By Name – July 21, 2020

The LORD said to Moses, “. . . I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Exodus 33:17

By Name


Daily Devotion – July 21, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 33:17

See series: Devotions

In his novel, To the Last Man, Jeff Shaara paints a particular scene something like this: New York, 1919. The Great War is over. Roscoe lingers on the deck of the passenger ship. He watches as the other soldiers walk down the gangplank and into the arms of their families. Roscoe waits until he can no longer avoid it. He steps off the ship and descends to the dock. And there he stands. No one is there for him, and he knows it. He is alone. In a sea of people laughing, smiling, crying, Roscoe is alone. And then he hears his name.

At first, he thinks he’s imagined it. But then he hears it again. He follows the voice. It belongs to the face of a smiling old man—a man he does not know. But then the smiling old man introduces himself, “I’m Gino’s father. Gino told us all about you in his letters. Welcome home. Let’s get something to eat.” And in that moment, Roscoe experiences what is, perhaps, the greatest act of kindness in his life. The father of his dead friend wanted to make sure that Roscoe was not alone when he got back from the war. And so he had waited day after day until Roscoe finally arrived. And then the smiling old man had called out his name.

If you’ve ever experienced something even remotely similar to this, you don’t forget it. You’re in a strange place, surrounded by people, and don’t know anyone. No one cares who you are. You feel lost, awkward, out of place, alone. And then you hear someone call you by name.

The Lord assured Moses, “I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” As extraordinary a figure as Moses is, however, this privilege does not belong just to Moses. God, in Christ Jesus, has cleansed you of your sins by the blood of his Son. He has blanketed you with the holiness of Christ. And now, through faith in our risen Savior, he has adopted you into his family. You belong. You are his. He calls you by name.

In a world where loneliness can seem so rampant, this is a sweet truth indeed.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, through your Son, you know me by name. Thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Alone Gives Us Rest – Family Devotion – July 20, 2020

Read: Matthew 11:25-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus Alone Gives Us Rest


Family Devotion – July 20, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28-30

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t wanna! No! I’m not going to go to bed!” Little Gwendolyn insisted on staying awake as tears streamed down her face. “No bedtime! I’m a big girl!” she shouted to the front from her car seat in back.

What Gwendolyn didn’t realize was that she was exhausted. She had been at preschool all day. She had a quick mac ‘n’ cheese cup in the van, and she just completed a long gymnastics practice. It actually was already 30 minutes past her normal bedtime.

Sure enough, by the time mom pulled into the driveway, she looked in the mirror and saw Gwendolyn’s head drooped over fast asleep in her car seat and drooling on her lap. Nothing was going to feel as good as mom putting her into her cozy bed with her fuzzy pillows and stuffed animals!

Have you felt tired lately? If you are a student, you may be glad that it is summer break. School is tiring! But sometimes summer is, too. There can be lots of activities, practices, games, or busy family vacations. If you are an adult, maybe the frantic schedules of everyday life are wearing you down as well. After all, you are the one that has to drive to all those activities, practices, and games, and you are the one to plan those busy family vacations! On top of that, we are still trying to figure our way out of the many problems that have come to us all from the coronavirus. Maybe all of you have felt totally exhausted recently, so tired that you could just crash on your pillow and sleep like a cozy bear in happy hibernation!

Then again, sometimes it’s not just our bodies that are tired. Sometimes you may feel burdened by all the sins that you have committed. “Ah! I’ve done that again! I can’t believe I sinned again! When am I ever going to do things right?!”

Christian friends, do not worry! We all get tired physically and spiritually. But we have the perfect place to rest—in Jesus! No, Jesus will not offer you a soft pillow or a fuzzy blanket. Even better than that—Jesus allows you to rest in his loving arms. He invites you to come to him and find forgiveness for all your sin. He offers you the cozy peace of knowing God loves you dearly as his own child. And best of all, the comfort and rest of life in heaven is waiting for you as well. No matter how tired you may be, Jesus will always provide the rest that we need so much. So go to church, go to the Word, go to Jesus, and rest up!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am often very tired from the things that I do in this life as well as tired from the sins that I have done. Help me always to go to you to find true rest. 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 things make you tired in life?
  • Why would we call heaven a place of rest?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does Jesus mean when he says we can find rest in him?
  • Sabbath is a word that means rest. How does remembering the Sabbath Day (the Third Commandment) connect to finding rest in Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify some of the other things that people look to for rest in this world. Explain why they will never offer us rest as good as the rest that Jesus offers.
  • Jesus says today, “Come to me.” Identify all the ways that we can go to Jesus (or that he comes to us). Then discuss how we can work on having this kind of rest more often.

Hymn: CW 385:1,2 – Chief of Sinners Though I Be

Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me,
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am his and he is mine!

Oh, the height of Jesus’ love, Higher than the heav’ns above,
Deeper than the depths of sea, Lasting as eternity,
Love that found me—wondrous thought!—Found me when I sought him not.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020

Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020



The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14



She cried and cried and cried. As you sit by her, gently rubbing her back while singing softly, the room slowly becomes quieter until her last sniffle. As you look at her peacefully sleeping, it’s hard to imagine that this picture of tranquility was a bundle of fear and resistance only minutes ago. But your patient, calm response and gentle voice provided the reassurance she needed to let go and let sleep come.

Several hours later, you find yourself tossing and turning. Your day had several difficult moments that are hard to let go of as you try to fall asleep. The most difficult of all is the realization of the impact of your words, said in haste, that have wounded a colleague. Or, it might be the anxiety of not knowing if you are doing all you can to provide safe, loving care to the children you serve. Have you really done everything you can?

While your anxiety and that of the little girl may not sound the same, (hopefully you aren’t crying uncontrollably), the feeling of fear, guilt, or anxiousness can be very similar. As you lay there trying to both fall asleep and solve all your problems at the same time, you find no success in either.

“I will give you rest.” That sounds wonderful in the middle of the night. Does this rest mean a solid eight uninterrupted hours of restful sleep? No. Does it refer to that ever-elusive nap that you might dream about? No.

There is no greater peace than a relationship that is strong especially when that relationship is with God our Father. The peace that we have knowing that all those unkind words, those mistakes we’ve made, the selfish actions, the laziness, the pride are no longer barriers for our relationship with God. As God the Father looks at us, Jesus sits next to him and says, “I took care of all that they owe you.” This peace, this rest is indescribable. Jesus did it all. His journey to the cross and grave, removed every single sin. And on top of all that, he also promises that he is with us today, tonight, each day until he calls us home to him in heaven. We can trust him even more than that little girl trusted your gentle hand and soothing voice. We can be assured that while the troubles of each day will continue to come, our Lord is there. He’s there with a gentle but powerful word of reassurance, “I will give you rest.” Rest well in his grace, in his forgiveness, in his promises.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to reflect on the words of the hymn writer as a reminder of your comfort and reassurance to be my rest. In your name I pray, Amen.
“Come unto me, ye weary, and I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that has no ending, of love that cannot cease.

Christian Worship 336:1

A Question to Consider: Someone recently told me that they keep a small notebook on their bedside table. When the challenges of the day start to disrupt their sleep, they write down what it is they are wrestling with. This is followed by a prayer that shares that concern with Jesus, asking for his help. They find that writing down the problem followed by a prayer, helps them put the concern aside and rest well.



