You Are Invited – January 7, 2021

We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.
Matthew 2:2

You Are Invited


Daily Devotion – January 7, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 2:2

See series: Devotions

Some events in life are so important we send out invitations to the special people in our lives. The Lord did that for the Magi in a very nonconventional way. He provided a star that led them to Jesus.

How does the Lord lead us to the Christ Child? How do we know if there’s room for us or that he even wants us there? Certainly, he wants ALL of us there. Over and over again, in the Bible, God asks his followers to express love and kindness to ALL people—family members, friends, people marginalized by society, even enemies. He urges us to share the good news about Jesus with ALL people. He emphatically announces that his son, Jesus, was sent for ALL people. But he probably won’t fling a special star into the sky to lead us to Jesus, the Savior of the world. Instead, he may use parents. Or maybe he’ll use a friend, a co-worker, a total stranger, or even an online devotion to invite us to come and worship Jesus.

And to what are we invited?

We are invited to bring our past mistakes and failures and lay them at Jesus’ feet. We are invited to hear Jesus say, “Go in peace; I forgive you.” We are invited to lean on Jesus for strength, to seek comfort in our sadness, and to find rest for our weary souls. We are invited to pray to a Savior who will hear us in our time of need.

So here it is: No matter what you’ve done in the past, no matter how many times you may have been too busy for previous invitations, God still calls to you. No matter how many doors have been slammed in your face, God’s door stands open. Consider yourself cordially invited to worship and serve the God who never tires of loving and serving you. And while you’re at it, spread the word. Pass it on. Share the invitation.

Prayer:
Gracious Lord, thank you for wanting me and making room for me in your family. If today I have an opportunity to share your gracious invitation with someone else in my life, allow me to do so with courage and sincerity. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Magi Meet the King – Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

The Magi Meet the King

 

Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1-2

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for Younger Children

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

Questions for Elementary Age Children

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

Questions for Middle School and Above

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

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

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Life In the Light – January 6, 2021

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the people, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you.
Isaiah 60:1,2

Life In the Light


Daily Devotion – January 6, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 60:1,2

See series: Devotions

When the sun sets in Utqiagvik, Alaska, in late November, it doesn’t rise again for about 65 days. Can you imagine not seeing the sunlight for over two months? Or let’s go a step further, can you imagine life with no light whatsoever? No sunlight. No light fixtures in your home. No headlights on your car. No glow from your cell phone. No lanterns, candles, or matches. Total darkness would present some serious challenges for travel, work, and overall productivity.

When the prophet Isaiah speaks about the “thick darkness” covering the people, he’s not referring to an annual geographic anomaly or a hypothetical blackout; he’s talking about life without a God who loves, forgives, and saves.

Can you imagine that kind of darkness? Can you imagine life without a heavenly Father watching over you and sending his angels to protect you? Can you imagine a life without a baby being born in Bethlehem, without a crucifixion on Mount Calvary, without a resurrection on Easter morning? Can you imagine your ears never hearing these words, “Jesus loves you. Jesus forgives you. Jesus has opened heaven for you.”

You’ll never have to imagine such dark, depressing things because “your light has come.” The darkness described by Isaiah is very real. Our sins aren’t trivial. Our sins needed to be addressed. And that’s exactly what God did. He sent his Son, Jesus—the Light of the world—to rescue us from darkness. (John 8:12)

We may have some darkness in our past—words and deeds of which we are ashamed. Jesus wants us to know that he replaced those dark sins with his bright holy deeds. He wants us to know that with his death on the cross, he has scrubbed clean our record of the past and given us a fresh start.

So open your ears and hear it well: “Jesus loves you! Jesus forgives you! Jesus has opened heaven for you!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have forgiven all my sins and saved me from darkness. Now help me to live and speak like a child of your light. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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He Shared Our Humanity – January 5, 2021

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity…
Hebrews 2:14

He Shared Our Humanity


Daily Devotion – January 5, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:14

See series: Devotions

Does the name Ingvar Kamprad sound familiar? He died some years ago, but while he was alive he lived a very modest, normal life. He bought all of his clothes at secondhand stores. His home was very minimalist and unpretentious. When traveling, he always took public transit. If you think that sounds rather plain and unnoteworthy, I agree with you.

But the thing is, Ingvar was a multi-millionaire. In fact, he was the founder of the furniture giant IKEA. And yet, for a variety of reasons, he chose to live a very humble, modest life.

What would prompt the Son of God to share in our humanity and live a very humble, modest life? Why did he willingly trade his throne of glory for a lowly manger bed? Well, at first glance, things seem pretty peaceful. Mary gazes down at the child she bore. Jesus is wrapped in cloths. All is calm and serene. However, beneath the peaceful nativity scene, there’s an ugly backstory—our story. Sharing in our humanity meant Jesus would live under the demanding laws of God—the laws we have broken time and time again! Sharing our humanity meant Jesus would be blamed for every one of our sins and shortcomings—they are so numerous!

Sharing our humanity was not peaceful and serene for Jesus. Jesus traded the angel chorus of heaven for the initial sounds of cattle lowing and sheep baaing. And those sounds would change as he grew up, to dismissive comments, shouts of rejection, cruel mockery, and even death chants. He set aside his glory and wore the secondhand clothes of our humanity. And then he was covered in the tattered blanket of our sin. And then he suffered and died to pay for those sins.

