Transformed – teen devotion – November 18, 2018

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3


Before you begin to read this, make a list of things that make you happy. You can write it down or make a mental list. Try to get as many as you can.

Did you get them all? Now continue reading … .

In an episode of VeggieTales, Madame Blueberry says she has everything she could ever need, but she is not happy with what she has. On her way home from the store, after buying pretty much everything, she passes a girl who is with her mom and dad on her birthday. The girl does not have much, but she is happy. That’s when Madame Blueberry realizes that she does not need material items to be happy.

It is easy to get caught up in material things. Go back to your list of things that make you happy. What’s on it: A TV show? A book? Your pet? Mom, Dad, Aunt Sally, and Uncle Joe? Did God, church, or the Bible make your list? When we think of what makes us happy, it’s so easy to get caught up by the things we see and touch nearest to us. As long as we live, we face the temptation to place God who brings us his salvation on the backburner.

Remember to focus on the reason for that joy:

  • God gave you “new birth” through baptism!
  • God gave you “living hope” through Jesus’ resurrection!

Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive! Now we look forward to an eternity in heaven with him! That’s something to be happy about! No more trials. No more heartache. No more temptation. We will have the honor of standing at the feet of Jesus. He wiped away our sins with his death so that we can finally know what peace feels like. Resting our hope in Jesus Christ will bring us eternal happiness, no matter what struggles we are faced with here on earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy of life everlasting in your arms. Continue to work through me so that I can help others find your joy. Guide me to hold tight to your Word when I am faced with trials, and help me to find joy here on earth, knowing that I will find eternal joy it is in heaven with you. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 11, 2018

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:6-10


Some people think that contentment means getting everything they want as soon as they want it. If that’s contentment—a desire and want of more—it can easily lead to a negative view of life that says, “Look what I DON’T have.” It can lead us to resent what others have but we don’t.

What is the secret to happiness? God says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Being content with what you have rather than looking at what you do not will put your focus on the positive and not the negative. Contentment is the heart of a believer who believes God is our provider, who provides for our spiritual and earthly needs because we are his children. Jesus gave up his breath on the cross. There we find all debts of sin are paid. It promises peace with God. It assures of salvation. It leads to the conviction that “God works all things out for our good”.

One of the best definitions of contentment that I have heard is, “not having all you want but wanting only what you have.” Satisfied with what you have—that is being content. It means having all you need not craving for more. “But what if I do not have all I need to support my life?” Jesus answers, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) Yes, you are valuable to Jesus! Find contentment in him!

Prayer: Dear Lord in heaven help us to be content with what we have and not to worry about what we do not. For we know that you will provide everything that we need to keep our bodily life. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross in our place so that we can be content in you today. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 4, 2018

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

The cause

A quick jab to the nose! A left hook to the temple! The enemy is gaining on you. His punches are coming one right after another. After another left hook to your head, he finishes you off with an uppercut that sends you to the ground. Staring at the mat beneath you, you wonder if you will ever be able to get back up again.

Have you ever felt this way? As if you are trapped in a boxing match and life is throwing punches at you, one right after the other?

What about when it comes to telling others about Jesus? Our text for today shows us how the author, the apostle Paul, tirelessly tells others about Jesus. Like Paul, our purpose here on earth is to share the gospel and win souls for heaven. This is easier said than done. We get rejected, we feel we don’t have the words to say, we don’t think we are getting through to anyone, and maybe even our own friends laugh in our faces. These are the punches that come with sharing the gospel, and the truth is…we can’t win this match on our own.

We don’t have the strength to finish the fight. We are weak and sinful human beings. Because of the sin that corrupts us to the core of our very being, we and all those we love deserve only eternal damnation. If we ourselves are destined for death in hell, how then can we expect to win the souls of our fellow damned for heaven? The dead cannot raise the dead. That friend you have that does not know Jesus, you will never be able to convert him…on your own.

Jesus Christ, our mighty substitute, steps into the ring. He fights for you and me! He came to earth, lived the perfect life we could not, died an innocent death on the cross in our place, and then raised to life so we too may rise. As if that was not enough, he also promises to be with us as we tell others about his love. It is only with his power that we, and many others, will receive the crown of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, I am weak. So often I do not take hold of the opportunities you give to me to proclaim your Word. Fight for me, dear Savior. Be with me as I tell others about your amazing love. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 28, 2018

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

Rebel #4 – The Weight

Many things make it hard to follow Jesus. We’ve talked about some of them this month. There are more that we haven’t even talked about. There are the temptations the world holds out as a lure. There is the direct opposition the world brings, for we believe things the world directly opposes. The devil is constantly after us like a roaring lion. So much is stacked against us as we live for Jesus and rebel against this world and its ways.

Those struggles are hard enough, and then Jesus adds one more. “Deny yourself.” In other words, Jesus is calling us to put others ahead of ourselves. We are not first, Jesus is. We are not even second, everyone else is. Which means—we are always last! “Deny yourself.”

We want “me” time, to be taken care of, and to have our turn. We want what is good for us. It’s what we want. But Jesus says, “Deny yourself. I’m first. They’re next. You are always last.”

But we want what’s good for us. We want our way the way we want it and when we want it. Jesus says, “Deny yourself. What I want for you is what you should always want.”

This is the cross that Jesus gives us to carry, the cross of self-denial. Yes, this is the cross Jesus calls us to carry as we follow him.

As we step under the weight of our cross and learn to say “God your way is best, and I trust you,” then we find contentment and even joy in the life that God gives us. When we learn to say, “God, I will give up my wants for the good of the people around me,” then we find that God will provide for us in ways that we didn’t even imagine with even more than we could have thought.

The weight of the cross and the struggle against it drives us to our knees so that we rely on God and on him alone. When God is all we have, we learn that God is all we need. He gives us salvation, support, and strength. He gives us all that we need.

So, step under that cross and accept in faith whatever God gives. Step under that cross and deny yourself as you live with other people.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you call me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. O Jesus, it is hard and heavy. I ask you to give me strength to carry this cross. As I do, draw me closer to you, knowing you meet all my needs. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 21, 2018

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

Rebel #3 – The Bloody Fool

Jesus would never make the list of superheroes. He just wouldn’t. He doesn’t carry himself like a superhero. He doesn’t act like a superhero. The cross appeared to be his kryptonite, rendering him powerless. If you look at the man, Jesus, and his story, you’ll see that he has quite a dismal end.

When human eyes look at Jesus, they may be tempted to see only a failure. His enemies got away with his murder. He appeared to have lost everything at the grave.

Human ears hear things that don’t make sense. His enemies tell lies about him, and Jesus doesn’t defend himself. The people mock him, and Jesus silently lets them. We hear sounds of defeat and loss, and Jesus seems powerless to stop it.

This is our Savior!?! The one who loses to all his enemies? The one who is mocked and doesn’t even offer a response?

He is the one we worship. He is the one in whom we believe.

It’s no wonder that people think we are foolish. The One we call on for help and salvation couldn’t even help himself. “He couldn’t even save himself, how will he save the world,” they mock. “He was silent against all his enemies, maybe they were right,” they laugh. The One we trust seems like a failure, and we look foolish for trusting him. People think we’re crazy for believing in Jesus as we do.

But it’s not as foolish as it seems. In the weakness of Jesus, we see the power of Jesus letting people take his life so that we could have our life forever. In the death of Jesus, we see Jesus taking all the punishment that our sins deserved, so that we wouldn’t be punished for the things we had done. In the cross, we see the triumph of Jesus over and against all our enemies. There at the cross and in his death, Jesus delivered a death blow to our enemy, the devil.

There in his death, we find our life and resurrection. There in his weakest moments, we find our salvation. To the world, our Savior Jesus seems like a bloody fool. But to us, he is our Savior and our God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for helping me to see you as you really are. You are not weak, you are mighty to save. You are not foolish, you are wise to win me for heaven. Grant me faith to believe you even when the world says I’m crazy and foolish for doing it. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 14, 2018

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19:16-22

Rebel #2 – The Guide

People love a good “how to” guide. We want to know how to fix a phone that got dropped in the toilet. We want to know how to run a little bit faster. We want to know how to do all sorts of things. We even want to know how to get into heaven. This week we consider the guide that we have from our God, the “how to” of getting to heaven.

In Matthew 19, a man came up to Jesus to ask, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” He had the idea that if he did the right “good thing” he could get heaven. He was looking for a “how to” guide from Jesus. Jesus did give him a guide, but he couldn’t follow it, so he went away sad.

Take a moment to evaluate yourself and your relationship with God. How close to God are you on a scale of 1-10? Rate yourself closer to 1 if you feel like you’ve got a long way to go. Rate yourself closer to a 10 if you feel like you’re doing a good job in your relationship with God. After you’ve evaluated your relationship with God, read on.

I would be willing to guess that you didn’t rate yourself a 10. You looked at your relationship with God and felt like you weren’t quite where God wants it to be. You’re not a “10.” By doing this, you’re evaluating yourself the way this man did. You’re looking for a “how to” list from God to be good enough. If you can to do all the right things, you’d be a 10. But if you keep evaluating yourself this way, you’ll always walk away sad because you’ll never be a 10.