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

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Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

The Christian is Planted by the Word and Produces Fruit

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

How do you get people to join your church? There are lots of suggestions. Most people suggest something special for every age group. It seems that you need to provide people with all kinds of programs. You also need to tell people what they want to hear. You may get people to join your church that way, but chances are they won’t ever become a part of the holy Christian church. You only become a member of God’s kingdom one way: through the preaching of the gospel. But even the success of our gospel preaching doesn’t depend on us. Instead, it depends entirely upon God’s power and blessing.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-11

True or false: Whenever we proclaim God’s Word, we can be certain that our listeners will be brought to faith.

False. The gospel does not automatically produce faith. When we use the gospel, we hope and pray that this will be the outcome, but sadly there are many who reject the forgiveness that God offers in his Word and harden their hearts to its truths, as Isaiah experienced in his own ministry (cf. Isaiah 6:9,10).

What does God mean that his Word “never returns to him empty”?

He means that there is never a “neutral” hearing of his Word. God’s Word either produces and strengthens faith in the hearts of his hearers, or it serves to harden those hearts. Even Jesus’ disciples—although still believers—were sometimes hardened to the truth of God’s Word when they refused to believe certain things (cf. Mk 6:52; Mk 8:17).

Supplemental First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-13

The supplemental lesson adds two verses to the First Lesson to let the worshiper see the purpose God had in sending forth his Word (55:11). God sends his Word out for our joy and for the Lord’s renown. Intermediately fulfilled in the return from Babylon, God’s promise is ultimately fulfilled in the holy Christian church. The Word goes forth to plant faith for the glory of God and the salvation of man.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 8:18-25

What is God’s creation awaiting?

The return of the Lord when it will be freed from the bondage of decay. In other words, things die and corrode in this world because of our sinfulness.

What are we eagerly awaiting?

We await our adoption as children of God when our broken-down and decaying bodies will be replaced with a body like the one Jesus received in his resurrection (cf. Philippians 3:21).

Why do we need to be patient?

We need to be patient because Jesus’ return won’t take place until all those who were elected to faith from eternity are brought to faith by the powerful Word of God. We don’t know when that will be, so we need to be patient.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 18:1-11

The field of Corinth was filled with birds, stones, and thorns. Though Paul reasoned and preached, one seed after another fell on soil that did not produce a crop. Yet God’s Word would accomplish his good purpose. Paul did not have to go far to find a fertile field. He walked out of the synagogue and went right next door. In the home of Titius Justus, he found good soil that produced a crop one hundred times that which was sown.

Gospel – Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

What is a parable?

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus told many simple parables to the people of his day, using everyday events to help people understand the kingdom of God.

What is Jesus’ point in the parable of the sower?

The sower scatters the seed of the gospel to all with no regard for where it might land. Yet most of his seed bears no fruit. Jesus warns us that the seed of the Word faces great opposition from sin, Satan, and the world. Newborn faith can be choked or scorched. The gospel promise can be snatched from apathetic or misunderstanding soil. Though we sow the seed faithfully and generously, Jesus warns us that most of it will never bear fruit that lasts. Yet for every faithful gospel preacher, Christ comforts us by showing that the preacher’s job is to sow the seed and leave the growing up to God. He comforts us by pointing to what his Word does in the good soil: it plants great faith that does great things.

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Long Trip Alone – July 20, 2020

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

Long Trip Alone


Daily Devotion – July 20, 2020

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 does it make the journey of life rugged and painful. It isolates us—separates us from God. 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 without you. Thank you for being by my side. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Promises Rest – July 19, 2020

[Jesus said] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

Jesus Promises Rest


Daily Devotion – July 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28

See series: Devotions

In 1962 many scholars and academics predicted that, due to better technology, by 1985 people would work just 9 hours a week and would be able to retire at the age of 38. That prediction was just a bit off. It didn’t come true in 1985. And it still hasn’t come true. In fact, despite all our technological advances and time-saving gadgets, we seem to have less free time now. It’s just go, go, go all the time. Newsweek once summed it all up by running a main story about the American workaholic. It was simply titled “Exhausted.”

Perhaps you feel that way. But, perhaps your exhaustion isn’t physical, it’s spiritual. Perhaps the guilt of sin is pressing down upon you, and you don’t know how much longer you can stand up under it.

Listen to the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a greater burden.” He says, “I will give you rest.” Jesus takes the weight of sin off our shoulders and frees us from its burden. On the cross, Jesus’ outstretched arms held up the weight of all the sins of all people of all time. Jesus did not promise to give us a hand in carrying the load of our sins. He did not promise to give us the strength to carry it. He took it off of our shoulders and carried it himself.

So, stand up straight. Stretch your spiritual shoulders. Look up and see the face of God now smiling on you. Rather than trying to lift the burden of your sin, lift your arms in praise to the God who removed that burden for you. Rejoice in the rest Jesus has provided!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the guilt of my sins often weighs me down when I think of the people I have hurt, and the ways I have disobeyed your commands. Thank you for carrying my sins to the cross. Lift my spirit with the assurance that my sins are forgiven. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 19, 2020

“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

Serving Christ boldly . . . by looking out for my neighbor

Teaching in Lutheran high schools for many years, I’ve noticed a few things. One of those things is that ever since cell phones became popular, school hallways have become more dangerous. And why?! Because as students would put their heads down to focus on their phones on their way to the next class, I would regularly see kids running into someone . . . or something in front of them—with books, papers, and bodies falling to the ground in the process.

This truth is a microcosm of life, isn’t it?! We become so consumed by our own lives, our own priorities, our own wants and desires, that there is no time or energy left for others. The apostle Paul helps us with this struggle, reminding us in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Christ’s love compels us. It reminds us who we are declared to be by his grace alone. It reminds us what is ours because of his mercy on our sinful selves.

Christ’s love also motivates us to look up from our own lives and to be concerned for the well-being of others. Find time this week to read Luke 10. Marvel at the Good Samaritan who helped his neighbor who really wasn’t his neighbor at all. Learn from the mercy he showed a complete stranger in his time of desperate need. Then find joy in hearing Christ say to you, “Go and do likewise.” That’s what “serving Christ boldly” is really all about.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there is so much pain and suffering in the world around me. There are those near and dear to my heart—and those who I barely know—that need a shoulder to cry on or someone to turn to in their time of need. Give me wisdom, O Lord, in dealing with these situations. Guide my words and actions, that I might share your goodness and strengthen others through the power of your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I need him – July 19, 2020

I need him – July 19, 2020


He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:2,3




Military Devotion – July 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 23:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

I prefer to think that I am in control of my life. If I am smart enough, work hard enough, and get some breaks, I should be able to take care of myself.

How foolish of me!

If I am going to be compared to an animal, I would prefer it be a lion. Lions are strong. We call them the “King of Beasts.” No one makes a lion do anything. No one is going to lead him around at will.

So, what was David thinking when he compared himself to a mere sheep? David was a warrior. David was powerful. David took charge of his life. He was the giant killer. He was a king.

Yet, he wrote that someone made him do things: “He makes me lie down . . .” He admitted that someone else controlled his life: “He leads me . . .” Who in the world would be so powerful?

Not someone in the world. This one dwells in heaven: “The Lord is my shepherd . . .”

That makes a difference. That one is greater than a King David—greater than any king. This is the Lord God.

David knew he needed food and drink. What was he given? “Green pastures”, not dry stubble. “Quiet waters”, not a dangerous, raging torrent.

“He restores my soul,” David exclaimed. Faith and hope have been renewed.

No wonder he began the psalm by declaring, “I shall not be in want.”

