If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019

If Only… – Week of October 28, 2019


Your will be done.

Matthew 6:10



If only. Do you ever find yourself pondering these two little words? “If only I could get a bit more sleep.” “If only I was able to pay off the bills just once.” “If only we had a few more students or another staff member.” “If only I had a new vehicle so I wouldn’t have to worry about the next inevitable repair bill.” “If only God would take away my headaches or cancer or fatigue.” “If only we knew what day the licensing rep would be dropping in for an inspection.” “If only God would answer my prayer the way I’ve asked.” If only.

There are a couple of places that the words, “Your will be done” are spoken in the Bible. Two that come to mind are when Jesus teaches his disciples and us, the Lord’s prayer. Another time is when Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before his arrest and crucifixion. Wouldn’t we expect that Jesus wouldn’t even need to say those words? Wouldn’t God automatically respond to his own Son’s prayer with a “yes?” No. God didn’t for Jesus, and he doesn’t always for us. And we are left to ask why.

Each time we pray, our words are eagerly heard by the God who made the universe, who made each of us. His love and care for us extends beyond seeing us as a mere creation. He loves us deeply, deeper than any love than any parent for their child. More than the parent anticipating their child coming home, God wants each one of his creations to spend every day of eternity in his home, in heaven. That love sent God’s only Son, Jesus, to the cross, the grave, and then to rise on Easter morning. A God who loves us that much, truly wants only what is best for us. When we pray, “Your will be done,” we are making a statement of faith that recognizes that we may not see the big picture for our lives, but our God does. We know what we want, but God knows what is best for us.

Sometimes our prayers are hard. We feel the weight of our burdens and can be thinking, if only God will answer this prayer the way that I hope, all will be fine. “Your will be done.” What is God’s will? What are we saying when we pray these words? God’s will is that his name is made holy and that all would know and believe in him. His will is grounded in a deep love for us. More than just asking God’s will to be done, we are also asking that the Lord bring our will into harmony with his good and gracious will. We can trust his will for us and boldly pray that he would bless and encourage us as we face the challenges of life. We can pray that he will help us to use each of our blessings and challenges as a way to give glory to him for all he has done for us.

The most important “if only” in our lives has already been done. We have forgiveness and peace with God because of Jesus. The heartaches and stresses of life continue but we can face them with courage and with confidence knowing that God’s will is for our good and that whether the answer to our prayer is a yes or a no, he is with us. “Your will be done, indeed!” We wouldn’t want it any other way! To Him be the Glory!



Prayer: Dear Lord, give me confidence and comfort in prayer trusting that your will for me and those I love is good and gracious and founded in your love. In your name I pray. Amen



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – October 27, 2019

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:14-18, 24-30

Monster killer: Risk

This parable seems pretty harsh. At first glance it can seem like the master (God) is mean and overacts concerning the man with one bag of gold.

But, Jesus is giving us some key insights through this parable into how seriously God takes our relationship with him.

Imagine you just got a boyfriend or girlfriend that you’ve always wanted. They’re kind, smart, ambitious, generous and make you feel special. You never thought they’d like you, but now you’re actually together! They are committed to you.

Now imagine that every time you ask them to hang out, they say no. They justify their answer by saying they fear that if you hang out together you might discover something you don’t like about them and then you’d breakup with them.

Seems pretty crazy, right? A boyfriend or girlfriend that never wants to do anything with you? You might say there’s no relationship at all. Their inaction killed your relationship. Inaction is a monster.

God is the master of taking action! He moved heaven and earth to have a relationship with you. He sacrificed his Son, who got into the mess of this sinful world and even faced the wrath of God himself in our place. God saved us from an eternity without him. We now get to call him our Father and get to look forward to a life of perfect happiness with him.

And, God saved us for something, not just from something. He saved us for a life filled with purpose and action. He gave each of us spiritual gifts and talents that are beautiful. When we use them it’s like we’re “hanging out” with God and showing him we’re glad we’re in this relationship.

The man with one bag of gold knew that in order to gain more bags of gold he’d have to take a risk. He knew he could face ridicule, failure, jealousy, and pain if he used what he had. He didn’t want to take that risk. But his inaction produced more severe consequences than his risk would have.

The men who had five bags of gold and two bags of gold took a risk. They went out into the world and used their gifts. They knew their master would value the risk they took. They knew his heart—that if they failed he would welcome them still and love them.

Don’t just settle with being saved from something. Live for something. Take risks for God and use what he’s given you. Even if you get a little bruised and beat up along the way, you’ll end up stronger, more resilient, and even more reliant on God because you’ll realize you need his grace even more.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for saving me from death and saving me for a purpose-filled life. Forgive me for my inaction. Forgive me for burying my gifts. Help me step out in faith and take risks for you. Convince me that there is a certain thrill to living my life for you. It’s what I was made to do. And when I stumble (because I will) you will be right there to comfort me, encourage me, and empower me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The good that I would – October 27, 2019

The good that I would – October 27, 2019


For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do.
Romans 7:19




Military Devotion – October 27, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 7:19

See series: Military Devotions

An old saying declares, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” That might infer that following through on those good intentions could lead a person to heaven. In 1517, it surely did mean that to most people.

The idea that someone could earn the way to heaven by doing good works was firmly entrenched in the minds of most people at that time. It is the natural religion of mankind.

The Reformation brought back the good news that salvation is a free gift from God, paid for with the blood of Jesus. That’s what the apostle Paul had preached and believed. But that did not mean he was not bothered by good intentions gone astray.

Sin is obvious to the person who compares his life to what God expects. The child of God laments the black marks against his record. He knows the sin is paid for, but he is also aware that it is dangerous. It can lead him away from his Savior. And sin is shameful. To be a follower of the Savior is to reject the works of Satan.

Sin is something to fight against.

But the battle is not only against the powers of darkness and the pressure of a sinful world. The enemy is not just out there; it is in here—inside the perimeter of our personal life.

The enemy is inside the wire!

No wonder the apostle Paul was concerned.

He was disgusted with himself. He knew what the right thing, the good thing, was. He wanted to do it. But time and again, he had to admit, “The good that I would (do), I don’t do.”

That’s only half of the sad story. Not only was good left undone, but evil was carried out: “The evil I don’t want to do is what I end up doing.”

In anguish, he called out, “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24)

Wretched, indeed!

How else does one describe the person who knows that his loving God paid such a high price to free him from slavery to sin—and yet he keeps going back to it?

Does he not know the danger? Does he not appreciate the rescue? Does he not want to remain a child of the heavenly Father?

He does know. He does appreciate. He does love his Savior God. But the enemy inside the wire is smart and strong.
“Who can deliver me?” the apostle asked. Then he went on to say: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Romans 7:25)

There’s the answer! Jesus is the answer! Satan may tempt. Sin may control. But only for a while. And not in the end.
Looking at the final verdict, Saint Paul could say: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…” (Romans 8:1).

We join him. We, too, confess: “The good that I would, I do not…” But there is more to say.

“The good that I would but did not—that, Jesus did for me.”

The road to hell is closed to those following Jesus.

The road to heaven is paved with the perfection of the Savior God—and that is the road upon which we are walking.



Prayer: Jesus; you did it all for us. You continue to lead the way to heaven. We know we are weak. We admit we stumble and fall. Give us the courage and strength we need to continue our spiritual fight. Lead us by the hand on the road of life. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Welcome Home – Now What? – Week of October 21, 2019

Welcome Home – Now What? – Week of October 21, 2019


Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and goes after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

Luke 15: 3-7



Can you imagine being in charge of one hundred sheep? The likelihood for one or more to wander off seems pretty high. Think for a minute about what the shepherd in our text does. He leaves ninety-nine sheep in the open country and goes after the one lost one. What devotion he has to that one lost sheep in addition to the others! Once he finds that wayward sheep, he doesn’t herd it back to the flock. “He joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home.” He’s so excited that he lovingly carries that rogue sheep back to join the others. And it doesn’t stop there. He invites friends and neighbors to celebrate with him. What selfless, overwhelming love!

In the past several devotions, we’ve talked about identifying someone you know who has strayed from the Word. We’ve talked about reconnecting with them and encouraging them to come home to their church and even more, to their Savior. Hopefully you’ve had an opportunity to do so and a conversation is beginning. You may hear those heartfelt words of gratitude that you cared enough to reach out. What a blessing to join in thanking God for this incredible blessing! What a cause for celebration!

