Wear your best Christmas clothes – January 3, 2024

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
Colossians 3:12-14

Wear your best Christmas clothes

Family Devotion – January 3, 2024

Devotion based on Colossians 3:12-14

See series: Devotions

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

Michael hated his Christmas sweater. It was a red sweater with green cuffs and a green collar. And it was itchy. Every time he moved his head, he felt it scratching against his neck. But his parents made him wear it to church on Christmas for a reason. The red and green were Christmas colors. The sweater actually looked nice. So Michael thought to himself, “If we are going to church to celebrate God giving us his Son as a gift of his love, I can wear this sweater that ‘fits’ the reason we’re going.”

God’s gift to you this new year are new clothes to wear every day. Because Jesus came as our Savior, God calls you his “chosen people, holy and dearly loved.” That’s his gift to you—you didn’t earn it, ask for it, or deserve it; it was a gift of his love. Since God has made you his child, it’s only fitting that we “dress” like his children. He tells us to put on “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,” almost like we’re putting on clothes. How do you dress like God’s child? Here are three encouragements God gives us.

First, he tells us to forgive people and treat them with patience. That’s not easy, and it doesn’t come naturally to us. Sometimes that will feel just like that itchy Christmas sweater Michael had to wear. Sometimes Michael just wanted to rip it off! But the more you “put on” forgiveness and patience, the more you’ll realize how perfectly they fit God’s children.

Second, he tells us to fill up with God’s Word. The more we hear about God’s love for us, the more God’s love will live in us and change us. He tells us to do this “richly.” That means more than going to church. It means reading our Bibles at home, having devotions with our family, and talking to each other about God.

Third, he tells us to be with God’s people. We’re to teach each other and admonish each other (that means correct each other when we get something wrong). We can’t do this on our own; we need other Christians to help us.

Michael didn’t like his Christmas sweater growing up, but it was right to wear it. Sometimes living as a child of God can feel a little uncomfortable. But remember the love God has shown you and who he’s made you to be, and more and more you’ll see it’s a perfect fit!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord Jesus, you’ve made me God’s holy, loved child and dressed me with your beautiful clothes. Help me to live as God’s child every day as I show 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

  • Today’s devotion talked about wearing kindness like clothing. Who can you think of who needs your kindness or gentleness right now? How could you show it to them?
  • God tells us to fill up with his word by singing to each other. What’s one of your favorite songs to sing from church?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think God compares the Christian characteristics of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience to clothes?
  • Which ones from this list are hardest for you to “put on”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • God says the way we are to act flows from what he’s done for us. What are some things he says he’s done for you in today’s passage?
  • How does knowing you’re forgiven help you to forgive others?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God built a beautiful church – January 1, 2024

Read: 1 Kings 8:6-13

The priests then brought the ark of the LORD’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the LORD made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the LORD. And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled his temple.

Then Solomon said, “The LORD has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell forever.”
1 Kings 8:6-13

God built a beautiful church

Family Devotion – January 1, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Kings 8:6-13

See series: Devotions

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

Don’t you love the way churches look at Christmas? There is a beautiful Christmas tree covered with lights and ornaments, an Advent wreath with real candles on it, and a manger scene set up near the front of church for everyone to see. Red poinsettia flowers are placed all around the front of the church and beautiful white and gold cloths are placed on the altar. On Christmas Eve, the lights are turned off, and the church goes dark as everyone holds lit candles and sings “Silent Night.” How beautiful! But the most beautiful thing about church and Christmas is that we hear about Jesus.

King Solomon lived a thousand years before Jesus. He built a temple (like a church today) for God, and it was one of the most beautiful buildings ever made. It was made of white stones that gleamed in the sunlight. The inside was covered with expensive wood and overlaid with pure gold and silver. There were carvings of cherubim (a word for angels) as decorations. But that’s not really what made it beautiful. It was beautiful because God made his dwelling place there. But that created a problem: when God filled the temple with a cloud of his holiness, the priests had to leave! It was a beautiful place, but people couldn’t come near it.

On the night Jesus was born, shepherds came to see him. What did they see? They saw a baby who didn’t seem too holy to get near or too scary to be around. And that’s the point: In Jesus, God came to be with his people. The same God who is so awesome and holy that people couldn’t approach him in the temple came to us in a way that’s so gentle and loving that everyone throughout his life could come to him, listen to him, and find peace with him. And do you know what we call that, when people are together with a loving and gracious God? We call that a beautiful church.

And that’s what he’s making right now. As you read God’s Word together, as you hear about the love of your Savior, as you say your prayers to God, he’s with you right now. You don’t have to run in fear; it’s okay if you’re not dressed up in a fancy way or singing beautiful songs. You’re hearing the Word of Jesus, and God is with you, among you and living in your hearts to forgive your sins and give you peace. Right here, right now, God’s built a beautiful church with you.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for making your home here in our home. Help us end this year with your Word and go into the new year resolved to read our Bibles together, to pray together, and to remind each other that you’re always 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

  • Name your favorite Christmas decoration in your house or at church.
  • How does it help remind you about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How would you define what a “church” is?
  • What are some ways we can remind each other that our home is really a church, too?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Today’s devotion reminded us that God made a “covenant” with his people at Mt. Sinai. What’s a covenant?
  • What are some promises that God’s given to you through Jesus?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Voice and Lights of Christmas – December 29, 2023

Read: John 1:1-18

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:1-5, 9-12

The Voice and Lights of Christmas

Family Devotion – December 29, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:1-5, 9-12

See series: Devotions

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

Imagine you’re in the dark. It’s scary and you’re afraid. You can’t see who or what is around you. But then, you hear a familiar, friendly voice. The voice tells you that you aren’t alone, that you aren’t in danger, that everything is going to be okay. That would be a comfort, wouldn’t it?

And then imagine that a light starts to shine. And it helps you to see the room around you the right way. You see how to avoid bumping into furniture and see the door that would lead you out to safety. The light would take away your fear, wouldn’t it?

All because of a voice and a light.

That’s the way God describes Jesus. He calls him “the Word.” He is how God speaks to us and tells us the most important things. And God calls Jesus “the light of all mankind.” He shows us God’s love that tells us that everything will be okay, that our sins are forgiven, and that heaven is our home. And not just ours: Jesus is the light that shines for everyone.

That’s what happened on the first Christmas. God’s Word and God’s light came into the darkness of our world, gift-wrapped up as the baby Jesus—the greatest present God could ever give. You’d hope that present would be received with happiness by everyone! Sadly, he wasn’t. A lot of his own people didn’t believe in him. They were so opposed to him that they persecuted him, arrested him, nailed him to a cross, and killed him.

But they didn’t overcome him. When Jesus died, he was doing exactly what he was born to do. He gave God the greatest gift: You! A child of God, washed free from every sin. And he gave you the right to call yourself God’s child.

The world can still be dark, but you’ll never be alone. Even if you feel like you’re in the darkness, Jesus is God’s Word, speaking to you. He’s God’s light, shining for you.

Now you know who God is, and you know the gift he’s given you. Merry Christmas!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, of all the gifts we receive at Christmas, you are the best! Thank you for being God’s Word, telling me everything God wants me to know. Thank you for being God’s light, showing me everything God wants me to see. Thank you for teaching me to know God himself. 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

  • Jesus is called “the light.” What does light help us do?
  • What does Jesus the “light” help us see about God?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • People opposed Jesus when he was on earth. How do people still fight against Jesus’ message today?
  • What are some things you see that help remind you that “the darkness” still hasn’t “overcome” Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If someone asked “What is God like?” you could start telling them stories about Jesus. Which stories would you tell first?
  • Even though you haven’t seen God, name something you see that tells you God exists. (Hint: verses 1-3)

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christmas is the perfect time to be God’s child – December 27, 2023

Read: Galatians 4:4-7

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Galatians 4:4,5

Christmas is the perfect time to be God’s child

Family Devotion – December 27, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4,5

See series: Devotions

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

Christmas can sometimes feel like it comes at the worst time. Students can be worn out from tests and all the activities. Depending on where you live, you might have to drive through bad weather to get to church or visit your family over the holidays. Parents can get really stressed out too. Sometimes getting together with other family members reminds us of hurts and problems that divide us. And we’re supposed to be filled with good news of great joy? It seems like the worst time for it.

It must have seemed that way to Jesus’ mother Mary, too. Put yourself in her shoes. God caused her to be pregnant with Jesus before she was married. Wow, talk about bad timing! And now, when it was almost time for her to give birth, the government said everyone had to travel to their hometown. That meant a ninety-mile trip for a very pregnant woman, walking or riding on a donkey. And when she went into labor, there wasn’t a hotel for her to stay in, just a barn. It seemed like the worst time!

It can seem that way to us, but God reminds us that his timing is perfect. God chose just the right time for his Son to be born. The nation of Israel was in rough shape, but that meant there were people who were looking to God for an answer. The Roman government controlling Israel was cruel, but God was planning on using them to put Jesus to death to win salvation. It all happened at a time when there were finally roads connecting the empire so the good news could be spread quickly. God’s timing was just right.

