A Life of Obedience to God – December 23, 2020

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
Luke 1:34-38

A Life of Obedience to God


Daily Devotion – December 23, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:34-38

See series: Devotions

Can you imagine what it was like for Mary at that moment? A young, soon-to-be-married woman discovers that she is going to have a baby. Her life is about to get turned upside down. Hundreds of questions and dozens of doubts and fears must swirl around in her head. How will Joseph, her husband-to-be, accept the news? Will her child be considered illegitimate? Would anyone ever believe the truth—that her baby was a miracle of the Holy Spirit? Why was she chosen for this? How could such a thing even be possible?

In reply to her questions, the angel pointed her to God’s grace, God’s power, and God’s promises. And that is what her faith clung to. Mary didn’t ask for time to pray or to speak with her fiancé before responding to God’s messenger. She simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”

A life of obedience to God means taking him at his word, relinquishing control of one’s own life, and trusting that God will make good on his many promises. All too often, we rebel against that thought. But Mary’s son, Jesus, obeyed it perfectly. Although he is the true Son of God, he is also the Lord’s perfect servant. Jesus submitted his will to that of God his Father, serving willingly and faithfully as our Savior and substitute on the cross. His death and resurrection guarantee that our sin of rebellion has been forgiven. All who repent and believe are declared to be God’s holy children. May his Word to us be fulfilled!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let me serve you even as you have served 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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What Is So Great About Christmas – December 22, 2020

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.
Luke 1:31-33

What Is So Great About Christmas


Daily Devotion – December 22, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:31-33

See series: Devotions

Is Christmas really worth all the bother? All the tree lighting, carol singing, gift-giving, and countless other traditions unique to each family? Around the world, Christians have developed an amazing variety of ways to celebrate Christmas in their own languages and cultures. What’s so great about Christmas that it should inspire people to such elaborate and creative celebrations? Isn’t it just about the birth of a baby?

Yes, but what a birth! And what a baby! There would be reason enough for us to sit in wonder each year at this time simply marveling at the miracle of the virgin birth. That baby boy born to Mary in Bethlehem is God himself, “the Son of the Most High,” whose coming was foretold by prophets in ancient times and whose arrival was announced by an angel from heaven. This child was not only a direct descendant of the great King David—he is the proper heir to an even higher throne, the eternal kingdom of God, his Father. Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, even our own nation one day, but Jesus Christ will rule forever.

How do you properly celebrate the birth of the greatest, most highly anticipated person to ever walk on this earth? What if I told you that this great man willingly allowed himself to be humiliated before men so that you and I could be glorified before God? He suffered the shame of the cross so that we might be honored with God’s grace and the gift of forgiveness. And after rising from death of his own power, Jesus now watches over you, showering you with his love and blessings, and working out all things so that you might share in his never-ending glory. What’s so great about Christmas? It’s the birth of our great Christ and King!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 55)
Yea, Lord, we greet Thee,
Born this happy morning,
Jesus, to Thee be
all glory given;
Son of the Father,
Now in flesh appearing;
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ, the Lord. 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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First Sunday after Christmas

Jesus Comes to Save Us, Even as an Infant

These are the readings for the First Sunday after Christmas.

God’s Word for This Week

Whether or not we had a “good Christmas,” as some may ask us, today we hear the good news of God’s grace over and over.

First Lesson – Isaiah 45:20-25

What key ability does the Lord have that idols do not have? (See 45:20,21.)

The Lord can predict the future and does so with perfect accuracy. Idols and those who follow them have no ability to predict the future.

Why do all the ends of the earth need to turn to the Lord? (See 45:21,22.)

All the ends of the earth need to turn to the Lord because he is the only God. He is the only Savior. He is righteous, so he must punish sinners, but in mercy, the Father has punished his Son in our place.

On the Last Day, how will all believers in the Lord be found? How will we feel? (See 45:25.)

All believers in the Lord will be found righteous and will exult. To be found righteous means that on the Last Day, God will judge us sinners right with him, for Jesus’ sake. This will make us exult. That is, we will be full of joy.

Second Lesson – Colossians 3:12-17

What three key gospel truths motivate our new lives in Christ? (See 3:12.)

a) In Christ, we are God’s chosen people. In eternity, in pure grace, the Father picked us to be his own. b) In Christ, we are holy in God’s sight. Jesus’ holiness is credited to us as if we have had only holy thoughts and actions all our lives. c) In Christ, we are dearly loved.

Where is the only place to find strength for our new life in Christ? (See 3:16.)

The only place to find strength for our new life in Christ is in God’s Word. (Let’s dig into it daily to teach and warn each other! Let’s sing it gladly!)

Gospel – Luke 2:25-40

What did God do for Simeon, compared to what God had promised Simeon? (See 2:25-28.)

God had promised Simeon that he would not die before he saw God’s Anointed Son. But God did better than he promised. He let Simeon hold his Savior!

What did Simeon hint at to Mary? (See 2:35.)

He hinted that Jesus would suffer great pain, and Mary, without Joseph at her side, would see it. A sword would pierce her own soul, too.

For what were Simeon and Anna waiting? (See 2:25,38.) For what are you waiting?

They were waiting for the consolation of Israel, the redemption of Jerusalem—waiting for God to come and comfort his people by paying for their sins. We wait for Jesus to comfort and rescue us by coming again.

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An Advent Promise—No Word from God Will Ever Fail – Week of December 21, 2020

An Advent Promise—No Word from God Will Ever Fail – Week of December 21, 2020



But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end. …For no word from God will ever fail. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her

Luke 1:30-33, 37-38



For no word from God will ever fail. As you read through the Old Testament, see how many times it looked like God’s word was going to fail. See the centuries of sinners in the line of your Savior. How desperately they need him.

For no word from God will ever fail. But it looks like it might, as we look at our own lives. For as ugly as the history of the people of God in the Old Testament, my history, my past history, my current history, is no prettier. Or yours.

For no word from God will ever fail. The one who enters the virgin’s womb is the one who enters Bethlehem’s manger, enters Jerusalem’s gates on Palm Sunday, enters into death, even death on a cross, enters into a tomb only to leave it empty again. For me.  For you!

For no word from God will ever fail.  The same Word which healed lepers and caused the blind to see and called the dead forth out of the grave. This Word spoken to you. “I forgive you.” For no Word of God fails. Nothing is impossible with God.

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.”  Mary did not demand a diagram or an explanation or a contract from her Lord. She demanded nothing. She believed.

I am the Lord’s servant. God works such faith in you as well. How could you know all that’s coming? For all of our planning and wisdom, tomorrow can change everything; indeed, tomorrow may never come. We don’t know all that the Lord has in store for us, this much we do:

  • The virgin conceived and gave birth to a son.
  • Our brother. And he will save the people from their sins.
  • Nothing is impossible with God.

For no word from God will ever fail.  The stuff in your life, the big stuff, the stuff that feels like too much, the struggles, the doubts, the fears.  God and his word will not fail. I am the Lord’s servant Lord, open our lips to speak with such confidence! For he has shown you his favor! Jesus is His name!