But then again, you may not see immediate results. You may encounter resistance. Not everyone is going to fling their arms wide and say, “Thanks! That’s just what I needed to hear!” But take heart, it’s not up to you. It’s up to the work of the Holy Spirit. Be patient and loving, just as our Shepherd is with us.
So, what’s next? What do we do now? Think back to that shepherd. It’s not too hard to imagine that the probability of one (or more) of his sheep wandering off happened frequently. He was constantly on the lookout and eager to bring each one back. The encouragement is the same for us. Keep looking. Keep reaching out. Keep encouraging. Keep showing patience and loving care for anyone who needs to hear the comforting words of the Good Shepherd as he says, “Welcome Home!”

Dear Jesus, give me a caring, loving heart that is eager to reach out to those I know. Give me the words to share that encouragement with them in their faith. In your name I pray. Amen



Our devotion today is the final in the series focusing on the Welcome Home initiative. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – October 20, 2019

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25

Monster killer: Self-control

Just stop it.

That’s our default strategy for dealing with spiritual monsters we face. Whether it’s lust, jealousy, rage, alcohol and drug addiction, or sexual sins, we normally have one plan to battle them.

“I’m just going to stop it. I’m going to use my will power.”

But this strategy doesn’t work. You know it doesn’t work because you’ve tried (and failed) to just stop. Why doesn’t it work? Because human will power is part of the “flesh”. That means it’s corrupt, weak, and incapable of following God’s will.

That’s why we will become frustrated and filled with guilt and hopelessness if we try to achieve self-control simply by following God’s law by our own power.

There’s a better way to battle against these monsters—these sins of our flesh.

Instead of “just stop it,” how about “just step with” the Holy Spirit? This is a better strategy. Why? Because with this strategy you’re tapping into the power of the only one who can truly transform your heart and life. With this strategy, you’re getting true self-control because you understand some important things about yourself.

Keeping in step (walking with) the Holy Spirit and getting true self-control involves three parts.

  1. Remember who you belong to.

    Through faith, God has made you his dearly loved child. You belong to Christ, and he has given you his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is powerful. He has transformed your heart by giving you faith in Jesus. You are deeply loved and valued, no matter how well or how poorly you have been living. God never abandons his dearly loved children!

  2. Call things what they really are.

    When you fall into temptation, don’t deny it or hide it. Confess it. Bring it into the open. Call those actions what they are: “the old me”. You will always have a sinful nature that wants to keep sinning here on earth. These actions lead to guilt, pain, and death. The more you call out your own sin, the more you destroy its power.

  3. Put what you learn into practice and persevere!

    Stepping with the Holy Spirit means you are moving forward. He promises that when you stay close to him you will bear fruit (love, patience, goodness, kindness, and self-control). And, most importantly, don’t give up! Keep going back to #1 and #2.

Remember that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is a marathon and not a sprint. Jesus is with you on the journey!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give me true self-control by reminding me about myself. I am a dearly loved child of God bought with the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. You will never abandon me! I also know I have a sinful nature. Help me put it to death every day by confessing my sins and trusting in your forgiveness. Finally, let me trust your Holy Spirit and keep moving forward. Staying close to him, I will produce good fruit in my life, all to your glory. Amen!


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019

Help of the hopeless – October 20, 2019


“Do not let Hezekiah mislead you when he says, ‘The LORD will deliver us.’ Has the god of any nation ever delivered his land from the hand of the king of Assyria? Where are the gods of Hamath and Arpad? Where are the gods of Sepharvaim? Have they rescued Samaria from my hand? Who of all the gods of these countries has been able to save his land from me? How then can the LORD deliver Jerusalem from my hand?”
Isaiah 36:18-20




Military Devotion – October 20, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 36:18-20

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it seems there is no hope because it seems there is no help.

It might be a violent storm. It might be a vicious disease. Or, as it once was for Israel, it could be an overpowering enemy. Whatever form it may take, desperate situations call for desperate help.

It is then terrifying to realize the help may not be there.

The list of seemingly unstoppable armies that appear on the pages of history is a long one. Napoleon led one of those. So did a fellow by the name of Hannibal, with his elephants. Likewise a Rommel, with his tanks. But the name that struck terror into the hearts of Israelites at the time of King Hezekiah was an Assyrian named Sennacherib.

A later poet described his style of waging war with the words, “The Assyrian came down like a wolf on a fold.” They came down from modern Syria and overran everything. Destruction, pain, and death followed. “Unstoppable” was the word that seemed to fit best.

When they came to the edge of Jerusalem, Sennacherib sent a field commander to demand that the city surrender. He pointed out the situation was hopeless because the Israelites were helpless—just like many cities before them.

It was not an empty boast. City after city had already fallen before this superpower. Jerusalem knew this. The ten northern tribes of Israel had been overpowered, with many casualties. Survivors had been rounded up and marched into captivity. So thorough was the defeat that those ten tribes vanished without a trace. They became the famous lost tribes of Israel.

Only Judah and little Benjamin were left.

Sennacherib knew the Israelites well enough to realize they would not be counting on an ally to deliver them, nor would they boast of the strength of their army. Israel’s final answer would be, “Our help is in the name of the Lord!” It was a matter of faith in their God.

So, he attacked their God.

Karl Marx, the father of Communism, once famously remarked, “Religion is the opium of the people.” He meant it offered people a false sense of security and well-being. Sadly, it can be true.

The religions of the people of Arpad and Hamath offered empty promises. Their destruction was the proof. Would it not be the same for those who placed their hope in the Lord?

Hezekiah did not believe that. History does not reveal that. Instead, we learn: “Then the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew” (Isaiah 37:36).

The situation of Israel was not hopeless because she was not helpless. She sang out, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” And it was.

So is ours.



Prayer: Eternal Father, strong to save, one of our greatest enemies is doubt. Although we know about you and your promises, we sometimes find ourselves not trusting you. Our eyes look for proof, and our hearts long for evidence. Grab hold of our faith so that it might stand up to attack and overcome unbelief. Without you, we are both helpless and hopeless. Remind us of who you are and what you have done. Point us to Jesus, the help of the hopeless. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Welcome! That Someone is Someone – Week of October 14, 2019

Welcome! That Someone is Someone – Week of October 14, 2019


Then Philip ran up the to chariot and heard the [Ethiopian] reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?”

Acts 8: 30-31 (For the complete account of Philip and the Ethiopian, read Acts 8:26-39)



You saw someone you were pretty sure you knew. But you saw them out of context. Too many years, too many faces. A former student? Someone from the old neighborhood? Everyone has found themselves at the awkward moment of recognition but not quite recollection. “You are . . . someone?” Ever get it wrong? At worst, we are embarrassed, and we likely embarrassed someone else.

In our account from Acts, far more is at stake than embarrassment. Our Ethiopian friend is struggling with the second scroll of Isaiah. He is reading from what we now know as Isaiah 53. He has come across one of the clearest prophecies as Christ’s substitutionary suffering and death for the sins of the world. Christians have used this very section of Scripture in worship on Good Friday for centuries because it is directly talking about Christ. But our Ethiopian friend is at his own awkward moment of some recognition but not proper recollection – “Is it Isaiah or someone else?”

At just the right time in just the right place, God picked up and placed someone there for the Ethiopian man. God brought Philip alongside the man’s chariot so he could explain who someone else is. The someone else is Jesus. The One who is, who was, and is to come to bring good news. Jesus is the One who gave his life as the ransom for the many. He is the innocent, blameless One who bears the innumerable sins of the whole world. Jesus silently was slaughtered to pay the price for sin – once and for all. This someone, this One is the Savior.

What a beautiful account! It is easy to see the miracle of how God used Philip as a very important someone in the Ethiopian’s life.

Do we realize and appreciate the incredible miracle of our own faith. We all are born into this sinful world with a sinful heart so darkened we couldn’t possibly comprehend the truth. We live in a sinful world so out of context of understanding who God is and what he is like. So in miracles of wonder and grace, God sent into our lives at just the right time and place, someone. A parent, a spouse, a friend, a pastor, a teacher, who brought us to the font and taught us the word of God. The Holy Spirit worked through the Word shared by someone. Now we truly are someone – a child of God, forgiven and loved by the One.

God now uses us as someone in the lives of others. Sometimes this is easy and joyful. We pass on precious truths to the next generation telling them the good news. Sometimes it can be far more awkward or uncomfortable. The next generation gets older and more defiant. Dearly loved friends and family members drift away from church. How will they know unless someone invites, encourages, explains? May God continue to encourage us and use us as someone in their lives.



Prayer Reflection: Give thanks to God for the many “someones” he has placed in our lives to bring us and keep us in the faith. Consider someone we know who needs to hear again of the only One who saves. Pray for love and humility to welcome them home to hear the good news.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – October 13, 2019

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:6-10

Monster killer: Love

False imprisonment, whippings and beatings, a shipwreck, rumors and lies spread about him, ridicule, sleeplessness, and extreme hunger. What would you call a guy who perseveres through these things to share the good news of Jesus with people?

