Pray For What God Wants – July 26, 2022

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3,4

Pray For What God Wants

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Daily Devotion – July 26, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 2:3,4

See series: Devotions

You may have heard Christians offering a prayer for something very specific, like the healing of a relative in medical distress or the success of a plan, and then adding at the end of the prayer, “. . . according to your will, O God.” That brings up an interesting question. How do you know what God’s will is?

The truth is that many times you can’t. He doesn’t tell us what our future holds or what will be best for our long-term spiritual well-being. The only thing we can know for sure about God’s will is what he tells us in his Word–the Bible. And that is where he tells us what he really wants is for all people–to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth about Jesus our Savior.

God invites us to pray that way too. Even as we are asking for him to do one thing or another, we are remembering that the ultimate good is for people to come to faith in Jesus. If more people will be saved through someone remaining in medical distress or relieved of medical distress, only God knows, and his will is that all people be saved. If more people come to know about Jesus because of the success or failure of a plan, only God knows, and his will is that all people come to a knowledge of the truth.

That’s why you can pray “according to your will, O God.” God knows what he is doing, he knows what he wants, he loves you and wants you and all people to be saved. He will answer your prayers according to his will; and that’s all you need.

Prayer:
Lead me to trust your will, O God, and answer my prayers according to it, in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Daily 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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Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

Faith-Life Reveals Itself in Love for Others

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

We cannot see into other people’s hearts, but we can discern Christian faith by its fruits in words and actions. God tells us that love, joy, peace, patience, and more make up the fruit of faith. (See Galatians 5:22,23.) If we truly have crossed over from death to life, it will show in love for others, as James has written: “I will show you my faith by what I do” (James 2:18).

Traditional First Lesson – Deuteronomy 30:9-14

What summary of God’s law does Moses give the children of Israel in these verses?

Moses summarizes the law as obedience to God and his commandments. All of God’s commandments can be summarized in one word: love. (See Mark 12:28-34; Romans 13:8-10.)

In light of verses 11-14, what do many people seem to think they have to do in order to please the Lord God?

These verses suggest that many people have thought the Lord is “too difficult” to please, that he requires all kinds of heroic acts on our part. But Moses argues with that false idea: “The word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.” Simply put, God wants us to love him and one another.

Supplemental First Lesson – Deuteronomy 24:17-22

In general, how did God command the children of Israel to treat foreigners, orphans, and widows?

God commanded the Israelites to treat foreigners, orphans, and widows with kindness and generosity.

Twice God gives a simple reason for such commands. What is that reason?

God told the Israelites to be kind and generous to those in need because the Israelites had been slaves in Egypt.

Traditional Second Lesson – Colossians 1:1-14

Why did Paul have reason to thank God for the Colossians?

Paul thanked God for the Colossians because he had heard of their wonderful faith-life, which revealed itself in love.

What prayer did Paul continuously pray on behalf of the Colossians?

Paul’s prayer was that the Colossians might be built up even more in their faith, that they “may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way” (verse 10). Paul teaches that love is a natural consequence of faith.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 12:9-21

When others mistreat us, what should we not do? Why not? (See 12:19.)

We should not take revenge. If someone harms us, revenge is God’s job. He will repay.

What should we do then, according to Paul? (See 12:20,21.)

We should overcome evil with good. Specifically, if our enemy is hungry, we should feed him. If our enemy is thirsty, we should give him something to drink. By doing this, Paul says, we will heap burning coals on our enemy’s head. (This picture seems to mean causing one’s enemy to feel ashamed of his or her conduct in comparison to the kindness shown to him or her.)

Gospel – Luke 10:25-37

What is the first reason why Jesus told this story? (See Luke 10:29a.)

Jesus told this story first to counteract the way we all want to justify ourselves. We have not kept God’s law!

Why were the priest and Levite in Jesus’ parable unwilling to help the man victimized by robbers?

The priest and Levite seem to have been more concerned about their service in the temple, which would bring them honor, than they were concerned about the fulfillment of God’s will, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Self-love trumped love of others. True God-given faith-life reveals itself in sacrificing for others.

What is surprising about the Samaritan’s willingness to help this Jewish man, and what do his actions teach us about true Christian love?

The Samaritan’s willingness to help would have been a surprising twist to Jesus’ listeners and a slap in the face to many Jews of Jesus’ day. Most Jews looked down on their Samaritan cousins, thinking of them as unreligious half-breeds. But the Samaritan’s actions model Christ’s own love, which selflessly serves others—even an enemy. (See Matthew 5:43-48.)

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I’ve Got Questions… – July 25, 2022

Read: Genesis 18:20-32

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?
Genesis 18:22-23

I’ve Got Questions…

Family Devotion – July 25, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 18:22-23

See series: Devotions

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

If you had a question for the President of the United States, do you think you could just walk up to the front door of his house, knock on the door, and then ask your question when he opened the door?

No way!

The President is really busy and important. Even if you did manage to get some time with him to ask your questions, you would probably only be able to do that once, and maybe for just a few short minutes.

It can be hard to get important and powerful people to pay attention to you, especially the younger you are. Now, look at the amazing thing that happens in this Bible story. “Abraham remained standing before the LORD. Then Abraham approached him and said…”

Abraham approached God to talk to him! If the President is a powerful and busy guy, imagine how busy God must be! He takes care of everyone on earth. He sends rain to water the grass and cause crops to grow. He makes sure the animals have food. He causes the sun to rise and set. Yet, Abraham was able to approach and talk to God! And he kept talking to God!

Talking to God—that is what prayer is. What a neat thing you and I can do—anytime and from any place—we can talk to God about anything! God is never too busy to listen to us.

But why? Why would God want to listen to Abraham, or to you? God wants you to talk to him because you are important to him! He wants to listen to you because he loves you. He hears all of your prayers and answers them because Jesus forgave all your sins. God wants you to keep talking to him, every day and about everything, because at your baptism, God made you his child. Because of who God is and what he has done for you, you can, like Abraham, approach God and talk to him!

Whether you’ve got questions, things you are afraid of, or something that makes you really happy and thankful—all are great things to talk to God about!

Closing Prayer:

God, thank you for never being too busy to listen when I talk to you about all the things going on in my life. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • If you could ask God any question, what would it be?
  • Who is the most important person you have ever talked to?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why can you approach God and talk to him like Abraham?
  • Make a list of things you always wanted to talk to God about. Which do you want to talk to him about today?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why does God want you talk to him?
  • What do you think God wants you talk to him about?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Ask, Seek, Knock – Week of July 25, 2022

Ask, Seek, Knock – Week of July 25, 2022



“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Luke 11:9-13



I picture myself standing at the door with hand raised, positioned for a knock, but I stop mid-air. As I stand at the door, my mind is in conflict wondering if I even dare try. “Maybe I can work this out on my own,” I think.

This can be a visual of our prayer life at times. We have blessings for which to be grateful, sins that weigh heavily, struggles that cause pain or worry. We work and work to get through things on our own. When we’re at our last straw, that faith lightbulb comes on— “I need to go to God in prayer.” What took so long? And then I read the words for today’s devotion where Jesus is telling us to ask, seek, and knock. He’s telling me to come to him in prayer. Why do I wait so long?

Prayer—such a simple thing. It’s sharing with God what’s on our heart, right? That’s true but it’s more than that. You may have been reminded that prayer is not intended to be like ordering at a restaurant expecting God to fill our order. God wants us to pray. He wants us to pray for things he wants to give us. When a young child comes to you and asks for something, you make a decision based on what you think is best for that child. Oh, how God’s desire for our prayers and his answer for us is even stronger. Our prayers are based entirely on the unique and unearned relationship we have with God, our Father. Prayer is not trying to convince God to give us what we want but rather to grow in our understanding of what God wants for us.