Could that be right? Could he honestly say that he would lack nothing that he needs? Can we say that?

Yes.

I only doubt that because I often think I need things that I do not need. God, of course, knows better.

I might easily admit that I don’t need a yacht, but what about other things? Don’t I need protection? Don’t I need healing? Don’t I always need food and drink?

Maybe. At times. At times, not.

The all-wise, Good Shepherd knows that sometimes I need to be sick. Sometimes, I need to go hungry. Sometimes, I need to lose friends.

And, at some time, I may need to lose my life.

I don’t like those possibilities. At those times, I am tempted to ask, “Where are the green pastures and the still waters?”

The Good Shepherd would answer, “They are still there. You just don’t recognize them. You still don’t know what you need.”

Well, I know I need to stay alive!

So, does he. So, he makes it possible. He will provide what my body and soul really need. He will make his goodness and love follow me through life. He will walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t need to fear its darkness. I don’t need to tremble before the threat of hell.

I don’t need to fear the Forever. I will spend it with him.

May I always remember that I need him—and I need nothing more!



Prayer: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of your sheep, guard and keep us so we do not stray. Open our eyes to see your protecting hand when danger confronts us. Sharpen our vision so that we may see more clearly what we truly do need. Build up our faith when we cannot see the good you are giving. Bless us. Lead us. Open for us the gate to glory. Amen.



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

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Raining Down Blessings – July 18, 2020

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10,11

Raining Down Blessings


Daily Devotion – July 18, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10,11

See series: Devotions

I happen to live in a part of the country which hasn’t had much rain. My tomato plants were beginning to wither a bit. But today, we had a quick cloudburst, and now my plants are looking vibrant!

What the rain did for my tomato plants, God’s Word has the power to do for our souls. It has the power to bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If God gives us those things through the words of the Bible, wouldn’t it make sense that the Bible would be an important part of our lives?

But how often don’t you and I neglect God’s Word? How often don’t you and I keep the Bible shut, failing to open it up? How often don’t you and I fail to hear it, fail to take it to heart?

Yet, what does God graciously do? He lovingly keeps sending the rain of his Word. As he does so, he assures us that our sins are forgiven, that we are his children, that he’s preparing a home in heaven for us. And, as we hear his promises, again and again, we are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

So go ahead. Open up your Bible. Let God’s Word “rain down” upon you, showering you with its blessings. Just like my tomatoes, you’ll “perk up!”

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, lead me into your life-giving Word, that I might be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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My Baptism Helps Me to Put God First – Family Devotion – July 17, 2020

Read: Romans 6:1b-11

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:1-4

My Baptism Helps Me to Put God First


Family Devotion – July 17, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 6:1-4

See series: Devotions

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

Listen carefully to the following:

First, is Joey. Joey peeked around the corner. No one was looking. He quickly grabbed two candy bars and stuffed them into his pockets. “What are you doing?” Sydney asked. “No one saw me,” Joey said, “And it’s OK. God will forgive me anyways.”

Second is Quincy. Quincy knew that his mom wouldn’t be home for another 30 minutes, so he quickly got on the computer to use it for things that were wrong and sinful. “Mom would be so mad . . . but at least God will love me,” he told himself.

Third is Deanna. Deanna just loved to talk about other people. When she was little she always liked to “tell” on her friends at recess. Now in high school, she loved to talk badly about people at lunch or in text messages. One time, a friend said, “But aren’t you a Christian?” Deanna replied, “Yes I am. That means I’m forgiven, and it doesn’t matter.”

Do you see how confused Joey, Quincy, and Deanna are? They think that because God is loving and forgiving, they can do anything they want—including sinful things. Because they thought their actions didn’t matter, they started putting worldly things and sinful desires in front of God in their hearts.

Today the apostle Paul helps us to think clearly about this. He asks, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” In other words, should I keep doing sinful things because God will forgive me anyways? His loud and clear answer is, “By no means!” Absolutely not!

The reason Paul tells us that we don’t live this way is because of something special that has happened. We are baptized! When we were baptized, God connected us to Jesus who lived and died for us. That means all our sins were washed away! But God also connected us to Jesus’s resurrection when we were baptized. That means that just as Jesus rose to life, he gives us a new life as his dear children when we are baptized.

If God loves us this much and has given us so many blessings in Jesus, should we just sin some more and do whatever we want? By no means! Instead, we show thanks to God for his love by living as God’s children. That means we live “a new life,” a life of love for him and for other people. What a joy to be God’s child! He gave his life for me, now I can live my life for him!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am so thankful that I have been baptized into your name. In love, you made me your own dear child. Now help me to live my life in love for you and for others. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • As a family, talk about your baptisms. What were they like? What memories do you have? What made them special?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What makes us want to live a life of love for God and for other people?
  • What is it that makes baptism so powerful?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: Now that I am forgiven and freed from sin, I can live however I want.
  • Identify all the ways that baptism is similar to or different from the concept of adopting a child into a family.

Hymn: CW 391:1,4,6 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

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

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Give Me an Undivided Heart – July 17, 2020

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
Exodus 32:25-27

Give Me an Undivided Heart


Daily Devotion – July 17, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:25-27

See series: Devotions

If you grew up going to Sunday School, you are probably familiar with the story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. But the part of the story that doesn’t usually make the children’s Bible lesson is the part about the Levites slaughtering their own people to carry out God’s judgment for their idolatry. It may seem strange to us that God would command the Levites to do such a thing. But, it is a powerful reminder that God takes sin seriously. This particular sin was especially dangerous because it had the potential to lead the entire nation of Israel away from the true God. So, he used the Levites to carry out a just punishment as well as protect the people from a dangerous sin.

It is good for us to hear stories like this from time to time, to ponder what false gods might be making their way into our hearts. What are our golden calves? Who or what do we believe will take care of us? Who or what will bring us joy? Will it be our spouse or our children or our career or our new this, that, or the other thing? If we trust any of these people or things more than God, we are setting them up as idols just as surely as the Israelites did the golden calf.

Thankfully, Jesus lived a perfectly idol-free life. Never was there anyone or anything that he trusted or valued more than his heavenly Father. And, what’s more, he gives his followers credit for that perfect life so that God no longer sees our idolatry. He sees Jesus’ perfection.

So, through Jesus, you and I stand forgiven for our idolatry. May we always put this forgiving God first in our lives.

Prayer:
Give me an undivided heart, that I might follow your will. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peer Pressure – July 16, 2020

[Moses] said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
Exodus 32:21-24

Peer Pressure


Daily Devotion – July 16, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:21-24

See series: Devotions

When you look back on your life and recall your most shameful sins, how many of them were done in isolation? What I mean to say is how often has peer pressure led you down a path that you now regret? Why does that happen?

Friends and peers are a good thing. God created us for community and healthy relationships (Genesis 2:18). But, because we are so afraid of being abandoned, we will do almost anything to keep from being rejected, even if that means doing things that go against God’s will.

We see this even with God’s chosen leader Aaron. When Moses was meeting with God on Mount Sinai, Aaron built an idol at the request of the Israelites. He disobeyed God so that he might be welcomed by the crowd.

So how do we learn from Aaron’s mistake?

1. Remember who rescued you. Aaron had forgotten that it was the Lord who rescued him out of Egyptian slavery. It is the Lord Jesus who rescued us out of the slavery of sin. Only he is worthy of our complete allegiance.

2. If God is for you, who can be against you? Aaron worried about being abandoned or persecuted by the people. We might fear the same from our peers. But the Lord will never leave us. And our relationship with him is the most important relationship we will ever experience.

