Transformed – teen devotion – May 15, 2022

One truth shared: Christ’s love for us both motivates and equips our love for him and others.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Selfless Love Marches Victorious Over Self-Glorification

“I love you” is a phrase said in a myriad of situations between many different individuals. It’s shared between spouses, family members, and friends. It’s said to express genuine affection.

“I love you” is also a phrase where the words uttered don’t match the actions carried out. In fact, love is endangered in a world that today is so dominated by anger and hate.

We have to admit that we too are guilty of this, aren’t we? “I love you” might be said over and over again with words. But what about our actions? Too often we fall far short of being motivated by love in how we interact with others.

The apostle Paul knew this. He knew that a lack of love was something that not only affects us each day of life, but also was threatening the well-being of an entire congregation near and dear to his heart—the one in Corinth.

So Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes what has come to be known as “the great love chapter of the Bible.” He shares with his readers—then and now—exactly what love is and how it reveals itself in the lives of those who are in Christ Jesus.

We find an example of what true love really is in Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. Notice how selfless he was in everything. Notice how he was resolute in his concern for others when things seemingly crumbled around him.

All for us. He did it all for us. And his resurrection? It’s proof that his sacrifice was more than sufficient to pay for our every unloving action and to assure us of our heavenly home built with God’s love for us.

So we learn this: Love is not all about us. It never has been. It never will be. Flee the temptation to become so caught up in self that you don’t reach out to those in need. Fight against focusing so much on “me, myself, and I” that there’s no room left to say and show “I love you” to others. All because of Jesus. All empowered by Jesus.

Prayer: Your love for me is selfless, timeless, and immense, O Lord. Thank you for everything, especially your Son, who is the personification of your love for me. Guide me in my life, heavenly Father. In this world of hatred, let me be a beacon of your love and an ambassador of your grace. Amen.


Teen 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 8, 2022

One truth shared: We can trust everything that our Savior says to us in his holy Word.

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:22-30

Promises Kept March Victorious Over Empty Words

There are some teachers in school for whom students hang on every word spoken and it all seems to make sense. There are others for whom this is not the case.

There are some parents whose spoken word is taken to heart by their children, because their kids know they will never let them down. There are others where this is not the case.

There are some friends that always have your back and are much more part of the solution to your issues instead of the problem. There are others… Well, you get the point.

The Pharisees had enough of Jesus infringing on their popularity and purpose. While he had preached and taught openly in their midst for some time, they finally confronted him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (v. 24).

Jesus had already made this known. He had already pointed to himself as the One who was to come to save mankind from their sins. He had already revealed his deity and love for those he came to die for.

Jesus had not only come to talk the talk, though. He came to walk the walk. He came to preach the good news and teach a message of salvation by grace alone. But he had also come to serve as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of a world which did not receive him or deserve the gift he was about to give.

The Pharisees were all about empty words and promises. Jesus was all about doing what he set out to do and following through on what he said. That’s why we worship him. That’s why—as sheep—we recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him wherever he leads us. Listen again, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

People will let us down in life. But that is why the assurance of our salvation isn’t found in how others treat us or how good of a friend we are. Instead, we look to Jesus—the One who never lets us down and never will.

Prayer: Thank you for your Holy Word which we have for our nourishment, strength, and salvation, O Savior. Not only did you become the Word made flesh, but you share with us the very words of eternal life in your Gospel. Fill us today and always with this good news which gives us hope in this hopeless world. Amen.


Teen 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 1, 2022

One truth shared: The truth of Easter opens our eyes, hearts, and lives to see the goodness of our God.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14

Sight Marches Victorious Over Blindness

The book of Revelation is often referred to as a picture book. It is a full color kaleidoscope of awesomeness that lets us see the majesty, power, and love of our God in a different way than we’re used to.

Revelation 5 is a great example of this explosion of brilliant sights and sounds the apostle John received as a glimpse of the heavenly splendor that awaits us all in eternity.

What he sees is mind-boggling enough—countless angels surrounding Christ’s throne of grace, all in service to him who is and who was and who is to come.

It’s what he hears that builds our excitement to the tipping point, though, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (v. 12). Imagine seeing this happen. Imagine hearing the roaring sound of it proclaimed—all at the same time—by countless angelic hosts.

Nothing in our reading today, though, is possible without the reality of Easter. If Good Friday is just the demise of a good man or the end of the road for someone hated by his detractors, then John’s revelation is not possible. In fact, if Christ is not risen from the dead, then there’s no reason to celebrate at all. But what we see in this full color kaleidoscope of awesomeness is the result of the truth that Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Look again to the picture painted for us in Revelation 5 and listen again to what is spoken by the angels, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (vs. 13). We who are spiritually blind by both nature and nurture can still—by our God’s grace and our Savior’ love—clearly see that Jesus alone is worthy of our love and adoration.

While we walk through this life by faith and not by sight, the majesty of what we see in God’s Word and through eyes of faith amazes us. That’s because Easter truth is our reality today. That’s because Easter truth is our reality for all eternity in the One we worship and adore.

Prayer: Lord God, we deserve nothing from you except for pain and punishment. And yet you love us. Fill us with this love today and always that we might join together to praise and worship your Son above all else. Amen.


Teen 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 24, 2022

One truth shared: The reality of Easter brings victorious celebration instead of reserved restraint.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:19,20,24-29

Witness Marches Victorious Over Restraint

“You’re not going to believe what I just saw” is a phrase that has been enthusiastically shared by many people over the course of time, said by those who have witnessed something so amazing, so incredible, that they feel compelled to share their experience with those not fortunate enough to be present.

That had to be the disciples’ mindset on that first Easter evening! Jesus, their Savior—the One they had seen arrested, beaten, and crucified—was standing before them in the flesh. He was alive! He was victorious over death! He was exactly who he had told them he was all along.

But Thomas was not there for some reason. So what did the others do when he came back? They together exclaimed, “You’re not going to believe what we just saw!” And he didn’t. In fact, Thomas vowed not to believe it unless Jesus also appeared to him and proved that he had risen; he had risen, indeed.

Of course, Jesus did just that. He erased all doubts. He also used the appearance to Thomas to teach us a lesson on what faith truly is, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29).

Being present that first Easter Sunday night would have been the most incredible event of any of our lives to witness, as the perfect Son of God who just a few days before was dead was now alive in the flesh. The celebration atmosphere would have been evident. The excitement intense. Two thousand years later, it doesn’t have to be any more muted.

Christ has died, dear friends. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. We weren’t physically there at Calvary’s hill or that locked room, but the Scriptures—through the tireless efforts of the Holy Spirit—convinces us that it all happened. In fact, everything that is shared with us in God’s Word is written so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (v. 31).

We believe Christ died. We believe he came back to life again. That’s what allows us with eyes of faith to look ahead to the time when he will come again to take us with him. Witnessing this truth of our salvation, we confidently move forward to share this truth with others—excited and confident to share what we know and believe!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, while we have not seen you face to face, you have revealed your triumph over the grave to us in your witness of Scripture. Fill our hearts and lives with celebration of this timeless truth and give us a spirit of confidence as we share with others the fact that because you live, we also shall live. Amen.


Teen 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 17, 2022

One truth shared: Easter causes us to confidently, continually proclaim—Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Life Marches Victorious Over Death

Death had its moment in the Garden. Even though Satan tried to convince Eve “You will not surely die” if she would just take hold of the fruit and eat it, death became a reality for the world’s first couple—and every person and couple after them—because sin had entered the world.