Courageous? For sure. Strong? Definitely. Determined? Absolutely.

Loved? Loving? Uh…didn’t think of that.

I’m talking about the apostle Paul, who wrote the Bible verses above to his good friend, Timothy. Paul went through extreme suffering in order to spread God’s Word to people who didn’t know God’s true love in Jesus.

Paul was afraid at times. Wouldn’t you be? But something kept Paul going. Something slapped his fear in the face and held it back.

It was love.

Jesus’ love for him had radically transformed Paul’s life. He realized he now didn’t have to fear the ultimate fear of eternal death. He grew up thinking the opposite. He grew up fearing God and thinking the only way to heaven was through following a bunch of rules—rules he knew he couldn’t keep completely.

But now Paul knew better. He knew that he was saved by God’s great power and love. So with his ultimate fear gone, he was now ready to face his other fears in life. Now he not only knew he was loved by Jesus, but he felt love for other people. He wanted them to have the same peace he felt. Paul’s love for other people kept him going.

The next time you face fear, especially the fear of sharing your faith, remember this: love drives out fear. Jesus loves you right in that moment. He’s with you as you stand next to that person who needs to hear about him.

Let your love for that person slap your fear in the face. When you look at that person with love, things change!

Facing the monster of fear with Jesus’ love is a recipe for success.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your love for me. Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me power, love, and self-discipline. The next time I feel afraid of rejection or suffering because of my faith in you, fill my mind and heart with the truth of how much you love me. Your perfect love drives out my fear. You help me do what seems impossible—you help me love another person and share the good news of Jesus with them. Thank you! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019

Today Haji dies – October 13, 2019


Do not go out to the fields or walk on the roads, for the enemy has a sword, and there is terror on every side.
Jeremiah 6:25




Military Devotion – October 13, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 6:25

See series: Military Devotions

Sometimes it is dangerous to go out.

He said he wasn’t afraid, though I had not asked if he was. He was young. But he was a soldier. He was determined. But his eyes showed worry. He was rolling out to be part of a convoy heading “up north.” He was just a stone’s throw from Iraq. But he said he wasn’t afraid. With a wave and a smile, he shouted:

“Today, Haji dies!”

That same Monday morning there were mothers sending little ones off to school, and commuters fighting traffic backups. They had tasks to perform and expectations to meet. They probably hoped the day would go well.

They did not expect that on this day, they might need to take the life of another person. He did.

If someone was to die on that day, the young soldier was determined it would not be him.

He knew he needed to be able to kill without hesitation. Hesitation could get himself and others killed. So, he dehumanized the enemy. “Today, Haji dies!”

Dehumanizing names for enemy combatants have been used before. In other wars, they used Hun, or Kraut, or Gook, or Charlie. Haji was chosen as the name for the enemy in the Middle East. There are others.

For the every-day citizens to ask others to kill for them is asking a lot. Yet, it’s often done without much thought. Most civilians simply expect that someone will step forward to defend their country. Few recognize the burden that this places onto the warrior’s shoulders. Losing a battle is not the same as losing a football game. Lives may be lost if lives are not taken.

The thrill of triumph over enemies killed may turn into regret in later life. The question that comes to the mind of the Christian warrior is, “What does God think about all of this?”

Fortunately, God tells us what he thinks. He commands us to protect lives. He entrusts governing authorities with the responsibility of using force, even lethal weapons, to deal with those who would do harm. To such ones, he says, “Be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing” (Romans 13:4).

Few stateside Americans know what it is like to live at a time such as Jeremiah writes about. Most have only heard about terror. We are not afraid to walk in a field lest we be ambushed. We do not fear that IEDs are planted on our roadways. We pray those days never come.

We do, however, know that terror exists. Some is homegrown. Some thrive in foreign fields. It seems no matter how often it is rooted out, back it grows again. For the seed of terror is evil—and that sprouts everywhere.

In a hymn, we sing, “I walk in danger all the way…” We have little idea of how true that is.

There is an enemy behind every enemy we face. His name is not Haji. It is Satan. He once took on the Son of Righteousness—and lost. It’s important that we remember that: he lost!

There is a saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” This is true. The enemy of all that would do me harm is my friend Jesus. With a King David, I will say to him, “I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”

With him, I can go out into danger without fear.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, sometimes we forget how dangerous the world is that we live in. And sometimes we know very well that we are walking into danger. Be with us so that we need not ever fear. Not even death can defeat us. We will live with you forever. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Welcome! Connect to the Means of Grace – Week of October 7, 2019

Welcome! Connect to the means of grace – Week of October 7, 2019


So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:11



I grew up in the Midwest. The only interaction I had with the ocean was through pictures, TV, or movies. I remember watching surfers in California gracefully maneuver over the waves. It looked so peaceful and like so much fun. Then, the time came for me to get my chance to venture into the ocean. My first call was to Southern California, so the ocean was within reach! When I got to the ocean for the first time, the smells, sounds, and sights were just as I had imagined. My childhood exposure from across the country didn’t lie. Then, one of my friends, a native of California, told me it was time to go out into the waves and take our turn at boogie boarding. Surfing was too hard for day one! He gave me a quick lesson on how to go out into the waves and where to catch them to ride them back in. One of the first waves I caught was way too late, and the wave picked me up, then slammed me down into the ground, and rolled me around like I was in a washing machine. I walked out of the ocean with a bloodied shoulder and a mouth full of sand. I had no clue what power waves had!

Sometimes it is easy to downplay or forget about the power that everyday things have. There is “hurtful power,” like being shocked by bare wires or slamming your finger in a car door. And there is “helpful power” – not the churning of breakers on the beach but hydroelectric power generated by massive turbines deep in a dam. What about God’s power? Do we fully recognize the power of God’s Word for daily life? Or do we not think that much about it?

We are blessed to be teachers in Christian schools where we don’t only use the Bible some of the day, but we use it to frame every subject that we teach. God’s love through his Word is woven into the fabric of the day for our students, and in that way the Holy Spirit is given the opportunity each day to work in the hearts of our students, and our hearts!

God tells us in Isaiah 55, “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Each day, we walk into our classrooms armed with the most powerful weapon of all time, and God promises us that it will work! And for most people, the most powerful and formative encounter with the Word happens in worship – not merely the content of the readings and sermon, but also the weekly reinforcement of the liturgy, and the deep impact of the Word expressed in hymns.

As you go about the privilege of your work today, may God fill you with the knowledge that his Word will not return to him empty. Be encouraged to use it and have loving conversations to keep students and families connected to this spiritual power source (especially as it is delivered in worship) and not to minimize or forget its power.



Prayer Reflection: Invite someone to Welcome Home Sunday at your church. Help them understand that you love them enough to connect to God’s powerful Word with them. Ask God to give you the courage and strength to help others gain access to his Word who may not be currently connected.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – October 6, 2019

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5b-7

Everything in love

Think of the last time a trusted friend turned on you. You thought you could count on them only to find out that they only were concerned about themselves. What’s worse is they betrayed you. They posted unkind things about you on social media. They spread lies about you. In the end, they really weren’t your friend.

That’s how pride works. For a while, you like pride. He’s your friend. You feel good about yourself. Others might even view you as confident. You seem to be getting ahead in life.

Pride inside of you says, “If you want to be great, put yourself first. If you don’t, you’ll never succeed.”

But, at some point, pride turns on you. You realize that living a self-centered life has its drawbacks: Friends might leave you or avoid you. Everything seems dependent on you and on your shoulders, but you realize you aren’t always in control of life. One mistake could ruin you. That’s a lot of pressure.

The most frightening thing about having a prideful heart is that God will oppose you. That’s not a good place to be. He will oppose you because there’s no room for him inside a prideful heart. God knows that when he’s not first in your heart, everything falls apart eventually. Pride really is a monster.

The good news is that you have another friend. A truer friend. He is humility personified. His name is Jesus Christ. He’s kind. He’s dependable. He is concerned about you. He sticks with you when others bail. He’s always thinking of you. In fact, he left everything to come rescue you and serve you. And he’d do it again if he had to!

If the monster of pride is getting to you, fight him with humility. Humility starts with confessing your pride and turning to your friend, Jesus. God will then lift you up and calm your heart with his presence.

Jesus’ love and forgiveness refresh you and empower you to a better life. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

So, hang out with and follow your best friend, Jesus, today. Put on your new self. Live today thinking of the interests of others, not just your own. Do something today that lifts up another person. Doing so will be a punch in the gut to the monster of pride.