Sharing our humanity was not peaceful and serene for Jesus. But his perfect life and his sin-canceling death did bring peace to you and me. That’s why the Lord, who is rich beyond measure, shared our humanity and lived like he was poor.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, for sharing my humanity—thank you! For keeping the law in my place—thank you! For carrying my sins—thank you! For being my Savior, my Friend, my Brother—thank you! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Baptism of Our Lord

Jesus is Revealed as Our Perfect Substitute

These are the readings for the Baptism of Our Lord Sunday.

God’s Word for This Week

“Why did Jesus need to be baptized? I thought baptism was for sinners?” That’s a common question among Christians. It doesn’t make sense that our perfectly sinless Savior would need to be baptized, yet he was. Why? Because Jesus had come to be our perfect substitute, and he is revealed as such in his baptism. God laid on him the sin of the world. (See John 1:29.) Even from birth, he endured the effects of our sin. Jesus wasn’t a sinner himself, but he was carrying our sin, pain, and sorrow. (See Isaiah 53:4.) He needed the assurance of God’s love and forgiveness, just as if he were a sinner himself. Jesus received those promises in baptism, just like we do.

First Lesson – Isaiah 49:1-6

Which person of the Trinity is speaking through the prophet Isaiah in these verses?

Jesus.

True or false: Jesus felt frustration in his job as Savior.

True. The Savior voices his frustration in verse 4. Sometimes he felt like he had “labored to no purpose” and that he had “spent (his) strength in vain and for nothing.” Yet Jesus persevered in his role as our perfect substitute.

What task has been given to Jesus?

Not only to “bring Jacob back to (God) and gather Israel” (i.e., Jewish Christians) but also to be “a light for the Gentiles” (non-Jews) that they might be brought to faith. (See John 10:16.)

Second Lesson – Acts 16:25-34

How does the Holy Spirit work the faith that Paul encouraged the jailer to have in verse 31?

God works faith through the hearing of the gospel promises. (See Romans 10:17.) In this particular instance, those promises were proclaimed in word and in the sacrament of Holy Baptism.

Who was baptized that evening?

The jailer’s whole household was baptized. We may assume that his household included both adults and children.

Gospel – Mark 1:4-11

What was the purpose of the baptism given by John?

The purpose was the same as the baptism we have today: it’s “a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4).

If Jesus was sinless, why was he baptized?

Though Jesus did not have any personal sin, in his role as Savior he was carrying the sins of the world. He had come to be our perfect substitute. He very much desired the promises of God that baptism gives sinners.

Which three special people were present at the baptism of Jesus?

The Holy Trinity (God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) was present at Jesus’ baptism. In the same way, the Holy Trinity was present at our baptisms, as we are baptized “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).

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Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021

Happy New Year! – Week of January 4, 2021



But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace.

Micah 5:2,4-5a



10…9…8…7…6…5…4…3…2…1…Happy New Year!

Isn’t is fun to count down and wonder what’s coming next? I suppose if surprises aren’t your thing, maybe the countdown doesn’t bring such joy. Maybe you used to like countdowns, but 2020 changed you mind. It’s understandable.

Last year, I remember getting my colorful dry-erase markers out and making my calendar look perfect and cute as I filled in all of the fun things to look forward to. The calendar sure did look great, that is, until the end of March. My calendar was extremely confused at the end of March. Nothing I planned was happening. April and May seemed to be confused as well. So yes, if 2020 changed your mind about countdowns, I fully understand.

There’s good news though, friends. Get excited, because whatever 2021 has in store for you, you are in the best hands. If you think you’re too weak and can’t handle what’s coming, guess what…you have the strength of the Lord on your side. If you think the darkness of the world is taking over, go ahead and stand in awe of his majestic name. If you’re struggling with the unrest of the past, bask in the peace in knowing that we live SECURELY in the greatness of our God found in the one sent to Bethlehem’s stable, Jesus our King and Savior.

As we welcome God’s littlest of lambs back to the classroom this New Year, let us shower them with the truth that he will be our peace in whatever comes our way. Instill in them the confidence that though they are small, they are mighty in the One who whose greatness reaches to the ends of the earth.  Let us encourage each other to praise his Holy Name and thank him for his continued faithfulness in our lives.

I will probably still try to make my calendar look perfect and cute this year. I can’t help it. I love color coding! I will say though, I will have my eraser ready and tackle each day with the confidence in knowing that He is in control.

Stay in the Word, friends. Daily be immersed in his promises. In Truth!
May God bless you today and always.
Happy New Year!



Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for being my strength. Help me look to you throughout this year and find comfort in your promise of peace. Amen. 

Question to Consider: Do you have “Praise God” written on your calendar anywhere? It’s not something typically you’d see written down, but maybe pick a day or two a month and jot it down as a reminder to intentionally praise his Holy name. Dance to a Christian song. Pick up that old instrument that you used to play and worship him. Say a prayer of thanksgiving. Praise him all year through!



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.

