Outward-Focused Love – July 11, 2022

Read: Ruth 1:1-19

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16,17

Outward-Focused Love

Family Devotion – July 11, 2022

Devotion based on Ruth 1:16,17

See series: Devotions

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

What will I get done today? How early will I have to get up? How hard is it for me? How can I possibly do more? Have you ever said something like that when you’re facing something new? The immediate response is focused inward and how events will impact your life.

Ruth had a life event that impacted her life. Her husband died. What a shock! Everything she knew and planned was changing. Ruth had much she needed to figure out. She also needed time to be sad. If anyone had a right to focus inward on herself, Ruth was that person.

Amazingly, this was not Ruth’s reaction! Even as her world was completely changing all around her, she still focused outward on others—like her mother-in-law, Naomi. Ruth felt the pain of losing her husband. But she knew Naomi was mourning the loss of her son. She didn’t want Naomi to be left without support or aid. Even though Naomi urged her to go back to her family, Ruth would not leave Naomi alone. Ruth had strong words as well. “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Ruth was making a promise that she was going to care for Naomi and stay with her no matter what else the Lord had in store for them.

Then we see why Ruth had this outward focus. “Your people will be my people and your God my God.” When Ruth was brought into Naomi’s family, she learned of Naomi’s God. Through this focused act of love by Naomi and her son, Ruth had the greatest love in her life. Ruth knew that she had everything she needed through God. With God’s love shining through her, she could now focus away from herself and love Naomi.

Some people may say that what Ruth did was foolish. The world believes that a person needs to take care of himself first because no one else is going to take care of him. We know that this is love focused inward. Like Ruth, our love is different. We already have everything we will ever need because Jesus has given us eternal life. Having that in our hearts, may we reflect that outward love to others!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Heavenly Father, we give you glory for your amazing love that you shower down on us every moment. Please Lord, give us strength and courage to focus our love on others. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did Ruth say to Naomi that showed amazing love?
  • Name a way we can show love to others?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How might Ruth have felt when Naomi commanded her to leave?
  • Why is remembering God’s love for us through Jesus so important if we are going to show outward love to others?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Think about times you find it difficult to show love to others. Share what’s getting in the way of it.
  • Think of at least one way you can put outward love into practice in the next few days. What’s the occasion? Who is it with? How will you do it?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022

Focused Love – Week of July 11, 2022



This is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
1 John 4:10-11



You have your list in front of you detailing the tasks for the day. It’s a long but doable list and you get right at it. Your phone rings. As you look at the number, what’s your reaction? Recently a number popped up on my phone and I’m ashamed to say that my first reaction was, “I don’t have time for this. This person never talks for less than an hour and I have too many things to do to take this call.”
As we reflect on today’s readings, we are reminded so clearly of God’s command for us—love one another. Nowhere in Scripture will you find God’s daily task list for us except the list that tells us to love one another. That’s not to say that the tasks that we do are unimportant. They most often are. God wants us to be faithful to the responsibilities he has blessed us with. However, we can be so focused on our tasks, that we lose sight of those around us.
“[God] loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” Atone means to make amends for. In this verse, we see that we aren’t the ones making the amends for our sins. Jesus is. God sent Jesus to take any and all punishment that we all deserve for our sins. Jesus made us, “at one”, in unity, with God the Father through the cross. That’s a love beyond understanding. Our response? “Since God so loved us”, since God did this for us, he tells us to turn and share that love for others.
I took that call with a less than loving attitude and soon found myself wrapped in a conversation with someone who needed an ear, an encouragement, a reminder of God’s grace and love. As I hung up, I was glad that I had picked up and ashamed of my initial reaction. What on my list was more important than the person I just spoke to?
Reflect each day, my friends, on the grace, mercy, and love that God gives us each and every day. He does so with a heart full of love for us. We don’t deserve his love and can’t earn his love, especially not by the tasks on our lists. But we can reflect and share that love out of gratitude and in praise of the love he so freely and abundantly gives us.
Get at your list but take that call. Make that call. Set time to be with someone you know who needs to hear about God’s love and grace for them. Don’t mark it off your list but keep it there each and everyday with hearts full of humble gratefulness for God’s love for us.



Prayer
Dear Father, thank you for your unending, immeasurable love for me. Please help me to have a heart open and eager to share that love with all those you have placed in my life. It’s in your name I pray. Amen

For Further meditation:

Lord of All Nations, Grant Me Grace
CW21 768  / CW93 521


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

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Your God – July 11, 2022

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.”
Ruth 1:16,17

Your God

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Daily Devotion – July 11, 2022

Devotion based on Ruth 1:16,17

See series: Devotions

Years before the woman named Ruth made the promise we read in our Bible passage today, her mother-in-law, Naomi, and her husband had left Israel and moved to a foreign country called Moab. While they were there, their two sons married two Moabite women, Orpah and Ruth. First, Naomi’s husband died, then both her sons.

Now a childless widow, Naomi wanted to return to her home in Israel. She convinced Orpah to go back to her parents, but Ruth insisted on staying with Naomi. Why would Ruth leave her home to travel with her mother-in-law to where she had no acquaintances, no family, and no prospects?

Listen to her promise: “Your God will be my God.” When she joined Naomi’s family by marriage, Ruth came to believe in the one true God. Their common faith in the coming Savior motivated Ruth to make this promise, even though it must have hurt to leave her home. Ruth knew that nothing in this world–even the familiar surroundings of her home and family–was worth losing her faith in the one, true God.

The same God Ruth worshiped is our God. He is the one true God. He is the God who came to earth in the person of Jesus Christ to rescue us from our sins and the eternal death they deserve. When you are tempted to turn from him to other things that are less important, remember what he was willing to do for you. Then you, like Ruth, will be thankful that he is your God.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I thank you that you are my God. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 10, 2022

One truth shared: Focused love leads us to find neighbors to love like Christ has loved us—no matter who that neighbor may be.

“And who is my neighbor?” . . . “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:29,37

Focused Love Finds a Neighbor Rather Than Avoiding One

“Look at that guy,” Andre thought, “No way I’m sitting by that dude!” Andre glanced to the other side of the cafeteria and saw a table full of strangely dressed girls, each with brightly poppin’ hair colors. “Ummm . . . No.”

After lunch Andre was on his way to 6th period and saw a freshman trip up the stairs and dump his books and papers everywhere. “Stinks to be that guy!” Andre laughed to his friend.

Later that night Andre lay alone in the dark in his room, mindlessly scrolling through social media. What followed was 30 minutes of absolutely trolling his peers with every snarky, sarcastic, or downright mean comment he could think of.

This was sort of Andre’s daily routine—walking through life like a social elite while trampling on the self-esteem of pretty much everyone he came across. Each day brought another round of arrogant savagery—until one Tuesday during Homecoming Week.

Andre thought his Spirit Day outfit was gonna be fire, but it totally bombed. Pretty much the whole school laughed at him all day long, and at least a dozen people posted pictures of his crazy outfit on their stories. To make things worse, a meatball squirted out of his sub at lunch and rolled down his shirt onto his pants. And then in the most epic fail, Andre tripped over a chair and fell over trying to get an extra napkin. The cafeteria erupted in laughter.

Andre felt terrible at his lunch table with his head hanging low—until another student came and sat next to him. “It’ll be alright. They’ll all forget about it by the end of the day,” the student said as he slid some napkins over. “I got you, bro.” The student happened to be the same freshman who tripped on the stairs two weeks before. “Why are you helping me and being nice to me after all I’ve done?” Andre asked.

“We’re Christians. That’s what we do. We love like Christ.” It was just one comment, but it hit Andre with a quick strike both law and gospel. He quickly remembered how sinful he had been in how he had been treating others, yet he was also reminded of how much Jesus loved even sinners like him.

