God’s Word is Always Powerful in Our Lives – Family Devotion – July 29, 2020

Read: Isaiah 55:10-11

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10-11

God’s Word is Always Powerful in Our Lives


Family Devotion – July 29, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10-11

See series: Devotions

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

“What church do you go to?” Noah asked. “Huh?” Tyler was confused. Why was Noah asking him this, and why in the dugout during the 3rd inning? “I don’t really go to church,” Tyler said. Nine-year-old Noah was equally confused—and concerned. “Well you should go to church to learn about Jesus and heaven. It’s really important. My family goes all the time. Your family should come some time.” And that was that. Noah was about to bat, so the conversation was over.

It was four months later that Noah was getting a drink of water before church one Sunday when out of nowhere he saw Tyler’s family walk into church. He ran over to give Tyler a fist bump. Noah’s parents said they were so glad to see Tyler’s parents in church instead of at a baseball field. That’s when Tyler’s parents explained. Tyler’s dad had just lost his job. The family was afraid and looking for some answers. They remembered that a couple months ago Noah had invited Tyler to church, so they thought they would try it out.

As it turned out, the good news of the Savior Jesus was so comforting to Tyler’s family that they came back to church again . . . and again . . . and again, until they finally joined the church a few months later. Just think! A family joined a church and became believers in Jesus all because one year before that nine-year-old Noah said a few things about Jesus during a baseball game!

Wow! God’s Word is so powerful! The amazing thing is that we can count on God’s Word being powerful and working every single time!

God tells us today through the prophet Isaiah that just like the rain falls from the sky and always makes the ground wet and always causes things to grow, so we can always count on God’s Word to do what God wants it to.

Sometimes the Word may give a little wake up call, like an alarm clock in the morning, as it tells people to stop sinning and turn back to God. That’s called the law. Other times the Word is so comforting and soothing, like aloe on a sunburn, as it tells people that Jesus has washed away their sins. That’s called the gospel. But every single time, God’s Word will be powerful as it goes to work.

So, tell a teammate about Jesus! Invite a friend from school to church! You never know how God’s Word will work, but it will work! You might just see that friend sitting next to you in church one day. Even better, you might just see that person with you in heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for your powerful Word. Help me find ways to share it with other people. I know you will bless it when I 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 does God use to “water” your faith and make it grow?
  • Do you know anyone that needs to know about Jesus? Do your parents?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Jesus used regular, everyday people like fishermen to be his disciples and to preach. What does that mean about you?
  • Is there someone you can invite to church? How will you invite them? When will you invite them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: There are times that people are simply too stubborn for God’s Word to work in their hearts.
  • Evaluate this statement: We know God’s Word is powerful because we can see it working in people.

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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Accomplishments – July 29, 2020

[My Word] will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11

Accomplishments


Daily Devotion – July 29, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:11

See series: Devotions

“So, did you get done what you wanted to accomplish today?” That question can be like nails on a chalkboard. Even the best time managers cannot accurately plan for the distractions in the office, the surprise phone call, or the migraine headache. Do you ever find yourself frustrated with unchecked boxes on a to-do list? Sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

Now imagine what life would be like if that never happened to you. Imagine how productive you would feel. Imagine how content you would be with your calendar and your workload. I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of God, when he says, “My word will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Almost sarcastically, I want to say, “Good for you, God!”

But that sarcasm quickly wanes when I realize the object of God’s desires and purposes. It’s you. God wants you to be saved. God wants you to come to a knowledge of the truth. God wants to lead you to his heavenly home. God wants to comfort you. God’s desires are all about you. And God’s Word accomplishes everything God desires. God’s Word checks off every box for you. Now, instead of sarcastically, you can gratefully and humbly say, “Good for you, God!” And good for God means good for you.

Prayer:
Lord, as I face the stress of deadlines and a full calendar, help me to cherish that you achieve every purpose 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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Just What I Needed – July 28, 2020

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
Isaiah 55:10,11

Just What I Needed


Daily Devotion – July 28, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10,11

See series: Devotions

“That’s just what I needed,” says your buddy after you meet him for happy hour after a long day of work. “It’s exactly what I needed,” exclaims your mother after opening your thoughtful birthday gift. “Just What I Needed,” is not just a hit song from the 1970s, it’s also God’s promise regarding his Word to you.

It is somewhat subtle in our bible passage for today but notes the appropriateness of what God’s Word accomplishes. “It yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,” not seed for the eater or bread for the sower. God’s Word appropriately provides. God’s Word always gives us what we need.

So the question naturally becomes, “What do you need today?” Not, “What do you want?” But, “What do you need?” Go ahead. Write five current needs on a piece of paper in front of you or on the notepad of your mind. Now write five needs you’ll need six months from now. A year from now. Five years from now.

Could you do it? As our circumstances change, so do our needs. If I would have asked you in February what your needs would be six months later, I doubt any of us could have guessed what our needs would be in this pandemic. I still don’t know what I need. But God does. Not only does he know your needs, he knows how and when to address them. Just because you may be an adult who provides for others’ needs, don’t lose the comfort and promise of having a God who promises to provide appropriately for your needs. You’re never too old to sing, “I am Jesus’ little lamb; ever glad at heart I am, for my shepherd gently guides me, knows my needs and well provides me” (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 469).

Prayer:
Lord, calm my heart as your Word assures me that you will give what I need when I need it. 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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Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020

Promise Made. Promise Kept. – Week of July 27, 2020



I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Romans 8:18



“It’s just so hard. I don’t know what to do. How do I know if I’m making the right decision? What do I do if I feel I have no choice? What if I make the wrong decision?”

Things are hard right now. The questions above may be ones that you’ve heard from parents as they try to make decisions for their children. They might be questions that you have considered. “Do we open or is it better to remain closed?” “Will we meet in person or virtually or a mix of both?” “How do I know if I have the best information to make decisions?” “When can we get back to normal-whatever that is?”

Wouldn’t it be great if our decisions, especially the really hard ones, had a clear answer? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to have a Zoom meeting with God to discuss our concerns and our plans?

God has made so many promises to us. He promised to lead the people of Israel back to the Promised Land of Canaan and he did. He promised that Abraham’s family would be a direct line to the promised Savior. He kept that promise in Abraham and Sarah’s old age. He promised to save Noah and his family, and that promise was kept in a miraculous way. He promised to send a Savior and fulfilled that promise in Jesus. He promised that through Jesus, every one of our sins would be marked paid in full. He promised to be with us in all things. He has kept that promise and continues to do so.

One thing he did not promise is that our lives would be without challenge and suffering. In fact, he states that there will be suffering. But along with that suffering are his promises. He promises to be with us. He promises that he will bless our efforts to share his Word. He promises that even though we continue to sin, can be tempted by fear or doubt, his forgiveness is ours. Our confidence and peace are in that forgiveness and in his promises. All of those struggles that we face, all those questions we wrestle with, are nothing compared to what he has prepared for us in heaven. We don’t need a Zoom meeting, we can look in his Word. There God reminds us that all that we are experiencing is just temporary. He reminds us that our place in heaven is already set and ready and filled with glories that we can’t imagine with our limited understanding. And because of those promises, we can face our challenges knowing that he is with us. While we don’t know when each of us will join God in heaven, we can live each day with joy and confidence that heaven is ours.



Prayer:
Jesus, lead us on till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow, calm and fearless.
Guide us by your hand to our fatherland.

If the way be drear, if the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o’ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us,
For through many a woe to our home we go. Amen
Christian Worship 422:1,2



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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Be Rooted in the Word – Family Devotion – July 27, 2020

Read: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.
Matthew 13:23

Be Rooted in the Word


Family Devotion – July 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 13:23

See series: Devotions

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

Did you plant anything this summer? Did you try growing any fruits or vegetables, maybe even some grass on your lawn? If you did, by this time you probably figured out whether your family has some super skills for gardening . . . or maybe next time you should hire a professional.

