Your Treasure – August 14, 2020

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

Your Treasure


Daily Devotion – August 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:44

See series: Devotions

What do you treasure? Your family? Your stuff? Your teams? Your money? You treasure all sorts of things. Your treasure is what you sink your time into and talk about. It’s what your thoughts turn to again and again. The people you spend time with probably have a pretty good idea what you treasure.

It is certainly easy to see what the man in Jesus’ parable valued. After all, he sold everything he had to get it! He realized that the treasure in that field was more valuable than everything else he had put together.

Jesus told this parable to help us understand that being part of his kingdom, his family, is more valuable than everything else we have put together. Your house won’t last forever. Your car won’t last forever. Your career won’t last forever. Even your relationships won’t last forever. But, the kingdom of heaven will last forever.

So, don’t be fooled. Don’t think that anything or anyone in your life is as valuable as a relationship with your Creator—a relationship only made possible through Jesus and his saving work. Hold on to that relationship more tightly than anything else. Let it be what you sink your time into and talk about. Let it be what your thoughts turn to again and again. You can be sure it will be worth it!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to treasure you and your kingdom most of all. 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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Justified – August 13, 2020

Those [God] called, he also justified.
Romans 8:30

Justified


Daily Devotion – August 13, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:30

See series: Devotions

Imagine you are in God’s courtroom. He is the judge. You are on trial for breaking his law: “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).

Be perfect. No sin. Every thought, always perfect, all the time. Every word, always perfect, all the time. Everything you do, always perfect, all the time. Are you that good? No. So, how are you going to defend yourself?

Self-justification? Justify means to declare not guilty. But no courtroom allows the person on trial to declare him or herself not guilty. The Judge has to do that. So self-justification simply won’t work.

But there is hope for you. Just don’t look inside yourself for defense in this trial. Look outside yourself.

Look to a manger where the newborn Son of God lies. Look to the perfect life Jesus lived for you; every temptation trounced. Look to a bloody cross, where sin’s wage was paid. Look to an empty tomb, where sin was buried, and death was broken. Look to Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.

So, how do you defend yourself? Try this: “Your honor, I admit that I deserve to be separated from you forever. But I know One who suffered on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He has taken away my sin.”

And just like that, the trial is over. The verdict? Not guilty. God justifies you for Jesus’ sake. Who could ever have imagined? Only a God as good as ours.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for serving my sentence, on the cross, in my place to justify 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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Choose Spiritual over Worldly Wealth – Family Devotion – August 12, 2020

Read: 1 Kings 3:5-12

The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”
1 Kings 3:10-12

Choose Spiritual over Worldly Wealth


Family Devotion – August 12, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Kings 3:10-12

See series: Devotions

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

If you could have anything in the world, absolutely anything you asked for, what would you want?

There might be all kinds of things running through your mind right now! The newest iPhone! All the video games ever! A new bike, no wait, three new bikes! A mansion on the beach! A pony! A rainbow-sparkled unicorn! A rocket ship to take me to the moon!

Meanwhile parents may be thinking, “I’d like all my bills paid, a bigger house, and a car with no dents in it, please!”

The question is hard for us even to imagine. We know it would never happen to us. No one ever gets everything they ask for.

Except, it did happen one time. It happened to King Solomon. God came to Solomon as he became king in place of his father David and told Solomon he could have anything he wanted.

Here’s the amazing thing though—Solomon didn’t ask to be famous, for money, or for anything even close to that. Solomon asked for wisdom. Solomon asked God to give him a heart and mind that would help him make good choices as king and in his life. Simply put, Solomon was asking for a heart that was guided by God’s Word. That’s true wisdom.

Now before you kids (or adults!) say, “Boring!” think again. The Lord was very pleased with Solomon. He could have asked for anything in the world, but all those things like money and possessions eventually go away. That’s why Solomon asked for something that was more valuable. And incredibly, God blessed Solomon with worldly riches too.

Learn from Solomon today. All of us may dream of various toys or tools or technology that we would love to have. But know what treasure is the most valuable! There is no treasure more valuable than knowing Jesus Christ as our Savior from sin. When you focus on your relationship with him and on his Word, that is true wisdom. And just like Solomon, God will bless it!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to love and treasure your holy Word. When I read, study, and learn from your Word, I know you will bless me and give me true wisdom. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are special things that you want to have some day?
  • Why is God’s Word so valuable and important?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why having lots of money could lead you away from God.
  • How can families show that they treasure God’s Word?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain how wisdom is different from intelligence. Then explain why wisdom is often more important than intelligence.
  • If someone has godly wisdom, identify the kinds of choices they will make in life.

Hymn: CW 757:1,2 – Where Your Treasure Is

Refrain
Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be.
All that you possess will never set you free.
Seek the things that last; come and learn from me.
Where your treasure is, your heart shall be.

What do you gain from all your worry,
What you should eat or what to wear?
There is no peace in stress or hurry.
Do you not know that you are held within God’s care?
Refrain

Look at the ravens high above you.
They do not work their whole life through,
And yet God feeds them and protects them.
So how much more will God protect and care for you?
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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Good in All Things – August 12, 2020

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Good in All Things


Daily Devotion – August 12, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:28

See series: Devotions

How can the Bible say that God works all things for our good? It’s not that we don’t want the statement to be true. It’s just that it does not seem to be true. That little word “all” makes it hard to believe.

How can God work all things for our good when so much badness piles up? Think of the cancer diagnosis, or the lost job, or the car accident, or the sick friend. Take your pick of any awful scenario that has happened to you or someone you care about. How can it be good? Why does God allow it?

Is it maybe because you don’t love God enough? After all, the verse says that God works all things for the good “of those who love him,” and you can probably think of many times when you have not loved God.

Don’t go down that path. It only leads to uncertainty and despair. Instead, focus on how “those who love God” are further described as people “who have been called according to [God’s] purpose.” What a relief! God’s calling was not of your doing or deserving; it was according to God’s purpose. He loves you, and his plan has always been to work bad things for your good.

He did this in the past when he sent Jesus, who “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4). Jesus knew a thing or two about badness. And yet God worked Jesus’ horrific suffering and death for the greatest good of all: your eternal salvation.

He continues to work all things for your good in the present. Your life is also part of God’s purpose. He is in control and makes sure that everything that happens to you will fit together in a good way. You may not understand the plan, but he does. And in the end, you know that the outcome will be perfect because that is God’s promise.

Prayer:
Lord God, help me to accept your good purpose for me in bad times as well as good. 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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Life That is Truly Life – August 11, 2020

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19

Life That is Truly Life


Daily Devotion – August 11, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 6:17-19

See series: Devotions

What makes you rich? The money you earn? The things you have? A good job? Plenty of friends and family? A full stock portfolio? That is what the world calls rich.

But what happens when a virus comes and pops those balloons one by one?

You learn in whom to really put your hope. If you think wealth in this present world makes you truly rich, give it time, it will disappoint you. Why? Because it is what the Bible calls uncertain—it cannot be depended on. Just look at how a few months of disease and isolation have evaporated so much. A life built on the uncertain will ultimately fail you.

So life that is truly life has to be built on something other than earthly riches. It has to be built on the God who provides you with everything.

You are so important to God that he richly provided his perfect Son to pour out his precious blood to free you from sin. Then God raised him to life again to leave no doubt in your mind that you will live forever with him in the coming age. Because of Jesus, you have “an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade…kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4). That’s certain!