The story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus tells in Luke 10 is very similar. It’s a story about a man who thought he was so much better than others, much like Andre. When Jesus told him he needed to love both God and his neighbor in order to be truly perfect, the man asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

The story Jesus told illustrates the answer. After several self-righteous Jews passed by, it was a hated and looked-down-upon Samaritan who stopped to help the man who was robbed, beaten, and left half-dead. The point is that anyone and everyone is our neighbor whom we should love, and Jesus drops the mic on the arrogant man when he says, “Go and do likewise.”

On our own, how could we be so loving? Our sinful hearts cloud our minds with so much arrogance and pride, so many biases and prejudices. Thank God that Jesus has been our Good Samaritan and beyond. He has shown perfect love that covers over us, and his loving death paid for all we have done. It’s his love alone that can fill our hearts to the point of taking the focus off ourselves and onto our neighbors. His love is what will give us both the motivation and the strength to see all our neighbors and “go and do likewise.” Look to Christ and his cross, then filled with his love, look to your neighbors and show them the same.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the pastors you have given to me. They aren’t perfect, but they are from you. Help me to honor them as I honor you. Through them, help me to lean on you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Following God – July 10, 2022

Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. 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

Following God

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Daily Devotion – July 10, 2022

Devotion based on Ruth 1:16

See series: Devotions

Following God is not always easy. He never said it would be. Jesus himself insisted that in order to follow him we must daily pick up our cross—whatever that cross might be. It has always been this way. Following God is not easy.

A woman named Ruth discovered this reality. She was not one of God’s people by birth. She was a foreigner from the land of Moab. But she had married an Israelite man and had learned about the Lord from her husband and his family. Then, tragedy struck. Her husband died along with her husband’s brother and father. When Ruth’s mother-in-law decided to go back to Israel, Ruth went with her. It was not easy. She left everyone and everything she knew. But she was determined. You see, Ruth had come to trust in the God of Israel. She could not stay in Moab and worship the false gods found there. It was not easy to leave, but if that was what it took to follow the true God, then that was what Ruth would do.

Thank God that he has forgiven us for the many times we have failed to follow him, times we have gone our own way. Thank him today by following him no matter how difficult the road might be.

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for perfectly following your Father’s will in my place. Help me bear whatever crosses come my way that I may follow you this day. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Citizens of God’s Holy Nation

Citizens of God’s Holy Nation – Women’s Devotion


“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9



Before God gave me the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom, he provided for me through a career working with immigrants. Many had escaped oppressive and corrupt governments. They eagerly anticipated the day they would become naturalized citizens of the United States. This lengthy process includes waiting a required number of years, learning English and civics, passing a citizenship test, and, finally, pledging loyalty to the United States in an emotional naturalization ceremony.

Those of us who were born in the United States became citizens automatically. We did not need to go through a naturalization process. Yet, spiritually, all of us who follow Jesus Christ are naturalized citizens of God’s holy nation.

We did not automatically become citizens of God’s nation by our births. The reality is that we were born into a kingdom darker and more evil than even the worst earthly government. We were born under a ruler more cruel and tyrannical than even the most terrible earthly despot. What is more, we had no hope of ever being able to escape that dark kingdom and live as free men and women. The Bible tells us that we were slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), living under Satan’s control (1 John 5:19), and powerless to do anything about it (Romans 5:6).

We needed someone to break the devil’s power and rescue us from sin. We needed a way to escape from Satan’s evil kingdom and gain entrance into God’s holy nation. For that reason, God sent Jesus to earth. He came to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8) and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). He accomplished his mission by living a perfect, sinless life in our place, and dying to pay the penalty for our sins. His resurrection from the dead then proved that he had crushed Satan’s power. The Holy Spirit has called each of us personally out of slavery in Satan’s kingdom of darkness. In our baptisms, God has given us a new status as full-fledged citizens of his own kingdom of perfect light.

This holy nation is comprised of you and me and all other believers from every corner of the globe. We are all holy because Jesus’ blood has cleansed us of sin, and the perfection of his life of obedience has been credited to us. We are all holy because God has set us apart from the rest of the world to serve him alone.

The naturalized U.S. citizens I came to know through my work simply bubbled over with gratitude. They were eager to tell me what this country had given them and why it was the greatest nation on earth. Their love for the U.S. shone not only in their words, but also in their work, their friendships, in short, in every aspect of their lives.

Our new lives as citizens of God’s holy nation are filled with opportunities to declare his praises. The Greek word translated “praises” in 1 Peter 2:9 literally means “excellent virtues” or “excellent works.” Witnessing with our words is one important way that we declare God’s excellent works and virtues. But we also declare his praises in everything we do. First Corinthians 10:31 says that our eating, our drinking, and whatever we do may be done to God’s glory. We declare his praises when we “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,” (Psalm 78:4) by having home devotions or by inviting neighborhood families to Vacation Bible School. We declare his praises when we show patience with our cranky children. We declare his praises when we show respect for a difficult boss. Every circumstance becomes an opportunity to give evidence of God’s excellent virtues and works.

Naturalized citizens of the United States know that a great privilege has been conferred upon them. We as naturalized citizens of a much greater nation recognize the tremendous gift that God has conferred upon us. He rescued us from slavery in Satan’s evil kingdom. He cleansed us of sin through Jesus’ blood. He made us full-fledged citizens of his holy nation. He gives us opportunities to serve him, not as slaves, but as free women and men. In every role, every relationship, and every situation, let us declare the praises of our amazing God.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the wonderful privilege and honor of belonging to your holy nation of believers. Forgive me for the times I have failed to appreciate this gift. Enable me to take full advantage of all the opportunities you give me to declare your praises. In the name of my Savior, Jesus, Amen.



Written by Mollie Schairer
Reviewed by Professor Lyle Lange





The Harvest – July 9, 2022

He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out.”
Luke 10:2,3

The Harvest

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Daily Devotion – July 9, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:2,3

See series: Devotions

When I was in grade school and high school, I worked for a couple different dairy farmers as a farmhand. I enjoyed being around the milking cows and their calves. I also enjoyed working out in the fields. In October, we would harvest the corn crop. The farmer would drive the harvester combine in the cornfield. My job was to drive a tractor from the field back to the farm pulling a wagon filled with corn to be unloaded into a corn crib. Eventually the cows would eat the harvested corn. I enjoyed doing my part in the corn harvest.

In today’s Bible reading, Jesus told his disciples that it was time for the harvest. Jesus wasn’t talking about harvesting corn. He meant harvesting the souls of the many people in his day that weren’t trusting in him as this world’s only Savior from sin, death, and hell. Jesus instructed his disciples to take this important matter to the Lord in prayer, asking God to provide the needed spiritual harvesters. Then Jesus said, “Go! I am sending you.” The disciples themselves were the answer to their prayers. They were to go and proclaim the good news of a living Savior to a dying world.

Look around in your family, neighborhood, place of work, or school. Do you see how plentiful the harvest is? All around are the souls of real people who are living and dying in unbelief and sin, tragically becoming part of Satan’s hell harvest even though their sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus. Pray to the Lord to provide the needed spiritual harvesters. And then recognize that Jesus is saying to you, “Go! I am sending you.” You are the answer to your prayer. Jesus harvested you so that you could now be his spiritual combine and harvest others for heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for harvesting my soul by bringing me to faith in you as my personal Savior from my sins. Send out workers, myself included, into your ripe harvest fields. Bless our harvesting efforts to your glory. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Sent Out on a Mission – July 8, 2022

Read: Luke 10:1-12, 16-20

[Jesus] told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. So ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Luke 10:2 (EHV)

Sent Out on a Mission

Family Devotion – July 8, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:2 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

As Layela walked into the grocery store, she looked down at the list her mom had given her. “Buy one gallon of milk, a dozen eggs, a loaf of bread, and a bottle of vanilla extract.” This was the first time Layela was sent on her own to the store. She was nervous, but ready. Her mom had shown her what to do: get a cart, where to find items, and who to ask if she couldn’t find something. Mom walked Layela through the check-out process. The last time they were in the store, Mom even had Layela do the shopping while she watched. Now it was time for Layela to do it totally on her own… and everything went better than expected! Layela got her cart, found each item on the list, asked someone to show her where the vanilla extract was, and paid for everything at check-out. Mission accomplished!