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The Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations – Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Read: Isaiah 60:1-6

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

The Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 60:1

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for Younger Children

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

Questions for Elementary Age Children

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

Questions for Middle School and Above

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

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

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Why Bethlehem – January 4, 2021

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
Micah 5:2

Why Bethlehem


Daily Devotion – January 4, 2021

Devotion based on Micah 5:2

See series: Devotions

West Baden, Indiana. Do you know much about it? Probably not. Unless you’re one of the 500 people who live there. The only notable thing about this little town might be the fact that NBA All-Star Larry Bird was born there. Otherwise, it’s not well known beyond the borders of Indiana. In fact, it’s hardly known by the people who live in the Hoosier state.

That was first-century Bethlehem. It had been a thousand years since anyone famous had come from this little town—and that was King David. So why was the Christ Child born in the lowly, tiny town of Bethlehem? One big reason: to fulfill the prophecy written by the prophet Micah 700 years earlier. God promised that his Son, the Messiah, would be born in Bethlehem. As God always does, he made good on his promise.

But why Bethlehem? Perhaps it fits God’s pattern of using the seemingly powerless and puny to showcase his gracious power. He chose David, the youngest son of Jesse and the least impressive of all his other sons, to become the greatest king of Israel. He chose an unknown girl from Galilee to be the mother of his eternal Son. He chose a feeding trough to cradle the mightiest, most glorious King of kings. He chose nails and a wooden cross to be the means by which he redeems the world. He chose an empty tomb to be a symbol of life and hope.

And so he chose not a booming trade town, but lowly, tiny Bethlehem as the birthplace of Jesus. Let that serve as a reminder to you of how meaningful you are to God. No matter how little you may feel or how far you’ve fallen—you are not insignificant. Outside of your own circle of friends and family, others may not know your name and, they probably don’t care. God knows your name. God cares. He cares about you!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, remind me today of how precious I am in your sight. I don’t deserve your love and favor, yet you sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world—my Savior. Thank you! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 3, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

No pain, no gain

Wow. This past year has been difficult—even horrible—for us as individuals, as a country and as the human race. It’s okay, and even healthy, to admit this. It’s reality.

Maybe you wish 2020 was just a bad dream and that you’ll wake up to find out it never even happened. But the reality is that it did happen.

The events of this past year make it clear that you can’t avoid pain in life. In a sinful world, pain will find you.

Again, it’s okay, and even healthy, to admit this. But eventually, you have to go further than just acknowledging the pain. You have to have a strategy to deal with the pain in a healthy way.

James tells us that we first have to address how we think about pain.

It’s a lie that pain is only bad—a lie we believe. That’s why we’re shocked when James says, “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials.” How can something that hurts bring joy?

He’s telling us we can have joy because there’s actually purpose in pain. He’s telling us that pain, in this life, is actually necessary for our spiritual growth.

It hurts when you lift weights and your muscles become sore. But that’s the only way your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

It’s the same for our faith. God uses the pain in our lives as an opportunity for us to rely less and less on our own power and more and more on his love and power—making our faith bigger and stronger. As you walk through life with God’s promises, you will see him give you a deep sense of confidence, maturity and peace—even while you’re in pain.

And, an even more comforting truth is that Jesus looked at the pain he was about to suffer on the cross with joy. He knew through his pain he would gain salvation for the entire world and ensure we would live with him forever in heaven—pain free.

It was worth it. You were worth it.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all I’ve gained through your pain. Change the way I view pain in my life. Let me realize that you have a purpose to my pain, even if I don’t always see it. 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.
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So easy – January 3, 2021

So easy – January 3, 2021


Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.
Mark 2:9-12a




Military Devotion – January 3, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 2:9-12a

See series: Military Devotions

One visit to a Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) is enough to show that rehabilitation for the wounded is not easy. Sweating brows, quivering muscles, and strained faces reveal the degree of effort being made. It pains us to see this. But there are worse sights.

Some cases never make it to the WTU. The label over their names would be: “Permanently Paralyzed.” When a loved one asks the doctor, “Will my brother ever walk again?” the sad answer comes back: “Impossible.”

It was this sad realization that caused four friends to bring a paralyzed man to Jesus. When they couldn’t get into the house because of the crowd, they opened a hole in the roof and lowered him in with ropes tied to his mat.

What impressed Jesus was the faith that these friends had in him. What grieved Jesus was the burden of sin the paralyzed man carried. He promptly lifted that burden by announcing to him, “Your sins are forgiven!”

Some people in the house challenged these words. “Impossible!”, they thought. “Only God can forgive sins.” If Jesus could forgive sins, he would have to be God. In their minds, this was impossible.

Human eyes cannot detect the burden of sin being lifted from a heart. But they can see paralyzed muscles become strong. No therapy, no conditioning: those muscles simply grew strong as soon as the words of Jesus were out of his mouth. The man got up. He picked up his mat. And he walked home!

Unbelievable? No one in that house could deny it. We hear: “This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, ‘We have never seen anything like this!’” (Mark 2:12b)

The greatest miracle remained unseen. Humans had to take Jesus’ word for it: the man walked home without his sin! Strong legs are a great blessing, but only in this life.

A soul absolved of sin is a blessing for all eternity—no matter how physically weak a person might be here on earth. Good health is a blessing God grants to some of us. A clean soul is what God demands from all of us. Jesus showed the people in Capernaum that he could grant what God demands. He was, and is, the Son of God.

We tend to determine need by what we see and feel. We tend to think, “seeing is believing.” Sometimes we feel hopeless and think our situation impossible.

If that was true before, a pandemic has caused many more to feel this way now. Maybe, at times we even felt this way.