God also loves when we come to him again and again. As we pray, we watch and wait in hope for God’s response. If we’re honest, we’re often waiting for God to answer the way we want him to answer. The prayer of a faith-filled heart knows that God’s answer to our prayers, whether the answer is “yes”, “no”, or “not now”, comes from his heart full of a love for us that we cannot comprehend. Even more than a loving parent, God wants what’s best for us and his response to our prayers always comes from that love. Knowing that, we can go to him with complete confidence and trust. We can pray boldly. We can also pray for God to help us to grow in our understanding and trust for his will for our lives.

So, walk right up to that door without any hesitation. Ask. God wants to hear your prayer. Seek his will. He wants you to grow in faith in him. Knock on the door trusting that God will always respond in his way out of love for you.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, forgive me when I am hesitant in my prayers. Help me to trust you completely and pray with boldness, with confidence, and with trust in your answer to my prayers. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

For Further meditation:
CW21 722
In Holy Conversation
CW21 721 / CW 93 411
What a Friend We Have in Jesus


Early 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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Pray For Our Leaders – July 25, 2022

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1,2

Pray For Our Leaders

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Daily Devotion – July 25, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 2:1,2

See series: Devotions

Most Christians think their prayer habits could use improvement. They notice that they forget to pray. Or when they do remember to pray, their minds quickly wander.

If you are someone who thinks that your prayer habits could use improvement, consider praying for a list of people one-by-one. It doesn’t matter who those people are. The famous missionary named Paul advised the person he was mentoring, a young pastor named Timothy, to pray for all people.

It doesn’t matter where you get the list of people for prayer. You might try praying for the people in your news feed. They are often in your news feed because they have some special need. Pray for the Lord to meet that need according to his will.

If you pray for the people in your news feed, you will soon run across people in authority. They need your prayers as well. What if you disagree with the decisions those people in authority are making? There is a famous bit of prayer advice for those occasions. Pray that the Lord would convert those people in authority, that they would come to know and believe in Jesus as their Savior. And if they will not be converted, pray that the Lord would restrain them.

Why would you ask the Lord to restrain anyone who does not believe in him? The answer is in our Bible verse for today. The more the Lord restrains evil, the more chance you have to live a peaceful and quiet life in godliness and holiness. As you live that life, you have the opportunity to speak words of forgiveness and love, not just in your prayers, but also to the people around you, and not just to them, but also to your leaders.

Prayer:
Lord God, bring everyone to know you better through Jesus Christ, the King of kings. Amen.

Daily 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 – July 24, 2022

One truth shared: Focused prayer goes to God with things that are according to his will and for the good of his kingdom.

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
Genesis 18:27,28

Focused Prayer Claims What God Wants for Us, Not What We Want from Him

If you were Aladdin, what would you ask for? It’s a question people have been asking since the original Disney movie came out in 1992. To be honest, it’s kind of a fun game to play and sure to spark a good (though shallow) debate with friends.

“I’d ask for infinity wishes,” (says every young person who thinks they are smarter than everyone else).

“You can’t do that,” is always the reply.

Well, what would you ask for? Fame? Fortune? Money? Maybe you’re slightly more clever, and you would ask for some amazing career or secret investment that keeps the money flowing without end. Or maybe you’re slightly less selfish and would ask for grandma to be cured of cancer or for the HOCO date you dumped to find true happiness with someone else.

I wonder how often we treat God like this, as if we are Aladdin and he’s some magic genie in a bottle. Take a moment and think about your prayer life. How often are you going to God with something that you really, really want? Better grades . . . to pass a test . . . a fixed friendship . . . a happier home life . . . success in your future . . . a “Yes” to your prom-posal.

While we certainly can ask God for all kinds of things, the Bible reminds us what truly focused prayer is like. Prayer that is properly focused goes to God with things that are according to his will. Proper prayer is a mixture of confessing sin, praising God, thanking God, and then also bringing our requests to him. But those requests are not just for iPhones, PS5s, and Porsches. Instead, focused prayer goes to God with things that line up with his will—for strength, wisdom, perseverance, peace, comfort, help and healing for others, etc. Because we are God’s dearly loved children, we know that we can bring such focused prayers to our Father with confidence, just like Abraham did.

God revealed to Abraham his plan of bringing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their rebellious sin and rejection. But Abraham boldly pleaded with God to change his plans. In fact, he was so bold that he seemingly bargained with God to see how low he would go. Six times he went to God in prayer on behalf of those people and his nephew Lot’s family living there! But again, Abraham knew that God is a gracious Father, he was his dearly loved child, and this prayer was something that would be in line with God’s will (being merciful to people).

So young friends, pray away! Let it rip! Go to God boldly and confidently in prayer. But do so not with genie-in-a-bottle wishes. Go to God with bold requests trusting his love and that his will is always done.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how gracious you are to invite us to communicate with you in prayer! Give me bold confidence to come before you with all my prayers. Help me also to pray not only for my wants and needs, but also for things that are according to your will and good purpose. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Better Place – July 24, 2022

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time.
1 Timothy 2:1-6

A Better Place

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Daily Devotion – July 24, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 2:1-6

See series: Devotions

“What can I do to make this world a better place?” A look at the sad, scary state of current events, both local and worldwide, can lead one to wonder, “Is there really anything I can do that will make a difference?”

Yes, there is. The apostle Paul says to us, “Pray.” Paul urges us to pray for everyone. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, citizens of our country and for people around the world. Pray.

Especially pray for all those in authority. Pray for local authorities and national authorities. And pray for kings and authorities around the world. Whether it is the authorities at home or abroad, Paul doesn’t say, “Ridicule them.” He doesn’t say, “Put them down.” He doesn’t say, “Make sure everyone knows their faults.” He says, “Pray for them.” Pray for them so we can live peaceful and quiet lives.

When we live peaceful and quiet lives, we can live in all godliness and holiness. And then we can proclaim the real difference-maker, Jesus. God wants all people to be saved. That happens when people come to a knowledge of the truth. Not just any truth, but the truth that Jesus Christ is the mediator between God and people. The truth that Jesus Christ is the one who has established peace between God and all people. The truth that Jesus Christ is the one who has opened heaven for us. He did that by giving himself as a ransom, by taking our sins upon himself, by offering his body and blood for us on the cross.

Life with Jesus—that’s what truly makes this world a better place.

Prayer:
Lord God, guide and bless all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. Then guide and bless us as we proclaim Jesus, the difference-maker for this life and for eternity. Amen.

Daily 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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Laugh with Joy – July 23, 2022

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Genesis 18:10-14

Laugh with Joy

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Daily Devotion – July 23, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 18:10-14

See series: Devotions

Sometimes you just gotta laugh—the situation is so absurd that it’s laughable. When Sarah, who was past childbearing age, heard the prediction that she would have a child within a year, she laughed. It was not really laughter with joy. It was more like the laughter of disbelief.

What Sarah didn’t take into account is that it was God talking. He was carrying out his plan of salvation, and when God tells you what he is doing for your salvation, a laugh of disbelief is an inappropriate response. Instead, when God speaks, you are encouraged to laugh with joy.

Even when you were still a sinner, Christ died for you. You just gotta laugh because such mercy and grace are so unexpected. But, instead of laughing in disbelief, you can laugh with joy because it’s true.

Your sins are forgiven through faith in Christ. Even when you don’t feel forgiven, even when accusations are still there to try to make you feel guilty, God speaks the word of forgiveness, and you are genuinely and completely forgiven. You just gotta laugh with the joy that comes from a clean conscience.

No matter how bad it gets here on earth, God says that heaven is your home. No more sorrow or tears there—just rest and peace. Laugh with joy!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 79)
Oh, joy to know that you, my Friend, are Lord, beginning without end, the First and Last, eternal! And you at length—O glorious grace—will take me to that holy place, the home of joys supernal. Amen.