It’s so easy, and yet also so difficult! The idea of growing things is simple. Even the smallest child knows—you need the seeds, some soil, and plenty of water and sun. Yet there’s much more too it! Some seeds land on bad, rocky soil. Some aren’t deep enough and never grow roots. Other seeds don’t get enough water, while others might die from all the weeds. The idea of growing things is simple, and yet it can be very complicated and difficult!

Faith is really the same way. It’s so easy yet can be very complicated and difficult! How we get faith is very simple. Someone plants the seed—someone preaches the powerful Word of God to us, God works in our hearts to believe the good news of Jesus as our Savior, and there is faith. Simple!

At the same time, Jesus tells us in the parable for this week that it is often much more complicated than that. Sometimes people hear God’s Word and want nothing to do with it—they don’t even care. Sometimes people listen to the Word for a little while, but soon enough turn away. Others listen to God’s Word, but over time the things of this world become more important to them.

Today Jesus gives us both a warning and a promise. The warning is that if you don’t take care of your faith—if you don’t continue to feed your faith, there will not be any strong roots and your faith will be in danger. At the same time, Jesus us gives us a beautiful promise. When we listen carefully to God’s Word and feed our faith with God’s Word, it will grow and produce in us a big crop! So just like a little seed might grow into a tree that produces lots of fruit, so God’s Word can grow faith in our hearts that produces all kind of good work—fruits of love for God and for other people.

God gives to us all kinds of spiritual “farmers.” People like parents, grandparents, pastors, teachers, family, and friends spread the seeds of God’s Word to us. Listen carefully to what God has to say and watch how the Master Farmer—God—will cause your faith to grow!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me to listen carefully to your Word, and then bless me by causing my faith to grow. Help me also to spread the seeds of your Word to other people. 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 things are necessary for seeds to grow?
  • Who first shared God’s Word with you? Ask your parent(s) if you don’t know.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does God feed and nourish your faith?
  • What kinds of “fruits” do we produce when we feed our faith regularly with God’s Word?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: Some people are “rocky soil,” so we shouldn’t even bother sharing God’s Word with them.
  • Evaluate this statement: Good spiritual farmers—good preachers of the Word—will bring many people to faith.

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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Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Final Judgment Belongs to God

These are the readings for the Ninth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

“Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” These words of our God place the responsibility for judgment—especially the final judgment—solely into the hands of God himself. Of course, to the person without Christ, that is a frightening notion, for none will escape the judgment of the Lord. But to God’s children, who still struggle daily with temptation and sin, these words are a sobering reminder of our evil nature, but also an opportunity to remember that our good Savior has already borne that judgment for us.

First Lesson – Joel 3:12-16

Of what is the harvest a picture?

While a physical harvest of crops seems also to be coming, the symbolism here points to the judgment “harvest,” where God will bind up those who are against him and destroy them in eternal hellfire. (Compare Revelation 14:14-20.)

While God has chastised his people for their wickedness, ultimately, he would judge the heathen nation that oppressed them. What promise of grace does Joel proclaim?

God’s own people, also wicked, had already received punishment at the hands of the oppressors. But, faithful to his promises, the Lord also remembers his people and remains their refuge and stronghold. (See 3:16.)

Second Lesson – Romans 8:26, 27

What assurance do Christians have, even in the worst of times?

Even in the worst of times, God is there to help. Sometimes our situation may be so severe that we don’t even know how or what to pray. When our own spirit fails, the Holy Spirit takes up our petitions for us, and intimately shares our needs with our Father in heaven.

In what manner may we confidently assume our “unspeakable” petitions are prayer?

Since the Holy Spirit is carrying it, and since he and the Father share a common deity—knowing even each other’s minds—our petitions will be conveyed perfectly, in accordance with God’s goodwill.

Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Peter 4:1-8

Living as wheat among weeds means leaving our lives of sin behind and living for the will of God with an eye on the coming harvest. Although righteousness and wickedness must coexist until the judgment, Peter reminded his readers that they had spent enough of their lives living in sin. The time had come for a clean break with the world. Just because we have to live in the world, doesn’t mean we have to be of it. Yes, this break with the world will lead to our persecution. When it happens, fix your eyes on the coming harvest. As you bear up under suffering, take heart, and know that all mankind will be judged. The end of all things is near, so live like wheat among the weeds of this world by loving each other deeply with that forgiving love found only in Christ.

Gospel – Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

In the parable of the weeds, Jesus indicates that the sons of God will live alongside the sons of evil until the end. How can we tell who’s who?

We will look to outward actions and words as an indication of who the believers and unbelievers are. (Compare 1 John 3:10.)

How will God’s victory finally be seen by all?

While Satan and his evil army are given freedom in this world and even sometimes appear to have the upper hand, yet in the end—the final judgment—all those creatures found outside the family of Christ will be destroyed in everlasting fire, a fact of which Satan’s forces are keenly aware. (See 1 Peter 3:18-20.) God keep us strong in faith and our walk with our Savior and bring us at last to our heavenly inheritance!

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The Word of God Always Works – July 27, 2020

As the rain and snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth.
Isaiah 55:10,11

The Word of God Always Works


Daily Devotion – July 27, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10,11

See series: Devotions

Step one; check. Step two; check. Steps three through five; check, check, check. “Alright, we should be all set. Let’s go flip the circuit breaker back on and see if this ceiling light works.” The moment of truth. A flip of the switch…nothing. “Are you kidding me? I followed all the steps.”

Ever have something similar happen to you? You follow the directions to a tee, and whatever the product is, it just doesn’t work. I don’t get frustrated when something old doesn’t work. We expect things to wear out. But something new? Ugh, that’s when I lose patience. Thankfully, there is such a thing as a warranty.

God’s Word doesn’t need a warranty because it comes with a guarantee—God’s Word always works. How comforting is that! Yet, we often fail to trust that guarantee. More often than not, we stumble over the adverb, always. God’s Word always works? Then how come God’s Word didn’t crack the unbelieving heart of my neighbor? How come God’s Word didn’t dry the tears of my mourning aunt? How come God’s Word didn’t…? [you fill in the blank].

Before you ask another question, ask yourself this, “How do you know God’s Word didn’t work? How do you know that it just didn’t work yet? How do you know that it just didn’t work according to your plan?”

God says, “Just like the rain waters the earth…so is the word from my mouth.” God’s Word is living, powerful, and effective. And he gives it to you. Read, listen, and share God’s Word. And I guarantee—NO, God guarantees—his Word will work.

Prayer:
Lord, lead me to always trust the effectiveness 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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Truly Unbreakable – July 26, 2020

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.
1 Peter 1:3-4

Truly Unbreakable


Daily Devotion – July 26, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:3-4

See series: Devotions

Everything breaks. Everything gets old. Everything wears out. Everything fades away.

The longer you live on this earth, the more you realize how true this is. That faded rust bucket you see on the highway was once pristine and spotless. That eyesore of a house you see in the old part of downtown once smelled of new wood and fresh paint. The arthritic, overweight coach was once a lightning-fast force of nature on the football field. The old woman in the Alzheimer’s unit was once the quick-witted life of the party.

But in this fallen world, everything goes away. Whatever is young and new and strong and fast does not remain that way for long. It all spoils and fades, and then it disappears.

Except for Jesus, and absolutely everything Jesus promises.

Because the almighty Son of God died for our sin and rose from death, he fills our cup to overflowing with gifts that can never perish, spoil, or fade. His forgiveness will never perish. His promise of eternal life will never spoil. His friendship will never fade away.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in this fallen world where everything seems to wear out, remind me that in you, I possess what will never perish, spoil, or fade. 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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Improvise not – July 26, 2020

Improvise not – July 26, 2020


He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
Exodus 32:4




Military Devotion – July 26, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:4

See series: Military Devotions

“I’ll wipe them out—all but Moses!” That was the conclusion the Lord God came to as he looked in at the sickening sight of Israel bowing down to gods of gold. He burned with anger. While they danced in frenzied idol worship, those people had no idea of how close they were to being wiped off of the face of the earth and plunged into the pits of hell.