Jesus wanted this man to completely give up on his own ability to be good and find his goodness in Jesus. This man walked away before Jesus could tell him the only way to be good. Jesus would have told him, “I am your goodness. I am your righteousness. I am your perfection.”

We are perfect because Jesus declares us so. We are good because Jesus declares us to be good. We are righteous because Jesus makes us so. The apostle Paul says it like this: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). So you see, you already are a “10” in God’s sight.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on my sin and claimed it as your very own. You give me your righteousness, and by faith, I claim it as my very own. You became what you were not, to make me what I was not. By your grace, I’m a “10” in your sight. Thank you. Amen.

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

Helper suitable – Women’s Devotion

“Excuse me! I need some help here!”

Help. It’s part of life.

Think of all the help you’ve received in the last several days. Our son mowed lawn when we were gone. My husband always dries the shower and makes the salad and helps clean up. The ushers and musicians were such a help keeping order and leading us in worship yesterday. What a help it was to have so many prayers! How thankful we are for just the right help that comes at just the right time.

Helper. The one who brings the help.

Think of all the helpers who brought you help. Suitable helpers. Make a list. Add to that list all those you know who have helped others. We hold them in high regard. We want to be like them. Why, then, is there a slight lowering of that regard when we consider that we, as women, have been given the calling of “suitable helper” from the beginning of creation?

Genesis 2: 18, 20, 22-23 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Hmmm…not sure about that kind of helper. Before going further, let’s ponder the fact that the concept of “helper” is even one of the ways God identifies himself. *

Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate [helper]** with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

John 14:26 But the Advocate [Helper], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

What a suitable helper! What a high and holy calling it is to be considered worthy of such a position. To be included in this grand company of suitable helpers is truly amazing!

Unfortunately, Genesis 2 is followed by Genesis 3 and we find the answer to the “why, then…” above. Eve listened to the snake (Genesis 3:1-5), the snake that deceitfully replaced God’s Word with a narrative vastly different in purpose, order and outcome. It’s the same snake who keeps grabbing our attention and directing our wonder and will. But why aren’t we given the headship calling? Authority is so in the past; don’t you know about equality? Who gets credit as a helper? I’ve been given gifts that go way beyond just being a helper! Why should I help him when he’s so rude and bossy?

We live in a world directed by a narrative intent on turning what God creates as a joyful blessing into something that is redefined as cruel, unfair, unloving, and even hateful. We have a sinful nature that is needy for self-promotion and filled with pride in being our own authority. Yes, God’s plan calls for authority. But unwrapping God’s authority is like opening a wonderful gift! In it we find the man God created as head to love, provide protection, live selflessly with concern for his followers, and to be focused on the ultimate goal of saving souls. Sin taints the calling of both head and helper, but we have a Savior who points us back to the original plan. Renewed in God’s grace, forgiven and set free, we join the ranks of countless sinner/saints who rejoice in the gift of our calling as “helper suitable for him.”

Prayer: Lord God, help me to honor the awesomeness of your creation and to see the calling of head and helper as a holy gift. You are the ultimate “suitable helper” in all aspects of your Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Forgive me for the times I open your gift and leave my fingerprints of sin and selfishness all over it. Sometimes circumstances are so challenging that I end up looking more like a helper to the evil one. May your Holy Spirit work in me to be a witness to the world as I live joyfully in my calling of suitable helper according to your plan and to your glory. Amen.

* “The Hebrew word meaning “helper” …is found 31 times in the Old Testament…16 of those times the word is used for God.” Gurgel, R. & Wendland, K. Heirs Together 4th ed. p 61.
**Paraclete or advocate is another translation of the Greek Word for helper; refers to one who is called to one’s side or pleads one’s cause before a judge. Christ is the believer’s advocate with the Father.

Written by Sally Valleskey, WELS Women’s Ministry Exec Team

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Transformed – teen devotion – October 7, 2018

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25

Rebel #1 – The Enemy

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in?

It’s supposed to be that way for us in this world. The Bible calls us aliens and strangers in this world. We’re supposed to be different. While our friends go one direction pursuing sin and priorities that are not God’s, we go against the stream pursuing that for which Jesus took hold of us. We don’t belong in this world. Heaven is our destiny; that is where we belong. Not only that, but we have a different God, a different guide, and we fight a different war than everyone else in this world.

This month’s devotions consider what it means and looks like to be rebels as followers of Jesus. This week we look at our enemy. Immediately, we think of the devil who like a prowling lion creeps in the tall grass looking to devour us. We also think quickly of the temptations that the world dangles in front of us.

Those are certainly our enemies, but sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Paul knew it was true: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” There was a war inside of him. It made him a prisoner to sin. Previously in Romans 7, Paul expresses a deep frustration because he isn’t doing and can’t do what he knows he should.

You’ll find the same thing as you look at your heart and life. You know the good that you should be doing, but you don’t do it. Sometimes you intentionally plan to do that thing you shouldn’t do. Other times, you fall into sin and feel helpless against it.

Paul is teaching us a powerful and important truth about ourselves: We’re worse than we thought. There isn’t a spark of goodness in us. We can’t just get over our sin by trying hard and doing the right things. It’s not in us. What a bunch of wretches we are!

Our only hope is that we are more loved than we would even dare imagine. Our God has delivered us from sin and death. Our God has even rescued us from this wicked, sinful nature in us. He has drowned it to death in our baptisms. He has given us complete victory in our Savior Jesus and set us free to live for him. He does it daily for us as we confess our sins and hear his forgiveness. He does it daily in the waters of our baptisms.

The truth is you don’t belong to sin anymore; you belong to your God. He redeemed you by his Son and gives you the victory through his Son, Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so frustrated by the sins I commit. I don’t want to do them. Sometimes I do them on purpose. Sometimes I do them without even thinking about it. Forgive me for them all and set me free by your blood to live for you. I belong to you. Help me to live for you. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 30, 2018

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Luke 22:39-43

God’s strength

This week we’re wrapping up our devotions on spiritual habits. I want you to think back to all of these devotions and notice something. We want to spend time in God’s Word, because in his Word he gives us his strength, courage, and motivation to live for him. We want to spend time talking to our God in prayer, because God promises to always answer our prayers. We want to spend time with the community of believers, because they will give us strength from the Lord.

A theme emerges from these spiritual disciplines: They turn us to our God who gives us his gifts of strength, answers, help, and courage.

We see an Jesus’ example as he cried out to his Father in anguish. He was thoroughly overwhelmed by what was about to happen. He even begged that God would take this cup of suffering away from him. Look what God did in answer to his prayer: An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

This is what God promises to do for you as you walk through life. He promises that his Word is power for salvation; it is food and strength for you and your soul. He promises that he will always hear your prayers for help and for strength. He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15). He promises that his church, his community of believers, will endure to the end. You will never be alone on this earth as you live by faith here.

God has given you the gifts of his Word and Sacraments, prayer, and his people to give you his strength and his support through life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me your gifts to help me stay faithful to you until death. Thank you for giving me your strength to live for you all the days of my life. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 23, 2018

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

The power of habit: Know your weakness

No one gets married and thinks, “In ten years, I’ll be unhappy in this marriage and go looking for love somewhere else.” No one ever says to themselves, “I think I’ll be a drug addict or an alcoholic when I grow up.” No Christian ever confessed their faith thinking, “I won’t always believe this.”

Yet it happens every day. It even happens to pastors of churches and the most dedicated students of the Bible. They fall into sin and away from Jesus. What happens?

Peter never dreamt that he would be the one to deny Jesus. He actually took an oath, because he was so sure that he would never do it. But just hours later, he swore another oath saying that he didn’t even know who Jesus was.

What happened?

Jesus identifies it for us: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We have the heartfelt desire to remain faithful and steadfast. We have the sincere intention to stay true, faithful, and steadfast in our faith. Our spirit is certainly willing.

But our flesh is weak. Our nature has been weakened by sin and weakness. Ever since Adam and Eve, our nature has been tipped toward sin in the most despicable and vile ways. Even as Christians, our sinful nature is still a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. Because of the weakness of our nature, we need spiritual disciplines to bolster and to hold us up. We need the power of God’s Word to correct, rebuke, encourage, and train us. We need to be people of prayer, constantly turning to our source of strength. We need close and trustworthy Christian friends around us to keep turning us back to the God of our salvation.

Because of our sinful weakness, it vital for us to keep active in God’s Word and prayer and to stay close to God’s people.

His Word, prayer, and his people are God’s gifts to keep us close to him all the days of our life and to call us back when we stumble and fall. Use them. They are God’s gifts to you.

Prayer: Lord God, I know my weakness more and more each day. Keep turning me back to you for strength and direction. You are my Savior. I need you. Please help. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 16, 2018

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

The power of habit: Christ-centered community

These are the days when we are more connected and yet more disconnected at the same time. We are more connected on our phones, more connected through social media. At the very same time, we are also quite disconnected as we live life. We’re connected thumb-to-thumb but not face-to-face and not soul-to-soul.