And it still is. Maybe it’s hard to focus on Jesus at Christmas. All the extra busyness can cause problems and fights. Or maybe it’s just something going on with you that makes you feel like not hearing God’s Word. Maybe you struggle with doubt; maybe you feel very angry or hurt by someone.

That makes it the perfect time to hear what God has done for you. Problems are real—Mary and Joseph faced them. But God promises you that he’s adopted you as his child. That means he loves you, he forgives you, and he wants you to pray to him about your problems. You’re not alone; God’s there to help.

In the times when it seems everything’s going wrong, it’s the perfect time to know that God has made you his child.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, God, for picking just the right time to send Jesus to make us your children. Remind me that when other people are going through difficult things, it’s the perfect time for me to share your good news with them. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name two things you know your parents will do for you because you’re their child.
  • God says you’re his child now, too. What are two things God will do for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it sometimes hard to focus on Jesus at Christmastime?
  • What are some things that you can do with your family to keep your focus on Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Share a time when you didn’t feel “ready” for someone to remind you about something the Bible says. Why might that have actually been the perfect time?
  • List a problem or challenge that you’d like your family to pray about for you. Your Father in heaven is listening!

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christmas brings happy, noisy peace! – December 25, 2023

Read: Micah 5:2-5a

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel… He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God… And he will be our peace.”
Micah 5:2,4,5

Christmas brings happy, noisy peace!

Family Devotion – December 25, 2023

Devotion based on Micah 5:2,4,5

See series: Devotions

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

“Peace and quiet.” Ever hear an adult complain that’s what they want? Have you found peace and quiet as you celebrate Christmas? Maybe the most peaceful part of it in your mind is when all the worshipers at church are holding lit candles and listening to the account of Jesus’ birth, or that moment when the wrapping paper is all cleaned up and everyone falls asleep in their beds. Peace and quiet.

But peace isn’t always quiet. The word God uses for peace is “shalom.” It’s a Hebrew word that means that everything is in its right place—just the way it should be. That’s why Jesus came, stepping out of his world and entering our world. That’s why he was born as a small child in one of the smallest towns, so that he could live the life God demands from us, pay the price for our sins and bring us back to him. That’s peace—but it’s not always quiet.

It’s like a shepherd standing in front of his flock. They’re safe and happy and eager for his voice. Do you hear him calling them to cool waters? Do you hear the joyful bleating and baa-ing of the sheep?

It’s like a mighty King protecting his people. The air rings with his promises that everything will be okay. Your whole body shakes with their clapping and cheering as they rejoice in his care.

And it’s like you. Maybe you had a “noisy” Christmas, filled with relatives and friends and crowded parties. Maybe it was noisy with problems and fights. Or maybe it was a bit quieter, and you didn’t have many people to celebrate it with.

But Jesus was there. The God who gave his life for you is still living with you. He’ll be with you when your home is filled with celebrating (or squabbling) loved ones, and he’ll be with you on the days you’re all alone. Sometimes it’ll be peaceful and sometimes noisy, but when Jesus is there as your Savior, you’ll always have peace.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, when you fill my life with people and busyness, help me proclaim your good news to them. When you fill my life with quiet times or loneliness, help me remember you’re there with me. But above all, fill me with your peace. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who is the loudest, noisiest person in your family? Is it a big person or a small person?
  • God promised Jesus would be born in a small town called Bethlehem. What is a “big thing” God can do through “little you”?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus is described as a shepherd here. How is Jesus like a shepherd?
  • How did Jesus bring us peace?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What makes it more difficult for you to feel close to God—the loud, busy times or the quiet and lonely times?
  • What do you think it means that Jesus’ origins “were from of old”?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hark! Am I a Herald? – December 22, 2023

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

There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
John 1:6-8

Hark! Am I a Herald?

Family Devotion – December 22, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:6-8

See series: Devotions

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

Have you heard the word “herald” before? Do you know what a “herald” is? (Maybe think of the Christmas song, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.”)

A herald is someone who carries or proclaims important news, a messenger. The person we heard in our Bible reading was a “herald.” John was a herald. His nickname was John the Baptist, and he had some important news to tell people. He was excited to tell people that the Savior that God had promised to send was coming! Finally, it was time! John made sure people didn’t think he was the Savior—he was just the herald. He was the messenger telling people that the Savior was on his way!

People had been waiting for a long time for the Savior to come. For thousands of years, God told and promised his people that he was going to send someone who was going to fix all the wrong things people do (even the wrong things you and I do and say and think). God was going to send someone who was going to fight against the devil and win. God was going to send someone who was going to undo all the pain and sadness that death brings to us.

John announced, “The Savior is coming! So come out of sin, out of the world, and out from darkness! Come into the light of your salvation! If you are weary or carrying something heavy in your heart, come to him and he will give you rest!”

Do you think you can be a herald? Do you think you can share that amazing news? Then you can be a herald too! You can tell people about Jesus and everything he has done for them because you know and believe he has done it for you.

Closing Prayer:

God, you have called me in my young age to be a herald. You have given me this important news about Jesus to share with others. Be with me and help me to be a faithful herald and proclaimer of this great news! Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • In today’s devotion, what was the name of someone who announced important news?
  • How can you be a herald this Christmas?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Think of the song “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” (Look up the words if you need to.) What good news were they a herald or messenger of?
  • Why might it had been difficult for people to believe John when he announced the good news of a coming?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Since God has called you to be a herald or a messenger of this good news of Jesus, can you think of some promises God gives you that will help you carry out this job?
  • John’s job as a herald was hard work. People regularly opposed him. How will the promises you just thought of help you when your job as a herald is hard?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Always Joyful – December 20, 2023

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,23-24

Always Joyful

Family Devotion – December 20, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18,23-24

See series: Devotions

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

Savaya was thinking about what she had just heard her pastor say: “Rejoice always.”

That word “always” bothered her. Always? All the time? She was supposed to always be joyful?

Savaya could think of times when she had not been all that happy—like when her friends had been mean to her and had talked about her behind her back. It really hurt her. She felt mad and sad all at the same time. On top of it, she didn’t feel happy about her grades at school. She didn’t want to go home and be told what to do.

Rejoice always? Sometimes, maybe. Always? What reason did she have to rejoice always?

Then Savaya heard her pastor give a sermon she would never forget. He explained how there is a difference between joy and being happy, between joyfulness and happiness. Happiness is a word used to describe an emotion, like how we would use anger or sadness to talk about how we feel. Feeling happy is affected by what is going on in your life. When good things happen, it is easy to be happy. When difficult or hard things happen, there is no happiness. Instead, there may be a different emotion, like anger or sadness.

Savaya’s pastor then said this, “It’s impossible to always feel the emotion of happiness. But God always makes it possible for you to have joy.” Joyfulness might be described as a condition of our heart. The joy and joyfulness that Paul talked about today comes from knowing all that God has done for us. It is the result of Jesus coming and assuring you, “I will always love you. I will always want to forgive you. I will always have a home ready for you with me in heaven.” Those things are true no matter what happens in life. Those promises are there to comfort and encourage you when times are good or when times are bad.

Savaya began to understand what her pastor was saying. We may not always be happy. The feeling of happiness can quickly come and go. But we can always be joyful because our joy is based on all the things God has done for us and promised us. Savaya found her joy—in Jesus! So, with Savaya, rejoice always!

Closing Prayer:

Lord, thank you for assuring me of your love, your forgiveness, and my home with you in heaven. This good news makes my heart joyful. Along with Savaya, help me to remember all that you have done for me when things in life make me unhappy and try to take my joy away. 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 happened that made Savaya so unhappy?
  • Where did Savaya find her joy?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain the difference between joy and happiness.
  • Name three things that make you happy. Name three things that make you joyful.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What circumstances of your life is the devil trying to use to rob you of joy?
  • Why is it important to keep in mind the difference between joy and happiness?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Good News to Share! – December 18, 2023

Read: Isaiah 61:1-3,10,11

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:1-3,10

Good News to Share!

Family Devotion – December 18, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3,10

See series: Devotions

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

What are you really excited about? Perhaps you are excited that Christmas is only a few days away. Do you get excited when your birthday starts to get close? Or maybe your mom is going to have a baby and you are going to be an older brother or sister?

There are things that we get really excited about, and when they are about to happen, our excitement overflows and makes us want to tell others. We want them to be excited about it too!

God was excited. The time for him to send the person who was going to save people from sin and death was getting closer. He wanted to tell his people, so that they too would be excited for this Savior to arrive. God used a man named Isaiah to tell his people this exciting news—a Savior was coming, and he was going to do some great things! He was going to free people who were stuck in sin. He was going to comfort people who were sad about the bad things they had done. He was going to tell them good news—he was going to take away all their sins! How exciting!

Who is this Savior? It’s Jesus, the Son of God! He came to earth at Christmas in order to free us from the sin we are stuck in, to comfort us about the bad we have done, and to tell us the good news that all our sin is forgiven!