That certainty frees you to do good, to be rich in good deeds, to be generous and willing to share. In other words, you get to be a shining light of God’s goodness in this world. And you do it with the certainty that your eternal riches are completely secure. What a life!

Prayer:
God, thank you for richly providing everything I 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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Only Jesus Gives Us True Treasures – Family Devotion – August 10, 2020

Read: Matthew 13:44-52

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

Matthew 13:44-46

Only Jesus Gives Us True Treasures


Family Devotion – August 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:44-46

See series: Devotions

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

Tyrone was very proud of himself. He finally had his first job! He was proud to be flipping burgers and serving French fries because the big day was coming—pay day. Two weeks later Tyrone got his first paycheck. He biked to the bank as fast as he could—not to put the money in savings though. Nope. Tyrone cashed it immediately, biked to the store, and bought himself a new pair of Jordan shoes. Maybe one nice purchase would be OK, right? After all, it was his first paycheck ever!

Unfortunately, Tyrone developed a bad habit. Every time he got paid, he immediately went and bought stuff—clothes, Xbox games, new headphones, and more. Tyrone ran out of money quickly. So every time he did, he tried to find more time to work. However, the only other hours available for work were on the weekend. That didn’t matter to Tyrone. He wanted more money and more things. Before he realized it though, a whole year had passed, and he hadn’t been at church even once!

There are so many amazingly cool things in the world—cool things for people of every age. There are awesome toys and video games for kids. New clothes, fancy phones, and tablets for teens. Big homes and fast cars for adults. These things can be nice blessings to enjoy. However, Satan wants to tempt you to turn blessings into idols. This means that the devil wants you to make money and possessions the most important in your life—even more important than God himself. That’s the trap Tyrone fell into.

Listen carefully to Jesus today. He talks about two men who found big treasures. One found a hidden treasure in a field and then bought the whole field so he could enjoy the treasure. Another man found a priceless pearl, so he sold everything else just to have that special pearl. Both men made sure the greatest treasures were the most important to them, and they were so happy!

Jesus says that his kingdom is just like this. Jesus died for you and forgives you—for free! Jesus promises you eternal life in heaven—for free! God has welcomed you into his family—for free and forever! What else could ever be more valuable than this?

Enjoy all the blessings that God has given to you, but look for ways to treasure what Jesus gives the most. Nothing could be more valuable!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for all the blessings that you give to us. But most of all, thank you for the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. Help us to treasure these gifts every day. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is the most special and precious thing that you own?
  • Why is heaven more valuable than anything else you own?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • As you get older, what worldly things do you think you will be tempted to love more than Jesus?
  • What are ways that you can show in your life that you treasure Jesus the most?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: There is nothing more important for parents to do than to make sure their children get a good education so that they are successful in life.
  • Some people have no choice but to work when there is church. They can’t switch schedules. Police, firefighters, doctors, nurses, and others might be examples. Discuss ways that such people can both work and still make God and his Word a priority in their lives.

Hymn: CW 757:1 – Where Your Treasure Is

Refrain
Where your treasure is, there your heart shall be.
All that you possess will never set you free.
Seek the things that last; come and learn from me.
Where your treasure is, your heart shall be.

What do you gain from all your worry,
What you should eat or what to wear?
There is no peace in stress or hurry.
Do you not know that you are held within God’s care?
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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It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020

It Is True – Week of August 10, 2020



And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28



As the little boy waits at the window for his mom and dad to pick him up, you assure him that it’s going to be okay. His mom and dad will be here soon, and you hope this is true.

Your director calls and the plans for this fall need to be changed again. She reassures you it will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your brother calls with news that the doctor’s results were not what he had hoped for. You reassure him that everything will be okay, and you hope that this is true.

Your conversation with a parent concerning their child’s struggles seems to leave them anxious. You assure them that as you work together for the child, it will be okay, and you hope this is true.

Today’s passage can easily be misused in a way that may make us think, “I’ve got God. This is going to be just fine.” However, you have all had situations in your life where things don’t always turn out just fine in an earthly sense. Accidents happen. Illness takes the lives of people we care about. Plans change. Children may have learning or social/emotional challenges that are with them throughout their lives.

God hasn’t left us when the outcome is not what we hoped for. He has not abandoned us to the challenges of life. He has promised to be with us, and he has made and kept the greatest promise –the promise of heaven to all who believe in him. All our daily struggles are hard, but none are more difficult than our struggle with sin. God removed our sin and our guilt when he sent Jesus. Since we know he loves us that much and since we know that our relationship with him is secure because of Jesus, we have comfort and encouragement to face all our challenges. We can be reassured, and we can reassure each other that God is there, walking alongside us. He walks with us through the challenges reminding us that he is there and that he can bring blessings from the most difficult of trials. And above all, he has promised us heaven. He assures us that while things may be hard, it will be okay because of what Jesus has done for us. Forgiveness is ours. God is with us. Heaven is assured. We don’t hope it is true. We know it is true—even when we cannot begin to make sense of the reason for the trials.



Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me courage when things are difficult. Remind me always to focus on you. Help me see your blessings each day and reflect your love to all around me. In your name I pray. 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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The Wisdom of Service – August 10, 2020

“Now, LORD my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
1 Kings 3:7-9

The Wisdom of Service


Daily Devotion – August 10, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Kings 3:7-9

See series: Devotions

When Solomon became king of Israel, he had some big shoes to fill. His father, King David, was the most successful ruler in the history of God’s people. David defeated their enemies, expanded their borders, and gave them the security they had only dreamed of. During David’s reign, God was keeping one promise after another that he had made to their ancestors. As a result, Israel had become a prosperous and plentiful nation.

Understandably Solomon was nervous. How could he possibly live up to his father’s example or govern such a great people? But God wanted Solomon to be successful. So the Lord appeared to him and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you” (1 Kings 3:5).

Solomon asked for wisdom to govern his people. How amazing is that? God offered Solomon whatever he wanted, and he did not use it to serve himself. He used it to serve others.

Would you do the same? Or would the temptation to selfishly use God’s gifts be too great? Sadly, we have to admit that we are often more selfish than selfless.

But, thankfully, Jesus used all his greatness to serve. He even said, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve” (Matthew 20:28). So he blessed children, washed feet, taught thousands, and died to forgive the selfishness of all people.

So, your selfish sins are forgiven. And you can look forward, this day, to selflessly serving those whom God chooses to bring into your life.

Prayer:
Lord God, please give me the wisdom to serve the people you have placed in 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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Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost

The Christian Trusts God to Provide

These are the readings for the Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

Our Savior is a God of mercy and kindness. Our very existence is testimony to that fact. Daily he provides us with all that we need to keep our body and life. He also grants protection from all earthly dangers. In addition, our Savior provides us with spiritual blessings—food for the soul. In his Word, we receive the good news of sins forgiven and free salvation.

First Lesson – Isaiah 55:1-5

What satisfying sustenance does God promise to his people?

In his Word, Jesus promises to give us food and drink that is truly satisfying, for it will quench the hunger and thirst we feel because of our sin. This spiritual food and drink offers us forgiveness of sins and eternal life, a truly satisfying fare!

What is the imitation bread in which some invest?

The imitation bread might look appealing on the outside, but it offers no relief from hunger. Consider the many religious practices performed to make oneself right with God. But we can never know with certainty if we’ve offered enough; therefore, we are never truly satisfied—a most unsatisfactory fare!

Whom do verses 4 and 5 point to?

