Sweetness of the Love of God – March 15, 2021

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
John 3:16

Sweetness of the Love of God


Daily Devotion – March 15, 2021

Devotion based on John 3:16

See series: Devotions

Grandpas carry them in their pockets. Restaurants have them stocked by the register. Some churches have them in a basket in the entryway. I even know one church that called them “Sermon Sweets.” For over a century, peppermint candy has been bringing fresh breath to millions of mouths.

But what’s the problem with it? Even though these classic candies have been around for a long time, they don’t always last long in our mouths. We let the flavor sit on our tongues for thirty seconds, but before long, we lose our patience and chomp it down, and before long, we wish we had another piece.

Do we ever treat God’s Word the same way, particularly the popular passages? For example, the Bible passage for our devotion today is John 3:16. It has topped the “Most Popular Bible Passages” for many years. It has made its way onto posters at football games and tattooed on many arms. But, specifically, because many of us have heard or read this passage so many times, it is easy to fail to savor what it really says.

Listen again: “God so loved the world.” Perhaps more now than any other time in our lifetime, love is what’s missing in this world. Mostly because we fail to define love, all too often, we’ve make love an emotion. With God, it’s an action. A selfless action that doesn’t count the cost. And that’s what we see so clearly when we let our mind’s eye picture Jesus on the cross, taking the punishment for our sins. That horrible death allows us to see the extent of God’s love for us. He wanted us to spend our eternity with him so much that he was willing to sacrifice his Son to make it happen.

Today, don’t let these words disappear from your thoughts too quickly. Savor them. Spend the day relaxing in the reality that the God of this universe loves you.

Prayer:
Lord, help me slow down and savor the sweetness of your love. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 14, 2021

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:9-10 ESV

Season of resistance

Ben and Lauren had another fight. It was their third one in a week, and Ben was exhausted. He was tired of all the problems in their relationship. In desperation, he turned to God in prayer. A thought struck him, “Maybe my biggest problem is not the external fights I’m having with Lauren, but the internal fight inside of me.”

Ben’s prayerful thought echoes James chapter 4. In verse 1 of this chapter James says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Our biggest problem is the fight that goes on inside of each of us, each and every day—the fight between the sinful, selfish nature that hates God’s will and the new nature, born again by God’s Spirit to live for him. If we’re going to resolve the other problems in life, this problem must first be resolved.

All of us sense the battle between these two natures when we struggle to do what is loving and right towards God or others.

James’ words lead us to humbly confess to God all of the times we let that old selfish nature win—when we fall to the devil’s temptations, hurt others, and want to blame others for all of our problems. When we confess, God reminds us that he graciously forgives us because of Jesus, who never fell to the devil’s temptations and won the battle with the devil through his death on the cross and resurrection.

James’ words also lead us to stay in the fight—to never give up! Staying in the fight means humbly submitting to God, resisting the devil, and drawing near to God.

God is calling each of us to humbly resist sin and wage war against it in our own hearts and lives. When we do, we have the promise of God to empower our new nature with his Spirit and to lift us up with his grace when we fall.

Prayer: Victorious Jesus, oh how I struggle in the fight against temptation. Thank you for forgiving me for the times when I fall. Give me your Spirit to stay in the fight and resist sin. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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And look at this – March 14, 2021

And look at this – March 14, 2021


The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived.
Numbers 21:8,9




Military Devotion – March 14, 2021

Devotion based on Numbers 21:8,9

See series: Military Devotions

If you want to get people’s attention, throw a batch of poisonous snakes among them.

It surely caught the attention of the Israelites. They were marching from Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. They had seen the Lord work miracle after miracle to protect them. But they were growing tired. They were growing impatient. They were fed up with God and his ways.

We hear: “…they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

The “miserable food” they spoke of could more rightly be called “miraculous food.” Maybe 1.5 million of them were passing through wilderness areas. How could they feed themselves? They couldn’t. They didn’t. Instead, God provided bread (they called it manna) that appeared on the ground in the morning, and he sent in quail in the evening.

It’s a sad story of not appreciating what God has done. It’s a familiar story. And sometimes, it is our story.

It seems it is only human nature to want something different from what God provides. It is sinful human nature to gripe and complain, to feel we deserve more. Even if God is waiting on us, literally hand and foot, we complain about the service. We surely are not ready to leave him a tip or even a thank you.

Do humans think that God is deaf? Do they expect he will just shrug his shoulders, grin and bear it? If so, they do not know God. People living today need to learn from the past. The history of the nation of Israel presents us with vivid lessons.

We hear: “Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died.”

The wages of sin is death.

The lesson was learned: “The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the LORD and against you. Pray that the LORD will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.”

The prayer was answered, but not in a manner expected.

Moses was told: “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.”

That didn’t make sense to human minds. What was needed was antivenom. What good would a look do? What good would the figure of a snake lifted up on a pole do?

The answer? “Only believe, and thou shalt see…”

Over a thousand years later, the Son of God would say, “Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:14,15).

That’s as foolish as thinking that the metal snake on a pole would keep people from dying from snakebite. Isn’t it?

Or is it? What about, “For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength.” (1 Corinthians 1:25)?

Those who believed while in the wilderness, they lived, did they not?

Those who believe in the Son of Man, they will live, will they not?

Indeed! They will live forever.



Prayer:
Christ, the Life of all the living, Christ, the Death of death, our foe,
Who, thyself for me once giving To the darkest depths of woe—
Through thy sufferings, death and merit, I eternal life inherit.
Thousand, thousand thanks shall be, Dearest Jesus, unto thee. Amen.
(Christian Worship 114:1)



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

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


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A Question for You – March 14, 2021

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:32

A Question for You


Daily Devotion – March 14, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:32

See series: Devotions

How are you feeling about the future? For many people, thinking about what is going to happen fills them with a sense of fear and worry. They wonder things like: “What will happen with my job? What about my savings? What about my expenses?” The questions can also be about people we care about: “What about the kids? What about my parents on a fixed income?” And the questions we have might even be bigger: “What about my country? What’s going to happen to this nation—the place I call home?”

For all of our questions, the apostle Paul has a question for you. He asks, “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” In other words, here you and I are with a God who loves us so much that he gave up his Son to wash us clean of our sins and to claim us as his own. The question from Paul is: If God kept that promise, don’t you think he’ll keep his other promises too?

Perhaps it’s time for each of us to take a break from the news, sit down with our Lord in a quiet place, and answer Paul’s question with a confident sigh of relief knowing that our gracious God will certainly give us all the things we need. After all, he was willing to give his own Son to save us.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in these troubled times, I often fill my mind with fearful questions. Through your word, fill me with the answer to the question that really matters. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Good News of the Bible – March 13, 2021

The foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom.
1 Corinthians 1:25

The Good News of the Bible


Daily Devotion – March 13, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 1:25

See series: Devotions

Author David Platt, in his book, Radical, tells the story of what happened when he was standing outside of a Buddhist temple in Indonesia. As he stood there, he got into a conversation with two people—a Buddhist leader and a Muslim leader. Both of them embraced what seemed to be a very reasonable belief. They believed that, while there were superficial differences among the major religions, all of them basically taught the same thing. Then they asked David Platt what he thought.

He said, “It sounds as though you both picture God at the top of a mountain. It seems as if you believe that we are all at the bottom of the mountain, and I may take one route up the mountain, you may take another, and in the end, we will all end up in the same place.”

To this, the Buddhist and the Muslim said, “Exactly! You understand!”