Prayer:

Come, Lord Jesus, come. Take away the burden of our sins and make us ready for the celebration of your birth! Amen.



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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Rejoice that God Sent his Son – Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Read: Luke 1:26-38

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Luke 1:31

Rejoice that God Sent his Son

 

Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:31

See series: Devotions

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

When kids are little, they often want something right now, but often they just need to wait. One mom asked her impatient children, “What’s Grandma’s word?”

They’d sigh and reply, “Patience.”

And then they’d wait.

When you’re reading the book of Luke, the story of an angel appearing to Mary comes so close to the story of Jesus’ birth that it seems like Mary didn’t have to be patient. Actually, when the angel told Mary she’d have a baby, Mary had to wait about nine months until Jesus was born.

You want to know how long nine months is? That’s how long it’s been since COVID-19 began to shut down our country. How much have you done since then? School online or in person. You’ve played in the backyard, done puzzles, watched a lot of movies, read books, played basketball, listened to music, went to the beach, taken a walk. Maybe you even went on a small trip.

Nine months was a long time for Mary to patiently wait. But she waited, God kept his promise, and Jesus was born.

You know what? The truth is that people had to wait a whole lot longer than nine months for this baby. After Adam and Eve first sinned and God promised he’d send a Savior, believers waited 4,000 years for the Savior to arrive. While they wanted the Savior right now, God was telling them, “Patience.” God knew when the time would be right to send the one who would save us from our sins.

He knew the exact right time to send Jesus to take our place, to live perfectly for us, to endure pain and suffering and death for us. Three days later he rose from the dead to defeat Satan—and give us the victory.

You know what else? We are still waiting for Jesus to come back again. At that time, Jesus will come to take us to heaven with him. Sometimes we want him to come right now, but God knows when the time is right.

So rejoice! Be happy! Be patient. God sent his Son once, and he will send him again.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for always acting when the time is right. Thank you for sending your Son the first time to save us from our sins. Give us patience while we wait for you to come again so that we can all live together in heaven.

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 is waiting for Christmas so hard?
  • Until Jesus comes again, how does he want us to wait? (Hint: “What’s Grandma’s word?”)

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name two promises God gave you.
  • How have you have seen God keep those promises—even if it took a while?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss a time when weren’t happy that you had to wait, but God’s timing turned out better than yours.
  • What promise of God means the most to you and why. Talk about how you have seen him keep that promise.

Hymn: CW 59:1,4 – Christ the Lord to Us is Born

Christ the Lord to us is born, Alleluia!
On this joyous Christmas morn, Alleluia!
Refrain:
Of a virgin lowly, He, the King most holy,
Born this day to save us.

God has saved us through his Son, Alleluia!
Conquered lies the evil one, Alleluia!
Refrain

 

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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You Have Found Favor With God – December 21, 2020

The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.”
Luke 1:28-30

You Have Found Favor With God


Daily Devotion – December 21, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:28-30

See series: Devotions

In your inbox is an email with the subject line: “Congratulations! You have been chosen to receive special attention.” By now, you’ve learned enough of how the internet works that you might immediately mark the message as junk mail without even opening it. But what if you noticed that it was sent by the Internal Revenue Service? You wouldn’t throw that one away! You might even become nervous, wondering why the government had singled you out, fearing that you might somehow be in trouble.

A young woman named Mary wasn’t sure how to react when an emissary from God, a holy angel, appeared to her saying, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” Why would God single her out for attention? She knew that there was nothing about her personally that merited any preferential treatment. Like others in the Scriptures who suddenly found themselves in the presence of God or one of his angels, at that moment, Mary was no doubt painfully aware of her own unworthiness, her personal failings, and the many reasons why a holy God might be displeased with her. But the angel assured her that she had nothing to worry about. She had found favor with God.

Whenever we open our Bibles or go to church, we find ourselves in the presence of God, who speaks through his Word and who knows how unworthy we are. Maybe you have been trying to avoid that. But don’t be afraid; listen to what he has to say. You will also find favor with him! He is a gracious God who lifts up the lowly and has mercy on the undeserving. He sent his Son Jesus, born of Mary, to shower us all with his grace. Do not be afraid of God turning his gaze toward you. Rather listen closely to his message of peace and forgiveness in Jesus announced to you again this Christmas.

Prayer:
Lord, calm my heart and prepare it to listen to your message of peace and joy in Jesus. 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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Christ is All We Need for Christmas – December 20, 2020

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Christ is All We Need for Christmas


Daily Devotion – December 20, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: Devotions

This is the season when people typically make a list of the things they would like for Christmas gifts. Children, especially, can usually come up with a pretty long list.

Despite all the gift-giving that goes on at Christmas time, the greatest gift we receive is a Savior who was born in a manger. There is nothing we need more than that. Just to prove that point, look at our Bible reading for today.

Jesus stood up in the synagogue at Nazareth and read this Old Testament passage. After rolling up the scroll, he said, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4: 21). Jesus confirmed that he is the one to give all the blessings of this Isaiah passage. And what great blessings they are! The good news of God’s love and forgiveness is proclaimed to poor sinners like us. When our hearts are broken by all the heartbreakers of this life, Jesus is there to bind them up with his peace. Instead of feeling trapped by our sin and death, Jesus sets us free to live powerful lives of forgiveness and hope. He makes us strong oaks to stand in the face of troubles. He puts a crown on our heads and declares that we are children of the King. He clothes us in his righteousness to stand before our God and the world as a display of God’s splendor.

What’s on your Christmas list? It is comforting to know that, even if we were to receive none of the gifts on our list, we would still have all we need because we have Jesus, our Savior.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for being the only gift I could ever really need. 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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Weary watchers – December 20, 2020

Weary watchers – December 20, 2020


Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?”
Mark 14:37




Military Devotion – December 20, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 14:37

See series: Military Devotions

Those who have pulled guard duty know the body can get weary, and the night can get long. Mothers who have sat in the darkness by the bedside of their sick child know this, too. So did the disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane on that dark night.

When watchers get weary, their eyesight blurs, their hearing fades, and vigilance slips away. Of what help is a sleeping watcher? In times of war, some who fell asleep at their post were shot.

We are God’s replacements for the watchmen of old. The Old Testament prophets have been released from duty and transferred to heaven. The same for those who served in the ranks of the early New Testament church. Generations of those who were called to duty in service to the King of kings have come and gone.

We are the ones left. We stand on the front line of the battle for souls. We don’t know if replacements will ever fill our slots. We might have to hold the field until the final trumpet sounds.

The disciples in Gethsemane were told, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” They were going to experience things on that night that could shake their faith. We note that not only did Peter deny knowing Jesus, but all the rest except for John deserted him.

They should have stayed alert. They should have kept their eyes on their Savior. They stood at a dangerous time.

So, do we.

The Christmas story tells us of the Son of God’s arrival as a fellow human. It marked the beginning of a mission that rescued us. There is little chance that we will not notice the approach of the anniversary of that event. Too many people want us to buy things in celebration of it.