Christmas is such an exciting time! And the same thing that God and Isaiah were excited to tell people about is the same thing you and I can tell people about this week. Christmas is coming! It means God has sent you a Savior with some really good news! Share that good news! Invite people you know to hear that exciting message at your church on Christmas!

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, fill my heart with excitement about the birth of Jesus at Christmas so that I can be excited to tell others about who Jesus is and what he came to do. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name one thing that is coming up that you are excited about. Why are you excited about it?
  • What do you think is the best thing Jesus has done for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why should we be excited at Christmas? (And it isn’t about the gifts we might get!)
  • Today’s devotion describes God’s Christmas gifts to you as clothing (“garments of salvation” and “in a robe of righteousness”). At what moment of your life did God personally give you those gifts?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think of someone who is feeling pretty hopeless in your life. It could even be you. Take a moment and reread the verses of today’s devotion from Isaiah. Which ones make you feel hopeful? These words from Isaiah describe the things Jesus would do here on earth. Can you think of an example of Jesus’ ministry when he preached good news, comforted someone who was mourning, helped someone who was hurting, and proclaimed freedom for those caught in sin?
  • Finish this sentence: Christmas is a great time to be a Christian because _____________________.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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This is Just the Beginning – December 15, 2023

Read: Mark 1:1-8

The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:

“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie.
Mark 1:1-7

This is Just the Beginning

Family Devotion – December 15, 2023

Devotion based on Mark 1:1-7

See series: Devotions

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

The book of the Bible named after its author, Mark, tells the story of Jesus’ life. In his book, Mark connects the dots between an old promise of God from his prophet Isaiah and how God kept that promise by sending a man named John to prepare the way for Jesus.

John was hard to forget. He was very unusual. He lived out in the wilderness. He was far away from towns and villages. And people didn’t have cars to drive; they had to walk over twenty miles to see him. Imagine walking for seven hours straight! It was hard to get out there, but people did it because they wanted to hear what he had to say.

And here’s what he said, “Get ready, people! Someone greater than me is coming, someone so great that I’m not even worthy to take off his shoes.” We know he was talking about Jesus. Jesus is the promised Savior that God had been promising for so long. And now the time had come for people to get ready to see him and hear him, and most of all, to believe him and trust in him.

But pay attention how Mark began the story of Jesus. He wrote, “[This is] the beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God.” This is just the beginning. Mark is getting us ready to hear the rest of the story.

Jesus said and did a lot of things in his life and ministry. Many of them are written down for us in the Bible. This is good news. All this good news began with John the Baptist. But the real good news is the story of Jesus’ life. The good news is that Jesus loved you so much that he was willing to die for your sins. The good news is that Jesus defeated death. He rose again from the grave and now lives and rules over all things. And now the good news has come to you.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you are the great one that John spoke of. Your glory is so great it outshines everything else. Prepare our hearts for you. We need you. Give us a strong faith that looks forward to when we will be safe in your arms 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

  • Listen to Mark 1:6. What strange food did John the Baptist eat?
  • John the Baptist’s job was to prepare the way for someone important. Who was that important person?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is a way you can prepare your heart and their lives for Jesus? How do we “get ready” for him?
  • Christians use the word “gospel” or “good news” to describe the story of Jesus. Retell the good news in your own words.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The word repentance means to “turn away” from sin. Explain why repentance is an important beginning step in knowing Jesus.
  • John was a unique messenger whom God had long promised before the Savior’s arrival. What clues from verses 2 and 3 tell us that John was the one God had promised?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus is Worth Waiting For – December 13, 2023

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-14

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.

So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
2 Peter 3:8-14

Jesus is Worth Waiting For

Family Devotion – December 13, 2023

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:8-14

See series: Devotions

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

No one likes to wait a long time for something. Sometimes it feels like it’ll take forever for your birthday to come. Sometimes you are at a restaurant and you’re so hungry, but the food is taking forever. Sometimes you have to wait your turn to play, and it feels like forever.

God’s Word talks about what it means to wait. Peter was writing to people tired of waiting for God help them. They wondered, “Why is God so slow? Why hasn’t he come back yet and made everything better again?” Listen to Peter’s answer: “God is not slow the way we think of slow. After all, for God, a thousand years is nothing. The reason God is waiting to bring his final judgment is so that more and more people can come to know him and his Son, Jesus.”

This time of the year many Christian churches talk about what it means to wait patiently. Many Christians who are suffering pain and loss wonder why God doesn’t just go ahead and usher us all into his new heaven and new earth right now. After all, people wonder, wouldn’t that be better?

Of course it will. But there is a reason to wait for that day. There are people that God still wants to come to know and believe in his Son. That takes time. And so God waits. And so do we. We wait because we know that no matter how long God waits, no amount of time changes what has already happened. Jesus has already died for our sins. Jesus has already risen from the grave. Jesus has already ascended to rule over all things. And right now, he is looking out for all of us. He is patient. He is wise. And he is our King. And he’s coming back—he promised!

It can be hard to wait, that’s for sure. But even if it’s hard to wait for Jesus, it’s always worth it.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, we look forward to the day when you will make all things new, just as you have promised. We look forward to the day when we will no longer be hurting or crying. We look forward to seeing you face to face. Help us to wait patiently for that day and to remember that you are patiently calling more and more people to the same hope we have. 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 felt that something was “taking forever”? What was it? Did it actually take “forever”?
  • The Bible says that Jesus will return, but we don’t know when that will be. What reason does the Bible give for Jesus waiting to return?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does waiting for Christmas help us practice waiting for Jesus to return?
  • What makes you most excited about meeting Jesus and being with him forever?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Share three things about life in a sinful world that you won’t miss when Jesus returns and takes us to heaven.
  • God is still calling people to know his Son Jesus in our time and place. Name two ways that can happen. Then evaluate your part in those ways.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Get Ready for Someone Important – December 11, 2023

Read: Isaiah 40:1-11

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
Isaiah 40:3,4

Get Ready for Someone Important

Family Devotion – December 11, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 40:3,4

See series: Devotions

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

Did you know the highest bridge in the world stands a knee-knocking 1,854 feet above a river at the bottom of a deep valley with steep mountains on either side? The bridge connects two cities that used to be a five-hour drive apart. Now it only takes an hour!

Building a bridge is hard work and costs a lot of money. But building a bridge over a valley is a lot easier and cheaper than filling in the entire valley with earth. In the same way, it can be easier and cheaper to build a road through the mountains by digging a tunnel for the road to go through. If you can’t move a mountain, dig through it, right?

in today’s devotion, the prophet Isaiah announces the coming of a person so important that it would be worth the effort and expense of flattening mountains and filling in valleys. “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” Wow, that’s quite a job!

Who could be so important that would make all the hard work and tons of money worth it? Isaiah tells us. This amazing and important person would be the one God would use to show his great power and love.

The people of Isaiah’s time knew he was talking about God’s promised Savior. We now know who this person was. It was Jesus. Jesus is the great King that God had promised. Jesus is the one who would build a bridge between us and God. How? Jesus did the hard work of living perfectly in our place and yet dying for all the world’s sins. He flattened the mountains of our pride. He filled in the valleys and low points of our lives. Now the highway between us and God and heaven is smooth and straight!

Someone who would do that for us is worth getting ready for, don’t you agree? In this month when everyone is so busy with a gazillion things, let’s slow down our minds and prepare our hearts for Christmas. Thank God he doesn’t put us in charge of preparing for our way there. He put his Son in charge who did everything he needed to do perfectly. Thank God the Lord has prepared the way—into our hearts and into his kingdom.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help us prepare our hearts to receive you. Make us trust in your promises. Give us joy in knowing that your glory is to show love to us by taking away the guilt of our sin and giving us the gift of a new heart now and new life 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

  • Tell about the biggest hill or mountain you’ve ever seen. How many bulldozers and trucks do you think it would take to tear such a mountain down?
  • God tells us that saving us is an even bigger job than moving a mountain. What big job did Jesus have to do to save us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What are some ways you can tell that someone important is coming?
  • What are some ways that we can show how important Jesus is to us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think of two common obstacles that stand in the way of us being ready to welcome Jesus’ birth this time of year.
  • Who are some of the people God uses in our live to help us prepare the way for Jesus in our lives?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus, Save Us! – December 8, 2023

Read: Mark 11:1-10

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.’”

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, “What are you doing, untying that colt?” They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”

“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Mark 11:1-10

Jesus, Save Us!

Family Devotion – December 8, 2023

Devotion based on Mark 11:1-10

See series: Devotions

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

About a week before Jesus was put to death on the cross, he entered the city of Jerusalem in a most interesting way. He rode on the back of a donkey. But not only did he enter in an interesting way, the people who welcomed him said a most interesting thing. “Hosanna,” they said, which in their language meant, “Save us.”

By saying “Hosanna,” the people were counting on Jesus to be the one that God had long promised would come to the world and put an end to the power and rule of sin and death. They were hoping for nothing less than an entirely new world. They made this clear by connecting the arrival of Jesus with the arrival of the kingdom of David.

