Transformed – teen devotion – October 25, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:14-17

Proclaiming with power

“How would you know what it is like to experience [fill in the blank]…?”

“You have no idea what it is like to be [fill in the blank]…”

“You don’t understand.”

Chances are, when you consider how diverse our backgrounds and experiences are, they’re absolutely right.

Think of all the diversity the apostle Paul encountered on his missionary travels. His three missionary journeys took him throughout the diverse cities of the Mediterranean world. He saw new and different sights and heard different sounds. He interacted with all sorts of different people. He immersed himself in different cultures. And, I’d be willing to bet he likely ate a lot of different foods, too.

But the gig wasn’t merely to be a cultural aficionado. Paul’s gig—the Christian gig—is following Christ wherever he leads us—that we would be his witnesses and proclaim the good news of Jesus to the world. “You will be my witnesses,” Jesus said, “in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The ends of the earth? Talk about culture shock for us! Talk about a diverse audience! And our mission field today is just as diverse! While God has graciously done his church a solid and dropped the ends of the earth right in our backyard, such diverse backgrounds and experiences of those around us can leave us feeling unable to speak to those around us about Jesus. “What if they dismiss what I have to say? What if they don’t think I understand their experiences? What if I don’t know everything about their culture? What if I can’t speak their language very well?”

That all seems to be confirmed when the world to whom we witness fires back “You don’t understand.” And, chances are, they are absolutely right. We don’t.

But does that mean the validity or truthfulness of the Christian message is lost? Does our ability to talk to others as Christians boil down to whether or not we’ve experienced the exact same things as the people to whom we’re witnessing? Because if that’s the case, then we might as well hang it up.

But that’s not the case.

You don’t need to have experienced everything someone has experienced to proclaim the reality of the gospel not just with them, but for them. Who our God is and what he has graciously won and done for the world is not contingent on whether or not you—as a Christian—understand in experiential entirety what the person you’re speaking with has gone through.

There’s gentleness and respect when we bend a loving ear and listen to someone’s story. There’s power in sharing your own personal story of how Christ personally died for you, and how that same Jesus personally died for the person listening to you. There’s gospel-driven love in personally sharing the gospel uniquely to a unique person.

In spite of the fact you most certainly do not share their exact experiences, how powerful it is for you to remind them that you share the same Jesus. How powerful it is to remind them that at the other end of their catalog of all the confusion, the questions, the hurt, the heartache, and the pain in their lives, their Jesus is still there.

Never be ashamed of the message you share. It’s power rests not in who you are but in who God is. There is power in the gospel—power, even in spite of you! So listen, ask questions, and seek to understand—and find comfort knowing you don’t have to share their exact experiences to share Jesus. Your Savior is the world’s Savior.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, work in us a confidence to proclaim your word with the world. Give me eyes to see opportunities to share your saving love, and a heart of compassion to model your love to others in my life. Give me the words to say and the confidence to say it. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – October 18, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews 1:1-2

God’s revelation

Is there evidence for the existence of God? Atheist British philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, argued that it is “unscientific” to conclude that a Creator caused the universe. But can science even say that? If science is the study of the natural world, how can science possibly prove there is nothing beyond the natural world? And where in nature have we ever observed something come into being from nothing? So, if the universe began to exist, it must have had a cause. And whatever caused the universe to come into existence must be something (or someone) beyond the need for space, time, and matter. It would have to be a timeless, infinite being with limitless power. That sounds an awful lot like God!

What is more, if our universe somehow were the accidental result of time + matter + energy + chance, how do we explain that our universe is finely tuned for the existence of life? Seriously, look it up! Did you know that there are universal constants that, if their numeric values were altered even to the slightest degree, no life of any kind anywhere could exist?

Let us take gravity, for example. In high school physics, you will solve problems where you will calculate the force of gravity, the equation for which is F = (G x m1 x m2)/r2. If you have never seen that equation before, then you probably have not made it to physics yet. Long story short, if the constant ‘G’ (the gravitational constant) changed by even the tiny figure of 1 in 1060 parts (that’s a 1 followed by sixty zeros), not a single one of us would be here. No life would exist anywhere.

To put that figure in perspective, your chances of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot lottery is 1 in 302,575,350. That ratio is 1 over a nine-digit number. Those are terribly improbable odds. Can you imagine how even more unlikely it is that by sheer chance our universe came into being by accident AND that the exact gravitational constant we observe that is needed to sustain any and all life in the universe is exactly as it is? The improbability of that figure would make winning the lottery look as easy as tying your shoes. Doesn’t it seem entirely more likely that a powerful Creator created our universe to be a certain, specific way… that a wise Designer designed the universe to facilitate life of all kinds?

And yet, there still are many who double down and insist that there is no God. Atheist biologist, Richard Dawkins, said,

“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”1

Really Richard? No good or evil? No right? No wrong? No meaning? No purpose? But if atheism were true, Dawkins wouldn’t be wrong. Without a divine personal Creator, not only are the inherent value and worth of human beings depreciated, but words like ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘good’, and ‘evil’ mean absolutely nothing. We are, as Dawkins writes, just biological accidents with delusions of grandeur: machines for passing on DNA. That’s our only reason for being. Nothing more.

How does that sit with you? Such a statement should offend everyone. Our lives do have real meaning, value, and purpose. Because we are inherently endowed with meaning, value, and purpose. But how? And why? Science can’t answer that question. And if there is such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (and there is), than we are implying that there is a moral law by which we use to define ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ And if there is a moral law, than there must be a higher person who is the foundation of what is moral, virtuous, and good. Now, who could that be?

Suddenly, in just a few hundred words, we’ve made a pretty solid case for the existence of God. By observation of the natural world around us and by our conscience, there before us lies a compelling evidence for God’s existence, but also evidence for what kind of God our God is. We could infer from nature that God is powerful, ever-present, spaceless, timeless, and infinite. We could infer from our conscience that God is personal, righteous, blameless, perfectly just, and perfectly good. But that’s it. There is nothing more that the natural world can show me about God’s nature. There’s nothing more my conscience can reveal about God’s nature.

And if the only revelation we had was nature and conscience, we’d be left with no comfort that this God loves me and cares about me. We would be left without any assurance this God will work for my eternal good. We’d be left with fear, wondering and worrying what this God will say to me when I must stand before him. Because I know that I’m a sinner—in thought, word, and deed. And I know that he is righteous, holy, and blameless. I’d be left wondering if I need to do something to save myself. And I’d be left dreadfully terrified, wondering if I have ever done enough.

We needed God to reveal himself in another way. A better way. An unmistakable way. We needed the invisible God to reveal himself to us so we could tangibly see who our God is in all his fullness. In the past, God spoke through his prophets and revealed who he was through his Word—be it through promises made, or promises kept. But one promise stood out from the rest: the promise to redeem and ransom our fallen, broken, messed up world. How would God do that? God would dwell among us. God the Father loved us so much he would send his one and only Son, Jesus, so we could see who our God is.

Veiled in humility and masked in suffering, God, in Christ, gives dimension to his love that we might see the very shape and contours of God’s undying compassion for fallen humanity. And your God assures you that those who look to Jesus not only see who God is but see what God has done personally for them! Jesus died for you! See God’s tenderness and mercy as Jesus has compassion on the sick and helpless. See your God’s love for you as he carried your sins to Calvary to die for you. See your God’s promises fulfilled as Jesus rises from the dead. Because he lives, you also will live.