That can be a dangerous thing. Social media can lead us to be fake with other people. We easily filter the way life is really going. We can easily hide what is really going on with us. We can easily isolate ourselves from the Christ-centered community that we so desperately need. The truth is: The lone wolf gets picked off. That’s who the devil goes after because there is no one around to help when tempted.

God’s people need each other. We need other people in our lives. That is precisely why the writer wrote these words to us. He knew that we needed a Christ-centered community around us.

On the one hand, we need each other to see the blind spots in our faith and the sins that hide in the corners of our lives that we can’t see. We need other Christians to show us our sins. Even more than that, we need them to show us Jesus’ forgiveness. We need a Christ-centered community around us to keep us close to our Savior.

On the other hand, other people need us just as deeply in their lives. They need us to lovingly show them the blind spots of their faith, the sins that hide in the corners of their life. They need us to show them their sins and even more than that to tell them that Jesus has forgiven it all! They need us to spur them on with gospel encouragement!

You, dear Christian, need the family of believers, the community of Christ-followers, around you. In fact, they are God’s gift to you to keep you close to Jesus until he returns. And in the very same way, you are God’s gift to them to keep them close to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for blessing me with many wonderful friends. Be with my friends and me. Help us to encourage each other to grow in your Word. Keep Christ as the center of our lives and bring us closer to each other by bringing us closer to you. Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 9, 2018

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:16-18

The power of habit: Prayer

Why we don’t pray more? I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes don’t pray more because I think I can get more done if I actually “do” it than if I pray about it first. I think that my thinking, my working, my worrying, and my planning are more powerful than actually praying about it.

When I write it down it sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? But our lack of prayer says just that. Our lack of praying says to God that our activity and our working is more important than asking him to act and work and do.

James inspires us to believe that prayer is a powerful thing. He tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Our prayers matter. Our prayers change things. Our prayers make a difference.

If you believed that something was powerful, would you do it? Of course. If you thought something would make all the difference in the world, you would make sure it happened. If you thought something mattered, you would make time for it, intentionally, purposefully, regularly. That’s what we do for things that make a difference and matter to us.

James gives an example of an effective prayer. He reminds us of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. Elijah prayed that it would not rain—and it didn’t rain. God withheld rain for three and a half years because of Elijah’s prayer. Then Elijah prayed again that it would rain—and God sent rain.

Prayer works. Prayer matters. It is powerful and effective, not because of the person who is praying, but because the person praying invokes God’s powerful name and humbly relies on God’s gracious promises and saving will. The story of Elijah—and many other stories throughout the Bible—show us that this is true.

So pray. Make a habit of it. Your Father in heaven loves you. He has forgiven all your sins, and he now invites you to call on him in prayer. In his love for you, he hears your prayers and works powerfully for you and for the world.

Prayer: Lord God, you teach me that prayer is a powerful thing. In your grace, Father, you invite me to pray. Help me to understand how powerful prayer is so that I make it a part of the very fiber of my life. Yes, Lord Jesus, teach me to pray without stopping. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 2, 2018

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

The power of habit: Bible reading

What if I told you that you would die tomorrow unless you took one pill? Would you miss it? Probably not. You would probably set an alarm. You would do something to make sure that you always took that pill every single day, because you know it is a matter of life and death.

There are other things like that in our life, things that aren’t a matter of life and death, but still very important to us. We have daily routines and habits that are really important—brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing your homework, or eating meals. These things have become part of your regular life, and you wouldn’t really consider cutting them out.

This month we’re going to talk about some disciplines that are important for your spiritual health. These are things that we want to be diligent about practicing. If we don’t practice these things, we put our faith at risk. We risk falling from the faith and losing out on eternity. Jesus himself tells us to “watch and pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation.

The first habit is Bible reading. It’s something that Paul tells Timothy to continue. He urged him, “Continue in what you learned and have become convinced of.” Paul wants to Timothy to make a habit of remembering what he had been taught. He wanted Timothy to keep Scripture on the front of his mind, continuing to remember it.

Then he tells him, and us, why.

The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. There is no better or higher reason than this. God’s Word rebukes us when we are wrong. It teaches us of God’s love for us. It points us to God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. It equips us for a life of righteousness. It gives and strengthens our faith in Jesus.

God’s Word is good for everything else in this life too. In short, God’s Word is also a personal trainer for our daily walk as Christians. It equips and trains us to live as God’s people in this world.

Would you ever skip brushing your teeth on purpose? Of course not! It wouldn’t be healthy. The same goes for daily Bible reading. Sustain your spiritual health and grow in it by including God’s Word in your daily life.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, we thank you for the many opportunities you give us to make your Word a part of our daily routines. Strengthen our bond with you and help us realize the importance your Word has on our daily lives. In His name we pray, Amen.

TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 26, 2018

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21

Tough conversations about stuff

This morning as I scrolled through my Facebook memories, I caught a project from about a year ago. I was laying some flooring in the first floor of our Texas home and also painting the exterior. I was trying to make that house our home. But that was a year ago. Today, my family and I live in Milwaukee. Someone else is living in what used to be our freshly painted, newly floored, clean and pristine house. We’re living in a house which meets our needs well but needs some maintenance and work.

Things in this life are temporary and fleeting. We live in a house for a while, maybe even for a long time. But the house wears out and needs to be updated and repaired. Or we move to a new house, maybe into a new city, a new state, and a new school. Things in this life constantly fall apart. We buy a new pair of shoes, and in just weeks they’re already creased and wearing out. Our favorite pair of jeans becomes thin and worn.

Everything in this life is temporary. Yet, these are the things that we chase. We’ve got to have the right shoes, the right jeans, the right clothes. We want just the right house in just the right neighborhood where we drive just the right car. We work extra hours to have a little extra spending money. Then it disappears and wears out. It’s here today and tomorrow it’s gone.

That’s not even the most dangerous part. Jesus points it out to us: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If our hearts treasure the stuff of this world—which can make life comfortable and enjoyable—then we will go the way of our treasures. Away. Worn out. Tossed out and away from God.

That is why we must have this tough conversation. In some ways, it is none of my business what you do with your money and what kinds of things you enjoy, especially if it isn’t forbidden by God. But I am concerned for your heart and for your eternity. That’s why I have to warn you. If your treasure is your stuff, then you will go the way of your treasures.

But when Jesus is your treasure, you have everything. You have forgiveness, life, and eternity. You have a Father in heaven who loves to give all these things to those who seek first his kingdom and a Spirit who loves to dwell in your heart to give you contentment and joy whatever the circumstances of your life. When you have Jesus, you have everything. He isn’t ever going to go away. He won’t ever wear out or fade away. He will remain for you and with you forever.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are everything to me. You are my life, my righteousness, my redemption. You are my eternity. Help me to set my heart on you and treasure you above all things. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 19, 2018

Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.
1 Corinthians‬ ‭6:9-11

Tough conversations about sexuality

“I am straight.” “I am gay.” “I am lesbian.” “I am bi-sexual.” “This is who I am. This is what I do.”

These are the days when people are more proud than ever to say these kinds of things. You’ve likely heard people say these things with pride before; maybe you’ve even said them yourselves.

Paul has something to say, “These people who claim this identity and live this life will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Paul actually enlarges this group to those who also say: “I am a thief.” “I am greedy.” “I am a drunk.” “I am a swindler.” “I am a slanderer.” “This is who I am, and this is what I do.”

If you—or if anyone else—want to claim an identity and live a life that God calls sin, then you are asking God to leave you out of heaven. Paul is clear. “These people will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

But that’s not the only answer here. He is talking to you, dear Christian, who is struggling with what to think about your sexuality. For you who refuse to be identified by your sexuality but instead by your repentance, something else is true. For you, who struggle daily with what God says is sin, who grieve because you know the good you ought to do but don’t do it, Paul says something else to you. “That is what some of you were.”

You were identified by sin, but now you’re not. Now you are identified by your Savior Jesus. You are cleansed by his blood. You are justified and not guilty in his sight. You are washed. You are not who you used to be. You are forgiven.

If you’re struggling with your sexuality, reach out to a Christian friend and lean on God’s Word and Jesus’ blood for salvation for help. If you’re struggling with the sexuality of your family or friends, seek God’s wisdom in his Word and some counsel from your pastor. Tough conversations about sexuality do not have easy answers.

But there is always this: Jesus takes us as we are and makes us someone new. He always forgives. He always helps us in our struggle with sin, whatever that sin happens to be, even in our sexuality.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me your words and your wisdom as I talk to people in my life about their sexuality. Give me a broken heart when I see how I have sinned against you in my own sexuality. Lead me to find my identity and my salvation in what you have done. 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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A cracked wall – Women’s Devotion

A cracked wall – Women’s Devotion

This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.
Isaiah 30:13-14

This word picture takes my breath away.