David was an ancient king in the Old Testament whose reign was a glorious one. King David was a picture and promise of the even greater king who would one day come to rule not just a little piece of land, but the entire world forever. Jesus was called the “Son of David” because he was an actual descendant of David and because he would complete God’s promises to David. Jesus was the great king who would save the whole world.

And that’s what Jesus did. He answered the cry, “Hosanna! Save us!” by not only dying on the cross for the sins of the world, but also by rising again to bring the promise of new life to all who believe in him. That’s why “Hosanna! Save us!” is something good to cry out before Christmas. We’re crying out to the Lord who has died and risen again, and we know our cry will not go unanswered. In Jesus we have God’s answer, “Yes, I will save you. I have saved you.”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, together with the people outside of Jerusalem we cry out to you, “Hosanna! Save us!” You are the king we’ve been waiting for—a king who rules by dying, rising, and saving. Bless us as we put our trust in 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 did the people shout as Jesus came into the city?
  • What kind of animal did Jesus ride as he came into the city?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the word “Hosanna” mean?
  • When the people said “Hosanna,” what were they saying about who they thought Jesus was?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The people didn’t just invent their opinion of Jesus. How does what they said connect their understanding to God’s written promises from the past?
  • If Jesus had died but not risen again, he could not have been the promised Savior. Why is his resurrection so important?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Takes All the Blame Away – December 6, 2023

Read: 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.

He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
1 Corinthians 1:3,4,8,9

Jesus Takes All the Blame Away

Family Devotion – December 6, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:3-4,8-9

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever been blamed for something bad that happened? Was it your fault that someone got hurt or that something got broken? Have you ever broken a rule or said something that caused pain? Everyone has. Which means everyone can be blamed for something. Everyone is guilty of doing things wrong. Everyone knows this. You know this, right?

So how can the Bible say that we will be “blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ?” How can we be totally innocent when we know we’ve been guilty many, many times?

The messenger of Jesus named Paul has an answer in 1 Corinthians 1:3-9. God is the one who makes us blameless. God calls people to trust him as their king and their savior. He promises that all who trust him this way are treated as people who have no blame and no guilt. But this is no trick. The reason we are blameless is because Jesus was blameless in our place. The Bible says that when God looks at you, he sees someone who is as perfect as Jesus. And anyone who is blameless like Jesus receives all the rewards that Jesus has earned.

In the future, this means every believer will inherit life that never ends with Jesus in heaven. Right now, it means every believer receives the gift of a clean conscience. Sometimes we feel guilty and don’t want to show our face to other people because we are ashamed of something we have done. But God forgives all our sins, which means the people around us can forgive us as well. Moms and dads can forgive each other and their children. Brothers and sisters can forgive their parents and each other. Forgiveness makes hearts feel happier and brings peace to homes.

Of course, we don’t always forgive perfectly. But Jesus does. That’s how God can promise to hold us close and safe and blameless until the end. Because he is the faithful one. As long as we are in his hands then we are safe and sound—and blameless.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, we are often guilty of hurting or harming the people we love. Forgive us for our sins and take away our sadness. Give peace to us and in our home built on the sure knowledge that when we are in your hands, we are held blameless to the very end. Bring us to that great 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

  • Tell a time you took the blame for something wrong you did.
  • Tell what it feels like to be guilty of hurting or harming someone.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name two or three sad things that happen when we are guilty.
  • Name two or three happy blessings that come when we are forgiven.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What does it mean to have a clean conscience?
  • What does the Bible say is the way that God holds us blameless?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s power is scary-good! – December 4, 2023

Read: Isaiah 64:1-9

Oh, that you would rend the heavens and come down,
that the mountains would tremble before you!
For when you did awesome things that we did not expect,
you came down, and the mountains trembled before you.
Since ancient times no one has heard,
no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
Isaiah 64:1,3,4

God’s power is scary-good!

Family Devotion – December 4, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 64:1,3,4

See series: Devotions

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

Isaiah was asking for something that seems strange. He is asking God to rip the sky open and make the mountains shake. Anyone who has been in an earthquake or a big thunderstorm knows that these are very scary things. So why would anyone want God to do something scary like that?

The answer the Bible gives is clear. When God comes in his power, he comes to be the God who saves.

This time of year, we begin to look forward to the coming of our God on Christmas. When Jesus was born, the true God entered our world. Jesus is true God and true man in one amazing person. And Jesus came with a remarkable mission. He came to take away our sin, and by doing that, he has made the end of all things sad and scary possible. He even defeated the scariest thing of all—death.

Isaiah knows that he needs God to save him. He knows that he has not always loved God with all his heart and he has not always shown love to the people in his life. Isaiah knows that even though every person is important to God, not a single one has been what God asks us to be. Isaiah knows this is why people die.

But Isaiah is confident and glad to know that his God is the one who does things for the good of others. He says, “No eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.” As believers all over the world begin this time of waiting before Christmas, they all wait for the God who saves. He saves us with all the power he has, the kind of power that can shake mountains. In fact, when Jesus died to save the world from sin, the people who saw it said that the earth shook. God used all his mighty power to rescue all people from sin and even from death. All who believe in Jesus will one day die, but in the end, God’s power will raise us to live forever with the one who does good things for his people.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming down to save us. When you died for our sins the earth shook, just like Isaiah wanted. Give us faith to trust that you are the God who does good things for his people. Bless us today and always. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are some of the scary things Isaiah hopes God will do (in verse 1)?
  • When Jesus died on the cross it was a scary thing. How did God use such a scary thing for our good?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • People dying is sad and can be scary. How does Jesus dying and rising again help us when people we know are hurt or maybe even die?
  • Put in your own words how God uses his mighty power to do good things for his people.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If God is powerfully at work in our lives, why do so easily forget him?
  • “O Lord, we are the clay, you are the potter” (verse 8). What is Isaiah hoping God will “re-shape”?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God is your judge… and that’s good! – December 1, 2023

Read: Matthew 25:31-46

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.
Matthew 25:31,32,46

God is your judge… and that’s good!

Family Devotion – December 1, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 25:31,32,46

See series: Devotions

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

Do you know what a judge is? A judge is someone who typically sits in a courtroom and decides whether a person is innocent or guilty, whether they have done right or wrong. They typically send the guilty to jail, and the innocent they let go free. That’s what a judge in a courtroom does.

The Bible says that God is a judge and the last day of this world will be judgment day because God is going to judge everyone. In today’s reading, Jesus wants you to picture him “separating the sheep from the goats.” He’s going to judge whether people are good or bad, whether they’ve sinned or not. He is going to bring the good people into heaven, and he is going to lock the bad people away forever in hell.

Did you catch the problem? We are sinners. We have all sinned. A lot. Every single day. God tells us he wants us to be perfect. We’re not even close. If we stand before God, our judge, on the last day with all these sins, we would all look like goats, wouldn’t we? Oh-oh! How scary!

Thankfully, God did something for us. Instead of leaving us like that, he sent Jesus to wipe away every last one of those sins. The Bible says that when you were baptized, you were “clothed with Christ.” This means that when God looks at you, instead of seeing our sin, he sees Jesus. He sees sheep, not goats. To be a sheep is to be loved by Jesus. The Good Shepherd gave up his life to give life to sheep. You and I were made sheep, because the shepherd appeared to take our “goatiness” away.

That means on judgment day, we can stand before God, our judge, and not be scared. Not because of how good we are, but because of everything Jesus has done for us. God can now look at you and see a perfect child, with no sin. He judges you to be a sheep whom he will welcome into heaven.

Until then, what do sheep do? Jesus says, they busy themselves serving others—thinking of others first and giving up what’s important to them to consider what is important to others. May we be busy sheep who share Jesus with everyone, so that they might join us in heaven too.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, keep us always connected to Jesus and his saving Word that we might remain strong in the faith and ready for your return. Give us the courage to share your saving gospel with 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

  • What is a judge?
  • Jesus will judge sheep and goats on the Last Day. Because you believe in Jesus, which one are you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why don’t we need to be afraid of judgment day?
  • Agree/Disagree: To be ready for judgment day means you must be really good and stop sinning.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain why it’s good to know that God is our judge?
  • Why do you think God gives us these details about judgment day?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Death is Like a Nap – November 29, 2023

Read: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
1 Thessalonians 4:14

Death is Like a Nap

Family Devotion – November 29, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:14

See series: Devotions

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

Do you ask your parents a lot of questions? Did you know that asking questions is actually a good thing? That’s how we learn as kids. But it’s also important to understand that your parents can’t answer every question. Sometimes a parent has to say, “I can’t answer you now. Wait until I have more time.” Or “I just don’t know the answer to that.”

Here’s today’s difficult question: “What do I say to someone at a funeral when their loved one dies?” What about a friend in school who loses a grandparent to death? How can you find the words? What should you say to yourself when death makes you cry?

Don’t believe everything you see in movies. People don’t wander the earth when they die or cross over to the land of the dead and live there… so long as people remember them in the living world. That’s just not true.