You want to know truly who your God is? Look to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you loved us so much that you would take on our humanity to die for us and save us. In your incarnation, you showcased your heart and love for sinners like me. By your Spirit, work in me through your Word a rock-solid confidence that trusts in you as my Savior. Amen.


1 River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life


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Transformed – teen devotion – October 11, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

God’s love letter to you

The spaceships were coming to take them home. That’s what Marshall Applewhite believed, the founder of the religious cult known as Heaven’s Gate. Applewhite believed that he and his partner, Bonnie Nettles, were extraterrestrial agents with “higher level minds” that had come from outer space to unlock the path to paradise. Applewhite preached that this time on earth was a season of metamorphosis, where his followers could achieve a “next level” mode of existence and eventually evolve into aliens. But this bizarre tale takes a tragic turn. Applewhite and 38 of his adherents eventually coordinated a mass suicide. They went to sleep, never to wake up. Why? Because Applewhite claimed that, by dying, their souls would be received by an incoming UFO spaceship and shuttled off to heaven. But that ship never came. A total of 39 people—21 women, and 18 men—died for a cleverly invented science fiction story, a man-made religion, a myth, a lie.

I know plenty of people who would argue that Christianity is no different—that the Bible is just a bunch of manipulative fairy tales cooked up by human imagination.

The apostle Peter knew that objection, too. He wrote in defense, “We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christianity is not some back-alley cult, crafted in secret. The Bible isn’t some mythological compilation of half-baked narratives and proverbial maxims like other religious texts—written in a vacuum, hidden from examination, study, and scrutiny. The events the Bible describes actually happened in real history!

Both the Old and New Testament writers ‘marry’ their text to history to a degree matched by no other religion. Christianity shamelessly joins the unfolding of salvation to real, historical events that are verified not only by archaeological evidence but also by ancient secular, non-Christian historians. Peter’s point is that, the biographies of Jesus’ life (the Four Gospels) are well corroborated accounts internally and externally.

The Bible actually is what it claims to be: the true story of the salvation of the world! The very words of God himself! For Christians today who daily wrestle with doubt, we might think, “Easy for you to say Peter. You were there! You witnessed these things with your own eyes!” And you’d be right. We weren’t eyewitnesses of these events firsthand.

But just in case we would see the Scripture as something less valuable than firsthand experience, Peter lovingly reminds us that what we have—God’s Word—is completely reliable. Because God wrote it. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

True, human beings recorded the words of Scripture—but they were just the “pen.” God is the author who wrote with the “pen.” Why would God write the books of the Bible? So that you would know with certainty who your God is and who you are because of who your God is.

At the beating heart of every biblical promise is your Savior: Jesus. God not only points to Jesus as the central figure of Scripture—the promised Messiah who had come to save the world—but God points to the cross as the way he would do it. True, we weren’t at Calvary. But our sins were. Outside of Jerusalem the glory and majesty of God would be demonstrated not in flashes of lightning, but in darkness; not in radiance, but in the shame of the cross. Why? To ransom and rescue sinners like you and me.

So, you know that Bible you hold in your hand or scroll through on your smartphone? It might seem quiet and quaint when you page through it but make no mistake—your God is there. God gives of himself through the Bible—to strengthen and nourish your faith, to grow you in wisdom, to guide you on right paths, so that you, right now, are able to fellowship with God.

The Bible is not some man-made, cleverly cooked up story; it’s God’s undying love letter to you—one penned in the fulness of his grace, one that unfolded in real time and space, and one preserved throughout the ages so you could hold it not just in your hands, but, in faith, hold it in your heart.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, continue to work in us through your Word a trust in you and your gracious promises. Work in us a heart that delights in your Word, but a heart that rejoices in the love shown us through our Savior Jesus. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 4, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

John 18:33, 36-38a

What is Truth?

“What’s 2+2?” Remember way back when questions like that were your weekly homework? And if you penciled in “5” as your answer, your teacher would lovingly get out her red pen and circle that question. Because your answer was wrong. Same thing for the more creative student who literally put ‘2’ and ‘2’ together and wrote “22.” Both answers are wrong. The answer is “4.”

The question posed by Pontius Pilate in John 18:38 isn’t all that different. “What is truth?” It’s a question people are still asking today. When it comes to questions of identity, meaning, purpose, and destiny, many people answer, “All worldviews and beliefs are true.” What’s true for one can be true for them, and what’s true for another can be true for them. After all, why can’t everyone be right? But that’s just as silly as responding to the question “What is the answer to 2+2?” with “22” or “5.”

There is no shortage of systems that strive to answer those questions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Atheism, and so many more it’ll make your head spin! But they cannot all be true. Such answers to life’s questions could (in theory) all be false, but they can’t all be true. The Christian apologist (and once atheist) C.S. Lewis compares it to grade school math: “As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”1 To the question “What is the answer to 2+2?”, “5” is certainly closer to “4” than “22”, but they’re both wrong—no more correct than leaving the question completely blank.

But there was another question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus—a question Jesus himself asked his disciples—who is Jesus of Nazareth? Many today say Jesus was just a moral guru. Others say he was a radical, social activist. Still others insist that Jesus was just a good person, but he wasn’t God. The Jewish mob before Pilate labled Jesus a liar. Others labled him a lunatic. But who does Jesus say he is?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus says. The same Jesus who stood before Pontius Pilate had claimed to be not just a bearer of truth, but the embodiment of truth itself—God in the flesh. “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate sided with the mob, not the truth. And the Truth was hung on a cross.

“Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” is a question to which the world must provide an answer. The historic evidence for life, the ministry, the death, and (yes) the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth demands a verdict. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus is either 1) a liar, 2) a lunatic, 3) or he is who he said he is: the LORD. And if God has raised this Jesus from the dead, the question is answered by God for us.

When you’re asked the question “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” don’t leave the question blank—because you know the answer. He is your God and Savior who died on a cross to save you from sin and death. When you’re asked questions about identity, say with confidence “I am a redeemed child of God.” When you wonder if your life has meaning, look to Jesus, who tells you that you were graciously set apart to be his own. When you wrestle with questions of origin, your God reminds you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by him and for him. And when you wonder about your eternal resting place, rest your worried mind in the blood-bought promises of Jesus that your eternal resting place is heaven.

His tomb is still empty. And because his tomb is empty, you can trust your Savior speaks the truth.

Prayer: Gracious God, Heavenly Father, sanctify us by your truth. Your word is truth. Move us by your Spirit to continually cling to your Word of truth. Amen.


1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 35


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Transformed – teen devotion – September 27, 2020

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Play your best song, Lord, to give me courage

What makes a king out of a slave? Courage. What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage. What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage. What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage. What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage. What makes the hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in ape-ricot? Whatta they got that I ain’t got? Courage. You can say that again!

– The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz

We aren’t too young for this reference, are we? (Granted, the quote is from a movie that’s now just over 80 years old, but still, it’s a classic. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out the Cowardly Lion’s performance of “Courage” on YouTube, or better yet, watch the movie on Amazon Prime for a few bucks.)

