Jesus? Let go of your angry or bitter feelings. Build others up with kind words. Care for others and forgive them, even if they do not deserve it, with compassion and love. You can do this. In his Word, he builds you up. In compassion and love, he forgives your sins. He cares deeply for you. You can imitate Jesus, because he has forgiven you.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, lead me to imitate you as your dearly loved son or daughter. I am forgiven and made holy by you. Cause me to live a life of love, showing kindness and compassion for every soul. 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 someone that you would like to be like. Why do you want to be like them?
  • Name one way you can imitate Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the difference between bitterness and kindness? Between anger and compassion?
  • Read Ephesians 5:2. Jesus is described as a “fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Why is that so important for us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: It is easier to imitate sinful activity than the love of God.
  • Name two ways you can imitate “a life of love…as Christ loved us” this week.

Hymn: CW 384:5 – By Grace I’m Saved

By grace! On this I’ll rest when dying; in Jesus’ promise I rejoice.
For though I know my heart’s condition, I also know my Savior’s voice.
My heart is glad; all grief has flown since I am saved by grace alone.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Joseph Forgave as God Does – Family Devotion – September 30, 2020

Read: Genesis 50:15-21

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and will pay us back in full for all of the evil that we did to him.” … Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring this to pass and to keep many people alive, as it is this day. Now therefore, do not be afraid. I will nourish you and your little ones.”
Genesis 50:15,19-21

Joseph Forgave as God Does


Family Devotion – September 30, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 50:15,19-21

See series: Devotions

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

“I forgive you.” Those three words are some of the most powerful words you can say to someone. Those three words can also be some of the most unexpected words, especially if someone expects you to be angry with them.

Centuries ago, there was a family with twelve brothers. One brother named Joseph was his father’s favorite. His father showered him with extra gifts and extra attention. The young man daily reminded his brothers that he was the favorite. Soon the brothers were jealous, so jealous that some even considered ending their brother’s life. Instead, they did something just as awful. They sold him into slavery. He would be taken far away, owned by someone else, and forced to do their will. The brothers thought they would never see Joseph again, but God had other plans.

Years later, a terrible famine struck the land where that family lived. They did not have enough food for their families or their animals. The only place where food was available was the kingdom of Egypt. While there to purchase food, the brothers met a harsh ruler. Little did they realize that ruler was their younger brother Joseph. He was testing them to see if their hearts had changed. They had. With hugs and tears, Joseph revealed his true identity to his brothers. He provided a new home for his family. Even his elderly father came to Egypt. After his father died, the brothers started to worry. “Now that Dad is dead, will Joseph punish us for how we wronged him years ago?”

The brothers came to Joseph and even offered to be his slaves, but Joseph did something unexpected. He told them, “I forgive you.” He reminded them that they had no need to fear because God had other plans. God had taken their harmful acts and turned them into good. Many lives were saved, including their own, because the Lord brought Joseph to Egypt.

Do we forgive others like Joseph forgave his brothers? When someone says something unkind or does something mean to you, you might want to see them suffer at that moment. They deserve it, right? But God does not punish you as you deserve for your sins. God punished Jesus instead. Jesus suffered the consequences in your place so God would tell you, “I forgive you.” So, do not hold a grudge against a person who has wronged you. Instead, forgive them as God has forgiven you.

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, you are merciful and gracious. You forgive our sins though we do not deserve it. Help us to forgive those who sin against us as you have forgiven us. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did Joseph’s brothers do to him that was so horrible?
  • Instead of being angry, how did Joseph show love for his brothers?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what it means to hold a grudge.
  • How did God change the brothers’ sins against Joseph into a blessing?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How do you respond to someone who says, “Everyone should get what they deserve”?
  • Pray out loud with your parents the Lord’s Prayer. Which words remind us forgive someone?

Hymn: CW 384:3,4 – By Grace I’m Saved

By grace! Oh, mark this word of promise when you are by your sins oppressed,
When Satan plagues your troubled conscience, and when your heart is seeking rest.
What reason cannot comprehend God by his grace to you did send.

By grace to timid hearts that tremble, in tribulation’s furnace tried—
By grace, despite all fear and trouble, the Father’s heart is open wide.
Where could I help and strength secure if grace were not my anchor sure?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Forgive Like God – Family Devotion – September 28, 2020

Read: Matthew 18:21-35

Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. The servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
Matthew 18:23-27

Forgive Like God


Family Devotion – September 28, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:23-27

See series: Devotions

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

“This is hard!” Have you ever said that? You might complain how hard an assignment is for class, how hard your chores are at home, or how hard practice was. You might complain how hard it is to clean up your room or do yard work. Even for adults, there are hard jobs, hard assignments, hard conversations, and hard decisions.

Did you know that forgiveness can be hard too? While it is easy to say the words “I forgive you” to someone who wrongs you, it may be hard to actually forgive them. They may have hurt or offended you. They may have been mean or unkind. You remember very easily what they did, said, or failed to do. That memory is crystal clear in your mind, and you may not want to let go of what they have done. Forgiveness can be very hard.

Jesus tells a story of a wealthy king who was settling debts with his servants. Each of them owed a certain amount of money to the king. One servant that came forward owed an impossibly huge amount of money. There was no possible way that he could pay off that debt to the king, but Jesus tells us, “The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.” Why would he do that? The king was merciful. He cared very much for that servant.

Sadly, after being forgiven, that servant forgot about the mercy he received. A fellow servant owed him money. Rather than forgive as he was forgiven, that unmerciful servant had his fellow servant thrown in jail for not paying back the debt. When the king heard about it, he punished the unmerciful servant for being so cruel.

Forgiveness is hard, but God wants me to remember his forgiveness and forgive like him. The fact is, God is all-knowing. He knows everything we think, say, or do. He knows how we disobey him and fail to do what he wants. Yet even then, God still forgives us through Jesus Christ. Through Jesus, God forgives all our sins because Jesus suffered the consequences for all of them on the cross. Because God forgave me, I can forgive. Forgiven through Christ, I can do more than just say “I forgive you.” I can actually forgive the person who wrongs me!