Prayer: Father, you thought of us first even when we brought sin into the world. You promised us Jesus. He had everything, but willingly put our interests ahead of his own. Convince us that you belong first place in our hearts. Show us the ugliness of pride. Forgive us for our pride. Give us the strength to lift up another person today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019

Peace and quiet – October 6, 2019


But you will have a son who will be a man of peace and rest, and I will give him rest from all his enemies on every side. His name will be Solomon, and I will grant Israel peace and quiet during his reign.
1 Chronicles 22:9




Military Devotion – October 6, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 22:9

See series: Military Devotions

Peace and quiet! That’s what a busy mom looks forward to when those little ones finally are in bed. That’s what her husband enjoys when he sits in his boat with a line in the water.

There’s a time for excitement and action—but not all the time. A person needs a break from stress and uncertainty. So does a nation.

Beginning with its first king, the nation of Israel moved from one crisis to another. David, the second king, fought so many battles that God said he had too much blood on his hands to be the builder of the great temple.

King David usually didn’t look for trouble. It did often find him, however. He spent hours deep into the night pondering how to face them. He must have longed for sleep on some of those nights. Sometimes, however, even in sleep, there is no rest.

An officer in the Mighty 8th, which took such a pounding when making raids against Axis targets in WWII, made this report: “The men lived the battles in their sleep, with considerable mental disturbances. The other night the men went into the barracks and found Captain Fenton flying an apparently tough mission. Apparently, his ship was hit, and he exclaimed: ‘Co-pilot, feather number four!’ The lieutenant, sound asleep answered him. Both of them, sound asleep, piloted the severely damaged Fort back home…”

Sleep doesn’t always bring peace. Some dreams refight battles of years long ago. Some of those sleepers yell out or strike out. They may find little rest.

And nations? What candidate for President would be so foolish as to promise that if he were elected, the country would never go to war? Some things are out of our control.

Not so for the Lord of the nations.

Solomon was not elected to be the leader of Israel. The Lord placed him into that position of power and responsibility. He then decreed that this king and his nation would have peace and quiet during Solomon’s lifetime.

Those who might have said: “I have to see it first!” saw it. History records it.

In war zones, it is not uncommon for a group planning a mission to hear the warning, “Remember, the enemy has a vote.”

The best of plans might need to be adjusted because the enemy does something unexpected. We cannot change his plans. We can only try to improvise, adapt, and overcome.

The Lord God does not need to resort to that approach. He can control the plans and actions of nations and their leaders as easily as he controls storm clouds. War is a consequence of sin. Wars and rumors of wars, according to Jesus, will continue to the end of time. But the Lord of glory will determine how often, how long, and where he will permit wars to take place.

The same is true of any consequence of sin that can threaten the welfare of his people.

We remember that Jesus descended from the line of David and Solomon. He is called the Prince of Peace. Of him, it is said, “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you” (Isaiah 26:3).

We trust in him! He is the Savior God who fought to overcome the power of the Evil One.

We can set aside every fear and worry when we walk with him.

Midst a loud and sometimes chaotic world, he offers our soul peace and quiet.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we place ourselves into your hands. You guide us. You keep us. You give us times of peace. And quiet. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Welcome! Build Relationships Today – Week of September 30, 2019

Welcome! Build Relationships Today – Week of September 30, 2019


Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8



My mother always called herself the “mean lady” in the neighborhood. We never seemed to get away with much as she was always watching us from a distance to make sure my brothers and I behaved as we were supposed to. I remember specifically one time we were up to no good, and when I looked up … there was mom, both hands on her hips, and we knew we were going to spend some time paying our disciplinary dues.

At the time, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. But now I can laugh and recognize that my mom was loving us through discipline. In a family, love can take on so many different forms. It’s serving one another by cleaning up or cooking meals. It’s a kind word of encouragement when we are feeling down. It’s enjoying one another’s company by snuggling on the couch and falling asleep on a movie night. Love in a family is powerful.

In a Christ-centered family, that love is built on the truths of Scripture – a reflection of the love with no conditions that God offers us freely through Jesus. In a school or classroom, it is no different. You might be referred to as the mean teacher, and the kids might straighten up when they see you walk into the room, but they do that because of the love you show to them, not fear. Whether consciously or subconsciously, they know that God’s love guides you. How? Because you model it and talk about it.

Today’s verses give us some encouragement. “Instead, we were like young children among you. Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” Notice the connection to relationships. They shared spiritual love, but they also shared their lives. They had genuine and meaningful relationships with one another.

That is the type of connection that teachers get to have with students. They build trusting relationships on the foundation of Christ’s work. They open their lives to their students and share the gospel at every turn. Those relationships build a high level of trust.

And here’s the kicker. Trust provides opportunity. There may be students in your classrooms today or your classrooms of old who are not continuing to stay connected to God’s Word. Their connection to the lifeline of Scripture may slowly be getting choked off. And that has eternal consequences.

As you walk into your classroom or school today to faces of God’s children that may be sleepy, angry, overflowing with energy, or just there, may God strengthen your ability to build relationships. May God help you to use those relationships to encourage connection to the beautiful Gospel message, because that message motivates us for today and secures our future in heaven.



Prayer Reflection: Look around your school or classroom today. Identify students and families that may be disconnected from the Word. Take a moment to write them a note or text them right now to encourage and invite them to connect to the Word with you – at church, over a devotion, or over coffee. Pray that God would work through you to connect with someone who may be straying from the life-giving Word.

Our devotion today continues to focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


The joy robber – September 29, 2019

The joy robber – September 29, 2019


And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.”
Luke 2:10




Military Devotion – September 29, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 2:10

See series: Military Devotions

A rich inheritance of joy has been transferred into my spiritual account. I have seen the paperwork. It has been verified by the highest authority. Yet, fairly often, when I go to draw from that account, I find little there. Why not? Have I been robbed?

Maybe I need to track down the joy robber.

It may help to look closely at the circumstances surrounding a loss. I recall a time when some people complimented me on a job well done. Instead of walking away happy, I went off discouraged because someone mentioned that in one area, I might have done a little better.

Joy wiped out.

Another time, the smile in my heart faded when I learned the new gadget I was so happy to have was just replaced by a newer model.

Joy gone.

The times when I expected a new assignment, a new house, or cancer in remission would make me forever happy?

They did not.

What memories come in the middle of the night? The many happy days? No, the regrets!

I plod along in life, hoping for the best but often expecting the worst. If I remember the song, Home on the Range, I might doubt the words, “Where never is heard a discouraging word.”

What happened to the joy? What robbed me of it?

There are suspects. Envy seems to do it. Rather than being happy for someone else’s happiness, envy is irritated.

Materialism could be a culprit. It tends to look for joy in all the wrong places.

Fear must not be forgotten. Instead of enjoying the pile of blessings in life, it frets that someday I might lose some of them.

Thus, worry must be added to the list of suspects.

Can’t forget rank foolishness, either!

I know enough not to run up a credit card bill if I won’t have the funds to pay it off. Yet, I am tempted to try to buy joy on credit. Satan is always happy to lend me some. He says my record of sinning qualifies me for the loan. But the interest rate is very high, and at the end, the payment due will be horrendous. I dare not be that foolish.

The question remains, which suspect robbed me of my joy? I don’t have a clue.

But my heavenly Bookkeeper does. He pulls up the tape in my memory to show the culprit in action. It reveals the person behind the envy and materialism and worry and fear and foolishness. I see it now.

I am the robber of my joy.

There is no one else; there is nothing else to blame. In fact, it is a fake robbery. The stockpile of joy is still there, waiting for me to use.

The joy has been bought and paid for with holy blood. It is still mine.

The angel was right. The tidings of great joy are for all people. That joy was given to me.

And to you.

Let’s not rob ourselves of it.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, at Christmas we sing, “Oh, where can joy be found? Where but on heavenly ground?” We know that is true. We believe the angel’s words about the good tidings of great joy. Please restore unto us the joy of our salvation. Give us Christmas joy each day of our life. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – September 29, 2019

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Everything in love

Who is the most accomplished person you know personally? A classmate with a 4.0 and tons of scholarships coming? The all-conference captain of the team? The soulful singer who steals the stage and the show? The neighbor who seems to have endless friends and perfect relationships?

The words that open 1 Corinthians 13 are fascinating. And they open our eyes to a completely different way of thinking. You might have the greatest gifts and abilities (which these devotions have talked about a lot this month), but unless you act in love you do nothing, you gain nothing, and you are nothing. Without love, then, the greatest action or deed is meaningless.

It all comes down to love. So, what better thing can there be than a checklist of what love looks like, right? However, reading through the description of love in verses 4-8 of this great “love chapter of the Bible” is like reading your own personal list of epic fails. Patient? Nope! Not proud? I wish! No record of wrongs? Fat chance! For me, it seems like love always fails.