Scripture warns, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Sodom and Gomorrah found this to be horribly true. So did the people of Noah’s day. But none of them had received the same degree of loving care as did these people. The Israelites had been slaves. Their boy babies had been sentenced to death. Their backs had been laid open by the whips of the Egyptian slave drivers. But they were rescued.

Did they not remember? Had they already forgotten the passing of the angel of death over non-Jewish Egypt? What about the miracle at the Red Sea? Didn’t they see the smoke and fire on Mount Sinai? Didn’t they hear the voice of God roaring from the mountaintop? Did they not know who God was, and what he was like?

How then, could they think gods of gold could be a substitute for him?

Satan made it easy for them. He convinced them they had no choice. Moses had gone up into the mountain covered with clouds, smoke, and fire—and he did not come back. They panicked. They thought they were caught without protection. They told Aaron, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him” (Exodus 32:1).

What should he do? Aaron improvised: “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me” (Exodus 32:2).

Now, he had the makings of a golden calf. He had seen such things in Egypt. He would give the people something they could see—something concrete they could worship. “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

He improvised. He adapted. But he surely did not overcome.

He and the rest of Israel would learn that when it comes to God, the rule is: “Improvise not!”

God’s response was swift. To Moses, he said, “I have seen these people, and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation” (Exodus 32:9,10).

There was no excuse for these people. No way to escape. Their only hope was mercy.

Moses begged for that mercy. Mercy was granted, but it came with a lesson. The golden calf was ground into a powder which the people were forced to drink with water. Then we hear, “And the LORD struck the people with a plague because of what they did with the calf Aaron had made” (Exodus 32:35).

We have become familiar with the lesson of plagues. We, too, have begun to learn that God is not to be trifled with.

Of course, God is not made of gold! Yet, we can say he has a heart of gold. He remembered the promise to make the descendants of Abraham into a great nation. He remembered his promise to send a Savior through these people.

He spared that nation. He did not abandon those people. The Savior came.

Our Savior came. He has not abandoned us. He keeps his promises. We are safe for all eternity.

God’s Word is as good as gold!



Prayer: Lord God, too quickly we look for other answers and other things to count on in life. Too easily we improvise instead of faithfully following your directions. Forgive our sin. Strengthen our resolve. Point our hearts back to your sure, firm, powerful words. You are the only true God. We serve you as Lord Most High. We are privileged 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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 26, 2020

For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:4-8

Serving Christ boldly . . . within Christ’s church

It’s often been said in Christian circles “young people are the future of the church.” While I understand the good intentions behind this saying, I disagree. You are not only the “future” of God’s church on earth, young friends. You are the “here and now.” Stop waiting, then, for some time in the future when you can get serious about growing in your faith and learning how to serve him with your life. Do it now! Rejoice in the opportunity to respond to our God’s goodness and to “serve Christ boldly.”

The way each of you and all of us serve is many and varied. The apostle Paul reminds us of something we need to hear—we’re all different. Yes, we are all members of “one body,” but we are all different parts of this “one body,” parts which “do not all have the same function.” God loves variety. Therefore, he who formed us in our mother’s womb has blessed us with different gifts and abilities to serve him in different ways. While these gifts are different, they are used for the same thing, “to praise the One who truly does give us all things.”

Dear young friends in Christ, thank you! Thank you for your passion, enthusiasm, and zest for life. Thank you for serving as young examples to older people about what it means to “serve Christ boldly” with lives of service to his holy name. As we close this month of devotions around that theme, please know today, tomorrow, and always that Jesus loves you! It’s not just a cute saying. It’s a timeless truth. Serve him, then. Say “thank you” with the way you praise him and the way you treat others. Serve him knowing your heavenly home is with him for all eternity in heaven.

Prayer: Lord God, what a blessing you have been in my life and in the ministry of my church. You have guided us; you have blessed us; you have kept us in your tender care. Watch over the ministry of our church, O Lord. Keep us always close to you and your Word that we might be strengthened in our faith and able to take on the devil and all his schemes. Compel our hearts to reach out to those around us with the gospel message we hold so dear. 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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You are Invited – July 25, 2020

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 6:23

You are Invited


Daily Devotion – July 25, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 6:23

See series: Devotions

I lived in Mexico for over two years. Soon after arriving, I attended a Bible study at the Lutheran Church in the city of Monterrey. After the Bible study, a couple of us decided to go to the movies.

Wanting to include everybody, I invited the other young people that were there, about ten in all, to come along.

With a strange sort of smile, one of them said, “Are you inviting?” As a naive gringo I said, “Sure, we want you to come along.”

It was only later that I learned in Mexico when you use the word “invite,” that means that you’re paying. Well, after paying for ten tickets to the movies, I had learned my lesson. From then on, I was careful not to use the word “invite” unless I was willing to pay.

The Bible is full of invitations. Our loving God invites us to find peace, forgiveness, and salvation in his loving arms.

He invites us because he has paid. The price was high—”The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Jesus suffered our hell—the punishment of our sins—in order to win heaven for us.

So, now, the price for our sins has been paid. We don’t have to chip in. We don’t have to do our part. Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). It’s all been paid for.

Be thankful for his gracious invitation and enjoy it!

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for paying the price for my sins. May the kind of life I live this day reflect how thankful I am for this great gift! 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 Gives Us Rest by Giving Us Victory Over Sin – Family Devotion – July 24, 2020

Read: Romans 7:15-25

For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:19, 24-25

God Gives Us Rest by Giving Us Victory Over Sin


Family Devotion – July 24, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 7:19,24-25

See series: Devotions

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

“Why would you do that?” the frustrated parents asked Isaiah. “I don’t know,” he said. “Well what were you thinking?” they asked with a firm tone of voice. “I guess I wasn’t thinking,” he replied. “Haven’t we talked to you about this before?” With a shaky voice and tears in his eyes, Isaiah said, “I don’t know, OK? I didn’t mean to. I didn’t want to. But I just did. I don’t know why I did it, but I did. I guess I can’t help myself.”

How frustrating! Sometimes we try so hard to do what is right. We try to do what God wants. We try to show love to him and love to others. But then we fail again . . . and again . . . and again. And many times, we commit the same sins over and over and over! Why is that?

Even though we are God’s children who are forgiven and dearly loved, deep down inside we still have something rotten and bad called our “sinful nature.” This is the natural part of us that wants to fight against our faith. Our faith says, “Obey God!” but our sinful nature says, “Don’t do it!” And many times, we lose the fight and do what’s wrong. That’s called sin.

The apostle Paul understood this battle. Even though he was a great apostle who preached God’s Word to many people, he was still a sinner. Many times Paul felt like a worn out wrestler who was losing the wrestling match with his sinful nature. He wanted to do good things, but often he didn’t. And when he didn’t want to sin, he would sin anyways. This made Paul feel sometimes like he was the chief—the worst—of all sinners. So finally Paul cried out, “Who will rescue me from this?”

Thankfully Paul knew the answer and he shares it with us today. Who will rescue us from the sins we keep falling into? Jesus! Paul wrote, “Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

You see, Jesus knows what it is like to be tempted. He was tempted to do all the things that we are tempted to do. But Jesus never sinned. Not once! Yet not only did he defeat the devil with his perfect life, Jesus also crushed him at the cross when he washed all our sins away. Jesus even came out of the tomb alive on Easter to prove that he won the victory over death and the devil. Jesus won the fight once and for all!