Daily 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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Only One Thing Is Needed – July 22, 2022

Read: Luke 10:38-42

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42

Only One Thing Is Needed

Family Devotion – July 22, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:41-42

See series: Devotions

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

Having guests over is an exciting adventure, isn’t it? Preparing for guests isn’t so exciting. There are so many things to do to get ready for them. The house must be just right—bedrooms cleaned, floors swept and mopped, dishes washed, laundry washed and put away. Then the groceries need to be purchased, meals planned. Oh yes, it is summer, so the grass needs to be mowed, yard toys picked up. Whew, that’s a lot of work! That’s why it’s important for everyone in the family to chip in and help.

Martha was no different. Her favorite guest was coming over—Jesus! She loved her Lord so much that she wanted everything to be just right for him. She also wanted help from everyone in her family. But listen to what happened: “Martha had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” Martha was busy planning the menu, setting the table, and cooking in the kitchen. And there was Mary… sitting. Martha had enough. “Lord, tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus knew everything that Martha was trying to do for him in her house. Then he gently tells her what she needed to do for him in his kingdom. The food in the oven could wait. So could the Jell-O. Life goes on even if a dinner gets missed in your house. But in his kingdom, life ends when the Word is not listened to. No Word? No faith. No life. You and I would be dead in our sins without the one thing needful.

A Christian without the Word is like a car that runs out of gas. You don’t even realize it until you press the gas pedal and there’s nothing there. But a Christian with the Word never runs on empty when they need it most.

So sit and listen so that you can hear and believe. So you can believe and do. So that you can go and tell. Because now we know that there is one thing needful.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, never take away from us the one thing needed—you. Never leave our homes, but always live with us. Keep our ears listening to your words. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Describe what happens in your house before guests come over.
  • What did Mary do to get ready for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was Martha so frustrated with Mary?
  • What did Jesus say was Martha’s missing focus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If someone in your family is a natural “worrier,” how might you be of help? What words of Jesus might encourage them?
  • True or false. God is not interested in how busy you are.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Lord of All – July 22, 2022

Lord of All – July 22, 2022


I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the LORD, do all these things.
Isaiah 45:7




Military Devotion – July 22, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:7

See series: Military Devotions

He, who claims the title, the Lord God Almighty, does not easily fit into a slot designed by humans.

We tend to view him from the human perspective. We realize he has attributes such as omnipotence and omniscience, but we often ignore the implication of such things since we cannot comprehend them.

We can say the words, but we cannot wrap our heads around how that works out in real life. Humans have asked, “If God is all-powerful, can he make something so heavy that he cannot lift it?”

There doesn’t seem to be an answer to that question. “It doesn’t compute” might be our best response. It defies understanding.

We expect some questions to have an either/or answer. We question answers that reply with a both/and.

The prophet Isaiah relayed Jehovah’s message to an Israel about to be invaded by a fierce enemy that would carry away many families to bondage in a heathen land.

This terrified the people because they had seen this happen to their fellow Israelites, who were carted off by merciless Assyrians. Those ten tribes never came back. To this day, they have not been found.

So then, what chance of survival did the people of Judah and Benjamin have?

The Lord God gave them the answer. After 70 years, they would be free to return to their homeland. They would not need to fight their way back. They would be invited to return. They would be set free to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. They would come back carrying treasures.

Hard to believe? It must have been. To give further assurance, the Lord names the Persian king who will set them free. Names him even before he is born.

With boldness, the sacred text declares: “This is what the LORD says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor” (Isaiah 45:1).

History reveals it was Cyrus who overthrew the Babylon Empire and declared the Israelites to be free to return home.

How could this be? How could the God of Israel do this? The answer is simple.

He is the Lord of all.

Was he not the one who brought light into being simply by saying, “Let there be light”?

He was. He did that.

We think darkness is merely the absence of light. He says there is more to it. Darkness is something he creates.

Does he bring prosperity? Indeed, he does.

But he also creates disaster.

Death and destruction are under his power. He uses them as he wishes. He will use them for the benefit of those who are called by his name.

The Lord of all used death and destruction to rescue his people from Babylon. He did it again to rescue humanity from bondage to Satan.

This time, it was the death of his Son. This time, destruction came to the power of death. Jesus rose from death, and so will those who follow him.

He said he would do it, and he did it.

What, then, should his people fear?

Surely not disaster. Surely not destruction. Surely not death.

He is the Lord of all!

And we?

We are his beloved children.



Prayer: Eternal, almighty, ever-faithful Lord God, we are amazed at your power and overwhelmed by your mercy and love. We thank you for delivering us from the death and destruction we deserve. We dedicate ourselves to your service. We bow in spirit before the loving Lord of all. Amen.



Points to ponder:

  • Why should it not frighten us to hear that the Lord creates disaster?
  • How would we explain the hymn verse: “Death of death and hell’s destruction”?
  • Is there significance to the fact that ancient Babylon is the site of modern Iraq?


Written by Rev. 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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Better – July 22, 2022

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41,42

Better

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Daily Devotion – July 22, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:41,42

See series: Devotions

Mary and Martha are sisters. They trust in Jesus as their Savior and know him personally. They are his friends. One day, Jesus arrives in their home. Mary settles down to listen to Jesus speak. Martha, however, has hospitality on her mind.

Let’s stop, for a moment, to appreciate the pressure Martha is feeling. In our casual culture, you and I may handle some company simply by ordering in a pizza. That is not what Martha faces. In the culture of the 1st Century, hospitality is a sober business. When you open your home to guests, you do all you can to treat them well. Failing to do so is an insult to them and a disgrace to you.

And so here is Martha, laboring to show Jesus the best hospitality she can. And what is her sister doing to help? Nothing. She just sits there, listening to Jesus. Perhaps more than a few of us, therefore, can sympathize with Martha when she finally lets off some steam and asks Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Then comes Jesus’ affectionate reply, but a reply packed with meaning.

Does Jesus ever say that Martha is doing a bad thing? Of course not. Showing hospitality is a beautiful fruit of faith. In fact, other parts of the Bible praise it. In this moment, however, Jesus is speaking to what is better.

In the current lifestyle of our society, busyness is a badge of honor. When that busyness, however, even in service to God—when that busyness robs me of the opportunity for the Lord to serve me in his Word, then I’ve lost my way. Then I need to repent of my busyness.

But that’s why Jesus came. He came to wash away my sins of busyness. He came to spend his time perfectly on my behalf. In him, all is well. In him, I can begin again.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when I lose my way, grant me a repentant heart. Forgive my busyness. Refresh me to choose what is better. Amen.

Daily 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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Eyes – July 21, 2022

Turn my eyes away from worthless things.
Psalm 119:37

Eyes

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Daily Devotion – July 21, 2022

Devotion based on Psalm 119:37

See series: Devotions

What do our eyes decide what to look at? A compelling article from the University of Melbourne gives this some thought. For quite some time, the dominant theory has been that people’s eyes automatically focus on whatever is bright and shiny in front of them. For example, if you show someone a picture of a drab city street with a bright yellow taxi, the person will first look at the taxi.

Recent work in this area, however, suggests there’s another factor in what our eyes choose to see. Rather than just looking at what is bright and shiny, our eyes also seek out those things that are meaningful to us.

And what is meaningful? There’s the big question. For the answer to that question can vary from person to person.

In Psalm 119, the Holy Spirit moved the psalmist to pray, Turn my eyes away from worthless things. Our ancient enemy, the devil, knows it rarely works for him to attack us directly and demand that we turn our eyes away from Jesus. Instead, he’s learned that the more he can get us to fix our eyes on things other than Jesus—things that seem more important and urgent at the moment—the more he can gently nudge us away from our Savior.