Death had its moment for the children of Israel. God gave them a new land with everything needed to not only survive, but also thrive. But they were scared—intimidated by the people of Canaan. So God had them wander—wandering for 40 years until the desert floor God confined them to was littered with their lifeless bodies.

Death had its moment on Calvary. Christ, the Son of the Almighty, had been brutalized, beaten, and crucified—hanging there until his heart stopped beating and his lifeless body was taken down to be buried in a tomb.

Yes, death had its moment. But it didn’t last. And why? Because “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” The tomb couldn’t hold the triumphant Son of the Most High. He had paid the price. He had won the battle for our souls and the war for our salvation. Bursting forth from the tomb, we witness the Father’s stamp of approval on a mission perfectly completed.

In the resurrection, we see that life marches victorious over death. Death still has its moments, including the one you and I will eventually have with it. While it remains a reality for all who are born into this sinful world, it is not the end. It’s described by the apostle Paul as a “sleep.” People wake up from sleep. Sleep is welcomed. Sleep refreshes and prepares us for what is next.

And what is next for the believer in Jesus? An eternity with him in heaven. Paul adds, “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are victorious because Jesus was victorious. We have heaven because Jesus suffered hell. Our sins are washed away because Jesus took them on himself to the cross. Death had its moment. But we have eternity because Christ conquered death and has given us the victory in him alone!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you conquered death that first Easter Sunday and burst forth from the tomb. Fill my heart with Easter joy, reminding me daily that because you live, I also will live eternally with you in heaven. Amen.


Teen 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 10, 2022

One truth shared: The apostle Paul describes the humility of Jesus and encourages us to imitate it.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

Palm Sunday: His Humility, Our Hope

It has been said that humility is “thinking of yourself less, not thinking ‘less of yourself.’” Humility can be difficult to learn, and sometimes it is easier to get stuck in a line of thinking that is self-deprecating and unhealthy.

What is true humility? Why is it important? Let’s look at Jesus.

Jesus is God. He is perfect and came down to Earth and became a human. He was still 100% God, but he humbled himself to be born in human form. He did many things that most people would consider to be “below them.” He washed his disciples’ feet. He ate with prostitutes, tax collectors, and people who were looked down on in society. Verse 8 of today’s Scripture says that he humbled himself even more by taking our place on the cross.

Our value comes from his love, which he demonstrates with humility. When the world tells us we are nothing, remember Jesus, who emptied himself so that we could be glorified. When we focus on Christ, everything falls into perspective for us as Christians. No longer do we need to feel hurt if we are not acknowledged as we thought we should be. Nor do we need to feel the desire to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves. Instead of focusing on self, let’s build others up and remind them of what God thinks of them. And should we forget, if we get caught up in the day-to-day minutia that clouds our thinking and judgement, we know our record is still spotless in God’s sight because of what he has done. There is no fear or shame to come to the Lord asking for forgiveness, because has already died for those sins. It has been said that “The biggest sins we can’t forget, God cannot remember.”

Be like Christ. Be humble. Serve others. Let the love of God flow through you and around you. Be content, knowing what the Lord has in store for you. Your hope is grounded in his undying faithfulness. And if you must boast, boast in the Lord!

Prayer: Gracious and Almighty Lord, when I fall or my ego gets knocked down, forgive me and ground me in your Son. Help me to think of myself less, not less of myself. My value is found in your love and your life that was given for me. Keep me always mindful of the hope that is found in your humility that achieved my victory. Give me strength for today and every day until I see you and spend forever with you in glory. Amen.


Teen 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 3, 2022

One truth shared: Part of being human means facing rejection. It can be crushing. We see that is especially true for Jesus this Lenten season. The result for us is spectacular, God promises to never leave us or forsake us.

This is what the Lord says—
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
Isaiah 43:16,18-19

Human Rejection Is Crushed by Divine Exaltation

We’d been friends ever since high school. We saw each other every day, got coffee every morning, and went to dinner at least once a week. Sometimes I would pay, and sometimes she would pay. I thought this would be a fantastic relationship, but I knew she didn’t really know how I felt. So, I made a plan. I went out and bought tickets to a show and asked if she would go. She seemed very excited until the moment I finished the question with “as my date.” There was an eternal two second pause before she said “…no.”

In my head, I saw this whole scene going very differently.

Rejection feels awful especially when you’re on the receiving end. Can you imagine when it happens to an entire nation? Today’s Word of God was to a nation who felt rejected by God. Israel was held in captivity twice. The first time was in Egypt—through no fault of their own. The second time was in Babylon as a result of their rejection of God.

God is no stranger to rejection. Think about Jesus on the cross. He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” God turns his back on his loved Son when Jesus needed him most. As Jesus dies, we see all of God’s anger against us poured out on him. We see our best friend rejected for what we should have done.

Rejection hurts. God has a message for those who are hurting because of rejection. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Maybe that sounds “fluffy,” but it’s actually bigger than just “sorry you got rejected.” Or “God has something/someone better in store for you around the corner.” God doesn’t promise blue skies and flower-strewn pathways throughout life. He promises strength to get through your fragile moments. “He says, “I’m doing a new thing” for you. It’s a promise to never leave you or forsake you. And no matter who rejects us, he accepts us. He has chosen us. It’s iron-clad too! Just as Jesus was raised on the third day, you were raised with him through your baptism and marked as a child of God. Your identity as part of God’s family makes you incredibly valuable to him.

Jesus faced rejection in his life. So will you. Yes, it is painful, but God promises a way through it to something far better. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).

Prayer: Gracious and almighty Lord, you were rejected but became the cornerstone. Help me to build my life on you. When I face rejection, remind me of your grace and the calling you have given me. When I fall, forgive me because of your Son. Be my strength and my confidence. Amen.


Teen 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 – March 27, 2022

One truth shared: When the weight of our sin makes us fearful of God’s condemnation, he reveals his grace yet again.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Luke 15:11-24

Our Condemnation Is Crushed by God’s Grace

Luke chapter 15 is commonly called, “The Story of the Prodigal Son.” Prodigal is not a common word in our modern vocabulary. Today, we would use words such as extravagant or lavish. When this word is applied to humans, it is usually not a compliment. In the story, the younger of two sons asks his father for his inheritance. At that time and in that culture, this was like the son telling his father that he wished he was dead so he could have the only thing that mattered to him—the only thing that his father was good for to him—money. He got what he wanted and lived a lavish, extravagant life with it. Now, we might say we would never go that far, but in some ways we do. We live in a world that says, “If it feels good, it must be good,” and, “Do what makes you happy.” But what made the prodigal son happy didn’t keep him happy for long, or healthy. Neither do the sinful choices we make.

It is sadly natural to rely on one’s own intuition and reason. Just like the prodigal son, we come up with plans and focus on them to get what we desire. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” How often do we find our weakness is our own wisdom? We often go to great lengths to justify what we think and do. Sometimes, only in hindsight, we look back and see how we went down a path that did not trust God—but revealed a misplaced faith. Perhaps we over relied on human wisdom.

What is faith from the perspective of human wisdom? What society often calls “faith” may better be called “speculation.” The hunger for “hopeful speculation” is driven by the need to feel “okay” with ourselves and to feel we are not alone. So we start creating excuses for ourselves, for our mistakes, and for the ever-present problem of suffering that accompanies our lives. Faith is said to be “an idea that I have come up with—in which I can hope. It really doesn’t matter what the idea is; it just matters that I hope in it.” In other words, “Have faith in your faith.” What we are trying to do is justify ourselves, all the while wondering if we have ever done enough. What a travesty! It replaces Christ as the object of faith. Christ alone makes faith valuable.