The Bible tells us the truth today. The apostle Paul says, “We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.” God tells you that death is a sleep and Jesus will one day wake us up from that nap. Do you know why? Because Jesus woke up! He took a three-day nap after his death on Good Friday’s cross and woke up early Easter morning. And guess what? He’s never going to sleep again! So don’t be afraid to nod off at the end of your life. Jesus will gently wake you up in time so you won’t be left behind to miss a thing!

So, the next time you’re wondering what to say, don’t overthink it. Say this, “We believe that Jesus died and rose.” Remember what that means. It means that your grandpa, your mom, your friend, or anyone who died in Jesus isn’t actually dead. They’re taking a nap and they are safe. Someday, Jesus will wake them up. And one day, he will bring us all to be with him.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for sending Jesus to die and rise so that I can have certainty that when I die, I will be in heaven. Please give me the simple words of truth and comfort to speak to others when they lose someone they love. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • In today’s devotion, what is death like?
  • What do you think heaven is going to be like?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do plants, animals, and people die?
  • Why don’t we need to be afraid of death?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name two things that make death kind of scary to think about. How does Jesus overcome those fears?
  • Life on earth is pretty short (70-80 years is average). Heaven is for eternity. Why is that important to remember as we go about our days on this earth?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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What do you see? – November 27, 2023

Read: Daniel 7:9-10, 13-14

In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13,14

What do you see?

Family Devotion – November 27, 2023

Devotion based on Daniel 7:13,14

See series: Devotions

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

Do you know what a holusion is? A holusion is a picture that looks like a bunch of jumbled squiggly lines and colors. You can’t tell what it is from a first glance. But after looking, blinking, staring, and squinting, your eyes start to see something. Only this time, almost behind the picture, a three-dimensional picture magically seems to appear out of nowhere.

Life is kind of like a holusion. To understand what’s really going on, you have to see behind the picture. On the surface, it just looks like a bunch of squiggly lines and confusing colors. It’s hard for us to see how God is working it out.

That’s why God gives us this vision through Daniel so he could see behind the picture. Daniel saw kingdoms rising and falling and the world going crazy! But Daniel also saw that God knew exactly what would happen and was in complete control the whole time.

It’s good to remember that God is the king of history. He never loses control. Even when there are scary things going on around us, nothing is more powerful than our God.

Sometimes we forget that. Sometimes life seems like such a scary, jumbled, confusing mess. it can make us forget or doubt that God is in control. So Daniel encourages us to see what he saw.

He saw a man who walked before the throne of God. A man “like a son of man.” Do you know who the Bible calls the “son of man?” It’s Jesus.

See, God wanted you to see Jesus as someone who was just like us but so strong and powerful, he changed our future from the scariness of death and darkness to the safety of his family and a place where we are forever protected.

There are moments where we all get scared because we don’t see the whole picture. But remember to look behind the picture. Let your eyes see God in complete control. Let your eyes see Jesus, your Savior King, ruling for you.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, let my eyes join the eyes of Daniel and see my God in control at all times and in every way. Let the scary parts of this life fade away when I see your hand ruling for my good. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What’s the thing you’re most afraid of?
  • In today’s devotion, who is bigger than that scary thing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is one thing you’re worried about this week?
  • Why is it comforting to know that Jesus has all power and authority?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it comforting to know that Jesus is standing before the throne of the almighty God for us?
  • Today’s devotion is about God ruling over all things for your good. Name three areas of your life where you find that truth especially comforting.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Don’t Be Afraid to Work – November 24, 2023

Read: Matthew 25:14-30

Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them.
Matthew 25:14

Don’t Be Afraid to Work

Family Devotion – November 24, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 25:14

See series: Devotions

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

Do you like to work? Maybe you want to say “No!” It’s a lot more fun to play and do things that we want to do, right? But actually, work is a good thing! God gave it to us a privilege and a blessing! Just think of how a little two-year-old girl imitates her mom and dad, picking up things around the house, pretending to clean and take care of baby dolls. Think of how a little four-year-old boy likes to work on projects outside with his parents. In Eden, God blessed Adam with the work of caring for the garden. To Adam, that work was a joy and a privilege.

When God gives us work to do, he also gives us the abilities to do it. That’s the truth that Jesus talks about in today’s Bible lesson. It’s a story about a wealthy master. He was rich, but he was also very generous, kind, and loving. Can you guess who that might be? It’s God! And this master gives his servants some of his wealth to take care of. He says, “I want you to be in charge of this and put it to work for me!” Can you guess who the servants are? That’s us!

God has called us into his service, and he has given us brains and talents. Think of the special skills and abilities you have. God calls us to use them and put them to work for him.

Maybe that means putting a portion of our allowance or our birthday money back as an offering to support the work for Jesus. Maybe it means we use the energy God has given us for more than just playing. Maybe it’s serving Jesus by helping to clean up around the house without being asked.

Is work always going to be easy and fun? No, not always. There are days when we get lazy and don’t want to work. That’s why it helps to remember Jesus and his work on the cross. It wasn’t easy, but it paid off! He forgives us when we get lazy or don’t want to work. He calls us back to work for him again. That’s when we realize, “Wow, I get to work for God today!” We get to use everything God has given us for him. What a joy it is to work when we do it for Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Lord, accept our service
for the sake of Christ, your Son;
lo, our hope abides now only
in the righteousness he won.
Bless and save us, help and guide us,
watch to comfort and restore,
till in heav’n we rest rejoicing,
praising you forevermore. Amen.
(Christian Worship 748:3)

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

  • Where does everything we have come from?
  • Name something you can do really well because God gave you the ability.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is your favorite talent God has blessed you with?
  • How might you use that talent to serve God this week?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does Jesus’ forgiveness change the way you think about your money, time, and talents?
  • Come up with three ways you can use your talents to serve Jesus (one for church, one for home, one for school).

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You are a living sacrifice – November 22, 2023

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.
Romans 12:1

You are a living sacrifice

Family Devotion – November 22, 2023

Devotion based on Romans 12:1

See series: Devotions

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

About three years ago, a woman named Ashley was diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer. The doctors said she had a good chance to beat it if she started immediate treatment. But Ashley chose not to. Why? Because at the time, Ashley was 10 weeks pregnant, and the doctors told her that in order for the treatment to be effective, the pregnancy would have to be terminated. “There’s no way I could kill my child because I’m sick,” she said. And so she didn’t.

Time went by. When Ashley was eight months pregnant, doctors told her the cancer was terminal, and they had to deliver the baby. So they did. Her baby girl was born completely healthy. Unfortunately, by that time, Ashley’s cancer had spread too far for treatment, and she died soon after. She gave up her life because her daughter needed her to.

Can you imagine what life will be like for that little girl? Can you imagine how she’ll feel about her mother as she grows up? Will she talk to her family daily of how happy she is to have life? Will she tell all her friends about how her mother decided her daughter’s life was more important than her own? If you were that daughter, would you want in some way to show how thankful you were to your mother for the action of love she showed you?

But what if that daughter didn’t? What if she changed the subject every time her mother came up? What if she just shrugged her shoulders anytime people asked her about her mom? What if she didn’t care?

That wouldn’t be right, would it?

The apostle Paul opens today’s Bible reading with one simple word, “therefore.” And that one simple word reminds us of everything God laid out for us in the book of Romans, which is all about one person—Jesus. Jesus loved our life so much more than he loved his own, believing it was better for him to die than to live without you and me, forgiven and with him in heaven.

“Therefore” urges us to look back and remember Jesus’ sacrifice for us. What a difference it made for us! It’s why we consider ways to “offer our bodies as a living sacrifice.” What does that mean? It means this: live for Jesus. It means when people ask you about your faith, don’t be ashamed to share it! It means inviting your friends to church so they can hear about the sacrifice Jesus made so they could live in heaven. It means loving others how Jesus loved you. Because by faith, God has already made you holy and pleasing to him.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving your life for me. Help me to live for you each and every day. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is one way that Jesus has shown love to you?
  • We show love for Jesus by loving others. What is something that you can do for someone else today?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean when Paul says that God has shown you mercy?
  • Name two ways you can live for Jesus today.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In your own words, explain what Paul meant when he said, “Offer your bodies as living sacrifices.”
  • What are some things that make it difficult to follow Paul’s instructions in today’s devotion?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Why do we do it? – November 20, 2023

Read: Isaiah 1:10-18

Stop bringing meaningless offerings!
Your incense is detestable to me.
New Moons, Sabbaths and convocations—
I cannot bear your worthless assemblies.
“Come now, let us settle the matter,”
says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.
Isaiah 1:13,18

Why do we do it?

Family Devotion – November 20, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 1:13,18

See series: Devotions

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

Why do we do the things that we do as Christians? Why do we go to church? Is it something we just do because we have to? Because Mom and Dad say we should? Why do we give offerings in church? Is it because we’re supposed to? Because everyone else is? How about the church service? Why do we confess our sins every church service? Why do we say the creeds and the Lord’s Prayer? Why do we sing hymns? Is it just because that’s what we’ve always done?