The Holy One of Israel must be pointing to our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Supplemental First Lesson – Genesis 41:41-49

A Christian trusts that God will provide—even when the plan makes no sense to us. Sold as a slave by his brothers, Joseph could have despaired of God’s care and love. In faith, however, Joseph trusted in God to provide for his needs and future. Year after year, God did just that and raised Joseph from the depths of prison to dizzying heights of power. By the age of 30, he controlled one of the greatest empires the world has known. And it was all so God could provide for his people. He used Joseph as his tool to fill the granaries during the seven fat years that he might give bread to the people during the seven lean. So great was God’s blessing that they stopped counting the grain! The grace in God’s provision can be seen not only in the thousands of Egyptians saved from starvation but most especially in the grain he provided to Jacob and his sons during the famine. Though he was sold as a slave, God made Joseph vizier that he might be God’s hand providing food to preserve the bloodline of the Savior. How often we look at our lives and see only problems and none of the possibilities that God would work in us and through us! Look at Joseph and learn again to trust God to provide.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 8:35-39

Suffering might cause us to question God’s love. But in the end, what capability does any suffering have?

While Paul indicates that suffering has been around for ages and is generally something we can’t escape, he also states boldly that none of it can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ.

What makes us more than conquerors?

Christ’s victory on the cross makes us conquerors as well.

Name anything that isn’t covered in Paul’s list of agents that “cannot separate us from the love of God…”

Paul’s list of agents ends with “nor anything else in all creation.” The only being uncreated is God himself, and it is he who worked and won our salvation. It is therefore reaffirmed that absolutely nothing can come between us and God’s love for us!

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Timothy 4:4,5

The Gnostic heretics that plagued the early church believed the physical world was evil. They demanded an ascetic life that was at odds with God’s intentions for our existence. Paul asserts that God not only cares about our physical existence but everything we need for it is, in fact, a creation of God and essentially good—not evil. Rather than a life of denial, the Christian life is one of gratefully receiving all that we need as gracious gifts from God.

Gospel – Matthew 14:13-21

How does Jesus show his nature as the provider of all things physical?

Jesus provides for this crowd of more than 10,000 people by miraculously stretching the bread and fish to fill all their stomachs. (Compare Matthew 6:33 and Psalm 23:1.)

Which attributes of Jesus shine through clearly in this miracle?

Obviously, as in all his other miracles, Jesus shows his omnipotence or almighty power. But note also that Jesus shows his compassion for the people. (See 14:14.)

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Transformed – teen devotion – August 9, 2020

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Matthew 18:21-22

The business of forgiveness

A popular basketball tournament is held every year in my community. It’s free!

Each player plays for free. Every attendee can have free food and drink. The MVP from each game receives a free pair of Air Jordan basketball shoes. At half-time of every game, free bikes are given away to young kids. It’s all free!

Except someone needs to pay for everything given away for free.

My friend works for the organization that hosts the tournament. He once told me the cost to his organization so others can eat free food, wear free shoes, and ride free bikes. What an amazing act of selfless generosity!

You know what else is free? Forgiveness! The forgiveness God gives to you for every sin you have ever done or will do, is and always will be absolutely free for you. You never have to pay for forgiveness. You never have to do anything to earn forgiveness. God forgiveness is free!

Except someone had to pay for that forgiveness.

Your friend, Jesus, paid for it all! With his blood on the cross, Christ cancelled the massive debt you owed for your millions of sins. Because Jesus rose from the dead, you owe no payment. The price for sin we could never afford, Christ paid in full. Freely! Do you know what we call that act of selfless generosity? Amazing grace!

In Matthew 18, Jesus tells his disciples a story to illustrate the immensity of his free forgiveness! Jesus tells the story so we not only know of his free forgiveness to us, but also so we show free forgiveness to others.

What about when people sin against us a lot? What if the same person continues to commit the same sin against us? Jesus disciples asked, “Should we stop forgiving at seven times?” I mean, that’s pretty generous, right? Jesus answered that at seven times, you are just getting warmed up! Giving forgiveness to those who have wronged us can be difficult. So how do you give forgiveness when it feels like it costs you a lot?

Remember Christ’s forgiveness! When Christ forgives, he also gives you the ability to give forgiveness. When Christ’s Word tells you “I forgive you!” he gives you a forgiveness that gives, and gives, and gives and won’t run out.

Freely you have received; freely give. Be in the business of forgiveness. Cancel the debt of sins someone owes you, because you know in Christ how rich you really are!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we thank you for your forgiveness of our sins, which you freely give to us. Forgive us for being unforgiving to those who sin against us. Strengthen us in the message of sins paid in full so we might go and forgive like 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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Trusting not testing – August 9, 2020

Trusting not testing – August 9, 2020


Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’’
Matthew 4:7




Military Devotion – August 9, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 4:7

See series: Military Devotions

Perhaps it’s surprising to hear Satan quoting the Bible from memory. Maybe it would not surprise us to learn that he does so with evil intent.

To Jesus, he quoted from Psalm 91. He did not add to the verse. He did not subtract from it. He did, however, misapply it.

These are the divine words of assurance to which he pointed Jesus: “He will command his angels concerning you, and they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone’’ (vs. 11,12).

The promise is dramatic. It might even surprise us to learn it could apply to us. Do angels really keep God’s loved ones from tripping over stones? Difficult to believe? Not for Jesus. He knew how carefully God watches over his own.

Jesus trusted this promise. Satan hoped to use that trust as a trap. When standing with Jesus on the highest point of the temple, he challenged: “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down.”

He wanted to turn the trust into a test. He tried to twist words of God into a meaning never intended.

He tries the same with us.

He suggests that it is silly to take God’s words at face value. He aims to create a level of doubt that leads to further confusion. If the Christian decides it is foolish to believe in guardian angels, Satan wins—and trust in God is damaged, if not broken.

If the Christian decides, “This means I can throw caution away and walk upright into this firefight because angels must protect me.” Satan wins again. God is now being tested.

That leads to further questions: “Is the fact that I am afraid, a sign that I do not trust God?”

We must ask, “Is caution a sign of cowardice?” Aren’t we to protect the life our Lord gave us?

“But Isn’t it true that angels will lift me up to keep me from even tripping over a stone?”

It is. It most certainly is.

But not every time. Sometimes they let me fall flat on my face. Sometimes I pay for my carelessness.

My faith will not stop a bullet. Disease will not bounce off of me. Prayer will not prevent disaster.

Unless! Unless that is the will of my heavenly Father.

“Then, what good is my faith if it will not accomplish what I want?”

The problem isn’t with my faith. The problem lies with what I want.

If I always would want only what is best for me, what my Savior God wants, my success rate in life will be 100%. For instance, if I want his blood to cover my sin, it has already happened.

If I go into the Bible to pick out only those phrases that match my wishes, I will turn his Word into my words. I will change the meaning. I will misapply the message.

Jesus was indeed watched over by angels. He was always protected. He trusted his Father about this. His trust did not falter when he was led into a barren wilderness to go without food for 40 days. His trust did not falter when his home congregation threatened to throw him over a cliff. Or when he was arrested. Or when he was tortured. Or when he was killed.

He trusted his Father to carry him through every danger, even death.

Jesus promptly corrected Satan’s misapplication by showing Scripture must be interpreted with Scripture.

Guarded by angels? Yes! But, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’’

We won’t do that. We will trust him—not test him.

Won’t we?