Jesus shows that he can provide what we really need—and that for him, the impossible is so easy.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, at your command, sin and frailty depart from us. We don’t realize how many times you have kept disease and harm from our bodies. We don’t know how close we have come to being permanently paralyzed. We thank you for sparing us from what we have not had to face, and we ask you to help us face the burdens and pains that you have allowed to come into our lives. But, like the man lowered to you from the roof, continue to forgive our sins, and enable our lives to show reason for others to praise God. 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.


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Jesus Knows What It Is Like – January 3, 2021

Because [Jesus] himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.
Hebrews 2:18

Jesus Knows What It Is Like


Daily Devotion – January 3, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:18

See series: Devotions

Of all the temptations that hit you on a regular basis, which one is the most powerful? Give yourself a moment to come up with a specific answer. After all, in your heart of hearts, you probably know what the answer is. Here’s another question: When that specific temptation shows up wanting to claim you for the day (or for the night), what kind of battle do you give it? Do you consistently give it stiff opposition? Or are there times when you simply throw up your hands and not even try to combat it?

Let’s be honest and candid about this. You and I have to admit that there are all kinds of times when we don’t even put up a decent fight in the face of a strong temptation. Satan knows that. In fact, he loves to remind us of it to wear us down and make us feel defeated and hollow even before the battle starts. On our own, of course, that’s how this movie of our life would end—we’d be cowering and crushed, while Satan and his temptations cackled in conquest.

But with Jesus, everything is different. Everything! On our behalf, he resisted every temptation that Satan could invent. On our behalf, he shed his blood to make all our defeats disappear.

And that’s not all. For now, when Satan tries to send a temptation our way, you and I can run immediately to the One who knows exactly what battling temptations is like. In him, we don’t just have a sympathetic ear. In him, we have someone who understands. And because he does, he will help us in our battle against the temptation to sin. Satan hopes you will forget this. Therefore, don’t.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, you know exactly what it’s like to battle temptations in this fallen world. You promise to answer my calls for help. Empower me by your Spirit never to forget that. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Timing – January 2, 2021

When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

Timing


Daily Devotion – January 2, 2021

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

See series: Devotions

Picture a choir singing, “Silent Night.” Each choir member knows the words and melody. They even know when to sing loudly and softly. But imagine if each choir member sang the song at a different speed. And now further imagine if each choir member held each note for a different length of time. Instead of a thing of beauty, you’d have dissonant sounds of chaos. The entire song would fall apart.

In a Christmas carol like “Silent Night,” timing is everything.

It’s the same when it comes to God’s timing for Jesus’ birth.

“When the set time had fully come, God sent his Son,” the Bible tells us. Immediately after our first parents had fallen into sin, God promised to send a Savior. But he fulfilled that promise according to his own pace. Over thousands of years, he carefully guided history until the timing was just right. Then he sent his Son.

Once in a great while, you and I can recognize God’s timing in our own lives. More often than not, however, our human perspective is so small that we just don’t see it.

Make no mistake, however, God is guiding your life just as carefully. Time and again he has made it clear that the answer to life is not within you. Time and again he has brought you into contact with the only Savior from sin you’ve got. Or think about this: it is no accident that this devotion from God’s Word is entering your mind and heart at this very moment.

God’s timing for Jesus’ birth was perfect. Trust his timing in your life, too.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for sending your Son into this world at just the right time. Move me to trust your timing in my life as well. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts – Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

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

The Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts

 

Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Devotion based on Colossians 3:15

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for Younger Children

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

Questions for Elementary Age Children

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

Questions for Middle School and Above

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

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

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

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Our Brother – January 1, 2021

And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on him.
Luke 2:40

Our Brother


Daily Devotion – January 1, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 2:40

See series: Devotions

Can God grow? If you were to measure God today and then measure him a month from now, would there be any difference in his size? Can God become stronger? Can he struggle to open a pickle jar today but a few years from now be able to open it with ease? Can God become smarter? Are there things he doesn’t know right now that he will learn later?

Those questions probably seem nonsensical. Of course, God doesn’t grow. He fills the universe now, just as he always has and just as he always will. He can’t become more almighty or more all-knowing. He can do all things and knows all things, and that never changes.

Yet, in Jesus, God did grow. He did become stronger. He did learn and grow in wisdom. This is true because Jesus was not only true God but also was truly a human being. He was conceived in his mother’s womb even as you and I were conceived in our mother’s wombs. He went through all the stages of fetal development that you and I went through. He was born as an infant just as we were. As a true human infant, Jesus was incapable of feeding himself or caring for himself. He relied on his mother, just as you and I did when we were infants. And day by day he grew. He got bigger and taller. He became stronger. He even learned things and became smarter.

That the infinite, almighty, and all-knowing Son of God grew and became stronger and learned is a fact that is beyond our understanding. Yet it is at the same time wonderfully comforting. If Jesus had come only as God, he could not have been our Savior. In order to save us, Jesus needed to become a human being so he could take our place. And the fact that he grew and became strong and was filled with wisdom shows us that he truly is one of us. He truly is human. He truly is our Brother. He truly is our Savior.