But then he leaned in and said, “Now let me ask you a question. What would you think if I told you that the God at the top of the mountain actually came down to where we are? What would you think if I told you that God doesn’t wait for people to find their way to him, but instead he comes to us?”

They both thought for a moment and then responded, “That would be great!”

David Platt then replied, “Let me introduce you to Jesus.”

Current human wisdom believes that all forms of spirituality are essentially the same. Such a belief seems logical. Without question, it’s very convenient. And it’s dead wrong.

Never forget how radical the message of the Bible really is. It’s not about our getting up to God. It’s about God coming down to us in the person of Jesus Christ. It’s not about making ourselves holy before God. It’s about God living a holy life in our place. And it’s not about cleansing ourselves of our wrongs. It’s about God going to the cross to wash our sins away.

Thank God that this is the good news the Bible has to share.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for coming down to save me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Spirit Helps Us Live in Obedience – Family Devotion – March 12, 2021

Read: Romans 8:1-10

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.
Romans 8:5-6

The Spirit Helps Us Live in Obedience

 

Family Devotion – March 12, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:5-6

See series: Devotions

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

As you grow up, you need help. You need help eating. You need help with changing your diapers. You need help getting dressed. You need help learning to crawl and then walk. You need help to cross a street. You need lots of help. We all do as we grow up, so who provides that help? Mom or Dad, grandmas or grandpas, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers—they all help us learn what we need to do every day as we grow up and live our lives.

There’s one more thing you need help with. You need help to live as God wants you to live. You need help to obey and serve him. You see, from the moment our lives begin, we are all hostile toward God.

It means we are like a rebellious child that wants his freedom and hates the rules. If God says, “Go right,” he will go left. If God says, “Talk nice,” he will reply with sarcasm.

We need help. Thankfully, help is on the way! Like Mom or Dad helping us learn how to move or get dressed or eat, God sends help for us. He sends the Holy Spirit to help us. Now the Holy Spirit doesn’t come to help us in a dream or through our imagination. No, he comes to help us through God’s Word, through the waters of Baptism, and through the bread and wine of Holy Communion. He creates faith in our hearts as we hear and learn about Jesus our Savior who came to help us with the problem of our sin by forgiving us of all our sins. Through that faith, he makes us holy and gives us life with Jesus that lasts forever.

Now through faith in Jesus, God’s Holy Spirit works in us a new way of thinking. He helps us love to obey God’s will. He helps us want to obey God’s will. He helps us be able to obey God’s will at home, at school, in the neighborhood, at church, at work, everywhere. We could never do any of that on our own, but every day through faith, the Holy Spirit helps us live in thankful, willing obedience to our God.

Closing Prayer:

O Holy Spirit, strengthen our faith in Jesus every day. Help us to love God. Help us to want to obey his will, and help us to be able to obey his will all our lives. 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

  • Name two people who help you every day.
  • Who does God send to help you do what God wants you to do?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it impossible for any of us to obey God’s will on our own?
  • What does the Holy Spirit use to create and strengthen faith in your heart?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How do you respond to someone who says, “People are basically good and will do the right thing”?
  • What does the apostle Paul mean when he writes, “The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace?”

Hymn: CW 185:1,2 – O Holy Spirit, Grant Us Grace

O Holy Spirit, grant us grace that we our Lord and Savior
In faith and fervent love embrace and truly serve him ever,
So that when death is near at hand
We at his cross may firmly stand and there find our salvation.

Help us that we your saving Word in faithful hearts may treasure;
Let e’er that bread of life afford new grace in richest measure.
Make us to die to ev’ry sin;
Each day create us new within that fruits of faith may flourish.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Was Zealous For Us – March 12, 2021

His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:17

Jesus Was Zealous For Us


Daily Devotion – March 12, 2021

Devotion based on John 2:17

See series: Devotions

Jesus had the proper attitude for worship, and it is described in one word: zeal. Zeal is an inward passion for something. Jesus had it. This verse says he was devoured or consumed by it. Jesus loved the Lord’s house. He burned for it. He longed to be there and was righteously angry when others did not treat God’s house the same way.

Sadly, we don’t always display this same kind of zeal for worshiping in God’s house. Often our zeal for God and his Word is replaced by laziness, indifference, or even contempt. We often have a zeal for other things: work, play, and sports. How often don’t we get more fired up for the big game than to hear a sermon? If given the option, would we prefer catching our limit out on the lake or taking part in a worship service? We can often be zealous for things, just not the most important things.

Thank God Jesus was not like us. The disciples noticed that Jesus was zealous. It is important for us to understand that Jesus was perfectly zealous. This zeal that is so obvious in this verse, is the same zeal that drove him all the way to the cross to die for our sins. Jesus was inwardly consumed to obey God’s will. In fact, he was so consumed with the idea of saving you from your sins that he was willing to suffer in your place. He was falsely accused. He was laughed at and made fun of. He was beaten and flogged. He was nailed to a cross and died for you.

Thank God that Jesus was zealous for us! Through him, we are saved and forgiven. Through him, heaven is our home. And Jesus has just as much zeal now to continue to lead you toward that heavenly home.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for your zeal in achieving my salvation. Forgive me for my sins and move me to be zealous for you today. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Distractions – March 11, 2021

When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables changing money.
John 2:13,14

Distractions


Daily Devotion – March 11, 2021

Devotion based on John 2:13,14

See series: Devotions

It must have been quite the scene in the Temple that day. One might compare it to the opening day of the county fair. Try to picture it for a moment. As you walk through the gates, you hear the noises of cattle and the loud back-and-forth bartering between the moneychangers and their customers. You look around, and you get the impression that you are at a cattle auction. Oxen, sheep, and doves are everywhere. And then, of course, there would be the smell. Imagine the stench!

Yet, it was not the smell of cattle that aroused the righteous anger of Jesus that day. Far worse than the smell of animals in the courtyard was the spiritual stench in and around God’s house. The courtyard of the Temple was where non-Jewish believers were allowed to worship. Imagine how difficult this must have been with so many merchants buying and sheep bleating!

How many distractions are in your life that keeps you from focusing on God? How many different things are keeping you from worship or daily prayer and devotion? Life provides no shortage of things that daily distract us from our relationship with God. Unchecked, these distractions can drive us further and further away from the Lord.

Thankfully, God was never distracted from saving us. Our heavenly Father let nothing get in the way of his plan to win our salvation. Jesus, our Savior, let nothing distract him from his mission of going to the cross to pay for the sins of the whole world. Our Savior was and is always focused on us. His life, death, and resurrection have assured us that we have a place in heaven through faith in him.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for your determination in winning forgiveness and eternal life in heaven for me. Help me to eliminate the distractions in my life and to focus on you today. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Wants Us to Keep his Commandments – Family Devotion – March 10, 2021

Read: Exodus 20:1-17

I the LORD your God am a jealous God. I follow up on the guilt of the fathers with their children, their grandchildren, and their great-grandchildren, if they also hate me. But I show mercy to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:5-6 EHV

God Wants Us to Keep his Commandments

 

Family Devotion – March 10, 2021

Devotion based on Exodus 20:5-6 EHV

See series: Devotions

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

“Do I have to??” Ruth whined. The kitchen counter was covered in dirty dishes. Mom had asked Ruth to load the dishwasher. “But why?? That’s not fair!! Why can’t Jacob and Ellie do it?” Ruth’s older brother had homework to do, and Ellie was cleaning her room. Mom made it clear that Ruth was to load the dishwasher. There was no getting out of it.

“Do I have to??” So often we complain when we have to do something we don’t want to do. Yet it’s not just the assignments or chores that make us whine. We complain about the every-day tasks that God gives to us.