Nor do we need wait for the arrival of Jesus into our lives of faith. It’s happening now through the inspired Word and sacraments.

Advent reminds us that Jesus said he would physically return. That’s what we are to watch for. He commands, “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come” (Matthew 24:42).

We might learn from the sight that shocked Pearl Harbor on a sunny Sunday morning years ago. They had been warned that an attack might come. They just didn’t think it would happen then. December 6, 1941 was a normal day. December 7 was not.

The Day of Infamy dawned. Death rained from the sky.

They should have kept watch.

So should we as we wait for the dawn of the day of judgment.

But not in fear do we watch. We know Jesus will bring us life eternal, not death and misery. Until then, he supports us with power from on high.

The prophet reminds us: “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak” (Isaiah 40:29).

We will keep watching until the Jesus tells us, “You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary” (Revelation 2:3).

We will not grow weary with waiting and watching.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have told us that you will one day return to end life in this world. You have explained that you will bring with you all those who died in faith. We will watch for that day. But we will not fear it. You will come as our friend, not our foe. 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 – December 20, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The name

Do you know what your name means? In some cultures, the meaning of a person’s name is the most important factor. It seems like more parents are giving their kids names that are unique, edgy, or trendy. Do you think names matter?

Before God sent his Son into the world, he gave hints as to what this child would be like. We call these promises, or even prophecies. The people who lived before Christ had limited knowledge. They didn’t know all the details of Christmas and Jesus’ life and death as we do. But God didn’t hold back when he shared the names of Jesus, because these names would say a lot about who he is and what he would do.

He is Wonderful, filling our minds and hearts with awe over his love Not only will people think he is a wonderful person, but his work is wonderful as well.

He is the ultimate Counselor who hears our cries and knows our pain. Though a child, he has no need for counselors. He already has a plan for our salvation.

He is Mighty God with unparalleled power and unmatched strength. The point is clear: When you struggle, God will comfort you with all his might.

He is Everlasting Father who provides and protects us beyond this life and into eternity. Not only does he possess the eternal gene, but as a faithful and wise father, he will share eternity with his children. God sent his Son to work out the plan for our eternal good.

He is the Prince of Peace. That’s not just a name. “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). He removes anything that has robbed us of peace. He calms our fears about sin, death, and where we stand with God because he is our Savior.

What’s in a name? With Jesus . . . everything!

Prayer: Dear Savior, draw me in to every detail of your names so that I find your grace for me. 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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Perfect Christmas Preparation – December 19, 2020

Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned [John], “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” “I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
John 1:24-27

Perfect Christmas Preparation


Daily Devotion – December 19, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:24-27

See series: Devotions

For most of us, Christmas preparations are in full swing. Although preparing for Christmas can be hectic, it can also be an exciting and enjoyable task—smelling Christmas cookies as you bake them, trimming the tree, smiling as you find just the right gift for that special someone.

The Lord knows all about preparing. Over and over in the Old Testament, he prepared his people for the eventual arrival of their deliverer—the one he would send to rescue them from their sins and restore their relationship with their Maker. Just before Jesus began preaching and teaching, the Lord sent a special man to prepare people for Jesus’ arrival on the scene. We know this man as John the Baptist.

The reason John was such an expert at preparing people for Jesus is that John had a proper perspective on things. John said that he was not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandals. This was not false modesty. John knew exactly where he stood with God and knew he had offended God with his sins. John knew that he desperately needed someone to rescue him from those sins. So, when Jesus arrived, John was relieved and thankful and thrilled.

Do you want to be properly prepared to celebrate Christmas? Baking cookies, trimming the tree, and shopping till you drop are all fine and fun. But, to be TRULY prepared, adopt the proper perspective of John. See yourself as the unworthy sinner you are. See your Savior as the one who loves you still. Then, like John, you will be relieved, thankful, and thrilled when you see your Savior arrive.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I know that, like John, I am not worthy to even untie your sandals. But I also know that this is why you were born in Bethlehem. I know that through your perfect life and innocent death, you have washed away my sins and made me worthy in God’s sight. Thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Live Your Life in the Light – Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Live Your Life in the Light

 

Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

See series: Devotions

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

Some families have a “chore board.” It’s a list of things for children to do to help out in the family, whether it’s wipe off the counter, help with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn, or mop the floor.

God, your heavenly Father, has a chore board for you too. But they aren’t really chores. It’s more like God’s list of things that people who are part of his family naturally do. It’s part of a longer list, but today’s Bible reading gives us three to start with:

First, he wants you to rejoice always. Rejoice is a pretty church-y word. It means God wants you to show joy all the time. Not only when things happen that you like, but even when you’re sad and hurting. It’s more than the joy you feel at Christmas or when you get a new puppy. It’s the happiness you feel when you know you’re safe and secure because Jesus has made you part of God’s family. It’s the joy of knowing you belong to him—forever.

Secondly, God wants you to pray continually. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything except pray. It means that you never stop talking to God first, all the time. When you’re sad, let God know how much your heart hurts and that you need him. Then go get a hug from your mom or dad. When you’re wondering how you should deal with a bully, talk to the school counselor, but don’t forget to also ask God to give you his wisdom and courage. When you have good news and want to share it, thank God first for the amazing news! Then share it with your friends.

Thirdly, God wants you to give thanks in all circumstances. Corrie ten Boom is a good example of this. She and her sister were in a big prison, called a concentration camp. Their bed was full of bugs. That’s when her sister thanked God for the fleas. Corrie didn’t think she’d ever be thankful for bugs that bit her. While stuck in this miserable situation, they studied their smuggled Bible with other prisoners. Later they learned that the fleas kept the prison guards away, which let them tell the other prisoners about Jesus. Corrie was now thankful for the fleas.

God’s to-do list isn’t long, but it’s what he truly wants us to be doing. May God help you rejoice, pray, and give thanks your whole life!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, I don’t pray all the time, I’m not joyful all the time, and I’m not thankful all the time. I’m sorry. Thank you that Jesus paid for all the times I don’t do these three things. Help me see your to-do list as a blessing and not a chore.

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 things that makes you happy.
  • If it’s a person, who should we pray for?
  • If it’s a thing, what are you thankful for?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What in your life feels like bugs biting you? How can we thank God for them?
  • Name three blessings from God in your life that make you happy.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss with your parents the one thing really bothering right now that God wants to use for your good. (Hint: It can’t be a sibling.)
  • Today’s devotion encouraged more happiness, prayer, and giving thanks. Which of those three do you want to focus on the rest of this week?

Hymn: CW 19:1 – O Lord, How Shall I Meet You

O Lord, how shall I meet you, How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you, My Hope, my heart’s Delight.
O Jesus, let your Word be A lamp to light my way,
To show me how to please you, To guide me ev’ry day.

 

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 Real Star – December 18, 2020

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.”
John 1:26,27

The Real Star


Daily Devotion – December 18, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:26,27

See series: Devotions

With these words, John the Baptist takes his place next to Dr. Watson, Ed McMahon, Art Garfunkel, and Scottie Pippen in the society of famous “second fiddles.” Dr. Watson didn’t solve the case. He marveled at the wits of Sherlock Holmes and then complimented the detective on a job well done. Ed McMahon didn’t sit behind the desk on The Tonight Show. He introduced Johnny Carson and then provided a hearty “laugh track” to the host’s comedic efforts.