And here’s the tricky part. The thing that pulls our attention away from Jesus does not need to be an inherently bad thing. It might be a wonderful thing. Maybe it’s a relationship, family, hobby, career, retirement planning, or keeping up with the news.

All well and good in and of themselves, but when I slip into presuming that one of these good things is more worthy of my ongoing attention than my Savior, then Satan has set his hooks. Disaster awaits.

Thank God for Jesus. Not only has he washed us clean at the cross, he continues to pursue us with his Holy Spirit. He empowers us to come to repentance, to turn our eyes away from relatively worthless things, to fix our eyes upon him all over again.

Prayer:
Lord, when my eyes begin to fix on something other than you, bring me to repentance. Turn my eyes back to you. Amen.

Daily 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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Thank You, Lord… Can I Have More? – July 20, 2022

Read: Colossians 1:1-14

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God.
Colossians 1:3-4,9b-10

Thank You, Lord… Can I Have More?

Family Devotion – July 20, 2022

Devotion based on Colossians 1:3-4,9b-10

See series: Devotions

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

Alison just finished eating supper at the table. It was time for dessert. It was her favorite—strawberry shortcake. The cake was on the plates and the bowl of strawberries was making its way around the table. Suddenly, disaster struck. There weren’t enough strawberries for everyone. Alison’s mom mysteriously calculated the exact number of strawberries, divided it by the number of kids at the table, and then spooned them out evenly. Now everyone would be happy, right? Wrong! Alison complained, “But Mom, the berries don’t even cover my cake.” Mom replied, “Alison, be happy with what you have.”

Be happy with what you have. Is that what your mom says too when you’re at the store and you see the newest game or an action figure? Is that when Mom says something like, “Stop begging, be happy with what you have”?

Whether strawberries or toys, it’s good to be happy with what we have. But when it comes to spiritual blessings, God wants us to beg, and ask and ask and ask, and want more and more and more. More of what? Let’s call them our “spiritual strawberries.” When it comes to spiritual things, to the strength of our faith, to the number of God-pleasing fruits, or works of faith, “We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way.” God never wants us to stop wanting more.

But that’s sort of hard, because there’s a part of us that doesn’t want to do that. There’s something in us that wants to do exactly the opposite of what God wants. But God has an answer for that. God tells us how we can grow in love for God and others. We grow when God feeds us. We grow the more we hear and know and read and study God’s Word.

For the tons of spiritual presents God gives, each wrapped with the red ribbon of Jesus’ blood—for faith in Jesus, for forgiveness, for the certain hope of heaven—we say “Thank you, God!” But never stop asking God for what you don’t have. Ask him to cover your cake and dump on those spiritual berries. Ask the Lord for strength to please him in every way, for strength to produce fruit in every good work. And find that strength in God’s Word.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, I am so thankful for everything you have given me in my life and for my faith. Don’t ever stop strengthening and supporting me to live my life for you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • When Alison complained she didn’t get enough strawberries on her shortcake, did her mom tell her—“Be happy with what you have” or “Ask for more and more”?
  • When it comes to producing good spiritual berries of love for God and others, does God tell us—”Be happy with what you’ve got” or “Ask for more and more”?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • “Live a life worthy of the Lord.” What exactly does that mean?
  • What has God given us that gives power to live life for him?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Have an honest discussion with your parents (or guardian, etc.) what is getting in the way of your family “growing in God’s Word.”
  • The devotion talked about “spiritual strawberries” as fruit that shows itself in life. Identify what a couple of those berries might look like in your life.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Long Trip Alone – July 20, 2022

“My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Long Trip Alone

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Daily Devotion – July 20, 2022

Devotion based on Exodus 33:14

See series: Devotions

In the world of country music, Dierks Bentley is a bona fide star. But his talent goes beyond his voice and his performance. Dierks Bentley is a gifted songwriter known for crafting his lyrics with care.

Of the songs he’s written, one has a twist in how it came to be. The song is distinctive in tone. It is slow, thoughtful, somber. The title of the song is “Long Trip Alone.” As he began to write, Bentley had his marriage in mind. Picturing the years of his life as a journey, he intended to describe what it meant to have his spouse by his side. As he wrote, however, his perspective changed. By the time it matured into a finished piece, “Long Trip Alone” was no longer about a husband and wife. Rather, “Long Trip Alone” was about the quiet, desperate need each of us has for the presence of the Lord.

Indeed, as Bentley describes it, your life and mine is “A long trip alone, over sand and stone.” You know the hardships. You know the difficulties. You know the crushing disappointments. Left to ourselves, you and I would wander. We’d walk in circles. We’d stumble and fall. And as we did, the suffocating isolation would just grow worse until our pointlessness came to an end in some dark, despairing place.

That’s what sin does—your sin and mine. Not only has it made the journey of life rugged and painful. It isolates us. It forces each of us to walk the long trip alone—a trip that ends in eternal death.

But that’s why Jesus came. God’s Son became one of us. He took the long trip through this broken world, living a perfect life on our behalf. Then he carried our sins to the cross, where he endured an aloneness that will forever defy description—an aloneness he endured in our place. And because he has, you and I, through faith in him, will never have to walk alone again.

In Exodus 33, the Lord promised Moses, “My Presence will go with you.” In Christ, he makes the same promise to you and me.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my life would be a long trip alone. Thank you for being by my side. Amen.

Daily 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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Laughter – July 19, 2022

Then the LORD said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh . . .? Is anything too hard for the LORD?”
Genesis 18:13,14

Laughter

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Daily Devotion – July 19, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 18:13,14

See series: Devotions

He’s not exactly a household name today, but back in the 1980s and early 90s, Bill Hicks was a powerful presence in the world of comedy. The kind of comedy that other comedians were talking about.

His routines produced raucous laughter. His material, however, was often dark. He pushed boundaries. And he had some favorite targets. One of them was religion—Christianity in particular. At times he would select a particular teaching and then use his considerable skills to firebomb it with ridicule. Explosions of laughter typically followed.

The laughter of ridicule brings with it a curious thing. It brings with it a sense that the case is now closed, the winning argument has prevailed, and there’s nothing more to be said. Sometimes this is true. And sometimes it is not.

In Genesis chapter 18, the Lord announced to an elderly Abraham and Sarah that Sarah would be with child. Sarah’s reaction? Sarah laughed. Hers, however, was not the laughter of joy. It was the laughter of ridicule.

You and I often encounter the same thing. We don’t simply hear such laughter, however, from critics of Christianity. You and I can also hear such laughter snorting from our old sinful selves. In our heart of hearts, you and I know we have sometimes yielded to the temptation not to take our God seriously—whether it’s one of his promises or part of his will for our lives.

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God that, for all the times Satan has talked us into rolling our eyes over a truth of Scripture, Jesus, our Substitute, never did. And thank God that Jesus has taken all our sinful laughter and paid for it in full at Calvary’s cross.

Sarah’s laughter was not the closing argument. The Lord was. He fulfilled his promise to give Abraham and Sarah a child.

One more thing. Bill Hicks died of cancer in 1994. According to a close friend, there was a shock at his funeral when someone revealed that, before his death, Bill Hicks had confessed his faith in Jesus as his Savior. If that’s the case, Bill now enjoys another kind of laughter. The laughter of joy in Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord, fill my spirit with the laughter of joy in you. Amen.

Daily 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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Seventh Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Sends Out Seventy-Two Men to Proclaim Peace

These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

“Peace” or “shalom” (Hebrew) is more than the absence of hostility between God and us. It is wholeness in every way, bought by the blood of Christ. Today’s lessons show the part we all have in proclaiming God’s peace near and far.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 66:10-14

By picturing Jerusalem as our mother, what does Isaiah say Jerusalem will do for us? (See 66:12.)

Jerusalem, that is, God’s church of all believers in Jesus everywhere, will give us continuous, overflowing comfort and peace through the good news of our Lord Jesus.