God tells us, “Always put me first in your life above everything and everyone. Don’t misuse my holy, saving name, but instead use it for prayer and praise. Spend time with me in my Word and give it the respect that it deserves. Listen to your parents and teachers. Don’t have hateful, dirty, or greedy thoughts. Don’t speak poorly about others, but rather speak well of them and defend them. Recognize that what I have given to your neighbor is not yours, but my gift to them.”

God tells us to do them and we think, “Do I have to??” “Do I really have to put you first, Lord? Do I always have to listen to your Word when we have devotions or when I go to church? Do I always have to listen to my parents? What about that person who made fun of me? Or what about that toy or that game that I really, really want?” Yes, God wants us to keep his commandments, but we fail. When we disobey, we deserve consequences that last forever in hell.

That might not seem fair, but our God is a holy God. He is serious about wanting us to keep everyone of his commands. So what can we do? First, shiver a bit. Because we can’t keep all of God’s commands perfectly all the time, it’s okay to be afraid (like you are when a parent punishes you). Second, say, “I’m sorry.” We are sinful in God’s eyes. But third, be relieved. We also have a Savior who kept all of those commands perfectly in our place. Just think about that! Jesus kept every single one of God’s commandments perfectly for you and me. Then Jesus suffered the punishment that we all deserve. Because Jesus did all that for us, we now live to serve our God and our neighbor in love.

Closing Prayer:

Lord God, your will is holy. You want me to keep your commandments each and every day, but I am a sinner. For Jesus’ sake, forgive me for disobeying your will and help me to live for you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name two commands that God has given us.
  • Why are we not able to keep God’s commandments perfectly?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain this statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • How does God give us the ability to keep his commands even though we are sinful?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How is loving my neighbor also loving God?
  • How can the Ten Commandments be summarized with the word love?

Hymn: CW 287:1,2 – The Law of God Is Good and Wise

The law of God is good and wise;
It sets his will before our eyes,
Shows us the way of righteousness,
But dooms to death when we transgress.

To Jesus we for refuge flee,
Who from the curse has set us free,
And humbly worship at his throne,
Saved by his grace through faith alone.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Filled With the Spirit – March 10, 2021

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.
Romans 8:9

Filled With the Spirit


Daily Devotion – March 10, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:9

See series: Devotions

Is it in you? Do you remember those Gatorade commercials? If it, namely Gatorade, is in you, then you will be a far better athlete. If Gatorade is not in you, better luck next time. The commercials focus on athletes in their most crucial moments. They show Michael Jordan hitting the game-winning shot against the Cavaliers. They show Derek Jeter making a clutch out in the divisional playoffs. They show Kevin Garnett finally cutting down the net as an NBA champion.

The commercials help you relive those clutch moments in sports. And you are left with the distinct impression that if those all-world athletes had not been filled with Gatorade, they would not have come through in the clutch. Gatorade, that magic elixir, enabled those athletes to do amazing things. No Gatorade equals no victory. The screen goes black, and the question appears: Is it in you?

This verse from the book of Romans asks the same question: is it in you? Except the author is not talking about a sports drink loaded down with essential vitamins and nutrients; rather he is talking about the Holy Spirit of God. “Is the Spirit in you?” That is an important question. And the verse says, if we do not have the Spirit, we do not belong to Christ.

So how do we get the Spirit? Not through our feelings, as some would say. Rather, the Holy Spirit comes to us as we hear and read the Bible. The Spirit works through the wonderful message about Jesus—the one who gave his life in our place to pay for sin and give us the free gift of eternal life. When we hear God’s Word and read about Jesus’ love, the Spirit is at work. As we get to know more about our Savior Jesus, the Holy Spirit fills our hearts and lives and leads us to live for our Lord. Then, filled with the Spirit, we will receive the ultimate victory of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for the gift of your Word. Bless my time in the Bible that I may be filled with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Is a Loving God – March 9, 2021

“But showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commands.”
Exodus 20:6

God Is a Loving God


Daily Devotion – March 9, 2021

Devotion based on Exodus 20:6

See series: Devotions

Of all the ways God describes himself in the Bible, love is perhaps his most important attribute. God wants to show us his love. The word for love in this verse is a word that the Bible only uses to describe the love God has for sinners. It is a faithful love. It is an unfailing, devoted, and loyal love. How remarkable that even as we have been cheating on God, he has been loyal to us. We have never been and will never be perfectly loyal to God, but that did not stop him from being perfectly loyal to us.

Even though he knew we would sin and often turn away from him, God resolved to prove his loyalty to us beyond a shadow of a doubt, and he proved it like this: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. When it came time to show what place we had in God’s heart, he did not hold back. He did not cheat on us or back out of the deal. Instead, he gave up his very own Son to take our place and die a sinner’s death.

Do you see how committed God is to you? See it in the blood that drips down from the cross. See it in the restraint he shows by allowing Jesus to remain on the cross to endure the full judgment over sin. See it in the way he forgives you anew and grants you a new day every morning. See it in the way God continues to patiently wait and hope for us to call on him in prayer.

God is a loving God. He is forgiving, generous, and kind. God wants you to be with him forever. He wants to be number one in your life. He will work hard to keep you with him forever. In response to his amazing love for you, be faithful to him.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for your faithful love to me in Christ Jesus. Filled with his love, move me to be faithful to you. Amen.

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

Jesus Must Be Lifted Up On the Cross

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Lent.

God’s Word for This Week

A drowning man will not complain about the size of the boat that comes to rescue him. Yet today’s first lesson shows us people complaining not long after God had freed them from slavery in Egypt. Note in each lesson how God shows his heart of grace―undeserved love that rescues sinners.

FIRST LESSON – Numbers 21:4-9

Which flaws of human nature led to the painful, in some cases deadly, lesson of venomous snakes?

The snakes came when people got impatient, complained, and were not thankful. They even criticized free daily food. It started with a lack of trust and love for God. (“You brought us… to die in the desert.”)

God could have saved the people without having them look at something. What did he want to teach them (and us) by having them look at the snake on a pole?

By putting the snake on the pole, God said: “trust me.” God found a way to heal their soul and body at the same time. Their main problem was spiritual—lack of trust—and God taught them to trust his promise. Sure enough, anyone was bitten who looked at the bronze snake lived.

Today we don’t look at a snake on a pole to save us. Where does God direct us to look?

God has us look at his Son in baptism’s waters and his body and blood, united with bread and wine in his supper.

SECOND LESSON – Ephesians 2:4-10

Find five different words or phrases in this precious section that highlights God’s goodness.

Five key phrases which emphasize God’s goodness: his great love for us, who is rich in mercy, riches of his grace, his kindness to us, it is the gift of God.

Find four different words or phrases Paul uses to emphasize that no part of the rescue is our doing.

Four key phrases, emphasizing that we cannot save ourselves at all: “We were dead in transgressions,” “not from yourselves,” “not by works,” and “no one can boast.”

If our good works have no part in paying for our eternal life, why do we still do good works? (See 2:10.)

Good works result when people realize the great gift God has given them. A living fruit tree will naturally bear fruit; so also, a person who realizes he has received eternal life at the cost of God’s own precious blood will then respond to that love with love for God and others. The reason God created us was to produce fruits of faith and love.

GOSPEL – John 3:14-21

How is Jesus like the bronze snake of today’s first lesson?

Both the snake and Jesus were lifted up. Both were lifted up so many could look, see the solution promised by God, and be saved. Both required no payment or effort. Instead, both called dying people to look with trust to the only savior for their problem.