Prayer:
Thank you for becoming my Brother so that you might take my place and save me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Savior for All People – December 31, 2020

“My eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
Luke 2:30-32

A Savior for All People


Daily Devotion – December 31, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:30-32

See series: Devotions

We human beings have a bad habit of focusing on what makes us different from others. Instead of rejoicing in all the things that unite us as fellow human beings, we separate ourselves into rival groups based on various characteristics that we consider important. We separate ourselves based on nationality. We separate ourselves based on the color of our skin. We separate ourselves based on whether we support this political candidate or that one. With all this separation, is it any wonder that we are experiencing so much turmoil in our world right now?

Thankfully, when God looks at us, he does not focus on what separates us from one another. It’s not that our unique and individual characteristics are unimportant. God has purposely made each of us unique so that with our uniqueness, we might be a beautiful part of his people. But when it comes to what’s most important, our relationship with him, God focuses on what unites us as human beings.

God first focused on the fact that we are all sinners. All of us. Regardless of where we were born or what color our skin is, we are all sinners in need of a Savior. God saw all of us in equal need of his help, and he was determined to provide that help to all of us. He didn’t decide to send one Savior for this group of people and another Savior for that group of people. He sent one Savior for all people. He sent his Son, Jesus, to be the Savior of everyone.

Simeon recognized this as he held Jesus in his arms. As he praised God for sending Jesus, he recognized that Jesus came both for the Gentiles (non-Jewish people) and for the people of Israel (Jewish people). That covers every human being. That covers you. Regardless of who you are, where you are from, or whatever unique characteristics you may have, Jesus came to be your Savior. And for that, we join Simeon in praising God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I praise you that you came to be the Savior of all people, including me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Alone Gives Peace to All Nations – Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Read: Isaiah 45:20-25

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

God Alone Gives Peace to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:22

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for Younger Children

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

Questions for Elementary Age Children

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

Questions for Middle School and Above

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.”
Luke 2:28-30

Ready to Die Now


Daily Devotion – December 30, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:28-30

See series: Devotions

What will it take for you to be ready to die? That may seem like a morbid question, but it’s a question we all need to ask. With only two exceptions (Enoch in Genesis 5:24 and Elijah in 2 Kings 2:11), every person who has been born has died or will die. “The wages of sin is death,” God tells us (Romans 6:23). And since we all are sinners, we all can expect that one day we will die.

So, what will it take for you to be ready to die? Simeon had one answer to that question. Once he saw the Savior, he was ready to die. God had told him that he would not die before he saw the Savior that God had promised to send. God fulfilled that promise and allowed Simeon not just to see his Savior, Jesus, but even to hold him in his arms. With that tangible proof that God had fulfilled his promise, Simeon was ready to die. His eyes had seen the salvation that God had promised him. In his arms, he held the One who would live, die, and rise again for him so that he could live forever with God in heaven. He could face death with peace, knowing that through the Savior whom he held, he was at peace with God.

What made Simeon ready to die is the same thing that makes us ready to die. When we, through faith, have seen the Savior and believe in him, we are ready to die. Through faith, we see him as the one who lived a perfect life in our place. Through faith, we see him as the one who died to pay for all our sins. Through faith, we see him as the one who rose again to declare us not guilty before God. Through faith, we see Jesus as our Savior and know that in him, we are at peace with God. That makes us ready to die, whenever that time may come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you that because you have saved me from my sins, I can be ready to meet you whenever you call me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Living Perfectly in Our Place – December 29, 2020

The parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required.
Luke 2:27

Living Perfectly in Our Place


Daily Devotion – December 29, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:27

See series: Devotions

The Bible tells us that if we are to spend eternity with God in heaven, we must be perfect just as he is perfect. To do that, we must keep all of God’s commandments all the time without even one failure. Because all of us are born sinful, none of us can come even close to accomplishing such a feat.

Jesus, however, could. He is the sinless Son of God. As both true God and a true human being, Jesus was in the unique position of being both subject to all of God’s commandments and able to keep them all. And that is exactly what he did. Throughout his life, he perfectly kept all of God’s commandments for us.

We see that in our Bible passage for today. God’s Old Testament law required that his people dedicate their firstborn sons to him. Because Jesus was Mary’s firstborn son, this law applied to him. And so, in order to accomplish his work as our Savior, he had to fulfill this law also, just as he had to fulfill every other law that God had laid down for his people.

That’s why it is so comforting to see Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the temple to do for him what the law required. Even as Jesus lay in his parents’ arms, he was keeping God’s law perfectly for us. He left no law unfulfilled but kept every last one of them for us. Because he kept all of God’s laws perfectly in our place, we now, through faith in him, have the perfection we need to live with God forever in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank you for perfectly keeping all of God’s laws in my place. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Second Sunday after Christmas

Jesus is Our Peace

These are the readings for the Second Sunday after Christmas.

God’s Word for This Week

“O Little Town of Bethlehem,” we sing at Christmas time. Bethlehem, “the house of bread,” was a little town but an important town too. There, in humility, the Savior of the world was born.

First Lesson – Micah 5:2-5a

Why was Bethlehem seemingly an unlikely place for a king to be born? (See 5:2.)

Bethlehem was an unlikely place for a king to be born because it was a small town.

Even though Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem, what was his true origin? (See 5:2.)

His “goings out,” were from ancient times, “from days of eternity,” as the NIV footnote translates. He is the eternal Son of God, who has no beginning.

Besides being ruler and shepherd of God’s people, what else was Jesus predicted to be? (See 5:5.)