Maybe you’ve had a high wall in your life that makes you feel safe and secure—like a good reputation, esteemed career, or financial success. Those things build high, coveted walls that others dream about. Behind those walls, you feel confident, strong, and secure. Your influence and insight drive you to be assertive and self-reliant. You believe in yourself, and it feels good. This wall stands tall and it seems strong.

The first cracks in your wall aren’t a problem. Your heart races a little as you take the first inappropriate glance or the small amount of money that no one will miss. Your sense of entitlement grows, and your walls feel impenetrable. Recreational drug use becomes more frequent, or you experience the first moment you really need a drink. But your self-control seems unquestionable. One more click, just one more picture. In the false security of your high wall, it doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. No one knows. You’re still in control.

The problem is you don’t see how deeply the cracks penetrate, or how far they reach. You don’t even notice their spidery spread. By the time you do, it feels like it’s too late. It feels like you can’t stop even though you know the wall is bulging. Changing, turning, and stopping no longer seem like options. Just stay behind the wall and indulge yourself. Deny the guilt.

The poignancy of this picture is that it captures the moment your wall collapses. Instantly. Suddenly. Broken chards spewing in every direction, farther than you could’ve ever imagined. And then comes the soul piercing words that describe your life: “shattered mercilessly.”

There are no pieces left to put back together. Not even a tiny sliver that has some small value or redeeming quality. Nothing. It is shattered. The merciless reality tightens around your chest until there is no breath, no hope, and perhaps for a moment you wish there was no life. It is an image of devastation and unimaginable suffering. The shattering cannot be undone. There is no mercy as those you love see your sin and shame, and they suffer heartache and disgrace because of you. There is no mercy as your respect and security become worthless rubble. No mercy in the guilt that is now displayed in broad daylight. The pain is unfathomable.

This is a true picture of sin.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. Isaiah 30:18

Yet. It says, “yet.” Despite your sin and the ugly truth of what you’ve done, he will rise up to show you compassion. Listen to these words, “the Lord longs to be gracious to you.” He has already done everything required to bring you forgiveness, and he can’t wait to share it with you. As you sit in the shattered pieces of your life, God wants to be gracious to you. Hear the richness of that word, “gracious.” He’s not just coming to your side to be supportive, he is coming to bring grace. He is Christ Jesus, your Savior from sin who suffered death and the pangs of hell for you. His blood has covered your sin and guilt. The sins which smother you in shame are forgiven; they are as far as the east is from the west. God raised Jesus from the dead to prove with his almighty power that he has accepted Christ’s payment for sin on your behalf. He longs to give you his grace because it is the precious gift he paid for with the blood of his Son.

Therefore, he will rise up. “Therefore” immediately points you back to grace. Because of his grace, he will rise up to show you compassion. God cannot overlook sin. He cannot simply come to you in your brokenness and be compassionate without a payment for sin. But because of Christ’s sacrifice, his complete and timeless payment, he will rise—he will come to you—to show you compassion. He will come. See this God who extends his mercy by coming to you as you suffer alone in your chards. He does not merely call out to you, he brings salvation and compassion to you. He rises to bring it. He is the one making the effort. This compassion comes from a Savior who has been a man and lived among us. Although he was sinless, he walked this earth in our place and took the punishment for sin in his human body. He understands what sin does and has felt the wrath of God demanding justice and extracting payment. His payment for sin means you are forgiven, fully and freely. He comes to you in his Word of Truth to be your Savior and God. He gives you freedom from your slavery to sin and makes you one who loves righteousness. His grace embraces you; it brings you into his arms, into his family. It is a washing, a cleansing; it brings a filling with the Holy Spirit and a righteousness before God. It brings the gift of faith and strength that will stay with you through all that is ahead. The commitment and hope of God are new every morning, even when you struggle. It is his commitment to you, a promise and covenant that he is your God.

He longs to give this forgiveness to you because it cost him so much. He rises to come to you. He is compassionate. He forgives you because of his love for you in Christ. He brings you grace. Full and free forgiveness in Christ—it is yours.

This is a true picture of grace.

Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor David Valleskey

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Third Sunday after Pentecost

Your Dread Enemy, the Devil, Won’t Win

These are the readings for the Third Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Adam and Eve ruined everything for everyone. They destined themselves for death. They took the perfect world that God created for everyone and put it under constant attack from all the demons. But God made a promise almost immediately. God said he would send a descendant of Eve to crush Satan’s power. Jesus, that descendant, demonstrated his authority over Satan even before he rose from the dead.

First Lesson – Genesis 3:8-15

Why were Adam and Eve hiding from God?

Adam and Eve hid from God because his nearness exposed their guilt. Satan had promised Eve that she would be like God; instead, Adam and Eve became fools, thinking they could hide from the One who sees all. And Adam and Eve ran away from their best friend, rather than turning to him and repenting. How tragic when we do the same!

How did Adam and Eve respond to being “found out?”

Adam blamed Eve. Eve blamed the snake. Adam, in effect, blamed God for the situation he was in that supposedly made him fall (“the woman you put here with me…she gave me…”) Look at your own response to being found out for your sin. Real repentance owns up to the full guilt of your reactions, as well as your previous actions.

How did God respond to Adam and Eve’s deadly fall?

God responded in amazing love by providing a way of escape. He set up the only plan to undo the damage of sin. He promised that a “seed” of the woman (Jesus) would crush Satan’s head, even when his own heel was struck. That promise came true when Jesus died for us and rose again.

Traditional Second Lesson – 2 Corinthians 4:13-18

What gave Paul and the apostles boldness to speak?

What you have in your heart and mind will show itself in what you say. Their “spirit of faith” was based on the assurance that since Jesus was raised from the dead, all believers will follow suit.

How did this affect them in their daily pains and troubles?

They didn’t “lose heart” even though their health was deteriorating, and circumstances were hitting them hard. They saw those as “momentary” in comparison with what they were going to experience in eternity with Jesus. Instead those things helped them keep focus on what is eternal rather than the common short-sightedness connected with the material world.

Supplemental Second Lesson (Revelation 20:1-6)

In Revelation 1:18, Jesus said he holds the keys of death and Hades. Who, then, is the angel?

This angel seems to be Jesus himself.

Will Jesus reign on earth for 1000 years before judgment day?

No, Jesus will not reign visibly on earth for 1000 years before judgment day. He is reigning right now in heaven for 1000 years (a picture of the New Testament era). Those beheaded for their faith reign with him. They are winners, though when they died, they seemed losers to the world.

Gospel – Mark 3:20-35

What accusation did the religious leaders level against Jesus?

The leaders said that Jesus was demon-possessed (possessed by Beelzebub, “Lord of the Flies”). They claimed Jesus must be one of them if he could drive demons out.

How did he counter their argument?

Jesus said Satan could not survive if he worked against himself. “A house divided against itself will not stand.”

Is there any sin for which people will not be forgiven?

Those who turn against the Holy Spirit’s workings in their life through the gospel and fall away from Christ shut him out. They persistently wall themselves off from the only thing that could save them—God’s forgiveness.

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It’s a mess in here – Womens Devotion

It’s a mess in here – Women’s Devotion

Last night I dreamed that my children and I traveled a great distance to visit a dear friend. While my friend and I settled into a long conversation, the kids went off to play. Suddenly, my friend became angry and asked me to leave. Surprised by her anger, I took a moment to survey my surroundings and knew exactly what had gone wrong. In just a few short minutes, my kids had completely trashed the place. Embarrassed and in shock, I attempted to have them clean up. As I helped one child clean up, another child would create a new disaster worse than the first. Finally, after what seemed like hours of cleaning and getting nowhere, I sat bolt upright in bed, wide awake. As I made my way to the kitchen and flipped on the light, the reason for the dream became apparently clear. The mess wasn’t just a dream; it was the reality of my life at the moment.

While I may be hesitant to admit it, my mess isn’t just limited to the house I share with a husband and four kids. It is the reality of my spiritual life as well. This week I was going to master that pet sin. Today, I was going to be patient with my overloaded schedule and my overtired kids. This week I was going to give myself to others instead of getting so overworked about my own problems. Today, I was going to be like Mary. I was going to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him. Instead, I was Martha fluttering around absorbed in distractions that really don’t matter. Daily, as I look in the mirror of God’s law, it’s evident that it’s a mess in here. Sins pile up, doubt and worries grow, and guilt threatens to bury me under its weight. Try as I might to clean things up, it just keeps getting worse and worse. Horrified that others might see the chaos, I attempt to create a facade that everything is in order. Yet, that doesn’t change my situation. It’s a mess in here and I can’t get it cleaned up.

Thankfully, that cleaning job isn’t up to me. Again and again, as I look at the clutter and disorder in my life, Jesus redirects my eyes. Right before Jesus began his public ministry, John the Baptist’s disciples thought he might be the Messiah. John redirected their gaze. “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) When the disciples were dealing with their own denial, desertion and the death of their dear friend, Jesus redirected their gaze. “Peace be with you… Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself” (Luke 24:36-38).