Do you know what that means for you? You are still going to wrestle with sin. You are still going to be tempted. And yes, you will still fall into sin. But you can always rest in the victory of Jesus! Jesus is the mighty Savior who will give you the strength to fight against temptation, and Jesus is the loving Savior who will always forgive you when you fall into sin. His victory is your victory now and always. Thanks be to God!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help me to fight against sin. I know I fall into the same sins often, but you forgive me because of your victory at the cross. Thank you for your love and your strength as I live my life for you. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are things that your parents or teachers remind you to do over and over again?
  • Whom do we make happy when we listen to and obey other adults?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What temptations do you think are the most difficult for kids to fight against?
  • How do we know that Jesus has more power than sin and Satan?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: Since I can’t help myself from falling into sin, I shouldn’t even bother to try.
  • Recall the brief opening story of the devotion about Isaiah. What kinds of thoughts and feelings go through the minds of people who fall into the same sins over and over? How does Jesus give us comfort and rest when we have those kinds of thoughts or feelings?

Hymn: CW 385:4,5 – Chief of Sinners Though I Be

Chief of sinners though I be, Christ is all in all to me.
All my wants to him are known; All my sorrows are his own.
Safe with him in earthly strife, I await the heav’nly life.

Strengthen me, O gracious Lord, By your Spirit and your word.
When my wayward heart would stray, Keep me in the narrow way;
Grace in time of need supply While I live and when I die.

 

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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Rest – July 24, 2020

[Jesus said] Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Matthew 11:28

Rest


Daily Devotion – July 24, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28

See series: Devotions

President Abraham Lincoln once described how tired he felt. “Nothing could touch the tired spot within,” he said, “which was all tired.”

None of us has ever faced what President Lincoln had to face, of course. Nevertheless, his description of how he felt might touch a nerve with more than a few of us. As you read or listen to this devotion, perhaps you’re on vacation. Perhaps you’re enjoying some downtime or getting ready to dive into a favorite hobby. Or maybe you’re just looking forward to a good night’s sleep or at least a good nap. Whatever it is, enjoy it. Each, in its own way, is a gift of refreshment from God.

But it could also be that, at this moment, you have your own version of “the tired spot” that nothing can touch. It’s the kind of tired that no vacation, hobby, or good night’s sleep will remove.

That’s what sin can do—your sin and mine. The sinfulness of this broken world and the sinful failures of my own life can all roll together into a weariness difficult to describe. But the weariness is there. The weariness is deep.

But, listen to what Jesus tells us in our Bible reading for today, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.” Jesus, here, is speaking as someone who knows precisely the kind of profound weariness that sin can bring. For this reason, when Jesus says, “I will give you rest,” he’s describing the kind of rest he knows we need.

The rest he brings is not in the perfect vacation. It’s not in your favorite pastime. It’s not in a dreamless sleep. The rest he brings is himself. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows,” the prophet Isaiah said. In going to the cross on our behalf, not only has Jesus washed our sins away. He has also lifted from us the burden of guilt that went with those sins.

In its place? Himself. His forgiveness. His peace. His untiring love.

Prayer:
Lord, bless my moments of refreshment. Most of all, give me rest 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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Personal – July 23, 2020

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:24,25

Personal


Daily Devotion – July 23, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 7:24,25

See series: Devotions

When you hear talk of theology, the word, “personal” probably does not come to mind. Theology often carries the connotation of dry doctrinal statements and sleep-inducing dissertations on obscure bullet points of religious teaching.

Connotations are one thing. Reality, however, is something else. Take the apostle Paul. When he put pen to paper, Paul articulated some of the most eloquent theology in all of the Bible. Seminaries devote entire courses to digesting his inspired words. But as you read Paul, something else becomes clear. To him, the theology he delivers is not some compelling theory, some intellectually stimulating thesis. For Paul, it’s personal.

To know this, look into one of Paul’s masterworks—his letter to the Romans. Here, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to paint both an intricate and sweeping portrait of Christian theology. But as he did, Paul left no doubt as to what this theology meant to him. In chapter 7, for instance, Paul spoke of his own life—his personal life as a Christian who still struggled day by day with his old sinful self. When you read his words, you can hear the tired frustration in his voice. You can hear his grief over all the ways he continued to stumble into sin. The episode reaches a climax when Paul blurts out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?”

Then comes the answer: “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” You can hear the relief in his voice, knowing that his Lord Jesus had rescued him from his sin and guilt.

Christian theology is also personal for you and me. True, sometimes we forget this. The temptation can often be great to look upon the Bible as a collection of factoids for reference instead of a banquet of spiritual foods to savor. But when we stumble, when we fall, when we recognize all over again our profound need for Christ, the theology of what he has done to wash us clean at the cross and to cover us in his holy life—that beautiful theology becomes personal once more.

Prayer:
Lord, all the truths you have revealed to me in your Word are beautiful, and they are personal. Glory be 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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We Have Rest When God is with Us – Family Devotion – July 22, 2020

Read: Exodus 33:12-23

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

We Have Rest When God is with Us


Family Devotion – July 22, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 33:14

See series: Devotions

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

Little Lilly stumbled out of the grocery store. Her little legs were tired from shopping, and she was eager to hop up into the van to rest for a bit. She burst out of the doors toward the parking lot when she suddenly and instantly stopped. She waited at the edge of the parking lot for dad to catch up. Without saying a word or turning her head, she stretched her arm up toward the sky. Instantly she felt the strong yet loving embrace from daddy’s hand, and the two marched on toward the van.

Are you familiar with this scene? It happens all over and all the time—at grocery stores, at stoplights, in the neighborhood. Often it happens automatically and without thinking. A child is trained so well that it becomes like a natural instinct. When you are by cars, you go with an adult and hold their hand. That’s when you’re safe. That’s when you’re protected. That’s when you’re OK to keep going.

Moses and the Israelites needed to do a little learning and training about this. Most of the Israelites thought that they could go through the desert and to the Promised Land without their heavenly Father. They often tried to go their own way alone, and every time, it turned out to be a bad choice.

But Moses prayed and pleaded with the Lord to be gracious and forgiving. He asked that God would go with them into the Promised Land. Sure enough, God forgave his people once again and promised to go with them. Moses and the people could be at rest—they could take comfort that they were safe, and it was OK to keep going forward because God would be with them.

We are often like the Israelites. We go astray and try to go our own way. Sometimes we get so busy that we forget about God. Sometimes we are very stubborn and think we don’t need God, that we can go through life on our own. How foolish! It’s like we are little kids who think we can run into the street without an adult! It’s never safe to go anywhere or do anything without our God!

Thank God that even though we stray from him, he came to be with us. Jesus himself came to be with us. He came to bring us forgiveness for going our own way by living for us and dying on the cross. Even today, Jesus still comes to be with us. Jesus comes to us in his Word and in Baptism and Communion so that we can be assured that we are dearly loved by our heavenly Father.

You may feel afraid about many things in life. But take rest and comfort in this promise—because of Jesus’ love and forgiveness, you have a Father in heaven who will be with you and hold your hand every step of the way!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, remind me that you are always with me. I know that when you are with me you will guide, guard, and protect me. Take my hand and lead me throughout life. 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 it important to be with an adult when you face dangerous or scary things?
  • Why is it important to turn to God when you face dangerous or scary things?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Can you recall sinful things the Israelites did in the desert that made God very upset?
  • If they sinned so much, why did God continue to take the Israelites into the Promised Land?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Describe what someone may feel like who tries to go through life alone and without God.
  • Evaluate this statement: I know God is with me when I can feel that God is with me.

Hymn: CW 385:1,3 – Chief of Sinners Though I Be

Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me,
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am his and he is mine!

Only Jesus can impart Comfort to a wounded heart:
Peace that flows from sin forgiv’n, Joy that lifts the soul to heav’n,
Faith and hope to walk with God In the way that Enoch trod.

 

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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Hold Fast – July 22, 2020

Hold fast to the LORD your God.
Joshua 23:8

Hold Fast


Daily Devotion – July 22, 2020

Devotion based on Joshua 23:8

See series: Devotions

Master and Commander is a movie about a British warship in the early 1800s. In the film, there’s a wordless exchange that takes place between an old seaman and a young recruit whom he has taken under his wing. The ship is going into battle. Men are scurrying everywhere. As they do, the old seaman looks at the young recruit and holds out his fists. Tattooed across the eight knuckles of his two fists are two four-letter words. The words are, “HOLD FAST.”