How are you doing in the courage department these days? I suppose that depends on what you’re up against. If we’re older and vulnerable, immunocompromised especially, we may lack courage in facing the Coronavirus. (Even if we are perfectly healthy, there’s always a chance it could be fatal. This demands courage from all of us!) Maybe you’re facing peer pressure to join in some things you know aren’t right. It takes courage to go against the crowd, doesn’t it? Maybe you’re facing some worries this school year with some project, some event, some challenge, some issue, and you wonder how you’ll ever make it. This too demands courage. Pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What’s my greatest fear?” Courage is required to stop running from it, stop putting it off, but to finally face it head on. Do you have courage? If so, could the strength of your courage fail and flee when you need it the most like what happened to the cowardly lion after encountering the wizard?

What alone gives you courage, courage which cannot fail? It’s always the Lord, isn’t it? This is precisely what the psalmist concluded in his song which would have helped the cowardly lion out immensely had that timid scaredy-cat learned it. The psalmist sang, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Here’s the beauty of that hymn. Are you fearful? Are you lacking courage? Is your greatest fear nothing short of sin, death, or the devil? The psalmist gives you courage. He says, “Wait for the Lord.” That implies that the Lord knows your greatest challenges, your greatest threats, your greatest worries and fears, and he’s already on the way to be your courage. You need only wait for him, and he will never let you down. He didn’t let us down on the cross, did he? Certainly not, he rose after three days. He conquered our greatest fears there, and we can be sure he’ll do it again, every time. And so the psalmist concludes, “Be strong and take heart.”

There’s your courage.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I love the playlist of Psalms, songs which give me a voice, songs which address all my needs with the good news of your love in Christ. Keep me in tune with the sweet music of your gospel, because I know that without your strength I can only fall into fear. Bless me with the very courage of Christ and teach me to face all things with all confidence. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – September 20, 2020

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
Psalm 8:1

Play the song that moves me

Glo Germ. Shortly after the days of the Corona pandemic hit us, this product became popular because it could be utilized as a tool to show how germs spread. After pouring some powder or gel on your hands and rubbing it in, it becomes undetectable to the naked eye. But under a black light, it is clearly visible.

By nature, we don’t see the handiwork of God. His fingerprints are undetectable apart from the eyes of faith, although God has given us nature and a conscience to sense God who is unseen.

In Psalm 8, the psalmist is picking up on one of the signals out there pointing to God’s awe-inspiring existence. The psalmist is looking at the earth with all its beauty and the heavens as well. Then, through eyes of faith—like a blacklight flipped on—he sees God’s fingerprints everywhere.

Do you see the handiwork of God? Are you looking through your eyes of faith regularly and taking in all that God has done? If we’re not careful, we can so easily miss it, like germs which spread unseen. In both cases, the effects are disastrous. Germs kill. So does not seeing God in faith. To live without awe for God is to live in awe of ourselves and die. So, again, do you see the majesty of God?

We all struggle to. If this is the case, I’d encourage you to not only lift your eyes to the hills and skies to take in the glory of God’s handiwork, but to look to the cross of Jesus. There is no greater work of God than that. Even the psalmist hints at this when he says, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them…? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).

It’s only at the cross that we are God’s crown of creation. For God did not take on any form of creation but our humanity, and in our place, he took us whom God should not be mindful of because of our sin and raised us to sit at the throne of God itself in Christ. Truly, there is nothing more awe-inspiring which opens our eyes!

Live always in view of the cross. Then, you’ll live seeing the handiwork of God in all the beauties of creation with you as the crown. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, when I stop to think about all your work, I am overcome with a rush of emotions of joy and amazement. Your created world is beyond what I can understand. Your work of love at the cross puts a lump in my throat. Your masterpiece that you’ve made of me in Christ fills my heart with unbelievable happiness. Help me to always think on these things. Keep this song of Psalm 8 always on repeat in my head. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – September 13, 2020

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.
Psalm 90:14

Play the song of unfailing love

Think back to all the times you wandered away from God’s presence. It never ends well, does it? After so many times, you’d think that our God would say, “I’ve had enough already!” You’d think for all the times that we go wandering through this desert life looking for a drop of water anywhere but from the Rock of our salvation, that God would finally turn away. I mean, how long does a guy continue to pursue a girl who isn’t interested? Or, how many times does a girl allow her heart to be broken by someone who has eyes for everything else but her? Only so much.

But, not our Lord.

This was the reality of God’s relationship with his people during the desert wanderings described in Psalm 90. The One who had rescued his people over and over again through miraculous plagues and parting waters was refused at every turn by his wayward people. If there was ever unrequited love, this was it. God had fallen in love with a people. But they were prone to complaining and straying.

But God never gives up. That’s the amazing thing about God and his pursuit of us too! He never gives up. At the same time, he never forces himself on anyone. He will never make you love him. For those who refuse to turn to him and only complain, there is only a hard reality—a thirsting one, a desert one. God sometimes allows us such an experience so that we come to our senses before we perish in the wilderness of this life and enter into the absence of God, his eternal wrath. That’s precisely Moses’ experience and that of his generation in the verses leading up to the song being played for us today in Psalm 90:14: “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.”

God’s love finally broke through! His people who loved to stray finally began to cry out to him for rescue and true love. Though they didn’t deserve it, they realized all their pursuits only left their souls desperately parched. God’s love finally won over their stony hearts. It melted their cold complaining. It revived an attitude of faith and gratefulness. God’s love rescued those who returned to him in repentance and trust.

Such a beautiful song is the same song Jesus Christ puts on our lips and in our hearts. He suffered in the wilderness of our rebellion on the cross and withered in the depths of hell so we could be revived in every way. Has such a love broken through to you? It has! You have been baptized into Christ! May we never wander from his love! And when we’re tempted to grumble and go astray, may we quickly turn back in that moment to his unfailing love.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, don’t give up on us, even when we stray. Should complaint flow from our lips, forgive us. Soften our hearts by your unrelenting love in Christ. Give us a renewed love for you and satisfy us every morning! 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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 6, 2020

Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
Psalm 130:1-4

Play the song of brokenness and forgiveness

Music is powerful. Music gives voice to feelings. You hear a song a song and think, “That’s exactly how I feel.” One of my favorite bands during my teen years was Nirvana, which made somewhat of a resurgence over the last year or so. Nirvana’s last recorded song was “All Apologies.” It’s considered lead singer Kurt Cobain’s swan song as well as his final farewell. A couple of lines from that song read: “What else should I be? All apologies… Everything’s my fault. I take all the blame.” Words like these can only come from a crushed soul acutely aware of his damning faults.

Sounds a lot like the writer of Psalm 130. But this is where the similarity between Cobain and the psalmist ends. You see, Cobain despaired entirely. His songs became anthems of his death.