When we get too caught up in the mess we’ve made of our lives, Jesus redirects us. Through his Word, he reminds us that it isn’t about us. He invites us to see the Lamb of God walking along the banks of the Jordan River living the perfect life we could not. He invites us to put our fingers in the nail marks and see the death he died for us. He invites us to see him alive on that first Easter morning and to fall on our knees before him, clasping his feet in worship. We too can be filled with joy knowing that our Lord and Savior has arisen and conquered death. ALL our sins have been washed clean. Because of Jesus, our sins no longer condemn us. Instead we stand in His grace. The sins, anxieties and messes of this life will be with us until we leave this world. But in the midst of all those trials, Jesus gives us peace that transcends all understanding.

Even though we are armed with this peace and joy, the devil continues to tempt us with his lies. The devil wants us to turn our eyes away from the one who does all things well and back to ourselves. He wants us to believe that we’re not worthy, that we’re nothing but failures, or that we’re just too big of a mess for anyone to handle. Instead of listening to the devil’s lies, listen to the gentle, loving voice of our Savior reminding us, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22). Even if my life looks like a catastrophe right now, this moment is part of God’s plan. Yes, this very moment that looks anything but perfect is woven into God’s perfect plan for me. Although I may see only chaos and disaster right now, I know how the plan ends. It ends in eternal perfection and joy at Jesus’ side in heaven.

Even better, I don’t have to make excuses before God. He knows how messy it is in here. I don’t have to explain why it happened or feel embarrassed about it. Jesus loves me in spite of it. I get to come before him daily in repentance confident that he’s already got the mess cleaned up. By his grace, God has washed me clean in the blood of the Lamb. Through faith in Jesus, he doesn’t even see the mess anymore. He sees me completely clean, completely forgiven, and dearly loved wearing a perfect white robe of righteousness.

Written by Katie Martin
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey

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Fifth Sunday after Epiphany

Jesus is Revealed by His Tireless Compulsion to Preach the Gospel

These are the readings for the Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany.

God’s Word for This Week

In all three lessons we read today, people are hurting. Jesus reveals himself as God by healing the people of Capernaum. Why doesn’t he take all hurts and troubles away from us now? We do not know, but his Word promises that he has power over sickness and the devil, and his Word gives many examples of God using evil for our good. Jesus himself did not stay in Capernaum to be their miracle man. He traveled throughout Galilee. First he prayed—perhaps that his popularity would not go to his head and keep him from going to the cross for us.

First Lesson – Job 7:1–7

How was Job feeling about his life?

Job was frustrated with his lot in life. Tired and depressed, Job figured that he would never be happy again. Job had lost his desire to proclaim good news about his Savior God.

Why did Job feel the way he did?

Job had lost his fortune, his children, and his reputation. Then he lost his health, too. His friends figured that he had done something terrible to deserve such treatment from God. Job resented them and their accusations. God seemed distant and unfair. Job’s suffering led him to discouragement and despair.

Job had not lost his faith in God. How can you tell?

Though frustrated, tired, and depressed due to all the calamity touching his life, Job still addressed God in prayer (verse 7).

Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 9:16-23

How much was Paul being paid to preach?

Paul was preaching to the Corinthians free of charge, not using his right as a minister of the gospel to be paid for his work among them (cf. 1 Co 9:15). Normally this would bring disappointment, but Paul boasted of the situation. He was motivated to preach by the gospel, not by payment.

What does Paul mean: “I have become all things to all men”? (Verse 22)

Paul is referring to the servant attitude he had taken toward his listeners. Although as a Christian Paul had been given complete freedom in Christ in matters of conscience, he surrendered his Christian freedom in order “to please everybody in every way” (1 Co 10:33). He did this so that he might have an opportunity to preach the gospel.

What was Paul’s motivation to preach?

Paul was motivated by the freedom that Jesus gives through the gospel of forgiveness. He couldn’t help but proclaim that message of forgiveness to others. He had a tireless compulsion to preach the gospel.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Romans 8:28–30

Earlier Paul has said that we know that the whole world is groaning as in pains of
childbirth. What else do we know?

We also know that all things work together for good to those who love God, whom God has called to faith.

God’s purpose is not necessarily to make us happy now. What is his eternal purpose?

God’s purpose now and forever is to conform us to the likeness of his Son. This is why he chose us to be believers before he made the world. (What grace!)

What unbroken chain does Paul want us to picture?

The unbroken chain of God’s grace is that those God predestined in eternity to be his children, he also called to faith in Jesus here in time. Those he called he also declared innocent in his courtroom for Jesus’ sake, and those he justified, he also glorified. We are not on the new earth yet, shining like the sun, but because of God’s grace it is as good as done. (What amazing grace!)

Gospel – Mark 1:29–39

How did Jesus feel after a long day of ministry?

Jesus was worn out and looking for solitude. People were demanding an audience with him. Sadly, it seems that they were more interested in earthly blessings (miracles of physical healing) rather than the heavenly blessings that Jesus had to offer: the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

How did Jesus respond to the demands of the people?

Jesus left and went to other villages, realizing that his primary mission from the Father was to preach the gospel and bring eternal healing to souls. He had a tireless compulsion to preach the gospel.

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Christ is Your Glue – November 25, 2017

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:13-20

Christ is Your Glue

Daily Devotion – November 25, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 1:13-20

See series: Devotions

Your body is made up of 100 trillion microscopic things called “cells.” Cells are the basic unit of life, the foundation of every living thing. And the glue that literally holds those 100 trillion cells together is called laminin. Laminins are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of your body to the next cell. Without laminins, you would literally fall apart. The coolest thing about laminins is what they look like. The glue that holds you together, the foundation upon which your body is built, comes in the shape of a cross.

In speaking about Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul had this to say: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Cross-shaped laminins literally hold your body together, and the eternal life that Jesus Christ purchased for you when he died on the cross in your place is the foundation of your faith, the glue that holds your entire life together. No longer do you need to worry about where you will spend eternity—Jesus has made things peaceful between you and God now and forever. Jesus has freed you from being a slave to sin and now empowers you to say “no” to its temptations. And when we fail to say “no” to sin, Jesus is ready with his forgiveness to lift us back up and empower us to live as his children.

There is no need to worry about your life now or ever because Jesus, both true God and true man, is not only your Savior, but also your King. He is in control of your life. He is going to hold you together in every way.

Christ my King, I know you will never let me down. You will hold my life together in every way. When I forget about that, forgive me. And then lead me through the precious promises of your Word to trust that with you holding me together I can handle anything now and forever. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and
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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Be patient – Womens Devotion

Be patient – Women’s Devotion

Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2b

My charming, articulate and all-around lovely three year-old daughter still is not potty trained. We were making fantastic headway and had even switched over to big girl panties. Then she started going through three or four outfits a day.

Now, it can be a struggle just to get her on the toilet. Once parked there, she often asks for privacy, and I leave to stand just outside the always-propped-open door. The other day, as I was heading for my post, she called back to me: “Mom, let me know if you need me! And let me know when your patience is gone! I love you!”

Since then, she regularly inquires about my patience, and my husband’s. When I call him on his way home from work, she fires questions into the phone: “Daddy, so, how’s your drive? And how’s your day? And how’s your patience?”

How’s your patience? A great question, really. This little girl, young as she is, certainly comprehends that Mom or Dad’s patience-o-meter is critical to the whole family’s well-being.

Patience running out? Uh oh. Dark clouds ahead. Patience gone? Winter storm warning!

“Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” St. Paul’s passionate appeal to the Ephesian Christians, and again to the Colossians (3:12-13), is as relevant to my intimate family relationships in 2017 as it was to the first century Christian church.

Be patient.

Be patient with the child who “refuses” to be potty trained. Be patient with the husband who arrives home exhausted from a trying day and harried commute. Be patient with the wife who forgot (again) to pay the medical bill propped up against an old banana on the kitchen table.

We continually bear with our family members and strive to put up with their foibles and faults not because they deserve patient treatment. We know they often don’t. We practice constant “long-suffering” (see the King James Version of this verse) simply for the sake of God’s perfect patience with us.

He bore with us in love when he came to live as one of us. His whole life on earth, his every interaction with others, and his submissive death on the cross displayed the long-suffering that accomplished our salvation. He paid for all our sins of impatience. Through faith in him, Jesus’ lifestyle of humble, tireless patience is credited to us.

And even now when we stumble, his patience towards us never runs out. He is always with us, forgiving us, reassuring us, and enabling us to reflect his perfect patience to those around us, especially to those closest to us.

So, how’s your patience, sisters?

Resting secure in God’s boundless patience, we can say with confidence that, yes, we have the patience to meet the day’s frustrations and challenges. Today and every day.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you know intimately the challenges that I face in showing patience toward the people you have put in my life. I have failed so often to bear with others in love. Forgive me. Thank you, dear Savior, for paying in full the price for these failures. Thank you for your life of perfect patience, lived in my place. Give me strength today to reflect your patience to others. Amen.