The scene is not some Hollywood invention. “Hold fast” is a phrase that seamen have tattooed on their knuckles for generations. It appears that their use of the phrase goes back to the early days of sail, when a seaman had to hold onto his assigned rope (or line) during a storm or battle. He knew he had to “hold fast” to his line, or all would be lost. Over the years, the phrase has taken on a wider meaning: Stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Hold on to what matters. Never let go.

The Bible reading for today’s devotion is from a poignant moment. Joshua was the man God had used to bring the Israelites into the Promised Land of Canaan. After years of hardship and faithful service, Joshua’s work was done. He was an old man. His death was near, and he knew it. He gathered the Israelites’ leaders together one more time to say goodbye. As he did, he told them, “Hold fast to the LORD your God.”

Hold fast to the LORD your God. Stay focused. Don’t get distracted. Hold on to your Savior God for dear life. My mind, of course, has other ideas. It loves distraction. It lives for it. It cannot wait to find some new thing by which it can pull me away from the only Savior I’ve got.

When that happens, however—when I begin to let go—Jesus is there. He’s there, in love, to rattle me as needed. He’s there to bring me to repentance through his Word. He’s there to cleanse me in his forgiveness through his blood from the cross.

And as he does, he empowers me to hold fast all the more.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, through the storms and battle of life, empower me to hold fast 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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By Name – July 21, 2020

The LORD said to Moses, “. . . I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”
Exodus 33:17

By Name


Daily Devotion – July 21, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 33:17

See series: Devotions

In his novel, To the Last Man, Jeff Shaara paints a particular scene something like this: New York, 1919. The Great War is over. Roscoe lingers on the deck of the passenger ship. He watches as the other soldiers walk down the gangplank and into the arms of their families. Roscoe waits until he can no longer avoid it. He steps off the ship and descends to the dock. And there he stands. No one is there for him, and he knows it. He is alone. In a sea of people laughing, smiling, crying, Roscoe is alone. And then he hears his name.

At first, he thinks he’s imagined it. But then he hears it again. He follows the voice. It belongs to the face of a smiling old man—a man he does not know. But then the smiling old man introduces himself, “I’m Gino’s father. Gino told us all about you in his letters. Welcome home. Let’s get something to eat.” And in that moment, Roscoe experiences what is, perhaps, the greatest act of kindness in his life. The father of his dead friend wanted to make sure that Roscoe was not alone when he got back from the war. And so he had waited day after day until Roscoe finally arrived. And then the smiling old man had called out his name.

If you’ve ever experienced something even remotely similar to this, you don’t forget it. You’re in a strange place, surrounded by people, and don’t know anyone. No one cares who you are. You feel lost, awkward, out of place, alone. And then you hear someone call you by name.

The Lord assured Moses, “I am pleased with you and I know you by name.” As extraordinary a figure as Moses is, however, this privilege does not belong just to Moses. God, in Christ Jesus, has cleansed you of your sins by the blood of his Son. He has blanketed you with the holiness of Christ. And now, through faith in our risen Savior, he has adopted you into his family. You belong. You are his. He calls you by name.

In a world where loneliness can seem so rampant, this is a sweet truth indeed.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, through your Son, you know me by name. Thank you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Alone Gives Us Rest – Family Devotion – July 20, 2020

Read: Matthew 11:25-30

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus Alone Gives Us Rest


Family Devotion – July 20, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28-30

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t wanna! No! I’m not going to go to bed!” Little Gwendolyn insisted on staying awake as tears streamed down her face. “No bedtime! I’m a big girl!” she shouted to the front from her car seat in back.

What Gwendolyn didn’t realize was that she was exhausted. She had been at preschool all day. She had a quick mac ‘n’ cheese cup in the van, and she just completed a long gymnastics practice. It actually was already 30 minutes past her normal bedtime.

Sure enough, by the time mom pulled into the driveway, she looked in the mirror and saw Gwendolyn’s head drooped over fast asleep in her car seat and drooling on her lap. Nothing was going to feel as good as mom putting her into her cozy bed with her fuzzy pillows and stuffed animals!

Have you felt tired lately? If you are a student, you may be glad that it is summer break. School is tiring! But sometimes summer is, too. There can be lots of activities, practices, games, or busy family vacations. If you are an adult, maybe the frantic schedules of everyday life are wearing you down as well. After all, you are the one that has to drive to all those activities, practices, and games, and you are the one to plan those busy family vacations! On top of that, we are still trying to figure our way out of the many problems that have come to us all from the coronavirus. Maybe all of you have felt totally exhausted recently, so tired that you could just crash on your pillow and sleep like a cozy bear in happy hibernation!

Then again, sometimes it’s not just our bodies that are tired. Sometimes you may feel burdened by all the sins that you have committed. “Ah! I’ve done that again! I can’t believe I sinned again! When am I ever going to do things right?!”

Christian friends, do not worry! We all get tired physically and spiritually. But we have the perfect place to rest—in Jesus! No, Jesus will not offer you a soft pillow or a fuzzy blanket. Even better than that—Jesus allows you to rest in his loving arms. He invites you to come to him and find forgiveness for all your sin. He offers you the cozy peace of knowing God loves you dearly as his own child. And best of all, the comfort and rest of life in heaven is waiting for you as well. No matter how tired you may be, Jesus will always provide the rest that we need so much. So go to church, go to the Word, go to Jesus, and rest up!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am often very tired from the things that I do in this life as well as tired from the sins that I have done. Help me always to go to you to find true rest. 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 things make you tired in life?
  • Why would we call heaven a place of rest?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does Jesus mean when he says we can find rest in him?
  • Sabbath is a word that means rest. How does remembering the Sabbath Day (the Third Commandment) connect to finding rest in Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify some of the other things that people look to for rest in this world. Explain why they will never offer us rest as good as the rest that Jesus offers.
  • Jesus says today, “Come to me.” Identify all the ways that we can go to Jesus (or that he comes to us). Then discuss how we can work on having this kind of rest more often.

Hymn: CW 385:1,2 – Chief of Sinners Though I Be

Chief of sinners though I be, Jesus shed his blood for me,
Died that I might live on high, Lives that I might never die.
As the branch is to the vine, I am his and he is mine!

Oh, the height of Jesus’ love, Higher than the heav’ns above,
Deeper than the depths of sea, Lasting as eternity,
Love that found me—wondrous thought!—Found me when I sought him not.

 

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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Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020

Rest Well – Week of July 20, 2020



The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14



She cried and cried and cried. As you sit by her, gently rubbing her back while singing softly, the room slowly becomes quieter until her last sniffle. As you look at her peacefully sleeping, it’s hard to imagine that this picture of tranquility was a bundle of fear and resistance only minutes ago. But your patient, calm response and gentle voice provided the reassurance she needed to let go and let sleep come.

Several hours later, you find yourself tossing and turning. Your day had several difficult moments that are hard to let go of as you try to fall asleep. The most difficult of all is the realization of the impact of your words, said in haste, that have wounded a colleague. Or, it might be the anxiety of not knowing if you are doing all you can to provide safe, loving care to the children you serve. Have you really done everything you can?

While your anxiety and that of the little girl may not sound the same, (hopefully you aren’t crying uncontrollably), the feeling of fear, guilt, or anxiousness can be very similar. As you lay there trying to both fall asleep and solve all your problems at the same time, you find no success in either.

“I will give you rest.” That sounds wonderful in the middle of the night. Does this rest mean a solid eight uninterrupted hours of restful sleep? No. Does it refer to that ever-elusive nap that you might dream about? No.