Micah predicted that Jesus would be our peace. That is, he would take our place under God’s law, then suffer and die under God’s holy judgment to earn our peace with God.

Second Lesson – Hebrews 2:10-18

List all the names Jesus receives in these nine verses.

The writer to the Hebrews calls him the Author of salvation, our Brother, our Rescuer, our High Priest.

Why did Jesus share in our humanity? (See 2:14.) Couldn’t he have just taken on the appearance of a man, without actually becoming a man?

Jesus shared in our humanity so that by his death he would destroy the one who holds the power of death, that is, the devil. He had to become a man to die in our place. God can’t die unless he is also human.

What kind of high priest for us is Jesus? (See 2:17,18)?

Jesus is a merciful and faithful high priest. He suffered, so he can help us in all our sufferings and temptations.

Gospel – John 7:40–43

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, what two opinions did people have of Jesus? (See 7:40,41.)

Some thought he was the Prophet Moses promised in Deuteronomy 18. Others thought he was the Christ, God’s Anointed. The irony is that Jesus is both.

What confusion about Jesus’ origin caused this conflict? (See 7:41,42.)

People knew Jesus had grown up in Galilee, but Micah had prophesied that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem. People in Jerusalem, only a few miles from Bethlehem, did not know Jesus had been born there.

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An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020

An Unforgettable Christmas – Week of December 28, 2020



The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14



We have seen his glory, and this is his glory. He took on flesh for us. Where is God when I needed him?  He’s not on some far away planet. He actually came here, dwelt (literally tented) among us. Crucified, the God-man who comes to seek his own.

We have seen his glory, and here’s his glory—to seek and to save you! So this unforgettable Christmas:

  • I think of a dear saint getting up there in years, wondering—will this be her last Christmas? I think of her missing all the loved ones who have gone before; I think of the quiet confidence and hope that is hers in God who called Bethlehem’s manger his home.
  • And I think of little ones who fill our classrooms and sometimes our churches, and the ones who mom still carries in the car seat, and all that lies in the future for them. That God would love them this much? To be joined to their humanity? To take on flesh and blood? For them?
  • And I think of hospital beds you’ve stood next to; the funerals you’ve endured; the graves you’ve travelled to; and those you miss terribly today. And I think of the joy that ends all sadness; the peace which will never disappoint; the choir that gathers in heaven singing his praises evermore and evermore.
  • And I think of those who suffer this Christmas; who are in the midst of a battle of the wills; who are struggling to love; and I find love in a manger; love on a cross.

This is a Christmas that will not be forgotten.  In varying degrees, it’s a struggle for each of us. For all of us there is something not quite right, something you wish were different, someone who is missing, something un-resolved, something not finished or fixed. Christmas arrives with worry, loneliness, fear.

But this: The Word became flesh.

But this: Your God became man for you.

But this: I know what my God is like. God is no longer angry with you. This baby, the world’s Redeemer, revealed the face of God to us! A face of love and mercy and forgiveness that knows no end!

But this: Christmas means we can be honest and say some things we cannot fix; but Jesus can.

This Christmas is an unforgettable one, because Christmas means Someone loves you so much that he would rather die than hold your sins against you. So the One who was near the Father, who was God and is God, took on flesh, because he wanted you Home.

And that is a Christmas not to be forgotten!



Prayer:

The world may hold her wealth and gold; But you, my heart, keep Christ as your true treasure.
To him hold fast until at last a crown is yours and honor in full measure. Amen.
(Christian Worship 40:5)



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.

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Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person – Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Read: Luke 2:25-40

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

Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person

 

Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:30

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for Younger Children

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

Questions for Elementary Age Children

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

Questions for Middle School and Above

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

Hymn: CW p. 61 – Song of Simeon

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

 

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

Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.
Luke 2:25,26

Waiting to See the Savior


Daily Devotion – December 28, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:25,26

See series: Devotions

Do you have a “bucket list”? If you’re not familiar with the term, a “bucket list” is a list of things that a person wants to do before they die or, “kick the bucket.” Unfortunately, few if any of the things on a person’s “bucket list” are guaranteed. We simply don’t know when we will “kick the bucket,” so we can’t know for sure what we will be able to do before we die.

Simeon was an old man who lived in Jerusalem at the time that Jesus was born. He probably didn’t call it a “bucket list,” but he did have one thing that he wanted to experience before he died. He wanted to see the Savior whom God had promised to send. Simeon’s bucket list was unique, however, since the one thing on his “bucket list” was guaranteed to happen. God, the Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah.

Eventually, the day came when God told Simeon to go to the temple where he would see the Messiah. As Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms, he saw much more than just the completion of his “bucket list.” He saw the fulfillment of all his hopes. He saw the One for whom he and all God’s people had been waiting. He saw his Savior, who would rescue him from his sins.

Just a few days ago, we celebrated the birth of Jesus. Unlike Simeon, we were not able to see him physically with our eyes or hold him in our arms. Yet, we still are confident that he truly was born for us. Simeon’s fulfilled “bucket list” gives us proof of that. The Lord fulfilled his promise to Simeon and allowed him to see the Savior before he died. Because of that, we know that God also has fulfilled his promise to us. Jesus, our Savior, who came to rescue us from all our sins, truly has been born for us, just as God promised.