What is the criterion for God’s judgment? When does this judgment take place?

Whoever believes in Jesus shall not perish. God’s criterion is that you trust in Jesus. This judgment is already valid, not just a future “will be so,” but already “is condemned.” Believers already cross over from death to life. (See John 5:24.)

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Jesus Deeply Desires We Keep his Word – Family Devotion – March 8, 2021

Read: John 2:13-22

In the temple courts [Jesus] found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple courts, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
John 2:14-17

Jesus Deeply Desires We Keep his Word

 

Family Devotion – March 8, 2021

Devotion based on John 2:14-17

See series: Devotions

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

Why was Jesus so angry? Why would Jesus get so angry that he forced sheep, cattle, and the people who were selling them to run away from the temple courts? Why would Jesus get so angry that he even flipped tables over, knocking coins all over the ground? Is Jesus throwing a temper tantrum like a little two-year-old who didn’t get his way?

The simple answer is no, but why was Jesus so angry? Well, Jesus actually had a very good reason. Remember who he is. When you think of Jesus, what comes to mind? A powerful Lord who calms storms, heals the sick, and raises the dead? A Savior who blesses the little children? How about Jesus as the holy God, who is King of kings and ruler over all things—time, space, creation, and people?

Jesus is our holy God, who deeply wants us all to keep his Word. Unfortunately, we all fail to do that on our own. In his Word, God tells us what he wants us to do and not to do, but we do what we want. We go our own way rather than God’s way. We need Jesus to help us. That’s why Jesus came into our world. He cares so deeply about each of us that he became a human being like us. He perfectly kept God’s holy will in our place, even dying on a cross for us. We learn all about that in his Word.

So why was Jesus so angry in the temple? There was nothing wrong with selling animals or exchanging money, but that’s not why God gave his Word or the church where we hear that Word. The temple, like church, was meant to be a place where people could worship and offer prayers to God. There they learned God’s Word. The last thing Jesus wanted to see in his Father’s house was people arguing over prices and purchases rather than hearing his Word and worshiping his heavenly Father. So, in holy love for his Word, Jesus cleared the temple that day.

Do we love God’s Word like Jesus? Do we get angry when something gets in the way of hearing it? Do we love learning about Jesus and what he has done for us? Jesus passionately desires that we love his Word. In that Word, we learn about him. With his help, we will see how important it is to spend time with Jesus in his Word. With his help, we will love his Word as we learn how deeply our Savior loves us. With his help, we will keep that Word as we live each day, serving Jesus, our Savior-God.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you are our Savior and our God. Forgive us for not giving your Word the respect it deserves. Help us to gladly learn and keep your Word all the days of our lives. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Describe what happened when Jesus went into the temple.
  • Name two places where you can listen to God’s Word.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was Jesus so angry in the temple?
  • Why do we need God’s Word?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Studying God’s Word is time spent with Jesus.
  • How do you respond to someone who tells you that attending worship and Bible study is not that important?

Hymn: CW 282:1-3 – Lord, Open Now My Heart to Hear

Lord, open no my heart to hear, and through your Word to me draw near.
Let me your Word e’er pure retain; let me your child and heir remain.

Your Word inspires my heart within; your Word grants healing from my sin.
Your Word has pow’r to guide and bless; your Word brings peace and happiness.

To God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, Three in One,
Shall glory, praise, and honor be now and throughout eternity.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Foolishness – Week of March 8, 2021

Foolishness – Week of March 8, 2021



We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

I Corinthians 1:23-25



Recently, I purchased a different phone.  I am not completely tech illiterate, but that phone had me confounded!  Buttons were in different places, swipes triggered different actions, connections were not established. Noting my frustration, my husband shared some good advice he received from his co-workers- “Give it to your daughter.  She’ll figure it out!”  Our daughter is nine!  How foolish that a nine-year-old can figure out this complicated instrument more efficiently than an adult!

In our text for this week, God’s plan for our salvation is referred to as foolish.  God’s plan of salvation, his plan to save sinful mankind from eternal destruction was this: To take His own words and form them into the gurgling of a fragile baby. This baby, Jesus, would be raised by insignificant humans and grow up to teach about God’s love in a scrubby region of the world.  As a man, Jesus would be tempted by others and even by the lord of lies himself, the devil.   Jesus would be able to resist each temptation.  He would allow himself to be captured, then abhorrently tortured.  Finally, he would hang on a cross as mankind’s substitute while he suffered the unspeakable torments of hell and isolation from God.  There he would die.  Three days later, Jesus would rise again to show that God accepted his perfect sacrifice.  This was God’s plan of salvation, our one chance for eternal survival.  Human reason says, “How foolish!”

Yet, human reason is no match for God’s perfection and faithfulness!  God’s foolishness is even wiser than man’s wisdom and his weakness is stronger than man’s strength.  God promised this plan and he delivered.  God had perfect confidence in his only Son and his Son executed the plan perfectly.  It worked with no hitches or flaws.  Jesus never once fell into temptation.  Jesus never once disobeyed or strayed from God’s perfect plan.  Jesus fulfilled God’s plan to the letter.

Now, when God looks at each one of his family members, he will not thunder, “Get away from me!”  Now when he looks at each of his family members, God sees our substitute Jesus.  His foolish plan worked!  God will greet each one that believes with, “Come!  I see Jesus in your heart!  Welcome to my kingdom!”

As you continue through Lent, fix your eyes on God’s foolish plan.  Come before God’s only Son, who stood in our place.  Marvel at God’s weakness that took one baby and raised a Savior!



Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank you for your perfect plan of salvation.  Help me to lean not on my own understanding but rest securely in your promises fulfilled in Jesus.  Amen!

Question for Reflection: Even the little children in our care are wiser than many smart grown-ups.  How can I nurture their trust in Jesus and make them wise for salvation?  (2 Timothy 3:15)

Want to know more?  Why does God love sinners?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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A Jealous God – March 8, 2021

“You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God.”
Exodus 20:5

A Jealous God


Daily Devotion – March 8, 2021

Devotion based on Exodus 20:5

See series: Devotions

We like to think about God as a loving, forgiving, generous, patient, our friend, everything we need. He certainly is all those things and more!

Thinking of God as a jealous God makes us a little uneasy. To our English ears, that sounds bad or even sinful. That sounds like God wishes he had what we have or that he could somehow be like us. But that is not what it means when the Bible says that God is a jealous God.

When God describes himself as jealous, he means that he has an all-consuming zeal to see that we are okay. It means that he wants to be with us. More than that, though, it means that he wants us to be with him. He wants to be our God. In fact, when God says that he is a jealous God, what he is saying is that he wants to be exclusive with us. He does not want us to have any other gods. He wants all our attention and worship and praise. He does not want to share us with any of the countless false gods and idols in this world.

God wants us to be exclusive with him. But, sadly, we aren’t. How many times have we cheated on God just in the last week–when we loved our friends or our hobbies or ourselves more than we loved him?

Still, in spite of how often we have been unfaithful to him, God showed his unwavering commitment to us when he sent his own Son to die on the cross to pay for all our sins so that we could belong to God now and forever. That is how jealous God is of our relationship with him.

Now, aren’t you glad your God is a jealous God?

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for being committed to me and for saving me through Jesus. Help me to look only to you as my salvation. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Ten Commandments – March 7, 2021

You shall have no other gods before me. . . . You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God. . . . Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. . . . Honor your father and your mother. . . . You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor. You shall not covet.
Exodus 20:1-17 (selected verses)

The Ten Commandments


Daily Devotion – March 7, 2021

Devotion based on Exodus 20:1-17

See series: Devotions

Are you sure you want to read this?