Closing Prayer:

Lord, you are a God who forgives, even though I do not deserve it. Be merciful to me. Help me to forgive the person who has wronged me as you graciously forgive 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 does it mean to forgive someone?
  • How does Jesus make it easier for us to forgive?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it easier to say “I forgive you” than to actually forgive someone?
  • How can Christ’s love help me to forgive someone who has wronged me?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: God wants me to forgive and forget the sin someone commits against me.
  • How do you respond to a Christian friend who tells you, “What he did was so wrong! There is no way I can possibly forgive him for what he did”?

Hymn: CW 384:1,2 – By Grace I’m Saved

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

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior, came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own merit that Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace alone, that brought him from his heav’nly throne.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Love Guides Our Life – Family Devotion – September 25, 2020

Read: Romans 13:1-10

Do not owe anyone anything except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments—do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet (and if there is any other commandment)—are summed up in this statement: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor, so love is the fulfillment of the law.
Romans 13:8-10

Love Guides Our Life


Family Devotion – September 25, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 13:8-10

See series: Devotions

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

Google the question “What is love?” and you will get 11,240,000,000 results! You will find countless explanations in poems and music, in long descriptions and single-word answers.

Some people will tell you that love is a romantic feeling—all hearts, flowers, and valentines. Others will tell you love is the close connection between husband and wife or parent and child. They all describe love in some way, but are any of those really what love is?

God’s Word is the only place that tells of a different kind of love—a love that cares more about someone else than about yourself; a love that will sacrifice everything for the sake of someone else even if they do not deserve it; a love that guides our lives. Only one person has ever shown that kind of love. His name is Jesus.

Jesus alone has shown us such undeserving love. Too often, we disobey him and the people he places over us to care for us. We are more interested in what we want than what God wants. Too often, we fail to show love towards our family, friends, or classmates. We run away from God and his will so we can do what we want to do, even if it might harm us or others.

Still, Jesus loves us! Jesus loves us with a love like no other. It’s why he became a human being like us and obeyed God’s holy will for us. It’s why he suffered and died on a cross to forgive all our sins and give us life. In powerful love, he rose from the dead! Why? Not because we deserve his love, but because we need his love.

Love is not what is owed to you by others, but a daily debt owed by you to everyone: like our neighbors, our families, our classmates and teachers at school, our fellow believers at church, and all the people in our communities. Guided by that love, we encourage. We serve. We support. We follow Jesus. We love.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you have loved me even though I never deserved it. Thank you for loving me first. Guide my life with your love so I reflect your love to others. 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 would you describe love?
  • Ask a parent if they love you only when you are loveable or even when you are not so lovable? How does that reflect Jesus’ love?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain this sentence: Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • How is the love of Jesus different from other kinds of love?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In verse 10, we read, “Love does no harm to a neighbor.” Explain that phrase and why it is so important for us to remember that phrase right now.
  • How does the self-sacrificing love of Jesus impact how you serve others at home? At school? At church? In our community?

Hymn: CW 304:3,7 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Sheep that from the fold did stray are not by the Lord forsaken;
Weary souls who lost their way are by Christ, the shepherd, taken
In his arms that they may live—Jesus sinners does receive.

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Call Others to Repent in Love – Family Devotion – September 23, 2020

Read: Ezekiel 33:7-11

As I live, declares the LORD God, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from their way and live. Turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why should you die, O house of Israel?
Ezekiel 33:11 (EHV)

Call Others to Repent in Love


Family Devotion – September 23, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:11

See series: Devotions

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

If you see someone in terrible danger what do you do? You try to warn them. You call out their name. You try to get their attention. You try to move them away from the danger. You tell them to run away. You call 911. You do everything you can to help them avoid that terrible danger.

Did you know there is a danger that threatens everyone: Grown-ups. Teens. Kids. Even babies? That danger lurks in the darkness, yet appears in broad daylight. It threatens from morning to night. It can be found in your home, your school, your neighborhood, even your church. What is that danger? Sin.

Sin is a danger that threatens every one of us from the moment life begins to the moment when life ends. Sin lurks inside our hearts and minds, but also threatens us in a variety of ways in the world around us. Sin takes on all kinds of forms and is such a danger that God himself warns us to turn away from sin. Why? Sin leads to death.

The Lord knows how dangerous sin can be. Sin ruined his creation long ago. Sin has threatened every person since. Yet rather than sit back and let harm come our way, Jesus did something about it. Jesus faced the danger of sin for us and suffered all the punishment that sin deserves. With divine power and jaw-dropping love, Jesus rescued us from the dangers of sins by taking all of our sins on himself on the cross to forgive us. By his death, we have life.

Yet sin still threatens. We still sin. People we know and love still sin. The danger is still real, so what does the Lord call us to do? “Turn back, turn back from your evil ways!” today’s Word of God warns. That’s another way of saying, “Repent!” The Lord does not want any of us to return to the dangers of our sins, but to live in his forgiveness and love. He also urges us to call out to our loved ones to turn back from the dangers of sin. Calling someone to repent is not being mean, but showing that we care about them. We want them to enjoy God’s forgiveness. We want them to join us in heaven someday. So in love, let’s do everything we can help them avoid sin’s danger.

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, rescue me from the danger of sin. Lead me to repent when I fall into sin’s traps. Help me to call other people in my life to repent of their sin that they may live with 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 would you do if someone was in danger?
  • How did Jesus rescue you from the danger of sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what sin is and what it means to repent.
  • Why is sin so dangerous?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The Lord sent the prophet Ezekiel to call God’s people to repent. Why would that be difficult for any believer to do?
  • The Lord urges us to call others to repent in love. How would you do that if you knew that your best friend had broken the law—not just the local law, but God’s Law?

Hymn: CW 304:5,6 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

I, a sinner, come to you with a penitent confession.
Savior, show me mercy, too; grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

Oh, how blest is it to know, were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow by your blood and bitter passion,
For these words I do believe—Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Talk to Each Other in Love – Family Devotion – September 21, 2020

Read: Matthew 18:15-20

If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have regained your brother.
Matthew 18:15 (EHV)

Talk to Each Other in Love


Family Devotion – September 21, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15

See series: Devotions

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

“Mah-ahm!!!” Mom knew that voice. Something had happened down the hall. Ruth’s brother said something mean. Ruth’s sister responded with something unkind. There was no way Ruth was going to let that mean word or unkind act go unnoticed. So she cried out, “Mah-ahm!!!”