There is no greater peace than a relationship that is strong especially when that relationship is with God our Father. The peace that we have knowing that all those unkind words, those mistakes we’ve made, the selfish actions, the laziness, the pride are no longer barriers for our relationship with God. As God the Father looks at us, Jesus sits next to him and says, “I took care of all that they owe you.” This peace, this rest is indescribable. Jesus did it all. His journey to the cross and grave, removed every single sin. And on top of all that, he also promises that he is with us today, tonight, each day until he calls us home to him in heaven. We can trust him even more than that little girl trusted your gentle hand and soothing voice. We can be assured that while the troubles of each day will continue to come, our Lord is there. He’s there with a gentle but powerful word of reassurance, “I will give you rest.” Rest well in his grace, in his forgiveness, in his promises.



Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to reflect on the words of the hymn writer as a reminder of your comfort and reassurance to be my rest. In your name I pray, Amen.
“Come unto me, ye weary, and I will give you rest.”
O blessed voice of Jesus, which comes to hearts oppressed!
It tells of benediction, of pardon, grace, and peace,
Of joy that has no ending, of love that cannot cease.

Christian Worship 336:1

A Question to Consider: Someone recently told me that they keep a small notebook on their bedside table. When the challenges of the day start to disrupt their sleep, they write down what it is they are wrestling with. This is followed by a prayer that shares that concern with Jesus, asking for his help. They find that writing down the problem followed by a prayer, helps them put the concern aside and rest well.



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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Eighth Sunday after Pentecost

The Christian is Planted by the Word and Produces Fruit

These are the readings for the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.

God’s Word for This Week

How do you get people to join your church? There are lots of suggestions. Most people suggest something special for every age group. It seems that you need to provide people with all kinds of programs. You also need to tell people what they want to hear. You may get people to join your church that way, but chances are they won’t ever become a part of the holy Christian church. You only become a member of God’s kingdom one way: through the preaching of the gospel. But even the success of our gospel preaching doesn’t depend on us. Instead, it depends entirely upon God’s power and blessing.

Traditional First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-11

True or false: Whenever we proclaim God’s Word, we can be certain that our listeners will be brought to faith.

False. The gospel does not automatically produce faith. When we use the gospel, we hope and pray that this will be the outcome, but sadly there are many who reject the forgiveness that God offers in his Word and harden their hearts to its truths, as Isaiah experienced in his own ministry (cf. Isaiah 6:9,10).

What does God mean that his Word “never returns to him empty”?

He means that there is never a “neutral” hearing of his Word. God’s Word either produces and strengthens faith in the hearts of his hearers, or it serves to harden those hearts. Even Jesus’ disciples—although still believers—were sometimes hardened to the truth of God’s Word when they refused to believe certain things (cf. Mk 6:52; Mk 8:17).

Supplemental First Lesson – Isaiah 55:10-13

The supplemental lesson adds two verses to the First Lesson to let the worshiper see the purpose God had in sending forth his Word (55:11). God sends his Word out for our joy and for the Lord’s renown. Intermediately fulfilled in the return from Babylon, God’s promise is ultimately fulfilled in the holy Christian church. The Word goes forth to plant faith for the glory of God and the salvation of man.

Traditional Second Lesson – Romans 8:18-25

What is God’s creation awaiting?

The return of the Lord when it will be freed from the bondage of decay. In other words, things die and corrode in this world because of our sinfulness.

What are we eagerly awaiting?

We await our adoption as children of God when our broken-down and decaying bodies will be replaced with a body like the one Jesus received in his resurrection (cf. Philippians 3:21).

Why do we need to be patient?

We need to be patient because Jesus’ return won’t take place until all those who were elected to faith from eternity are brought to faith by the powerful Word of God. We don’t know when that will be, so we need to be patient.

Supplemental Second Lesson – Acts 18:1-11

The field of Corinth was filled with birds, stones, and thorns. Though Paul reasoned and preached, one seed after another fell on soil that did not produce a crop. Yet God’s Word would accomplish his good purpose. Paul did not have to go far to find a fertile field. He walked out of the synagogue and went right next door. In the home of Titius Justus, he found good soil that produced a crop one hundred times that which was sown.

Gospel – Matthew 13:1-9,18-23

What is a parable?

A parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus told many simple parables to the people of his day, using everyday events to help people understand the kingdom of God.

What is Jesus’ point in the parable of the sower?

The sower scatters the seed of the gospel to all with no regard for where it might land. Yet most of his seed bears no fruit. Jesus warns us that the seed of the Word faces great opposition from sin, Satan, and the world. Newborn faith can be choked or scorched. The gospel promise can be snatched from apathetic or misunderstanding soil. Though we sow the seed faithfully and generously, Jesus warns us that most of it will never bear fruit that lasts. Yet for every faithful gospel preacher, Christ comforts us by showing that the preacher’s job is to sow the seed and leave the growing up to God. He comforts us by pointing to what his Word does in the good soil: it plants great faith that does great things.

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Long Trip Alone – July 20, 2020

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

Long Trip Alone


Daily Devotion – July 20, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 33:14

See series: Devotions

In the world of country music, Dierks Bentley is a bona fide star. But his talent goes beyond his voice and his performance. Dierks Bentley is a gifted songwriter, known for crafting his lyrics with care.

Of the songs he’s written, one has a twist in how it came to be. The song is distinctive in tone. It is slow, thoughtful, somber. The title of the song is, “Long Trip Alone.” As he began to write, Bentley had his marriage in mind. Picturing the years of his life as a journey, he intended to describe what it meant to have his spouse by his side. As he wrote, however, his perspective changed. By the time it matured into a finished piece, “Long Trip Alone” was no longer about a husband and wife. Rather, “Long Trip Alone” was about the quiet, desperate need each of us has for the presence of the Lord.

Indeed, as Bentley describes it, your life and mine is “A long trip alone, over sand and stone.” You know the hardships. You know the difficulties. You know the crushing disappointments. Left to ourselves, you and I would wander. We’d walk in circles. We’d stumble and fall. And as we did, the suffocating isolation would just grow worse until our pointlessness came to an end in some dark, despairing place.

That’s what sin does—your sin and mine. Not only does it make the journey of life rugged and painful. It isolates us—separates us from God. It forces each of us to walk the long trip alone—a trip that ends in eternal death.

But that’s why Jesus came. God’s Son became one of us. He took the long trip through this broken world, living a perfect life on our behalf. Then he carried our sins to the cross, where he endured an aloneness that will forever defy description—an aloneness he endured in our place. And because he has, you and I, through faith in him, will never have to walk alone again.

In Exodus 33, the Lord promised Moses, “My Presence will go with you.” In Christ, he makes the same promise to you and me.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my life would be a long trip alone without you. Thank you for being by my side. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Promises Rest – July 19, 2020

[Jesus said] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

Jesus Promises Rest


Daily Devotion – July 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28

See series: Devotions

In 1962 many scholars and academics predicted that, due to better technology, by 1985 people would work just 9 hours a week and would be able to retire at the age of 38. That prediction was just a bit off. It didn’t come true in 1985. And it still hasn’t come true. In fact, despite all our technological advances and time-saving gadgets, we seem to have less free time now. It’s just go, go, go all the time. Newsweek once summed it all up by running a main story about the American workaholic. It was simply titled “Exhausted.”

Perhaps you feel that way. But, perhaps your exhaustion isn’t physical, it’s spiritual. Perhaps the guilt of sin is pressing down upon you, and you don’t know how much longer you can stand up under it.

Listen to the words of Jesus, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus does not say, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you a greater burden.” He says, “I will give you rest.” Jesus takes the weight of sin off our shoulders and frees us from its burden. On the cross, Jesus’ outstretched arms held up the weight of all the sins of all people of all time. Jesus did not promise to give us a hand in carrying the load of our sins. He did not promise to give us the strength to carry it. He took it off of our shoulders and carried it himself.