These are scary words. They are so scary that after the Lord spoke these words to the people of Israel from the top of Mt. Sinai, they asked that Moses speak to them and not God. Most people know these words as the Ten Commandments. These are God’s righteous demands on all people. Jesus summarized them by saying, “Love the Lord Your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” And, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37,39). But who does that? No one!

And not keeping these commandments is no small thing. God says, “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law” (Galatians 3:10). No wonder the people of Israel didn’t like to hear these words. They offer no comfort, no relief, no hope. But that is their power. That is their purpose.

Having condemned us as law-breaking sinners, that same God who thundered down the Ten Commandments says with a tenderness that only this God can have, “I have redeemed you. I have summoned you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1). God sent his Son, Jesus, to take on our sins against the Ten Commandments and pay for them with his death on the cross. “God was reconciling the world unto himself in Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:19). “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).

The Ten Commandments are scary words. But they are also beautiful words because they chase us to Jesus.

Prayer:
For all the times I have broken your Ten Commandments, Lord, I ask you to forgive me. I am confident of your forgiveness because of what Jesus did for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Look at this – March 7, 2021

Look at this – March 7, 2021


And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:8




Military Devotion – March 7, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 2:8

See series: Military Devotions

It has been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But words can paint pictures, too.

Maybe that’s why the Bible uses so many word pictures. Jesus used parables to explain mysteries of the kingdom of God. The gospel writers painted vivid scenes of the life and death of him as the Savior of the nations. Both Old and New Testament writers were led by the Holy Spirit to pen words that show details of the plan of salvation.

The apostle Paul was not at the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. At that time, he was still called Saul. He became a fierce enemy of those who followed the prophet from Nazareth—until he became a follower and a fierce defender of the faith.

In his letter to the Christians at Philippi, he paints a humble Jesus walking the path to Golgotha where the empty cross waits.

“Look at this!” he tells them, even as he tells us. It’s a picture not to be forgotten.

We have repeatedly looked at the pictures the Bible paints of the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus. This picture shows details that lie in the background.

We see the significance of Christmas. Jesus looked like a man, talked like a man, and acted like a man because he was a man. When he looked at himself in a mirror, he could see his human form.

But all the while, he was the eternal, omnipotent Son of God. His holy power and glory would naturally show through as it did at the burning bush of Moses—as it did on the Mount of Transfiguration.

He took steps to prevent that. He forbad demons to announce who he was. He was careful with his miracles. He allowed them to give only a glimpse of his glory.

He usually walked through doors, not walls. He grew hungry. He grew tired. He slept.

He was the Lord of glory. But he humbled himself.

Otherwise, the ropes would not have held him, and the nails would not have pierced him. He was God.

So, he humbled himself.

He needed to be able to die.

The apostle writes, “he became obedient to death.”

It was not an easy death. He bled. He suffered.

He obeyed the rules of death. He surrendered his life.

“Look at this!” the apostle shouts to us. “Don’t you see what he did for your sake? Don’t you see he did this willingly?”

“Don’t you see that he loves you?”

“Don’t you see what this means? Don’t you see that your sin is paid for? Don’t you see that the greatest honor in life is to be called someone who follows him? Belongs to him? Will spend eternity with him?”

“Look at this!”

“Don’t you see?”

We do.

Don’t we?



Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep the picture of your willing sacrifice always before us, lest we forget. Lest Satan repaint the picture. Lest we become distracted by the cares and pleasures of this world. Lest we join those who live in darkness. Lest we lose sight of you. Amen.



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

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


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Transformed – teen devotion – March 7, 2021

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Season of searching

If you’re like most people, you don’t exactly love going to the doctor. There’s something scary about letting another person do a thorough examination of your body looking for something wrong. What if they find something? What if it’s serious? Maybe it’s just easier to deal with it on your own? Maybe it will just go away?

We do this spiritually too. There’s something a little scary about going to a holy God, knowing that he can do a thorough examination of your heart. And oh yes, he will find something wrong, something serious. It’s called sin, and it’s uncomfortable to have your deep, dark sins exposed! Maybe it’s just easier to deal with it on your own? Maybe it will just go away?

King David fell into this way of thinking. After he committed adultery with a married woman and then plotted the murder of her husband, he didn’t want his sin exposed. He tried to deal with his dangerous spiritual condition on his own. Fortunately, God graciously sent the prophet Nathan to speak to David and conduct a spiritual examination on his heart, leading David to finally confess his sins.

In Psalm 139, a spiritually restored David now shows us the only way to deal with our sinful condition. Here it is: ask God to perform a thorough examination of our heart and look for any spiritual afflictions. Confess our sins to God who knows our heart completely. God is the expert on our spiritual health and dealing with sin. He knows just how sinfully broken and corrupt we are and how desperately we need fixing. In his incredible mercy, he gives us the fix—his Son Jesus! Jesus took the fatal disease of sinful humanity on himself and died with it on the cross so that we might be cured.

This Lenten season, don’t shy away from the spiritual examinations God desires for your heart. Instead, like David, go to God in repentance. Ask him to search your heart and to lead you in the way everlasting.

Prayer: O Great Physician of the soul, search my heart. Expose the sin and corruption that lie there. Have mercy on me and assure me of your forgiveness. Amen.


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

We also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.
Romans 5:3,4

The Difference


Daily Devotion – March 6, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 5:3,4

See series: Devotions

For many, it is the stuff of nightmares, a physical condition too horrific to contemplate, the worst of worst-case scenarios. But for a young boy by the name of Nick Vujicic [pronounced, “VOY-yitch-itch”], this nightmare was real.

Nick was born with no arms and no legs. Let that sink in for a moment. He was born with no arms and no legs. What you and I could not imagine facing for one month or even one day, Nick was facing for his entire life. By the age of 8, the darkness of his circumstances was about to swallow him. “I have no life,” he thought. “I’ll never get married. I’ll never be able to do anything. I’ll never be able to be anything. I have no life.”

Fast forward 25 years. Today, Nick travels around the world, giving motivational speeches to children, adults, business leaders, prisoners, and everyone in-between. He’s a college graduate, drives a car, goes fishing, records music, plays soccer, and swims. He’s married and the father of a young son.

What happened? What made such a difference? Nick’s physical circumstances did not change. He still has no arms and no legs. What made the difference was the gospel. What made the difference was Jesus Christ.

Through the message of sins forgiven and new life in Jesus, Nick came to see his life very differently. As a redeemed child of God through faith in his Savior, Nick recognized that he had a unique opportunity to encourage others with the good news of Christ. Now his heart overflows in thankfulness. As Nick likes to say, “I’ve never met a thankful person who was bitter. And I’ve never met a bitter person who was thankful.”

Don’t misunderstand. Nick’s life is still difficult. It’s still full of struggle. But seeing his life as Jesus sees his life has made all the difference. That is what makes all the difference for you and me too.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as I struggle through this world, open my eyes to see my life as you see my life. Empower me to live a life that proclaims you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Mercifully Works Suffering for Good – Family Devotion – March 5, 2021

Romans 5:1-11

Not only this, but we also rejoice confidently in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces patient endurance, and patient endurance produces tested character, and tested character produces hope. And hope will not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who was given to us…. But God shows his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:3-5,8 EHV

God Mercifully Works Suffering for Good

 

Family Devotion – March 5, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 5:3-5,8 EHV

See series: Devotions

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

Do you like illusions? Illusions can be fun or frustrating. They trick your brain. For example, your brain thinks your eyes are seeing one image, when in reality, you are looking at the very opposite. It’s a trick. One image may actually be two images. Or, what looks big may actually be little. Or, what looks little may actually be big. The illusion gets your brain to think the opposite of what you are seeing. Would you find that frustrating or fun?