Prayer:
Dear Savior, lead me to treasure your acceptance more than the fleeting approval of my peers. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Blesses Those Who Put him First – Family Devotion – July 15, 2020

Read: Exodus 32:15-29

Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
Exodus 32:29

God Blesses Those Who Put him First


Family Devotion – July 15, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:29

See series: Devotions

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

None of her teammates could understand it. Some of them were even a little angry. “Julia is going to miss another game?” The volleyball team had games on Sunday mornings every now and then. After a couple years together as a team, they found that Julia never came to Sunday games. It’s not that Julia didn’t love her teammates or volleyball. She loved them and volleyball a lot! Julia just loved God more.

For Julia and her family, this was never a hard choice. Where they lived, they didn’t have any other options for church—their church only had one service on Sunday morning. Julia’s family determined that they would never let anything stop them from worshiping the Lord regularly.

Julia did miss out on some fun with friends and volleyball now and then. She even missed a few big games over the years. But what her team didn’t understand was how greatly Julia was blessed in other ways. Every week her faith was strengthened as God came to her in church with the good news of his forgiveness. Every week she was assured in worship how much Jesus loves her. Julia grew in faith, in her knowledge of the Bible, and she grew to be a strong Christian along with her fellow church members. God blessed Julia in many ways because she put him first.

The Israelites did not always do a very good job of putting God first in their hearts. In fact, even after all the miracles that God performed when he led them out of Egypt, they still decided to build a golden calf and worship that idol instead. God was very angry. However, in the story for today we hear about a few Israelites who did put God first in their hearts—yes, even before their own sons and brothers. It was a very difficult choice, but Moses told these people that God was going to bless them so much because of it.

What things do you love? Football, volleyball, or another sport? Video games? School? (Yes, some people actually like school!) Do you love your toys? Your phone? Your family or best friend? God gives many blessings that he allows us to enjoy. It’s good to love these kinds of things—just not more than God.

Think of ways that you can put God first in your heart. Make church a priority for your family. Read your Bible before playing video games or looking at a phone or iPad. Pray before meals and before bed. When you do these things, you are putting God first. And amazingly, God is so good and gracious that he promises he will bless you when you do it!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me find ways to love you and your Word more than anything else. Thank you for blessing me when I do. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are things that you love to do or to play with?
  • Why should we love God more than these things?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the First Commandment?
  • How can loving things like money or video games or family turn into breaking the First Commandment?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: It is sinful to miss church on a weekend because of a sports game. Explain your answer.
  • Evaluate this situation: A family is really busy all the time. They have school, practices, games, and every now and then fun family things. They barely have any free time ever. In order to keep their sanity, the family sleeps in on Sundays about once a month to get some rest.

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

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

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

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do Not Love the World – July 15, 2020

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Do Not Love the World


Daily Devotion – July 15, 2020

Devotion based on 1 John 2:15-17

See series: Devotions

Sometimes people are hesitant to become a Christian because they think that they will miss out on a fun, enjoyable life. The words from the apostle John seem to validate those fears. He says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

What does it mean to not love the world? Does that mean that if we follow Jesus, we can’t love hiking, biking, eating good food, or playing sports? Well, John himself wrote elsewhere that Jesus is the creator of all things (John 1:1-5). Jesus created the mountains that we hike. He created good food and the taste buds to enjoy it. He designed our bodies to move and compete. So, it is not wrong to enjoy the world that God made and all that is in it.

But John warns against loving the things of this world too much or in the wrong way. That’s what he means by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” God does not want us to crave those worldly blessings more than God himself. Nor does he want us to use his blessings in ways that are contrary to God’s design.

What’s so dangerous about loving this world too much? Because, he says, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” God doesn’t want us to get so connected to perishable things that die with them. Instead, he wants us to love our relationship with him more than anything—a relationship made possible by the saving work of Jesus. He valued his relationship with us so much that he was willing to die for it. May we value it so much that nothing in this world is worth losing it.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me not to give my ultimate allegiance to the things that are perishing. But lead me to love and cherish you above all else. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Bringing the Sword – July 14, 2020

[Jesus said] “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.”
Matthew 10:34

Bringing the Sword


Daily Devotion – July 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:34

See series: Devotions

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah predicted that Jesus would be known as the “Prince of Peace.” But when Jesus described himself, he said that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword. So who is right? The prophet Isaiah or Jesus himself?

Actually, Jesus is doing what he often did. He is speaking in a dramatic way to get our attention and make a point. You see, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. He came to bring peace on earth between God and human beings. But that peace would come at a great cost. It would come only through the death of Jesus Christ.

And that same peace can only be ours through the death of our ego. We must admit our wickedness and inability to rescue ourselves. Unfortunately, our human heart is so twisted that we will put up a fight before we confess our failures.

This is the real reason why so many people resist Christianity. It’s not because there is no evidence for the faith. It’s not because science has disproven Christianity. People resist Jesus because they don’t want to like what he has to say—about who they are, about who he is, about how much they need him. And, when people resist Jesus, they come into conflict with Jesus’ followers. That’s what Jesus meant about “bringing the sword.”

So, the next time you see someone raging against Christianity, don’t be surprised or overwhelmed. Jesus promised that his message of sin and grace would divide the world. Instead, listen to Jesus’ words, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, sin has divided our world and led to conflict between your people and those who oppose you. Do not let this discourage me. Instead grant me the strength to stand firmly for your truths. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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My Cross, His Cross – Week of July 13, 2020

My Cross, His Cross – Week of July 13, 2020



Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.

Matthew 10:38-39



“It’s a cross I have to bear” is a statement that you might sometimes hear or say. When said, the person is likely referencing something that’s a struggle or challenge in their life. Sometimes it can even be said in jest. But what does it really mean to “take up their cross and follow me?”

As I sit at my desk reading this passage, I’m stopped at the first sentence. What does it mean to take up my cross and follow Christ? Have I done that? Am I doing that? How do I do that? I get an immediate sense of failure. My failure is founded in my view of what this passage is saying. When I focus on my taking up my cross, I am the center of the action. If left up to me, I truly am not worthy of Christ, just as the passage says.

When we talk about bearing a cross for Christ, it’s hardly a reference to the often mundane earthly challenges that we have. Bearing our cross is talking about those struggles we have because of our faith. It may be the challenges brought by a friend who tries to push you to a decision you know is not God pleasing. Bearing a cross may be the views you have on current issues that don’t align with what may seem to be popular.

But what is our goal? The passage puts it so beautifully: “whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Sometimes it’s easy to focus on what we may give up because of our faith. Some of our decisions may look like a list of things we “can’t do”. However, when we compare that to the joy and contentment we have knowing that we have peace with God, those things lose their importance. Sin and its affects are everywhere. Disease, crime, acts of disobedience and hate, strained relationships, a lack of trust, and on and on. What do we do? How do we cope? We look to God and his promises. Those things we seem to give up are so temporary. What we have in Christ is so much more. Life in heaven without all those effects of sin is ours because of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine how beautiful, how perfect heaven will be. But even more, it’s hard to imagine what it will be like to be standing there with Jesus forever. Forever! Take the world and all its trappings. You and I have Jesus for eternity. That cross we bear is nothing compared to the cross that he bore because his love for you wanted you with him each day of eternity in heaven.