Prayer: Heavenly Father, too often we doubt. Too often our wants get in the way of your will. Keep pointing us to your Son as an example. Keep sending the Holy Spirit to build up our faith. Remind us that it is an honor and privilege to say, “In God We Trust!” 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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Our Greatest Possession – August 9, 2020

[Jesus said] “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”
Matthew 13:45-46

Our Greatest Possession


Daily Devotion – August 9, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:45-46

See series: Devotions

How do you determine the value of something? Well, you could have it appraised. For a fee, a jeweler will tell you what your wedding ring is worth, for example. Then there are those things that you can appraise without the help of any experts. Hold your child in your arms and as his breath gently brushes your neck, you know immediately how valuable he is.

Jesus wants us to understand how valuable it is to be a member of his kingdom—to be his disciple. So, he told a story to help us understand. He said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.” Jesus is saying that being a member of his kingdom is such a treasure that it is worth giving up everything we have to keep it.

Unfortunately, too often we don’t treasure the kingdom of heaven. We treat it more like cubic zirconium than a fine pearl. We do this when we forget its true value. And when we forget its true value, we are in danger of losing it altogether.

But this won’t happen when we remember that Jesus’ life and death keep us from the fires of hell, when we remember that Jesus’ resurrection is our way to eternal life. Remember what the kingdom of heaven is and what the kingdom of heaven gives, and it will always be your most treasured possession.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, being a member of your kingdom is my most treasured possession. Keep me from ever being convinced otherwise. 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 Word Works Silently in Hearts- August 8, 2020

[Jesus] told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.”
Matthew 13:33-35

The Word Works Silently in Hearts


Daily Devotion – August 8, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:33-35

See series: Devotions

Years ago, I used to watch my mother make bread. She kneaded a big ball of dough and then placed it in a large bowl. She mixed the contents of a small package in warm water and then poured the mixture onto the dough and worked it in. Finally, she covered the bowl with a white cloth and set it in the south window of the kitchen where the sun warmed the dough. It seemed miraculous to me that after a short time the dough started to expand. It pushed up the cloth and sometimes it stretched over the sides of the bowl. Of course, it wasn’t a miracle. It was just the yeast that mom had activated with the water that did its work throughout the bread dough. The yeast worked invisibly and silently, but the results were obvious.

In this parable, Jesus uses the working of yeast in dough to describe the power of God working in people’s hearts through his Word. The Word works silently in hearts, but it is powerfully effective. God uses it to turn our hearts from unbelief to faith in Jesus, to free us from our sins, and to rescue us from eternal death and give us the free gift of everlasting life.

The yeast of God’s Word continues to work in our hearts to help us live more consistently according to God’s holy will. As God’s power works invisibly and silently in our hearts through his Word, the result in our lives will show in what we speak with our lips, how we act with our hands, where we walk with our feet, even what we allow ourselves to look at with our eyes and listen to with our ears. God’s love for us in Jesus that he communicates to us in his Word moves us to gladly live to the glory of God!

Prayer: (from Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal, 469)
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love.
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee.
Take my voice and let me sing always, only for my King.
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee.

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 Holy Spirit Gives Strength to Live Differently – Family Devotion – August 7, 2020

Read: Romans 8:26-27

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27

The Holy Spirit Gives Strength to Live Differently


Family Devotion – August 7, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:26-27

See series: Devotions

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

“Now I lay me down to sleep, I . . . pray . . . the . . . Lo– . . .” Gabriel was so exhausted that he fell asleep before he could even finish the prayer. His dad gave him a kiss on the forehead and went back to work. He had been working on a big project all week.

A few hours later, Gabriel’s dad crashed into his own bed. His pillow felt softer than ever before! “Dear Lord,” he prayed, “Thank you so much for my wife and for Gabriel and for our many blessings. Please . . . help . . . me . . . to . . .” Suddenly Gabriel’s dad went from mid-prayer to mid-snore. He was out like a light!

Has this happened to you before? Sometimes we get so tired! However, sometimes we have other prayer problems. Besides being so tired, we often can be very forgetful. We are so busy with everything that we forget to pray before meals, before bed, or before any other event of the day. However, maybe the hardest thing for us is even knowing what to pray. Adults especially can feel so overwhelmed and frustrated at times that they hardly even know what words to say in their prayers.

Good news though! You have a prayer teammate! Listen to this wonderful encouragement again today: “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.”

Did you know this is one of the jobs of the Holy Spirit? Sometimes we call him our Comforter or our Guide. How does he help to comfort and guide us? Well, when we feel weak or scared or frustrated, or when we are so tired that we fall asleep before we pray, the Holy Spirit will actually intercede for us. That’s a fancy word that means he will speak on our behalf. The Holy Spirit will go to our Heavenly Father with all the things we didn’t say or forgot to say. After all, the Holy Spirit is also true God and he knows everything on our hearts and minds.

So, don’t worry about your prayer life! Every person can continue to improve in prayer. Keep working on it! Keep reminding yourself to pray and bring everything you can remember to God. Then be confident. Trust that God knows what you want and need, and God the Holy Spirit will guide you every step of the way. Be bold and pray on!

Closing Prayer:

Holy Spirit, thank you for knowing what’s on my heart and mind. Thank you for helping me with my prayers. Continue to guide me in all I think, say, and do. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is your favorite prayer?
  • When are times that we should be praying?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What things should we include in our prayers?
  • Agree or Disagree: We should not bring little things to God in prayer. Explain your answer.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: There are bad things to pray about. Explain your answer.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “Pray continually.” What do you think that verse looks like in real life? How does someone realistically do that?

Hymn: CW 221:1,4 – Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

Blessed Jesus, at your Word We are gathered all to hear you.
Let our hearts and souls be stirred Now to seek and love and fear you,
By your teachings, sweet and holy, Drawn from earth to love you solely.

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Praise to you and adoration!
Grant that we your Word may trust, Confident of our salvation,
While we here below must wander, Till we sing your praises yonder.

 

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 Wheat Will Shine Like the Sun – August 7, 2020

[Jesus said] “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”
Matthew 13:43

The Wheat Will Shine Like the Sun


Daily Devotion – August 7, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:43

See series: Devotions

Some animals can shine. This special capability is called bioluminescence. You’ve probably seen it in fireflies on a warm summer night. You may even have seen it in some sea creatures, such as lanternfish, anglerfish, and jellyfish.

No true plants (as far as we know) have natural bioluminescence. That’s why the end of Jesus’ parable about the wheat and the weeds may seem a little strange. All along, he’s been talking in terms of plants: wheat and weeds. He explained that both the wheat represents those who believe in him, and the weeds represent those who do not. Those who do not will be separated from God forever when this world ends. Those who believe, Jesus says, “will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father.”

Where does this “shining” come from? This picture of God’s people shining is one that God has used before. In the book of Daniel, God says, “Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever” (Daniel 12:2,3).

In both this passage from Daniel and in Jesus’ parable, God is describing what those who believe in him have to look forward to. On the Last Day, after God has removed “everything that causes sin and all who do evil” from his presence, he will take his people home to heaven. There, set free from all their sins and covered with Jesus’s perfection, they will shine like the sun. This won’t be bioluminescence that they produce. Rather it will be “Christ-luminescence,” since it is through Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death on their behalf that they are now shining.

Wheat normally does not shine. But in heaven, God’s wheat will. By God’s grace, all who believe in Jesus will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, grant that I always trust in you so that by your grace, I may shine with you forever. 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 Will Burn the Weeds in Fire – August 6, 2020

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Matthew 13:40-42

God Will Burn the Weeds in Fire


Daily Devotion – August 6, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:40-42

See series: Devotions

When you pull weeds out of your garden, what do you do with them? Do you arrange them in a vase and set them in your living room? Do you extract their seeds so that you can plant them next year? Of course not. Weeds, by definition, are plants that you didn’t want in your garden, and you have no use for them. So, when you pull them from your garden, you throw them away on your brush pile or in your garbage can.