Some of those famous second fiddles weren’t always so happy to play the supporting role. But John the Baptist was more than okay with it. In fact, he knew it was his divinely-given role in life to point ahead to the one who was coming after him. Before he was even born, the angel Gabriel told John’s father, “He will go on before the Lord . . . to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).

And when he grew up and started preaching and started to gain a bit of a following, even then John remembered that it wasn’t about him, it was about Jesus. “The one who comes after me,” John says, “He is the one you’re looking for. He’s the star of this show.”

What an example for us to imitate! What a blessing to play “second fiddle” to Jesus! It was the purpose and goal of John the Baptist’s life. It’s the purpose of our lives as well. Aware of our mountain of sins, aware of our spectacular failures in obedience, we echo John’s words, “I am not worthy.” But Jesus took our unworthiness to the cross. And now, in joyful thanks, we become John the Baptists—if not in appearance or mannerisms, at least in message and attitude. Our goal each day is to give Jesus glory—in how we interact with the people around us and use our time and abilities. It’s not about us. It’s all about Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord and King, forgive me for those times when I am overcome by pride, arrogance, or selfish ambition. Lead me to follow John’s example of humility and to glorify you all my 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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Prepare the Way – December 17, 2020

Finally they said, “Who are you? . . . John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, “I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’”
John 1:22,23

Prepare the Way


Daily Devotion – December 17, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:22,23

See series: Devotions

In the ancient world, VIPs would send their heralds ahead of them to make straight the way—that is, to ensure the safety and travel ability of the road.

John the Baptist’s mission was to go ahead of Jesus, preparing the way and proclaiming the King’s imminent arrival. He was to blast through sinful pride and self-righteousness, to urge people to repent of their materialism and overconfidence, their lack of priorities and spiritual apathy, to get them ready and eager for the arrival of the One who could save them.

How do we “make straight the way for the Lord” today? By looking closely at our hearts and identifying those sins that clutter them. Are we giving certain sins a comfortable place in our hearts? Are we making excuses instead of getting tough on bad behavior? The Baptist calls out, “Repent!” “Make straight the way!”

Prepared hearts are hearts that daily loathe the sin within us and celebrate the arrival of our Royal Deliverer from heaven. He comes to us time and again in his Word and sacraments, bringing gifts most valuable—forgiveness of sins and peace with God. And on the last day, he will come not in simple means, but in awesome power, riding on the clouds of heaven, bringing our ultimate deliverance. As you prepare for that day, hear and heed John’s clarion call: “Repent!” “Prepare!” “Make straight the way of the Lord!”

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 3)
Fling wide the portals of your heart, make it a temple set apart.
From earthly use for heaven’s employ, adorned with prayer and love and joy.
So shall your Sovereign enter in, and new and nobler life begin.
To God alone be praise for word and deed and grace! 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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See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son – Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Read: Malachi 4:1-6

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
Malachi 4:2

See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son

 

Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Devotion based on Malachi 4:2

See series: Devotions

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

If you live in California, you can wear flip flops in December. But not if you live in the Midwest where it’s dark and cold in winter. Wintry weather means you have to bundle up to go to work, school, shopping, and basketball games. As much fun as it is to go sledding, ice fishing, ice skating, have snowball fights, and drink hot chocolate, by March you just want to feel the warmth of the sun again. That’s why so many people go to Florida, Arizona, and Texas for a spring break.

Living in this world is like living in the middle of winter. Some of it is fun—like friends, family, sports, toys, dances, volunteering—but some parts are so hard. Parents fight, people get sick, friends can sometimes not be so nice, teachers don’t always seem to understand you, or you get cut from the team. That’s why we yearn for the “sun of righteousness”—Jesus, the Son of righteousness. He will come back and heal all the hard times.

And he will do that—because he promised he would! He said that we would have problems in this world, but that he has already overcome them. Plus, after he rose from the dead, he went to heaven to get your room ready for you. There’ll be no more crying, sadness, or pain. There will just be healing, joy, and happiness because you are with God!

When that day comes, you are going to frolic like a baby cow who gets let out of the barn. To give you a better picture, the prophet Malachi could have said it like this: When Jesus comes, “you will run around like kids who have been let out of school for the summer!” or, “You will jump up and down like kids entering Disneyland!”

There’s just one problem. People who don’t believe in Jesus don’t have this hope or promise. There isn’t a future full of joy for them. God says there will only be even more sadness for them. Do you see why Jesus wants you to tell them about a “sun of righteousness” who brings healing for them? Tell them that he’s paid for their sins. Tell them that he’s coming back. The good news is for them too!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you know that this world can be sad. Thank you for your promise to come back and take us to a place where there will be no more sadness or darkness, only your Light—a place where we will jump with joy and excitement forever!

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Do you have a friend who is sad or sick right now?
  • Consider making a card to help him or her feel better and know that Jesus loves them.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What one thing do you wish Jesus could come back and fix for you right now?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, how might Jesus use you to make a difference and be a ray of light in the dark?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name the hardest thing that’s happened to you—something that still bothers you to this day?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, Jesus doesn’t want you to stay sad. Name three things he’s done or given you that makes you really happy.

Hymn: CW 31:1,2 – Oh Lord of Light Who Made the Stars

O Lord of light, who made the stars, O Dawn, by whom we see the way,
O Christ, Redeemer of the world: Come now and listen as we pray.

In lowliness you came to earth To rescue us from Satan’s snares,
O wondrous Love that healed our wounds By taking on our mortal cares.

 

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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Safe From the Fire – December 16, 2020

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace. All the arrogant and every evildoer will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them on fire,” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.”
Malachi 4:1,2

Safe From the Fire


Daily Devotion – December 16, 2020

Devotion based on Malachi 4:1,2

See series: Devotions

Any fan of camping will tell you that a fire can be a beautiful thing. Anyone who’s ever had their power go out during a winter storm will tell you that a furnace is beneficial and necessary. But the fire that the prophet Malachi describes in our Bible reading for today is not like that. This fire rampages. This fire destroys.

Whom does the fire destroy? All the arrogant and every evildoer. (They) will be stubble. Not a root or branch will be left to them. It would be foolish for us to push these words aside as if they were only meant for others to hear and consider. A quick look of our interactions and relationships, the desires of our hearts, the machinations of our minds reveals the truth: “I am the arrogant one. I am an evildoer. I deserve the fire.”

But the day when the fire destroys and the evildoer is reduced to stubble—that’s also the day when Jesus has promised to stand beside those who trust in him so that not a hair of their heads nor a thread of their clothing will be singed.

For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. Sun is spelled s-u-n there, but the Bible reveals a righteousness that comes through the S-o-n. For it is in the Son, the Son of God, that we find true healing from our sins. The tears, breaks, lacerations, and gashes that our disobedience has inflicted in our relationship with God, have been healed by Jesus’ wounds. Believe in him and what he has done, and no fire of hell, no flame of judgment will be able to touch you.