But know this: we have a prodigal God. He is extravagant and lavish—particularly when it comes to his forgiveness. Led by the Holy Spirit to the cross, we confess our sins. At the cross we see the wildest act of wastefulness—an innocent man, completely without fault, no guilt, no filth, no dirt, no shame being treated like a wretched sinner. There our condemnation is crushed, and we see just how lavish, just how extravagant, just how reckless the love God has for us is—we see it through Christ. We see that salvation is not merit-based, but grace-given, something that sounds foolish to human ears.

Let this be your takeaway: while today’s story is about a prodigal son, it is really about a prodigal father and his amazing grace toward a son that didn’t deserve it. Now it’s our story. When you feel lost and beyond return, may the extravagant and lavish grace of our Lord Jesus always find and restore you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I too easily get lost in my own thoughts and feelings. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for your free and extravagant love that finds and forgives me every day. Help me to rely on you and to freely forgive others as you have forgiven me. Guide me and lead me in your ways. Keep me faithful and give me the constant assurance of your love. Amen.


Teen 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 – March 20, 2022

One truth shared: Even when we lose our way because of temptation, God promises to provide a way out.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13

False Security Is Crushed by Faithful Presence

It’s a commonly asked question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Why would God allow something bad to happen to us—his followers? When trouble or hardships come into our lives, we often find it easier to question or even blame God than to trust in him. And this is not unique to us, the Israelites did it too.

When the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, they grumbled and complained about food. God gave them food. They grumbled and complained about that food. They chose to ignore God’s way and faced severe consequences as a result. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Ask yourself, ”Why do people repeat the same mistake over and over?”

Maybe the question ought to be, “Why do I repeatedly make the same mistake over and over?” In some way and to varying degree, our lives imitate what others have gone through. People of all ages have grumbled and complained. You are not the first to face similar “pet sins” through life. They never seem to really go away. How easy to think, “I can conquer this sin, after all, didn’t God say I wouldn’t be tempted beyond what I can bear?” Later, I end up eating those words when I succumb to temptation.

Here’s the painful truth: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” What an ugly mess life becomes when the agenda for our lives gets disconnected from God’s agenda. Listen to God’s warning, “If you thnk you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

But here’s another truth: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” What way out is that? It’s the gospel message that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are. Where we failed, he succeeded. He made right all our wrongs.

God know the limits to your strength and power. Trust that in the moment of temptation, he will help you stand up under its weight so you don’t fall.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are times you allow hardships to be part of my life. Too often, I grumble or complain about them. When facing temptation, I give up too easily. Help me remember that Jesus is my way back to you. And in the moment of hardship and temptation, be faithful in your promise to help me bear it and overcome with your strength. Amen.


Teen 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 – March 13, 2022

One truth shared: Jesus was determined to continue down the path he was on for us and our salvation. He did not take any shortcuts.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Luke 13:31-35

Shortcuts Are Crushed by Determination

“Are we there yet?!”—Almost every TV show that has a road trip with a kid in the backseat has used this line. And honestly, we are often just as impatient on long family trips to see relatives or when going on vacation. Maybe it is because of the “fast-food culture” we live in or perhaps just impatience, but many feel the same way—they want to be at the end and to have the prize, all while skipping the boring parts and hard work. But the journey comes before the destination.

What if life were like that—if there was a shortcut or you could fast forward through the parts you don’t like? What if you could be in shape without having to exercise? Or be at the ideal weight without having to worry about what you eat? Wouldn’t that be nice? But consider this: Something gets lost if you never have to work hard for something. Maybe we need to think more about the journey and consider why God allowed us to be on this “journey” called life.

Consider the journey that Jesus lived while on earth. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they tried to warn him that Herod wanted to kill him. It wasn’t as if Jesus hadn’t already been warned about Herod’s wicked intentions, Herod had recently cut off the head of John the Baptist at a dinner party. And it wasn’t as if the Pharisees were on Jesus’ side—ever—so why should he heed their warning? One could argue, “Because it’s true.” But if Jesus avoided what was going to happen, if he took a shortcut to avoid his coming death, he couldn’t be the promised Savior. So Jesus tells the Pharisees, “On the third day, I’m going to reach my goal.” Jesus was determined to crush any shortcut around the cross. By dying but living again the third day after, he won our salvation.

Jesus is just as determined for us to follow him in faith as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There are no shortcuts to heaven. “How often I have longed to gather your children together… and you were not willing.” Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Any shortcut around Jesus can be disastrous. If they think they know “a better way” or a way that is more suited “for me personally,” they are misleading themselves, this shortcut leads to death.

Because Jesus took the hard way, the long way, the way of suffering, the way of an innocent death—he has earned safe passage for those who follow behind him. When this world tells you there is a better or easier way, or when you feel you’ve lost your way, remember that Jesus already went the way before you and crushed your sin and guilt at the cross. He still loves you. He’s determined to be with you until the day he answers your question, “Are we there yet?” by welcoming you personally to eternal life with him.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have gone through so much for me. Thank you for your determination that wanted me so much that you ignored every tempting shortcut around the cross. Help me to be like you, fill me with your strength and endurance. And forgive me when I fall short. And keep me always mindful of your love for me that never fails. Amen.


Teen 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 – March 6, 2022

One truth shared: Jesus understands how hard life is because he faced every temptation we have faced and more.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.
Hebrews 4:14-16

Uncovered by the Spirit

The tall grass is a dangerous place. You are either going to encounter a wild Pokémon or be eaten by velociraptors. Unless you have your own Pokémon or a Remington bolt-action rifle, it’s safer not to wander.

“Oh, but where is your sense of adventure?!”

I think there is something to be said about the “sense of adventure” that is nearly ever present. It seems humans have always wanted to see who can go the farthest, or climb the highest, or build the biggest, or . . . this list could go on forever. Our society today has capitalized on it and now sells faux-experiences and urges us through media to take one more step in any area that Google’s personalized advertising says we should go.

“Gotta get the new iPhone.” “Oh, there’s a PS5 now?” “New line of clothing from who-and-such!” “I’m an Instagram travel influencer, and my life is so awesome! Leave a comment about where you love to travel!”—you get my point. We are told to be adventurous, and it urges our natural inclination to want new experiences as well.

God wants us to experience all that he has blessed us with in this world. He has given us so much. Yet, because we live in a fallen world, there is risk that accompanies it. With new experiences come new challenges, new temptations, new consequences. To misquote Uncle Ben, “With great [new experiences] comes great responsibility.”

God’s standard for everyone never changes. He says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). That applies even when you have never been tempted in a particular way before, such as: how to use your phone in an appropriate manner; respecting yourself, your significant other, and God with his gift of sexuality; not abusing the freedom your parents give you as you get older and spend more time away from the safety of your home.
However, if past performance is any indicator of future performance, we may not feel confident. We may start looking back on all the mistakes we have made and already feel defeated and like giving up. Maybe we even fall into the devil’s trap where we start thinking “If I can’t love ‘me,’ how can anyone else?”