Prayer:
Take the world but give me Jesus! In his cross my trust shall be
Till with clearer, brighter vision face to face my Lord I see.
Oh, the height and depth of mercy;
Oh, the length and breadth of love!
Oh, the fullness of redemption,
Pledge of endless life above! Amen
Christian Worship 355:3



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

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Jesus Teaches Us to Love him Above all Things – Family Devotion – July 13, 2020

Read: Matthew 10:34-42

“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39

Jesus Teaches Us to Love him Above all Things


Family Devotion – July 13, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:37-39

See series: Devotions

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

Silas runs down the hallway, bursts through a doorway, leaps into the air, and lands perfectly on his hands and feet—just like Spiderman would. Silas doesn’t ever want to go to bed without his Spiderman pillow, blanket, and jammies either.

Mom comes in to turn on the night light for Silas and tuck him in tight like a spider in a web. “I love you to the moon and back, my dear. Have a good sleep.” Silas replied, “Mommy, I love you more than anything . . . more than AN-Y-THING . . . I love you more than anything in the whole wide world!”

Is Silas the most adorable mini superhero ever? Quite possibly. But is Silas talking the way Jesus would want us to talk? Not really.

This week we are going to spend some time thinking about how Christians want to put God first in their hearts. That might sound easy. “Of course I love God!” we say. But today Jesus speaks some very difficult words for us to understand. Jesus teaches us that if we truly have God first in our hearts, that means that we will love him more than our parents or grandparents, our children or grandchildren, our best friends, and yes, even more than Spiderman.

Does God want you to love your family and friends? Yes! He does! Does God want people like Silas and his mom to love each other so very much? Absolutely! But God does not want any of those people to come before him.

Take a moment to think about how God has put you first in his heart. All of us have sinned against God in so many ways. Yet God sent his Son Jesus to this world to suffer and die for you. Jesus set aside the glory of heaven for a while so that you could have the glory of heaven. How amazing that “God so loved the world” so much that he would allow us to become his dear children!

Jesus wants you to know that love. And when we know that love of God, what a joy it can be to love him first and best in our hearts. And you know what? When we love God with our whole heart, he will help us to love our family and friends in just the right way. Thank you, Lord for your love!

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, you have given me many special people in my life—family and friends. Help me to love them so much, but to love you the most. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who are the people in this world that you love the most?
  • What do you love about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • When you are older, what might you be tempted to love more than God?
  • Why do you think it is so difficult to love God more than everything else?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this common statement by parents about their children: “I just love them so much—they are my whole world!”
  • Explain why your parents, your best friends, your spouse, or your children are the ones Satan might tempt you the most to love more than God.

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

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

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

 

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

Our Relationship with God Depends on His Good Pleasure

These are the readings for the Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

How do you strike up friendships or relationships with other people? Most people attempt to find something that they have in common with another person, and they try to develop a friendship based on those common interests. But how do we strike up a relationship with God? We don’t. Our relationship with God depends on his good pleasure. God is “out of our league” and really shouldn’t have anything to do with us. But miraculously he does! Amazingly he loves us and cares for us. He desires to be our dearest friend! But he always makes “the first move” through the gospel.

Traditional First Lesson – Exodus 33:12-23

What condition did Moses put upon his leading God’s Old Testament people?

God must go with his people, otherwise, Moses was not willing to lead them. Moses recognized the importance of having a close relationship with the Lord and that such a relationship depended on God’s good pleasure.

How did Moses want God to “seal the deal”?

He wanted the Lord to show him his glory as a seal of God’s presence. The Lord conceded to show Moses his “backside” and proclaim his name. (See Exodus 34:5-7.)

Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 23:1-11

God kept the promise he made in the First Lesson: he had gone with his people to the Promised Land. Many years after finishing the conquest of Canaan, Joshua looked back and reminded the people that God had fought for them and had given them rest from all their enemies. Since God had done this, Joshua called on the people to give the Lord their allegiance, obedience, and love. Let the preacher make that same call to God’s people today. We can look back and see that God fought for us and gave us rest from our three great enemies. Now, with sin atoned, the devil defeated, and death vanquished, let all God’s people thank him for this rest by giving him allegiance, obedience, and love.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 7:15-25a

What struggle does Paul outline in these verses?

The struggle that every Christian has between the sinful flesh and the new person, who is guided by the Holy Spirit. Only the Christian has this struggle.

How are we able to overcome our sinful nature?

We aren’t able to overcome the sinful flesh by ourselves. We must rely upon the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. This is our Christian life of sanctification. God gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ!

Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 4:1-11

The rest that God gave his people in Canaan foreshadowed the true rest of God in heaven. The rest in the Promised Land was received by some through faith and rejected by others through unbelief. The writer to the Hebrews urges every Christian to heed the warning of the generation that died in the desert. Instead, by faith in Christ, we find the true Sabbath rest of God in heaven.

Gospel – Matthew 11:25-30

Ture or false: We make the choice to enter into a relationship with God.

False. By nature, we are enemies of God and objects of his wrath. (See Ephesians 2:3.) God is the one who wins us over to friendship with his wonderful promises. He’s the one who makes us alive with Christ. (See Ephesians 2:5.) Our relationship with God depends on his good pleasure.

To whom does God choose to reveal the truths of the gospel?

Jesus says that God reveals the truths of the gospel, not to the “wise and learned,” but to “little children.” In other words, to those who do not persistently reject the working of the Holy Spirit through the gospel. God is the one who wins us to faith. We have no power to choose God as our friend; it’s all God’s doing (Luther’s Small Catechism, Explanation to the Third Article of the Creed).

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Worth the Cost – July 13, 2020

[Jesus said] “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39

Worth the Cost


Daily Devotion – July 13, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:37-39

See series: Devotions

I just started seeing a new doctor. Before my first visit, she told me exactly what my appointment would cost. To be honest, the price was so high that I almost canceled. In the end, I decided to stick with the doctor because I was convinced that her expertise was worth it. As hard as it was to hear how much she would be charging, I still appreciated her honesty and transparency about the price.

Being a follower of Jesus also comes with a cost. In fact, Jesus tells us upfront that following him could cost us everything. He says that we might lose our money, good name, and even our family as we walk with Jesus. He tells us that we must learn to deny our own desires and follow him.

That’s not usually how the Christian message is presented. Too often, the blessings of the Christian faith are presented without explaining the difficulties. When this happens, people are being set up to abandon their faith at the first sign of suffering because of it.

So let me tell you, as a follower of Jesus you will most likely lose some things. Your family might reject you. They might believe Christianity is closed-minded and immoral. You might have more enemies than friends. And you might feel like an outsider in your own hometown.

But just like my visit to the doctor, following Jesus is worth the cost. Following Jesus means you wake every day to the blessings of God. It means that you can go to bed each night confident that you are a forgiven child of God through Jesus. It means that you can be sure that God will work out everything in your life for your eternal good.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, lead me to accept the cost of following you. Give me the strength to persevere during times of testing. Refresh me with your grace when I’m tempted to give up. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Heaven is Like a Treasure – July 12, 2020

[Jesus said] “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.”
Matthew 13:44

Heaven is Like a Treasure


Daily Devotion – July 12, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:44

See series: Devotions

Imagine the gas station down the street had a winning lottery ticket worth millions and millions of dollars, and you were the only person who knew about this. You would buy the whole gas station if that is what it took for you to get your hands on that lottery ticket!

In Bible times, before banks existed like they do today, wealthy people would often bury a portion of their wealth in the ground where no one else would know about this hidden treasure. If the person died, the buried treasure would remain underground and unclaimed. Can you imagine accidentally stumbling across it? You would immediately buy that field so you could get your hands on that treasure of wealth.