One time, Jesus sent out 72 disciples to complete a mission for him. Their mission: go ahead of Jesus and prepare the way for his coming. Jesus trained them well. He taught them to heal the sick and announce that the Savior was coming and bringing forgiveness, peace, and life. But carrying out this mission wouldn’t be easy. Some people would reject their message. Some would not welcome them into their towns. So Jesus sent them out in groups of two to help each other. They went out maybe a little nervous, but they were ready! With Jesus’ help, everything went better than expected. Mission accomplished!

Jesus sends out pastors and teachers today to carry out his mission—to preach and teach and share his good news with people around the world. They are well-trained for this mission and eager to serve, but they can’t reach everyone on their own. That’s why Jesus equips and sends us to share his good news with other people too. Who better to talk to our family members and friends, to our neighbors and classmates than us! Our message? It’s all Jesus—how he entered this world to save us, and he came to save them from sin and death too. Mission accomplished! Now it’s our turn to share that good news with others. We might be nervous, but Jesus goes with us, and he promises to bless our work. So, friends, let’s go and tell others about their Savior!

Closing Prayer:

Lord of the harvest, there are many people in our lives who need to hear about you. Give us the courage and the ability to tell them about you, their Savior. Bless our work that many more may come to know you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Layela’s mom sent her on a mission. What was it?
  • What was the mission Jesus sent 72 of his disciples to complete?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus sends us out on a mission. What makes Jesus’ mission so hard to complete?
  • How did Jesus help his 72 disciples share his good news when they felt nervous or scared? (He sent them out by twos.) How does that help?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or disagree: Only pastors and teachers are really qualified to share the gospel to other people.
  • Think of one person in your life who does not know Jesus. Why are you the most qualified to tell them about Jesus?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Collateral damage – July 8, 2022

Collateral damage – July 8, 2022


At daylight, there was a great commotion among the soldiers as to what could have become of Peter. After Herod had searched and did not find him, he interrogated the guards and ordered their execution.
Acts 12:18,19




Military Devotion – July 8, 2022

Devotion based on Acts 12:18,19

See series: Military Devotions

People in the pew with Sunday shoes may walk right past these verses. Others, who have worn the boots of combat, may stop to stare at them for a long time. They may find themselves thinking: “I know how Peter must have felt.”

James, the brother of John, the fisherman, had been executed at Herod’s command. Now Peter was arrested. He had to expect the same fate.

Miraculously, Peter escaped, but innocent people died as a result. They might be labeled as collateral damage. Peter had not planned their death. He had not wished their death. But, in a way, he caused their death. If he had not escaped, they would have still been alive. We can only wonder how often Peter thought of this as he went on with his life.

More than one person who has worn the United States Armed Forces uniform carries a picture of collateral damage in their memory. They are glad they survived the incident but regret the price that others paid as a result. Over time, that regret can grow. It can eat away at peace and joy. It can transform into guilt. God’s report on Peter’s escape shows this would be empty guilt.

Peter’s rescue was God’s doing. It was God’s plan. The responsibility lies with the Almighty. He makes no mistakes.

The night before his trial, Peter was chained between two guards. Two more guards were posted outside of the prison. None of this deterred the angel. With a bright light, he entered the cell and commanded, “Quick, get up!”

The chains fell off. “Get dressed!” “Follow me!” And, out they went, right past the guards—who saw nothing and heard nothing. The angel dropped Peter off on the street and disappeared.

Only when the sun came up did the soldiers discover their prisoner was gone. They knew they were doomed. The rule was: “Lose a prisoner, and you lose your life.”

Why did it have to happen this way? Why the collateral, the unintended, damage? Surely the God powerful enough to rescue Peter in this manner could have protected the lives of those who were only unfortunate enough to pull guard duty that night.

We wonder if Peter lamented these deaths and thought about those men in later years. He did not hate these guards! His message of the risen Savior was meant for them, too. Military people would one day make up a sizable portion of the Christian Church. Sadly, these soldiers would not be among them.

Maybe, in Peter’s mind, this was collateral damage. He surely did not intend it. But the one who planned and controlled the mission did.

The Lord God anticipated everything that took place in this operation. This includes the death of the guards. Only he knows why they were to die on that day, in this way, and not in another.

One does not need to be in a war to cause unintended affliction or death for others. It could be caused by an accident. It could be a business decision. It might simply be the wrong choice of words.

We might never know the damage we caused. Or the memory of it may burn in our hearts for years afterward.

Only God can release us from the pain of regret.

We remember Jesus teaching us to pray, “Thy will be done.”

We want his will to always be carried out. His plan is always perfect even when it doesn’t seem that way to us. Wasn’t that the case when his innocent Son was executed so guilty humans could live forever? Surely, we do not want him to change that.

That death erases any guilt we might have.

This lesson from Peter’s life has been retaught to God’s people down through the ages. We might have sin on our record. We may have regrets—but they should not be for what we are not responsible. If it is out of our hands, it is in God’s hands. One day we will see all the details and understand.

With God, there is no such thing as collateral damage!



Prayer: Heavenly Father, our faith is sometimes weak, and our understanding dim. Forgive the sins that we are not even aware of but keep us from feeling guilty when we are not. May we never find fault with what you have done. May we never regret being part of your plan! Enable us to learn the lesson taught to Peter so that we might ever walk in faith and know the blessing of your peace. In the name of Jesus, we pray this. Amen.



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

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


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I Think I Can – July 8, 2022

“But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint. Do not be afraid of them or terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.”
Ezekiel 3:8,9

I Think I Can

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Daily Devotion – July 8, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 3:8,9

See series: Devotions

“I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!” For nearly one hundred years, parents have encouraged their children to never give up, using the classic children’s book, The Little Engine That Could. With a little optimism and hard work, no mountain is too high to climb.

Yet, what we learn as children doesn’t always translate into adulthood. Why? Perhaps we’ve learned that we have limitations. Optimism doesn’t always equate to realism. Hard work doesn’t always outperform others who work harder. The truth is “putting your mind to it” doesn’t always cut it.

But thankfully, when it comes to proclaiming God’s truths, we aren’t dependent on our own strength or stamina. The very Word we have the privilege to proclaim is the same Word that fuels us with a resiliency and determination. God promises to make us “unyielding” and our “foreheads like the hardest stone.” That doesn’t mean we won’t tire while doing the work of the Lord. But it does mean with God’s help: we will endure. With God’s strength, we can run our race with perseverance and not be afraid or terrified of any enemy because God’s Word endures forever. With God’s strength, know that your toil will never be in vain.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, use your Word to provide me with stamina to be your faithful witness. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Your Mission – July 7, 2022

He then said to me: “Son of man, go now to the people of Israel and speak my words to them. You are not being sent to a people of obscure speech and strange language, but to the people of Israel.”
Ezekiel 3:4,5

Your Mission

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Daily Devotion – July 7, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 3:4,5

See series: Devotions

It’s been said that the worst thing in golf would be to hit a hole-in-one but not having witnesses. Or getting engaged and no one answers the phone to listen to your good news. When we have good news, we want to share it. Sometimes, we cannot help but share it. What if you didn’t have anybody with whom to share the good news about Jesus?

Thankfully, the Lord doesn’t isolate his messengers on an island. God sent the prophet Ezekiel, for example, to the people of Israel. What about you? Have you identified your audience? They are there. It may be intimidating to reach out to your audience but thank God you have audience.

Not only do you have an audience, but God has also uniquely equipped you to reach out to them. Sometimes we think mission work is only done among people that are different than us—a different culture, a different race, or those who speak a different language. But look around. Not every mission field has to be to people with an obscure or strange language. Your mission field may be the people you eat lunch with at work. They may be in your neighborhood or home. What an opportunity!