Barring velociraptors, I can say that facing the consequences from mishandling new experiences is not pleasant. In fact, it can be downright devastating. But I must tell you, when God looks at you, he sees Jesus. Jesus has experienced every temptation we have, and he did not make any mistakes. And now he intercedes for us. When God starts going down the checklist of every requirement to enter heaven, Jesus shows his perfect record of obedience and credits it to us. Believe in what he has done. Cling to this faith and never let it go. Approach God with confidence, and he will be the source of your supply in every and any need.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for choosing to suffer and face temptation for my sake. When I am overwhelmed by Satan’s temptations and crushed by the weight of shame from sin, remind me that you have faced all trials without mistake and credit them to me, taking away all my guilt and shame. Keep me confident and strengthen me as I strive to live for your glory until I am called home to you. Amen.


Teen 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 – February 27, 2022

One truth shared: All of the surprising truths about our Savior Jesus and about life in his kingdom are uncovered alone by his Spirit.

Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:16

Uncovered by the Spirit

The sky was torn apart, and a voice boomed from heaven. The Spirit descended on Jesus as a dove. John the Baptist must have thought, “I didn’t see that coming.”

“Well, I didn’t see that coming.” How often did that thought occur during the life and ministry of Jesus?

Another time, Mary the mother of Jesus asked him to help at a wedding because they were out of wine. Jesus turned water into wine. How many wedding guests thought, “I didn’t see that coming”?

Jesus called uneducated, untrained fishermen to be his first disciples. They would be the first missionaries of his in the world. Who could have seen that coming?

Jesus warned that a life of following him would not be easy. Rather, the blessed life is enjoyed by those who weep and those who are poor. Jesus called his followers to love enemies and pray for the good of those who persecute them. It’s an upside down, radical, unexpected life. Did you see that coming?

What did the disciples expect when they went with Jesus to pray on that day his outward appearance was changed before them? (We call this his transfiguration.) Surely they didn’t expect to see the glory of the divine Christ or Moses and Elijah, famous leaders of the past.

How could they expect this path of the divine Christ to lead to a cross of death but back to life again at an empty grave? How could you? The entire life of Jesus is unexpected and surprising in every way. He never does what we would do. It never happens the way that we’d imagine.

If you believe these things, it means God’s Spirit has removed the veil from your eyes so that you can see. If that’s not you yet, ask God’s Spirit to help you see Jesus as he is in all his surprising ways. Ask for God’s Spirit to help you see more, to understand better, and to believe more deeply all that he has done. And this is the promise of Jesus: “You will see greater things than these” (John 1:50).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, send me your Holy Spirit so that I can see higher, brighter, and deeper all the things you have done for me and for the world. Fill my heart with longing to see what you will do next. Amen.


Teen 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 – February 20, 2022

One truth shared: Jesus speaks clearly to his disciples and us and directs us toward radical love.

But to you who are listening I say, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you…. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.”
Luke 6:27-28,36

Uncovered Love

But Jesus, that’s not fair. It’s not just. It is just not right.

That’s the way it feels. If someone hurts us, that wrong must be righted. If an injustice occurs, there must be justice. If someone speaks evil about us, then we must speak up and speak out against them. At the very least, we should do nothing.

But Jesus goes beyond calling us to inaction here. He calls us to action. He calls us to loving action. He calls us to do good to those who may have done us harm. He calls us to pray for them, to intercede for them. He calls us bless them and to mean it when we do.

This kind of love to which Jesus calls us seems to be upside down. It’s the hardest kind of love.

Well, kind of. When we think this way, we are assuming that we deserve better from other people and better from God. We assume that we’ve never hated, that we’ve never cursed, that we’ve never mistreated. We’re thinking to ourselves that we have somehow deserved goodness and blessing.

Do you know what mercy is? It is to withhold the justice that is due. It is to not give what is deserved.

That’s what God has shown toward you. He has given you blessing and forgiveness, instead of eternal cursing and condemnation. He turns his face and his attention toward you instead of turning away from you in anger. He does not give you what you deserve—though he has every right to do it. Instead, he gives you everything—and I do mean everything—that you do not deserve.

Maybe you and that enemy of yours are not so different after all. Perhaps you and those who mistreat you are not so different after all. So, let’s do the weird thing (at least to the world), the radical thing, the God-thing. Let’s hear Jesus today and be merciful just like God has been merciful to us.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you call me to a love that is like yours. That’s so hard. It’s hard to not want to give what is deserved to another. But that’s the way you loved me. You did not give me the justice I deserved. Teach me to be merciful, just like you are merciful. Amen.


Teen 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 – February 13, 2022

One truth shared: The wisdom of the world is turned upside down, and the one we are to trust is uncovered.

But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:7-8

Uncovered Blessings

It is all upside down.

We show up at school, and they try to make us smarter and give us more wisdom. They tell us that this will ensure our success in the future. “Just graduate from high school,” they say. “Just get a degree,” they tell us. “That’s the way to success.”

We’re told to surround ourselves with good counselors and advisors. We’re told to seek out trustworthy people to put in our corner. We’re encouraged to save up as much as we can for our financial future, have a strong security plan, and so on. We must make ourselves safe and sound.

That’s what we’re told by the people around us. But then God’s says something rather upside down. He tells us that it’s no good to trust in people or to draw our strength in flesh and blood. He says that this is the sure way to ensure we will not see prosperity.

Truth is, there’s nothing wrong with wisdom and learning, but we can’t count on it to protect us. There is nothing wrong with making good plans for our future, but those things dare not be our security. To lean on these things as if they were the ultimate thing is only to set us up for a downfall.

That’s why Jeremiah turns the tables for us so that we know where to find our blessing. He shows us that only when we trust in our God can we be sure that we will never face a downfall. Only when we trust in him are we rooted and grounded. Only when we trust in him are worries erased.

He is our Rock. He is our Savior. He is immovable. He assures us that when we trust in him, we cannot and will not lose. In him, all things are right again.

Prayer: Lord God, thank you for turning my attention to you. You are my Rock. You are my Savior. You are immovable. Help me to turn to and trust in you above all other things. Amen.


Teen 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 – February 6, 2022

One truth shared: These whom Jesus called to follow him were not the most likely agents of his mission, yet these were the ones whom he called. In this we see the method of Jesus: he doesn’t call the qualified, he qualifies and equips the called.

Then Jesus said to Simon, “Don’t be afraid; from now on you will fish for people.” So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him.
Luke 5:10-11

Uncovered Agents

Strange, isn’t it, the ones whom Jesus calls to follow him? Even the location of the calling strikes us as odd. They were fishermen who had been up all night fishing a lake and didn’t have a single fish. This was their calling and their living.

These guys had no education, not formal rabbi training anyway. They didn’t come from the local Jewish Seminary. In fact, later, people were amazed at these guys because they were unschooled, ordinary men (cf. Acts 4:13). There was nothing special about them.

But these were the ones whom Jesus called to follow him, to learn from him, and to carry the gospel out into the world after him.

Strange, isn’t it? Jesus also calls you. You…

Let that sink in for a moment.

Sinful you? With all that you’ve done against him, he has still called you.

Timid-and-afraid you? With all your frailties and weaknesses, he has called you.

Unlearned-and-without-all-the-answers you? He has called you.

Jesus doesn’t need perfect people to tell other people about him. He forgives us and then he sends us. He doesn’t need us to get rid of our weaknesses. His gospel is powerful and matters more than any presentation style. He doesn’t need you to know all the answers and be eloquent with words. He promises to give you the Holy Spirit to give you words to say.

Awesome, isn’t it! Jesus has called you. First, he called you to faith. Now, he calls you to tell others about him. Jesus has called you.

Who will you tell about him today?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is amazing that you have called me—sinful, weak, and uneducated me. It proves your power and grace! Use me in any way that you choose so that more and more people might know you and believe in you. Amen.