By his perfect life, innocent death, and triumphant resurrection, Jesus has bought for you the priceless treasure of forgiveness for all sins and a perfect, joy-filled life in heaven that will have no end. It is a treasure unlike any other. It is a treasure worth more than all the wealth in this world.

And that was the point Jesus was making with his story of the man and the field. The man sold his possessions to buy the field because the treasure in that field was worth far more than everything he owned, combined. Jesus wants us to understand that what he gives us is worth more than everything else in our lives, combined. So, it only makes sense for us to be willing to lose everything, if that is what it takes, to stay close to Jesus.

If there are times you find yourself giving something up to follow Jesus—your time, a relationship, a job—know that what you are getting in return is worth far, far more.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, how truly blessed I am to have you as my priceless treasure. Help me always to recognize that you are worth more than all the gold and glitter the world can offer. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sun and moon waited – July 12, 2020

Sun and moon waited – July 12, 2020


“Sun, stand still over Gibeon, and moon, over the Valley of Aijalon.”
And the sun stood still and the moon stopped
until the nation took vengeance on its enemies.
Joshua 10:12,13




Military Devotion – July 12, 2020

Devotion based on Joshua 10:12,13

See series: Military Devotions

Those who expect the Word of God to contain only pious phrases and stories are shocked to discover that it opens doors to reveal what is beyond human comprehension. It challenges the reader to admit there is much that he needs to learn.

Foolish is the person not willing to learn from his Creator and Lord. Our Bible passage gives us a chance to consider something that transcends the boundaries of human science. Here we learn that at one time in history, the sun stood still—and so did the moon.

Five Amorite kings had banded together to stop the Israelites from their conquest of the Promised Land. Following an all-night march, the Israelite army surprised the Amorites and began to push them back. The Lord stepped in with large hailstones that pounded the enemy.

When Joshua saw that survivors could escape when night fell, he called for God to take unprecedented action: “Stop the sun in its path so that we can finish the battle!” The Bible reports: “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. There has never been a day like it before or since, a day when the Lord listened to a man” (Joshua 10:13,14). The sun and moon waited for God’s people to gain the victory.

How could this happen? Did the earth stop its rotation? Were the sun and moon moved into outer space to keep up with the rotation of the earth? As citizens of the 21st century, how do we explain this?

The same way that the believers of the Old Testament did. The prophet Habakkuk declares: “LORD, I have heard of your fame; I stand in awe of your deeds, LORD. Sun and moon stood still in the heavens at the glint of your flying arrows, at the lightning of your flashing spear. In wrath you strode through the earth and in anger you threshed the nations” (Habakkuk 3:2,11,12).

This was the work of God. It shows his power over all things and protection for his people. With God, nothing is impossible!

We hear the citizens of heaven declare the same truth: “Great and awe-inspiring are your works, Lord God, the Almighty” (Revelation 15:3).

“Almighty” is a big word. We cannot yet comprehend its full meaning. That should not surprise us. We do not even grasp the power of the hydrogen bomb. How can we wrap our minds around a power that is absolutely unlimited? The more we think about it, the more questions we have.

We can only stand in awe of the almighty God. We do so with respect and appreciation. It astounds us that he would use his power on behalf of those who love and trust him.

The Bible contains the many accounts of divine intervention to rescue his people. The greatest example is when he overcame the powers of hell and destroyed the powers of sin and death. The death and resurrection of Jesus are awesome!

We have an awesome God. Wind and waves obey him. So do the stars. So must everything. We can have confidence in him. He can handle every one of our problems.

We think of the saying, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

If ever we begin to doubt it, we merely need to remember Joshua—and the day that the sun and moon waited.



Prayer: Eternal Lord God, Ruler of heaven and earth, your works are truly awesome. Forgive us for doubting your power and your love. Remind us that this side of heaven there is much for us to learn, and that human wisdom cannot fathom the works and ways of the divine. Keep us under the shadow of your powerful hand. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.



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

All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. Note: Scripture reading footnotes are clickable only in the web version.


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Transformed – teen devotion – July 12, 2020

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.
Proverbs 17:17

Serving Christ boldly . . . by being a good friend

I was told by someone early in life, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” At the time, I shook my head at this pearl of wisdom, but didn’t truly understand what it meant. As I grew older, the beauty of this saying began to mean a whole lot more. I’m guessing that as a Christian young person you already know that lesson well—there are few things in life more valuable than true friendship.

The opposite is also true. Fair-weather friends make life a struggle. We all fall prey to this, picking and choosing when to let those closest to us become an object of our affection and aid, and when we’re just going to let them sink or swim by themselves. This failure is what makes the short Proverb before us such a needed reminder today and always, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

We really can’t read that verse without thinking about Jesus, can we?! The hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus reminds us, “Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer. In his arms he’ll take and shield you; You will find a solace there.” (CW 411:3) In any and every situation in life, Christ helps. He heals. He saves. We serve Christ boldly by not only cherishing this timeless truth. We serve Christ boldly in the way we act like a true friend at all times, even at a time of adversity.

Prayer: Almighty God, friends are a blessing from you. While I constantly fail in life and don’t always imitate your love for me, please help me in life to be a friend to those around me and someone who others feel they can come to for help. Guide me to build up and not tear down. All to give you glory. All for your Son’s sake. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Only One – July 11, 2020

[Elijah] replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”
1 Kings 19:14

The Only One


Daily Devotion – July 11, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:14

See series: Devotions

Sometimes the characters of the Bible—people like Noah, Abraham, Moses—might seem larger than life: fearless, faithful, and forceful fortifications of faith, relentless and unruffled no matter what tried to rouse them. But that’s just not accurate.

In fact, one of God’s representatives in the Old Testament, a man named Elijah, was so depressed and discouraged with the direction of his ministry and life that he ran away to a cave and exclaimed, “I am the only one left” (1 Kings 19:14).

Do you ever have an “Elijah moment”? Do you ever feel that you are “the only one left”? The only one among your friends or neighbors who tries to reflect God’s value system? The only one who has pressures and problems that you do? The only one who feels overwhelmed at what needs to get done and under-equipped to get it done?

When you have those moments, there is a better alternative than running away to a cave and indulging in self-pity. In those tough times, you can look to Jesus—the only One who could (and did!) forgive all of your sins. The only One who knows your every need and promises to help and never leave you. The only One who loved you enough to die on a cross so that you might live forever with him. The only One worthy to be called your Savior—the only Jesus.

Come out of your cave. Look at the cross. Bask in the peace of your Savior and live in the light of his larger than life love.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for sending your one and only Son, Jesus. He is the only One able to stand up underneath the pressures I cannot. He is the only One in whom I find salvation. Lead me to always live in the light and joy of his glory. Amen

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Gives Us Courage to Share His Word – Family Devotion – July 10, 2020

Read: Acts 23:1-11

The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”
Acts 23:11

Jesus Gives Us Courage to Share His Word


Family Devotion – July 10, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 23:11

See series: Devotions

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

Morgan was so nervous. She was tossing and turning in bed. She tried counting sheep, counting her stuffed animals, even counting to a thousand. Morgan still couldn’t sleep because she knew that the next day was going to be hard!

Some of Morgan’s friends were going to hang out and sleep over that next day. But Morgan determined that it was finally time for them to have a big talk. She was going to tell her friends that she knew they were not making very good choices. They had been doing things that were not very God-pleasing, and Morgan was finally going to tell them that it was wrong. She loved them so much but wanted them to do what God says is right.