But this is where our attention needs to shift focus to true love, to the one who embodies love and even is love—God. “God is love,” the Bible says, and it also tells us how “God so loved the world,” and how “God demonstrated his love for us.” We need look no further than Jesus. There we see perfect love that never has, never did, and never will fail. In Jesus we see love that was perfectly patient, kind, compassionate, forgiving, and every other descriptor you could add.

That perfect love of Jesus is your love. Why? Because he is your substitute and his perfect righteousness now belongs to you. And, he is also your Savior who blots out and erases your every failure. Now that is perfect love!

That love of Jesus is what wraps us in a warm and snuggly embrace. That love of Jesus is what fills our hearts with joy to the point that eventually it spills out as we love and serve others. That love of Jesus is what never fails to be good or the right thing to do. Yes I may fail, but his love never does—either for me or through me.

So go on friend! Live your life. Pursue your goals. Chase your dreams. Do your daily work. But whatever you do, let the love of Jesus drive each thought, word, and deed.

Prayer: Jesus, so fill my heart with your love that I may live that love for you and others in all I do. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Welcome! Love with no Conditions – Week of September 23, 2019

Welcome! Love with no Conditions – Week of September 23, 2019


And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.

1 John 4:16



You know that person, right? That person who loves you no matter what. There is nothing that you could do to break it. When you think about them, you can feel their warmth, care and concern for you. For me, as a child, that was grandma. Her loving smile, embrace, gifts, and care never changed. Ever. And that was despite my being a little boy who got into mischief, who argued with his brothers, and who accidentally broke things. Earthly love with no conditions is beautiful, heart-warming, and truly impactful.

In 1 John 4, we see the true foundation of love with no conditions. “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” Consider the impact of God’s love for us. Christ has washed clean every single sin that we have ever committed and ever will commit. That is no small task. And he knows all of them, even the thoughts that no one on the face of this earth will ever know … the ones that would push us to red-faced embarrassment should they be found out. We have so much to be thankful for in our private relationship with our loving brother and Savior, Jesus.

As teachers, we have the opportunity each day to model Christ’s love with no conditions in our classrooms, on the playground, and wherever we serve. That modelling can only happen as we are filled with God’s grace and as the Holy Spirit empowers us through a deep and recurring connection to the Word and Sacraments. Only then can our modelling reflect Christ’s love — even though imperfectly, but still by God’s design.

What does that look like in your classroom, office, field, or stage? If you weren’t aware, we work with sinful students, parents, and coworkers. It is easy to become frustrated or maybe even resentful of the sin in other’s lives that cause us pain in our lives. In those moments which may even happen today, remember that Christ’s love living through us builds real, meaningful connections with those we serve. It allows us the opportunity to exert positive Christian influence as a family of faith. We are able to have real conversations about our faith, our struggles, and how God continues to guide us until we all reach eternity. It even gives us the opportunity to encourage students, parents, and coworkers to stay connected to Jesus and the spiritual power he wants us to have through regular worship with the family of believers.

May God grant you a joy that is rooted in your faith that understands his love with no conditions and allows you to model that love to those you serve today. God wants to build his kingdom as he lives through you!



Prayer Reflection: Write down the name of a family or student who may have disconnected from regular connection to the Word and Sacraments. Pray for that family and ask God to influence you to love them and model Christ’s love with no conditions. Pray that God would give you an opportunity to reconnect them in any way to his Word.

For the next few weeks, our devotions will focus on the Welcome Home initiative. We’ll consider how the unique relationship that teachers have with students and families, can provide an opportunity to encourage them spiritually, especially if they have drifted away from their church, their faith. For more information and resources for the Welcome Home initiative, go to: welscongregationalservices.net/welcome-home



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – September 22, 2019

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18

We are many

Ever have that one little pain that drives your whole-body crazy? A sprained ankle leads to limping and possible back and hip pain, as well as sore hands and shoulders from using crutches. Waking up with a knot in your neck muscles leads to impaired mobility and subpar functionality throughout the day. A severe headache might cloud your thinking and sideline you for the whole day.

Of course, the more severe the impairment, the more difficult it is for the body. Those without use of limbs (either by birth, accident, or otherwise), have a great deal of work to do to compensate. Those without senses have to figure out certain ways to navigate this world without being able to see, hear, or speak.

You see, God designed the body in such a way that every part has a function. Every part is important. And, every part is meant to work together in unison as one fully functioning body.

The same is true for God’s church on earth. You are not less important if you are not a pastor. You are not useless if you are female and not male (or vice versa). You are not a waste of the church’s time because you are young.

As we said a few weeks ago, every service and every servant matters. The apostle Paul tells us again here that every part belongs because, “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Maybe you are part of the tech team on Sunday morning. Maybe you are an usher. Maybe you help with VBS. Maybe you sing or play an instrument, or help canvass and pass out fliers, or simply offer whatever best offering you are able. God has given you the abilities to function as that “part” of the body of Christ and your work matters to the functionality of the whole body of believers in the church.

Think carefully about what you enjoy doing—activities, hobbies, work. These are likely things that involve the unique gifts and abilities God has given you. How can you use those to serve your Savior and serve your neighbor? It doesn’t have to be big! Maybe you will be a mouth that witnesses. Maybe you will be hands that serve. Maybe you will be ears to listen and a shoulder to cry on. But whatever you do, know this—your part matters to the body of Christ!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in addition to the many gifts you shower me with daily, you also have given me unique gifts and abilities to serve you and others. Help me to use these gifts as a part of the body of Christ. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Breath of life – September 22, 2019

Breath of life – September 22, 2019


Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Genesis 2:7




Military Devotion – September 22, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 2:7

See series: Military Devotions

It is called the human spirit. But the same Old Testament word is also translated as soul. The first time it is used in Scripture it is called, the breath of life.

It’s different from our body. It has been said, “The soul is the bearer of all that is life in man.” It is more than the ability to produce abstract thought, but that is part of it.

It was added to Adam’s lifeless body. God breathed this into him. When it leaves, the body is dead. But it is not. The soul, the breath of life, will never die.

But it can be lost.

A lost soul is one that has been separated from its Creator. The Bible calls that spiritual death. If its body dies while in this condition, body and soul will be separated from its God forever. That is the essence of hell, the place prepared for the devil and his angels.

Thus, there are two types of death: separation of the soul from the body; and separation of both the soul and body from God.

There are two types of life: the union of the soul with the body; and the one where the soul and body are united with God.

Jesus has this warning: “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).

Those who put on a uniform to defend a country must realize that they may be killed as a result. History records that WWII claimed 27,600 lives every day. The tombstones litter the battlegrounds where they fell. Others were carried back home in caskets by the trainload.

The breath of life is no longer in them. The soul has separated from the body. We count them among the dead. We lower flags in their memory. We call their deaths tragic.

But then we ask, where are the people who survived that war? How many still breathe the air? And twenty years from now, how many then? Would the answer not be, “None”?

That could depress us—unless we remember that many of these actually still live. And we can live with them!

There is something called fatalism. It is the belief that everything is predetermined in life, and since everything dies or decays, the future is bleak.

But that was not the Creator’s plan for humans, and it is not the way it must be. He breathed life into Adam’s body so that Adam and his descendants might share with him the wonders of his glory.

That plan still stands. That life is still possible. Though forfeited, it has been reoffered as a gift.

Jesus came to earth to declare, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). To do that, he needed to give up his own life. And he did.

He finished his mission on earth with the words, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” We are told, “When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

So what if someday our soul will leave its body? What difference does it make if our bones someday rest under a tombstone?

We stand with Job who announced that he knew that his Redeemer lives, and therefore, “After my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God…” (Job 19:26)

We have been given the breath of life—for time and eternity.



Prayer: Holy God, you have made us different from everything else on earth. You gave us the breath of life. You created a living soul. Preserve us, body and soul, as we continue our walk through life. When this earthly life is over, “take us to heaven to be with you there.” Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Why? – Week of September 16, 2019


Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.

I Timothy 1:15



“Why?” “Why is a caterpillar fuzzy?” “Why do the leaves change colors?” “Why do we have to clean up?” “Why can’t I eat my cookie instead of my sandwich?” When we’re in the thick of things in the classroom, the “why” questions can be overwhelming. Even if we recognize the wonderful inquisitiveness behind them, it’s hard to find the time to answer them well. It’s also hard to answer in an age-appropriate way that a young child will understand. And quite frankly—we just plain don’t always know why!

You and I might find ourselves wondering why from time to time. Why does illness strike such a young child? Why can’t our staff get along better? Why is the world so full of chaos and heartache? Why, in spite of my best efforts, do I continue to make the same mistakes over and over? Some days teaching is hard. Why do I continue teaching?