When you hear the word suffering, does that sound like fun or would that be frustrating? Suffering hurts. Suffering is hard, not enjoyable or fun. Yet in God’s Word, Paul tells us something that almost seems like an illusion. He says that suffering can be a blessing and that God can make suffering into a blessing.

How is that possible?! How can something bad, hard, or painful turn out to be something that helps us grow closer to Jesus? How can something bad, hard, or painful turn out to be something that helps us stay on the path to heaven? It all starts with Jesus. Jesus faced suffering, even though he did not deserve it. Jesus was innocent because he is the holy God. Yet Jesus faced suffering and even death for your sins and mine. It was no illusion. His suffering on the cross turned out to be our greatest blessing. Why? God loves each of us so very much that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Sometimes God allows us to suffer. Maybe your family is going through a tough time. Or someone becomes very sick or loses a job. Maybe we lose a loved one. Maybe someone made fun of you and made you feel miserable. Even in those times of suffering, God works a blessing. Jesus helps us to patiently endure that tough time. Jesus helps us to grow closer to him and others. Jesus helps us to put our trust and hope in him. Jesus turns our suffering into blessing. Why? Because he loves us so much. His own suffering turned out to be our greatest blessing. Surely Jesus can turn even our toughest times into times of blessing for us as he guides us on the way to heaven—and that is no illusion.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, when times are tough and I face suffering as your child, help me to trust that you will turn my suffering into blessing either in this life or in heaven with 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

  • Name one way that God has shown his love for you today.
  • Name one way that Jesus’ suffering on the cross was a blessing for you.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How can God make suffering into a blessing?
  • In 5:3, we are told that “suffering produces patient endurance.” What does that mean?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain what makes Christ dying for us so impossibly rare.
  • Knowing that God turns suffering into blessing for us, how does that impact your life as a child of God?

Hymn: CW 428:3,4 – Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me

God gives me my days of gladness,
And I will Trust him still When he sends me sadness.
God is good; his love attends me
Day by day, Come what may, Guides me and defends me.

Since I know God never fails me,
In his voice I’ll rejoice When grim death assails me.
Trusting in my Savior’s merit,
Safe at last, Troubles past, I shall heav’n inherit.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Simple Math – March 5, 2021

[Jesus said], “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”
Mark 8:36,37

Simple Math


Daily Devotion – March 5, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:36,37

See series: Devotions

I like simple math. It’s beautiful. One thing that makes it beautiful is if you work the problem correctly, the answer is always the same. No matter what, if you add three plus four correctly, it always equals seven.

That’s no accident. God created it that way. A feature of God’s goodness to us is the creative order he has put in place. Whether we realize it or not, we rely on that order every day. Just think how difficult and confusing life would be if, on one day, three plus four equaled eight, and then on another day, it equaled five. Everything would be thrown into utter chaos.

Jesus taught his disciples some simple math in Mark chapter 8. He asked, “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?”

Our Savior’s point was simple and straightforward. He was pointing out that there are two alternatives for how to approach our lives in this world. Either we can be selfish, self-serving, self-indulgent, self-interested in an effort to “gain the whole world,” or we can be selfless, self-sacrificing, and self-giving to others in unconditional love. If we choose the first alternative, Jesus says, the outcome is certain. Such a person will “forfeit their soul” and face eternal destruction and despair. If we pursue the second alternative—and follow in Jesus’ footsteps—we will “save” our lives and reap an eternal reward.

This isn’t complicated, Jesus points out. It’s simple math.

The apostle Paul taught the same lesson in Galatians chapter 6. He presented the equation this way. “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.”

How thankful we can be that God sent his only Son, Jesus, to rescue us from our sinful selfishness and give us new life!

How will you use your new life? You do the math.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, inspire me to use my new life in service to you and others in love. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Came To Save Us From Ourselves – March 4, 2021

Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Mark 8:34,35

Jesus Came To Save Us From Ourselves


Daily Devotion – March 4, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:34,35

See series: Devotions

Jesus once had a notable conversation with some people who expressed faith in him. He said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” The crowd took offense. What did Jesus mean, they would be set free? They had never been slaves to anyone! But he responded, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:31-34).

It’s the perfect definition of sin. Sin is slavery to yourself.

That’s why we sin, right? We do things that are wrong because we love ourselves. We sin because we believe that we will gain some advantage for ourselves. When we survey the situation and conclude, “This won’t benefit me at all,” we immediately cease and desist. Sin is nothing more than self-love, selfishness, self-indulgence. Sin is all about me.

And that’s why Jesus came, to save us from ourselves. He did that by taking the burden of us and our sinfulness on himself rather than being selfish and saying, “You fix it.” Even though Jesus had no sin, he foisted on himself the burden and guilt of the world’s sin (1 John 2:1,2). We have forgiveness freely. Jesus gives us his perfection. Why? Because he loves us, and everyone (1 John 4:10).

But remember why Jesus came? To save us from ourselves! That’s why he says that whoever wants to be his disciple “must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” God’s people don’t run back to their selfish way of living after Jesus saves them. They strive to be selfless toward others just as he has been perfectly selfless toward us.

When we “lose our lives” this way—surrendering our selfishness and living in the freedom of a life serving others—we find out what true life is really all about. It’s not about me. It’s all about others.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me from myself. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself – Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Genesis 28:10-17

The Lord said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac… All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:13-15

Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself

 

Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 28:13-15

See series: Devotions

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

“I can do it myself!” The little boy declares to his mom as he tries to put his shirt on himself. But the more he tries, the more tangled his arms and head become. Finally he cries out, “Help!!” Mom comes to his rescue, helping her little boy get his head and arms back where they need to go.

Do you ever think “I can do it myself” when it comes to following Jesus? A man named Jacob had a lot of trouble with that. God promised that the Savior would come from his family. But Jacob’s father wanted to give that promise to his twin brother Esau. Jacob tried to get that promise for himself. He deceived his father to get the promise. Unfortunately, Jacob’s attempt to “do it himself” made his brother so angry, Jacob fled for his life.

Jacob got himself into a tangled mess. What was he going to do? He needed help, even though it may seem he did not deserve help. Yet the Lord still loved him. One night while Jacob was running away, he slept under the stars with a rock as his pillow. God gave him the most amazing dream. Jacob saw angels going up and down a stairway to heaven. At the top, the Lord made promise after promise to Jacob. Even though Jacob did not deserve it, the Lord would still send the Savior through Jacob’s family. The Lord would still watch over him and never leave him.

Sometimes you might think you can follow Jesus yourself. Yet how often don’t we find ourselves tangled up in temptation, hurting with guilt, or lost and confused? In moments like that, we need help, even though we do not deserve it. Jesus comes to our rescue. He untangles us from temptation, heals our hurt, and helps us follow him once again on the journey to heaven. Why? He loves us. Remember that Savior is with you. He watches over you. He forgives you, and he will bless you.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, so often I get myself tangled in temptation because I don’t think I need your help. Forgive me and help me with your mercy and love. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why did Jacob run away from home?
  • Describe something amazing from Jacob’s dream.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Lord make promises to Jacob even though he did not deserve them?
  • List ways that Jesus “did it all for me” when I could not save myself.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recount a time when you were so mad, you wanted to run away from home.
  • How can you use the story of God’s love for a runaway Jacob to encourage someone whose life seems all tangled up at the moment?