Soon the kids would be standing in front of mom. Each child would present their side. Each child would try to avoid getting in trouble for what they actually did or said. Each child would argue louder and louder over the top of the other . . . until finally, Mom hands out consequences. Now, both children go away angry at each other and Mom.

What mom would want to be in that situation? Yet how often do we shout for “Mah-ahm!!!” when someone sins against us? We do not react calmly. We do not try to talk to the person who has wronged us. Instead, we get angry. We yell. We respond strongly and try to find someone who will hand out consequences on the sinner, all while conveniently forgetting that we are sinners too. If someone is not available to hand out consequences, we go and tell everyone how bad, rude, or unkind that person is without talking to them about how they have sinned against us.

Is that how God wants you to treat someone who has wronged you? No! Jesus encourages you, “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his sin, just between the two of you.” Jesus says nothing about going off, yelling, or telling on everyone else. Instead, he wants you to show love by calmly helping someone to see their sin.

Why does Jesus want you to do that? He wants you to regain them—to bring them back by helping them turn back from their sin back and follow Jesus. You see, Jesus loves them and cares for their soul as much as he loves and cares for yours. In love, Jesus came to forgive the sins of even the worst person you can think of, which means he came to forgive your sins, my sins, and the sins of those who wrong you.

The next time someone sins against you, what will you do? You could yell, “Mah-ahm!!!” Or you can remember how Jesus loves you and has forgiven you. Then, talk to that person out of love for their soul that they might enjoy Christ’s forgiveness too.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, in love you have forgiven my sins though I do not deserve it. Help me to forgive the person who sins against me. Help me to love them as you love me that I may bring them back to you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How do you sometimes react when someone is mean to you?
  • Who should you talk to first if someone is mean to you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what it means to repent.
  • What does it mean to regain your brother or sister?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it important to first talk to the person who sinned against you rather than talking to your friends or family members?
  • Demonstrate how Jesus’s love and forgiveness for you can motivate you to speak with love and forgiveness to someone who has wronged you.

Hymn: CW 304:1,2 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Jesus sinners does receive; oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live and from God and heaven wander.
Here is hope for all who grieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Living for the Lord – Family Devotion – September 18, 2020

Read: Romans 12:1-8

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:1-2

Living for the Lord


Family Devotion – September 18, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:1-2

See series: Devotions

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

“Do five jumping jacks!” the leader shouted. Only two people of the entire group did them though. Everyone else stood still as could be. The group laughed. It was actually the two who did jumping jacks that had made the mistake. The leader never said, “Simon says do five jumping jacks!”

“Simon Says” is one of the easiest games to play. All you have to do is what the leader says when he speaks those magic words. And yet, it’s easy to get carried away, isn’t it? Once you play for a while, it can be easy to lose your focus. And just when you’re not paying attention, you get in trouble—you’re out because you do what others are doing and not what “Simon Says.”

Being a Christian is also one of the easiest things you could do. You simply believe in the true God and then do what he says. Pretty simple, right? Yet you and I know how difficult this can be!

Everything might be going fine, until we lose our focus and concentration. Suddenly we start to see what other people do—how they lie, cheat, steal, say bad words, tell bad jokes, or other sins—and we start following their lead instead of what God says. There is danger in following the world instead of Jesus. You won’t just be out of the game, you’ll be out of heaven! That’s bad! And that’s why we hear the warning today, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world.” In other words, don’t follow the lead of sinful people and do what they do!

Thanks be to God for Jesus! He washed us clean of all the times we’ve followed the world instead of following him. His mercy and undeserved love bring us forgiveness. They guarantee that we can and will be with him in heaven.

Because of his great love then, let’s follow Jesus’ lead instead and show him how thankful we are. That’s also what the apostle Paul says to us today. He said, “In view of God’s mercy, offer your bodies as a living sacrifice.” What he means is that when we think about God’s love and forgiveness, we can use our lives to serve and follow Jesus. We can thank Jesus by listening to him, loving him, and obeying him. “Simon Says” may be a fun game, but doing what Jesus says is even better. What a cool thing! We get to live for the one who lived and died for us!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to stay away from the sins of this world. Instead, lead me to follow you. Fill me with your love that I may live for you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What sins do you think are easy to fall into?
  • How do you know that Jesus forgives those sins?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do some people say that the ways of this world are “fun,” but the ways of God are “boring?”
  • What are ways that you can offer yourselves as a living sacrifice of thanks to God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain in your own words why peer pressure is such a difficult thing to deal with.
  • When you are older and have your own family, what things in this world do you think will distract you from staying connected to Jesus?

Hymn: CW 465:1,4 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

Haste, my soul, from grace to glory, Armed by faith and winged by prayer.
All but heav’n is transitory; God’s own hand shall guide you there.
Soon shall end this earthly story; Swift shall pass the pilgrim days,
Hope soon change to heav’nly glory, Faith to sight and prayer to praise.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Will Give You Strength – Family Devotion – September 16, 2020

Read: Jeremiah 15:15-21

“I will make you a wall to this people,
a fortified wall of bronze;
they will fight against you
but will not overcome you,
for I am with you
to rescue and save you,”
declares the Lord.
Jeremiah 15:20

God Will Give You Strength


Family Devotion – September 16, 2020

Devotion based on Jeremiah 15:20

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever been to a castle before? There aren’t too many around the United States, but there are lots of castles in other parts of the world. If you ever have the chance, make sure you visit one. They are amazing! There are huge rooms, fancy furniture, beautiful artwork, and so much more. But maybe one of the coolest parts of a castle is the simplest part—the walls.

Castle walls are huge. They are big, solid, and very strong. They had to be though. The walls needed to protect everyone on the inside and keep all the enemies out. The stronger the walls were, the safer everyone would be. Some castles even had an extra wall around the entire property for extra strength and safety.

The prophet Jeremiah was a person who felt very unsafe. Sadly, his own people that he preached to also became his enemies. They didn’t like Jeremiah, and they definitely didn’t like his message from the Lord. This made Jeremiah feel sad, lonely, unsafe, and completely defeated.

God had another message to give though. This time it was for Jeremiah himself. God told Jeremiah to trust in him. God said, “I will make you a wall to this people.” God was going to give strength to Jeremiah to be like a castle wall. He would be strong and courageous and keep on preaching to them. The people would attack against him but wouldn’t defeat him. How could this be with so many enemies? “For I am with you to rescue and save you,” God said.