Prayer:
Jesus, lead me each day to place my trust fully in you and to rejoice in the healing found in you, that I might truly be prepared for the day of your return. 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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Clothes for Christmas – December 15, 2020

I delight greatly in the LORD; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.
Isaiah 61:10

Clothes for Christmas


Daily Devotion – December 15, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:10

See series: Devotions

Every Christmas when I was a child, I would receive a beautifully wrapped present from my grandma. And every Christmas, without fail, I would eagerly tear open the wrapping paper to find two pairs of dress socks in the gift box. She lived during the Depression and the practical values instilled in her at that time never faded away. Unfortunately, when you’re six years old, that sort of practicality is not always fully appreciated!

Isaiah speaks in our Bible reading today about a gift of clothes that we can get excited about, clothes that cause thankful hearts to delight greatly in the Lord, clothes that cause our souls to rejoice in our God!

For who wouldn’t get excited about garments of salvation and robes of righteousness when you realize how badly we need them? Our filthy rags of sin are not appropriate for standing in God’s presence—not now, not in eternity. Every selfish action is another splotch. Every impatient word is another spill. Every hateful thought is another ugly stain of iniquity that we could never hope to get out by ourselves.

God saw that we needed new spiritual clothes, that without them, we could never spend our eternity with him, and so he gave sinners the shirt off his back. Jesus put on our rags of sin and took their punishment.

And when a person is baptized, God wraps them in the holy, perfect robes of Christ’s righteousness. In those garments of salvation, they can stand in the presence of a perfect God. In those garments of salvation, they have a place in the family of the Father and proper attire for the eternal heavenly banquet. Here is something to be genuinely excited about as you prepare for Christmas: Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth so that you could be wrapped in robes of righteousness!

Prayer:
Gracious God, my soul rejoices in you, for when I did not have the proper clothes to stand in your presence, you gave them to me. May those robes of righteousness be my consolation when I fall, my comfort in times of sadness, and my hope when my last hour comes. 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 Advent

God Makes the Impossible Happen

These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Advent.

God’s Word for This Week

We have many hopes and dreams in this world. Some even seem to have honorable motives. The Lord, though, steps in and outshines our plans with the miraculous. He sends his Son to earth in a miraculous way to set up an eternal kingdom. Then in an equally wondrous way, he draws us into that kingdom through the gospel and establishes our place in it.

First Lesson – 2 Samuel 7:8-16

What does God promise for David?

David had wanted to build a permanent house (temple) for his God. The Lord told him someone else would build the house of the Lord. Yet God was going to make David’s name great and make the conditions ideal for his people. He accomplished that in Jesus, a “son” of David.

What house would the Lord establish for David?

This prophecy goes far beyond Solomon to the One who would establish an eternal kingdom. Jesus (Luke 1:29-33) would be the cornerstone of a spiritual house―a people in which God dwells with his Spirit―the people of God (Ephesians 2:19-22) who will rule eternally with Christ.

Second Lesson – Romans 16:25-27

How does God establish us in faith?

God uses the simple gospel message, the proclamation of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, to create faith and obedience in people. Do you keep the connection strong by continual growth in God’s Word?

Who gets the praise for our stability in faith?

Sadly, people often emphasize their wise “choice” to follow Jesus. But that robs the praise from the One to whom all credit is due. The only wise God gets all the glory for setting up our salvation through Jesus and changing hearts to faith through the gospel. That will be the main theme of our singing, forever.

Gospel – Luke 1:26-38

How was it that Mary found favor with God?

Many people focus on Mary’s virtues, but God’s favor starts with his own loving plans and his unmerited choice. His favor focused on this one individual through whom the Holy Spirit would provide this miraculous birth. This happened so God’s favor could, in turn, rest on everyone because of that child.

What simple phrase answered Mary’s puzzled inquiry about having a child while she is still a virgin?

The angel helped her put aside simple, experiential logic and replace it with faith in God’s promise: “For nothing is impossible with God.” How important for us to realize this in the season that challenges the world with things too hard and awesome to explain—the birth of Jesus.

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John Proclaimed the Light of the World – Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Read: John 1:6-8, 19-28

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
John 1:7-8

John Proclaimed the Light of the World

 

Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:7-8

See series: Devotions

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

I am pretty sure an angel didn’t show up at your dad’s job to let him know you’d be born. But that’s how Zechariah learned about his son John. (Some people call him John the Baptist.) God had a specific job in mind for John’s life: Tell the truth about Jesus to as many people as possible.

When he was old enough (after his parents had raised him and taught him all about the Scriptures and the promise of a Savior) John didn’t head off to college. Instead, John went into the desert wearing camel’s hair clothes and eating locusts and honey. He started to preach, telling people to repent, be baptized, and prepare for the Savior who was coming very, very soon.

You might not think that would make him popular, but it did. Crowds of people—children, teens, and adults—all came out to listen to him. That’s because what sounds like bad news (repent of your sins) was actually good news instead. He pointed to the Savior who would be punished for their sin and give them credit for his perfection.

You weren’t announced by an angel, but God still has a specific plan for your life. When God says that he “knit you together” at birth, it means he made you exactly as he wanted you to be.

And if that isn’t amazing enough, he knew you would be his child before he even created the world. Now your whole point of living is the same as John’s: “to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.” The bonus is that you don’t have to shout in a desert and wait for people to come to you like John did! You can wear normal clothes and eat normal foods. Just be yourself! Whether you are walking into school, sports practice, music lessons, or around town , use the special gifts and talents God gave you to share him. That glorifies him and how he created you. You get to use your words to tell people about the one who saved them from their sins. Then tell them that the Savior who came once is coming back again.

As much as that is good news, it isn’t always easy to say. It might get hard for you too. Someone might get mad at you, or they may think you’re weird. That’s okay. Just remember, you’re sharing God’s good news!

Your job this Christmas is this: Proclaim the Light! Just like John.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, just as John had a purpose to be a witness about you, I know my purpose too. Give me courage to testify about you as the Light of the world and tell people the truth about you, forgiveness, and eternal life in heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name a friend of yours who doesn’t know about Jesus.
  • Say out loud what you want them to know about Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Who are your best friends?
  • What are ways that your friends know you believe in and belong to Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Talk about a time you weren’t picked for something special. What did you feel like when that happened?
  • Read Ephesians 1:4. How does hearing that God picked you before creation for his purpose change how you feel about yourself?

Hymn: CW 13:1 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway, A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places Where the Lord our God may go!

 

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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An Advent Promise—God is Faithful – Week of December 14, 2020

An Advent Promise—God is Faithful – Week of December 14, 2020



May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.

1 Thessalonians 5:23-24



I think of you this busy Monday. I think of the final things that fill an educator’s calendar (and the other vocations God has called you to). I recognize that your minutes are precious right now, and so many good and godly things that are desirous of and demanding of your attention. So may I give you a gift, a gift that requires nothing from you?

Today’s gift is bought by the Christ and carried to you through the Holy Spirit.