Hymn: CW 429:1,2 – What God Ordains Is Always Good

What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.
As he directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In ev’ry need
Knows well how he will shield me; To him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good; He never will deceive me.
He leads me in his righteous way And never will he leave me.
I take content What he has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness Will turn my tears to gladness.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Big Picture – March 3, 2021

“Get behind me, Satan!” [Jesus] said, “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Mark 8:33

The Big Picture


Daily Devotion – March 3, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:33

See series: Devotions

Are you a “big picture” kind of person? Do you have the ability to anticipate what might happen in the future as you weigh this alternative versus that one? Can you analyze the pros and cons?

Some people seem to have the uncanny ability to foresee the future and stave off disaster. We call that gift wisdom or prudence. Especially when making big decisions, it’s important to see and consider the big picture.

But no sinful human being has perfect prudence. Worldly wisdom often fails. The reason for this is simple. We cannot know with certainty what the future holds based on our human understanding and intuition. At best, we make educated guesses. But our calculated wisdom and painstaking prudence offer no guarantees. The Bible says, “No one knows what is coming—who can tell someone else what will happen after them?” (Ecclesiastes 10:14).

Peter thought he was prudent by imploring Jesus to avoid his cross. It made perfect sense! Why would anyone purposefully go up to Jerusalem so that he could “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law,” only to “be killed” (Mark 8:31)? Which one of us would have argued that Peter was wrong?

We wouldn’t have, but Jesus did. And why? Because our Savior sees the big picture. Unlike us, he knew the future and understood what lay ahead on the road for sinners like you and me should he listen to Peter’s prudence and shun his suffering and cross. His evasion would mean our devastation.

Jesus didn’t mince words. He knew who was hiding behind Peter’s iron-clad logic. It was the devil himself, who would have loved nothing more than to watch Jesus abandon us to the grave and hell forever.

But our Savior saw right through it. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” Peter was only noticing the short-term disadvantage to Jesus. Our Savior saw the big picture. His cross meant our salvation. His death meant our life. His resurrection meant our eternal victory.

That’s all that mattered to Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for saving me from my broken logic and shortsightedness. Amen.

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

[Jesus] spoke plainly about [his suffering], and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.
Mark 8:32,33

Unanswered Prayers


Daily Devotion – March 2, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:32,33

See series: Devotions

Have you ever wanted something so badly—prayed for something passionately—only to discover later in life how thankful you ought to be that you didn’t get what you once wanted so desperately? So often, we have to thank God for “unanswered” prayers, requests that we’ve made to him, which he replied with a big, fat “no.”

Why doesn’t God give us everything that we want? Because he loves us too much, and he knows that what we want is not always what’s best for us in the long run.

That’s what our Savior wants for us most of all, the very best things that last forever. He’s not interested in our instant gratification that ultimately ends in ruin and destruction. What good does that do? He wants to give us his blessings and life that last eternally, even when we beg him for the opposite and rebuke him when he refuses.

When Jesus told his disciples about the suffering he must undergo as our perfect Savior, Peter begged him to stop talking that way. Indeed, Mark tells us, he “began to rebuke him.”

Don’t get Peter wrong. This wasn’t hateful, nor was it necessarily selfish. His intentions were sincere. He loved Jesus, and he wanted to prevent the horrible series of events that his master had just outlined for his future. So he prayed earnestly to Jesus, “Keep this from happening to you!” If Jesus wouldn’t prevent it, Peter would do his best to block him in love.

But Jesus resisted his dear disciple’s pleadings, even though he realized the prayer was offered in good faith. Why resist him? Because he knew that, even though granting Peter’s request would result in a much better outcome for himself, it would have doomed Peter and us to everlasting destruction.

But that’s not what Jesus wants. No, he “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). What is that truth? Jesus loves you. He’s saved you completely. Your sin is forgiven. Heaven is yours. Believe it, it’s true.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for doing all things to grant me the gift of everlasting life. Amen.

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

Jesus Rescues Us From God’s Law

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

For centuries Christians have spent Lent meditating on Jesus’ suffering and death, which atoned for our guilt. Lent is the “serious season” of the church year in which we put extra emphasis on recognizing and confessing our own sins. Congregations with special mid-week services usually keep a somber, reflective tone. The Sundays in Lent, however, serve as “mini Easters;” their readings and hymns bring comfort to the believers who are reflecting on their sins and Jesus’ passion. The third Sunday in Lent reminds us of God’s perfect law and his demand that we fear and love him. Thankfully, Jesus has fulfilled God’s law in our place.

FIRST LESSON – Exodus 20:1-17

Why does God remind the Israelites that he brought them out of Egypt before giving the Ten Commandments?

The holy God who demands we keep his commandments wants love and trust from his children. His law cannot instill that love and trust. Only his gospel can. By reminding the Israelites of how he rescued them from Egypt, he is putting in the forefront of their minds his love and mercy. That rescue from Egypt reminds us that the same holy God sent Jesus to rescue us from our sin.

Since God already put his commandments on our hearts, why did he etch them on stone (and in the Bible) for us?

Our own sin and the sin around us combine to darken and callous our hearts, so we need God’s law written down―in detail―for us so we know exactly what his will is.

SECOND LESSON – 1 Corinthians 1:22-25

How is ‘Christ crucified’ foolishness to many people?

Later in this letter, Paul explains that people don’t naturally understand or believe in Jesus, but only by the Holy Spirit can people recognize God’s wisdom in sending Jesus. Without the Holy Spirit, the message of Jesus dying on a cross to save us makes no sense. With the Holy Spirit, we see God’s wisdom and love in providing the perfect Savior.

What is the essence of a Christian’s message to the world?

“Christ crucified” is the heart of the gospel. The only way sinners can stand before a holy God is if their sins are removed. The only way sins are removed is by Christ being crucified for us.

SUPPLEMENTAL SECOND LESSON – Romans 8:1-10

Were you born neutral toward God and his commands? Or even favorable toward them? (See 8:7.)

No. We were all born hostile to God. We did not submit to God’s law. We could not.

How much does God blame you in his courtroom now? (See 8:1.)

You are completely innocent in God’s courtroom because of Jesus’ blood. There is no condemnation for all who are in Christ Jesus. None.

GOSPEL – John 2:13-22

Why do you think the Jewish leaders allowed the buying and selling of animals in the temple courts?

The Jewish leaders let people buy and sell in the temple courts, presumably, because those who sold animals and changed money made a profit. Nothing should disturb God’s people from hearing God’s Word, though, or coming to God in prayer and praise in thanks for God’s mercies.

How do you know that Jesus was not sinning by angrily overturning the tables and driving out the money changers?

Jesus was not sinning because what was at stake was the glory and honor of God. His temple was to be a place for worship. But isn’t anger always sin? No. God the Father “expresses his wrath every day,” but never sins (Psalm 7:11). Jesus never sinned (Hebrews 4:15). He could not.

Why are Jesus’ words in verse 19 significant?

In John 2:19 our Savior predicted his own resurrection from the dead. When he fulfilled his promise, he proved he truly is God and keeps his Word. That truth gives us sinners hope and comfort. Only God can save us; Jesus is God. He has rescued us! (See Romans 4:25.)

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Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross – Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Mark 8:31-38

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

Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross

 

Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:34

See series: Devotions

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

Crosses are heavy. You might not think that when you see a cross hanging on your wall… and the wall is not collapsing. You might not think that when a cross hangs from a necklace around your neck… and you are not falling over under its weight. You might not think that when you see a cross on top of your church… and the roof is not caving in. Yet crosses can be heavy and even painful.