There are so many things that make us feel unsafe in life. There are many mean, wicked, and evil people in the world. Some people commit awful crimes. Some don’t like Christians and want to stop us from telling others about Jesus. Then, there are all the temptations and sins that we battle as we fight off the devil.

But don’t worry, Christian friends! Jesus has already defeated all of our enemies. The God who created this world also came to save this world. At the cross, Christ crushed Satan and saved us from sin and death. We are safe with him! Just as God told Jeremiah, so he tells you, “I am with you to rescue you and save you!” That’s right, with God on your side, you are a strong and mighty wall that will stand up against every enemy until you are safe forever in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

God, give me strength to stand firm in my faith and to be bold in sharing the good news of Jesus. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did Jesus show to us that he is stronger than any of our enemies?
  • How does God protect us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does God make us stronger as Christians?
  • When are times today that people might feel defeated and lonely as Christians, kind of like the prophet Jeremiah felt?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain why remembering your baptism can be a source of strength every day.
  • Explain why the Lord’s Supper can be a regular source of strength for those who commune.

Hymn: CW 465:1,2 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

Let the world despise and leave me; They have left my Savior, too.
Human hearts and looks deceive me; You are not, like them, untrue.
And since you have smiled upon me, God of wisdom, love, and might,
Foes may hate and friends may shun me—Show your face, and all is bright.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Take Up Your Cross – Family Devotion – September 14, 2020

Read: Matthew 16:21-26

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?
Matthew 16:24-26

Take Up Your Cross


Family Devotion – September 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:24-26

See series: Devotions

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

“Candace! How could you? What did I tell you?” Candace had a very sad and sorry look on her face. She clearly had disappointed her mother. They were just about to eat dinner, but Candace wasn’t hungry at all. She had crumbs all over her shirt, chocolate all over her face, and a belly all full of…chocolate chip cookies.

They looked so delicious, so warm and fresh and ooey-gooey, sitting there on the countertop. But her mom had told Candace three separate times, “Candace, no cookies before supper. No treats yet. You have to control yourself.”

But she didn’t, and because Candace couldn’t control herself, she had now missed out on the important part of the meal before the treat at the end. Now Candace had a sick feeling in her stomach for two reasons—too much sugar, and even worse, she had disobeyed her mother.

It’s really easy for us to think about life the way Candace did about dinner. Wouldn’t it be nice to do whatever you want? Wouldn’t be nice to have all the fun you want, no matter the consequences? And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just skip all the problems of this life and have the glory of heaven right now, kind of like skipping dinner and only eating cookies?

Peter thought that way in the Bible once, too. Jesus told him how he was going to suffer and die for all people, but Peter tried to stop him. He only wanted the good times with Jesus. He only wanted the glory of Jesus. He didn’t want to think about suffering. Peter was kind of like Candace, who only wanted to think about chocolate chip cookies.

That’s when Jesus spoke the words we heard for today’s devotion: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” What Jesus means is that his followers need to learn to spiritually control themselves. We need to learn to put Jesus first, before our sinful desires, before our friends, and before anything else. That’s so hard to do! Good thing Jesus came to this world and put us first when he died for us on the cross to bring us forgiveness! Now with a new life in Jesus, his love for us and his strength can help us learn to control ourselves and make good and God-pleasing choices. Be patient, friends! After a short time of taking up our cross in this life, the sweetest dessert is yet to come—better than cookies—eternal life in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes it is very hard to control ourselves and keep away from sin. Give us strength to deny our own desires and put you first. 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 sin is hard for you to stop doing?
  • Why did Jesus have to go and suffer and die?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what Jesus means when he says we should “deny ourselves.” Can you give an example?
  • What are ways that we can work on becoming stronger to resist temptations and sins?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Which do you think is more difficult about following Jesus—facing persecution and enemies, or denying yourself and facing personal temptations and sins? Why?
  • Explain what Jesus meant when he said this: What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

Hymn: CW 465:1 – Jesus, I My Cross Have Taken

Jesus, I my cross have taken, All to leave and follow you.
Destitute, despised, forsaken, You on earth once suffered, too.
Perish ev’ry fond ambition, All I’ve ever hoped or known;
Yet how rich is my condition! God and heav’n are still my own.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Mercy is for All People – Family Devotion – September 11, 2020

Read: Romans 11:33-36

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
“Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?”
“Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay them?”
For from him and through him and for him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.
Romans 11:33-36

God’s Mercy is for All People


Family Devotion – September 11, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 11:33-36

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t get it!” Have you ever said that before? “I don’t get it, dad! I don’t know how to tie my shoes!” “I don’t get it! I don’t know how to play the game.” “I don’t get this math problem.”

There are so many things that we don’t get in life. Even as we grow older and learn from our parents or at school, we still struggle to understand different things.

You want to know what’s even harder to understand? God! But you probably already knew that. I bet you have had lots of tough “God questions” before. Why did God create the world in the first place? Why did he make Adam out of dust? Why did God make the sky blue and the grass green? Why did God make koala bears so cute? And why can’t God make my parents give me a new phone?

Maybe this one is the toughest: Why does God love us? Why would God love us when we sin and disobey him so much? How could he be so loving that he would send his Son Jesus to die for sinners? Why would God forgive me and welcome me to heaven one day? I don’t get it!

God’s Word for today reminds us that God’s love and wisdom are so great that we could never ever understand him. God is so great and so awesome that we humans won’t “get it” all the time. But do you know what we can do? We can praise and thank him every day! We may not understand how wonderful God is, but we definitely can say every day, “To God be the glory forever! Amen.”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, I don’t always understand you. You are so big, great, powerful, and loving that I don’t get how amazing and awesome you are. But I do know that you love me. For that I will thank and praise you always. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is one big question you have always wondered about God?
  • Name at least one awesome thing God has done that we can praise him for.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think there are so many things that we don’t know about God?
  • Even though we don’t understand much about God, identify some things that God has made very clear to us.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: If God fit the thinking in your brain so you could understand him, he wouldn’t be much of a God.
  • Explain how God showed his greatest wisdom in something so “foolish” as a person on a cross.