So, stand up straight. Stretch your spiritual shoulders. Look up and see the face of God now smiling on you. Rather than trying to lift the burden of your sin, lift your arms in praise to the God who removed that burden for you. Rejoice in the rest Jesus has provided!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the guilt of my sins often weighs me down when I think of the people I have hurt, and the ways I have disobeyed your commands. Thank you for carrying my sins to the cross. Lift my spirit with the assurance that my sins are forgiven. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 19, 2020

“Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?” The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36-37

Serving Christ boldly . . . by looking out for my neighbor

Teaching in Lutheran high schools for many years, I’ve noticed a few things. One of those things is that ever since cell phones became popular, school hallways have become more dangerous. And why?! Because as students would put their heads down to focus on their phones on their way to the next class, I would regularly see kids running into someone . . . or something in front of them—with books, papers, and bodies falling to the ground in the process.

This truth is a microcosm of life, isn’t it?! We become so consumed by our own lives, our own priorities, our own wants and desires, that there is no time or energy left for others. The apostle Paul helps us with this struggle, reminding us in 2 Corinthians 5:14-15, “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.” Christ’s love compels us. It reminds us who we are declared to be by his grace alone. It reminds us what is ours because of his mercy on our sinful selves.

Christ’s love also motivates us to look up from our own lives and to be concerned for the well-being of others. Find time this week to read Luke 10. Marvel at the Good Samaritan who helped his neighbor who really wasn’t his neighbor at all. Learn from the mercy he showed a complete stranger in his time of desperate need. Then find joy in hearing Christ say to you, “Go and do likewise.” That’s what “serving Christ boldly” is really all about.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, there is so much pain and suffering in the world around me. There are those near and dear to my heart—and those who I barely know—that need a shoulder to cry on or someone to turn to in their time of need. Give me wisdom, O Lord, in dealing with these situations. Guide my words and actions, that I might share your goodness and strengthen others through the power of your Holy Word. In Jesus’ name. 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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I need him – July 19, 2020

I need him – July 19, 2020


He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
Psalm 23:2,3




Military Devotion – July 19, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 23:2,3

See series: Military Devotions

I prefer to think that I am in control of my life. If I am smart enough, work hard enough, and get some breaks, I should be able to take care of myself.

How foolish of me!

If I am going to be compared to an animal, I would prefer it be a lion. Lions are strong. We call them the “King of Beasts.” No one makes a lion do anything. No one is going to lead him around at will.

So, what was David thinking when he compared himself to a mere sheep? David was a warrior. David was powerful. David took charge of his life. He was the giant killer. He was a king.

Yet, he wrote that someone made him do things: “He makes me lie down . . .” He admitted that someone else controlled his life: “He leads me . . .” Who in the world would be so powerful?

Not someone in the world. This one dwells in heaven: “The Lord is my shepherd . . .”

That makes a difference. That one is greater than a King David—greater than any king. This is the Lord God.

David knew he needed food and drink. What was he given? “Green pastures”, not dry stubble. “Quiet waters”, not a dangerous, raging torrent.

“He restores my soul,” David exclaimed. Faith and hope have been renewed.

No wonder he began the psalm by declaring, “I shall not be in want.”

Could that be right? Could he honestly say that he would lack nothing that he needs? Can we say that?

Yes.

I only doubt that because I often think I need things that I do not need. God, of course, knows better.

I might easily admit that I don’t need a yacht, but what about other things? Don’t I need protection? Don’t I need healing? Don’t I always need food and drink?

Maybe. At times. At times, not.

The all-wise, Good Shepherd knows that sometimes I need to be sick. Sometimes, I need to go hungry. Sometimes, I need to lose friends.

And, at some time, I may need to lose my life.

I don’t like those possibilities. At those times, I am tempted to ask, “Where are the green pastures and the still waters?”

The Good Shepherd would answer, “They are still there. You just don’t recognize them. You still don’t know what you need.”

Well, I know I need to stay alive!

So, does he. So, he makes it possible. He will provide what my body and soul really need. He will make his goodness and love follow me through life. He will walk with me through the valley of the shadow of death. I don’t need to fear its darkness. I don’t need to tremble before the threat of hell.

I don’t need to fear the Forever. I will spend it with him.

May I always remember that I need him—and I need nothing more!



Prayer: Lord Jesus, Shepherd of your sheep, guard and keep us so we do not stray. Open our eyes to see your protecting hand when danger confronts us. Sharpen our vision so that we may see more clearly what we truly do need. Build up our faith when we cannot see the good you are giving. Bless us. Lead us. Open for us the gate to glory. 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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Raining Down Blessings – July 18, 2020

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:10,11

Raining Down Blessings


Daily Devotion – July 18, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10,11

See series: Devotions

I happen to live in a part of the country which hasn’t had much rain. My tomato plants were beginning to wither a bit. But today, we had a quick cloudburst, and now my plants are looking vibrant!

What the rain did for my tomato plants, God’s Word has the power to do for our souls. It has the power to bring love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If God gives us those things through the words of the Bible, wouldn’t it make sense that the Bible would be an important part of our lives?

But how often don’t you and I neglect God’s Word? How often don’t you and I keep the Bible shut, failing to open it up? How often don’t you and I fail to hear it, fail to take it to heart?

Yet, what does God graciously do? He lovingly keeps sending the rain of his Word. As he does so, he assures us that our sins are forgiven, that we are his children, that he’s preparing a home in heaven for us. And, as we hear his promises, again and again, we are filled with love, joy, peace, patience, etc.

So go ahead. Open up your Bible. Let God’s Word “rain down” upon you, showering you with its blessings. Just like my tomatoes, you’ll “perk up!”

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, lead me into your life-giving Word, that I might be filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 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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My Baptism Helps Me to Put God First – Family Devotion – July 17, 2020

Read: Romans 6:1b-11

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:1-4

My Baptism Helps Me to Put God First


Family Devotion – July 17, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 6:1-4

See series: Devotions

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

Listen carefully to the following:

First, is Joey. Joey peeked around the corner. No one was looking. He quickly grabbed two candy bars and stuffed them into his pockets. “What are you doing?” Sydney asked. “No one saw me,” Joey said, “And it’s OK. God will forgive me anyways.”

Second is Quincy. Quincy knew that his mom wouldn’t be home for another 30 minutes, so he quickly got on the computer to use it for things that were wrong and sinful. “Mom would be so mad . . . but at least God will love me,” he told himself.

Third is Deanna. Deanna just loved to talk about other people. When she was little she always liked to “tell” on her friends at recess. Now in high school, she loved to talk badly about people at lunch or in text messages. One time, a friend said, “But aren’t you a Christian?” Deanna replied, “Yes I am. That means I’m forgiven, and it doesn’t matter.”

Do you see how confused Joey, Quincy, and Deanna are? They think that because God is loving and forgiving, they can do anything they want—including sinful things. Because they thought their actions didn’t matter, they started putting worldly things and sinful desires in front of God in their hearts.

Today the apostle Paul helps us to think clearly about this. He asks, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?” In other words, should I keep doing sinful things because God will forgive me anyways? His loud and clear answer is, “By no means!” Absolutely not!

The reason Paul tells us that we don’t live this way is because of something special that has happened. We are baptized! When we were baptized, God connected us to Jesus who lived and died for us. That means all our sins were washed away! But God also connected us to Jesus’s resurrection when we were baptized. That means that just as Jesus rose to life, he gives us a new life as his dear children when we are baptized.

If God loves us this much and has given us so many blessings in Jesus, should we just sin some more and do whatever we want? By no means! Instead, we show thanks to God for his love by living as God’s children. That means we live “a new life,” a life of love for him and for other people. What a joy to be God’s child! He gave his life for me, now I can live my life for him!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I am so thankful that I have been baptized into your name. In love, you made me your own dear child. Now help me to live my life in love for you and for others. Amen.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • As a family, talk about your baptisms. What were they like? What memories do you have? What made them special?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What makes us want to live a life of love for God and for other people?
  • What is it that makes baptism so powerful?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate this statement: Now that I am forgiven and freed from sin, I can live however I want.
  • Identify all the ways that baptism is similar to or different from the concept of adopting a child into a family.