But what should I say to the audience that God has planted in my midst? The Lord says, “Speak my words to them.” You don’t need to make things up. You don’t need to apologize or argue. Simply speak the Word of God. God’s richest blessings as you reach out to your personal audience with the sweet message of God’s Word.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, open my eyes to see the audience that you have planted around me. Give me the courage to speak your Word to them and bless the message. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Good Shepherd Is Seen Through Faithful Shepherds – July 6, 2022

Read: 1 Peter 5:1-4

Shepherd God’s flock, that is among you, serving as overseers, not grudgingly, but willingly, as God desires, not because you are greedy for money but because you are eager to do it…And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive an unfading crown of glory.
1 Peter 5:2,4 (EHV)

The Good Shepherd Is Seen Through Faithful Shepherds

Family Devotion – July 6, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Peter 5:2,4 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

It was a pretty good Sunday for little Andy. His parents didn’t need to take him out during the service. He sang his version of the songs and even said part of the Lord’s Prayer that his parents had been teaching him. After the service was over, Andy really wanted to greet the pastor. So he ran up to the pastor, shook his hand, and with a big grin blurted out, “Good morning, Jesus!”

Why would a little child call their pastor “Jesus”? No pastor is actually Jesus. No pastor is the Good Shepherd. After all, every pastor is a human just like everyone else, so why would a little Andy call his pastor “Jesus”? It’s because he sees Jesus in his pastor.

God’s Word tells us that a pastor’s job is to watch over and care for the souls of God’s flock, like shepherds watching over sheep. A shepherd makes sure that his sheep get green grass to eat and clean water to drink. He protects them from dangerous animals and bad weather, even if he has to risk his own safety. He takes care of them when they get hurt. He puts a lot of work into taking care of those sheep, even putting their needs before his own.

Is that what Jesus calls pastors to do? Yes, but in a different way. It all starts with what Jesus did for pastors and their flocks. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus willingly and eagerly rescued us from the dangers of sin and death. He put our needs before his own. He even gave his life to give us life. Now he provides for our needs. He heals our hurts and guides us on the path to heaven.

Like the Good Shepherd, God provides pastors to care for our souls like a shepherd does for his sheep. Pastors share the love of Jesus with us. Jesus wants his pastors to serve willingly and eagerly as he did, out of love for people rather than money or power. He wants pastors to be an example for believers like us. Above all, he wants pastors to shepherd his people through the faithful preaching and teaching of God’s Word. When pastors shepherd us with God’s Word, we see Jesus through their loving care.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Good Shepherd, you care for every one of us, your sheep. Provide us with faithful pastors who will shepherd your flock with love and care like yours. Help them to feed us with your Word, and hold them close to your heart. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • In what ways is Jesus the Good Shepherd?
  • Who does Jesus provide to take care of us, his sheep?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did little Andy call his pastor “Jesus”?
  • In what ways do you see Jesus in your pastor(s)?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • One of the most important tasks of a shepherd is to protect his flock. From what does a pastor protect his church flock?
  • Why does God want us to pray for pastors? List three things you would include in such a prayer and then pray that prayer.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Messenger – July 6, 2022

Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
Ezekiel 3:3

A Messenger

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Daily Devotion – July 6, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 3:3

See series: Devotions

Do you remember the kid in kindergarten who put everything into his mouth, including paper? Were you that kid? It seemed a rather silly thing to do, even for a five-year-old. Imagine how silly it would seem for a grown adult to eat a piece of paper!

And yet, that’s exactly what God asked the prophet, Ezekiel, to do in a vision. “Eat this scroll . . . fill your stomach with it.” How strange. What was God’s point? His point was that, to be his messenger, the Lord first wants his messengers to be fed. Feed before lead.

There are at least two reasons for God’s command. One, it’s out of concern for his listeners. One of the buzzwords in church-life today is “authentic.” People aren’t looking for a “do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do” messenger. If it’s not “real” for you, they will likely have little to no interest in finding out if the message of the gospel can be of interest to them.

But it’s not just for the sake of the potential audience. It’s also for the benefit of the messenger. When digesting God’s Word with ourselves as the audience in mind, we soon realize the good news about Jesus isn’t just meant for others. It’s meant for you and me.

Whether it’s God’s righteous law or healing gospel, God’s Word will be sweet to the messenger because we know it’s his Word, which will always accomplish the purpose for which he sent it. Savor the sweetness of God’s Word.

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, I often read the Bible as an academic exercise or another thing on my to-do list. Help me to savor the sweetness of every word. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Speechless – July 5, 2022

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.
Ezekiel 2:9,10

Speechless

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Daily Devotion – July 5, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:9,10

See series: Devotions

Your friend just lost her child in a tragic car accident. You’re meeting for coffee and on the way, you think, ‘I don’t know what to say.’

Many situations may leave us speechless. It’s one thing to be speechless when trying to comfort a friend. It’s a whole other thing to feel speechless when talking to someone about spiritual matters. It can be intimidating. We may feel pressure knowing that we have the opportunity to speak words that can have an eternal effect. We may feel ill-equipped. ‘What if I say the wrong thing? What if I don’t know an answer to one of their questions?’

Before you buckle under the pressure, take comfort in a truth that God shared with one of his spokespeople, Ezekiel. When Ezekiel was commissioned to talk about spiritual matters, he could have easily said, “I don’t know what to say.” What made it worse, was that Ezekiel was being sent to people that were rebellious, obstinate, and stubborn. Yet, he could take comfort knowing that the words he would share were not his words, but God’s. “I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me.”

Knowing that the Word was coming from God’s hand to his mouth, Ezekiel could go forward in confidence. And so can you. As you encounter opportunities to speak God’s Word, know that it’s precisely that—God’s Word, not yours. His Word cuts to the heart and binds up the broken-hearted. His Word is effective. His Word is filled with power.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, take my lips and let them be, filled with messages from Thee. Amen.

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

Jesus Had to Suffer; He Had to Be Killed

These are the readings for the Fifth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Jesus, crucified for us, calls us to pick up our crosses and follow him. What love that he wanted to die for us while being cruelly abused by men and abandoned by his Father.

Traditional First Lesson – Zechariah 13:7-9

What did the LORD of hosts declare? (See verse 7.)

The LORD declared, “Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones” (Zechariah 13:7).

What does the Lord’s declaration mean? (See 13:7.)

The Lord’s declaration means that even though one man would be close to him, other men would brutally attack that man (Jesus) and scatter his dear followers.

The Lord does not say here that he will let his people be severely tested. What does he say? (See 13:20.)

The Lord says here that he himself will bring the remnant of his people into fire. He will refine them like silver and test them like gold. (That requires a very hot fire.)

Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 39:6b-12,16-23

What did Potiphar’s wife try to get Joseph, her husband’s trusted employee, to do?

Potiphar’s wife tried to get Joseph to have sexual intercourse with her.

How did Potiphar, Joseph’s master respond?

Potiphar got angry when his wife accused Joseph of trying to make fun of her (and worse). We do not read with whom he was angry, so we should not assume he was angry with Joseph; he may have been angry with his wife. In any case, Joseph was thrown in prison.

Things went well for Joseph in prison. The lesson for us?

The way things went well for Joseph in prison—part of the whole story of how God turned bad into good with Joseph and his family—teaches us to do the right thing always, for God’s sake. Following what God says may make us enemies and cause us many troubles, but God’s way is the best way. In the end, we will see it.

Traditional Second Lesson – Galatians 3:23-29

Why did God put his Old Testament law in charge of his Old Testament people, the Jews? (See 3:24.)

God put his Old Testament law in charge of the Jews before Jesus to lead them to Christ by showing them how much they needed a Savior. He wanted the burden of keeping the law to lead people to hunger for relief. His goal: declare all believers righteous through faith in Jesus.