Let’s reread today’s verse: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst.” We tell the children every day, all day, how much Jesus loves them. We tell them that Jesus forgives all their sins, the naughty things that they do. We tell them about the cross, the empty tomb, and heaven. But sometimes, in the busyness of all we do, we can lose sight of this for ourselves. He came to save sinners. That’s definitely me. On my own, I have nothing to bring to Jesus but my crushed, weary, sin-filled self. “Christ Jesus came… to save sinners”. Stop for a minute and just take that in. Are you a sinner? Then you are one he came to save. When he looks at you, he only sees the perfection you have because of what he did. That makes no sense in our earthly thinking but makes amazing sense when we consider his love for all sinners! It’s overwhelming and it’s our “why.” It’s why, through faith, we have peace in him and why we can share that peace with others. It’s why we have such a sense of urgency to share Jesus with all those around us. Because of what he did, we have an amazing “why” for all we do.

Why are there so many heartaches? Sin and its effect are all around us. Why, in the midst of all this worldly chaos, can we live and serve in joy and contentment? Because of Jesus. Why are caterpillars fuzzy? That’s a question for someone smarter at science than me. But you and I can live each day knowing that because of his love, his forgiveness, his grace, we have peace in Jesus. He is our “why.”



Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are my “why.” Your grace is my motivation. Thank you for coming to save sinners, including me. In your name I pray. Amen



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Hold on – September 15, 2019

Hold on – September 15, 2019


I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.
Revelation 3:11




Military Devotion – September 15, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 3:11

See series: Military Devotions

On old saying tells us, “You don’t appreciate what you have until you lose it.” There’s some truth in that.

Our health seems to fall into that category. So do friendships and jobs, along with love and hope. Surprisingly, Jesus bypasses these valuables to draw our attention to something else: our crown.

What crown? Since when do we have a crown?

Ever since Jesus won it for us. Saint James, the brother of Jesus, had this in mind when he wrote: “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

This is not just some figure of speech. It’s a real crown. It’s spoken of often in Scripture. It is called, “a crown that will last forever” (1 Corinthians 9:25) and “a crown of righteousness” (2 Timothy 4:8).

The apostle Peter tells Christians, “you are a royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:9) Crowns are common among royalty.

Royalty? Is that what we are? Don’t we confess that we are by nature sinful and deserve only punishment? How, then, can the holy God place us among the royals? How can we have a crown that is the symbol of righteousness? How can we be seen as holders of a position of glory and power that lasts forever?

The answer is found in another crown. A bloody crown. A crown of thorns.

A king once wore that crown. It was a symbol of disgrace, of weakness, and failure. But that was only to sinful eyes. The sign above his head read, “Jesus of Nazareth King of the Jews.”

The words Pilate wrote were true. He had heard Jesus say that he was, indeed, a king whose kingdom was not of this world. He had heard Jesus say that the reason he was born was to testify to the truth.

Pilate’s scornful reply “What is truth?” has become famous. It has also become common.

In our age of fake news and deceptive advertising, at a time when we are told via the internet that we have a million dollars waiting to be picked up, we have become a skeptical people. We want to see it before we will believe it. We repeat Pilate’s question, “What is truth?”

Jesus answers that question for us with the words: “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6).

Simply put, Jesus does not lie. Never did; never will.

We might say, “Seeing is believing.” Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (John 20:29).

Jesus promises: “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).

By the power of the Holy Spirit, we will remain faithful to him, won’t we?

We will hold on.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, your words remind us of what you have won for us. It cost your lifeblood to gain for us the crown of life. Keep us from trading away our inheritance for junk. Give us the strength to hold on. We cannot see you now, but in boldness of faith we can already tell you, “See you in glory, Jesus!” Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – September 15, 2019

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

We are one

Division hurts. No, not the mathematical functions that hurt your brain in homework sessions. Division between people hurts. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve seen and experienced the pain of divisiveness.

The family that once was whole, now ripped apart by divorce. The friend group that crumbled because of backstabbing gossip. The team that couldn’t get along. The street filled with opposing protestors screaming back and forth. The red-faced political pundits debating (and debasing) each candidate for office.

Quite frankly and quite sadly, when you look out at the world today, there isn’t much you see except division. Does anyone get along? Will anyone play nice? Is anyone united anymore? YES! We are.

The apostle Paul reminds us of a spectacular truth that Christ Jesus has accomplished for us. He has made us to be one in him. We are one body of believers!

There really is nothing like it in the world. You see, you could be black or brown or white, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, or any other combination of variations and differences in life. Yet you stand side by side and united with the entire holy Christian church on earth and every saint already in heaven. Each soul is bought with blood of Christ and each soul is brought into his family through baptism. Together we form one body united in our Savior and our salvation won for now and eternity.

On this side of heaven, you certainly will feel the pain of division. Sin tears apart and separates. It creates loneliness, isolation, and sadness. But the next time that hurt creeps in, remember your vast support system—a vast body of believers throughout the world and throughout time in heaven and on earth who are your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

We are one. What strength! What comfort! What peace!

Prayer: Lord of the Church, you have purchased and won for yourself the souls of all mankind, and in baptism you have united all believers together as members of your body. Give me comfort in times of loneliness and courage in times of hurt that the body of Christ is there to support me. Help me also to love and support my brothers and sisters in need. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019

Our Daily Prayer – Week of September 9, 2019


May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

Psalm 19:14



While I would tell you that I’m not a morning person, I have grown to love getting up earlier and relishing the quiet time shortly before the sun comes up. The world is still, and the day is in front of me. It feels like a clean slate, a fresh start. Each day is a gift of God’s grace. Morning feels like a reminder of this.

You may have heard the words in today’s verse at the beginning of a sermon. What a perfect prayer for the pastor as he begins to share God’s Word with the congregation! As he begins, he prays that his sermon will please God and effectively and correctly proclaim God’s message of salvation to all who hear it. What a perfect prayer for each of us as we begin another day.

We are not called to preach a sermon, but we have opportunities all day long to proclaim that same message to the children we serve, their families, and those around us. At the heart of everything we do is the gospel. Picture Jesus standing in front of you. His arms are out, holding the Word. He looks at you and says, “Tell them about me.” You may be tempted to look behind you to see if he was speaking to you. “Me?” “Yes, you.” What a privilege and what a responsibility!

Our sinful nature and shortcomings can get in the way of the message. They can lead us to hesitancy that we might say something wrong. We may be tempted to be over-confident and fail to be faithful in our time in the Word. What a wonderful prayer our verse for today can be as we begin each day, each task, and time we spend in the Word.

So as our day begins, early or not, we ask God to bless our words and our meditation on his Word so that all our words and actions are pleasing to him. We pray that he blesses all we do as a reflection of him and of his forgiveness and grace. He is our Rock and Redeemer. His grace is ours and ours to share in each new day of grace.



Prayer: Dear Jesus. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Amen



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – September 8, 2019

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

Every service matters

“I just want to find a good job someday—you know, doing something that matters and is meaningful.”

It seems to be the elusive dream of every teen. Get into a good college or trades program. Find a job that is influential and important. Do something that really makes a difference. After all, who wants to be a low-class person doing low-class work?

The apostle Paul challenges you to think differently today. There is no such thing as doing more important work than others. There is no such thing as being gift-devoid or ability bankrupt, as if everyone else has some special gift (academics, athletics, personality, etc.) but you have nothing. Whether in the world or in the church, all work and all workers are equal. Why is this?

Because it is the same Holy Spirit who distributes gifts to each person. It is the same God who works in and through each person.

So yes, some people may function as leaders in the world or in the church. Some people may have higher profile jobs that get more attention than others. Some people may make more money than others. But what of it? Different does not mean better. Each person has gifts from God and so is an instrument of God with those gifts.

Think of the bread you eat in your home. Some farmer raised and harvested the crops. Someone bought the product. Workers in a factory processed and produced and packaged bread. Truck drivers delivered it. Stock boys (or girls) put it on the shelves. Someone rang up the groceries. And someone in your family purchased it with money earned from their job. Each had a different set of skills used in a different vocation (life-calling), but God used each to provide for you and many others.

Think of a Sunday morning. The pastor often gets the limelight and attention. But what if no one replaced the lightbulbs, turned the lights and AV on, or even paid the light bill for that matter? What if no one greeted you, gave you a service folder, collected and counted the offering? What if no one played an instrument or led the congregation in singing? Or, God forbid, what if no one made coffee or had snacks available?