It’s important that we understand why we do the things that we do as Christians, because God wants our heads and hearts to be in worship too!

That’s what God was telling his people in today’s lesson. God told the Israelites how to worship him. He gave them instructions to follow and explained why they were to follow them. God wanted his people to worship him with their hearts. But somewhere along the line, God’s people stopped thinking about what they were doing and why they were doing it. They just went through the motions of worship and didn’t live like Christians when they weren’t at church.

What God talks about today is important for us to remember. Going to church, giving an offering, and saying the right things in the service isn’t what makes us Christians. It’s important that we know, not only what we do, but why we do it.

We go to church each week to hear and learn the most important message of all: God forgave all our sins through Jesus. He’s strengthening our faith every time we listen to his Word. We confess our sins and receive forgiveness, we say prayers, sing hymns, and recite what we believe. Why? Because all of this points us back to that truth. We give an offering to God as a way to say “Thank you, Jesus, for all you’ve done for me.”

So the answer to the question “Why do we do the things that we do?” is actually pretty simple: because Jesus did what he did. He showers us with his grace, love, and forgiveness each time we come into contact with his Word. He sends the Holy Spirit to give us power to serve God and to serve others.

So, why do we go to church? That’s where we hear about Jesus. Why do we give an offering? That’s where we say, “Thank you Jesus.” Why do we sing songs, pray prayers, and recite words? Because those things let us proclaim Jesus! Why do we do what we do? It’s all about what Jesus has done for us.

Closing Prayer:

Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith. Increase our love for you and 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

  • What is the one thing we hear every week when we go to church and Sunday school?
  • What is your favorite hymn to sing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why does God want us to give offerings to him? How is that true even for children?
  • How does God strengthen your faith?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it so important that we understand why we live the way we do as Christians?
  • Agree/Disagree: God gave me my church so that I can show Jesus how much I love him by coming every week.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Can You Stay Awake? – November 17, 2023

Read: Matthew 25:1-13

“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
Matthew 25:1-13

Can You Stay Awake?

Family Devotion – November 17, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 25:1-13

See series: Devotions

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

Get a bunch of boys or girls together for a sleepover and it won’t take long before a challenge arises: Who can stay up the latest? Of course, saying you’re going to stay up all night and actually staying awake until the sun rises are two very different things. It’s why we have fun taking pictures of someone who couldn’t do it and fell asleep before everyone else. It’s why parents have carried most (if not all) of you to your beds on a night when you begged to stay up a little later to finish a movie… but ended up zonked out on the couch 10 minutes later.

When you’re tired, you’re tired. Isn’t it interesting that in Jesus’ story, all the young ladies tried to stay up and wait for the groom to come to his wedding, but they all fell asleep? The thing that separated the five foolish ones from the five wise ones wasn’t whether they stayed awake or not… it was how prepared they were. The wise ones brought extra fuel for their lamps just in case the night ended up being longer than they thought. The foolish ones didn’t. And in the end, the foolish women were left behind, out in the cold, when the wedding started. That’s worse than some embarrassing pics on a friend’s phone!

In his story, Jesus is saying to you, “Are you ready? Are you prepared to go when I call?” Be prepared! Don’t be surprised and say, “But Lord, I didn’t think you would come this soon!” Keep your candle burning now. You don’t know when he is going to come back, so make sure you are awake and ready!

The good news is that Jesus, our “groom,” prepares us and our hearts for his arrival. He provides a ready supply of his gracious oil for our hearts and for the candle of our faith. It’s available! It’s free! It’s rich in forgiveness and long lasting in love! It keeps no record of wrong!

When we start to fall asleep spiritually, Jesus is like that friend at the sleepover who gives you a gentle nudge and says, “Stay awake!”

Closing Prayer:

Now let all the heav’ns adore you,
let saints and angels sing before you
with harp and cymbal’s clearest tone.
Of one pearl each shining portal,
where, dwelling with the choir immortal,
we gather round your radiant throne.
No vision ever brought,
no ear has ever caught such great glory;
therefore will we in victory
sing hymns of praise eternally. Amen.
(Christian Worship 486:3)

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What’s the latest you’ve ever stayed up? Was it easy or really tough?
  • What were the ten young ladies waiting for in Jesus’ story?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What made five of the young ladies “foolish” in the story? How were the wise ones “wise”?
  • Having a sleepy faith is what Jesus is warning about. Why do you think it is so hard to stay awake when we need to?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Sum up today’s story in one sentence using your own words.
  • If God’s Word is fuel to keep our faith burning bright, discuss with your family whether you need more or less of it.

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark! – November 15, 2023

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake.
1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark!

Family Devotion – November 15, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

See series: Devotions

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

Today’s devotion is about a very special day—so special, it’s the only one of its kind. It’s the day when Jesus is going to come back to our world. It hasn’t happened yet, and we don’t know when it’s going to happen exactly. But here’s a clue: “the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” It will come like someone who is trying to break into your home. Why is nighttime the best time of the day to do that? Because it’s dark, and a thief hopes you’re asleep and won’t be able to see him. That is a scary thought! A lot of people are afraid of the dark because they are afraid of what they can’t see.

If you can’t see this big day of Jesus’ return, should you be afraid? Absolutely not! Today’s devotion gives three really good reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid.

  1. We are children of the light and of the day. We don’t fear the dark because we don’t live in the darkness. We live in the light of Jesus! If we are near to Jesus, we can be surrounded by darkness, but it can’t touch us. He is always there with us.
  2. We have faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet. A breastplate is a piece of armor that protects your heart. A helmet protects your head. If you are wearing those two things, you are covered! Our faith in Jesus and what he did for us is like a breastplate. The love that he shows to us, self-sacrificing love, covers and protects us. And we have the hope of salvation! Paul says God has salvation waiting for us on the last day, not punishment. Because Jesus died for us, we get to look forward to living with him. So we should see salvation coming!
  3. We have encouragement from each other. If you are ever afraid of that coming day, just turn to another follower of Jesus for some strength and encouragement. And share that same kind of encouragement with them! Build each other up with the good news that we can look forward to salvation!

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, you tell us the last day will come like a thief in the night. Help us to be children of the light who are not frightened or afraid of that day, but people who are looking forward to the salvation you will bring to all whose faith is in Jesus and the death he died for them. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Sometimes darkness is scary. Are you afraid of the dark? Give at least one reason why.
  • The next time you are in the dark, what is one thing you can remember in your head that will help to lessen your fear?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Paul mentions we should wear “faith and love as a breastplate” and “the hope of salvation as a helmet.” How do faith, love, and hope protect us in a dark world?
  • Paul calls us “children of the light and of the day.” Does that fact make it harder or easier to stay awake and clear-minded?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • After today’s devotion, what would you say to someone who says, “We don’t know when Jesus will come back, so we shouldn’t think about it at all”?
  • Why is it important for Christians to encourage and build each other up before Jesus returns?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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It’s Time to Get Up! – November 13, 2023

Read: Isaiah 52:1-6

Awake, awake, Zion,
clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
Jerusalem, the holy city.
Shake off your dust;
rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem.
Free yourself from the chains on your neck,
Daughter Zion, now a captive.
Isaiah 52:1,2

It’s Time to Get Up!

Family Devotion – November 13, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1,2

See series: Devotions

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

Waking someone up is hard. Trying to wake someone up when they really, really don’t want to wake up is almost impossible. Unless… you have something exciting to tell them. For example, would this get you out of bed? “Wake up… it’s your birthday!” Or, “Get up, today’s the day we leave for our vacation!” Or, “Time to get up, it’s the first day of school” (Okay, maybe not that one). The point is good news can be a really powerful thing when you need someone to get up.

That’s why God is sharing good news with his people (he calls them “Daughter Zion”) here in Isaiah. They had spent many years “asleep” in their faith. They forgot God and how much he loved them. They replaced him with false gods to give them what they wanted. As punishment, God allowed other powerful countries to take them from their homes, put them in chains and led them far away. Daughter Zion was captured. Unable to free herself, she slept.

But God woke her up. “Get up!” he said. He had good news to share. He was going to give back her strength, beauty, and freedom! They had been taken away, but now God was going to buy them back and bring them home. Now they would remember God and who he is and what he did for them. This was such great news! But would be enough to catch their attention and get them to wake up?

The thing is… we need our own wake-up call, too. We were held captive by sin, death, and the devil for so long… we fell asleep with no hope for rescue. But the Holy Spirit wakes us up with good news: you have been set free! Jesus bought you back from your captors. Isaiah said it was “without money that you were redeemed.” But that doesn’t mean it didn’t cost anything. Jesus paid the price for your freedom, not with gold or silver, but with holy precious blood and innocent suffering and death.

Today, the Holy Spirit shakes you awake with the best news you could ever hear: Get up! Enjoy the freedom Jesus bought for you. Wake up and celebrate the name of your Savior Jesus, who said he was going to do this for you a long time ago and kept his promise!