Now that faith in Christ crucified has come, we are no longer under the tutoring and supervision of the law like young children. What are we? (See 3:26.)

Now that faith has come, instead of being like little children who need supervision, we are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 11:24-26

When Moses refused to be known any more as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, what result was he choosing?

By letting everyone know he was an Israelite, Moses deliberately chose to be mistreated.

Why did Moses think of disgrace for Christ’s sake as more valuable than the treasures of Egypt?

Moses thought of disgrace, for Christ’s sake, as more valuable than the treasures of Egypt because he did not intend to get a reward right away. He was looking ahead to a reward. (Think of what Moses turned his back on. The remains of a minor young pharaoh from that era, Tutankhamun, were found inside a coffin of gold.)

Gospel – Luke 9:18-24

How did Jesus react when Peter confessed him as God’s Anointed One? (See 9:20,21.)

When Peter confessed Jesus as God’s Anointed One, Jesus strictly warned the Twelve not to tell anyone.

Why did Jesus say he must suffer many things and must be killed? (See 9:22.)

Jesus had to suffer and die for us a) because there was no other way for us to be rescued than for a perfect substitute to offer himself willingly in our place under God’s judgment and b) because his great love for us compelled him to go through with it.

What will happen to you if you want to save your life? If you lose your life for Jesus? (See 9:24.)

If you want to save your life, you will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Jesus will save it.

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Are You Listening? – July 4, 2022

Read: Ezekiel 2:9-3:11

And he said to me, “Son of man, listen carefully and take to heart all the words I speak to you. Go now to your people in exile and speak to them. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says,’ whether they listen or fail to listen.”
Ezekiel 3:10-11 (EHV)

Are You Listening?

Family Devotion – July 4, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 3:10-11 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

Nobody listened when Ellie spoke. Ellie was a quiet, little lady with three older siblings, who all liked to talk… loudly. They rarely listened when she spoke. One day Ellie tried to ask her sister and brother to play a game with her, but they were too busy arguing. Later that day, Ellie asked her other sister to read her a story, but her sister was too busy talking with one of her friends. That evening at the dinner table, Ellie tried to tell her parents about her day at school only to have her voice drowned out by her noisy family members. Mom and Dad turned their attention to them because they were so loud! Nobody was listening to Ellie. Finally she cried out, “WHY DOESN’T ANYONE LISTEN TO ME?!?” Everyone went silent and looked at her. They were finally listening to Ellie.

Six hundred years before the birth of Jesus, God appeared to a believer named Ezekiel with a job. “Go to the people of Israel and speak my words to them.” Ezekiel was going to be a prophet who would proclaim whatever message God wanted the people to hear. Sometimes it would be good news. Sometimes it would be bad. The problem was most people were not going to listen. God described them as “hardheaded and hard-hearted.” Many would ignore or reject his message. Some would even get angry with Ezekiel. That would make his job very hard, but the people needed to hear these messages from God, so he went whether they listened or not.

Are you listening? Are you listening to this devotion? Do you listen when you hear God’s Word read or preached in worship? Do you listen when the Word is taught in school or Sunday School? Every day we are tempted to not listen when we hear God’s Word. The devil doesn’t want us to listen. There’s a part of us that may even think it’s boring. But listen! Through that Word, God speaks to us about forgiveness and peace through Jesus. So how will God get our attention? He is not going to yell, “Why aren’t you listening to me?” Instead, God uses our parents, our pastors, our teachers, and others to get our attention. Because they love us, they want to share the best news of all with us—that Jesus loves us! That’s a message worth our listening!

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, we don’t always listen to you and your Word. We get distracted. We get bored. Instead, open our ears to listen, our minds to think, and our hearts to receive all that you have for us in your holy Word. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What makes listening to a devotion sometimes hard for you?
  • Who does God send to help us listen to his Word?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What did God mean when he said the people were “hardheaded and hard-hearted”?
  • Even though sometimes it’s hard, why is it important for us to listen to God’s Word whenever we hear it read, preached, or taught?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify three distractions that keep you from listening to God speak through his Word.
  • How would you respond to a friend who tells you, “I don’t like going to church, because I get so bored”?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022

A Mission Prayer – Week of July 4, 2022



May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us—
So that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.
May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you.
The land will yield its harvest; God, our God, blesses us.
May God bless us still, so that all the ends of the earth will fear him.
Psalm 67:1-3, 6-7



“Your kingdom come.” Whenever we pray the Lord’s Prayer, we speak those words. Do you sometimes wonder just what that means? It certainly means that we want God to keep us as his dear child and when our life on earth comes to an end, we want to be with him in heaven. These words have a much broader meaning than just our desire to be with him in heaven. In this three-word phrase, we are asking God that his kingdom, his message of grace, comes to all people. Think about that. Each time we say the Lord’s prayer, we are asking that his message of salvation and grace come to all people everywhere.

Our reading for today takes that same thought and puts it into a beautiful mission prayer. We first ask God for his grace, his blessing, and that he looks on us as his dearly loved child. As our Father, God loves to answer that prayer. However, this prayer is not a simple prayer for ourselves. It’s much more. As we read the next phrase we see the result or the why for that prayer. We ask God to answer our prayer so that his ways, his power and love, could be told and known throughout the earth, in all nations.

But then what happens? As people hear about God’s grace for us and for them, they praise him. The prayer continues to ask God to lead all people everywhere to praise him. Imagine for a minute what that would look and sound like! God wants every person in every place and in every time to know him, to love and worship him, to praise him, to be his own. As ones who know and experience his grace, forgiveness, and the blessings of faith, we are asking God to lead us to reflect him in our lives to those around us. Think of the old commercial— “and they told two friends, and they told two friends.” That’s the privilege God gives us! We get to be one of his messengers!

The result? An amazing harvest of people who turn to God in faith and in praise. God will bless it. He promises this. His kingdom will come. May his salvation be known among all!



Prayer
Dear God, we ask you to be gracious to us, bless us, make your face shine on us. Use and encourage us to be messengers of your grace.  May all people, everywhere, know and praise you. It’s in your Son Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

For Further meditation:

May God bestow on us his grace, with blessings rich provide us;
And may the brightness of his face to life eternal guide us,
That we his saving health may know, his gracious will and pleasure,
And also to the nations show Christ’s riches without measure
And unto God convert them.

O let the people praise your worth, in all good works increasing;
The land shall plenteous fruit bring forth, your Word is rich in blessings.
May God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit bless us!
Let all the world praise him alone; let solemn awe possess us.
Now let our hearts say, “Amen!”

CW93 574, CW21 906 St. 1 and 3


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

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A Hand Stretched Out – July 4, 2022

Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me.
Ezekiel 2:9

A Hand Stretched Out

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Daily Devotion – July 4, 2022

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:9

See series: Devotions

“Help Wanted.” “Now Hiring.” “Apply Inside.” It seems like wherever you go, those signs greet you at the entrance. Businesses are trying desperately to field their teams so that production and performance can continue to meet demand.

Perhaps you’re experiencing the same thing at your local church. For a variety of reasons, it seems like the pastoral vacancy rates are high, resulting in empty pulpits. While that may be personally concerning for you, rest assured that the Lord has not forgotten about you. And he’s not forgotten about his Church. Even when his people have turned their backs on him, the Lord continues to stretch out his hand and call people to serve in his kingdom.

And those people aren’t always full-time prophets or pastors. Have you ever been amazed at the many people that God has used to proclaim his Word to you? Perhaps it was a parent, a friend, a neighbor, or a coach. Go ahead. Write the names down. Be amazed at the people God has used to be his instrument in reaching out to you. That’s not by accident, and it’s not a coincidence. The Lord continues to stretch out his hand to employ many people to further stretch his kingdom. And perhaps the Lord is stretching out his hand to you. Lift up your eyes. What do you see? The Lord’s hand is stretched out to you. May God bless you as you stretch out your hand, to pass along the good news of Jesus to someone else.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, increase my confidence in your control of the Church. And thank you for using so many people to reach out to me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 3, 2022

One truth shared: The ministers that God sends to us are the mask by which he proclaims his Word to us. It is good for us to put ourselves under them. They are a gift from God to us.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5

God’s Gift to You

He didn’t look like much. He wasn’t all that impressive. He was dressed in a gunny sack with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached in the wilderness. He didn’t look like much, but God sure used him. I’m talking about John the Baptist.