Teen 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 – January 30, 2022

One truth shared: Jesus had an agenda for his life. He was not haphazardly going about his business, but in everything he was focused on the agenda given by his Father. As Jesus uncovers his agenda, he uncovers the agenda he wants for our life.

But [Jesus] said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.
Luke 4:43-44

Uncovered Agenda

It is true. Jesus was not rejected in every place to which he traveled or preached. He had some measure of success. After being thrown out of Nazareth, he traveled to Capernaum and was met with wild success. After an amazing day of preaching and healing, the disciples roused Jesus from prayer and said, “Everybody is looking for you!”

That town would have loved if Jesus would have stayed and kept serving them right there. But Jesus had a clear agenda, “No. I have to keep going into other towns with the gospel.” So, he did. He went from town to town, Sunday after Sunday (actually, Sabbath after Sabbath), preaching and teaching his good news in their gathering spaces.

Jesus had a clear agenda, and that agenda included you! He wasn’t going to let a little rejection stop him. He wasn’t even going to let some wild success distract him. He was going to keep on going with the gospel until the whole world would hear.

Even after he died, rose, and then ascended into heaven, Jesus continued with this agenda. He uses his Christian agents to carry out his agenda.

He used the apostles. He has used countless Christians including people that you know, people who told you about this good news about the kingdom. Who has he used in your life? A parent? A pastor? A friend? A teacher? Who is it? (Send them a text message to say, “Thank you!”)

Jesus refused to stop and set up shop in one town because he had a clear agenda for an entire world. Because he didn’t, you have heard of him, and you believe in him.

Aren’t you glad he didn’t stop?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you didn’t stop. You kept going with the gospel during your time on earth. You sent other people after your time on earth so that I would hear and know and believe. Thank you, Jesus, for your relentless pursuit of me. Amen.


Teen 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 – January 23, 2022

One truth shared: When Jesus went out to preach, what could he expect? When we go out with the gospel, what can we expect? Though we pray for gospel success and hearing, the rule is more often rejection.

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.
Luke 4:28-30

Uncovered Rule

I hate to break it to you, but following Jesus isn’t the easier way. Not everyone will be happy to hear what you tell them about God and his Word. Not everything in life smooths out and gets easier when you believe in Jesus. Your family life won’t suddenly be better. Your struggle with a temptation won’t miraculously go away.

The life of Jesus makes this clear to us. In one of his first appearances as a preacher, Jesus is rejected by his own hometown. They wanted to throw him off a cliff! Jesus started out another day feeding over 15,000 people, and the next day he wasn’t sure if his own disciples were going to stick with him. Remember how his ministry ended? At the cross.

If the life of your Savior wasn’t easy, you can be sure yours won’t be either. You will try to share your faith, and people will push back against it even though it is the truth. The devil will make it difficult for you to follow Jesus. In fact, Satan will do whatever he can, not just to make your life difficult but to turn you against Jesus too. That is his goal and his purpose.

Following Jesus is not the easier way, but it is the better way. It is better because Jesus has already carried your punishment and your sorrows. It is better because you can trust that Jesus is the King who is ruling over your whole life, and he is good. It is better because he promises to always be with you and to ensure that you are never alone. It is better for 1,001 reasons more.

Following Jesus is not the easier way, but it is the better way. Stay close to him and you will not lose.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when the road behind you is scattered with difficulties and hardships, stay close to me and support me. When people don’t hear me when I share the truth about you, assure me how true your Word is. Do not let anything turn me from you no matter how the road of faith may be. Amen.


Teen 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 – January 16, 2022

As children of God, we have access to God through our prayers. What is the power of those prayers? Better yet, what power does God have in answer to our prayers?

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3:20-21

Uncovered Prayer Potential

Prayer works. It really does. It truly makes a difference. Do you believe that?

It can be hard to believe that, can’t it? We say that prayer is a conversation of a believer with their God. But it’s often not much of a conversation. We speak and God listens. But what does he say back? This seeming silence makes prayer difficult.

Sometimes the way that God seems to respond to our prayers also makes it difficult. We pray for someone to be healed, but they don’t get better. We pray for blessing, but it never seems to come. God’s answer to our prayers makes prayer difficult, especially when he seems to say, “no.”

Paul wants to encourage us to pray with confidence. Why?

We pray because God so loved us that he sent us his Son. His love was born in manger and nailed to the cross. We can barely begin to understand how long and wide and deep and high God’s love for us is. This truth alone inspires prayer. How can you not speak with One who loves you so much that he left heaven to be with you on earth?

We pray because God knows stuff. Like the best kind of father, God knows exactly what is good for us. He knows how that one thing isn’t good and how that other thing is eternally good.

We also pray because he has power, so much power! “Imagine!” That’s what Paul encourages us to do. God has power to do more than we could even ask for, more than we could even imagine. Not only does God delight in doing good things for us, but he has the power and the ability to do it.

Fathers love their children and like to do good things for them. But even fathers are limited in what they can do. God our Father has no such limitations. Imagine! Then pray away!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to know the power of praying to you. You have opened yourself up to me so that I can pray to you at any time. Help me to pray with confidence. Amen.


Teen 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 – January 9, 2022

One truth shared: God identified that there was something special about David, some hidden potential. What was it? His anointing, like ours, purifies us and sets us on our course for greatness in God’s kingdom.

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

Uncovered Life Potential

What was it about David? What was it that was going on his heart that led God to choose him?

Maybe it was his bravery and courage. God knew about the bravery and courage that David would show in the face of Goliath. Maybe it was that.

Maybe it was his humility. God knew that David would humble himself beneath an evil king who constantly tried to kill him. Maybe it was humility.

But what if God saw the sin that David would eventually commit and the harm he would cause? God certainly saw the way that David was bent toward sexual sin. God certainly saw the way that David was prone to his own fits of anger. God knew David was proud in the depths of his heart.

God saw it all, both the good and the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. And this is the one whom he anointed to be the very next king.

Sometimes people say that God sees our potential more clearly than we do. Those people aren’t wrong. God has a plan for our lives, a plan to save us and a plan to use it.

But that’s not why God chooses us and anoints us. He chose and anointed Jesus for us because he is merciful and gracious. Then, he anoints us with water and the word in Baptism to cleanse our hearts and to make us his. Through Baptism he sets us on a course to carry out his plan in and through our lives.

Just as God chose David despite his sinful heart, so God has chosen and anointed you through Baptism. He has given you a clean heart and a powerful purpose.

Now, step into that purpose and serve him.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see the purpose for which you have anointed me. You didn’t look at what I was capable of, but instead cleansed me and gave me power from your Spirit. Use me this year for your glory and good. Amen.


Teen 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 – January 2, 2022

One truth shared: The Child-King changes everything for us. We are no longer slaves. We are sons and daughters. Heirs. Spirit-filled. Adopted to be his very own.

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Galatians 4:4-5

Adopted

How can I help you grasp what it is that Jesus has done for us? These words that Paul has for us are clear. They aren’t hard. But, how I can help you grasp the importance and impact of what Paul says?

Maybe I can do it by helping you imagine what it’s like to NOT be a part of the family. Maybe I can do it by helping you to imagine what it is to be an outsider.

If you’re an outsider, you get to watch what is happening, but you don’t get to enjoy it. You are on the outside looking in. You hear the party. You see the party. But you just have to watch.

If you’re an outsider, you have limited, and often, no access to the head of the house. He might give you attention, but your requests don’t carry the same weight as a son or a daughter. The ways he cares for you will be different.