Prayer:
Lord, I thank you for fulfilling your promise and sending your Son to be my Savior. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Calms our fears – December 27, 2020

Calms our fears – December 27, 2020


She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.
Matthew 1:21




Military Devotion – December 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 1:21

See series: Military Devotions

Humans know fear. We have felt fear for as far back as we can remember. The causes of fear may change, but the dread does not.

Fear always locks onto a threat. The greater the threat, the greater the fear. We can learn to overcome some fears. Yet, some threats remain untouched. Others grow. These are our greatest fears.

We may fear losing a friend, losing a job, or losing our life. It’s possible to fear losing all of these at the same time. A conjunction of fears can overwhelm us.

Confidence that we can overcome the threat can overcome the fear. So, we look for ways to gain an advantage. We reach out to friends and family, doctors and lawyers. We look for solutions and support. We want answers to our fears.

We look for help—strong help. It makes us feel better when we believe we have found it.

“Fear not!” is a phrase repeatedly spoken from the mouths of heavenly messengers. Abraham heard those words. So did Moses, Joshua, Joseph, Mary—and the Bethlehem shepherds.

Since the messages brought hope, we might wonder, “Why the fear?”

Fear is the natural reaction of the sinful creature to the Holy One. It can be denied by many. It can be disguised in many ways. But only the gospel can remove it.

At the root of the fear is the realization that God can hurt us. Not everyone knows the Bible verse “the wages of sin is death,” but everyone has a conscience. Conscience can be a terrifying voice. It warns of judgment.

No wonder sinners feel fear: “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31).

Where is the help for that threat?

We know. We sing, “Our help is in the name of the Lord.” And it is.

Joseph of Nazareth had feared that his plan for a joyful wedding with Mary was crumbling into a heap of shame. She was pregnant. He feared he would need to divorce her. An angel appeared to dismiss that fear.

The angel pointed him back to God. The Lord of heaven and earth was sending his own Son to earth as the great Helper. The angel directed him to Mary’s son. He would be the God-man.

David had said he could walk without fear even in the shadow of death because, “Thou art with me.” If God is with us, we need fear nothing.

In one of our hymns, we sing the words, “Jesus, the name that calms our fears.” Christmas shows us why that can be.

The one that would be born in Bethlehem would carry the title, Immanuel: “God with us.”

He is the answer to every fear. The solution to every problem. He is the Destroyer of death.

“He will save his people from their sins.”

The ones saved from sins have nothing to fear.

This is the wonder of Christmas: “Jesus calms our fears.”



Prayer:
Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask you to stay.
Close by me forever and love me I pray.
Bless all the dear children in your tender care,
And take us to heaven to live with you there. Amen.
(Christian Worship 68:3)



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.


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Celebrating Christmas Forever – December 27, 2020

When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
2 Samuel 7:12,13

Celebrating Christmas Forever


Daily Devotion – December 27, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Samuel 7:12,13

See series: Devotions

The packages have all been opened. The refrigerator is full of leftovers. Another Christmas is over. After all the weeks and months of preparing for it, the Christmas celebration seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. It’s all over too quickly. But here is the good news: the real celebration of Christmas never ends. This is what our Bible reading for today promises.

This particular promise was made to King David. King David was probably the greatest king of the Israelite nation. In spite of his flaws, he was one of the inspired writers of the Psalms and a great spiritual leader of his people. In our Bible verse for today, God had just told David that his family would continue to rule Israel, but it would rule Israel in a way that was far greater than any kingdom. From his family, the Savior of the world would come. This Savior would establish a kingdom that was not about land, possessions, and earthly power. It would even be a kingdom that would not be affected by time. That great descendant of David would be Jesus, who with his life and death, would redeem the world. He would establish peace with God through the forgiveness of sins. All believers would be a part of his great kingdom of life, a kingdom that would not end.

This is what we are celebrating at Christmas every year. All the gifts, songs, and decorations are an expression of the joy we have in our hearts. It is a joy that lasts far longer than just one day. In fact, it will last forever.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for sending your Son. And thank you for the joyful celebration of his birth. Help me live in the joy of your love and forgiveness today and every day. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 27, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
And he will be our peace.
Micah 5:2,5

The place

Were you born in a special place? I was born in a doctor’s office. My mother didn’t even make it to the hospital. It was some small town in Arizona that no one’s ever heard of. You have to really zoom in to find it on a map app.

If you were to choose the place where the Savior of the world was going to be born, do you think it would be some small place? Some town that’s hard to find on a map? Yet, that’s exactly what God did!

About 500 years before Jesus was born, God promised to bring the Savior from the town of Bethlehem, a small, insignificant dot on the map. What does that tell us about our God? It tells us that he can bring great blessings from the most unlikely of places. God likes to use the poor, the simple, and the weak things in life in order to show his power.

The Savior of the world would not be born in a great and powerful city, but in a small town. Insignificant shepherds would be the first to hear of God’s love born in the Christ child. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, you see a Savior who relates to and loves you.

If you go to church because you feel at peace with God, but lose it once you leave, you forgot to take something home with you … Jesus! This Christmas, Bethlehem is the most peaceful place on earth to be because the babe of Bethlehem will be our peace. He’s your PEACE!