But not the psalmist. By God’s grace, he knew that in spite of his many sins, he was a forgiven child of God. Listen: “Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord, if you kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand?” He already knew the answer—no one. What’s his comfort? It’s this: “with you there is forgiveness.”
Thank God that you, too, can sing the words of Psalm 130. You are forgiven, restored, and a dear child of God himself. Then in awe and reverence, live your life of meaning, joy, and service. Let it be your whole life’s song of confession.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I come before you with a humble and sorrowful heart. I confess to you all that I have done and left undone. I recognize that for all these sins and my very sinful condition, I deserve nothing but separation from you forever. I praise you that you have removed my sins entirely through Jesus and in grace invite me to confess all to you. Help me to always confess my sins all because of the sweet music of your forgiveness. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 30, 2020

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”
Matthew 25:21

God’s good gifts

Have you ever received a compliment from someone you admire? A parent gave you loving personal advice that helped you greatly. A coach congratulated you on a great performance and inspired you to keep playing well. A teacher took notice of your work ethic and motivated you to continue your efforts. A friend knew just the right thing to say.

What did you do to receive that compliment? Likely, you utilized some talent or ability that you have. Did you know that God’s Word says that, to everyone who believes in God, he gives spiritual gifts or special abilities! (See 1 Corinthians 12:7 and 1 Peter 4:10.)

On top of the forgiveness and goodness that Jesus richly pours into our hearts and lives, in addition to taking away your sins and taking all your troubles on himself because he cares for you, God blesses you with abilities. As a cherry on top of the joy, peace, hope, faith, and love that God serves to you in your Baptism, God gives you even more gifts, which are the very talents you have!

The gifts God gives are varied. God gives his gifts to people in varied amounts, too. But rest assured, God gives to you! Some have artistic abilities to create in awe-inspiring ways. Other people are leaders who motivate groups to get things done. Musicians skillfully use their voices or instruments. Others have the unique ability to encourage with just the right word at the right time. Those with the gift of hospitality make strangers feel like friends. Some have the ability to write clearly, give generously, serve faithfully, think deeply, or care compassionately. The list could go on and on!

Whatever your gifts may be, understand this about your gifts: your gifts are not from you or for you! First, they are from God. Your talents are not something that are from you, your hard work, or that you developed on your own. Rather, God is the giver of every good gift, including your abilities! Second, knowing that our gifts are from God we better know how we are to use them. Your gifts are for serving those around you. The reason God gives his good gifts to us is so that our neighbors will be served, and through our service to others we give glory and praise to God!

To those who use their gifts faithfully, God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

What an unforgettable compliment!

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for the gifts that you give us on top of the gift of your grace! Thank you for blessing us with talents and abilities. Forgive us for using these gifts selfishly to serve ourselves. By your Spirit, help us to use all the gifts you’ve given us to give glory to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 23, 2020

“For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
Matthew 22:14

How could a loving God send people to hell?

“How could a loving God send people to hell?” This question wrestles with two important biblical truths.

First, is God loving? Yes! God is absolutely loving. In fact, “God is love” (1 John 4:8). God is also perfect. Therefore, God is perfect in his ability to love and be love!

Second, does God send people to hell? Again, yes. The same God who is perfectly loving is also just and holy. Because God is holy there are things our God cannot love. He cannot love evil, which is the opposite of holiness. God doesn’t love murder, abuse, selfishness, or pride. Therefore, God justly does something about evil and those who do evil. He punishes evil and all who sin by removing them from his presence. That is, he sends people to hell. Hell is eternal separation from God and his love.

So, is God really loving? Let me tell you how really loving God is!

Even though we all sin, deserve hell, and ought to have God remove his amazing love from us, God did something about hell. He went there. For you! God put his limitless, perfect love on display by sending his son, Jesus, to suffer the pain of hell for sinners like you and me. God didn’t just leave sins unpunished and forget about justice. He carried our sins and experienced hell for us. Jesus was separated from God’s love so we would never be. In doing so, God took our sins from us, then clothed us in Christ’s holiness.

Jesus told a parable where a king (God) invited many guests to enjoy an amazing wedding reception (God’s love in heaven). How did people respond? Sadly, many invited guests rejected the invitation because they wanted nothing to do with God or his love. Logically, they were not allowed into the party. They suffered hell.

Yet, how did the king (God) respond? With love! He determinedly sent his invitation to others so more and more might enjoy the party (God’s love in heaven)!

The same happens today. Though many reject God’s love, God responded to our human evil and sin by sending his Son to forgive. Through Christ, God gathers more and more people to himself! On the cross he removed the rags of our sin and clothed us with his robes of righteousness.

So, how do we respond to the good news of God’s love in bringing us into his eternal party of heaven?

First, enjoy it! Nothing needs to be done. The King has prepared everything for you and given every good thing to you. Enjoy what God has done for you in Christ. Enjoy who God has made you in Christ!

Second, go! Invite your friends to the party. Tell everyone they’re invited! Tell everyone they have a loving God.

Prayer: Dear God, we praise you for your love and mercy. Thank you for sending us your relentless love, which you give us even when we sin. Help us to rejoice in the righteousness you cover us with all the days our life. Use us to spread your love to others so that they too might be with us in your eternal party of heaven. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 16, 2020

“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.”
Matthew 20:16

Life’s not fair!

“Life’s not fair!” Do you agree with that statement? Have you ever said that yourself?

Imagine this: Monday through Friday you put in the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears at your job. On Friday, you receive a large paycheck. You’re pumped!

What if your co-worker, who had worked just one day that week, got paid the same amount? That would not be fair. You would be irritated! You might protest this unfairness to your boss. And if your boss said to you, “Life’s not fair”—you’d be outraged!

We want life to be fair.

Fairness makes sense. We live in a culture that emphasizes a person’s ability to work hard and get what they deserve. If we put in longer hours at our job, we make more than those who don’t. If we study harder for an exam, we get a better grade than those who didn’t. If we practice harder, we get more playing time. The best, brightest, and most beautiful all go to the front of the line. It’s only fair!

Jesus told a story that completely flips this way of thinking. In the story, a landowner (Jesus) hires workers (us). Some work a lot; some work little. But get this: they all get paid the same. Jesus finished the parable by saying, “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” What’s Jesus’ point?

He does not care about fairness!

Instead, Jesus is all about graciousness!

Jesus’ story illustrates God’s grace. Grace is God’s love to you, it has nothing to do with you. Grace has everything to do with God. Grace is irrational in the sense that it is not based on anything you do or deserve. Grace has nothing to do with your talents or abilities. Grace defies logic. Grace is—quite literally—unfair.

What if God was fair? What if God did give us what we deserve? What we deserve, because of our sin and unholiness, is death and separation from God. What God gives us instead is the gracious gift of life forever with him (Romans 6:23). Fairness means we deserve “last.” Grace is us coming in “first.”

The next time you hear someone say, “Life’s not fair!” remember: they’re correct. Life’s not fair.

That’s a good thing! It means we have eternal life with Christ.

Prayer: Dear God, we praise you for your grace to us. For the times we imagine we deserve something from you, forgive us. Through your Word, help us to know the grace you’ve given us in Christ, and grow in a deeper and fuller appreciation of that gift. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 9, 2020

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

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

The business of forgiveness

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

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

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

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

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

Except someone had to pay for that forgiveness.