But what if they wouldn’t listen? What if they got angry? What if they left the sleepover and never wanted to be friends again?

Sometimes speaking the truth about God’s Word can be very difficult. Even family or friends may not want to hear what God says at times. But because we love others like God loves us, we still want to share the truth with them—even if it may be scary.

Today we have an amazing example in the apostle Paul. He was rejected, beaten, hurt, and put in prison many times. In Acts 23, Paul was boldly preaching about Jesus despite being on trial and in trouble again. However, his own Jewish people didn’t want to listen to him and put him in jail for the night. How frustrating and sad! But that night, Jesus appeared to Paul and told him, “Take courage!” Paul could be brave because Jesus was going to be with him and bless his preaching. They weren’t going to listen to Paul in Jerusalem, but soon he would go and preach far away in Rome!

It is very sad when other people don’t listen to what God has to say. Sometimes it hurts us very much to see loved ones reject Jesus. But even though it can be tough, God also tells us, “Take courage!” We can be bold and brave when we share God’s Word because Jesus will be with us and will bless our message in just the right way.

So Christian friends, keep sharing God’s truth! Some may listen, some may not. But Jesus will always be with us and bless our work, so take courage and boldly share his Word!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes I’m afraid to share your Word with other people. Help me to be bold and give me courage to share the good news about you with anyone and everyone! 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

  • Do you know someone that doesn’t know Jesus? Discuss together as a family people you might know.
  • Why is it so important for other people to know Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • As you continue to grow older, where are places that you think you could talk to others about Jesus?
  • What made Paul so eager and so brave to share the good news of Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What is the scariest thing about sharing the good news of Jesus? Can you think of promises from God that could help you?
  • How could someone use technology or social media to share about Jesus?

Hymn: CW 542:1,3 – Dear Lord, to Your True Servants Give

Dear Lord, to your true servants give
The grace to you alone to live.
Set free from sin to serve you, Lord,
They go to share your living Word,
The gospel message to proclaim
That all may know your saving name.

When all their labor seems in vain,
Revive their sinking hopes again;
And when success crowns what they do,
Oh, keep them humble, Lord, and true
Until before your judgment seat
They lay their trophies at your feet.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Acknowledges You Before God – July 10, 2020

[Jesus said] “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.”
Matthew 10:32

Jesus Acknowledges You Before God


Daily Devotion – July 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:32

See series: Devotions

It feels good to be recognized, doesn’t it? When you’ve put a lot of work in on something, it is nice when others notice. It hurts to be overlooked.

I have a confession to make. There is someone so important in my life, someone who has accomplished so many important things that I could never have done on my own, but someone whom I often fail to acknowledge.

That someone is my Savior, Jesus. When I do good things and things go well in my life, I want to take the credit. And I often want to take the credit when it comes to my relationship with God. I imagine that God loves me and accepts me for who I am. I act as if God should have my name on his wall of honor because I’ve done so much for him.

But the reality is, it is not about me. The Bible says that, unless I’m perfect, I don’t deserve praise or blessings from God. And I’m not perfect. I’ve stolen honor from Jesus by taking the credit for the good that I’ve done and the good things that have happened in my life. I’ve failed Jesus by keeping quiet when I had the opportunity to share the hope and peace I have because of him.

Why would Jesus want anything to do with me, when so often I’ve acted as if I didn’t know him or need him?

But, instead of disowning me, Jesus died for me. Instead of forsaking me, Jesus forgives me. Instead of acting as if he doesn’t know me, Jesus calls me his own and prays for me before God’s throne in heaven. And he does the same for you.

He is not ashamed of you. He gave his life to forgive everything you’ve done wrong. Now he stands before God and says, “I died for him. I died for her. I have given them faith to know and trust me as their Savior. These are your forgiven children.”

Remembering that he speaks my name in heaven gives me the courage and confidence to speak his name to others.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for calling me by name before God in heaven. Help me tell others about you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Safe in His Care – July 9, 2020

[Jesus said] “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”
Matthew 10:29-31

Safe in His Care


Daily Devotion – July 9, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:29-31

See series: Devotions

My wife and I love a good deal. Those big signs above the clearance racks or those special tags on marked down food on the shelf draw us in. Resale shops and websites give us the chance to save money but still have what we need or want. Those things may not be worth much to those selling them, but they are to us.

Do you ever feel like you are on the clearance rack of this world? Cast aside as unwanted. Thrown in a box with clothes that are out of style and toys that the kids don’t play with anymore. Marked down in price or piled on the curb for the garbage truck to haul away.

If we trust in Jesus, other people might view us and treat us that way—like worthless trash. But it shouldn’t really surprise us. That’s how they treated Jesus. To many, he was worthless. They wanted to get rid of him as quickly as they could. And so they killed him.

But God hadn’t forgotten Jesus, his Son. And he won’t forget you. What could be more precious to God than his own perfect Son? And yet, he loved you so much that he willingly gave up his own Son for you. He let his Son bleed and die to forgive every imperfection in your life that makes you unworthy of his love. God put a price on your soul that only he could afford to pay, and then he paid that price willingly.

The truth is, God cares about everything he made, even the smallest sparrows. But you have even more proof of his love. For you, God gave up his own Son. For you, God paid with his own life. And so, you know that he will always love you. He will always care for you. The world may toss you aside as worthless, but your God never will. You are safe in your Father’s care.

Prayer:
Father, when I feel worthless and unwanted, comfort me with your priceless love and perfect care. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Lord is With Us When We Share His Word – Family Devotion – July 8, 2020

Read: Jeremiah 20:7-13

But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior; so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail. They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced; their dishonor will never be forgotten.
Jeremiah 20:11

The Lord is With Us When We Share His Word


Family Devotion – July 8, 2020

Devotion based on Jeremiah 20:11

See series: Devotions

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

Tiny Tony thought he was the best little basketball player in the entire neighborhood. Even though he was in kindergarten, he would run up to much bigger kids and say, “I can beat you! I can beat you all!”

One day Tony went to the park with his dad and got his wish—a basketball game with all the neighborhood big kids. “We’re going to win! I know it!” he boasted. Sure enough, tiny Tony went home that day feeling at the top of his game because his team did win—and they won by a lot!

However, Tony was too young to understand or realize what really had happened. Tony’s dad was tall, strong, and athletic and had played basketball in college. The entire game Tony’s dad was quietly making sure that Tony was going to win, playing great defense and offense for him. Actually, Tony didn’t have much to do with the big win at all. His big, strong dad had done all the work for him!

Today we hear some words from the prophet Jeremiah. He had a very difficult job. He was very young when he started preaching, and every time he preached, he found that he was outnumbered—everyone was against him! In this chapter of Jeremiah, he had even been hurt by others and put in jail!

But just as Jeremiah started to become frustrated, he remembered whose team he was on—God’s! God is not just strong and athletic though. He is the all-powerful and almighty God who made all things and rules over all things. That’s why Jeremiah said that, “The LORD is with me like a mighty warrior.” Jeremiah knew that God was on his side and would fight for him, and that meant Jeremiah would win and his enemies would fail.