Hymn: CW 538:1,5 – The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

Mid toil and tribulation And tumult of her war
She waits the consummation Of peace forevermore
Till with the vision glorious Her longing eyes are blest
And the great Church victorious Shall be the Church at rest.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Never Changes – Family Devotion – September 9, 2020

Read: Exodus 6:2-8

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord.”
Exodus 6:6

God Never Changes


Family Devotion – September 9, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 6:6-8

See series: Devotions

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

“McDonald’s again? Really? Well . . . thanks . . . I guess.” Ty had a very disappointed look on his face, and his mom could tell. “What’s the matter, Ty? I thought you loved McDonald’s,” she said. “I used to, but not anymore. Now I love Chick-Fil-A. I don’t like burgers either. I like chicken,” Ty told her. “When did this happen?” she asked. “Yesterday,” he said. “The Chick-Fil-A commercial was really funny, so I like that more McDonald’s!” His mom couldn’t believe it. In a single day, Ty changed his favorite food because of one commercial!

Have you ever noticed how often we do this? One day we like one food, then the next day we change our mind. One day a kid loves to play with Legos or Barbies and the next day they are hidden under the bed because they “aren’t cool” anymore. One day we cheer for our favorite athlete, but then he gets traded to a different team. We change our minds and our feelings a lot in our lives!

Can you imagine if God did the same thing? What if God changed his mind about you? What if God said one day, “I love you so much,” but on the next day said, “Well, you just sinned really badly so I don’t love you so much anymore.” What if God made a promise to you in the Bible, but then changed his mind as fast as Ty did about McDonald’s? That would be awful! How would you ever know how God felt about you? How could you ever be certain of what he would do for you?

Thankfully, that will never ever happen with our God! In today’s devotion we hear God’s promise to the Israelites to bring them out of Egypt to the Promised Land. Three times in these verses God said, “I am the Lord.” Those very special words are a very special name. When God uses the name, “I am . . .,” he is telling us who he is. He will never change, and he will always be the same. When God uses that name, LORD, he is telling us that his love and promises will never change either. And sure enough, God kept his promise to lead his people out of Egypt.

God reminds us today, “I am the Lord.” He is not going to change. He will always be our loving and forgiving God. His promises aren’t going to change either. He will always be with you. He will always forgive you. And best of all, he will never break his promise to take you to the Promised Land of heaven. God will never change his mind about that. You are loved today, tomorrow, and always!

Closing Prayer:

God, I know that when you say you love me and forgive me, you will never change your mind. I also know that you will keep your promise to bring me to heaven, too. Thank 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 does it mean that God made a promise to us?
  • When God makes a promise, what do you know he will always do?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What makes it so hard for us to keep our promises? Explain your answer.
  • Give examples from the Bible of promises that God made and kept for his people.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • A Bible verse with a similar thought to today’s devotion is this one: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Explain in your own words what that verse means to you.
  • Explain this statement: Because God never changes, I don’t need to be afraid of changes in my life.

Hymn: CW 538:1,3 – The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

The Church shall never perish. Her dear Lord, to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, Is with her to the end.
Though there be those that hate her And strive to see her fail,
Against both foe and traitor She ever shall prevail.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Built on the Rock – Family Devotion – September 7, 2020

Read: Matthew 16:13-20

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.

Matthew 16:16-18

Built on the Rock


Family Devotion – September 7, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:16-18

See series: Devotions

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

Brady couldn’t believe it! It was still there! A whole year later, and it was still standing!

Last summer, Brady and his sister had a little friendly competition. Their family was on vacation and stayed in a cabin near a lake. One afternoon the two decided to have their own lake cabin building competition. Over by the edge of the woods along the shore of the water, the two went to work with their creations. Brady’s sister grabbed everything she could for her mini-cabin—branches, leaves, mud. She wanted to use the branches and mud to shape the best-looking cabin ever. Brady, however, grabbed a bunch of stones. He found a big, huge, flat, and solid stone that was the foundation. Then he carefully chose and stacked up other stones on top of it as he made his “toughest” cabin ever.

A day later, the mud cabin was gone. It rained and the lake water rose up onto the shore, completely washing the cabin away. But Brady’s stone cabin still stood there. In fact, one year later when they returned, there it was! The cabin of stones was still standing, strong as ever! Brady wisely chose to build his cabin on a solid foundation.

We have a solid foundation, too! Jesus makes that very clear to us today. Jesus asked his disciples who other people thought he was. There were all kinds of interesting but wrong answers. Peter had the right one: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Peter believed in Jesus as the promised Savior who came to take away all our sins.

Jesus was happy with Peter’s answer because it was built on the rock-solid foundation that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior. That is the solid foundation of his Church.

But watch out for mud and sand! Some people want to build faith on something besides Jesus. Some people believe if they are a good person, they can get into heaven. Some think Jesus was just a nice guy and a good teacher. Watch out! Those foundations will wash away! Build your trust on the rock-solid truth that Jesus is God’s own Son and your own Savior. That is a foundation that will never ever wash away!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help me to build my life on the rock-solid truth that you are my Savior from sin. Keep me firm in this faith. 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 would you want to build something on rock instead of sand?
  • What makes Jesus strong like a rock?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it dangerous to think that Jesus is just a good person, a good example, or a good teacher?
  • Jesus said today that the gates of Hades (hell) are not strong enough to overpower his Church (us believers). Why is that so encouraging for your life?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What are some of the other sandy, shaky foundations that people try to build their lives on in this world instead of Jesus?
  • Explain this statement: The empty tomb proves to us that Jesus is a rock-solid foundation to trust in and build on.

Hymn: CW 538:1 – The Church’s One Foundation

The Church’s one foundation Is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
She is his new creation By water and the Word.
From heav’n he came and sought her To be his holy bride;
With his own blood he bought her, And for her life he died.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Mercy is for All People – Family Devotion – September 4, 2020

Read: Romans 11:13-15, 28-32

For God has bound everyone over to disobedience so that he may have mercy on them all.
Romans 11:32

God’s Mercy is for All People


Family Devotion – September 4, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 11:32

See series: Devotions

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

“That’s not fair!” Gabby shouted. “Papi, why am I getting punished when Manny started it? He was the one who broke the rules! That’s not fair!” Gabby thought she was so right. Why should she get in trouble when Manny was the one who started throwing the ball in the house?