When we see God’s comfort, what will we do? (See 66:14.)

When we see God’s comfort in Christ, we will rejoice and flourish as we see God’s power at work. Still, he will show his fury to his foes.

Supplemental First Lesson – 1 Kings 17:1-16

When many Israelites turned to Baal, the storm god, in what two ways did God punish them? (See 17:1-3.)

God judged and punished his Israelite people by a) sending no rain (not even any dew) for several years and by taking his spokesman Elijah away from them so that they received no messages from the Lord.

A Canaanite woman helped Elijah, though, and saw a miracle. List several surprises in this part of the story.

It is surprising that a Canaanite woman, not an Israelite, helped Elijah. And how she helped! “It is difficult to know which to wonder most at: Elijah’s calmness, consistency, and readiness of faith; or the widow’s almost incredible simplicity of trustfulness” (Alfred Edersheim).

Traditional Second Lesson – Galatians 6:1-10,14-16

In what practical way would we fulfill the law of Christ? (See 6:2.)

By carrying each other’s burdens, we will fulfill the law of Christ.

When Paul says, “a man reaps what he sows,” what does he mean? (See 6:8.)

Paul means that certain actions naturally lead to corresponding results. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

In what alone will we boast? (See 6:14.)

We pray that we may never boast of anything except for the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to us, and we to the world.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Philippians 4:10-20

What secret had Paul learned? (See 4:12 especially.)

Paul had learned the secret of being content in any and every circumstance.

In 4:13, Paul does not mean that all of us can be world-class violinists or swimmers. What does he mean?

Paul means, as a Greek expert has put it, “As to every circumstance, I am strong in him who strengthens me.” Paul is strong in the Lord Jesus, not in himself.

What promise did Paul give to those who had helped him? (See 4:19.)

Paul promised the generous Philippians (and us), “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

Gospel – Luke 10:1–12,16–20

How did Jesus make the seventy-two men whom he sent out the answer to their own prayer? (See 10:1-4.)

Jesus made the seventy-two the answer to their own prayer for more workers in the Lord’s harvest by sending them out on a tour of the towns ahead of him in Judea. (In line with our individual gifts, Jesus also will make us the answer to our own prayers for more workers.)

When we listen to our pastor or someone similar announce the forgiveness of all our sins—or, God forbid the opposite—to whom are we listening? (See 10:6.)

When we listen to our pastor or someone else announce that our sins have been forgiven or are retained, we are listening to Jesus himself. Those words are “as valid and certain,” Luther says in our catechism, “in heaven also, as if Christ our dear Lord dealt with us himself.”

In what did Jesus say not to rejoice? In what did he say to rejoice? (See 10:20.)

Jesus said not to rejoice that evil spirits submit to us as we share the gospel but to rejoice that our own names are written in heaven.

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Is anything too hard for the Lord? – July 18, 2022

Read: Genesis 18:1-14

“Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Genesis 18:14

Is anything too hard for the Lord?

Family Devotion – July 18, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 18:14

See series: Devotions

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

Ever hear someone say, “Out of sight, out of mind?” It means that people quickly forget something or someone they have not seen for a long time.

For example, there may be a musical toy so noisy that a parent puts it away on a high shelf or in a closet. Sure enough, the toy gets forgotten. “Out of sight, out of mind.”

Before today’s Bible reading, the Lord promised Abraham that his family would become a great nation and that through his family the whole world would be blessed. Abraham and Sarah believed the Lord would keep his promise. A year passed. Then another one. And another. Twenty-four years passed. After so much time, God’s promise might have seemed, “Out of sight, out of mind.”

One day, three visitors came to Abraham and Sarah’s house. But they were no ordinary visitors. One of them was the Lord himself who came to hand deliver this special announcement, “This time next year, Sarah will have a son.” Sarah giggled when she heard the Lord say she would have a baby in about a year. She was well past the time of childbearing. Imagine, a grandma having a baby! The thought made Sarah laugh out loud.

“Why did Sarah laugh?” the Lord asked. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” What a great question! With that, God reminds us that he is so strong and powerful, he can do things that are not normal. That question reminded Sarah and Abraham that no matter how much time passes, the Lord always keeps his promises. Sure enough, against all human odds, Abraham and Sarah welcomed a little boy named Isaac. Sure enough, the whole world would be blessed because one of his distant descendants would be Jesus—the answer to God’s promise to save us all. It took a long, long time for God’s promise to come true. But truth is, God never forgets his promises.

Every time we go to church, the Lord serves us. He strengthens our faith. By skipping worship or leaving our Bibles on the shelf, we keep God’s reminders “Out of sight, out of mind.” But the Lord is faithful to his promises. He continues to serve us. Let us keep his Word and promises always in sight and on our minds!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord of strength and renewal, keep our eyes looking at your Word to keep it on our minds. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What was Sarah’s reaction when the visitor said she would have a baby?
  • How often does God keep his promises?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • If you were Sarah, how might you have reacted to the message of a baby?
  • “Out of sight, out of mind” is what we don’t want to do with God’s promises. Name two ways you can keep them from being forgotten.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identity what things or events take your eyes off the Lord.
  • Name at least two things that you think are impossible. Then answer the question, “Is anything too hard for the Lord?” How does the answer strengthen your faith?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022

Mary? Martha? – Week of July 18, 2022



As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42



Martha or Mary? Which one? I’m wondering if you are at all like me when you read this story. I often think, “Yes Jesus, but give Martha a break. You and your disciples are there, and the meal won’t just arrive. She was trying to be a good host to you and your disciples.”

And then I reread the final sentence that reminds us of the one thing truly needed—sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him.

What’s the right thing to do? First, you and I likely are a little bit Mary and a little bit Martha. Last week’s devotion spoke about serving others out of love and gratitude for all God has done for us. Serving others is certainly God pleasing. Martha preparing a meal for her Lord and the disciples is a blessed task. Imagine making a meal for such a group with the conveniences available at that time. It’s remarkable. However, note carefully Jesus’ response. He doesn’t reprimand her for preparing the meal. “You are worried and upset about many things,” is what Jesus says to Martha. It’s not the work, it’s the worry and stress that Martha is expressing that are the concern.

Mary. Someone to whom we may aspire. She had her priorities set. She sat quietly and received Jesus’ service to her. She was focused on worship and her worship was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. I can’t think of a more idyllic way to spend an afternoon.

So, what’s the take-away for us? God loves our service to him as we express our love to him through that service. God loves our worship. Our worship flows out of receiving his service to us. As God fills us through the Word, we respond by reflecting his grace in our acts of service to others. So, be a Martha who eagerly serves. Be careful that the tasks that you do don’t get in the way of your time in the Word and at Jesus’s feet in devotions, worship, Bible study. Be a Mary that prioritizes time with the Savior. Treasure that time in the Word and then take what you hear and learn from God’s Word with you in all the things you do each day.

Martha? Mary? How about a Martha with Mary’s heart for the Word and a Mary with Martha’s heart to serve? It’s not really about either woman. It’s all about Jesus, what he has done, growing in faith through the Word, and responding in service to him and to others.



Prayer
Dear Jesus, help me to always treasure and prioritize my time with you in the Word, in prayer, in devotions, in worship. Help me to reflect your love for me in the service that I strive to do for others. In your name I pray. Amen.

For Further Meditation:
CW21 913 Come Away from Rush and Hurry
CW21 645/CW93 290 One Thing’s Needful


Early 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 Opposite – July 18, 2022

The LORD appeared to Abraham near the great trees of Mamre…
Genesis 18:1

The Opposite

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Daily Devotion – July 18, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 18:1

See series: Devotions

The year is 2011. You are part of a team working beneath an ancient temple in the Far East. You are about to break into several chambers that have not been open for centuries. When you do, you can hardly believe what you find. You see diamonds—bags upon bags of diamonds. You see jewelry—more than you can describe or count. And you see gold coins—ton after ton. It will take time to inventory all that is here, but an initial estimate puts what you’ve found at over twenty billion dollars.