If you’re an outsider and you are not a part of the family, you certainly won’t be included in the family legacy. Your name is not in the will. You won’t get a part of the inheritance.

Jesus couldn’t imagine that. He couldn’t imagine you sitting on the outside looking in. He couldn’t imagine you calling to the Father for help and not getting it. He couldn’t imagine leaving you out of the will. So, he did something about it. He left heaven at just the right time and did what had to be done so that you would be adopted into the family.

Now, you have all the rights of a son or a daughter. You get to enjoy the full rights of being family. You get full and frequent (all the time!) access to the Father, and he gives full attention and weight to your prayers. Your name is written, by his blood, into the will. You get to share the Son’s inheritance with him and with every other believer.

You’re family with Jesus now. You’ve been adopted into his family.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for doing what had to be done so that I would be part of your eternal family. In this new year, help me to live as children of God live. Help me to honor you in all that I think and say and do. Amen.


Teen 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 – December 26, 2021

One truth shared: This lowly child is no lowly king. The warrior’s boot will be burned. The yoke will be broken. And he will sit on his throne bringing peace. This is what happens when he comes.

For as in the day of Midian’s defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor. Every warrior’s boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire. For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:4-6

Peace

Almost every time that we imagine the Christmas scene and draw pictures of it, the scene seems so peaceful. We picture angels standing guard and their chorus singing outside. We imagine Mary and Joseph gently holding the baby Jesus and gazing adoringly into his eyes. The wise men and the shepherds are there too, but it is still a peaceful thing. It is gentle. Serene. Peaceful.

But that is not the picture that Isaiah paints for us. He pictures something violent happening when Jesus comes. He pictures a yoke that burdens people getting crushed over a warrior’s knee, absolutely breaking it to smithereens. He pictures the boots and the bloodied garments of the warrior being used as fuel for the fire. Why? Because a son is born to us.

It’s not the picture of Christmas that we normally have. We don’t picture a shattered yoke or a bloodied garment in the fire.

When Jesus was born and entered this world, the angels rejoiced but Satan surely cursed. He hated this idea that the Messiah had come to save. In that moment, he surely rounded up his demonic hordes to do their worst against this Anointed One of God. This was war!

Jesus grew and rose to meet them in battle. And this is what he did. He took the yoke of sin and guilt and shame that was on our shoulders, and he shattered it. He broke it into slivers and used it as kindling for the fire. He strode into battle—a conquering King—and bloodied his garments in the war against our enemies, absolutely decimating them.

The war is won! The yoke of our sin is shattered. Their garments are fuel for the fire. And so, we have peace! Peace with God. Peace for eternity. Sins forgiven. Heaven won.

Enjoy the victory and live in the peace that he has won for you.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for this vision of your coming through Isaiah. It shows me again how complete the victory that you won for me is. Here you show me that you are, indeed, my conquering Hero. Amen.


Teen 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 – December 19, 2021

One truth shared: This is the way of our God, to exalt the lowly, to elevate the small. Little Bethlehem was insignificant in the world, but not in the eyes of God. So also, for us.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.
Micah 5:2

Small but Significant

Have you ever been let down by the hype?

Maybe, a friend told you about this great new series coming out on the Netflix. And so, you waited for months. You marked the premiere on your calendar and waited in line to see it. Then you watched the trailer. “Meh. That was okay.” You grab the latest and greatest iPhone. “Meh. It’s just a slightly different version of the old phone.” All the hype leads to a letdown, because it isn’t all it was talked up to be.

When it comes to promised birth of a coming Messiah, there had been a lot of talk for a long time. All through the Old Testament, he was the One to crush the serpent’s head. He was the One to bring rescue for everyone and entrance into heaven. The prophets hyped Jesus over thousands of years.

But when Jesus finally arrived, it might have felt a little bit “meh.” He was born in little Bethlehem. Yes, it was the hometown of the ancient, great King David. But it was not the capital city; it was not impressive, and, in those days, it was a dusty, insignificant sheep town. There is a reason we sing, “O Little Town of Bethlehem.”

When people look at Jesus and make snap judgments about him, he may appear like a normal kid whose dad was just a carpenter, just a regular guy. People didn’t look at Jesus and see anything special. And when Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of all the hype, they laughed him. He was so far from their expectation that many wouldn’t believe that he was the One.

But he was.

That’s what Micah wants us to see in Bethlehem, this small town. He wants us to see that God lies in that manger there. He wants us to see that God, the Savior, has been born of Mary. Jesus measured up to all the hype and more; he surpassed it! He is now what he has always been—the Son of God. He remains now what he was then—the Son of Man, born to save us all.

Don’t miss this when you celebrate Christmas this week. Jesus is all he is hyped to be.

Prayer: Jesus, sometimes I miss how big a deal you really are. Sometimes I forget how big a deal your birth really is. Your birth means that God has come to save me and to save the world. Help me to see what a big deal this really is. Amen.


Teen 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 – December 12, 2021

One truth shared: There are times when it seems as if the enemies of God are getting away with it. There are times when the enemies of the Lord are our enemies too. When the Lord comes near, we will be vindicated, and his enemies will be thrown down.

Sing, Daughter Zion; shout aloud, Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, Daughter Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm. On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:14-17

Defeat

Trauma and abuse can be absolutely debilitating. After it happens, many people lose purpose, hope, and a sense of safety.

A group of scientists once carried out a very sad and provocative experiment on dogs. They wanted to know how trauma impacted dogs. So, they planned and executed a scientific study. In the study, the first group of dogs were put in cages. Throughout the day, these cages were electrified repeatedly while the doors to the cages were locked. At first, the dogs tried to get out of the cages, but after a while these poor traumatized dogs just laid down and endured the painful shocks over and over again. Horrible, isn’t it? This was phase one of the study.

In phase two of the study, they opened the cage doors of the traumatized dogs and a second group of dogs who had not been previously shocked. Then, they shocked all of the dogs. The group of dogs who had never been shocked before simply walked right out of the electrified cages. But not the traumatized dogs. Even with their doors wide open, they just laid in their electrified cages. They had come to consider themselves as nothing more than victims, like sheep marked for slaughter. This was now their life. Horrible to think, isn’t it?

Is this really who we are? Are we just sheep marked for the slaughter? Is laying down the only thing we can do in the face of abuse and trauma we have experienced? Are we the sum total of what has happened to us?

That’s not what our God says about us. That is not at all what our God has done for us. Our God is a Mighty Warrior who saves and turns back those who want to and even do harm to us. Our God is a Mighty Warrior who takes great delight in us. The Lord is coming near this Christmas to be with us and defend us. He has taken upon himself our punishment. He has defeated our enemies! He promises to return someday and deliver us from those who harm us.

Don’t be afraid and don’t hang your head in defeat! We are not traumatized dogs; we are “more than conquerors through him who loved us” and “nothing can separate us from his love” (cf. Romans 8:35-39).

Prayer: O Mighty Warrior, when I lay down because I feel that there is nothing else I can do, strengthen me by your Spirit. I am not a traumatized dog. I am not a victim. I am more than a conqueror. I am your child. So, strengthen me for this life. Amen.


Teen 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 – December 5, 2021

One truth shared: Standing in front of the judge is a humbling experience, especially when the verdict is right. The LORD knows things about us that we don’t know ourselves. Who can stand when he comes? This is a humbling moment.