Written by Mollie Schairer

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My people, my God – Womens Devotion

My people, my God – Women’s Devotion

Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.
Ruth 1:16

They were simple baby tears from a precious little girl who was over-tired and missed her momma. So I rocked her, whispered prayers, and sang about Jesus. My singing had softened to a hum and in the quietness of our cuddling a creak in the rocking chair drew my thoughts…

You see, the rocking chair came from her great-great grandmother, and it had been doing its job for more than 100 years. I thought about the weary arms that had rested in this chair; an old pastor from rural Minnesota, godly farmers that loved their land, women that loved Jesus, and mothers that lovingly nurtured their children. They were quiet, humble people that worked hard and were kind to others. This was the family I married into—generations of German Lutheran immigrants who settled in the Midwest; people who recognized that a new life in a new land was a gracious gift from a good God.

As I recounted the blessings to my husband’s family, I thought of Ruth, who spoke the words, “Your people will be my people and your God my God” (Ruth 1:16). Ruth, a Moabite, married into an Israelite family and became a part of God’s family by grace. Does that make you wonder how different it was for her to live in a home that belonged to the Lord of Israel? Do you think she was in awe of a loving God who had made a covenant of grace? Did she joyfully embrace the new life and family she had been given? Yes. Undoubtedly, yes.

But tragedy left Ruth and her mother-in-law widowed and Naomi was determined to return to Bethlehem alone. Ruth would not let her leave. “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.” Ruth’s famous words did not merely reflect a love for her mother-in-law, but faith in the God of Israel and love for his people. She wasn’t weighing the best place to find another husband, she was being led by the Holy Spirit to walk by faith. She was compelled by the love of God to remain a part of his family; to live with “my people” and “my God.”

My People

The people Ruth had grown to love in Naomi’s home were no different than those we love today. People washed into the family of God through baptism though they didn’t deserve it, sinners who are loved and forgiven because they have a merciful God. Paul points us to the grace of God when he quotes Hosea, “I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people” (Romans 9:25). He reminds us that we all came from outside the family of God. We were hostile to God and one another, born in the sinful image of man. But now, as his people, we are so intimately connected to the Lord and one another that we are called the body of Christ. We are hands and feet that cherish our eyes and ears and inner parts. We are a people as diverse as the world yet individually designed by a Creator God to be part of a family. Grasp the richness of that concept! We are a family, a body, a people united in Christ; filled with love, called to live in forgiveness and given one purpose!

Ruth’s words, “My people” ring with a sense of confident belonging; and her words continue to echo the blessing that is ours as well. God has given us relationships in Christ that will bless us in ways we cannot imagine. Brothers and sisters that stand beside us in faith when we struggle; unknown people of prayer that lift us up before our Mighty God. My people—our people—are those who have gone before us in faith, those who worship with us in church, and those who share our faith in Jesus as the only Savior from sin. Yes, they are our babies and our grandparents and our family members—but our “people” are those who have been chosen by God and bound together through the cleansing blood of Christ. We are given these relationships to reflect Christ in a world of Moabites; to walk together in a bond of love like Ruth and Naomi through tragedy and blessing. He made us a holy nation, a “people belonging to God” (1 Peter 2:9), to declare his praise in worship, prayer and Christian living. This is what it means to belong and to be a people; to live united in the holiness that was given by our gracious God!

My God

But earthly love and belonging are not enough. God’s desire is to bring all his children home for an eternity of perfect glory. He gave his Son, Jesus to die on a cross and make each one of us a child of God—and being called his child is very, very personal. That is my God. That is your God. It is our God who comes with promises of forgiveness and everlasting life. It is our God who has been faithful to generation after generation. Our God is holy, righteous and all powerful; he searches our hearts and knows our deepest thoughts. God is our compassionate and gracious Father, abounding in love and faithfulness. He is the creator of the earth and the author of salvation, yet he has called us by name and says, “You are mine” (Isaiah 43:1).

It’s hard to fathom the infinite majesty of a Holy God and realize that he not only knows me—he loves me! The personal relationship we have with him comes through the blood of Christ. This is not a generic “spirituality” that strives to transcend social existence but a real, living relationship with a real, living God. And the Lord understands us so well that he gave us ways to grow in our relationship—things we can touch to deepen our faith. We have the Word of God and Sacraments where he comes to us over and over again, not to just speak of love, but to actually strengthen our faith. “My God” proclaims the connection we have with the Lord because of grace and the means through which he strengthens our faith; it is personal, intimate, and living. The power of Ruth’s confession is ours, but even more, Ruth’s God is our God. Rejoice in the overwhelming truth that you have an amazing God who sacrificed his Son to make you his own. He is your God.

Many believers were born into Christian families and renewed through the holy waters of baptism. Some believers have spouses and in-laws that encourage their faith. But all of us have grace from a loving God and the fellowship that comes as a gift from his hand. We have people and more importantly we have our saving God!

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Less about intimacy in marriage – Womens Devotion

Less about intimacy in marriage – Women’s Devotion

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. I say this as a concession, not as a command.
1 Corinthians 7:5-6

A glimpse at 1 Corinthians 7:5-6

There are times in marriage that a Christian couple may refrain from intimacy. When Paul addresses that topic here he seems to indicate that the couple may agree on this while they give their full attention to a spiritual focus. Perhaps they want to spend extra time in prayer or bible study and they choose to set aside their intimacy as husband and wife in an effort to grow spiritually. Think of it much like the more familiar practice of fasting, where people set aside food to devote themselves to a spiritual focus. That is the idea Paul is addressing here.

However, fasting and sexual abstinence in marriage are not as familiar today and we may just skip over this verse as if it has nothing to say to us. Our spiritual growth plans don’t include abstinence in marriage so we move on to the next thought. But there are times that married couples abstain from intimacy for other reasons and perhaps Paul’s warning should be given some attention.

There are many situations that may impact a couple’s intimacy. If married couples have a new baby, they set intimacy aside for a time; or one partner may be a military member who is stationed away from the family. There are times of depression, illness, chemotherapy, or caring for a loved one with a prolonged illness. Menopause and aging may change the frequency that a couple is intimate. And to be honest sometimes the days and weeks or even months just go by for no specific reason. To these situations Paul’s words of advice ring loud and clear. “Come together again so that Satan will not tempt you.” God knows that those times may exist in a marriage but he warns that you not let them extend longer than necessary because you may be putting yourself in danger of temptation. It may take a new mother a while before she is interested or able to be intimate, and business trips or military deployments aren’t shortened for lonely spouses. One who is depressed or chronically ill may not be able to engage in sexual activity but their healthy spouse may have desires that need to be considered. Schedules are off, timing is wrong, body clocks don’t match, and time goes by. It happens—but it is your responsibility as husband and wife to keep the time in check.

Paul’s words draw us to see that while sometimes these situations cannot be helped, they should be as brief as possible. Our attention is also drawn to see the realistic truth that marriages without intimacy can be a red flag because they put people at risk of temptation. Yes, there are times it happens and couples need to be patient and understanding; they need to talk about it, and share their thoughts, struggles and possible solutions. They need to be mindful and open about the fact that God’s plan for marriage does include intimacy. If couples face longer periods without intimacy God wants us to exercise caution so that we don’t fall into temptation.

If left unchecked a spouse may be weak in fighting temptation and overlook or excuse sexual sins. Pornography calls out with its vulgar taunting. One might be tempted to find gratification for sexual desires outside the blessing of marriage. The danger here cannot be overstated. Sexual needs and desires are not easily set aside. The door to sexual temptation flings wide open with little more than a glance. It is a quick enticing moment that snares men as godly as David and as wise as Solomon. It snares godly women who are looking for love or longing for a tender relationship. Satan plants the seed that you have unbearable needs and desires that must be fulfilled; he wants you to focus on your needs and forget about God. The Lord’s way out of temptation is for husbands and wives to cling to Christ’s strength. Focus on and emulate his selfless love that looks to the good of the other. Talk about those needs and address them as a couple; get counseling or talk to your pastor. Don’t let time go by without recognizing the importance of sexual intimacy in marriage. Don’t let Satan have a foothold when one spouse is unable or struggling and the other is frustrated. Talk, pray for wisdom, and be sensitive to one another in discussing solutions.

God doesn’t establish a specific number of days or a set period of time because every couple is different and every situation is unique. There is no simple solution that will apply to everything couples encounter. But God does call husbands and wives to be wise; and to be warned; this is nothing to play with or ignore. If intimacy gets moved to the bottom of the priority list for a time, make sure the priority list gets a healthy review fairly soon. When there is failure and weakness remember the grace of Christ and his perfect forgiveness! Be patient, loving and understanding; just don’t be foolish because your flesh is very weak.

The situation Paul describes might not ring true to what you intend for your marriage but his words are the truth of God. The Lord loves marriage and gave it as a gift to husbands and wives. His instruction and encouragement is found throughout the pages of Scripture and we would do well to take these words to heart. Heed the warning, embrace the design, and trust his help and forgiveness. He wants your marriage to succeed; and our faithful Lord will bless you to that end.