In Jesus’ story, when harvest time came, the farmer sent his harvesters into his field. Their first task was to gather all the weeds, bind them in bundles, and burn them.

A time of harvest is coming for this world as well. On the last day of this world’s existence, Jesus will return, accompanied by all his angels. He will send his angels to separate those who refused to believe in him from those who do believe, just as the harvesters in Jesus’ parable separated the weeds from the wheat. Then, he will cast those who refused to believe in him into the eternal fires of hell, where they will experience eternal separation from God and all of his blessings.

This is not the way God wants things to work out for people. God “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). That’s why he sent his Son to live, die, and rise again for all people. Unfortunately, people reject the gifts of salvation and eternal life that God offers them in Christ.

But for those who by God’s grace do believe in Jesus as their Savior, a different, more glorious future awaits. They will shine like the sun forever in the glories of heaven.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, keep me always close to Jesus, my Savior, that I may never lose the blessings that he has won 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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The Lord Gives Us Strength to Live Differently Until Judgment Day – Family Devotion – August 5, 2020

Read: Joel 3:12-16

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the heavens will tremble. But the Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.
Joel 3:14-16

The Lord Gives Us Strength to Live Differently Until Judgment Day


Family Devotion – August 5, 2020

Devotion based on Joel 3:14-16

See series: Devotions

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

Have you been to a big sports game in a big stadium before? If you haven’t been to one yet, you have probably seen some on TV. Can you picture what it’s like?

Thousands and thousands of people are gathered together—almost more people than you could ever count on your own. But all the people are divided. Some are cheering for one team; the rest are cheering for the other team. Everyone is so excited to see who will win the big game!

Could you imagine an event like that with not thousands of people, not even millions of people, but billions and billions of people? Could you imagine an event where every single person ever in the world is all gathered together at the same time?

In the Bible reading for today, the prophet Joel is describing this kind of event. But it’s not the Super Bowl. Even bigger than that! It’s judgment day, the Last Day, when Jesus our victorious King will return. What Joel sees is a picture of all the people in the world gathered before him. Joel sees the sun and moon turning dark and the earth shaking because Jesus the mighty King is about to be Jesus the mighty Judge. Jesus will be sending people either to hell or heaven forever.

But don’t be afraid of this picture and don’t be afraid of that great Last Day! Listen to God’s promise today again: “The Lord will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

Imagine being at a big basketball game at a big stadium and God was playing for one team. The other team wouldn’t even have a chance! The team with God always wins—there is nothing to worry about!

This is actually true for us. You know who is on our team—Jesus! Jesus is the one who gives us strength every day. And think about how strong he is! Just look at the cross where every sin of every person—where your sin—was washed away forever and Satan was crushed in defeat. Look at the empty tomb of Jesus where death was swallowed up in the victory of Jesus who rose to life.

For now, while we are still playing the game—while we are still in this world—we are totally safe and secure with our Savior who is like a mighty castle or fortress for us. Don’t be afraid! And one day soon Jesus will come back. But again, don’t be afraid! Jesus is on our team and we’ve already won! On that day we will join him in the biggest victory celebration of all time!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, thank you for your victory on Easter morning. Keep me safe in your strength until judgment day, when we can celebrate the victory together. 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 is Jesus so strong and mighty?
  • How did Jesus win a victory over Satan?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is Jesus going to do on judgment day?
  • Why don’t you have to be afraid of where you are going to go on judgment day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Judgment day will be a day of both great mourning and great joy.
  • Identify times in life when God’s strength is most important and necessary to believers.

Hymn: CW 221:1,3 – Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

Blessed Jesus, at your Word We are gathered all to hear you.
Let our hearts and souls be stirred Now to seek and love and fear you,
By your teachings, sweet and holy, Drawn from earth to love you solely.

Gracious Savior, good and kind, Light from Light, from God proceeding,
Open now our heart and mind; Help us by your Spirit’s pleading.
Hear the cry your people raises; Hear and bless our prayers and praises.

 

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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Grow as Wheat Alongside the Weeds – August 5, 2020

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull [the weeds] up?’ “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
Matthew 13:28-30

Grow as Wheat Alongside the Weeds


Daily Devotion – August 5, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:28-30

See series: Devotions

The farmer’s enemy was exceptionally devious. The weeds that he planted in the farmer’s field were a species that looks remarkably similar to wheat while it is growing. In fact, it is only when both plants are mature that you can infallibly tell them apart.

When the farmer’s servants saw the weeds growing in the field, they asked the farmer if he wanted them to go through the field and pull up the weeds. The farmer replied, “No, because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them.” Since the weeds and the wheat at first looked very similar, it was quite likely that the servants, in their zeal to eradicate the weeds, would unwittingly uproot wheat plants also. That would be counterproductive. Much better just to let both the weeds and the wheat grow together until the harvest. Then the harvesters would be able to tell them apart and separate them accurately.

As you look at all the other people who are growing around you in this world, can you tell which of them believe in Jesus and which of them do not? You may be able to judge by a person’s words and actions whether they believe in Jesus. But you cannot know for sure unless you look into their heart. That is something only God can do. Only God knows infallibly who believes in him and who does not.

Thankfully, God has not given us the task of trying to separate believers from unbelievers. That is a job he has reserved for himself, and he will carry it out unerringly on the last day of this world’s existence. In the meantime, our task remains to grow as wheat alongside the weeds in whatever part of the world where God has planted us, confident that God, who alone can read the heart, unfailingly knows those who are his.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, enable me to live my faith in this world, confident that you know those who belong 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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Weeds in This World – August 4, 2020

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’ “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.”
Matthew 13:27,28

Weeds in This World


Daily Devotion – August 4, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:27,28

See series: Devotions

When weeds grow in your garden, whose fault is it? On one level, it’s not really anyone’s fault, since weeds simply are a part of life in this sin-cursed world. But at the same time, if you either negligently or purposely allow the weeds to continue to grow, you have no one but yourself to blame when the weeds take over.

“Whose fault is it that there are weeds in the field?” the farmer’s servants, in essence, asked the farmer in Jesus’ story. “We know you planted good wheat seed in the field. So, where did all these weeds come from?” The farmer’s answer was clear and unequivocal. “An enemy did this,” he replied. It was not the farmer’s fault that weeds were growing in his field. He had not planted them there. Rather an enemy who was determined to ruin the farmer’s field had planted those weeds there.

Whose fault is it that there are weeds in this world? In other words, whose fault is it that there is evil in this world? If God is the almighty Lord of all as he says he is, why does evil exist at all? If God truly is truly in control of all things, wouldn’t he make sure that no evil ever entered his world? Isn’t God to blame for the weeds that have invaded his field?

God’s answer to those questions is clear and unequivocal: “An enemy did this.” The Devil, not God, is the one who brought evil into this world. Satan tempted Adam and Eve, our first parents, to sin. And when they sinned, evil entered our world.

God, however, immediately promised to send a Savior to overcome sin, Satan, and all evil. He fulfilled that promise for us in Jesus. “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work,” the apostle John tells us (1 John 3:8). And by his perfect life and innocent suffering and death on our behalf, Jesus did just that.