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
Malachi 3:2-4

Safe

I’m not sure why anybody wants to be on a reality TV show. When you end up on one of these shows—any of them—you and a portion of your life (maybe even all of your life) is put on display for the whole world to see. When someone sings off key, everybody knows it, and the video goes viral because it was horrendous. When someone fails horribly, everybody watches it repeatedly and shares it so that the failure goes viral. Suddenly, a person is famous… for a failure!

That’s why I’m not sure why anyone would want to put themselves out there like that. Unless you really are that good.

But who is that good? Who can endure the scrutiny of world-wide audience? Who hasn’t cringed a little bit when a singer sings off-key at a concert? Political pundits tear apart the speeches of politicians, fact-checking every little detail. People who watch football or basketball games always have something to say about the coaching or the refs or someone on the field. Who can endure that scrutiny?

What if the one judging is God? What if the one scrutinizing our lives is the One who can also read our hearts? Not only does he see every snap and TikTok, but he also sees what never gets posted because we kept it hidden. Who can endure that? Who can stand up when he appears? It is a humbling reality to face.

The truth is—you can. And you will. But not because you’ve got your life together. And not because you’ve lived your life in every detail the way God required you to live it. You will stand and you will be received, but not because of you at all.

You will not be ashamed when Jesus comes near because, in love, he chose to draw near to you. He came close to you and took your shame on himself. And because he did, you will not be ashamed on the Last Day. You will be welcomed and not shunned.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, my life can’t stand up under the scrutiny of your searching eye. I am humbled before you. Forgive my sins and lift me up by your forgiveness. Amen.


Teen 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 – November 29, 2021

One truth shared: There is a series of emotions that fill us when we think about the coming of Jesus. Fear. Anxiety. Perhaps even terror. One thing is sure. We are safe at the coming of Jesus.

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.” “In those days and at that time I will make a Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD our righteous Savior.’”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Safe

I’m not sure what I would do if some celebrity walked into my office. It’s never happened to me so I’m not so sure what I would do, but I can imagine some of the emotions. There would be a certain “wow” factor. I might want to snap a picture with them and may even getting an autograph. I also think that it’s entirely possible that I would be so overwhelmed that I’d avoid eye-contact and wouldn’t have anything to say. Meeting a celebrity would be awesome and even terrifying all at the same time.

Those are some of the same emotions that I have when I think about the coming of Jesus. What are yours? Before you read on, take a moment, and reflect on the question: How would I feel if I met someone famous and important?

I think about how he came in the manger, about how he was born into this world, and I want to run up to him and peer into the manger. I think about how he marched into Jerusalem on a donkey, and I want to join the parade. It would be just awesome to meet Jesus and hang out with him, wouldn’t it?

I also think about how he described his coming at the end of the world—that scares me. His coming to judge. His coming to separate the sheep from the goats. His coming to send some to hell and others to heaven. This should scare and frighten us.

When Jeremiah talks about the coming Jesus, he doesn’t paint a picture for us to make us afraid. He pictures for us a tree growing in the middle of a field with sprawling branches. He pictures a place for us there under those branches for safely resting, a place for us to chill in his shade.

Jesus is for us a tree with sprawling branches. We can rest under his protection. We can chill under his forgiveness. Even now, we can put our feet up under this tree and rest in his protection and peace.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, at times your coming makes me afraid. I imagine judgment day and I know my sins; that day scares me because of my sin. But I know and believe that you have taken my sins away. I am safe from your judgment. I am safe in your care until your return. Keep me until that awesome day when you will gather me home. Amen.


Teen 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 – November 28, 2021

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
Philippians 4:8,9

Higher Thinking

Are you still bringing a teddy bear to school?

“Uh…no? How old do you think I am?” You might be thinking. “I wouldn’t be caught dead bringing a teddy bear to school!”

Well, why not?

Teddy bears, in basic psychology, are often referred to as comfort objects. As small children grow, they discover they are extremely small and dependent. This smallness and dependence can cause major stress and anxiety—especially when the child’s parents are away for any given point of time. So to cope, children ascribe characteristics of their parents (that is, protection, warmth, love) to comfort objects—such as a security blanket or a stuffed animal. When the parents feel distant and that feeling of dependence arrives, kids cling to their comfort objects for dear life. They will not let go.

So, are you still bringing a teddy bear to school?

As a teenager, you might think deriving comfort from a teddy bear is completely ridiculous. But is that anymore ridiculous than deriving your self-esteem from how many ‘Likes’ your latest profile picture got?

“Well, that’s different.”

Is it really?

Is that anymore different than defining your self-worth by how many ‘Followers’ you have on TikTok? Is that anymore different than defining ourselves by how well you can work an Xbox controller? Is that any different than infinitely scrolling through Instagram and envying the photoshopped lives of other people?

But those aren’t the only comfort objects in our lives.

We hold on to grudges—when we, in Christ, have every reason to reconcile with one another. We hold on to bad company—at expense of our physical and even spiritual well-being. We hold on to constant bitterness and nonstop complaining—when we, in Christ, have every reason and then some to be joyful. We hang on to our shame and guilt—when, in Christ, our sins were taken away and are remembered no more.

Suddenly, it seems naïve to think clinging to teddy bears is beyond any of us.

Here’s some higher thinking for you: you already have the greatest comfort object in the world: Jesus.

To a world that would cling to trash for life, God the Father sent his Son to this fallen world to give us life! To a world that was held captive by sin, death, and hell, our Savior lived a blameless life in our place and sacrificed himself on a cross so we would be set free! That is the same God who holds you through the bad days at school, who holds you through the bullying, who holds you in every heartbreak, who holds you when you’re afraid, who holds you when you’re too weak to stand. After all, he’s the God whose love for you held him on the cross—so he could hold you in his arms in heaven with him forever.

So, fix your eyes heavenward. Let go of the “teddy bears” and hold on to what’s truly good—specifically, the highest good and most important: your Savior Jesus. Cling to his Word—his divinely-inspired love letter to you. Cling to every promise your God has personally made you in his Word. Hold on to the joy we have in sins forgiven. Hold on to the hope we have in Jesus’ empty tomb. Hold on to the unassailable identity you have in Christ as God’s dearly loved child.

There is no higher comfort outside of Jesus. So, hang on to your Savior. He’s hanging on to you!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there is so much in my life that seeks to steal my attention away from you. When I’m tempted to look to other things to derive self-worth, direct my eyes to you. No one loves me more than you—and you proved that by dying for me on cross. Move me to live for you as you lived for me. Amen.


Teen 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 – November 21, 2021

I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:10-14

Our Glory Days

A dad takes a trip down memory lane with his son. They climb up the stairs to the attic, where the dad then opens a giant box full of memorabilia from his “glory days” as a high school quarterback. The son’s jaw drops as he pages through newspaper clippings with his dad on the front page of the local paper.

“Dad, was that you?!?

“Yes, it was!” the dad replies. He throws on his old letterman jacket to prove it, but it didn’t quite fit. The dad had put on a few since his high school years. This once varsity quarterback was now pushing papers at an accounting firm; and it showed. “Those were the days” the dad says as he holds a picture of his younger, slimmer self. “I’d relive these days in a heartbeat.”

Anyone who has played high school sports knows that feeling. If we could, we’d relive scoring that winning touchdown. Or sinking that buzzer-beater three-pointer. We’d relive receiving that glistening trophy and holding it high for the world to see.

Even if you don’t play high school sports, everybody has their “glory days” they wish they could revisit. We’d relive days when we were stronger and in better shape. We’d go back to when we were still with that certain someone—before the breakup. We’d go back to before we made those costly decisions, before we screwed up, before we made those mistakes, before our lives began their downward spiral.