They didn’t look like much either. None of them had a whole lot of training, but still they had left everything to follow Jesus. They didn’t look like much, but when they went out Satan fell like lightning from heaven and demons submitted to them. Jesus used them; he spoke to people through them! I’m talking about the seventy-two disciples whom Jesus sent out as missionaries.

He doesn’t look like much. His clothes may not be trendy, and his speech might be old fashioned. He might try too hard to be cool when he’s around young people. He might make things really awkward; but really, are adults supposed to do anything less when they are with young people? He doesn’t look like much, but God sent him for you. Your pastor is God’s gift to you.

  • God gave him to you to pray with you when you are overwhelmed and stressed.
  • God gave him to you to listen to you when you are trying to make sense of your life.
  • God gave him to shepherd you, to care for you, and to lead you to Jesus.
  • God gave him as an example for you that you might learn from him and seek to imitate his faith.

He isn’t perfect, but he is forgiven. He may not be cool (let’s be honest, he probably isn’t!), but he is God’s gift to you to care for you. This is the call God has given him.

It will be good for you to hear him even if he isn’t cool. It will be good for you to confide in him. He is given by God to you to walk with you in faith and in life until you reach your eternal good.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the pastors you have given to me. They aren’t perfect, but they are from you. Help me to honor them as I honor you. Through them, help me to lean on you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Joy of Eternal Life – July 3, 2022

The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” [Jesus] replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you. However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20

Joy of Eternal Life

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Daily Devotion – July 3, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 10:17-20

See series: Devotions

On one occasion, Jesus sent his disciples into towns and villages to declare that the kingdom of God was near. Those who listened would find God’s kingdom in Jesus, the Son of God. The disciples felt the joy of spreading the good news. They were also quite impressed with the power God had given them to carry out this work.

The disciples returned overflowing with joy. Jesus rejoiced with the disciples over their success. He pointed out that when his followers faithfully proclaim forgiveness of sins in his name, Satan falls from heaven. That means Satan can no longer stand before God and accuse believers of deserving eternal death. Jesus promised continued success. The devil and his friends would not be able to stop them. God would see to that.

But Jesus did not want his disciples to get all wrapped up in the miracles they could perform. Rather, they were to rejoice that they had an eternal inheritance waiting for them in heaven.

And that is our joy too. Jesus, our loving Savior, gives us eternal life. He earned it for us by his holy life and his innocent death. Of all the things which we thank God, this is one of the greatest: the joy of eternal life with Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you that, because of what you have done for me, my name is written in heave. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Is on Your Side – July 2, 2022

“The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.”
1 Kings 19:11,12

God Is on Your Side

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Daily Devotion – July 2, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:11,12

See series: Devotions

It was oh so discouraging. The big success, which was anticipated, well, it just didn’t happen. Things looked hopeless. The work had been in vain. It was awful.

Felt that way before? Most of us have, sometime along the way. Well, you’re in good company. Elijah felt that way and told God so. As a result, God said to his prophet, “Come over here, Elijah. I want to show you some things.”

Then came the wind! And the earthquake! And the fire! But the Lord wasn’t in them.

The Lord revealed himself as a gentle whisper. It was a reminder to Elijah that our God is the God of faithful love. That our God works in ways which are often quiet, often different than what we’d expect. It was a reminder that God loves to forgive us and wrap his arms around us.

Every time you hear his Word, God is doing that for you. He’s reminding you that he loves you, that your sins are forgiven, he’s on your side. No matter how challenging life might look, if the faithful, loving God is on your side, you will be okay.

Prayer:
O faithful Lord, remind me of your love, that the things of this world might not discourage me unduly, but that I might focus on the eternal blessings which are mine because of your love. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Will I Follow Jesus? – July 1, 2022

Read: Luke 9:51-62

As they went on the way, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” He said to another man, “Follow me!” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another man also said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say good-bye to those at my home.” Jesus told him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:57-62 (EHV)

Will I Follow Jesus?

Family Devotion – July 1, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 9:57-62 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever tried to ride a fence? Not turned towards either side, but sitting on the fence with one leg on each side like riding a bike? It’s tough to ride a fence for very long. While riding a fence might give you a decent view for a little while, eventually it gets uncomfortable, even a little painful. Plus, you have to be careful about keeping your balance. If you tip too much either way, you can end up falling off the fence. It can be tough to ride a fence.

One day, Jesus met three men who seemed to be riding a fence. Would they follow Jesus or not? One of them came up to Jesus and said, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus had become pretty popular, so this man wanted to be one of his followers, to be part of the popular crowd. Yet Jesus told him that following him is not always popular. In fact, a follower of Jesus might even be asked to make sacrifices for Jesus. Would he follow or not?

Jesus asked another man to follow him, but the man told Jesus, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” The man loved his family, but his family was more important than Jesus. Jesus wanted the man to realize that following him needed to be more important than even his own family. Would he follow Jesus or not?

Another man came up to Jesus and said, “I will follow you, Lord, but first let me say goodbye to those at my home.” This man claimed that he would follow Jesus in the future, but his attention was pulled back in a different direction. Would he follow Jesus or not?

When it comes to us following Jesus, does it ever feel like riding a fence? We love to follow Jesus when it’s easy and fun, but what happens when following Jesus isn’t fun? Will we still follow him? What if following Jesus means going in a different direction than the people we love? Will we still follow Jesus? Remember this: Jesus never sat on a fence when it came to saving us. He looked ahead to the cross even though it meant rejection and separation from God because of our sins.

When it comes to you, Jesus didn’t ride the fence. Today he says, “Hop off the fence and follow me!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for not being hesitant about saving us. Thank you for going to the cross and paying for those times when we have hesitated to follow you. Help us to focus on you and follow you each day until you bring us home to heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Explain what it means to ride a fence.
  • What makes following Jesus hard like riding a fence?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • List three things or people that could distract you from following Jesus.
  • What can help you focus on Jesus as you follow him?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it impossible to follow Jesus while “riding a fence?”
  • In Luke 9:51, Jesus “set his face toward Jerusalem” where he would die on the cross. Explain what Jesus meant when he said: No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Brothers – July 1, 2022

Brothers – July 1, 2022


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




Military Devotion – July 1, 2022

Devotion based on Proverbs 17:17

See series: Military Devotions

They are brothers—though they come from different families. By ties weaved together under conditions of stress and danger, a group of people can become so tightly connected that they regard each other as true brothers, even if they are not related by blood—unless one counts spilled blood.

Civilians have heard about the Band of Brothers and have been entertained by Hollywood’s depiction. But those who have had their lives tied to a group like this know there is more to it than can be seen on the screen or explained to families.

Typically, this type of brotherhood (which can include women) is formed by former strangers undergoing such trying and dangerous times that their lives have become fused together.

For them, “I’ve got your six!” is not merely a nice phrase, but a promise that will be backed up with action.

That’s a special setting.

The Bible shows there is even more to the picture.

A brother such as this, was born for just such a time as this. The Lord God, in infinite wisdom, knew what his servants were going to run into down the path of life. He knew the time would come when they would need someone to battle alongside them.

The Lord of life controlled when these people would be born. He enabled them to have the necessary training and skills. He saw to it that these very people would be put together at this time in history. He is the one who forms the band of brothers.

We think in terms of coincidence and luck. He works by design.

It’s humbling to think that, with no input from us, we were born into a certain family, at a certain time, in a certain place on this globe. He did the same to others so they could be part of his plan for our lives.