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer: Dear Jesus, we thank you for your forgiveness of our sins, which you freely give to us. Forgive us for being unforgiving to those who sin against us. Strengthen us in the message of sins paid in full so we might go and forgive like you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 2, 2020

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

A Notification to Notice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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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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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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 12, 2020

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

Serving Christ boldly . . . by being a good friend

I was told by someone early in life, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” At the time, I shook my head at this pearl of wisdom, but didn’t truly understand what it meant. As I grew older, the beauty of this saying began to mean a whole lot more. I’m guessing that as a Christian young person you already know that lesson well—there are few things in life more valuable than true friendship.

The opposite is also true. Fair-weather friends make life a struggle. We all fall prey to this, picking and choosing when to let those closest to us become an object of our affection and aid, and when we’re just going to let them sink or swim by themselves. This failure is what makes the short Proverb before us such a needed reminder today and always, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”

We really can’t read that verse without thinking about Jesus, can we?! The hymn What a Friend We Have in Jesus reminds us, “Are we weak and heavy laden, Cumbered with a load of care? Precious Savior, still our refuge—Take it to the Lord in prayer. Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer. In his arms he’ll take and shield you; You will find a solace there.” (CW 411:3) In any and every situation in life, Christ helps. He heals. He saves. We serve Christ boldly by not only cherishing this timeless truth. We serve Christ boldly in the way we act like a true friend at all times, even at a time of adversity.

Prayer: Almighty God, friends are a blessing from you. While I constantly fail in life and don’t always imitate your love for me, please help me in life to be a friend to those around me and someone who others feel they can come to for help. Guide me to build up and not tear down. All to give you glory. All for your Son’s sake. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 5, 2020

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise—“so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”
Ephesians 6:2-3

Serving Christ boldly . . . in my family

This July, WELS teens from across our country—and the world—were to be still basking in the glow of the WELS International Youth Rally scheduled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, TN June 23-27. As we know all too well, that didn’t happen. Instead, the world stopped. Our schedules were interrupted. Instead of traveling with friends to an exciting college town to praise our God in worship, study his word, and have a whole lot of fun, we spent most of the summer cooped up in our homes with Mom and/or Dad.

And that’s okay! God never promises us that we will have no troubles in life. He does clearly tell us, though, “obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” He does tell us “Honor your father and mother. . . .” I haven’t always done this throughout my life. You haven’t, either. We’ve failed our God in failing to not only obey, but also in failing to honor and love the imperfect representatives he has placed over us in life.

What an opportunity we have to serve Christ boldly by remedying these failures and responding to God’s grace by becoming a better son, a more helpful daughter, a young person who truly honors our God by honoring our parents. We do this in worship of the One who gave himself for us. We do this knowing that our sins are forgiven. We do this knowing our God has called us his own children and declared us to be heirs of eternal life.

Prayer: Lord Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me. Thank you for giving me family in my life that love me as well. Guide me to always love as you have loved me. Help me to honor and obey my parents, not just because I have to, but because I want to as a response to your tender care for my soul. In your name I pray this and all things. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 28, 2020

“Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
1 Corinthians 6:9-11

God and gender: Satan’s baptism

So called experts promise that if you change your biological sex, you’ll be much happier. They say you’ll experience a renewed sense of being. Everything bad that happened to you and everything bad you’ve ever done will no longer be a reality because you’re no longer you. You’re someone else. You have a new identity, a new name, a new look, and in some cases a newly modified body. Anyone who knew you before won’t be able to recognize you again.

These experts promise a fresh, new, exciting start that will supposedly free you from all of your anxieties. All you have to do is take really expensive, hormone altering treatments for the rest of your life. If you really want a lasting transformation, they invite you to surgically and permanently remove or modify parts of your body.

Men and women who have gone through gender reassignment therapy and surgery have reported having feelings exactly as described above. But if you do a little research, you’ll find a different trend among those same people.

They report that those amazing feelings last between 7 to 11 years, and then suddenly the bottom drops out. They have this realization that they’ve done something horribly wrong to their bodies and the life they’ve been living is a complete and utter lie. They become overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and suicidal thoughts. In fact, there are many who have transitioned who are now “detransitioning.” They even have support groups to help them through the process of returning to God’s original design for them.

They’ve come to realize that all the hype and all the promises are a pack of lies that come at an extremely high price to them personally as well as to their families. The new life they were promised, isn’t life at all. It’s a sham. It’s what I call Satan’s baptism. You pay a high price to experience a new life that eventually leads to death.

Compare that to God’s baptism. In God’s baptism there are no expensive, long, drawn out treatments or painful surgical modifications. It simply consists of being washed with water while these words are spoken: “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” (See Matthew 28:16-20) That’s it! The results are miraculous. Jesus says you are born again! (see John 3:1-8) Made new! (See Romans 6) Your past no longer defines who you are. What others did to you can no longer chain you down in fear. You are a new and lasting creation because Jesus Christ makes it so.

The Holy Spirit said it this way through the apostle Paul, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Verses 9-10 have always scared me to death, because I’ve committed some of those sins. God declares that anyone who continues living in those sins will not inherit the kingdom of God. That means you don’t get into heaven when you die. Instead, you go straight to hell.

But that’s not the end of the story. Verse 11 is the good news! Those sins we’ve committed aren’t who we are. They no longer define us, because we have been washed in God’s baptism, made holy by the blood of Jesus, and declared not guilty before God our Father. Our sins are what we were. Our baptism into the name of Jesus makes us who we are. We are a new creation!

If you’ve already received the gift of God’s baptism, remember it’s benefits every single day. If you haven’t been baptized yet, what are you waiting for!? Contact your local pastor today.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are amazing! You make everything new. Thank you for the gift of baptism that washes my sins away and gives me a new and holy life. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 21, 2020

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.
Ephesians 2:4-5

God and gender: Identity crises

You’ve heard the saying and have probably been told, “Just follow your heart,” or “Do what makes you happy.” For someone who feels like a male trapped in a female’s body or a female trapped in a male’s body, that sounds like great advice. “How could my heart mislead me?” one might think or, “Of course God wants me to be happy and right now I’m miserable.”

There’s a problem with that line of thought though. God knows your heart better than you do. In Jeremiah 17:9 he says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Or in other words, “Your heart is a liar. Don’t trust it.”

The Holy Spirit inspired the apostle Paul to explain why in Ephesians 2:1-3, “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”

Reread that slowly. You were spiritually dead when you followed the ways of this world ruled by Satan. You did what your sinful heart craved following its desires and thoughts. What does that mean? Contrary to popular opinion and pop-culture, it means that wanting to change your gender is not a godly thought. It’s actually demonic. It’s an idea that comes straight from the devil himself.

The devil wants you to believe that your identity should be wrapped up in your gender or sexual orientation, as if that defines who you really are. That’s a lie spiritually dead people believe. Jesus Christ came to free you from that lie. He came to change your deceitful heart and bring you back to life.

Read what the apostle Paul writes next, “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Previously, you were dead in your sins and deceitful thoughts, but Jesus Christ has made you alive. He’s forgiven you, saved you, and given you a position of honor! You are his handiwork! Like a sculptor painstakingly sculpts a beautiful statue, God sculpted every bit of you. He created you to do amazing things that are fueled by your real identity.

Through faith in Jesus Christ, you are a son or daughter of God. You didn’t do anything to earn that right. God gave you that status because of his indescribable love. That love is what makes you who you are. The more you lean into that truth, the freer you’ll be to live out your whole life as his son or daughter.