In addition, research has identified the treasure’s origins. Hundreds of years earlier, the temple sat on a popular travel route. As people traveled, they would regularly bring generous offerings to curry favor with the temple’s deity. The mountain of treasure standing before you is a powerful picture of how many view their relationship with a higher power. They ask themselves, “What can I give to God to persuade God to do something good for me?”

We discover that the opposite is true when we read the Bible. The eighteenth chapter of the book of Genesis reports that The LORD appeared to Abraham. Although Abraham welcomes him warmly, it’s clear that the LORD is not there so that Abraham can purchase his favor. His very name, the LORD, emphasizes that he is the one who makes unconditional promises and then does what he must do to carry them out.

This falls right in line with how God reveals himself to us throughout the Bible. He knows we are fallen creatures. He knows that, since our first parents severed their relationship with him, sin has soiled everything—including you and me. For this reason, the very idea that my soiled, sinful hands could somehow curry favor from a God of perfect goodness—such an option was never possible.

And that’s why God sent his Son. On our behalf, Jesus Christ lived the sinless life you and I have failed to live. In our place, Jesus Christ paid for our sin at the cross. The Lord did this not because we had given him some nice jewelry. He did it—because we needed him.

Prayer:
Lord, my whole relationship with you rests upon what you have done for me. Thank you. Amen.

Daily 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 – July 17, 2022

One truth shared: Focused worship understands what God does for us in worship and his Word and sacraments—he serves us with his grace.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Focused Worship Seeks Service from Jesus More Than Service for Jesus

“Sydney, you wanna sleep over tonight? It’s been a minute since we’ve pulled an all-nighter and binge-watched shows!”

“Let’s do it! . . . Although, I feel kinda bad. I also haven’t been to church in a minute either. I probably should show my face there sometime soon.”

“It’ll be OK, Syd. God knows you love him, and he wants you to enjoy your friends, too. You can, ‘Remember the Sabbath Day’ next week for him. This week is for me, girl!”

It happens so quickly, doesn’t it? One thing comes up, then another. Good things. Fun things. Even blessings-from-God things. But quickly those good things become “god things” and push the true God to the background. And when God is pushed to second place (or even much further down the list), it’s amazing how our view of worship and the Word quickly changes, too.

Did you catch it in Sydney’s conversation with her friend? To them going to church was just a chore or an obligation, as if it’s putting in time to earn brownie points with God. It’s like worship was a service they would do for God to make him happy.

It was much the same in the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was very focused on a good thing. She and her sister were hosting Jesus and Martha was working hard to serve him. How important it was to make Jesus happy with a clean house and a great meal! Yet that good thing became a “god thing” to Martha, so Jesus had to correct her. It was Mary who chose the one thing that was better—being served by Jesus.

This story really helps us to flip upside down our view of church, Bible studies, devotions, and personal Bible study time. We don’t do these things to put in our time for God. “Well I guess I should do this to serve the Lord and show him I love him.” Rather, the miracle of God’s grace is that when we go to worship or the Word, it is Jesus who is actually serving us! Jesus gives us his grace, his forgiveness, his comfort, his peace. Jesus assures us that our sins our forgiven because his life, death, and resurrection are credited to us. Jesus teaches us about the hope that we have in an eternal life with him in heaven.

When we understand what God gives us and does for us—how he serves us—in worship and his Word, how could it not be a priority? What else could be more important? Where else would we want to be other than joining with Mary and sitting at Jesus’ feet?

Know how Jesus serves you, and you too will choose the one thing needed, the one thing that is better and that will last.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to prioritize my life properly. You give so many good things to me, and I have many obligations and responsibilities with those good things. But help me to put time with you in worship and your Word first, so that you can serve me with the goodness of your grace. Amen.


Teen 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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Rescued – July 17, 2022

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13,14

Rescued

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Daily Devotion – July 17, 2022

Devotion based on Colossians 1:13,14

See series: Devotions

It is a time of intense drama as volunteers frantically dig through rubble to rescue helpless victims after an earthquake. Immense energy is expended to free those trapped in the darkness of demolished ruins. What a relief when a victim is recovered alive and brought to safety!

We were all in need of rescue. Darkness surrounded us as we were trapped under the curse of our own sin, unable to escape. Powerless to push away our guilt, we were destined to face the impenetrable darkness of eternal death.

The Lord came to our rescue. In his infinite mercy, God sent his son, Jesus, to rescue us from our helpless condition. Jesus is the perfect Son who lifted the immeasurable weight of our guilt from us. He willingly carried the heavy load of our sin to the cross, where he died to pay the penalty for our sin completely. What a relief it is to know that we have been brought out of darkness and into the light of forgiveness!

No matter how earth-shaking the events of life may become, we can be confident of the deliverance our Savior won for us. Jesus’ kingdom will endure forever, and we are overjoyed to know he has brought us into that kingdom by his grace.

One day we will dwell with our Savior-King in the heavenly kingdom that he has promised us through his word. In our eternal home we will dwell forever with the King of kings in the secure safety won for us by his love.

Prayer:
Almighty and merciful Father, I am forever grateful for you rescuing me from the darkness of despair and death through Jesus, your beloved Son. Thank you for the light of the Savior that continues to emanate through my life as I await his triumphant return when you will bring me into the heavenly kingdom of glory. Amen.

Daily 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 Life of Conflict – July 16, 2022

The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.
Galatians 5:17

A Life of Conflict

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Daily Devotion – July 16, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 5:17

See series: Devotions

It’s a common thought that life for Christians ought to become easier, troubles should fade away, and there would be a great sense of peace that settles into everything they feel and think.

The apostle Paul would disagree.

The reality is that, in many ways, the exact opposite is true. The moment the Holy Spirit brings you to faith in Jesus, a conflict begins in your heart—a conflict between the Holy Spirit who has entered your heart and your sinful nature with which you were born.

This conflict is total. The Holy Spirit and your sinful nature agree on nothing. As Paul says, “The flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other.”

And make no mistake. This conflict is not some polite, parlor-game debate about ethics and theology. It is a fierce, bitter, ferocious, violent cage-match for the ownership of your soul. In addition, this conflict does not merely last a few months or years. It is life-long. It ends only when you die.

Is such a life of conflict worth it? No doubt, there are times we get tired of the fight. And there are plenty of times when we lose battles. But when we stop and remember what we possess through faith in Jesus Christ—forgiveness of sin, peace with God, deliverance in every difficult moment, eternal life in heaven; when we stop and remember what we have, we know the answer.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, fill me with your Spirit for the lifelong conflict in my heart. Remind me of all the wonderful things I possess through faith in you. Amen.

Daily 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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How to Love Unlovely People – July 15, 2022

Read: Luke 10:25-37

“A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:30-37

How to Love Unlovely People

Family Devotion – July 15, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:30-37

See series: Devotions

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

The priest walked by. The Levite walked by. What were they thinking? Why wouldn’t they help the poor man who was beaten, bloody, and left to die? Maybe they were thinking, “How can I help? I don’t know this guy. I will not know what to do. Besides, I will be late…” The list could go on. Jesus said these two men went on their way. He didn’t say they didn’t care. They were men of God. They likely would have had sympathy or concern. But they didn’t care enough to do something.

How often do we fall into the same situation? Parents do care: they make supper, pay bills, mow the lawn, wash/fold/put away laundry. Do we stop to care for a friend in crisis? Do we stop to understand the heartache our child has? Children care: they do homework, feed the pet, practice music or sports, and help around the house. But do we stop for a friend who needs someone to talk to? Do we go over and above to help our parents? Do we help an older neighbor struggling with their yard? How sad when our love stays focused inward.