Prayer: Jesus, you are the lover of our souls and the giver of good gifts. Thank you for the gift of marriage and intimacy that brings delight and strengthens love.  In your great wisdom you have brought this truth to light that we must not allow thoughtless periods of abstinence in our marriage. When the situation is difficult and intimacy must be set aside, give us patience in dealing with one another; and keep us faithful to our vows. Grant us the openness to talk about our situation and find solutions that please you and keep us close. And Lord for those times that we are careless with your gift, we pray for forgiveness and awareness. Help us see Satan as a roaring lion seeking to devour us and destroy our marriage. Grant us peace in knowing that your love and good gifts protect us and keep us close to you and one another. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor Joel Gerlach

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Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost – August 28, 2017

The Church is Meant for all People

These are the readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

The Church is meant for all people. The Prayer of the Day reminds us that it is only by God’s gift of grace that we come into his presence to offer true and faithful service. Today’s lessons teach that the gift of grace given to Israel, God also intended to give through Israel to the world. The Church is meant for all people: a display of God’s mercy and a result of the living and active Word of God.

Prayer of the Day

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift of grace that we come into your presence and offer true and faithful service. Grant that our worship on earth may always be pleasing to you, and in the life to come give us the fulfillment of what you have promised; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

First Lesson – Isaiah 56:1, 6-8

Agree or disagree. In the Old Testament, God intended the promises of salvation only for the Israelites, his chosen people.

Disagree. While God generally spoke his promises to his chosen people, he did not abandon those of other nationalities. In the Old Testament, God extended his forgiving love to the Ninevites through the prophet Jonah, blessed a Syrian officer through the testimony of a young Israelite servant girl, and inspired King David to write: “Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all people,” to name but a few.

The words of this lesson came to the mind and mouth of our Savior when he confronted the gross perversion of temple worship in Mark 11. Through Isaiah God told the world that God-fearing Gentiles would always have a place within his temple. Yet in his temple on earth, the religious leadership turned the court of Gentiles into a marketplace that robbed both man and God. Jesus cleansed it of both the commerce and corruption and quoted this lesson. The godly Gentiles described are the exact opposite of the Jews in Matthew 15. God in his grace calls the Gentiles into his presence and makes his Church a house of prayer for all nations.

Second Lesson – Romans 11:13-15, 28-32

How was Israel’s rejection of the Gospel a blessing for the world?

The rejection by the people of Israel finally caused the apostles to direct their preaching instead to the Gentiles. While we do not rejoice in the loss of souls among the Jews, this new focus did bring unprecedented numbers of Gentiles into the family of God.

What hope still exists for the Jewish people?

It is still God’s desire that all should be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. The amazing condition is that their very life of disobedience is an opportunity for God to extend his mercy. The same call God gave them in the Old Testament he gives them today—God’s promises are irrevocable.

This is the twelfth in a series of sixteen lessons that run through Pentecost 17. On this day celebrating faith for the Gentiles, St. Paul warns his Gentile readers against any pride on their part or prejudice against the Jews. Note the point of this Apostle to the Gentiles: he reaches out to the Gentile with the hopes of also winning the Jew. Verse 15 makes the point of our Gospel lesson. Rejection by the people of Israel meant Christ would be preached to the Gentiles. How personal this statement is for Paul! How many synagogues had he preached in, only to be cast out and make his way to the Gentiles? But yet Israel retains its dual status: enemies that are beloved. When the nation of Israel turned from its Savior God and his Messiah, God set his face against them as enemies of the Gospel. But yet God’s call and his Word of promise remain. Such is grace, that God does not love the lovable, but makes the unlovable his dear possession. Just look at what he did with the disobedient Gentiles! Both Jew and Gentile apart from Christ languish in the fearful prison called “Disobedience.” God shut them up together that locked thus, all hope and all self-help were gone. Disobedience was all they had and all they could bring forth. Only one door permits one to leave this prison, and it is inscribed: “God’s Mercy.” (R.C.H. Lenski)

Supplemental First Lesson – Joshua 2:8-21

It is reasonable that spies would hide themselves in a house of prostitution. It is reasonable, too, that this prostitute Rahab tried to cut a deal to preserve her life in the face of the Israelite onslaught that the whole city knew was coming. But what reason is there that she did it out of faith in the LORD? What reason did she find to have faith in the God of free and faithful love?

There is no reason for that but the unreasonable gift of God worked in her heart by the living and active Word of God. Clearly, God meant his Church to be for all people. But he didn’t stop there! What reason could there be that this foreign woman, this prostitute from a godless country, that hers would be the womb through which line of the Blessed Seed would descend? There is no reason for that at all. That can only be grace. Grace meant for all people.

Gospel – Matthew 15:21-28

Note the context of chapter 15. The children of Israel—and especially their religious leaders—found nothing but fault in Jesus of Nazareth. The chosen people of God to whom belonged the patriarchs, the promises, the covenant and the temple, could see nothing in Christ but a breaker of man-made traditions. Jesus’ words to them could not be harsher. They were the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophesy: their outward rites and rituals belied an inward spiritual emptiness. The very people who should have been closest to Christ were most distant. So Jesus distances himself from them and goes to the Gentile land of ancient paganism, Tyre and Sidon. There he finds a most inexplicable thing: the Greek text notes it as both surprising and extraordinary: ἰδοὺ γυνὴ Χαναναία (Look! A woman, a Canaanite woman). After leaving the land of God’s chosen people, Jesus finds a woman—a Canaanite woman—who received the Word of God and trusted in God’s promises in a way that shamed every one of the religious teachers. The male leaders of God’s people failed to recognize him, but behold! Look carefully! A woman, a Canaanite woman, cries out, “Kyrie eleison!” (Lord, have mercy!) And to whom does she cry? She called him “Lord, Son of David,” with all of its messianic implications. How amazing is the grace of God that chooses the weak and lowly things of the world to shame the wise and proud. Only twice are we told that Jesus called someone’s faith great. Both were Gentiles, and both exhibited a God-given trust in the Word and promises of God made man.

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Happiest Day of My Life – August 18, 2017

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

Happiest Day of My Life

Daily Devotion – August 18, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 1:21

See series: Devotions

A teacher asks her second-grade class to draw a picture of the happiest day of their lives. After they turn in their assignments, she straightens them into a pile and begins to scan through them. She pauses at one picture. The picture is of a funeral. She looks for the name at the top and calls the student up to her desk. When she asks him to explain, he tells her the happiest day of his life will be his funeral. The happiest day because he will go to heaven.

When the Christian Paul wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he was expressing the heart of being a Christian.

From the Bible, Christians understand and believe that they are full of sin. They see the selfishness inside themselves. They see how much they resent God commanding them to do things they don’t want to do. They realize how they really have nothing to offer God for him to look on them with favor.

They also understand and believe how much God loves them. Jesus lived a completely innocent and sin-free life. He then covered himself with all the garbage of our sin and guilt. Jesus took all the blame and all the shame we deserve. He stood still under the crushing justice of God’s anger over our sin. His sacrifice guaranteed no Christian will ever experience even an ounce of God’s justice.

Christians understand and believe that heaven is waiting for them. When they die, Jesus will welcome them into that place filled with joy and peace, where there is no sadness, and sorrows no longer exist. It’s no wonder Christians look forward to the day when they leave their pains, their aches, and their struggles behind to gain the perfect happiness of living with Jesus forever!

The same love from Jesus that fills Christians with hope also fills them with purpose. Jesus’ love leads believers to want to serve Jesus in any way and in every way they can. They live to give glory to Jesus.

I’m looking forward to my funeral. In the meantime, I thank Christ he’s given me another day to serve him.

What about you?

Jesus, thanks for giving me heaven. I can’t wait to be there with you! In the meantime, help me live for you, serving you with my whole life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and
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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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost – August 7, 2017

The Christian Seeks Spiritual Wealth

These are the readings for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

The Christian seeks spiritual wealth. This Sunday’s readings are centered on the very ancient Prayer of the Day. For nearly 1600 years God’s people on this day have prayed that God might give them true spiritual wealth. “Teach us always to ask according to your will that we may never fail to obtain the blessings you have promised.” What a magnificent prayer for the materialist world in which we live! Our lessons today show people who have come into great wealth, but yet this earthly wealth only serves to illustrate where true treasure lies. Today we see that true, spiritual wealth can only be found in God and his eternal blessings for us in Christ.