Closing Prayer:

God our Savior, wake up our hearts from spiritual sleep and give us joyful hearts that love to hear the good news your Holy Spirit brings to us every day: the good news of sins forgiven in Jesus! Until the day you bring us home in heaven, we will celebrate your holy 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

  • Who’s the hardest person in your family to wake up?
  • God was going to wake up his special people. What was the special name he had for them? (Read verse 2 if needed – “Daughter Zion.”)

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • According to today’s devotion, why isn’t it good to fall asleep?
  • What good news does God want us to wake up to?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • In verse 4 it says, “you will be redeemed.” “Redeem” means to buy back. How did God redeem us?
  • How do Christians today stay awake once they do “wake up”?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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It’s All Backward – November 10, 2023

Read: Matthew 5:1-12

Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.

He said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
Matthew 5:1-12

It’s All Backward

Family Devotion – November 10, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 5:1-12

See series: Devotions

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

Social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has these things called “hashtags.” It’s basically a way for people to stamp their messages with a theme or an overall idea. #blessed is one of the more popular options out there. The common thread for using that tag #blessed is usually connected to some kind of success story.

We have strict standards of when that word “blessed” applies. Misusing it and applying it to situations where it doesn’t fit just waters-down its meaning and value. And if you do see someone using it in tough situations, it will probably throw you for a loop.

In today’s devotions, Jesus says “blessed” 9 times in 12 verses. As you look through that list of what being #blessed looks like, a few things are probably going to jump out at you. It’s all backward!

But Jesus isn’t making an announcement here: “You have to be these things to be blessed.” No, he is saying that his faithful followers are blessed even when they are experiencing something awful. Even in the lowest low or the darkest dark this life can throw at you, Jesus says you are blessed in spite of the present terribleness all around you!

Is Christ worth it? We give up nothing. We gain everything. It might mean someone laughing. You’ll ask yourself, “Is it worth it?” Who better to tell us that than Jesus? He looked at us in our sad state and wanted to do something about it. He wanted to give us all the spiritual blessings we crave but could never get on our own. And so to give you those blessings, and so many more, he took all of your sins and the curse that comes with them to the cross… and he forgave every last one of them, so you could truly be called “blessed.” So “rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven!”

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you call us blessed, even when we are facing tough times. Thank you for giving us the blessings of being part of your kingdom now and 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

  • Where was Jesus when he taught this lesson?
  • Jesus said, “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in ___________.”

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Ask your mom or dad (or an older brother or sister) what “blessed” means.
  • How do you think people reacted when they heard what Jesus was saying for the very first time?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Which one of these “blessed” things Jesus mentions do you struggle with the most?
  • How can you rejoice and be glad even when tough things are happening to you?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Family Perks – November 8, 2023

Read: 1 John 3:1-3

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.
1 John 3:1-3

Family Perks

Family Devotion – November 8, 2023

Devotion based on 1 John 3:1-3

See series: Devotions

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

Being a child in your parents’ home comes with some special perks. It might not always feel like it, but it’s true. Three of the biggest perks are love, identity, and belonging. Think about it like this: if a random neighbor kid came up to your door, knocked, and asked your dad for a snack and a glass of water, he’d probably say, “I can see your house from here. Go get a snack there!” But if you asked him, he’d probably say something different.

Why? Because he loves you like a father loves his children! Because you are his child, that is what you are! And because you are his child, you belong to him and his family. That’s what makes what John says here so awesome and amazing. God the Father loves you so much that he calls you his children! Not just his children in name only, that is your identity, that is what you are! You don’t belong to the world anymore (it doesn’t even know or recognize you) you belong to him!

This sense of identity and belonging is only possible because of the love the Father poured out on us. Not because we were pure; not because we deserved it. No, it was because of love hopeless orphans could have hope. Jesus was pure when we aren’t, and in his love for us, Jesus gives us his own purity as a blessing of being adopted into this family. When we didn’t have an identity because of wrongdoing… now we have one. Our faith and hope are rooted in Jesus and that makes us children of God!

Do you know what special bonus comes with that? Some day, when Jesus returns, we will be like him. We will get to see him with our own eyes. Part of your identity and belonging in God’s family is the future hope of sharing in his glory and purity forever in heaven. That’s where the perks of love, identity, and belonging you have through faith in Jesus and being part of his family will never end.

Closing Prayer:

Father in heaven, we pray to you as your children… because that is what we are. We praise you for the love you have poured out on us through Jesus, whose life, death, and resurrection have brought us into your family. Hold onto us and keep us safe until that day when we will see him face-to-face and share in your glory. 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

  • Fill in the blank: John says we are ___________ of God two times!
  • Which special word can we call God because we are his children?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Discuss as a family what it means to be pure.
  • What kind of blessings will we enjoy because we are children of God?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • John says, “what we will be has not yet been made known. But… we shall be like [Christ].” Is that comforting or confusing to you? Share why it is, too.
  • In what ways is our hope in Jesus different from regular “hope”?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Life is Hard – November 6, 2023

Read: Revelation 7:9-17

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying:

“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”
Revelation 7:9-12

Life is Hard

Family Devotion – November 6, 2023

Devotion based on Revelation 7:9-12

See series: Devotions

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

“Mom… I’m hungry.” “Dad, I’m so thirsty!” “It’s so hot outside. Can we go to the pool?” Every kid listening to this has said something that sounds like that. The right response from Mom or Dad is a good dad joke (“Hi Thirsty, I’m Dad.”), but those questions are getting at something true and important to understand: life is hard. You eat a good breakfast, but then you’re hungry again before lunch time. Drink as much chocolate milk as you want; you’re going to be thirsty again before you know it. Summer means time off from school and fun, but then it’s 100 degrees outside and you can’t do the things you planned on doing.

That’s just scratching the surface though. Then you remember there’s pain, like when you scrape your knee on the sidewalk. There’s frustration that you can’t get the hang of riding your bike or your best friend is hanging out with her other “best friends.” We cry because things hurt; we are sad because we lose things and people we love. No wonder the angel in Revelation calls this time on earth “the great tribulation!” Life is hard sometimes!

But the picture in Revelation 7 is one of joy and praise. The angel tells John that this huge group of people in heaven, so big you could never count them, have come out of the great tribulation. Now they get to shout a song about God’s victory. They are wearing pure, white robes. Robes they washed in the blood of Jesus, our Lamb, who felt the pain, frustration, and tears we feel. He experienced those things so we could look forward to standing in that choir, singing this glorious song, washed clean of every sinful stain! He gave up his life for ours, like a shepherd for his sheep, so he could be our shepherd forever in heaven.

Yes, life is and will be hard sometimes. But eternal life isn’t hard. Because your Lamb, Jesus, is at the center of it all… and he will keep you fed, satisfied, and safe. The tears he wipes away from your eyes will be the last tears you ever cry… forever!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes this life is hard. It is filled with pain, loss, and hurt. But you promise that someday you will bring us out of this great tribulation and into the joy of heaven. Thank you for washing us clean in your own blood so we could join you in that joy. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is the name of this special place described in the story?
  • Everyone in heaven was wearing white robes. How did those robes become white?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How could you use this part of the Bible to comfort someone who’s going through a tough time?
  • Explain what a “great tribulation” is in your own words.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think now is called the “great tribulation”?
  • What kind of things does earth have that heaven won’t have?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Gives Us the Words – November 3, 2023

Read: Matthew 10:16-23

“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
Matthew 10:16,19,20

God Gives Us the Words

Family Devotion – November 3, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 10:16,19,20

See series: Devotions

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

Do you know that Jesus says a lot of comforting things in the Bible? Here’s one, “Wherever two or three come together in my name, there I am with them.” Here’s another, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Or how about this one, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.” Jesus loves to say beautiful things that give us hope and peaceful feelings. The list could go on and on!

Jesus’ words today probably wouldn’t make the list. “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves.” Why would he say that? Well, Jesus says things he knows we need to hear. There’s a reason we need to hear that we are sheep who don’t stand a chance against a pack of hungry wolves licking their chops. He’s real with us. He doesn’t sugarcoat things.

Jesus is warning us that following him as our shepherd in life means his enemies become ours. Many Christians are blessed with safety and security in the place that they live, but many Christians live in lands where faith in Jesus is a crime. Even those of us who live in countries with religious freedom still fight an uphill battle against those who deny Jesus. God wants us to know this. He doesn’t say these things to scare us… he tells us these things so that we’re ready!

But after warning us about the wolves in the world, Jesus doesn’t simply pat us on the back and say, “All right, you’re on your own now, go get ‘em, kid.” He goes with us. He sends his Spirit to equip us with his Word. His Father’s protective hand is over us the whole way. Your job is to be bold and confess Jesus. God’s job is to give you a powerful defense.