Prayer: Jesus, I was dead, and you made me alive. I used to follow the ways of the world, but now I get to follow you. Thank you for showing me the real me. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 14, 2020

So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Genesis 1:27

God and gender: Binary or a spectrum??

The term LQBTQ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning or Queer. Embedded in this initialism are those who question their birth-assigned gender and identify themselves as the opposite sex or no sex at all. Some prefer to be called by pronouns like “them” or “they” instead of “him” or “her.” You may know someone or may be someone who has this preference.

This concept is born out of the idea that gender is not binary (divided into two parts). It’s the notion that being male and female are not our only options. And if that’s the case, then gender must fall on a spectrum or a sliding scale giving the impression that there is something in between or a combination of the two.

My question for you is what is the truth? Is gender binary or does it fall on a spectrum? Before you answer that, do you remember the ground rules we established last time? My opinion and experiences don’t determine absolute truth and neither do yours. God’s Word, which is found in the Bible, determines the truth.

So, let’s go back to the very beginning when God created the world. In Genesis 1:27, when God created humans, it says, “So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”

What does that verse tell you? Is gender binary or on a spectrum? It’s binary. He created them male and female. Now, I know that was a long time ago. Maybe we’ve evolved throughout the years. Let’s see.

Fast forward a few thousand years to the days of Jesus Christ and read Matthew 19:3-6, “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?” “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Notice how Jesus responded to their question. He didn’t share an opinion or a popular idea from that time period. He pointed them back to the Bible. He pointed them back to the beginning and said that nothing has changed. Gender is still binary. That means that if you were born a male, then you are a male. If you were born a female, then you are a female.

Something may have happened to you or to someone you know causing this truth to be questioned. But know this, there is no such thing as changing your assigned gender.

The clothes you wear and how you refer to yourself won’t change that. You can permanently remove parts of your body, but that doesn’t change your gender. You can receive hormone injections to change how you look, talk, and feel—but you’re still the person God created, and you belong to him. The apostle Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.”

Prayer: God, Almighty Creator, thank you for revealing your divine truth that you made people either male or female. Help me to believe this truth and honor you with the body you have given me because ultimately it belongs to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 7, 2020

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues [what we would call churches], proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:35-36

God and gender: What’s the truth?

When I was a teenager, one of the first things they taught me in computer class was you can’t believe everything you read, see, or hear on the internet. That was great advice! Sure, you can Google practically anything or ask Alexa to find something for you and get a response. But, as many facts as you can find on the internet, you can find just as many opinions, biases and straight up lies. It’s hard to know what’s true and what isn’t.

I’ve learned over the years that the only source of unaltered truth is the Bible, God’s Word. It tells it like it is. It doesn’t sugar coat sin. It reveals it. It also highlights God’s love and mercy like no other book ever written. That’s why we’re going to be studying the Bible for the next four weeks as we wrestle with the subject of transgenderism. It means someone who identifies with a gender different from their birth one. This is a big topic causing a lot of confusion among Christians and non-Christians alike.

It’s a confusing topic because people we look up to, like celebrities, movie stars, athletes, friends, and family members are all giving us conflicting messages. It’s hard to know what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s also easy to jump from one extreme to the other. One side will say, “Live and let live. It’s not for me to judge. You do you.” The other side will say, “I can’t believe anyone would think about changing their sex! What’s wrong with them?” Both extremes lack truth, and most importantly they lack biblical love.

That’s where I want to start today. Before we get into what’s right and what’s wrong, I want all of us, no matter our personal thoughts or opinions about transgenderism, to make sure we’re starting where Jesus wants us to start.

Matthew 9:35-36 says, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues [what we would call churches], proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Every person Jesus ever saw, he loved. He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd. Sheep without a shepherd don’t know which way is right and which way is wrong. They don’t know how to tell the difference between the truth and lies unless someone guides them. Jesus wants to guide them . . . gently and with compassion. He wants to guide you gently and with compassion so that you can do the same for others.

I want to emphasize that the next devotions will not be based on my opinions or biases or anyone else’s. They will be based on the timeless, changeless, and compassionate words of God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, my Good Shepherd, thank you for being compassionate with me in my ignorance and lack of understanding. As I learn more about the topic of transgenderism from the truths revealed in your word, please help me to be compassionate towards others. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – May 31, 2020

“Truly I tell you, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in their heart but believes that what they say will happen, it will be done for them.”
Mark 11:23

Confronting monsters: Doubt

Can you ever be sure? I mean, can you ever 100%, without-a-single-doubt, be unwaveringly confident?

Doubt is such a sneaky monster. It doesn’t rise up in front of you and scream in your face like a storm does to make you afraid. It doesn’t scratch or claw at you. It sneakily nags at you.

In today’s reading, Jesus calls us to believe and not doubt. But doubt is everywhere, and it constantly sneaks up on us. As soon as you put that answer down on a test, almost immediately the thought comes to mind, “Are you sure?” Whenever you make any sort of decision, your mind wonders, “What if it’s the wrong one?”

The same thing happens to us when we pray. We ask for something but then wonder, “What if that’s selfish? What if I’m asking for the wrong things?” On top of this, the devil inserts sinister thoughts in our mind: “Is God even listening? Does he even care? Can he even do anything about this?”

Doubt is such a sneaky monster. It nags at you, slowly breaking apart the foundation of our faith and inserting more and more the sandy foundation of doubt.

How do we fight it? What is the antidote to doubt? It isn’t what you might think. It is easy to think that faith is the antidote to doubt. It’s easy to think that we fight against doubt by believing more. But that’s not it.

The antidote to doubt is remembering your God, remembering his promises. The answer to doubt is remembering what he’s done, and letting his promises wash away the sandy foundation of doubt.

Remember your God. He is the almighty, all-knowing, all-loving, ever-present God. Even if you cannot sense his presence or see his power, you can be sure that he is present with his power in any and every situation. More than that, you can know his love by looking at the cross of Jesus. Yes, the God who was at work in the past to save you by the blood of his Son Jesus is the same God who is with you in this present moment.

Remember his promises. When Jesus went up into heaven, he made some tremendous promises. He promised to you and to me, “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20). He promised that nothing can separate you from his love (cf. Romans 8:32-39). He promised that he would send his Holy Spirit to remind us of all things and to be with us forever (cf. John 14:16).

When the devil whispers in your ear and says, “Are you sure?” tell him: “My God has been true to me in the past; he will be true to me in the present. He has spoken, and he will not change his mind.”

Yes. I am sure.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, so many times doubt sneaks into my thoughts, and I wonder, “How can I be sure?” When these thoughts come, remind me of your Word and promise and so crush doubt in my heart and mind. Send your Spirit to remind that your Word is always true. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – May 20, 2020

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
Ephesians 4:31-32

Confronting monsters: Bitterness

The monster we’re looking at today is the monster of bitterness. Bitterness is so sneaky. It can show up in our lives in ways we’ve never expected.

Perhaps all the time you’ve been spending with your family due to social distancing is making you bitter at your parents. It snuck up so quietly, and now, you realize that you’ve really begun to resent your mom or dad. Perhaps it’s a bitterness toward a sibling or even toward a friend.