Hymn: CW 391:1,4,6 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

Be of good cheer, for God’s own Son Forgives the sins that you have done.
You’re justified by Jesus’ blood; Baptized, you are a child of God.

Glory to God the Father, Son, And Holy Spirit, Three in One!
To you, O blessed Trinity, Be praise now and eternally!

 

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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Give Me an Undivided Heart – July 17, 2020

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me.” And all the Levites rallied to him. Then he said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.’” The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the Lord today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
Exodus 32:25-27

Give Me an Undivided Heart


Daily Devotion – July 17, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:25-27

See series: Devotions

If you grew up going to Sunday School, you are probably familiar with the story of the Israelites worshiping the golden calf. But the part of the story that doesn’t usually make the children’s Bible lesson is the part about the Levites slaughtering their own people to carry out God’s judgment for their idolatry. It may seem strange to us that God would command the Levites to do such a thing. But, it is a powerful reminder that God takes sin seriously. This particular sin was especially dangerous because it had the potential to lead the entire nation of Israel away from the true God. So, he used the Levites to carry out a just punishment as well as protect the people from a dangerous sin.

It is good for us to hear stories like this from time to time, to ponder what false gods might be making their way into our hearts. What are our golden calves? Who or what do we believe will take care of us? Who or what will bring us joy? Will it be our spouse or our children or our career or our new this, that, or the other thing? If we trust any of these people or things more than God, we are setting them up as idols just as surely as the Israelites did the golden calf.

Thankfully, Jesus lived a perfectly idol-free life. Never was there anyone or anything that he trusted or valued more than his heavenly Father. And, what’s more, he gives his followers credit for that perfect life so that God no longer sees our idolatry. He sees Jesus’ perfection.

So, through Jesus, you and I stand forgiven for our idolatry. May we always put this forgiving God first in our lives.

Prayer:
Give me an undivided heart, that I might follow your will. 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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Peer Pressure – July 16, 2020

[Moses] said to Aaron, “What did these people do to you, that you led them into such great sin?” “Do not be angry, my lord,” Aaron answered. “You know how prone these people are to evil. They said to me, ‘Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.’ So I told them, ‘Whoever has any gold jewelry, take it off.’ Then they gave me the gold, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!”
Exodus 32:21-24

Peer Pressure


Daily Devotion – July 16, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:21-24

See series: Devotions

When you look back on your life and recall your most shameful sins, how many of them were done in isolation? What I mean to say is how often has peer pressure led you down a path that you now regret? Why does that happen?

Friends and peers are a good thing. God created us for community and healthy relationships (Genesis 2:18). But, because we are so afraid of being abandoned, we will do almost anything to keep from being rejected, even if that means doing things that go against God’s will.

We see this even with God’s chosen leader Aaron. When Moses was meeting with God on Mount Sinai, Aaron built an idol at the request of the Israelites. He disobeyed God so that he might be welcomed by the crowd.

So how do we learn from Aaron’s mistake?

1. Remember who rescued you. Aaron had forgotten that it was the Lord who rescued him out of Egyptian slavery. It is the Lord Jesus who rescued us out of the slavery of sin. Only he is worthy of our complete allegiance.

2. If God is for you, who can be against you? Aaron worried about being abandoned or persecuted by the people. We might fear the same from our peers. But the Lord will never leave us. And our relationship with him is the most important relationship we will ever experience.

Prayer:
Dear Savior, lead me to treasure your acceptance more than the fleeting approval of my peers. 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 Blesses Those Who Put him First – Family Devotion – July 15, 2020

Read: Exodus 32:15-29

Then Moses said, “You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day.”
Exodus 32:29

God Blesses Those Who Put him First


Family Devotion – July 15, 2020

Devotion based on Exodus 32:29

See series: Devotions

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

None of her teammates could understand it. Some of them were even a little angry. “Julia is going to miss another game?” The volleyball team had games on Sunday mornings every now and then. After a couple years together as a team, they found that Julia never came to Sunday games. It’s not that Julia didn’t love her teammates or volleyball. She loved them and volleyball a lot! Julia just loved God more.

For Julia and her family, this was never a hard choice. Where they lived, they didn’t have any other options for church—their church only had one service on Sunday morning. Julia’s family determined that they would never let anything stop them from worshiping the Lord regularly.

Julia did miss out on some fun with friends and volleyball now and then. She even missed a few big games over the years. But what her team didn’t understand was how greatly Julia was blessed in other ways. Every week her faith was strengthened as God came to her in church with the good news of his forgiveness. Every week she was assured in worship how much Jesus loves her. Julia grew in faith, in her knowledge of the Bible, and she grew to be a strong Christian along with her fellow church members. God blessed Julia in many ways because she put him first.

The Israelites did not always do a very good job of putting God first in their hearts. In fact, even after all the miracles that God performed when he led them out of Egypt, they still decided to build a golden calf and worship that idol instead. God was very angry. However, in the story for today we hear about a few Israelites who did put God first in their hearts—yes, even before their own sons and brothers. It was a very difficult choice, but Moses told these people that God was going to bless them so much because of it.

What things do you love? Football, volleyball, or another sport? Video games? School? (Yes, some people actually like school!) Do you love your toys? Your phone? Your family or best friend? God gives many blessings that he allows us to enjoy. It’s good to love these kinds of things—just not more than God.

Think of ways that you can put God first in your heart. Make church a priority for your family. Read your Bible before playing video games or looking at a phone or iPad. Pray before meals and before bed. When you do these things, you are putting God first. And amazingly, God is so good and gracious that he promises he will bless you when you do it!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, help me find ways to love you and your Word more than anything else. Thank you for blessing me when I 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 are things that you love to do or to play with?
  • Why should we love God more than these things?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is the First Commandment?
  • How can loving things like money or video games or family turn into breaking the First Commandment?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: It is sinful to miss church on a weekend because of a sports game. Explain your answer.
  • Evaluate this situation: A family is really busy all the time. They have school, practices, games, and every now and then fun family things. They barely have any free time ever. In order to keep their sanity, the family sleeps in on Sundays about once a month to get some rest.

Hymn: CW 391:1,3 – God Loved the World So that He Gave

God loved the world so that he gave His only Son the lost to save
That all who would in him believe Should everlasting life receive.

God would not have the sinner die—His Son with saving grace is nigh.
His Spirit in the Word does teach How we the blessed goal may reach.

 

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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Do Not Love the World – July 15, 2020

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:15-17

Do Not Love the World


Daily Devotion – July 15, 2020

Devotion based on 1 John 2:15-17

See series: Devotions

Sometimes people are hesitant to become a Christian because they think that they will miss out on a fun, enjoyable life. The words from the apostle John seem to validate those fears. He says, “Do not love the world or anything in the world.”

What does it mean to not love the world? Does that mean that if we follow Jesus, we can’t love hiking, biking, eating good food, or playing sports? Well, John himself wrote elsewhere that Jesus is the creator of all things (John 1:1-5). Jesus created the mountains that we hike. He created good food and the taste buds to enjoy it. He designed our bodies to move and compete. So, it is not wrong to enjoy the world that God made and all that is in it.

But John warns against loving the things of this world too much or in the wrong way. That’s what he means by the “lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life.” God does not want us to crave those worldly blessings more than God himself. Nor does he want us to use his blessings in ways that are contrary to God’s design.

What’s so dangerous about loving this world too much? Because, he says, “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” God doesn’t want us to get so connected to perishable things that die with them. Instead, he wants us to love our relationship with him more than anything—a relationship made possible by the saving work of Jesus. He valued his relationship with us so much that he was willing to die for it. May we value it so much that nothing in this world is worth losing it.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me not to give my ultimate allegiance to the things that are perishing. But lead me to love and cherish you above all else. Amen.

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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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