  • It’s a gift of peace, when peace seems so fleeting. (A peaceful ECM classroom the week before Christmas?!?) It’s a gift of peace. Jesus Christ is his name, yours through the powerful working of the Holy Spirit. Peace! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of being found blameless, now and at the day of the Lord’s coming. While your conscience accuses you. (Yes Lord, forgive me, I’m all too aware of the evil I have done and the good I have failed to do.) The Spirit testifies: you are blameless. Wrapped in Christ Jesus, who was and is blameless for you, you are all blameless. All of you, “your whole spirit, soul and body.” You are blameless! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of joy. Not a joy that is fleeting, mind you, a joy that the comes from sins forgiven; a joy that can’t be robbed this hectic December day. Joy! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!
  • It’s a gift of our God who is faithful, the one who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. A God who continues to call after you in his precious word of forgiveness, a God who leaves no question as to whether he will do for you what he says he will do for you. God is faithful! That’s God’s gift to you this very day!

I think of all you have to do this day, this week. This Word of promise is for you, dearly loved child of God, not as something for you to perform but as something that comes from him freely, signed, sealed and delivered by the Holy Spirit who is pleased to call you his! May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.



Prayer:
Lord Jesus, into your hands I place all my worries, all my unfinished tasks, all that would accuse me or blame me. Thank you for your promise and your faithfulness, which fails me never. Amen.



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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Proclaiming Freedom – December 14, 2020

He has sent me . . . to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1

Proclaiming Freedom


Daily Devotion – December 14, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1

See series: Devotions

Martin Luther said that the words of Isaiah 61 are a “most proper definition of Christ, as well as his task and his functions.” If you want to know what Christ has come to do, read Isaiah 61. But you didn’t need Martin Luther to tell you that. Jesus himself read these words aloud in the synagogue of Nazareth. And when he finished reading, he looked up and told everyone listening, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Jesus points to these words and says, “Isaiah was talking about me!”

In a bad news world, you have a good news, God! To people who know what it’s like to be spiritual prisoners—of the devil, of the world, of their own sinful natures—the Savior comes. And He says, “I have come…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.”

It’s kind of a neat thing to note that the Hebrew word that’s translated “freedom” is a relative of the Hebrew word for “flying”—specifically, the fluttering of bird’s wings. Think of a majestic bald eagle crammed into a tiny birdcage. That’s us. Human beings, the majestic crown of God’s creation, imprisoned by our own doing, and Satan holding the key. God looked at that picture and said, “That’s not right.” And so, Jesus came to let the bird out of the cage, so to speak—to give freedom from sin, death, and Satan’s power to all who believe.

To do that, of course, Jesus himself was bound, subjecting himself to temple guards and their chief priests, to Roman soldiers and their governor. He was treated as a guilty one even by the Father himself so that by his blood, we—the truly guilty ones—may go free.

What a privilege it is to be able to have that freedom through Christ proclaimed to us! What a privilege it is to be able to proclaim that freedom through Christ to others!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you not only proclaim freedom for the captives, but you did all that was necessary to achieve freedom for the captives. How can I ever thank you enough? Make me joyful and ready as your messenger to proclaim to others the freedom you have won. 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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Better not pout – December 13, 2020

Better not pout – December 13, 2020


Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:11




Military Devotion – December 13, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 42:11

See series: Military Devotions

She grabbed the gift with a quick “Thank you!” Tore off the wrapping paper. Stopped. Stared.

Then, she began to pout.

She didn’t know exactly what to expect as a grade school exchange gift. But surely, it would be something more exciting than the book “The Birds of America.”

That’s why she began to pout.

Except for the song about Santa Claus coming to town, we don’t hear the word pout used much today. When it is, it probably refers to a child that is pouting. That’s understandable.

After all, pouting is childish.

People pout when they are disappointed and annoyed. Their faces show it. Those around them know it. Pouting people are not pleasant company.

Yet, there seems to be many of them around today.

America endured a Thanksgiving under the stress of a pandemic. Family gatherings were curtailed. Long-held traditions went by the wayside. People wondered, “Why can’t it be like years ago?”

It appears this Christmas will be no different—maybe even worse. Jobs are being lost. More businesses closing. We fear it’s the future that will be frightful, not just the weather. Jolly does not seem to be in the picture. Good tidings of great joy appear to be missing.

Are not those legitimate reasons for people to be downcast and disturbed? Are Advent and Christmas 2020 not a time for pouting?

No.

It’s an opportunity for praising.

The answers to the problems in life cannot be found inside of us or in a box tied with ribbons. Instead of a cure for what ails us, the world offers only the equivalent of band-aids and candy. Its help is limited. The situation seems hopeless.

But it isn’t. The psalmist bids us to, “Put your hope in God!”

More than 2,000 years ago, God gave the world his Christmas gift. It was wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.

Excited shepherds hurried to see the gift for themselves. They were not disappointed. They were filled with joy and spread the good news.

Through the inspired Word of God, the whole world has been invited to look into that manger.

Some ask: “Is that all there is? Is this God’s answer to grief and pain, to injustice and shame, to death and hell?”

The answer is: “It is.”

Then, many reply: “It’s not good enough. This is only a feeble baby who grew up to be a failure. He was abandoned by his followers and executed as a criminal. There must be something better.”

There is not. There isn’t anything better in all of creation in all the epochs of time. This one, born as a baby, is the answer to every need and the source of every joy.

How sad that so many turn away from that manger in disappointment.

But not the psalmist. Not us. This is the Christ—the Life of all the living. This is my Savior and my God.

I will yet praise him.

I will not pout.



Prayer: Heavenly Father, we ask that you open the eyes of those who will look upon the scene of Christmas that you have preserved for us. Enable them to see the wonder and glory. Lift up their hearts. Fill them with joy and praise. You were the world’s only help in ages past. You are the only hope for years to come. You are our Savior and our God. 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 – December 13, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
Isaiah 40:3-4

The voice

He visits with several teenagers each week. They walk into his counseling office to talk through the issues they are facing and the struggles they are having. Topics range from addiction to suicide to depression to anger and more. This counselor spends hours each week listening to what’s eating away at all of these teenagers.

It’s complex. But among the many commonalities, one stuck out. He said, “There are so many voices vying for their attention and affection. The hard part is to realize the seldom few that are actually trying to help them.”

Social media, school, friends, family, the news, marketing—can you hear and even see all the voices that want something from you? In a world that cares mostly about getting and taking, can you see that so much of what we hear isn’t trying to help us? Especially as we get closer to Christmas, countless voices want our time, our attention, our money, our allegiance, our clicks, our love. And what can the world give in return? Short-lived pleasure or happiness at best?

That’s why God, through his Word, gives us noise-canceling headphones which tune into a clear voice that promises and provides. Long before Jesus ever came, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah about a voice in the wilderness. He would point people to the One who would give the life we cannot find in this world. John the Baptist would point people to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, not because God wants to take our money, time, and energy like this world. Rather, God wants to give. In Jesus, we have a smooth pathway to life with God. He perfectly lived through all the highs and lows of his life, and even died on the cross to give us eternal peace so that we would know that his voice is the one that promises everything and actually delivers.