Bitterness can show up in our lives in all kinds of negative ways. It starts in the heart as an attitude toward or about someone or something. Then, that attitude grows from a bitter root into unkind words, harsh actions, silent treatment, and cold shoulders.

As bitterness takes root in our hearts, it also destroys our happiness and steals our joy. It’s hard to be happy when you’re upset and bitter at someone or something.

So, what should we do about it? Paul tells us to get rid of it. But how? How do we get rid of bitterness? Confess it. Come clean about it.

Confess it to God. Confess that you’re struggling with bitterness and a bad attitude toward people in your life. Ask for his help to kill bitterness in your heart. We often think it is helpful to keep our feelings to ourselves. But it’s not. The silent treatment never really helps anybody. Bitterness will simply grow in our hearts.

Confess it to the person you’re bitter against. You will be amazed at how cleansing it is to simply confess your feelings to that person. Then, they can work with you to address whatever made you bitter in the first place. If they sinned, the two of you can work through your bitterness toward reconciliation.

Since you care deeply about the relationships in your life, bring this out into the open. Confess it to God and to the people you care about. With God’s help you will strangle the bitterness in your heart before it destroys you and your relationships. Together you will move into a new day of joy and gladness as you live in the forgiveness of our God.

Your God so deeply desired a relationship with you, he killed the justified bitterness, anger, and wrath he had towards you on the cross. Because of Jesus, God has no feelings of bitterness, anger, or frustration toward you.

Since God has done this for you, let’s do the same for each other and kill the bitter root in our hearts. “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you” (Ephesians 4:32).

Prayer: Lord God, I can feel a bitter root growing in my heart toward certain people in my life (Confess specific bitterness here.) Help me to bring this out into the open and kill bitterness in my heart so that I might live with joy. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – May 17, 2020

A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones.
Proverbs 14:30

Confronting monsters: Envy

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve seen my iPhone usage soar through the roof. I wish I could go back and see what it was like before COVID-19, but now I look at my usage, and last week, I spent nearly 3.5 hours daily on my iPhone. It wasn’t all for work. I’m not proud of that, just aware of my own weakness.

I’m not saying that being on your phone is bad, but it might be bad for you. As you scroll through Facebook, Instagram, you see the filtered life and emotions of other people. As you flip through Snapchat or TikTok, you get glimpse of other people’s lives, and usually only the best parts.

I can only speak for myself. I do not share the pictures of a struggle. But I will share images of triumph. I only post the best pictures because I want to look good. I share a filtered life.

What feelings fill your heart and mind when you see the filtered pictures of everyone else’s lives? What thoughts do you have as you watch the videos or follow the stories people post?

Their filtered lives can look so much better than your own. A better house. A better look. A better life. Following their story, it may seem like they’re always doing bigger, better things than you. Right now, you might just be getting by, but they seem to be thriving.

Here comes the monster: Envy and jealousy. Envy will rot your bones. Jealousy will consume you. The more you think about their life, the more your life will seem to stink. The more you look at the things they have, the more you will want their life. Envy is a monster that will never be satisfied.

So, put down the phone. Stop scrolling. Delete the app. Take a social media break. Instead, get out a pad of paper and make a list of how your God is blessing your right now.

Make a list of the people in your life who are there for you. Make a list of the blessings that COVID-19 has brought to your life. Make a list of the things that God has given you. List the physical blessings God has given you. List the spiritual blessings he has given you through his Son.

Then, pick up the phone and call a friend to see how they are. They need you right now. Pick up your pad of paper again and write a note. Take some extra time and craft an encouraging note to someone.

Know this. We often post and scroll longing for likes, but we already have the love of one who matters more than 1000 views and a viral post. Put down the phone and think about how your God has loved you and how he cares for you every day.

Prayer: Dear Father, envy is alive and well in my heart. I see the lives other people have and I grow jealous. Kill this monster in me. Help me to see the life I have from you and in you. Your love means more to me than 1000 likes. Give my heart peace because of your great love through Christ. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 10, 2020

Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”
Mark 4:38

Confronting monsters: Fear

Fear is such a powerful emotion in our hearts and lives. When we’re scared of something, it very much controls and rules us. Fear can lead us to lash out at people who love us. Fear can lead us to hide away from the people who can help us.

That’s what we see with the disciples here. (Look up the whole account in Mark 4:35-41.) They were in a boat rowing against the waves, trying to get to the other side, all night long. Their boat was nearly swamped. Meanwhile, there was Jesus—asleep. He didn’t seem to care at that moment.

Keep in mind that Jesus had shown the disciples in many ways that he truly cared about them. Keep in mind that Jesus had proven his mighty power. Jesus had great power and deep care and concern for them.

Fear makes us do things we wouldn’t normally do. Fear can make us forget things that we already know. Fear magnifies the trouble of our lives and minimizes the care and the “can” of Jesus.

One of the biggest monsters we face today is fear. In this pandemic, it’s a natural response. We’ve never faced something like this in our lifetime, so it’s unknown and scary.

Instead of focusing on the thing that brings fear to your heart, in faith, “magnify” Jesus. Put the care, the power, and the work of Jesus under a magnifying glass and see that he truly does care, that he truly is powerful, and that he truly is at work in your life.

Your Savior does! He does care for you. His love for you is so wide, long, deep, and high that we can only begin to understand it. Put his care under the magnifying glass and begin to learn how big it is (Cf. Ephesians 3:16-19).

Your Savior can! He was right there as God at the creation of the world, making all things with his power and might. He is still holding it all together with his powerful word. But his power was most visible when he made everything right between you and God at the cross. Your Savior can! Put his power under the microscope, and you will learn that you can’t even begin to imagine what he is doing (cf. Ephesians 3:20).

And your Savior is! He is, right now, at this very moment, sitting on his throne and ruling over all things. All things are under his feet and he rules over them for your good (cf. Ephesians 1:18-23).

Your Savior does. Your Savior can. Your Savior is. Just as he calmed the storm and calmed the fears of his disciples, in the same way, he will calm you in this storm.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there is so much that scares me right now. I pray, stop the storm! And if the storm must continue, calm my heart with your presence , your power, and your protection. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – May 3, 2020

We had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.
Luke 24:21

Confronting monsters: Disappointment

In life, we sometimes face monsters. No, they’re not literal cartoon monsters. Instead, they are areas in our lives that will grow out of control if left unchecked. Over the next month we will take a look at five monsters that we face now and will face into the future.

This week’s monster: Disappointment.

After Jesus died, the disciples had to deal with disappointment. They had thought that things would turn out differently. They expected Jesus to free them from Roman rule. Instead, Jesus was dead. (They didn’t realize that he had already risen). At the moment, the disciples were understandably disappointed. They expected one thing to happen and it didn’t. They thought that Jesus was canceled.

This isn’t how you expected your life to go right now, not even close. Seniors, your graduation—canceled. Athletes, your sports season—canceled. Going to church—canceled. Hanging out with friends—canceled. In some places, even going to a park—canceled! You expected many things to happen in your life, but instead almost all of them are canceled.

Disappointment can be a monster in your life if you leave it unchecked. It will grow and grow, leaving you miserable. It will steal your joy and crush your spirit.