Back in Jesus’ day, criminals had to carry their crosses. A cross was made of solid pieces of heavy wood. That wood would be rough and full of splinters. Even more painful was what happened as a person’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Crosses were heavy and painful. If you lived in Jesus’s day, a cross was the last thing you would ever want to carry.

Jesus told his disciples that he would soon suffer and die on a cross, but they did not want to hear that. They loved Jesus very much. They did not want him to suffer such a painful death, but Jesus knew he had to take up that cross. You see, Jesus had to suffer and die on a cross for you and me. Jesus needed to suffer and die on a cross because we love ourselves more than we love God.

“I want to do what I want! I want to get what I want! I want… I want… I want…” Every one of us is selfish, no matter how young, no matter how old. We are all selfish, but Jesus was selfless for us. He willingly took up his cross to suffer and die for our selfish sins. Why? Because he loves you. He loves every one of us with a love that cares more about us than himself.

Out of amazing love for us, Jesus took up his heavy, painful cross. Now we follow him by taking up our crosses—not made of wood, but rather the “cross” of saying “No” to our selfish desires in order to honor Jesus with our lives. That is not easy. In fact, it can be painful. Still, we follow Jesus and carry our cross, because he carried his cross, until we join him in heaven someday.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, following you isn’t easy. Support me to carry my cross because you carried yours for me. 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

  • Count how many crosses you see in your home.
  • How does a cross help you think about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain the difference between being selfish and selfless.
  • Why did Jesus have to take up his cross?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Following Jesus can be a heavy, painful cross.
  • Why is it necessary for a Christian to deny themselves and take up their cross if he or she is going to follow Jesus?

Hymn: CW 428:1,2 – Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me

Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With his cheer; Never will he leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God’s Son For me won When his life was given?

When life’s troubles rise to meet me,
Though their weight May be great, They will not defeat me.
God, my loving Savior, sees them;
He who knows All my woes Knows how best to end them.

 

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

How Are You Doing? – Week of March 1, 2021



Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

Mark 8:34-35



How are you doing?  If you gave up something for Lent, are you still holding strong or have you abandoned your sacrifice?  The tradition of denying something of pleasure for the six weeks leading up to Easter has been a challenge taken on by millions over the generations.  The motivation to sacrifice chocolate, as an example, is supposedly to lead the self-disciplined individual to remember Jesus’ suffering and ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  Six weeks does not sound that long!  A small sacrifice should not be that difficult!  Yet, for many the Lenten denial is surrendered in favor of the easy way out.

It is challenging to give up something you love, to deny yourself what you want.  Sometimes, we even act like our children when we must sacrifice something we value.  However, in our text we see Jesus gather up his followers for a special tutorial on discipleship instructing them to do exactly that.  “… deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

To be sure, denying ourselves- taking up our cross and following Jesus, is vastly different than sacrificing a pleasure for six weeks.  Denying ourselves is understanding that nothing in this life is more important than our faith in Jesus and the salvation of our souls- not money or property or personal connections.  Heaven is not gained with those.

But how are you doing?  Are you taking your faith life seriously or are you, like me, hanging your head in shame over the time you binge watched a TV series but did not find time to have a personal devotion?  Are your shoulders slumping, like mine, over the time you did not feel well enough to attend worship but work was too important to miss?  Do your eyes lower, like mine, over all of the times you prioritized this life instead of your eternal life.

We groan, “God forgive us!”  Then Jesus lifts our sin-weary head and takes our wretched hands and says, “You are forgiven!  Look!  See the cross I took up for you?  That is where I spread my arms to bear each time you denied me instead of this world.  That is where I give you strength to live for me!”

So how are you doing?  Well, on our own, we fail!  Only in Jesus do we have the strength to deny ourselves, bear our cross and follow him.  Draw near to Jesus.  Hear his Word.  Receive his forgiveness.  Then bear your cross with his strength.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for forgiving me when I deny you!  Help me remember your cross as I daily live for you!  Amen!

Question for Reflection: What part of my day denies Jesus?  How can I move forward in Jesus’ forgiveness and strength?

Want to know more?  I’m not perfect; I make mistakes!  So what?  From WhatAboutJesus.com



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

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Bucket List – March 1, 2021

[Jesus] then began to teach [his disciples] that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.
Mark 8:31

Bucket List


Daily Devotion – March 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:31

See series: Devotions

Do you have a bucket list, a list of things you must do before you die?

I don’t have a bucket list. Maybe that means I’m unimaginative or that I’m content. Perhaps it’s a little of both. But I really can’t say that there’s any one thing I must do before I die. Otherwise, I might feel as though my life would end unfulfilled.

I suppose that there are some people who have taken the time to put together a bucket list. And I imagine that the activities on their lists include every type of fun and enjoyable adventures, things meant to bring a smile to a person’s face. After all, that’s why bucket lists exist. Right? They’re all about me, my self-fulfillment, my self-indulgence.

Did you know that Jesus had a bucket list? He absolutely did. But his list didn’t include a bunch of fun, self-indulgent activities. No, Jesus’ bucket list was all about his suffering in self-sacrificing love for you and me and every sinner.

True, Jesus didn’t concoct his own list. It was given to him by his Father before he was born. But it wasn’t crammed down his throat either. Not at all. Jesus accepted it joyfully and willingly. And he strove with all his being to carry out the items on that list perfectly and passionately.

In Mark chapter 8, Jesus revealed his list to his closest friends. He told them how he “must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”

This was more than a premonition on Jesus’ part. It was a promise. Each item on his bucket list was going to get crossed off, no matter what.

And why? Because Jesus loves you that much. Because he wants you to know that heaven is yours. Trust him! His bucket list is complete, and it wasn’t about him. It was about you!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for your faithful and perfect love and your willingness to sacrifice all things for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 28, 2021

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
2 Samuel 12:7

Conflict avoidance

The Question: I’ve decided not to talk with my friends to avoid conflict. It is better for everyone, right?

Not talking to your friends when there is conflict between you is definitely the easier option, but is it really the better option? Is it what God wants you to do?

Nathan was a prophet while David was king of Israel. David created conflict with God, and it was up to Nathan as the prophet of God to resolve it. David wanted another man’s wife. He had sex with her. He lied and tried to cover it up. When he was in danger of being discovered, he had her husband murdered. In the end, David looked like the good guy because he took the mourning widow into his own home as his wife. God told Nathan to confront David about his sin.

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. Put yourself in Nathan’s shoes! Nathan was to confront the king with what he had done, though David could easily have him killed. David had already shown that he was willing to murder to cover up his sin. Would Nathan be next? It would have made sense for Nathan to avoid the conflict, but he didn’t. He went to David and said, “David, you are the man. You are the sinner, the murderer, the liar.” Nathan addressed the conflict head on. Why?

Nathan loved David so much he confronted him with the truth. God’s people are sometimes called not just to do what is safe and easy. They do what is best for others. David’s eternal life was at stake due to dangerous, unresolved, and unrepentant sin. Nathan put David before himself and confronted him.

That is what God wants you to do in your conflicts. Avoiding conflicts may at the moment be the easy way out, but it doesn’t make them go away. Confront conflict! Love your friend. Put them first just like Nathan did his king, like Jesus did for you.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, I experience many moments of being weak and afraid. Comfort me with the assurance that you still love and will always forgive me. Reach down and take hold of my hand and lift me to a higher level of strength. Give me courage to speak when I should, and to know when best to be silent. Give me wisdom so that your will, not mine, be done. Use me to accomplish your purpose in Christ. Amen.


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