The God who promised: “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) was preparing to keep that promise even before we were born. He arranged for the help to be there when adversity arose.

Of course, this applies to more than military persons and to situations apart from war. People of all ages and circumstances are under the watchful eye of their loving Savior. He sends the friend indeed in times of need.

More than normal helpers or caregivers, these friends are extraordinary. They are tied to us in a special way. They become like family. Of them, we might say, “Blessed be the tie that binds!”

We are indeed blessed when our heavenly Father sends special people into our lives just when we need them most!

This is a part of a larger plan and an even superior band of brothers. It includes one our eyes have not yet seen. He is the brother sent from heaven.

He was there when we were born. He was there as we traveled the winding roads of life. He will stay with us as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. He will be there to welcome us to the other side.

As we celebrate Independence Day, we remember those special people the Lord has sent into our lives at times of adversity. We think of the Son of God who took on human flesh to fight for us in the battle for our souls.

We pause on this day to salute our brother from heaven.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, as we walk our path in life, you have brought in others to travel part of the way with us. We especially thank you for those who have helped us through adversity. Continue to provide such people when we need them. Enable us to be there for others in their hours of need. This we ask in the name of Jesus, the best brother of all. Amen.



Points to ponder:

  • Why does God sometimes use a non-Christian to be a friend and brother?
  • Why might a band of brothers be resented by family members?
  • How does Jesus fit the role of being a brother?


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

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


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Onward and Upward – July 1, 2022

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:61,62

Onward and Upward

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Daily Devotion – July 1, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 9:61,62

See series: Devotions

“What’s the goal?” That’s an important bit of information if you’re being asked to do something. It’s important to know: what’s my purpose; what’s my goal? If you don’t know what you’re aiming for, you’re likely never going to meet your goal.

When it comes to being a disciple of Jesus, our Savior makes the goal exceedingly clear. Our ultimate goal is eternal life in heaven; that’s what we’re aiming for. The apostle Paul could not have stated it more plainly than he did in his letter to the Colossians. “Set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (3:1,2).

When a person once told Jesus, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family,” Jesus immediately replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” His point was crystal clear: if you’re going to be my disciple, you’ll need to direct your eyes onward and upward. He knows that we are easily distracted by the things and people of this world. Don’t look back, he urges us. Don’t take your eyes off the goal.

But don’t get Jesus wrong either. He wants us to demonstrate love and concern for the people in our lives, especially our families. He has called us to serve them daily in every way we can. But he also wants us to realize that if the choice is between him and our families—between our lives in this dying world and life everlasting with him in heaven—there simply can be no contest. Jesus and the heaven he freely gives us must be our ultimate goal.

And how do we get there? Not by our own doing, but through Jesus and his powerful Word. Cherish that saving Word because it directs your eyes onward and upward.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, grant me your Spirit that I may always keep my heart and mind firmly fixed on you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Wants Top Billing – June 30, 2022

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9:59,60

Jesus Wants Top Billing

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Daily Devotion – June 30, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 9:59,60

See series: Devotions

When actors begin their careers, they don’t generally get the lead part after one audition. Instead, they endure years of playing insignificant roles before their big break. Most never get one. For every actor you can name, there are thousands whose names you’ll never know. It’s difficult—almost impossible—to get top billing. Most don’t ever see their name in bold letters over everyone else’s on the movie poster or theater marquee. That’s only reserved for the very best.

When Jesus walked the earth, plenty of people were willing to follow him, but only to a certain point. St. Luke tells us in his gospel that there were large crowds traveling with Jesus (14:25), but they only wanted him to play the part of a movie extra in their lives. Yes, he could be a part of their lives but not the essential part. They weren’t ready to give him top billing, the starring role.

But Jesus isn’t interested in having disciples who are only willing to give him an insignificant role in their life story. He wants us to give him top billing. When he saw that large crowd following him, he told them in no uncertain terms what he expects. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple” (Lk 14:26,27).

Of course, Jesus doesn’t really want us to hate anyone, any more than he wanted to keep his would-be disciple in Luke 9 from attending his father’s funeral. But Jesus does want us to understand this: nothing in our lives can outrank him and his saving Word. He must have top billing because he and his Word alone grant us the certain hope of everlasting life. That’s what Jesus has won for you and for all people, and he doesn’t want you to trade it for anything.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me to give you and your Word top billing in my life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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No Comparison – June 29, 2022

Read: 2 Corinthians 11:21b-30

If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.
2 Corinthians 11:30 (EHV)

No Comparison

 

Family Devotion – June 29, 2022

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 11:30 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

Have you ever played a comparison game? It starts with someone telling you, “I’m better than you!” Your first thought is not going to be, “Yep, you’re right. You are better than me.” No, your first thought is probably going to be a claim of your own. “But I’m faster… I’m smarter… I’m prettier… Mom loves me more!” Sadly, the comparison game is never really a game. Feelings really do get hurt. Real tears fall from our eyes. Telling someone that you’re better than they are is called boasting. And boasting turns into arguing, which might even turn into fighting. Eventually, someone has to step in and break it up.

In today’s Word of God, some religious teachers tried to get the apostle Paul to play the comparison game. Paul worked very hard to share the good news of Jesus in a city called Corinth. These religious teachers boasted that they were better than Paul. They said they were wiser and stronger than Paul. They claimed to preach and teach more beautifully. They were better! Sadly, people believed them. Paul didn’t try to prove he was better. He just pointed to Jesus and his love. Even though Paul suffered many setbacks because he served Jesus, he knew the powerful love of Jesus would still shine through—despite Paul’s flaws and weaknesses. People would still hear about Jesus and be saved. None of those teachers could claim that they were better than Jesus. There was just no comparison.

Sometimes we are tempted to play a comparison game. We wonder if it would be better to be like those who don’t follow Jesus. We might feel embarrassed to say that we are Christians, because someone might think that following Jesus is silly or stupid. Yet no matter how others feel about Jesus, think of all the ways Jesus has shown you his gracious, powerful love. When you feel guilty, he forgives you. When you feel worried or anxious, Jesus calms you. When you are sad, Jesus dries your tears. When you and your family are going through a difficult time, Jesus is there with you. He helps you. He even blesses you through those difficult times in ways beyond what you can see with your eyes.

We don’t need to play the comparison game with Jesus. There is no one in the world better than him!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, with you there is no comparison to anyone or anything else in this world. Show your gracious, powerful love through us no matter how unimpressive we may feel we are. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • How do you feel when someone tells you they are better than you?
  • Who is better than anyone or anything in the world?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did Paul boast about being weak?
  • When we feel weak, how does Jesus make us strong?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How might God use suffering to bless us?
  • Agree or Disagree: Better to be a foolish follower of Jesus than the wisest unbeliever in the world.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Calls Us to Be All In – June 29, 2022

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”
Luke 9:57,58

Jesus Calls Us to Be All In

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Daily Devotion – June 29, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 9:57,58

See series: Devotions

Once upon a time, I had grade school friends who were very important to me. We would ride bikes together, play hours of ball, go to the movies, and sleepover at one another’s homes. At times, my life revolved around them. They were that important.

And now they’re gone. We didn’t have a falling out. We just grew apart. We went to different schools and moved away from our hometown. At one time, we were so committed to one another, but no more. And that’s okay. God didn’t insist that we be committed to one another for the rest of our lives.

But it’s different when it comes to my wife. She and I have been friends for almost 25 years now and married for about 20 years. Unlike the relationships I had with my schoolmates, my wife and I made promises to one another before God. We promised to be faithful to one another as long as we both shall live. In other words, God has called us to be all in. It can’t be halfway or even 99 percent. It requires 100 percent commitment because being married to a sinner is hard. Just ask my wife how hard it is!