But Jesus won’t let disappointment crush you.

He didn’t let it crush the two disappointed disciples going to Emmaus. He came and walked with them. He came and opened the Bible to them to help them understand what was really going on. He connected the dots so that their hearts began to live again and disappointment disappeared.

Jesus comes to walk with us too. You are not alone as you walk through life. Not only that, but you can be sure that your God is up to something in your life, better than you can even imagine. He is at work in your life and will not leave you alone.

Your graduation may be canceled. Your sports season may be canceled. Much in your life may be canceled right now. And that is disappointing. But God is not canceled.

To crush the monster of disappointment, focus on the things that are not canceled. The presence of your risen Savior in your life—NOT canceled. God’s rule over your life—NOT canceled. God’s plan for your life—NOT canceled. The forgiveness of your sins—NOT canceled. God is NOT canceled, but all that crushes you is.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for walking with me in my disappointment. Do not let it crush me. There is much that is canceled, but your Easter resurrection proves you are not canceled. Replace my disappointment with joy. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – April 26, 2020

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Luke 24:32

Filled with the Spirit

When you hear a good song with a good beat, you get filled with good feelings.

When you hear a motivational talk by your coach before a big game, you get pumped-up.

When you hear “I love you” for the first time from someone you love, you get a rush of happiness.

When you read a good book, you might get filled with peace, determination, or a sense of adventure.

When you hear God’s amazing promises in his Word, you get filled up.

You not only get good feelings, pumped up, a rush of love, a sense of peace, determination, and adventure—you get filled with the Holy Spirit.

That means you get more than just good feelings. You get a changed heart. And a changed heart is one filled with peace and joy. These verses for today talk about the biggest source of peace and joy—the fact that Jesus rose on Easter and is alive. That means we get life forever and his help here and now.

God’s promises found in his Word are the only things that truly change our hearts to rely on God more, trust him, live boldly, and live selflessly.

What’s your plan to let the Holy Spirit continue to change your heart through God’s promises? In other words, what’s your plan to get into the Bible more?

Make a plan today. Download a Bible app. Put your Bible by your bed. Don’t wait.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for changing my heart forever by giving me faith. Continue to fill me with your peace and joy. Encourage me to fill up on your Word more. Help me make a plan to get into my Bible more. In Jesus’ name I pray. 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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Transformed – teen devotion – April 19, 2020

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord, my soul. I will praise the Lord all my life; I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. When their spirit departs, they return to the ground; on that very day their plans come to nothing. Blessed are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God. He is the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—he remains faithful forever.
Psalm 146:1-6

Filled with praise

If you drive, you know the most important quality in a car.

Nope. It’s not how it looks. Although, I have to admit it’s pretty sweet to have a nice-looking car.

It’s not how fast it goes. Although, again, it feels really good to zoom past a Prius! (Well, it’s not really hard to do that, now is it?)

You find out the most important quality in a car when it fails in that quality. I’m talking about dependability.

If you want to go somewhere but your car won’t start, you stop caring about how it looks and how fast it goes. The longer you drive, the more you start praising cars for their dependability rather than their looks or speed.

The most amazing quality about God is his dependability.

His dependability is rooted in the fact that he will never die, will never go away, will never get sick. He’s always with you. And most importantly, he will never stop loving you.

God never fails. We are celebrating Easter—the best proof that God always delivers on his promises—especially the promise that you are forgiven and that your eternal future is absolutely secure.

I know this is true, but do you know what I often do? I depend too little on God and too much on other people.

How does that show itself in my life? I get devastated by a harsh comment from another person. I’m driven to feelings of depression when someone lets me down. I find myself living to impress other people.

How about you? Do you struggle with depending too much on other people for your sense of self-worth, your inner peace, and sense of security?

Here’s the good news. God won’t abandon us even when we struggle with depending on him! He doesn’t treat us as we treat him!

Wow! That makes me want to praise God. The longer I live, the more God’s dependability is evident in my life, especially when everything else falls apart. The longer I live, the more I’m filled with praise for God more than praise from anyone else.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for being dependable. I admit I depend far too much on other people for my sense of peace and security. I need your forgiveness. I praise you for never abandoning me! 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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Transformed – teen devotion – April 12, 2020

Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
Luke 24:12

Filled with hope

Peter ran to the tomb.

Don’t pass by that detail.

Peter and the other disciples had been told by some women that angels appeared to them at Jesus’ empty tomb and said he was alive.

“But Jesus is dead. These women are crazy.” That’s what they all thought. Peter even saw him die with his own eyes. He was confused and afraid. Luke 24:12 says he walked away from the empty tomb wondering to himself what had happened. He wasn’t fully convinced yet.

However, even in his doubt and fear, Peter had something else in his heart—a little bit of hope. “What if Jesus really is alive? Wow. That would change everything for us.” So he ran.

In the next weeks and months, Peter’s hope became rock solid as he remembered everything Jesus had said. Jesus’ resurrection changed him. It filled him with hope—not in himself or his circumstances—but in Jesus.

Today is the greatest day of the year because it’s a day to remind you of your rock-solid hope. Jesus is alive! He defeated death! He beat Satan and the power of sin!

Wherever you are today and whatever your circumstances, run to the tomb and be filled with hope!

That means to bring your fears and doubts from the challenges of life to Jesus. View your challenges in the light of his victory.

You are not a victim of your circumstances. You are a victor in Christ!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for today! Thank you for rising from the dead. Today means I have a rock-solid hope. Let me bring my fears and doubts to you and let me leave them with you. Because of Jesus, I am not a victim of my circumstances but a victor in Christ! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 5, 2020

The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,
“Hosanna to the Son of David!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
Matthew 21:9

Filled with need

Fill in the blank. “I am ________.”

Lots of good words could go in that blank: Loved. Forgiven. Valuable.

How about this? “I am needy.”

How do you feel about that statement? Most of us do not like to think of ourselves as needy. In fact, we do all we can to avoid being seen as needy. We wander around when we’re lost instead of asking someone for directions. We fail an assignment because we won’t ask for help since we’re embarrassed that we don’t know how to do it.

Palm Sunday is all about being unashamed of being a needy person. “Hosanna” is really a cry out to God to “save us!” It’s admitting we have a need that only Jesus can fill. The people who originally said these verses for today were excited because here was the Messiah—the promised one who would fill so many of the needs they had.

Jesus is the one who truly can and does meet all your needs.

You don’t have to wrestle with guilt and shame for that lie you told, or that site you looked at. You need forgiveness. You need grace. And you get to confess your need to God. You’re in need of mercy and grace. Jesus gives it to you. He always does.

So, empty yourself of excuses for your sin. Don’t justify it (“Well, here’s why I had to tell that lie”). Don’t minimize it (“I only looked at the site for 30 seconds. It’s no big deal.”). Don’t deny it (“I didn’t gossip. I was only having fun.”).

Own up to it. Own up to your sin and need of forgiveness.

Jesus fills your need completely. Go to him today and every day.

Prayer: Jesus, I admit I am needy! I can’t go through life alone. I can’t deal with my guilt and shame alone. It’s so freeing to be able to admit my need to you and receive your forgiveness. Let me get excited each day that you fulfill all my needs. I pray this in your 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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