What Gabby seemed to forget was that she also threw the ball in the house. In fact, they were playing catch for 15 minutes together before the ball hit the lamp and shattered the light. They both were guilty. They both broke the rules. They both sinned.

Thankfully, Gabby and Manny’s papi was a patient and loving father. While there was a consequence for breaking the rules, he still loved them both and forgave them both. Did they deserve to be forgiven? Not really. They broke the rules. But their father was an example of the word grace, which is undeserved love. He showed them grace by forgiving both children with the same undeserved love.

This is the way that our heavenly Father deals with us. Satan wants us to point our fingers at other people and say things like, “That’s not fair! That person sins more than I do! That other person is really bad! They should get punished!” We don’t want to be like Gabby though. We can’t forget that we are just as guilty as everyone else. We all sin and break God’s rules. We all deserve to be punished equally.

But here’s the good news, our heavenly Father is even more patient and loving than Gabby and Manny’s father. The apostle Paul reminds us in the verse for today that even though everyone has disobeyed God the same, our heavenly Father also has mercy on everyone the same. He sent Jesus to be the Savior of every last sinner in the world, including you. Do we deserve to be forgiven? Not at all! But that is the true definition of grace—God’s undeserved love seen at the cross in Jesus who died for the whole world.

This is an important truth to remember, because this reminds us that we are not “better” than other people in the world, in our neighborhood, or even in our school classrooms. The devil wants us to act like we are better than other people. But the love of Jesus teaches us to know that we are all equal—we are equally sinners and equally forgiven. So look for ways you can show Jesus’ love equally to others, especially those who may look, talk, or act differently than you do. What a joy it would be for them to join you and all believers in our heavenly Father’s house forever!

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, remind me that I am a sinner, just like other people. Then comfort me that your grace and forgiveness are for me and all other people. Help me to share that good news with the world. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Have you ever said, “That’s not fair”? Why? What happened?
  • Explain what the word grace means. How did God show us grace?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why Jesus dying for us was actually not “fair.”
  • Why would Jesus die for sinners if we don’t deserve it?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is your sin a reason for you to be humble around other people?
  • Why is God’s grace a reason for you to be humble around other people?

Hymn: CW 391:1,5-6 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

When you are sick, when death draws near, This truth your troubled heart can cheer:
Christ Jesus saves my soul from death—This is the anchor of my faith!

Glory to God the Father, Son, And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity, Be praise now and eternally!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Grace is for All – Family Devotion – September 2, 2020

Read: Joshua 2:8-21

For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.
Joshua 2:11

God’s Grace is for All


Family Devotion – September 2, 2020

Devotion based on Joshua 2:11

See series: Devotions

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

“Why did you pick her?” No one in the class could believe that Zach had picked the new girl, Maddie, for his kickball team. Maddie had moved from a different state, and this was her first day of fifth grade in her new school. Everyone knew that Dillon and Audrey were great at kickball, but Maddie? Who would want her on the team?

Zach did. Zach had some secret information. He knew that Maddie was a soccer star at her previous school, and she was going to be a great addition to the team. And sure enough, Maddie helped Zach win the big game that first day of school. Everyone was surprised by the new girl, and quickly they were glad to have her as a part of their school family.

The words we heard for the devotion today were spoken by another surprising pick, a woman named Rahab. Joshua and the Israelites had sent two spies to secretly check out the Promised Land that God was going to give them. They ended up hiding at Rahab’s house, and she protected them.

Why was this surprising? First of all, Rahab was a foreigner and not one of the Israelites. She would have been their enemy. Secondly, Rahab had been living a sinful life. Who would want to be around her?

However, there was some secret information about this woman that the spies didn’t know, but God did. Rahab had faith in the one true God. She was the one who spoke the words we heard today: “For the LORD your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” Rahab had faith in the Savior God of Israel and trusted that she had forgiveness and life in him.

(Here’s one more “secret” cool fact about Rahab: Not only was she an unexpected believer that God used to help the spies that day, but Rahab actually became a mother in the family line of Jesus! The promised Savior she trusted became one of her descendants. Cool!)

What an amazing story! Through Rahab, God helps us to understand something that he doesn’t want to be a secret. Jesus is the Savior of all sinners of all places of all time! So when you see other people around your city, around the country, or around the world, rejoice in the best news of all. Jesus died for them just like Jesus died for you, and one day you will be together with all believers in the Promised Land of heaven. Now that’s a secret worth telling!

Closing Prayer:

God of all nations, thank you for sending your Son to die for the sins of all people. Just as you used Rahab in a special way, use me to be your special servant. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did God use Rahab to help his people?
  • What lesson about God did the spies learn when they met the believer Rahab?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • If you were one of the spies, what would have been some sinful reasons for pre-judging Rahab before you got to know her?
  • What are some sinful reasons we pre-judge other people in this world before we get to know them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Matthew 1:5 is the verse that tells us Rahab was in the family line of King David and of Jesus. What reasons would God have for including her in the list of the Jesus’ family?
  • Explain this statement: Sometimes the biggest problem that keeps me from sharing Jesus with other people is my own pride.

Hymn: CW 391:1,3-4 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

God would not have the sinner die—His Son with saving grace is nigh.
His Spirit in the Word does teach How we the blessed goal may reach.

Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son Forgives the sins that you have done.
You’re justified by Jesus’ blood; Baptized, you are a child of God.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Faith of a Foreign Woman – Family Devotion – August 31, 2020

Read: Matthew 15:21-28

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Matthew 15:28

The Faith of a Foreign Woman


Family Devotion – August 31, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 15:28

See series: Devotions

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

A few years ago, I had the most wonderful experience. It was in a hut. That’s right, a hut. It was a small building with tree branches for walls with grass and leaves for a roof. This hut was so small I could barely stand up inside of it, and only about 10 people could fit inside. It was located in the middle of nowhere in Zambia, a country in Africa. What was I doing in a hut in Africa? I was going to church!

As I visited this small village, I found out that their normal church building had burned down. So for the time, this small hut served as their church. We sat on little benches and logs as we worshiped. I didn’t understand a lot though—the service was in a different language. However, that day I saw clearly with my own eyes something very wonderful—Jesus is the Savior of all people of all nations and all languages.