Prayer: Gracious Savior, tune my ears to listen to all of your eternal promises. Help me cancel out the noise as I trust in you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christmas Clothes – December 13, 2020

I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God. For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with jewels.
Isaiah 61:10

Christmas Clothes


Daily Devotion – December 13, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:10

See series: Devotions

Every year as Christmas approached, my mom would take my two brothers and me shopping for Christmas clothes. She insisted that we had to look our best for the Christmas Eve service and pictures afterward. So each year, Dad and Mom would drag three unhappy boys to some department store for an evening of trying on clothes. And the best or worst part of it, depending on your perspective, was that all three of us had to match. We usually ended up with identical or very similar outfits.

Do you have your Christmas clothes picked out this year? What about your spiritual clothes? What kind of clothes have you picked out for yourself today? Are you wearing the ugly robes of shame and guilt over the sins of last night? Perhaps you have chosen for yourself darker garments of jealousy and anger. Could it be that your clothes are permanently stained by the repetitive sins of greed, lust, or worry? Maybe you are sure that your clothes look pretty clean compared to those around you, but they smell of pride and arrogance.

Mom always said we should look our best for Christmas, but our best isn’t good enough for heaven, and it never will be.

As you prepare to celebrate Christmas, give thanks that Jesus has provided new spiritual clothing for you. The Bible says: “For he has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness.”

Through his suffering and death on the cross, Christ has taken away our sin-stained garments and removed them from us. Through his perfect life in our place, Christ has earned our forgiveness and salvation. Jesus has taken his robe of righteousness and wrapped it around us. In Christ, you and I are dressed for heaven. Give thanks to Jesus for your Christmas clothes—his garments of salvation which he has won for you.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for earning salvation for me through your life and death in my place. Help me to always appreciate what you have done for me. Help me to live as you have clothed me—as a forgiven and righteous child of God. 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 King of Glory is Coming – December 12, 2020

Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O you gates; lift them up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is he, this King of glory? The LORD Almighty—he is the King of glory.
Psalm 24:7-10

The King of Glory is Coming


Daily Devotion – December 12, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 24:7-10

See series: Devotions

Imagine that you lived in ancient times. Your home was a city that had a great wall around it. A very prominent gate guarded the city, keeping enemies out and you safe. On the wall stood watchmen keeping a vigilant eye on everything that approached. Even though enemy nations were out there, you still felt secure.

Then, one day, the King of the country approached your city, riding victoriously on his war-horse. Your king… your defender… your hero has defeated the enemy and now comes to dwell with you. What joy! What peace! Imagine how excited you would be to greet your hero!

The best part of this is that you don’t have to imagine it. This isn’t pretend or make-believe! It’s real. Jesus is your conquering hero, but with a twist of divine irony, he came humbly and lowly, born in a manger. The world hardly noticed his arrival. But he came as our glorious King to defeat our greatest enemy. On the cross, he went to battle against Satan, and the almighty LORD crushed Satan’s head completely. By his death, Jesus paid for all your sin. Through faith in Jesus, your sins are forgiven.

What’s more, is that your conquering hero is coming and he wants to dwell with you forever. Are you ready for his arrival? According to the calendar, there are only 19 days left before Christmas. You know full well all the pressure and stress of getting ready. Presents and decorations and good food are all wonderful blessings… but let’s not forget to lift up our heads and hearts to see Jesus the most precious gift of God! He is our King of Glory!

Prayer:
O King of Glory, help me to prepare my heart to welcome you each day. Keep me from the distractions of this season so that I can welcome you as my Savior and King. 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 Foretold Comfort for His People – Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Read: Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for.
Isaiah 40:1-2a

God Foretold Comfort for His People

 

Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 40:1-2a

See series: Devotions

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

When children are little and they get hurt, they will come running to a parent. There is nothing more healing for little ones than the hugs and kisses of a mom or dad. There is an invisible magic in how quickly a kiss will heal whatever is making them cry. Kisses and hugs bring great comfort. As children grow and their difficulties and pains become more complicated, will hugs and kisses still solve their problems?

During Isaiah’s time, God’s people were in captivity. But God loved his people, even when he had to discipline them because they disobeyed him and did wrong. He sent them prophets to try to keep them faithful to him, to bring them comfort, and to remind them of his promise that his son Jesus would more than cover the payment needed to save them from their sins. What comfort these words must have been for God’s Old Testament children!

What brings you comfort? We do not always look in the right place for comfort. We sometimes look for it the possessions we own. Other times, we brag about our achievements. We hurt the people that hurt us, thinking that getting even will make us feel better. But this is wrong. We need to look to Jesus for comfort and to God’s promise that he gives his peace and comfort to all his people. In a world of sin and darkness, pandemics and death, interrupted schedules and lives, Jesus’ birth and his perfect life and death are our comfort and our salvation. Our God comforts us. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (v11).

So this Advent season, sit back and get comfortable. God’s got you. He will comfort you when hurting. He will carry you through any trouble.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for speaking tender words of comfort to us. In these days before Christmas, use those words to cheer us when we feel sad and to encourage us when we are afraid. 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

  • Tell your parents how best they comfort you when you get hurt by someone?
  • How does God comfort you when you get hurt by sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Israelites need comfort from God?
  • Before God comforts you with his forgiveness, recount how you hurt someone today that you feel sorry for. What tender words do you now want to say to them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Read Isaiah 40:9. What should you say when you see someone struggling and sad?
  • Recount a Bible story that gives you comfort and why.

Hymn: CW 11:1 – Comfort, Comfort All My People

“Comfort, comfort all my people; Speak of peace,” so says our God.
“Comfort those who sit in darkness, Groaning from their sorrows’ load.
Speak to all Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell them that their sins I cover, That their warfare now is over.”

 

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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Prepare the Way – December 11, 2020

“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Mark 1:3,4

Prepare the Way


Daily Devotion – December 11, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 1:3,4

See series: Devotions

In the ancient world, before the king came to town, major road work had to be done. There was no interstate freeway system. Instead, workers went ahead of the king and made a smooth path to his destination. Low points were filled in, high points were leveled, and crooked paths were straightened.

So do you see the point of today’s Bible passage? King Jesus was coming, and John the Baptist had some road construction to do. But he was not altering the topography of Palestine. He was altering the human heart and cleared the way for people to believe in Jesus.

By nature, the human heart is a horrible barrier between King Jesus and his people. By nature, every inclination of thoughts of the heart is opposed to the will of God. It was true in John’s day, and it is still true in our day.

John prepared hearts through preaching a simple message: “Repent!” Repentance is a change of mind that God works in you. He leads you to hate your sin and trust in Jesus for forgiveness. Repentance is not a one-time thing. It needs to happen continually because the devil, the world, and your sinful nature are constantly working to unprepare your heart and turn you back to your sin.

Do not let them! Whatever sins haunt your heart, turn from them. Turn from them and turn to Jesus who has provided forgiveness for every sin. As God comforts you with this reality, he will also give you the strength to stay away from those sins today. And the way will be prepared to celebrate the arrival of your King.