This is precisely what Paul is teaching. There are many gifts and many kinds of service. Each is valuable and important—both inside and outside the church. You have been given gifts and abilities by God. So friend—get to work! And trust that your service is important and valuable to God and to others. Why? Because God himself is working through you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see the gifts that you have given, to make wise use of them, to be grateful for the opportunities to serve you and others. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Everything new – September 8, 2019

Everything new – September 8, 2019


He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”
Revelation 21:5




Military Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 21:5

See series: Military Devotions

A past best-seller carries the title, All Quiet on the Western Front. It tells of a group of young German Soldiers at the start of WWI. The English title gives the impression that this was a time of safety, maybe relaxation. It was not.

The German title uses the words for, “Nothing New” instead of “All Quiet.” It better fits the story of the seemingly never-ending terror and carnage these young troops endured. For them, day after day brought nothing new. The bayonet attacks, the stench, the rats in the trenches, and the killing continued on. It would do so for four more years.

The word, “new,” resonates with us. That’s why advertisers use the word. It fits well into the phrase, “new and improved.” We expect what is new will always be better than what is old. This is especially true if the old is worn out or faulty. It can be true of a set of clothes, or a computer—or life in general.

We live in a world that idolizes what is new. Sometimes new replaces old at such speed that it almost makes us dizzy. Yet, with all the changes, we learn that improved is not necessarily tied to new. Sometimes it seems, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

The reason for this is that all change is incidental, not essential, unless God makes the change.

His creation of the world—that was an essential change of nothing into something. His curse upon the world after the fall of humans into sin—that surely made an essential difference.

All of our attempts to improve the world affect only the externals. We can counter some diseases; we can improve communications; and we can eliminate some of the threats to our nation. But we cannot change the world into a safe haven for all its inhabitants.

Something basic must first happen. And it must first happen in us if we are going to be part of the change.

We think of the time when God wiped the planet clean with a flood. We might imagine that Noah stepped out of the ark into a brand-new world. It wasn’t.

Weeds sprang up again, mosquitoes bit again, and humans resumed lives of depravity. Fear did not disappear, nor did theft, neither did war.

It was the same old world with the same old problems because it was contaminated by the same old sin—and under the same old curse. A drastic, essential change needed to take place.

That change happened on the day we call Good Friday.

The death of the Son of God sparked new life for the human race. The curse was removed because the sin was removed. That’s an essential change.

The sin of humans was replaced by the holiness of God. New life was given. News of this was to be shared with the whole world.

When the apostle Peter was arrested for doing this, an angel broke him out of jail and said: “Go, stand in the temple courts and tell the people all about this new life” (Acts 5:20).

Now we have been told. This new life is ours. True, we still live in this old world, but that’s going to change too. We hear Jesus say from heaven, “I’m going to make everything new.”

Hard to imagine what that will be like, isn’t it?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you broke the curse of sin so that we might have a new life with you. Help us now as we still struggle with sin and its consequences. Keep pointing us to the time and place when and where everything will be new. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019

Appointed – Week of September 2, 2019


I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, that he considered me trustworthy, appointing me to his service.

1 Timothy 1:12



One of my favorite children’s books for the beginning of the year shares the story of a little girl on her first day of kindergarten. Annabelle is excited but also a bit apprehensive. Her older sister attempts to build her confidence by reminding her who she is—Annabelle Swift, kindergartner! After a couple of small setbacks that first day, Annabelle shines in her ability to count change and her teacher appoints her as the first milk monitor of the year. She carries out her role with a sense of pride and confidence. She can do this thing called kindergarten!

In our verse for today, Paul, the author of Timothy, starts by thanking Jesus for the strength he has given him. Paul was one of the vilest persecutors of Christians before the Lord came to him and converted him. And yet, this is exactly who the Lord chose for his ministry! The Lord considered him trustworthy and appointed him to his role as missionary. Note where Paul places the credit: “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord who has given me strength.” As gifted as he was, Paul acknowledges that all he does, all he can do, any blessings that come from his work are the direct result of what Christ has done to and through him. In these words, we hear a sense of gratitude and humility that also lead to confidence. “He [Christ] considered me worthy, appointing me to his service.” Christ also considers you worthy because of what he has done for you. He has redeemed you and appointed you to serve him in all you do whether in a classroom of little ones or in your daily life outside of school.

We have a tremendous responsibility—helping children to grow academically, socially, emotionally, and spiritually. We know ourselves and, if honest, we know our shortcomings all too well. On the outside we may give the impression that “we’ve got this!” while internally we may lack confidence. In humility we recognize our gifts, our areas of weakness, and our sinful nature. We can thank God for our gifts. We can look for forgiveness when we fail. We can ask the Lord to bless our efforts. And with each blessing that we see, we can confidently say, “It is the Lord!”

Annabelle’s confidence was boosted when her teacher noted her ability, giving her a responsibility. Our confidence comes from the Master Teacher, our Savior Jesus. Our confidence lies in the one who sends us, Jesus. He chose us and gave us gifts to serve him. He’s promised to be with us and bless our efforts in spite of our weaknesses. Like Paul, we can look to him for strength and give glory to the One who has chosen us.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, it is so easy to become discouraged in our work. Help us to remember that you are our strength. Bless all that we do, giving glory to you. In your name. Amen

A Question to Consider: No one can do everything, but we all have gifts. What are some things that you feel confident in doing? What are some things that you might say, “That’s not my gift”? Some of the latter are still things that need to be done, aren’t they? What can you do when asked or expected to do something that you don’t feel you have the gifts for? Can you find ways to grow in that area? Can you find someone to partner with who might have those gifts?



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – September 1, 2019

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Every moment matters

What does it even matter? It’s just Algebra. Like you’re ever going to use Algebra in your life! Then again, what’s the point of any of your classes? Dependent and independent clauses? Give me a break!

The same goes for your job. You get paid so little to ask, “Would you like fries with that?” And this certainly isn’t your future career. Who cares if you slack off a bit to eat up the time clock? What does it matter?

Well, actually it does matter. A lot. Every moment does.

Satan wants nothing more than for us to think that every moment of our lives is meaningless. If he can convince us of this, soon he’ll convince us to indulge in a selfish laziness in those moments—an attitude of, “What does this matter if I don’t like it or it doesn’t benefit me?” But as soon as he has you trapped in thoughts of meaningless monotony, he will then push for the death blow of you doubting God and his purpose for your life. “If these moments don’t matter, what do I matter? If I don’t matter, what kind of God is he anyways?”

The apostle Paul reminds us in this verse that the opposite is true. Actually, every single moment of your life matters. Why? Because you mattered to God. God came for you. God lived for you. God died for you. God rose for you. Jesus gave everything of his life for yours as he washed you and bought you with his blood. He did so in order to make you a prized possession of our God—his own dear child.

Knowing this value your life has to our God means that every moment of your life also has value, because every moment is an opportunity—an opportunity to live to the praise and glory of a God who has loved you so much.

So do your quadratic equations and do them well. Flip burgers with all you’ve got. Take notes with all the intellect you’ve been given. Compete and perform with every ounce of strength and ability. In fact, live every moment now and into the future with your best and to the fullest. And know that when you do, it matters. It matters because you are glorifying your Savior God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, fill me with the joy of your love found in Christ so that my heart spills over with thankful living for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Against the grain – September 1, 2019

Against the grain – September 1, 2019


For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7,8




Military Devotion – September 1, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 14:7,8

See series: Military Devotions

The universal question, “Who am I?” is quickly followed by the one that asks, “What am I doing here?”

The flimsy answers we may come up with are swept away with the declaration of the Lord,
“I gave you life so that you could be my servant.”

That tends to take the wind out of our self-inflated sails.

We are not as powerful as we might think, nor as important as we might hope. We may protest that we have rights. We might boast of our freedoms. But that does not change the reality pointed to with the words: “All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall…” (1 Peter 1:24).

We are nothing without our Creator. Our lives mean nothing without our Redeemer. Our lives will accomplish nothing without our Sanctifier—the one who works the good within us.

Yet, this seems to go against the grain of our lives.

The picture comes from woodworking. The grain is the natural flow of the wood fibers. Someone who rubs his hand against the grain on a piece of lumber will get splinters. Going against our natural inclination to rule instead of to serve might be just as unpleasant.

That’s why God needs to reprogram the flow of our thoughts. We have been fed a fake picture of the way our life should go. With satanic reformatting, he has convinced us that separation from God makes for a smooth and pleasant life. “Think of all the fun you can have, all the money you can make, and all the freedom you can enjoy if you follow the natural path—the path you were born onto.”

It’s true! We were born into this world walking on a path away from God—a direction that leads only to misery. Apart from God there is only slavery—slavery to sin, death, and the devil.

But Christians have been reborn. Now we can see the undoctored picture of life. We see we came to life according to a divine power for a divine purpose. We live to serve the Holy One.