Sometimes it may feel like nothing is going our way, or even that everyone is against us as Christians. But remember who is on your team—the mighty God of all! Not only does he rule over all things that he made, but he also crushed in defeat our greatest enemy, the devil. God fought for us on Calvary and won the victory over Satan and this world. This mighty Savior God will be with you just as he was with Jeremiah. And one day, he will bring you from this difficult life to the victory celebration of heaven. What good news! No one can beat us with God on our side because we have already won with Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, when I feel sad or alone, remind me that you are always with me. Give me strength to endure every challenge knowing that you have already given to me the victory of eternal 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

  • Why was Jeremiah frustrated and sad about his preaching?
  • How has God shown us that he has more strength than anyone, even the devil?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Can you think of other people in the Bible besides Jeremiah who had difficult times preaching God’s Word?
  • Why do so many people get angry when we simply want to tell them about Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it a fitting picture to describe God as a mighty warrior?
  • Explain why we can say with Jeremiah that we will always win and our enemies will always fail, even if we may be persecuted or even die for our faith.

Hymn: CW 542:1,2 – Dear Lord, to Your True Servants Give

Dear Lord, to your true servants give
The grace to you alone to live.
Set free from sin to serve you, Lord,
They go to share your living Word,
The gospel message to proclaim
That all may know your saving name.

They gladly go at your command
To spread your Word o’er sea and land.
Be with them, Lord, and make them strong
To heal sin’s ills, to right the wrong.
Your rule is over wind and wave,
And mighty is your arm to save.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Shout It From the Rooftops – July 8, 2020

[Jesus said] “What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.”
Matthew 10:27

Shout It From the Rooftops


Daily Devotion – July 8, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 10:27

See series: Devotions

Can you keep a secret?

Often, when people trust us with important information, they don’t want us to tell anyone else. Sharing their secrets would violate their trust. Sharing their secrets might cause harm to them or others.

But what if you knew a secret that could help a lot of people? If you knew the cure for cancer—or this year, the cure for the coronavirus, COVID-19—wouldn’t you want everyone to know about it?

The Bible tells us a secret that can do more than stop a pandemic. It tells us the secret to eternal life. Eternal life comes because of a man named Jesus who was not just a man, but the Son of God. It tells us how Jesus did nothing wrong. He only showed perfect love. He only spoke perfect truth. And yet he was opposed, ridiculed, arrested, put on trial, and killed. But he rose again.

Jesus promises that, when he died an innocent death, he accepted the death penalty that we deserve for our disobedience. Jesus promises that, because he came back from the dead, death will not hold us either. After we die, Jesus will raise us from the dead. And all who know him as their Savior will live with him forever.

It’s no secret. But there are many who want us to act like it is. They tell us to keep it to ourselves. They tell us Jesus isn’t for everyone. But Jesus tells us otherwise. He loved us enough to die for us. He rose from the dead and lives again. He did it for you, for me, for everyone. And he wants everyone to know about it.

That’s why we share these devotions with you. We want you to know what we know. And we want you to share with others the good news you’ve heard. Speak it. Share it. Shout it from the rooftops!

Prayer:
Jesus, living Savior, you let me in on the secret that you came to die and rise again for me. Give me faith to believe it and the courage to share the good news! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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From One to All – July 7, 2020

If the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Romans 5:15

From One to All


Daily Devotion – July 7, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:15

See series: Devotions

“Now you’ve ruined it for everyone.” One student breaks the rules, and the whole class has to stay in from recess. One sibling is careless, and now no one can play with the broken toy.

One trespass. One act of disobedience. That’s all it took. There were only two people in the world at the time—Adam and his wife Eve. God gave them one command: “Don’t eat the fruit from that one tree. If you do, you will surely die.”

They didn’t listen. They thought they knew better. They disobeyed. From that moment on, they were no longer able to obey God’s commands. They deserved God’s wrath. Eventually, they would face physical death. And unless something was done about it, eternal punishment in hell would follow. And every one of their descendants inherited their disobedient spirit and the deadly consequences that come with it. And that includes you and me.

But something was done about it. We can’t make up for the wrong we do—not before God. But God gave us something we didn’t deserve. He gave us a gift—the gift of his own Son. Jesus, God’s Son, undid the devastating effects of Adam’s disobedience and our disobedience that followed.

Jesus took the blame for Adam’s disobedience and ours. Jesus accepted the consequences for every act, word, and thought that fails to meet God’s demands. And he made right what was oh so wrong.

Because Jesus was the perfect Son of God, the price he paid with his life was enough to count for everyone—for Adam and all of his descendants, for you and for me.

Adam ruined it, but so do we whenever we disobey God’s commands. But Jesus fixed it. He removes every wrong we’ve done and replaces it with the right things he did. He accepts our death and gives us his life.

Now, something far better than recess time or a favorite toy is ours. Now, we get to live forever as forgiven children of God surrounded by God’s love.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in overflowing love, you sent your Son to undo what my sins have done. For this I praise and thank you! Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Don’t Be Afraid – Week of July 6, 2020

Don’t Be Afraid – Week of July 6, 2020



Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:29-31



Don’t be afraid. We’ve all heard those words. We’ve all said those words. When you’re waiting for a grade on an important exam. When you’re waiting for test results from a doctor. Sitting up at night, watching for your child to come home. Comforting a young child as they wait for their mom or dad to arrive. Don’t be afraid. I don’t know about you, but those words by themselves, while well intended, didn’t really make my fear or concern go away.

I love getting up early and taking a long walk in our neighborhood. There’s something special about the quiet of the morning and the sound of birds as the day begins. Lately I’ve noticed a couple of tiny bright yellow finches and a family of cranes strolling with two young ones. However, I can’t honestly say that I’ve given a lot of attention to the humble sparrows in my neighborhood. They seem ordinary, unremarkable.

Our world is always full of struggles, but the struggles right now seem more profound. The ongoing uncertainly of a pandemic can fill you and me with mixed emotions. The racial and political tensions are difficult to understand and to watch. In it all, we can feel anxious, frustrated, even helpless. Worry can creep in and shake our confidence. We can find ourselves struggling with despair and even a sense of hopelessness.

As we consider the verses from Matthew in our current context, what an amazing comfort we find! The Father watches over and cares for even the simple sparrow. If God our Father takes such care about every sparrow, wouldn’t he do the same and more for you and for me… the ones who are so important to him that he even knows every single hair on our heads. (Wouldn’t you like to know that number?)? When he made the world, Adam and Eve were created differently from all else in creation. God himself breathed life in Adam. His love and care for people was there from the beginning and continues for us today. His promise of Jesus was there as Adam and Eve were ushered out of the Garden of Eden. His promise was kept at the manger, at the cross, at the empty tomb, and as he ascended back to heaven.

Don’t be afraid. Alone, those words have little impact. Yet when combined with God’s promises, they become powerful words of comfort. So when you see a small sparrow, be reminded that the Lord watches over each of them. And if he cares that much for this seemingly ordinary little bird, it’s hard to imagine how dearly he cares for you and for me. So don’t be afraid.
Hard things are part of our life. Know that in it all, God keeps his promise to be there with you and with me through it all.



Prayer:
Dearest Father, there are so many challenges in our world right now. It can be hard to avoid fear and worry. Help me to remember to keep my eyes on you whose love and grace for me is indescribable. As your child, keep me close to you and encourage me to reflect your love to those around me. In your name I pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider:
Sometimes keeping a list or journal can help when things are hard. Consider making two lists: one with those things about which you are concerned. Be sure to continually check that list and note when things improve or are solved. But also make a list of the blessings all around you. Especially in difficult times, the blessings are still there. Note how God can use each struggle and challenge in ways that draw us closer to him.



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

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