Prayer: Gracious Savior, you came from nothing to save us from the insignificance of this world. Your love and sacrifice prove that your greatest gifts—forgiveness and eternal peace—come from an unlikely place, a Savior born and laid in Bethlehem’s manger. All this for 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.
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Lasting Joy – December 26, 2020

Be joyful always.
1 Thessalonians 5:16

Lasting Joy


Daily Devotion – December 26, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16

See series: Devotions

If you’re looking for a good biography to read over the Christmas break, consider picking up a copy of Mark Twain: A Life by Ron Powers. It’s a fascinating book. For the Christian, it can also be a thought-provoking one.

Here’s why. It would be easy to make the case that Mark Twain lived a charmed life. His natural writing ability and riveting personality opened doors for him around the world. He became wealthy. He traveled where he wanted, when he wanted. People packed any theater where he was going to speak. He was a real celebrity, and he relished the part. He also married the love of his life, and together they raised children who adored him.

But based on his statements about spiritual matters, it also appears that Mark Twain never came to know the peace of forgiveness in Jesus Christ. As a result, his sense of happiness was always dependent upon how well or how poorly his life was going. He rarely forgave anyone who ever let him down. Guilt over his past failures haunted him. And when death later touched his immediate family, he spent the closing years of his life in bitterness.

Mark Twain received virtually every pleasant thing the world could offer. One thing he did not possess was a lasting joy.

Let’s be candid for a moment. Many of you reading or hearing this will be lacking a lot of things this Christmas. You may not have a job or may not have good health. You may not have peace in your family or have money to pay off past bills. You may not have an intact marriage or the love of your life close to you.

But if you have Jesus in your life, you are forgiven, you are at peace with God, you have no reason to fear the future, and you know that all will be well according to God’s purpose and plan. It also means you possess what the world cannot deliver. In Jesus, you have lasting joy.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, this world can only offer me passing distractions. You bring me lasting joy. Thank you, Lord. Thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Rejoice in the Word Made Flesh – Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Read: John 1:1-14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Rejoice in the Word Made Flesh

 

Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:14

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for the Whole Family

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

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

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

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

 

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

While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.
Luke 2:6,7

The Hero We Needed


Daily Devotion – December 25, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:6,7

See series: Devotions

How many thousands of years had passed since the promise of a Savior had been made? For how many countless generations had the people of earth been waiting for God to rescue them? Our sins had separated us from our Creator. Only the living God could save us. Hell’s gaping jaws were open and ready to consume all mankind. Only heaven’s might could close them.

Surely, we needed a hero greater than all those who have appeared in ancient epics or modern movies. No doubt, we needed someone more powerful than all the world’s kings, conquerors, and corporate CEO’s combined. We needed a fearless warrior to defeat Satan, our wicked foe.

But what do we see? A baby. A newborn baby snuggled tight in a blanket. His humble parents watching while he sleeps, nestled in a tangle of hay. Is this all the help that heaven could spare? Don’t we as a human race deserve better? How could this poor, fragile child accomplish what was beyond the wisest and most powerful among us?

Ah, but selfish pride and sinful doubt put us under God’s wrath in the first place. Jesus is truly a great and powerful Savior, and he displayed his might in countless miracles. But the hero we required also needed to be humble and gentle, motived purely by selfless love. He had to be willing to sacrifice himself, not only for the best of us but also for the lowest, the poorest, and the vilest. He had to be willing to die for you. And he was—with great joy.

In Christ Jesus alone, we find the hero we need, the only one who was able both to die as our spotless lamb and to take up his life again as our loving Shepherd. Let us sing and herald his birth today with great joy!

Prayer:
I praise you, Lord Jesus, for your undeserved love for me, which brought you to earth as my gentle Savior. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Grace of God Appeared – December 24, 2020

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14

The Grace of God Appeared


Daily Devotion – December 24, 2020

Devotion based on Titus 2:11-14

See series: Devotions

“Words, words, words! I’m so sick of words!” Eliza Doolittle exploded in exasperation at the incessant wooing of a suitor in the musical, My Fair Lady. “Don’t talk of stars burning above. If you’re in love, show me!” Do you know someone who is all talk and no action? All of a person’s promises and beautiful words are meaningless if they don’t follow through.

At the beginning of the world, when our first parents disobeyed and brought death’s curse on our race, God made them a promise. The “Seed of the woman” would undo Satan’s evil work. God repeated and expanded on that promise through his prophets and priests, inspiring his people to patiently wait for a coming Savior. Some gave up hope. And even those who trusted in God still asked in their desperation, when will you send your Servant? When will you free us from sin and death?

On Christmas, we celebrate the historical fact that God was true to his word. In the person of Jesus Christ, the grace of God has appeared, visibly, powerfully, to save us. Despite our unworthiness, the eternal Son of God redeemed mankind from the curse of sin through his perfect life, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection. We read about these actions of love and their gracious results in God’s Word, but they are not merely words. The Holy Spirit works powerfully through the words of the Bible to bring us to repentance and to work in us the fruits of faith.

While we wait for Christ’s return on the last day, will we give him empty lip-service on this holy day? Or will we offer our lives in service to him, who was born to die for us?

Prayer:
Let us all with gladsome voice praise the God of heaven, who to bid our hearts rejoice, his own Son has given. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation – Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Read: Isaiah 52:7-10

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

Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation

 

Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing Prayer:

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

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

Questions for All Ages

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

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

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

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

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

 

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