There is no higher status, no greater honor, and no more wonderful purpose than to be in service to the Lord of lords and King of kings.

Those who are in service to their country might understand this better than others.

There is no shame in taking orders. It is something good to stand up for what is good. It is a privilege to serve.

The path of our life has been laid out by the Son of God who came, “not to be served, but to serve” (Mark 10:45). He became the suffering Servant (Isaiah 53:11) so that we might become heirs of glory.

We live, not just for ourselves. We live for him.

We die, not alone. We belong to him.

He points out the path of life. He leads us on it.

The flow of our life heads in the direction of heaven.

We will not go against the grain.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have made it clear that it is better to serve than to be served. You have enlisted us in your kingdom. You have set the direction of our lives toward joy and glory. Keep us from going against that heavenly grain. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


It’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019

It’s Really Not About You – Week of August 26, 2019


Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.

Romans 12:10



“It’s really not about you.” Ouch. That is neither heartwarming nor motivating if taken at face value. We are sinners in a sin-filled world who intentionally and unintentionally crave our own needs first. Think of the young children you serve. You can likely identify behaviors in them that no one taught them but that demonstrate their sometimes desperate efforts to have their own needs met without consideration of those around them. While this may be a developmental stage for them, we are so often guilty of the same.

Devoted. Dictionary.com defines this as “zealous or ardent in attachment, loyalty, or affection.” If you are devoted to someone, you have an exceptional focus on them. A devoted friend will be there in any circumstance no matter what kind of inconvenience it may be for them. A devoted spouse puts the needs of their wife or husband ahead of theirs, even if it means giving up something for themselves. The ultimate devotion was that of Jesus to us. Oh my! When we think of what he set aside so that we can be children of God, forgiven sinners, heirs of heaven, it’s overwhelming. We can be filled with gratitude that can’t help but spill out to those around us. However…

We know ourselves and we know those around us. There’s the ever-kind, ever-willing colleague that is easy to love and easy to be the recipient of our devotion. But we are sinners serving with sinners. Not everyone is as easy to love, easy to be devoted to. Some try our patience and seem to hinder rather than help our efforts. My heart to serve them, encourage them, put their needs above mine, can be tested and challenged. I can share a long list of reasons to put my efforts elsewhere. Then, I think of myself and how I must look to my Savior. I think of my failures and shortcomings. I think of how much Jesus set aside to put me first. How can I, with that grace given so freely, not do the same for others? When I look at those around me through the eyes of Jesus, I see someone redeemed at the same great cost that was paid for me. The Holy Spirit fills my heart with devotion toward Jesus and those around me. Imagine the impact of a caring, loving devotion to people around us and on the ministry in which we serve. May the Lord give us hearts of love, patience, encouragement, and devotion to one another. God will take care of our needs. We are blessed with the joy of serving others in his name. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, when I think of the devotion you have for me and all people, I’m humbled and filled with gratitude that is difficult to put into words. Forgive me for times when I’m not loving or patient with those around me. Forgive me when I’m quick to put my needs ahead of others. Bless and motivate me with the joy of knowing you are my Savior and I am your child. In your name I pray to you. Amen



Creative Commons LicenseEarly Childhood Ministry Educator’s (ECME) Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Lutheran Schools.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Transformed – teen devotion – August 25, 2019

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
Acts 20:7-12

The fall of Eutychus… (a.ka. “Sleepy”)

Our last Bible character could be called Sleepy, but Scripture tells us his name is Eutychus (pronounced “Yoo-ti-kuss”). Of all the Bible characters we’ve met over last few weeks, he is one we might be able to understand the most. Especially if the pastor has droned on during a warm summer morning at early service when your parents tore you away from your comfy bed. Didn’t they realize you had a long night texting a friend through her troubled relationship or going for that next rank in a game of Rocket? Eutychus was a boy who was in church listening to the apostle Paul speak for a long time. He fell asleep. Not because he hated Jesus, nor was he annoyed by the Word of God. He fell asleep because he was human. He tried, but he still fell…asleep. Sadly and shockingly, he also fell…three stories to his death.

The lesson to the story is not to stay awake in church, especially if you are sitting in the balcony.

Look at this story from a different perspective. Why was Eutychus still there? Why did he stay so late at night that he fell out of a window? Because he loved God’s Word that much! He was tired. He probably wanted to be in bed. He was weak. But he still loved God’s word that much so that he stayed. And that’s the place where we need to start. Even if we’re tired. Even if we’d sometimes rather be somewhere else. Start there and show up for church. At least we’re there.

And then realize that we need a wake-up call. Because attendance is not the same as attention. Showing up in church is not the same as honoring God’s Word and taking it in for our souls and for our faith. We certainly need a wake-up call because God’s Word is more important for our faith than getting a few more hours of sleep in the morning. God’s Word is more important than mastering that next level of your game.

Jesus died and rose again so that you can wake up and do this again. He died for all of you who “mean well” but in reality “act bad.” He died for you who fall asleep in church or don’t even get up for it. He died for a world of sinners, of whom I am the worst. He died for all of us. And that means he died for you. And on the third day Jesus didn’t rise from sleep; he rose from the dead. He rose to wake us up from our slumber, to open our weary eyes, and to let us know that this is what we get up for. And not just on Sundays, but EVERY DAY of our lives! So, friends in Christ, “Wake up!”

There will still be the occasional boring sermon on a hot summer’s day after a long weekend. But may God wake you up to see his forgiveness, his love, his peace, and the power to wake up, praise him, follow him, and rouse others from their slumber of sin to the wide-awake joy of life in Christ now and forever! To him alone be the glory and praise!

Precious Lord, remind me of my baptism as I pray:
My loving Father, there you took me
To be henceforth your child and heir.
My faithful Savior, there you let me
The fruit of all your sorrows share.
O Holy Spirit, comfort me
When threatening clouds around I see. Amen.
(Christian Worship 294:2)


TeenCreative Commons License 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

He wept – August 25, 2019

He wept – August 25, 2019


So David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.
1 Samuel 30:4




Military Devotion – August 25, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 30:4

See series: Military Devotions

Near a tee on an obscure golf course in northern Wisconsin, there is a plaque that says, “Ike wept here.”

The reason for the famous general’s crying is not listed. It’s simply noteworthy enough for history to know that it happened.

When we see pictures of Eisenhower chatting with the troops he was sending off to storm the beaches of Normandy, it’s hard to imagine him weeping. Somber? Yes. Determined? Absolutely! He knew many of these people would not survive the landing. But he was a soldier. He understood the cost of victory. Since he was not weak, we might not expect him to weep.

But he did. So did warrior David.

Neither of them whimpered over body wounds. Wounds within the heart were something else. The pain of others losing their lives can exceed even the pain of losing our own limbs The pain of knowing others are suffering—even though still alive—is enough to make the safe one suffer. Enough to make one weep.

David and his band of warriors had been operating in Philistine territory since Saul was hunting for him in Israel. They sheltered their families at a place called Ziklag while they hunted for their enemies. They returned from one mission to find that the Amalekites had attacked Ziklag, burned it, and taken the wives and children as captives.

It was enough to make hardened warriors weep. And they did.

Yet, these were not tears of despair. The captives were still alive. They would soon be rescued. The account ends with these words, “Nothing was missing: young or old, boy or girl, plunder or anything else they had taken. David brought everything back” (1 Samuel 30:19).

These were tears of love. The pain was in the heart. Years later, David would weep again saying, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you—O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33)

It reminds us of the shortest verse in the English Bible: “Jesus wept.”

As with David, these were not tears of despair. Though others were weeping over the death of Lazarus, Jesus knew his friend would walk out of that grave alive in just a few minutes.

These were tears of love. It pained Jesus to know what Lazarus had gone through. This was not what the Creator intended for the crown of his creation. Life was to be lived in joy, not pain. Not with death.

It was enough to make the Son of God weep. And he did.

It was a sign that he would take on the enemies of those he loved and make things right.

And he did.

Eisenhower had reason to cry. So did David. So did Jesus. At times, so do we.

A warrior wounded in body during battle is given a Purple Heart. It’s a medal that can be displayed with a degree of pride.

Wounds within the heart earn no medal. They often are hidden, as if in shame.

But those who respect a General Eisenhower, and understand a King David, and worship a Lord Jesus—they know shame is not in such tears.

For them, the plaque can say of their tour of duty on earth: “Because they loved here, they wept here.”



Prayer: Lord Jesus, we remember how you lived on this earth. We remember how your love for us pained you. We remember how you took the battle to our enemy to overcome our greatest cause of pain. We thank you for your tears. Amen.



Written by Pastor Paul Ziemer, WELS National Civilian Chaplain and Liaison to the Military, Belle Plaine, Minnesota.

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. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email