So, when you see weeds in the world, don’t blame God. Instead, blame the enemy. And give thanks to God that he sent his Son into the world to destroy the devil’s work for us.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, whenever I encounter evil, help me to remember that you are not its source. Rather you are the one who sent your Son so that he might overcome all evil 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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Christians Live Differently than Unbelievers – Family Devotion – August 3, 2020

Read: Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43

Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn . . . Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 13:30,43

Christians Live Differently than Unbelievers


Family Devotion – August 3, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:30,43

See series: Devotions

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

“Now is it ready? Now is it ready?” Four-year-old Sydney was bouncing with excitement. “Sydney,” her mom said. “You just planted the seeds yesterday. Not yet.” Sydney couldn’t wait to see when the favorite vegetable she planted would sprout up. She didn’t understand that when she planted seeds, she wouldn’t be eating vegetables the next day!

Sydney kept asking and asking week after week until finally she saw something poke out of the ground. “Yes! Almost ready!” she exclaimed. But then one morning Sydney peeked out the window again and cried out, “Oh no! Mom! Look!” Sydney’s mom came to the window and saw that suddenly the garden of beans was also filled with weeds. This meant big problems for their growing plants.

This week Jesus tells another parable about seeds. Last week, God’s Word was the seed. This time, Christians are the seeds that grow into wheat. But there’s a big problem in this story—weeds. The weeds are all the many unbelievers who want to cause problems for believers. They want to tempt us to sin. They want us to turn away from God. They want our faith to wither out and die.

Jesus says something interesting in this story though. Sydney and her mom were about to go pull out all the weeds in their garden. But in this story, Jesus said that the wheat and the weeds were going to grow together until the very end. What does he mean?

Jesus is telling us that we believers are going to live together with unbelievers in this world until the very Last Day. We will live in communities together, go to school together, and work together. That will mean big problems for us at times. We have to be careful to stay connected to Jesus and his Word so that we as wheat can grow strong in our faith. That way the “weeds” won’t affect us.

Did you hear the wonderful promise at the end though? God in his grace will keep us strong in our faith until the Last Day, judgment day, when Jesus comes back. That’s when he will gather all the wheat (us believers) into his barn (heaven). Jesus says then we will shine like the sun in his kingdom. So dear Christians, keep growing strong as wheat and watch out for the weeds!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, there are many unbelievers who want us to turn away from you, just like Satan does. Help us to grow strong in faith and stay connected to you until you bring us safely to heaven. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why are weeds dangerous to plants?
  • Why is Satan dangerous to believers?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What sorts of things do unbelievers tempt believers to do?
  • When good can come from God allowing us to be tempted in our faith?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: In order to protect their faith, Christians should not be friends with any unbelievers.
  • Agree or Disagree: TV, movies, and music can be greater dangers to our faith than living by or working with unbelievers. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 221:1,2 – Blessed Jesus, at Your Word

Blessed Jesus, at your Word We are gathered all to hear you.
Let our hearts and souls be stirred Now to seek and love and fear you,
By your teachings, sweet and holy, Drawn from earth to love you solely.

All our knowledge, sense, and sight Lie in deepest darkness shrouded
Till your Spirit breaks our night With the beams of truth unclouded.
You alone to God can win us; You must work all good within us.

 

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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He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020

He Intercedes for Us – Week of August 3, 2020



In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.

Romans 8:26-27



A friend called me recently. She was struggling with a decision about the upcoming school year. She had two plans and was looking for recommendations or thoughts to help her make the decision. Should she go with Plan A or Plan B? We worked through the usual questions: What are the benefits of both plans? What are the concerns for each? Both had merit and both had concerns. There was no clear winner.

It’s likely that everyone reading or hearing this devotion is wrestling with a list of decisions now that they feel unprepared or ill-equipped to make. Different sources have conflicting information which complicates our decision making even more. The gravity of those decisions can weigh heavily on us, especially when those decisions impact those we serve, those with whom we serve, our family and friends. We want to pray about it but even then, we may struggle with what we should be praying for.

How amazing today’s verse is! How often do we look at the list of decisions, responsibilities, and tasks and feel overwhelmed? We may not even know where to start that prayer. But here is our comfort…he knows. The Lord knows. He knows you, your struggles, your challenges, your desire to make decisions that are best for the work he has given you to do. He provides the Holy Spirit who speaks on our behalf. In the Holy Spirit’s intercessions for us are God’s love for us and for all. His prayers, unlike ours, are always for God’s people in accordance to God’s will.

We all want to make decisions that align with God’s will. What is God’s will for you and for me? What is the right decision? Gather information. Ask yourself the benefits and concerns. Be sure to ask if any decision is sinful and of course, avoid that. Go to God in prayer. Keep going to the Word each day to be reminded of all he has done and his promises for you. Our confidence doesn’t come from us but from God. He eagerly hears our prayers. And know that the Holy Spirit is there, interceding for us when we are weak or the words don’t come. What a blessing to know that God not only welcomes our prayers to him, but also provides the Holy Spirit to speak on our behalf.



Prayer:
When decisions weigh on me, be with me Lord, remind me of your promises, and bless my efforts in serving you. In your name I pray. 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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Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

The Christian Seeks Spiritual Wealth

These are the readings for the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

God in heaven has blessed us in untold ways. Take a moment to consider just how many blessings you have. Chances are that most of what you considered was temporal, that is, for this life only. More important than all that, certainly, is our salvation in Christ Jesus, the only blessing that offers us an assurance of life eternal. This blessing is ours through the precious Word of God alone.

First Lesson – 1 Kings 3:5-12

What excellent role model does Solomon provide for us as we undertake tasks in life?

Young King Solomon was poised to begin his reign as ruler of Israel, replacing his father, King David. This was certainly a daunting task. So Solomon correctly subjects all earthly things to the important spiritual things and seeks God’s wisdom to carry out the demands of his new position in a God-pleasing way. In the words of the hymn-writer: “With the Lord begin your task, Jesus will direct it.”

Since Solomon placed godly things first, what else did God provide?

In addition to the wisdom Solomon requested, God also granted him riches, power, and fame unparalleled in any other human. Remember the words of the Savior: “Seek first the kingdom, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Luke 12:31).

Second Lesson – Romans 8:28-30

How does God call us for his purpose?

As in days past, God still calls us through the means of grace—his gospel found in the Word and sacraments.

A wonderful chain of events is described, beginning long before we came to be. If God intricately wove his plan for us through all these steps, what continuation of these steps will he most certainly bring to pass?

From eternity God foreknew us and predestined us to be conformed in the likeness of Jesus Christ. Through the gospel, he called us and justified us by faith in the promises that he himself made. Since God carefully planned each of these steps, bringing us into our current relationship with him, we can with confidence expect that he will bring that plan to completion by glorifying us one day as we enter heaven itself. Note that Paul’s confidence in this is so strong that he speaks of it as if even the final step had already occurred.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Timothy 6:17-21

Could Paul’s words be more timely or appropriate for this generation?

Paul instructs preachers everywhere to warn the rich about the two pet sins of the wealthy: arrogance and false hope. Mankind so easily falls in the error of thinking that earthly treasures can provide security or a sense of worth. In our affluent society, both of those sins run rampant in a Christian heart. God commands us not to trust in earthly treasure because he wants us to have a firm foundation on which to stand, a certainty on which to place our hope. That can only be found in spiritual wealth. God richly provides for us, and then we give thanks by being rich in good deeds. Spiritual wealth is certain and secure, for it is treasure laid up in heaven.

How can we possibly carry out this command?