The point of Jesus’ story is not “Who is my neighbor?” Instead, it is “To whom can I be a neighbor?” The priest and the Levite, fresh from going to church, left the church parking lot and could have been a neighbor to the man who had been beaten, left looking unlovely and half-dead. They didn’t. The Samaritan man had every reason to think, “Why should I help him? He’s not my neighbor!” Even if he thought that, he didn’t say that. And if he felt that way, it quickly turned into pity for the hurt man. So his heart did not hold anything back.

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?” Jesus’ question to makes us realize how often our heart is not right and our thinking is wrong. Our hearts need to change to show that kind of love. Only the gospel story of Jesus can change a person’s heart from natural self-centeredness into a heart of selfless love and compassion. Compare the love of the Samaritan with the love of God’s son, our Savior. Jesus held nothing back from helping us in our desperate and helpless condition. He laid down his life to rescue us from unending death and to give us life that lasts—a gift of pure grace.

God is love! Love has no limits because the God of love has loved us with no limits. With such an attitude of love, Jesus ends today, “Now go and do likewise.”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I’m not perfect in loving others. But you are! Help me follow your example of love and loving action. Give me the privilege of being a little Jesus to someone in need of love. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What happened to the man who got hurt in Jesus’ story?
  • How did the Samaritan help man help him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Remember a time that you didn’t help someone and should have. Why is it so important to then remember Jesus’ love for you?
  • Think of someone you are really struggling to love—someone who really hurt you and you are staying away from them. What would need to change inside of you to love them without limit?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • List two things that keep you and others in your family from helping each other.
  • Place yourself in the shoes of an unlovable person. Consider what may have made him (her) so critical, so touchy, so selfish, or so mean. How can better understanding their loneliness or unhappiness soften your heart?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stay in Step! – July 15, 2022

Stay in Step! – July 15, 2022


Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:25




Military Devotion – July 15, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 5:25

See series: Military Devotions

If there is one thing the branches of our armed forces do well, it is training people how to stay in step.

This is drilled into recruits, then repeatedly reinforced.

Some might think this is only done to look sharp in parades. However, instructors know there is much more to it. Staying in step with the rest not only demonstrates unity but also fosters unity.

Unity flows from singular leadership.

Only one voice sets the cadence. Only one person determines the route. Only one sets the start and stop points.

We can easily envision the chaos if each person decided when to start, when to turn, and how fast to march.

The solution to chaos is clear: Stay in step!

The same directive is issued to those who serve in the kingdom of God as part of the church militant.

Jesus called out to those who would do battle against the forces of evil: “Follow me!”

We don’t need to be able to see him to follow him. God, the Holy Spirit, is in perfect unity with God the Son and God the Father. Using the sacred written Word, the Holy Spirit directs our steps in life to stay in unity with him—and thus with them.

He will not lead us astray. In the words of King David, “He guides me in the paths of righteousness” (Psalm 23:3).

David knew where his march through life would end. “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” (Psalm 23:6).

Our path in life seems clear enough. We listen to the voice of the Savior God to lead us on.

It seems easy enough.

Except, it isn’t. It’s a life and death battle.

For there is another voice that calls out to us. This one wants us to march in a different direction to a different destination. The promised prize is happiness and peace. It sounds so good. It is so tempting.

It is so deadly.

This is the voice of the one who wants only to lead us to pain, regret, and destruction.

It is the disguised voice of our worst enemy.

It is the voice of Satan calling us onto the path that his rebellious angels followed him down.

His path appeals to our sinful flesh even though that path is littered with the pitfalls of immorality, hatred, jealousy, fits of rage, and the like.

Follow his lead, stay in step with him, and our last breath will lead to the gate that says, “Abandon hope all you who enter here.” It is the gate to hell.

By contrast, the path of the Holy Spirit is marked by wonderful things like joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and the like.

The Holy Spirit brings all the good things that the death of Jesus won for us.

King David was right. This is the path of righteousness. This leads to our forever home in heaven.

We will stay in step with the Holy Spirit as we march forward from grace to glory.

Won’t we?

God grant it.



Prayer: God of grace and glory, keep calling out to us that we might clearly see the path we are to walk as citizens of your kingdom and heirs of your righteousness. Keep us on the path to glory. Amen.



Points to ponder:

  • What causes us to listen to the voice that would lead us astray?
  • Why does sinning usually give us more pleasure than following the path of righteousness?
  • How can we turn down the volume of Satan’s call to sin?


Written by Rev. 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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The Perfect Neighbor – July 15, 2022

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36,37

The Perfect Neighbor

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Daily Devotion – July 15, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:36,37

See series: Devotions

A question started all of this. Someone had asked Jesus, “Who is my neighbor?” To answer, Jesus told a story about a man attacked while traveling. He was stripped, beaten, and left for dead.

Two men discovered him on the road. And even though they both shared the same race, culture, and religion as the victim, they both passed him by without helping him. But then a third man encountered him—a Samaritan. In Jesus’ day, the Jews and Samaritans did not get along. In fact, no one would have considered this Samaritan to be the victim’s neighbor.

Yet he was the one who acted like a neighbor to the wounded man. He treated his injuries, put him on a donkey, and brought him to an inn. He spent all night taking care of him, then paid the innkeeper to continue to care for him.

It is easy to miss Jesus’ point here and to think that all Jesus is telling us is that we need to be more like the Good Samaritan. But when Jesus said, “Go and do likewise,” he set an impossibly high standard. It is not possible to love your neighbor the way that God commands.

Thank God, then, that Jesus is the perfect neighbor. He went out of his way to help you when you were dead in your sins. He obeyed God’s law perfectly as your Substitute, so his perfect obedience counts as yours. He also sacrificed his life for you so that all your sins are forgiven.

What a loving Lord! Knowing we could never live up to God’s perfect law, he lived up to it in our place. May this motivate us to serve every person he brings into our lives, showing them the same kind of mercy and love he has shown us.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make me more like you, that I grow in love for my neighbor. Amen.

Daily 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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Your Neighbor – July 14, 2022

But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”
Luke 10:29

Your Neighbor

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Daily Devotion – July 14, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:29

See series: Devotions

The man who asked this question wanted to inherit eternal life by obeying God’s law. Jesus had just told him that he needed to love his God and his neighbor perfectly. The man knew he would not be able to do that no matter how hard he tried.

But because he wanted to claim he had obeyed all of God’s laws, he asked the question, “And who is my neighbor?” This was an attempt to lower God’s standard and make the law doable. In his mind earning his way into heaven depended on who his neighbor was. He wanted to divide people into neighbors and non-neighbors—those who deserved his love and those who did not.

All of us are born into this world thinking the same thing—that the way to inherit eternal life is through obedience. Yet the only way we could ever do that is by lowering God’s standard for perfection into something more attainable.

However, living like that does not help you earn heaven; it just helps you justify ignoring people God wants you to help. And while it’s logical to think that limiting how many neighbors you have will allow you to keep God’s command, it is not biblical.

According to the Bible, your neighbors are more than just the people who live next to you; they are everyone God puts across your path. There are no restrictions on who your neighbor is.

Christ came to destroy the sinful mindset that focuses on some neighbors to the exclusion of others. He perfectly loved his neighbor when he laid down his life for everyone who has ever lived, is living, or will live. Your eternal life is guaranteed by Jesus.

As a result, there is no need to lower God’s standard. Your neighbor is not an opportunity to earn heaven but an opportunity to love the people Christ already died for. When you focus on that, it transforms you into a neighbor to everyone else.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for earning eternal life for me. Help me to love you by loving my neighbor. Amen.