Today we hear Jesus talk about the faith of a woman. But she was not an ordinary Israelite woman. She was a Canaanite, a foreigner from a different place. She came to see Jesus and asked him to help her daughter who was suffering. At first, Jesus tested her. He said that he came just for his own people, the Israelites. But the woman responded in true faith. She said that even the leftovers, even a little bit of grace, would be more than enough for her.

Jesus was so pleased. The woman understood that he came to be the Savior not just for the Israelites, but for the whole world. She understood that Jesus was her Savior. To prove this to her, Jesus showed his mighty power and healed her daughter right away.

Sometimes we get so busy in our lives that we forget there are other people out there in the world—people outside of our neighborhood, people who don’t look like us or talk like us, people outside of our country in very different places around the world. This story today is a wonderful reminder that Jesus is Savior of all. Jesus came for his people in Israel, for people in America, in Africa, in Asia, and all over.

Won’t it be so wonderful? Someday soon we will be in heaven, and we will meet this Canaanite woman and the disciples and believers from all over the world. There we will be gathered together with our one Savior, Jesus Christ. Oh what a worship service that will be!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for coming to be the Savior of the whole world. Help me find ways to share you with others so that they can join all believers in heaven one 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 lesson did Jesus teach to the foreign woman and the others watching in the story today?
  • Of all the people in the Bible, whom will you be most excited to meet in heaven? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did Jesus test the woman before helping her? Wasn’t that mean of him to do?
  • The disciples were there when Jesus spoke with this woman. What lesson did they learn that day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think Satan tempts people to think that Jesus is only for people “just like me” instead of for all people?
  • Identify ways that you can share Jesus with other people around the world, even if you aren’t a missionary.

Hymn: CW 391:1,2 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

Christ is the solid rock of faith, Who was made flesh and suffered death.
All who confide in him alone Are built on this chief cornerstone.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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We Trust Jesus to Lead Us to Heaven – Family Devotion – August 28, 2020

Read: James 1:2-8, 12

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.
James 1:2-3, 12

We Trust Jesus to Lead Us to Heaven


Family Devotion – August 28, 2020

Devotion based on James 1:2-3, 12

See series: Devotions

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

“You can do it! Push! Push!” The coach kept encouraging his football team as the players ran up and down the field. They were exhausted! They had been running sprints for five minutes, and that was after a full practice! Some of them felt like they were going to fall over and wouldn’t make it. Somehow, they all finished their hard work.

A few weeks later, the team finally realized that their “mean coach” who tested their strength was actually a loving and wise coach. They were playing their toughest opponent of the year. At the end of the game when the other team was getting tired, their team had the strength to finish the game and win. You see, by testing them, their coach was actually strengthening them. Because they were stronger, they were able to win the big game.

Most people don’t like to be tested. Whether you are seven or seventeen, kids don’t like tests in school. Parents don’t like testing times at work that push them to stress out and work harder. And no one likes it when life is really tough and tests the strength of your faith.

However, James tells us something very strange today. He reminds us that we can celebrate when we face tough times and our faith is tested. Now why would we do that? Why would some enjoy being sick or be happy when school gets really tough or when there are all kinds of problems because of the Coronavirus?

James gives us two answers today. First, like an athlete that gets stronger by working out, Christians grow stronger in their faith when they are tested. You learn to rely on God more when life is tough. You learn to turn to the Bible more, pray more, and trust God and his promises. This is how your faith muscles grow big and strong during difficult times.

Secondly, James reminds us that we have a championship to win. As we pass the tests of faith that strengthen us, we will finally receive the ultimate trophy—the crown of life, which is eternal life in heaven. But good news! Jesus already won the trophy for us at the cross! He defeated our opponent the devil, and he gladly passes on the victory to you and to me. The trophy of heaven is already won and is waiting for you right now!

He knows how to use those difficult times to draw us closer to him. Soon enough, with his help we will pass those tests and receive that crown of life in heaven. No matter how big the test, rejoice that a loving and wise God is working for your good!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, when life is difficult and challenging, give me strength to pass the tests of faith as you lead me on to life in heaven with 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 something that is really tough for you in your life right now?
  • How do you know that Jesus is strong enough to help you when your life is hard?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why can God be considered loving even when he allows us to suffer in life?
  • Explain in your own words what “the crown of life” is.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • One of the main reasons people visit a church for the first time is because something sad or bad happened in their lives. Why do you think that is the case?
  • When something bad happens in someone else’s life how can you encourage and help them?

Hymn: CW 379:1,4 – Amazing Grace

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

When we’ve been there ten thousand years, Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise Than when we’d first begun.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Encourages Us with His Word – Family Devotion – August 26, 2020

Read: 1 Kings 19:9-18

The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

1 Kings 19:11-13

Jesus Encourages Us with His Word


Family Devotion – August 26, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:11-13

See series: Devotions

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

“Come here, you little butterball!” Aunt Sharon reached out her hands and took pudgy little baby Tyler from his father. Tyler wasn’t about to have it, though. He didn’t recognize Aunt Sharon’s face, and he didn’t like it one bit. He couldn’t say any words, but he knew what to do when he was scared. He paused, took a deep breath, and with a red face burst into tears and a loud cry.

Tyler’s dad took his son back and did what he always does. He gently held him and whispered in his ear, “Shh! Tyler, it’ll be OK. Shh!” Instantly the tears stopped. Baby Tyler recognized his father’s voice and felt calm and safe. Everything was going to be alright.

It’s interesting how quickly children learn to recognize the voices and presence of their parents. Anytime they are lost or scared or in trouble, they learn to call out, “Dad? . . . Mom?” And as soon as they hear their parent’s voice and run into their arms, they feel better and safe.

The prophet Elijah was very afraid. A wicked queen was threatening to hurt him. It made him feel as if he was the only believer left in Israel. He was in danger, lonely, and afraid. So Elijah went to hide in a cave. That’s when God came to him. Now Elijah might have expected God to show his powerful presence in a mighty wind, an earthquake, or a fire. But surprisingly, God came to Elijah with a gentle whisper. The soothing and comforting words of God reminded Elijah that the Lord was with him and would help him.