Teach us to ask according to your will, that we may never fail to obtain the blessings you have promised.

Gospel – Matthew 13:44-52

What do both the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value represent?

Each represents the kingdom of heaven—a prize of priceless value. Each parable indicates that nothing else should be considered so highly as to risk losing this most precious possession.

The parable of the net teaches of the final judgment. How does its message also extend the thought of the first two parables?

While its main teaching is of the final judgment, this parable implies the importance of our faith in God’s promises. May that faith remain strong so that our stake in the kingdom of God is not lost!

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Live as Wheat Among the Weeds – August 3, 2020

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.”
Matthew 13:24-26

Live as Wheat Among the Weeds


Daily Devotion – August 3, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:24-26

See series: Devotions

Gardening is hard enough without someone trying to sabotage your efforts. It already requires a lot of vigilant work to keep the pests from chewing up your plants and the weeds from invading your garden. You don’t need one of your neighbors purposely planting weeds in your garden.

That, however, is precisely the situation in which the farmer in Jesus’ parable found himself. He worked hard to plant his field with good wheat seed. But one night, while the farmer was sleeping, one of his enemies came and planted weed seeds in the same field. When the wheat sprouted and started to grow, so did the weeds. And so, the farmer’s field was filled with both wheat and weeds.

Jesus later explained that this story was not ultimately about a farmer with weeds in his wheat field. It was actually about the world in which we live. In this story, Jesus is the farmer. The field is the world. The good wheat seed is all those who believe in Jesus as their Savior. And the weeds are those who do not believe in him.

Just as there were weeds and wheat growing together in the farmer’s field, those who believe in Jesus and who do not are living side-by-side in this world. This is unavoidable because we are sinners who still are living in a world cursed by sin. Those who believe in Jesus long for the day when they are finally freed from the curse of sin and live in the total perfection of heaven. But they are not there yet.

And so, believers in Jesus continue to live as wheat among the weeds. Even when it seems as if there are far more weeds in this field than there is wheat, they can remember that this field still belongs to God. Under his care and protection, they continue to grow in the place where he has planted them. And they remain confident that their God who planted them here will never allow the weeds to overwhelm them or choke them out.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to live as your wheat among the weeds, confident that you remain in control and will always care for and protect 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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Willpower – August 2, 2020

Willpower – August 2, 2020


Thy will be done.
Matthew 6:10




Military Devotion – August 2, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 6:10

See series: Military Devotions

France entered WWI relying upon something they called élan. We would call it the fighting spirit. It boils down to willpower.

France wasn’t much concerned about defensive strategy before that war. It ignored the advancements in weaponry. The leaders felt what was inside the soldier counted most. With bands playing to arouse a fighting spirit, it sent out troops marching in straight lines across open fields with fixed bayonets. Willpower would win the day!

As it turned out, however; élan did not stand up well in front of a new weapon called the machine gun.

We surely will not deny that willpower is important. It sometimes makes the difference between success and failure. We rightly pay attention to morale and motivation. But desire and determination can carry a person only so far.

A small boy’s muscles will not lift his dad’s heavy weights. Fierce determination does not guarantee selection to an elite military unit. Sometimes, where there is a will does not mean there will be a way. A fighting spirit will not stop a bullet.

Willpower is effective only to the extent that there is actual power behind the will.

The will to live is basic and powerful. We see it in nature. Most babies are born with it. We spent our lifetime fighting to stay alive. We see death as our enemy.

It can be frightening to realize that no matter how enthusiastically we march forward in life, the enemy is waiting to mow us down. Our fighting spirit, our willpower, is not enough to save our lives. We do not have the power to defeat death.

But our God does.

He is the source of all life. He intervened into our miserable existence in order to wipe out death for us and neutralize its allies.

The One who taught his disciples to pray “Your will be done” is the same One who is called the Mighty God.”

God’s will packs a punch.

He wanted to make an entire universe out of nothing. So, he did. He wanted some lifeforms that would serve him of their own free will. So, he created angels and humans. He wanted to throw rebellious angels out of heaven and consign them to the pit of pain. So, he did.

He wanted to rescue rebellious humans from being banished and punished with the demons.

So, he sent his Son to take the punishment for the human rebels.

With the holy, omnipotent God, where there is his will, he makes a way—his way. That way is always good; always brings blessings; and often exceeds what humans can do.

How strange, then, that we would be afraid of what he might want for us.

Do we think we know better? Do we suspect he lies when he says he loves us? Do we believe that heartache, tragedy, and disease can operate outside the boundaries of his reign of power? Will they not accomplish the good that he wants for us?

Will we not trust him?

It takes faith to mean the words when we pray, “Thy will be done!”

But we should do so without doubt or fear. Jesus did.

The will of God is good and gracious. We could receive nothing better. We could ask for nothing more.

We need his powerful will to be carried out in our lives.



Prayer: Lord Jesus, you taught us that special prayer. You accepted your Father’s will even though it brought you pain and death. You knew that your Father willed our redemption. You knew its price. But you wanted it, too. Accept now our words of thanks, and send the Holy Spirit to renew our faith so that we will always want what our Savior God wants. Thy will be done! 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 – August 2, 2020

Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Matthew 13:9

A Notification to Notice

“Ding!” On average people receive 63.5 cell phone notifications per day. That’s a lot of noise! Add to this barrage of buzzes the photos and news that flash before our eyes. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all the noise competing for our attention.

You often see people instinctively jump for their phone as soon as it beeps. Yet rarely is it a matter of true importance. Often, it’s the picture from a friend’s vacation. Sometimes, it’s a sad news story that causes you to worry.

What are constantly connected people to do with all the noise? It can begin to feel like too much, and you figuratively plug your ears to tune it all out. Don’t let the sound of God’s Word get silenced, too.

To those living in a world of nonstop noise, Jesus speaks. He begs us not to turn off the notification of his Word when he says, “Whoever has ears, let them hear.” In his Word, Jesus lets your eyes see the story of his unexpected, undeserved, and unending love for you. In his Word, Christ fills your ears with the sounds of his certain promises given to you.

“Blessed are your eyes because they see” that your guilt has been cancelled on Christ’s cross! “Blessed are your ears because they hear” that your shame has been buried in your baptism! (Matthew 13:16)

The annoying noise of the world weighs us down and burdens us. The sweet sound of God’s Word does the opposite. This is how God works. In the songs and hymns you sing, Jesus lifts you up with joy. Through your pastor’s sermon, the Holy Spirit gives you courage. When you share an encouraging verse with a friend, God heals their hurt. Through his Word, God works faith in our hearts.

May God plant his Word in your heart and in your mind as you open your ears to hear it.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, forgive us for the time we have neglected to open our ears to hear your Word. We praise you for filling our ears with the good news of your forgiveness. We thank you comforting our minds with the promises of your peace. Grant us confidence to share your Word with our friends and family. 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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Resting On the Rock – August 2, 2020

The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
Psalm 18:2

Resting On the Rock


Daily Devotion – August 2, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 18:2

See series: Devotions

Storms can come up quickly upon the 1,695 square mile lake on the Minnesota/Canada border known as Lake of the Woods. At times, fishermen are too far from camp to make it back before the life-threatening weather hits. How do they survive in these situations? They often run their boats up on one of many rock islands and wait out the storm, anchored on the rock.

Have you ever been caught in a storm of life? Not just a weather storm, but a time when adversity comes upon you suddenly, like a black thundercloud rising on the horizon? When worries seem to be flooding you? When the trials of life flash before you like lightning and send you searching for shelter? How do you survive a storm like this?