Daily 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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Free to Follow Christ – July 13, 2022

Read: Galatians 5:1,13-24

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:1,13

Free to Follow Christ

Family Devotion – July 13, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1,13

See series: Devotions

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

It is summertime! A time for kids to be “free” from school and excited for vacation time with family and friends. Some kids spend months dreaming about summer—what they might do and with whom they might do it. Then, finally, they are “free”! But not too long into summer, excitement deflates like a balloon. The words “I’m bored” begin to be mumbled. Children become restless because they don’t have something to do all the time. They begin to get annoyed with their siblings. Maybe there’s an argument over nothing. Perhaps it leads to physical actions—poking, bumping, hiding things from each other. We have all been there. Summer freedom isn’t always what we dream it to be.

Today’s devotion began, “It is for freedom that Christ has set you free.” There are two reactions to being set free. One is, “Let it all hang out!” The other is, “Oh, behave!” One is accompanied by an attitude that says, “I’m free to do whatever I want.” The other is so afraid that people who have been set free will go crazy, it sets up more and more rules to get people to behave. Both reactions come with this warning, “Do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Thinking there are no rules or that keeping certain rules gets you really close to God is not freedom. That’s a burden. That’s slavery.

But there is another way, a better way! It is a way of living that happens only by the grace of God. First, he performed a miracle when Jesus set us free from slavery to our sinful nature. Then, he set us free to live for Jesus by the working of his Holy Spirit who set up a new attitude inside every believer.

Now, we are free to love and serve God and others as he would want. We are free to sing our praise, and it doesn’t matter whether we are a little off key. We are free to pray to God, and he’s not going to say, “Call me later. I’m busy.” We are free to give to others without worrying, “I might not have enough for myself.” We are free to be nice and to love other people even if they don’t expect it or deserve it.

This summer, celebrate your freedom to follow Christ!

Closing Prayer:

Loving God, we praise you for your selfless love and are amazed at your acts of kindness for us. Thank you for the freedom you won for us. May we use our freedom to love and be of help and support to everyone. We pray in the name of Jesus our great example. 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

  • Explain in your own words what it means to be “free.”
  • Today’s devotion was about being free. Who sets us free? Free to do what?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Agree or disagree. Jesus set me free to do whatever I want.
  • Today’s devotion encouraged, “Serve one another humbly in love.” How might that love look when serving a sibling? A parent? A friend?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • List examples from today’s Bible reading (Galatians 5:1-6) of how you might make decisions that show love to others before yourself.
  • Why is “freedom in Christ” so hard to live out on our own? Which person of the Triune God helps us live it out?
     

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Doing Versus Believing – July 13, 2022

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”
Luke 10:25-28

Doing Versus Believing

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Daily Devotion – July 13, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:25-28

See series: Devotions

How Jesus responded to this question is interesting. When tested by an expert in God’s Old Testament law, Jesus was not offended. The man’s question was important because it was about eternal life with God.

But his question showed that he thought eternal life was something to be earned: “What needs to be done, Jesus? Give me the divine to-do list!” Jesus answered with a test of his own, “What did God say in his law?”

The expert replied: “Love God above everything and love your neighbor as yourself.” That was a correct answer that sounds very simple. The problem is that it is an impossible way to live.

It probably would not take much time to remember things you have loved more than God. Likewise, you probably don’t need to try very hard to remember times you have loved yourself more than the people around you.

So, if you want to inherit eternal life by your own effort, you are placing yourself under a standard you can never meet. That expert in the law could not do it, and neither can you. No one can. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Jesus was trying to get the man to understand that inheriting eternal life has nothing to do with following God’s laws but everything to do with believing in God’s Son.

Because Jesus was always focused on his mission as our Savior. He not only taught God’s law, he also obeyed it perfectly because we cannot. Every law is complete in Christ, and “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for my lack of love and give me faith in your Son, my Savior. Amen.

Daily 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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Free to Serve – July 12, 2022

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Free to Serve

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Daily Devotion – July 12, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1

See series: Devotions

Freedom is easily misunderstood. Many people think that freedom is the ability to do whatever you want, but that is not true freedom. In fact, according to the Bible, true freedom is about freedom from the power and control of sin.

This is why Jesus once said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). While we have the ability to choose one sin over the other, without Jesus we are not free. We are only able to sin. Whether it’s one sin or another doesn’t much matter. We are still slaves to sin.

And slaves cannot free themselves. They need someone else to free them. For us, that “someone” is Jesus. He willingly paid for our freedom with his life.

And because Jesus has freed you from slavery to sin, you are no longer bound to choose between one sin or the other. You are free to do what is pleasing in his sight. You are free to serve him and the people he brings into your life. And that…is true freedom.

Prayer:
Lord, free me from my sinful attitudes so that I may love and serve my neighbor. Amen.

Daily 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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Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

Jesus Sets His Face for the Place He will Die

These are the readings for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Following seems easy. We just go behind the person in front of us. But following Jesus daily for our whole lives requires endurance. It is a struggle between our old and new selves.

Traditional First Lesson – 1 Kings 19:14-21

Why did Elijah despair? (See 19:14.)

Elijah despaired because he felt he had been very zealous for the Lord Almighty, but the Israelites had totally rejected God. He thought he was the only prophet left, and now the Israelites were trying to kill him too.

Besides giving him vital work to do in commissioning others to serve the Lord, how else did the Lord comfort Elijah? (See 19:18.)

The other way the Lord comforted Elijah was by assuring him that he had reserved 7,000 other believers in Israel.

Supplemental First Lesson – Jonah 3:3–4:4

When Jonah finally got to the city where God had sent him and preached there, the people of Nineveh believed God. When he saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, what did God do? (See 3:10.)

When God saw how the Ninevites repented and turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

How angry was Jonah as a result?

Jonah was so angry at God’s patience and mercy—which Jonah knew by heart from God’s description of himself in Exodus 34:6,7—that Jonah got irate. He told God he wanted to die. He refused to answer God when God asked him if he had a right to be so upset. (How similar we can be to Jonah! How opposite Jesus was!)

Traditional Second Lesson – Galatians 5:1,13-25

For what did Jesus set us free? (See 5:1.)

Jesus set us free for freedom—freedom from guilt and the oppression of having to keep God’s whole law; freedom from the demands of the law given just to the Jews of old on Mount Sinai.

How will we want to use our freedom? (See 5:13.)

We will want to use our blood-bought freedom not to indulge our flesh but to serve one another in love.

What happened when we were baptized and brought to faith in Christ? (See verse 24.)

When we were baptized and brought to faith in Christ, we crucified our sinful flesh with its passions and desires.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 11:21b-30

When Paul compared himself to the “super-apostles” in Corinth, he did not list all his success. What did he list?

Paul listed as his credentials all the trials he had gone through, including imprisonment, frequent floggings, and many dangers. He had often been near death.

What other constant pressure did Paul feel? (See 11:28.)

Paul also felt daily pressure of his concern for all the Christians in the churches he had helped start and had visited. When the people were weak, he felt weak. When believers fell into sin, it tore Paul up inside.

About what, then, did Paul boast? (See 11:30-32.)

Paul boasted about his weakness, not his strengths. Final case in point: Paul began his ministry by narrowly escaping death in Damascus.

Gospel – Luke 9:51-62

As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, what did he do? (See 9:51.)

As the time approached for Jesus to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. Literally, he “fixed his face for Jerusalem.” He was determined to die for us.

Why didn’t one Samaritan village welcome Jesus? (See 9:53.)

The people of the Samaritan village did not welcome Jesus because he was heading for Jerusalem. Jews and Samaritans in Jesus’ day usually had a strong dislike for each other. (Yet Jesus had mercy on these people.)

What is the main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men separately about following him? (See 9:57–62.)

The main point for us, as Jesus talks with three men about following him, is full dedication to Jesus and his kingdom. Halfway? No way.

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