Prayer of the Day

O Lord, your ears are always open to the prayers of your humble servants, who come to you in Jesus’ name. Teach us always to ask according to your will that we may never fail to obtain the blessings you have promised; through Jesus Christ, your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

First Lesson – 1 Kings 3:5-12

What would you have asked for? If anything in the world could be yours, what would be your request? God only gave one man the choice between unlimited riches and spiritual wealth. Can you imagine facing his dilemma? What should I pick, temporal blessings or eternal ones? What should I value, the things of this world or the things of God? How well Solomon expressed the words of our prayer for today, to ask according to God’s will. We marvel at his faith in choosing great wisdom over great riches—especially since we so often fail in the pitifully small choices we make! It’s not for all the riches in the world that we turn down spiritual wealth, but for paltry over-time hours, or a little extra in the check book that we shaved off our offering. For such small things we are willing to trade away opportunities for true spiritual wealth. Look at Solomon and see an example of what God means by spiritual wealth. He doesn’t mean we need to live as mendicant monks; he doesn’t ask us to forgo all earthly treasure. He just doesn’t want us to value them more than the pearl of great price. After choosing spiritual treasure, God blessed Solomon in unbelievable ways. (Do the math on the twenty-five tons worth of gold that was part of Solomon’s annual income.) Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given you as well.

Second Lesson – Romans 8:28-30

This is the ninth in a series of sixteen lessons that run through Pentecost 17. Paul explains the spiritual wealth that belongs to every Christian. Like the man who found treasure buried in the field, we brought no merit or worth to our calling. Rather, we were chosen. The surprising grace of God found us and gave us the ultimate treasure: predestined, called, justified, and glorified.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Timothy 6:17-21

Could Paul’s words be more timely or appropriate for this generation? He instructs preachers everywhere to warn the rich about the two pet sins of the wealthy: arrogance and false hope. Mankind so easily falls in the error of thinking that earthly treasures can provide security or a sense of worth. In our affluent society both of those sins run rampant in many a Christian heart. God commands us not to trust in earthly treasure because he wants us to have a firm foundation on which to stand, a certainty on which to place our hope. That can only be found in spiritual wealth. God richly provides for us, and then we give thanks by being rich in good deeds. Spiritual wealth is certain and secure, for it is treasure laid up in heaven. How can we possibly carry out this command? Teach us to ask according to your will that we may never fail to obtain the
blessings you have promised.

Gospel – Matthew 13:44-52

Jesus’ parables teach us to seek spiritual wealth. Both of the men in the parables found great treasure. For one it was a complete surprise, as unexpected as it was valuable. For the other it came from an expert search by a discerning man. Before they found these new treasures, both men no doubt valued what they previously owned. But once they saw this new treasure, see how little they valued all else they had! The spiritual wealth of Christ and his Gospel puts everything else into perspective; in fact it marginalizes all else. The importance of this truth comes to light in the parable of the net. All people, rich and poor, will be caught up. Only those who found true spiritual wealth are spared the furnace. Jesus concludes with an encouragement for the preacher of the Gospel: you have found true wealth in Christ; you have been given a storeroom full of treasures new and old. Bring them out to God’s people with joy and delight.

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Holy tasks – Womens Devotion

Holy tasks – Women’s Devotion

Last February my pastor asked me if I would be willing to try my hand at making communion bread for church during Lent. He wanted to try something different in worship and thought this might work. Knowing that I am willing to try new things and love to cook he thought I would be interested in the project. I spent time researching recipes, deciding if the bread would be sweet or plain, picking the pattern for the surface, trying different thicknesses, baking it for different lengths of time, tasting it, and breaking it. Overall, the recipe is simple, the process easy. The challenge is that I cannot stop being amazed at what this simple bread will be playing a part of in the Lord’s Supper. At some point Jesus’ body will be in, with and under this bread.

Did you realize the doctrine of vocation is all wrapped up in the project? God is using us to do his work. God using me to make the bread that will be in, with, and under the body of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion bringing his children the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.  What an amazing miracle wrapped in a humble task! The text from “Lord Jesus Christ thou Hast Prepared” aptly summarizes my feelings:

Though reason cannot understand,
Yet faith this truth embraces;
Your body, Lord, is even now
At once in many places.
I leave to You how this can be;
Your Word alone suffices me;
I trust its truth unfailing.
(Christian Worship 312:5)

My pastor gave me this task to serve my church family. But it has given me the opportunity to reflect on Holy Communion. I have re-read what I know on real presence. I have studied my catechism and God is pulling me closer to him.

I approach the task of making communion bread with care because I know its purpose. What would happen if I approached every task with the same craftsmanship and care? What could be accomplished if I thought of the end result instead of just today? In this task it is easy to see the connection between my task and God’s purpose as there are tangibles and only a few steps between making the bread and Holy Communion. It is harder to comprehend when we cannot see the end and have to trust our Heavenly Father. But the faith that I have in the unseen in Holy Communion is the same faith that I should carry with me in every task.

As you reflect on the miracle of Holy Communion, instituted on Maundy Thursday, also reflect on the miracle that every day in every task you are doing, it is God’s work. It is work that he prepared in advance for you to do.

With the Lord begin your task; Jesus will direct it.
For his aid and counsel ask; Jesus will perfect it.
Every morn with Jesus rise, and when day is ended.
In his name then close your eyes; Be to him commended.
(Christian Worship 478:1)

Written by Rachel Fritz
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey

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Show me – Week of March 13, 2017

Show me – Week of March 13, 2017

Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, O LORD, your great mercy and love for they are from of old.
Psalm 25:4-6 (NIV 1984)

ECME Devotion – March 13, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 25:4-6

See series: ECME Devotions

How many times throughout the course of the day do you show a child how to complete a task? How many times do you model proper manners for a child? How many times during the day do you guide a child through right and wrong behavior? Our days are filled with these activities. They’re simply part of our job. We all have a teacher we fondly remember because they guided us in all the same ways as they brought learning to life for us.

Better than any earthly teacher, you and I have the master teacher, Jesus the Lord, who clearly shows us the path and lays out the way for us in the Bible. His words teach us the truth, and his life and ministry show us how to love. The words of David in these verses are a prayer asking that God show him the way and guide him on the path of life with the truth of the Bible. These words can and should be our daily prayer too.

These verses also plead for the Lord to remember his mercy. God’s mercy is that he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. We are sinful. We daily do things that are wrong. And yet, the Lord forgives us! The last words in these verses ask God to show us his mercy and love. We can confidently approach the Lord and ask for mercy, and his mercy is freely given to us.

As caretakers of young children, it is our responsibility to guide them through tasks. Thank the Lord, that He has shown us the path and guides us with the truth every day of our lives!

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father please show us the way and guide us in all that we do. Thank you for the daily mercy that you show to us. Please grant us wisdom and guidance as we teach your little lambs. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we help prospects see that God’s mercy is a gift freely given to them?

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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If Only… – March 8, 2017

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. … The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” … Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 2:7, 15–17, 3:1–7

If Only…

Daily Devotion – March 8, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 2:7, 15–17, 3:1–7

See series: Devotions

“If only… I had more money.”

“If only… I had a better relationship with my family.”

“If only… I could just find the right job.

It’s not only greed. It’s not only a desire for more. It’s a complete lack of faith in God to provide all that’s good. Adam and Eve fell into that trap.

“If only… we could have our eyes opened and be like God. If only we could know evil, as well as good. If only we could enjoy something more than what God has already given.”

What more could God have given them? What more could God give us? We have from him all that we need and so much more.

Yet we are not content with him. “If only …”

If only there was a way out of this trap we have fallen into. If only God would take pity on us and forgive us for wanting more than him. If only there was a Rescuer to set us free from our foolish sin and greed and mistrust of God. If only there was a way to escape the curse of death that we have brought on ourselves.

It’s more than “if only”–it’s a rock-solid, gospel-truth promise of God: the “offspring of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) has crushed the serpent’s head for us. His name is Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We don’t need “if onlys”. We have a gracious, forgiving Savior who is our all in all.

Dear Father, forgive me for wanting more and failing to trust you for all. Thank you for forgiving me and saving me through Jesus, your Son. In him, I have all I could ever want. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and
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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Angels watching over me – Week of March 6, 2017

Angels watching over me – Week of March 6, 2017

For He will command His angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
Psalm 91:11-12 (NIV 1984)

ECME Devotion – March 6, 2017

Devotion based on Psalm 91:11-12

See series: ECME Devotions

Close your eyes for a moment and think about outside time on the playground with a class of three, four, and five-year-olds. The playground is a wonderful place where both play and learning happen. Do you see children running? Do you see children swinging? Do you see children climbing and jumping off the play structure? When children are on the playground, they seem to be fearless. They trust that they are safe and that the teachers will protect them from getting hurt. The child-like faith trusts that God is with them and will keep them safe on the playground, in school, or wherever they might be.

As adults, we tend to be aware of the danger surrounding us in this world. We might worry about the children playing on the playground or maybe we worry about the safety of a family member or friend. These verses from Psalm 91 assure us that God always protects us, giving us comfort and peace to know that he commands his angels to guard us in all our ways. When we feel ourselves getting overwhelmed with fear, this passage is a great reminder for us all.

Just as the children on the playground have the child-like faith that God will protect them, so can you and I. We can go through our day with confidence because we trust God is protecting us!

Prayer: Dear Father, thank-you for commanding your angels to guard us in all our ways. Please help us to always find comfort and peace in your protection. In your name, we pray. Amen.

A Question to Consider: How can we strive to share the comfort and peace of God’s protection with both the child and the family who are going through a difficult situation?

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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