When Jesus once had a man say to him, “I will follow you wherever you go,” he seemed to be expressing 100 percent commitment to the Savior. What music to Jesus’ ears! But Jesus wanted this man to realize what following him meant. “Foxes have dens and birds have nests,” he replied, “but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” In other words, following Jesus in this world is no walk in the park; it’s a challenge. Yes, it’s an all-in proposition that requires us to deny ourselves and take up cross and follow him (Mark 8:34).

Yes, it’s difficult, but not impossible. And why? Because Jesus is 100 percent all in. Even when we’re unfaithful to him, he remains faithful to us. And that will never change. He’s promised to be our Savior-friend forever.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, empower me to be faithful to you by marveling at your faithfulness to me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Is Zealously Patient – June 28, 2022

And [Jesus] sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him. But the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.
Luke 9:52-56

Jesus Is Zealously Patient

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Daily Devotion – June 28, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 9:52-56

See series: Devotions

Believe it or not, Jesus has not always been welcomed with open arms.

This man from Bethlehem is God from all eternity. By his powerful Word he created all things and gives life to all things, including us (John 1:1-4). Then he assumed our broken humanity— “the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:14)—in order to win forgiveness and eternal rescue from death for everyone. What’s not to like?

But by nature, we all reject Jesus—lock, stock, and barrel. Yes, we turn our backs on our only Creator and Savior. “He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, and his own did not receive him” (John 1:10,11).

You might think our refusal of Jesus’ amazing gifts and unparalleled love would leave him hopping mad. Jesus would have every right and reason to seek revenge for our rebellious response and leave us in the dust forever. That’s what his disciples, James and John, suggested he do to the Samaritans when they refused to open their hearts and homes to him as the Savior journeyed to Jerusalem to sacrifice himself on a cross for the world’s sins. “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” they asked.

But Jesus didn’t seek revenge, instead he zealously pursued patience. Rather than striking these people with lightning, he rebuked his disciples and urged them to have patient and merciful hearts toward sinners. The same kind of patience and mercy that he had so often shown to James and John. Yes, the same patience he shows to you and me.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me to be loving and patient toward others, just as you are forever patient with me. Amen.

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

Forgiven Much by Jesus, We Love Much

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

When we sense how much we need God’s forgiveness, his mercy becomes the most powerful reality in our lives. It transforms us. To ignore our need brings ruin, but to hang on tightly to God’s gift of mercy brings peace, joy, and purpose.

Traditional First Lesson – 2 Samuel 11:26–12:10,13-15

How did David respond to Nathan’s story about the rich man and the poor man? (See 12:5.)

David responded to Nathan’s story by burning with anger at the rich man and swearing that he deserved to die.

What conditions did Nathan set for David to be forgiven? (See 12:13.)

Nathan set no conditions at all for David to be forgiven. His sin had bitter consequences, but the Lord totally took away all of David’s guilt. Nathan said so right away.

Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Chronicles 33:1-6,10-18

What kinds of evil things did King Manasseh do?

Manasseh, king of Judah (the southern part of Israel), worshiped idols and helped other Jews to be idolaters too. He sacrificed his sons in the fire to an idol. He tried to contact the dead and find out about the future.

What changed after the king of Assyria put a hook in Manasseh’s nose and took him to Babylon in handcuffs?

In his old age, Manasseh sought the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. Manasseh got rid of altars to idols and tried to re-establish worship of the true God.

Traditional Second Lesson – Galatians 2:11-21

Did Peter eat with Gentiles when he came to Antioch in Syria? (See 2:11,12.)

Peter ate with the Gentiles when he first came to Antioch. Then some men came from James in Jerusalem, and Peter began to draw back and separate from the Gentiles. He led other Jews astray too.

If we rebuild what we destroyed, it doesn’t prove that what we just destroyed was bad. What does it prove? (See 2:18.)

If we rebuild what we destroyed, it only proves that we are lawbreakers. We are sinners sorely in need of grace.

What would be the result if we could get right with God by obeying his law? (See 2:21.)

If we could get right with God by obeying God’s law, then Christ would have died for nothing.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 6:9-11

What kind of people will not inherit God’s kingdom?

People who do not repent but keep practicing homosexuality and other things that change God’s holy plan for marriage, as well as idolaters, thieves, greedy people, drunkards, slanders, and swindlers will not inherit God’s kingdom.

What is remarkable about the Christians in Corinth to whom Paul wrote this letter? (See the first part of 6:11.)

Some of the Christians in Corinth were former thieves. Some were former homosexuals, etc. (Today, people often claim that, with certain sins, they are born that way and cannot change.)

What happened to the Christians to change them?

Paul says they were baptized. Its results were amazing. They were made holy and declared innocent in God’s courtroom through their trust in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Gospel – Luke 7:36-50

When the Pharisee said something snide to himself, what did Jesus do? (See 7:39-40.) What did this show?

Jesus “answered” the Pharisee, even though Simon had said nothing out loud. This shows that Jesus knows all things. He knows the thoughts we may think are secret.

In terms of a day’s wage, how much did the two men owe? (See footnote on 7:41.)

One man owed 500 days’ wages, the other 50 days’ wages. If an unskilled working man in our day might make about $50 a day, these two men would have owed $25,000 and $2,500, respectively.

Have you been forgiven much or little? How are you responding to this forgiveness? (See 7:47.)

This question is for you to ponder, not to find a definitive answer.

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Are You All In? – June 27, 2022

Read: 1 Kings 19:19-21

So Elisha turned back from following him. Then he took the team of oxen and slaughtered them. Using the equipment from the oxen as fuel, he cooked the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he got up, followed Elijah, and served him.
1 Kings 19:21 (EHV)

Are You All In?

 

Family Devotion – June 27, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Kings 19:21 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

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

“Are you in or out?” Jacob wasn’t sure. Was he going to go with his friends on the roller coaster or not? Jacob had ridden roller coasters before, but The Shark had a reputation for high speeds, deep dives, and extreme turns. The ride was a lot bigger, a lot faster, and a lot higher than anything Jacob had ever ridden. As his friends ran to get in line for the ride, Jacob paused. “Am I in or out? If I join my friends, I can’t turn back. If I stay here, will I ever go on this ride? I want to ride this ride, but do I really?” Jacob looked up, swallowed a big gulp of air, and ran ahead to join his friends. He was all in… and loved the ride!

Leading up to today’s Word of God, Elijah served the Lord faithfully for many years. His work was difficult because God sent him to face his enemies. Yet the time had come for someone else to take his place as prophet. So God sent Elijah to find a man named Elisha. Elisha was getting fields ready for planting. Elijah ran over to let Elisha know that he was going to be God’s new prophet. Was he in or out? The work would not be easy. Elisha would also have to face God’s enemies. People would reject his message, even threaten his life. Yet, many would trust in the true God through his work. So was Elisha in or out? He could have said, “I’m out,” but Elisha was all in. He held a big barbecue for his family, then left with Elijah to become a prophet.

Here’s where you fit in to today’s Word of God. Jesus has not called you to be his prophet, but he has called you to follow him. Are you in or out? Jesus wants followers who love him more than anything or anyone else in the world. Jesus wants followers who are willing to leave everything behind to be with him. On our own, we could never do it. We would fail. We would have to say, “I’m out, Lord!” Yet we have a Savior who was “all in” for us. Jesus left all the glory and comfort of heaven behind because he knew that he had to give up everything, even his own life, to save us from sin and death. Because of his super love for us, we now follow Jesus through faith. With his help, we are “all in.”

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, you call us to follow you, even giving up everything to be with you. Forgive us when we have not been all in. Help us through faith in Jesus to follow you now and always. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What does it mean to be “all in”?
  • How was Jesus “all in” for us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did Elisha need to be “all in” to become a prophet?
  • What makes it hard for you and me to be “all in” as a follower of Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Elisha left behind his family and wealth to become a prophet. Consider two things that you might have to give up in order to be “all in” on following Jesus.
  • How can Elisha serve as a model of commitment for you as you follow Jesus?

 

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