Maybe these words of Jesus make the list of comforting passages after all! Even though we live in a world full of wolves, we are safe because Jesus is forever our Shepherd.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, my Shepherd, thank you for telling me what I’m up against in the world. Give me the wisdom and understanding to live as your sheep in the world. Give me the words to say and the confidence to say them. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Think of a way a sheep surrounded by hungry wolves might survive.
  • How does that help you understand Jesus’ words, “I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves”?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Were today’s words of Jesus about sheep living among wolves frightening, or comforting?
  • How does the promise of God’s Spirit make you bold to confess Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Jesus once told us to be “shrewd as snakes.” What does that mean?
  • Right after telling us to be “shrewd as snakes,” Jesus says to be “innocent as doves.” How might a Christian be both of those things at the same time?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Two Things That Are True About You – November 1, 2023

Read: Romans 3:19-28

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.
Romans 3:23,24,28

Two Things That Are True About You

Family Devotion – November 1, 2023

Devotion based on Romans 3:23,24,28

See series: Devotions

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

Just because someone says, “Only kids like hot dogs” doesn’t mean it’s true. There are lots of hot-dog loving kids, but lots of adults like hot dogs too. Or what if you said, “Everyone who likes hot dogs also likes hamburgers”? Is that true? What about that one person who likes hot dogs but doesn’t like hamburgers? Here’s the point: It’s hard to say something that is true about everyone. Someone likes the color blue. Others like green. Or red. Everyone is different.

In our lesson from Romans, Paul says there is one thing that is true of everyone in the entire world: all have sinned. The Bible says this truth in many different places. In Isaiah: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” In the Psalms: “There is no one who does good, not even one.” The Bible is clear. Every human being is a sinner. Say it with me, “I am a sinner.” And that sin makes us fall short of God’s glory.

But listen to something else that Paul says, and it is also true, even though it sounds like it shouldn’t be: “All are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” It means even though you’ve been bad and done wrong, you are still right with God. How is that possible? Because Jesus made everything right on the cross.

Think hard about this: All have sinned, and all are saved. All have fallen short of God’s glory, and all are redeemed by Christ. How is it possible for both of these things to be true at the same time? This is the beauty of what Jesus has done for us: he takes our sin on the cross and replaces it with his holiness.

When it comes to being right with God, get what “we do” out of the picture. Get what Jesus has done for you in the picture! He’s made me right with God. You are right with God! It’s what everyone in our world needs: salvation, full, free, in Christ.

By faith alone, you are his! Lord keep us steadfast in this truth.

Closing Prayer:

Christ Jesus, you saw a sinner like me and saved me. Now I stand before my God forgiven and set free. May my entire life be lived to your glory! 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

  • Some people try to get to heaven by working really hard and being a really good person. They don’t think they need Jesus to get there. Why is that a big mistake?
  • Jesus didn’t use money to buy us back from sin, death, and the devil. What did he use instead?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • “Grace” means “undeserved love.” Based on what we just read together, why was Jesus’ love to us undeserved?
  • “Redemption” means “to buy something back.” The Bible says that Jesus “redeemed” us. What did he buy us back from?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • “Justify” is a way of saying, “Not guilty.” If “all are justified freely” by Jesus and found not guilty of our sins, why won’t everyone go to heaven?
  • Some people would say that we must make our decision for Christ in order to be saved. Why is that actually impossible to do?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Let the Lions Roar! – October 30, 2023

Read: Daniel 6:10-12,16-23

The king gave the order, and they brought Daniel and threw him into the lions’ den. The king said to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!”

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?”

Daniel answered, “May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.”

The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:16,19-23

Let the Lions Roar!

Family Devotion – October 30, 2023

Devotion based on Daniel 6:16,19-23

See series: Devotions

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

While the sight of Halloween decorations and filled candy bowls for trick-or-treaters is everywhere, there’s another holiday we celebrate on October 31: the Festival of the Lutheran Reformation.

What exactly are we celebrating on that day? Well, we’ll talk a bit about a young priest named Martin Luther who boldly confessed that God’s people are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, as revealed in Scripture alone. Martin Luther wasn’t afraid to take a public stand even when others were afraid to. The impact of his actions is why our church includes Lutheran in its name.

But there’s something more important we are celebrating than a name on a church sign. What we are really celebrating is the same thing we see in today’s Scripture about Daniel being saved from the den of lions in Babylon. We don’t praise or worship Daniel for keeping the lions’ mouths shut. We don’t praise or worship Martin Luther for standing on God’s Word. But they are examples of human beings who looked only to Jesus, the Lord of the Church, to save them. Jesus is the true reason that God’s truth is still at work in the world today.

It is awesome to see how God works in history through people like Daniel and Martin Luther. Their stories are awe-inspiring. We learn what it means to be brave and stand on God’s Word when our reputations, or even our lives, are on the line. We learn a lot about what it means to trust in God when we don’t know what lies ahead in the future. But when it comes to human beings like Daniel or Martin Luther, what their lives and stories really do is remind us that God is in control, God will cause his Church to survive, and God will never let the truth of his Word pass away.

When it comes to you and the times you can’t go to sleep because you’re thinking and growing anxious about your life and world, when the lions begin to roar in your head… let them roar! They’ve been tamed and defeated by the Lamb of God!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, when I’m afraid because of what I’ve done or what’s happening around me, help me to stop staring at those lions and look at you, the Lamb of God who shapes and keeps safe my life. 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

  • Daniel was locked in a den of lions for an entire night. How would you feel if that was you?
  • You might not ever face the possibility of being thrown in a lions’ den… but how can you show trust in God like Daniel did?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Daniel knew there was a chance that the lions would kill him. Martin Luther faced the threat of death too. What did they know would happen to them if their lives would end?
  • Remembering examples of God’s people being brave is helpful to us. Can you think of another example, whether from your life, from history, or from the Bible, of someone who stood up for God and his truth even when it was hard? (Hint: The greatest example is Jesus on the cross for us.)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Wouldn’t it have made more sense for Daniel to keep the windows shut and pray in secret? Why did he do you think he did it?
  • What does the name “Lutheran” on your church sign mean to you? What does it say to your community?

 

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You Live in Two Kingdoms – October 27, 2023

Read: Matthew 22:15-22

The Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him [Jesus] in his words. “Teacher,” they said, “Is it right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar or not?”

But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, “You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax.” They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, “Whose image is this? And whose inscription?”

“Caesar’s,” they replied.

Then he said to them, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.”
Matthew 22:15,18-21

You Live in Two Kingdoms

Family Devotion – October 27, 2023

Devotion based on Matthew 22:15,18-21

See series: Devotions

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

The Pharisees’ trap was set.

If Jesus had said it was right to pay the imperial tax to Caesar, the Jews would turn on him. The Jewish people hated Caesar and his Roman empire. If Jesus came out in support of this tax, he would have lost a lot of respect from his fellow people.

But if Jesus had said you didn’t have to pay taxes, he would have had a different group upset with him. The Romans would have heard him, thought Jesus was going against Caesar, and reacted with severe punishment.

Jesus sniffed out their trap and said, “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” And with those words, Jesus avoided the trap! The Jews couldn’t be mad at his answer because he glorified God. The Romans couldn’t be mad either because he promoted paying taxes to Caesar. It’s a win-win for Jesus… and one loss, for Jesus’ enemies.

What is Jesus teaching us? As long as we live on earth, we live in two kingdoms at the same time. We live in “Caesar’s kingdom,” the kingdom ruled by governments and officials. We also live in “God’s kingdom,” the kingdom ruled by the King of kings and Lord of lords. Both kingdoms are good, and both kingdoms are established by God.

Caesar’s kingdom is concerned with order, justice, and a smooth-running society. Being a good citizen of this kingdom means things like paying taxes (“giving back to Caesar,” as Jesus says), obeying laws, and being a useful part of society. This kingdom is all about being a good person.

God’s kingdom is concerned with the Word of God, giving glory to God, and saving souls. Being a good citizen of this kingdom means, first of all, realizing that we don’t deserve to be a part of it! Pause and reflect on how amazing it is that sinners like us are welcomed into the courts of heaven. It’s not because we’ve earned it. It has everything to do with Jesus, the King, bringing us in! This kingdom is all about Jesus who was the perfect person who perfectly obeyed for us.

We live in both kingdoms, Caesar’s and God’s. One kingdom has an earthly king. The other kingdom has the heavenly King. Both kingdoms are intended for your blessing—one for blessing now, and the other for blessing both now and forever. We want to be good citizens of both!

Closing Prayer:

King of heaven and earth, give me the wisdom to walk in both kingdoms. Help me be a good citizen in the world. Help me be a good citizen of heaven. Rule over my heart and all things in my life. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • In what way can we be good citizens of Caesar’s kingdom?
  • In what way can we be good citizens of God’s kingdom?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus’ main lesson today was “Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Think of a coin or dollar bill you have. Check the pictures and words on it. In what ways would Jesus’ words be different if he spoke them today?
  • In what ways would Jesus’ words be the same if he spoke them today?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Caesar’s kingdom can only make use of the law, which says what is right and what is wrong. God’s kingdom has an additional tool: the gospel, which is the good news of Jesus and his love for us. How does that additional tool make God’s kingdom different from Caesar’s?
  • How can Caesar’s kingdom be established by God if it’s ruled by human beings?

 

 

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