Prayer:
King Jesus, keep my heart prepared to meet 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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Look Forward to This – December 10, 2020

That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.
2 Peter 3:12,13

Look Forward to This


Daily Devotion – December 10, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:12,13

See series: Devotions

If you read the Bible from start to finish, you will notice a theme that comes up many times and in many ways: “Look forward to this: The Last Day is coming!” But two thousand years after the Bible was completed, it still has not arrived.

So, is it even on your radar? Do you look forward to this? Did you lose sleep last night thinking about how Jesus will come again in glory? Did you cancel all your plans this weekend to study what the Bible says about the second coming of Christ?

Probably not. It’s just so easy to lose sight of. Life goes on, day after day, and it can be so distracting! Especially in this day and age and this time of year. There are Christmas lists to make, Christmas cookies to bake, and Christmas specials to watch.

But that’s a problem. Why should you desire the things of this world so much that you forget the world to come? It is absolutely worth looking forward to!

The heaven and earth we live in—as amazing as they are—are ruined by sin. They will be destroyed on the Last Day. In its place, God promises to give us a new heaven and a new earth. Sin and its effects will not continue—no more sickness, obituaries, tornadoes, floods, murder, or bad news.

We have no idea how good this will be because it is beyond our experience. It is kind of like Christmas presents under the tree. You know that they will be good, but you don’t know exactly what they are. Still, it is terribly exciting to think about those presents. And it is terribly exciting to think about how wonderful the new world God will create for his people will be.

That’s why it can be hard to wait for it. Just as it can be hard for a child to wait to open her Christmas presents. But rest assured, the wait will be worth it!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for giving me something so wonderful to look forward to. 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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Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return – Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-14

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief … [so] what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.
2 Peter 3:10-11

Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return

 

Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:10-11

See series: Devotions

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

Tom and Jennifer’s home on a school morning can best be described as organized chaos. Parents of three children, a typical morning goes something like this: Child 1 intently watches videos about lawn mowers. Child 2 is bouncing off the walls with excitement that he gets to go to school. Meanwhile, Child 3 is still in bed ten minutes before everyone has to leave. Jennifer works full time, so both she and Tom work hard to be on the same page and get out the door in time for school and work. To assist them, they lay out the day’s clothing that everyone will wear the night before. They pack the backpacks before going to bed. If cold lunch is the school choice of the day, then lunches are made the night before. All these little steps may not seem like much, but they help to make an already hectic morning go smoothly so everyone gets out the door and to school on time.

As we look to the manger and to the sky for Christ’s return, we do not know when that will be. His timing is on a completely different level than ours. Peter says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. … Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The best place to be ready is in your heart. What steps help get us ready? We can pick out clothes to wear like patience, kindness, and gentleness. We can take the time to be in God’s word to start, end, and get us through our day. We can pack our spiritual lunches with little prayers asking God to help us be ready for his return. We can fill our backpacks with his promises that he came as the babe of Bethlehem to give us rest and peace, and he will come again as the Prince of peace to take us from the chaos and craziness of this sin-darkened world into his light-filled presence.

Missing or being late to school is one thing. Missing or being unprepared for Christ’s return is a completely different and more serious matter. So pack up, dress up, and be ready!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, strip away from my holidays this year anything that would keep me from being ready for your arrival. Take away any pressure and weariness. Give me a quiet mind and a heart spilling over with joy. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • When Jesus returns for us, what special place does he want to take us?
  • Like getting ready to go to school, name one thing that will help you get ready for Jesus this Christmas.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Discuss a time you were late or missed out on something. How did you feel?
  • Why does God want us to be ready for his sudden return on judgment day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: We should be afraid of judgment day.
  • Which one best prepares you for Jesus’ return on judgment day: 1) your parents 2) your phone 3) your Bible? Explain why.

Hymn: CW 14:1,5 – Arise, O Christian People

Arise, O Christian people! Prepare yourselves today.
Prepare to greet the Savior; Who takes your sins away.
To us by grace alone The truth and light were given;
The promised Lord from heaven to all the world is shown.

Prepare my heart, Lord Jesus; Turn not from me aside,
And help me to receive you this blessed Advent-tide.
From stall and manger low Come now to dwell within me;
I’ll sin your praises gladly And forth your glory show.

 

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 Kind of People This World Needs – December 9, 2020

Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God.
2 Peter 3:11,12

The Kind of People This World Needs


Daily Devotion – December 9, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:11,12

See series: Devotions

A common criticism of Christianity is that the heavenly minded are of no earthly good. In other words, Christians can become so fixated on the next life that they do nothing to make this present world a better place.

While some Christians may live that way, they should not. That attitude is not in the Bible. In fact, today’s Bible passage says the exact opposite, that the end of the world and the Christian’s hope of heaven have a profound effect on how they live right now.

They push Christians to live a holy and godly life because they know that their life is not all about them. They know that God created them and sent his Son to save them. They know that Jesus put his perfect life in place of their imperfect sin so that, in his sight, they are holy and godly.

Now he says to Christians, “I have made you to be exactly what the world needs right now. Be what you are.” This means there are all sorts of things that they are meant to do, chief among them loving their God and their neighbors by doing good to those around them.

So, if you truly want to make this world a better place, if you seek to serve others in meaningful ways, if you hope to help them not only navigate this life but learn about the next life, then follow Jesus. Learn about him and trust in him. You will discover a joy and peace, unlike any other. And he will not only give you the gift of eternal life, but he will empower you to live a life of remarkable earthly good.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to live a holy and godly life so that I am both prepared for the day this world ends as well as prepared to be of use while this world still exists. 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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Be Ready – December 8, 2020

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
2 Peter 3:10

Be Ready


Daily Devotion – December 8, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:10

See series: Devotions

A thief does not announce his arrival ahead of time. He comes when you least expect. Jesus will do something similar. You see, the day of the Lord is the day of Jesus’ return when he will come in great power and glory. The Bible says that this day will come like a thief.

In other words, Jesus tells us that he is coming, but he does not tell us when he is coming. So we have only ourselves to blame if we are not ready when he returns.

The possibility is so dreadful that you have to ask, “What does it mean to be ready?” To answer this question, ask yourself: “What is at the top of my priority list as Christmas approaches? Entertainment or eternity? Gifts or God? A heart longing for a vacation, or a heart ready for Jesus?”

Entertainment is fine. Gifts are wonderful. Vacations are a blessing. But none of these is as important as a relationship with our maker. Sadly, we all mess up our priorities. Because we do not expect Jesus to return any time soon, we allow other things to become more important to us than him.

Today’s Bible reading reminds us not to allow this to happen. Since Jesus could return at any time, we want to be ready at all times. Being ready means setting your heart on Christ. Because in Christ, you are ready. It is for you that Christ came in the flesh. It is for you that Christ suffered and died. It is for you that he promises to come again, not to obliterate you, but to give you eternal life.

When he does, make sure you are ready!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make me ready for your day by keeping my faith in you strong. 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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