Our Bible reading for today from Psalm 18 provides a solution: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer, my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” You see, in waves of worry, you have a solid rock to anchor on: A God who promises to be with you ALWAYS, to the very end of the age. In a flood of anxiety, you have his unchanging promise: In ALL THINGS he works for the good of those who love him. In the howling winds of pain and suffering, you have his unchanging guarantee: There is NOTHING that can separate you from his love! After all, he sent Jesus to prove it by giving up his life to save you from your sins and give you eternal life!

And because of those promises, you will be able to stand in every storm of life. Why? Because you can rest on your rock—your unchanging God.

Prayer:
Lord, when I face storms in my life, remind me to take refuge in 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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Overwhelmed – August 1, 2020

Praise awaits you, our God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.
You who answer prayer, to you all people will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.
Psalm 65:1-4

Overwhelmed


Daily Devotion – August 1, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 65:1-4

See series: Devotions

Are you feeling overwhelmed today? There are plenty of things to overwhelm us: appointments and assignments, meetings and deadlines, practices and games. Then there is the never-ending list of chores: make dinner, wash the dishes, vacuum the floor, clean the garage, do a load of laundry…and another load…and another load…and another load. It can all be a bit overwhelming. Wouldn’t it be great if someone miraculously took away all of these responsibilities? What a sense of relief you would have!

Psalm 65 talks about being overwhelmed, not by earthly responsibilities, but by sins against your heavenly Father. When you sin, your conscience weighs you down with guilt. It might be a sin you committed yesterday or years ago. It might be a sin you committed against a family member or a friend. It might be a sin that everyone knows about or a sin that no one but God knows about. It might not be a particular sin but rather the multitude of your sins that’s overwhelming.

Wouldn’t it be great if someone miraculously took away all of those sins? What a sense of relief you would have! Well, someone did. His name was Jesus, and when he died on a cross two thousand years ago, he took all of your sins with him. Because of what Jesus did, Psalm 65 can say, “When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.”

God has forgiven your sins. Let go of your guilt. Live this day in the freedom of his forgiveness.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving my sins through Jesus. Lighten the load on my heart with this good news and let me live this day in the freedom of your forgiveness. 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’s Word Strengthens Us with Hope – Family Devotion – July 31, 2020

Read: Romans 8:18-25

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
Romans 8:18, 24-25

God’s Word Strengthens Us with Hope


Family Devotion – July 31, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:18, 24-25

See series: Devotions

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

“Don’t worry, it will be better before you get married.” My parents used to say that to me all the time—and it would make me so angry. I would come in crying from playing outside and Mom would say it, or I would be so upset about my really mean friend and Dad would say it too—“Don’t worry, it will be better before you get married.”

Mom and Dad wanted me to know two things. First, what I was going through now would go away over time. But even more importantly, I had better things to look forward to in the future. As a child, that can be hard to understand. You scrape a knee and it’s bleeding! Your friend said mean things that hurt!

Your family may have some problems right now. Maybe school has been very difficult for you, and you do not at all want to go back to school. Maybe Mom or Dad lost a job, and your family is struggling still because of the Coronavirus. Maybe someone you love is sick or even dying. Sometimes the pains we feel in life hurt very much!

But did you hear the words of the apostle Paul today? He said that our suffering right now isn’t even worth comparing to the glory of heaven. Our problems right now will seem so small when we are rejoicing with Jesus in heaven. Could you imagine if you had a scoop of ice cream fall out of your cone onto the ground (very sad!) but then the owner came out to you and said that you could have all the ice cream in the entire store! Your little cone problem was nothing compared to the joy of all the ice cream in the store!

This is what God’s Word does for us. It encourages us with hope. The Bible tells us that Jesus is our Savior from sin and that he won for us eternal life in heaven where there will never be any bumps or bruises, pains or problems, sickness or suffering. We aren’t there yet. Heaven is coming. That’s why we have hope.

So be patient friends! It will get better! Greater things are coming! You may have some pains now, but incredible joy and happiness with Jesus are coming soon! I can’t wait! How about you?

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, help me to remember that even though life may be tough right now, you have something better waiting for me—eternal life with you. Help me look forward to heaven and wait patiently for being 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

  • What is something difficult for you right now? What about for your parent(s)?
  • Why will heaven be so great?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain what it means to have hope.
  • Why can we know for sure that we will be in heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What do you think are the most difficult things to suffer through in this life?
  • What do you think will be the best things to enjoy in heaven?

Hymn: CW 293 – God’s Word is Our Great Heritage

God’s Word is our great heritage
And shall be ours forever;
To spread its light from age to age
Shall be our chief endeavor.
Through life it guides our way;
In death it is our stay.
Lord, grant, while worlds endure,
We keep its teachings pure
Throughout all generations.

 

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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Complete Victory – July 31, 2020

The mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
Isaiah 55:12,13

Complete Victory


Daily Devotion – July 31, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:12,13

See series: Devotions

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands! If you’re happy and you know it, then you might as well as show it, if you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands!” As you read or listened to that last line, what were you picturing? Likely, you had visions of 5-year-olds going through the actions of that song. Or maybe you envisioned the nursing home activity center with patients reliving their childhood and simultaneously getting their physical therapy. Either way, I doubt you pictured what Isaiah painted in the words of our Bible reading today, “All the trees of the field will clap their hands.”

We know that God’s Word changes people. But don’t sell short the total effect of God’s Word. God’s Word doesn’t just change people. When it accomplishes its purpose, the Word changes all of creation. And that’s a good thing. Look around. Almost daily, there are news reports of natural disasters. Our communities are threatened by wildfires and floods. We walk through the woods and stumble over a rotten tree that blocks our path. It doesn’t take keen observation skills to be reminded that all of creation groans because of the effects of sin. The thorns and thistles in our gardens are a very personal reminder of sin’s effects on all creation.

But not for long. God’s Word assures us that even creation will be freed from the effect of sin. When Jesus went to the cross to pay for the sins of the world, he did just that—he paid for the sins of the world. When Jesus went to the cross, he reversed the curse of sin—even on creation. That’s how complete his victory was. So while you sing for joy, know the mountains and hills join you in your chorus.

Prayer:
Lord, open my eyes to see your complete victory over sin and appreciate your love not only for me but for all of creation. 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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Go Out in Joy – July 30, 2020

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace.
Isaiah 55:12

Go Out in Joy


Daily Devotion – July 30, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:12

See series: Devotions

When the newly engaged couple FaceTimed us to share their exciting news, they didn’t have to say a word. Nor did we have to see the rock on the bride-to-be’s finger. The smile on their faces and the sparkle in their eyes said it all. There are some joys in life that not even the best poker face can hide.

The Bible mentions many things that can bring joy: wine, perfume, a wise son, and a kind word are just a few examples. But none of those can come close to producing the joy that God’s Word brings to our hearts. When God’s Word convinces us that all is right between us and a holy God; when God’s Word convinces us that we are freely forgiven of all our sins; when God’s Word convinces us that heaven awaits, our eyes light up and our heels kick. Simply put, what God’s Word accomplishes in our lives changes us.

Not only does it change us, but it also changes those around us. Just like that newly engaged couple could not contain their good news to themselves, we also have the opportunity to go out in joy. We get to go out in joy, confident that the same Word that worked on our hearts and brought us peace will bring joy and peace to others.

Prayer:
Lord, as your Word fills my heart with joy and peace, may it also move my feet to go out with the good news of your Word. 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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