Sometimes life makes us very afraid. We might be in danger or feel lonely or very afraid, just like Elijah. We might wonder, “Where is God’s presence? Why won’t God help me? Why won’t he show me his power?” But don’t be confused or look for him in the wrong places! Instead, listen for the gentle whisper of God’s voice. No, it’s not coming from your cell phone or speaking to you in a dream. God’s gentle voice can be heard loud and clear through his Word. In the Bible, God makes his power so clear to us. He created us! He cares for us! He saved us! In the Bible, God also makes his comforting promises clear to us. He always forgives us! He’s always with us! He will take us to be with him in heaven!

Listen to the gentle whisper of your heavenly Father. The Bible is where you will find comfort and safety in his encouraging words.

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help me to listen to your voice as you comfort and encourage me in your Word. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Whose voice do you hear in the Bible?
  • How does God want us to feel when we hear his voice?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Even though God always shows himself to be trustworthy, why do we become afraid so often?
  • What Bible story or Bible verse is most comforting and encouraging to you? Why?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why doesn’t God show his power in amazing miracles today like he did in Bible times?
  • How is a believer reading the Bible similar to a child being soothed by a parent’s voice? How is it different?

Hymn: CW 379:1,3 – Amazing Grace

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Shows His Almighty Power – Family Devotion – August 24, 2020

Read: Matthew 14:22-33

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:29-31

Jesus Shows His Almighty Power


Family Devotion – August 24, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 14:29-31

See series: Devotions

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

“Uh-uh!” Maggie shook her head stubbornly and said it again, “Uh-uh!” Her eyes were wide open, her hands were shaking, and she was frozen in place. “Come on, Maggie. It’s OK. I’ll catch you,” her father said. “Go ahead and jump into the pool. I’m right here, and you’ll be fine.”

This went on for almost five minutes. Maggie’s dad kept assuring her that everything was going to be alright, but little three-year-old Maggie was terrified. The water seemed so deep, and she wasn’t sure she could swim. It didn’t matter that she had puffy unicorn floaties around her arms or that her father said he would catch her. She was so afraid!

Finally, Maggie somehow managed enough courage. She closed her eyes, plugged her nose, and jumped into the water. Sure enough, Maggie’s dad caught her, held her up, and she was floating in the water. “See that wasn’t so bad! Why didn’t you trust me, honey?”

Fear can make people do a lot of crazy things! But fear also keeps people from doing a lot of things. Fear might keep you away from snakes, the edges of really high buildings, or from going to the dentist. Worst of all, fear might keep you from trusting in God.

That happened to Peter in today’s story. Even though Jesus was walking on water in front of him and invited him to do the same, and even though he actually started to walk out onto the water, the wind and the waves terrified Peter, so he began to sink. When Jesus pulled him out of the water, he asked Peter why he didn’t trust him.

There are many things in life that are very scary—sickness and cancer, hurricanes and tornadoes, evil people doing bad things, and so much more. When you are afraid of something, do what Peter forgot to do. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Look at his power to help you. He can walk on water and save you like he saved Peter. Even better, look at his power at his cross and empty tomb. Jesus doesn’t just save us from worldly problems, Jesus saved us from our sins and from Satan! That almighty power makes Jesus someone that we can trust every single day!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, when I am afraid, help me to trust in you. Remind me of your mighty power that saved me from my sin and comfort me with your strength. 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 that you are afraid of?
  • How does Jesus help with something you are afraid of?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the word doubt mean?
  • Why does Jesus’ empty tomb prove that we should never doubt him?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: If you have doubts about God, that proves you still have faith in God.
  • Explain this statement: What matters is not how strong your faith is, but whom you put your faith in.

Hymn: CW 379:1,2 – Amazing Grace

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

The Lord has promised good to me; His Word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be As long as life endures.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Providing Love – Family Devotion – August 21, 2020

Read: Romans 8:35-39

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39

Nothing Can Separate Us from God’s Providing Love


Family Devotion – August 21, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:37-39

See series: Devotions

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

This has been a very difficult year! Many sad and challenging things have happened in the world this year, but maybe the most difficult of them all has been the Coronavirus. This worldwide sickness has prevented people from going to school or church. Many have had to work from home. Some of have lost their jobs. And of course, many people have gotten sick, and some have even died.

Almost every part of regular life has been affected or changed by the Coronavirus. Well, except one thing. The one thing that has not changed over the last few months has been this—God still loves you. That has not changed and that will never change.

The apostle Paul is someone who also experienced a lot of challenges in his life. Sometimes he went without food or shelter. Sometimes people hurt him or put him in prison because he preached about Jesus. Yet no matter what happened to him, God still provided for him in love.

Today the apostle Paul reminds us with some very comforting words that nothing will stop God from loving us either. No trouble, no disease or virus, no angel or demon, not even death or life—no, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. Nothing. Ever. What a comfort!

You see, God loves you so much that your sins couldn’t even separate you from his love. He sent Jesus to take away your sin so that you could experience his forgiveness and love every day as his dear child. God guaranteed you that love personally when you were baptized.

Since God loved you so much that he would provide for your spiritual needs, he will also love you enough to provide for your physical needs. In other words, if God loves you enough to provide you with life in heaven, he will also love you enough to provide you with the things you need for life here on earth.

Whether it’s the Coronavirus, cancer, or another sickness, whether it’s problems with friends or in your home, or whether there is danger or disaster, you can still rejoice that one thing will never change—God will be with you with his love!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that nothing will keep you from caring and providing 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 are some ways that your life has changed because of the Coronavirus?
  • What are some ways God has shown your family love during these last few months?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain how God might work through bad things in life to show us love.
  • Why is Jesus’ death on the cross the greatest proof of God’s love for us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What are the hardest times or situations to trust that God still loves you? Why?
  • If God’s love is given and revealed to us in Jesus, how can we stay more connected to him and his love?

Hymn: CW 349:1,5 – Jesus, Priceless Treasure

Jesus, priceless treasure, Fount of purest pleasure, Truest friend to me.
Ah, how long in anguish Shall my spirit languish, Yearning, Lord, for thee?
Thou art mine, O Lamb divine!
I will suffer naught to hide thee, Naught I ask beside thee.

Hence, all fear and sadness! For the Lord of gladness, Jesus, enters in.
Those who love the Father, Though the storms may gather, Still have peace within.
Yea, whate’er I here must bear, Thou art still my purest pleasure,
Jesus, priceless treasure!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email