But those “glory days” are inaccessibly buried in the past—regardless of how much we don’t want to let them go. The trophies may still be shining now, but eventually they’ll start to show their age. Our jerseys will one day no longer fit us. The lettermen jackets will eventually wear out and fall apart.

But high school trophies aren’t the only things broken, faded, and falling apart. Our lettermen jackets aren’t the only thing getting boxed up and buried.

We are too.

We can be as health conscious as we want and work out every day, but our mortality is thrown in our face every second of every day. And there is nothing we can do to change that. We can try all we want to immortalize ourselves in our victories, our accomplishments, and achievements; but we cannot undo death. We can wax nostalgic all we want and reminisce of “glory days” gone by; but our “glory days” and their trophies have little impact and significance on the problems we face today—death included.

Is that all Jesus’ resurrection is? A celebration of another empty “glory day”? Is Easter just a day we nostalgically celebrate once every spring, but, beyond that, it really has no lasting, significant importance?

Not in the slightest!

You see, the Bible isn’t a catalogue of wishful thinking. These things actually happened. That Jesus rose from the dead isn’t some fictitious event cooked up by Christians who couldn’t come to grips with dying. Christ has died. Christ is risen. And Christ will come again.

Jesus’ tomb is still empty—and it will stay empty. And because Jesus has risen from the dead, that means you will rise, too! That Jesus rose from the grave vindicates and validates everything he said and everything he did. He is who he says he is. He is your God. Your Redeemer. Your Rescuer. And by faith, his victory over sin, hell, and the grave is your victory.

While our glory days are still yet to come in heaven, as Christians, our glory days are now too! Even when we’re faced with hardship, we already hold a trophy that will never expire. Even when we are persecuted for our faith, we still possess an identity in Christ that will never tarnish, rust, or rot—that being the eternal identity of being a blood-bought, forgiven, redeemed child of God. Even when we are faced with death, not even death can rob us of the victory our Savior has won!

You are clothed with the letterman jacket of Jesus’ righteousness and perfection. You are forgiven! You belong to God. You are heaven-bound. Your Savior has laid claim on you!

So, as you fight for the next five yards, find comfort knowing Christ has already won the championship.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, fix our eyes ever firmly on you—especially in the face of hardship and adversity. Fill our hearts with the peace and joy of your resurrection. Move us to never cease celebrating the victory we have in you over sin, death, and the grave, and move us to share this joy with those around us. In your name we pray. Amen.


Teen 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 – November 14, 2021

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Philippians 2:12-13

Spiritual workout

Did you know that the average Planet Fitness has 6,500 members—but their gyms are built to only accommodate 300 people at a time?

Now, you might be tempted to think some architect goofed on the design. But there’s a reason why these gyms are so much smaller than their total membership. True, not every member is going to work out at the same time, but that doesn’t entirely explain the discrepancy between 6,500 members and a 300-capacity gym. So, what’s up with this math?

Well, according to USA Today, 67% of gym memberships go completely unused. That’s right: there are people who pay to go to a gym they’ll never go to.

Sounds ridiculous, right? I mean, isn’t working out what a member of a gym naturally does?

We as Christians are called to “work out” too; and this kind of work out is something the Christian naturally does.

The apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, my dear friends…continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Now, Paul is not saying that we need to earn our salvation. The same apostle Paul also wrote in Romans 3:28 that “a person is [made right with God] by faith apart from observing the [commandments of God].” We are reconciled to God purely by God’s undeserved love—on account of Christ alone—through faith in him. But that same faith in Jesus seeks to express itself in action. That we exercise our faith and do good works is natural—no different than a good tree bearing good fruit.

So, what does this spiritual exercise of our faith look like?

We fear, love, and trust in God above all things. We respect our parents and our teachers. We seek to help and befriend our neighbors—no matter who they are. We use our words to build up, not tear down. We not only see God’s gifts of sexuality and marriage as good things, but we appreciate the good paradigms for sex and marriage God has given us—because God desires to not only give us these gifts but keep these good gifts good. We turn to God’s Word for answers to life’s biggest questions—and strive to be always ready to give an explanation for the hope we have in Jesus. We anchor our identity solely in Jesus—who he is and what he has won and done for you, me, and the world.

That’s quite the spiritual workout, isn’t it? I mean, don’t you feel sometimes that it’d be easier to bench press 300 pounds than to make it through three hours on your phone without any sexual temptations? Don’t you feel sometimes like it’d be easier to hang clean for three hours straight than to go three days without saying or posting anything bad about anyone? Don’t you feel sometimes like it’d be easier to run on a treadmill for ten miles than to go ten minutes without complaining? Talk about a workout!

Here’s the thing: as Christ-followers, our spiritual workout is going to be—well, messy. Like any workout, there will be sweat and tears. We’ll get tired. We’ll fall. We’ll fail, too. We may even want to give up. In this world, we will experience great trouble; but take heart: Jesus has overcome the world!

Your right standing with God doesn’t rest on how strong your faith is, but how strong the object of your faith is—and there is no one stronger than Jesus, the object of your faith! When sin had separated us from God, God—in Christ—showed the strength of his arm and pulled us close to him. Where we would lose in the daily struggle with temptation, Jesus threw down with the tempter himself and outed Satan for the wimp he is. Jesus was tempted in every way we are, but Jesus, for our sake, didn’t sin once!

But Jesus didn’t just need to perfectly live for you; he needed to die for you. Jesus endured the wrath of God on the cross for you so nothing would separate you from his love. Jesus faced off against sin, death, and hell itself—and emerged victorious from the grave! Through faith, his victory is your victory.

But the God who has done amazing things for you does amazing things through you too. Just as God gets all the credit for your salvation, he gets all the credit for your fruits of faith! “It is God who works in you to will and act according to his good purpose.”

So, take comfort as your flex your faith. Your gracious, mighty God is spotting you.

Prayer: Heavenly Dear Jesus, when our spiritual workout would leave us exhausted and frustrated, remind us that you have already lifted our sin, guilt, and shame from our shoulders and carried it to the cross. There, our failures have already died with you, and in you, we have new life. Because of you, Jesus, we have complete forgiveness and heaven as our home. Through you, Jesus, we are more than conquerors. In your name we pray. Amen.


Teen 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 – November 7, 2021

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

God is a Finisher

It was sophomore year. The due date for our first semester biology project had finally arrived.

And my project wasn’t finished.

It’s not that I didn’t know about it, and it’s not that I had forgotten about it, either. In all honesty, I had simply procrastinated and punted that project to the last minute. And that left me scrambling those early morning hours on the day it was due—frantically trying to get it finished.

I just barely did—but, as you can imagine, my procrastination was seen all over the final product.

Love them or hate them, due dates and deadlines are a massive part of your high school career.

Maybe it’s that physical science presentation you’re giving next month; maybe it’s that American history paper that’s due next week; or maybe it’s those three chapters of that one book that literally need to be read by tomorrow (and you have to read them, because your AP English Literature teacher can tell if all you’ve read are the chapter summaries on BookRags, CliffsNotes, or SparkNotes).

You might not see it, but due dates and deadlines really are a good thing. They help us stay focused. They help us distribute our time effectively over multiple ongoing projects. They help us say no to distractions and keep us disciplined as we manage our time.

The thing is, we don’t always meet these due dates, do we? We turn in papers and projects late—and get penalized for it. Or maybe we meet our deadlines, but the product we present to our teachers is not exactly our best. We’ll cut corners. We’ll take shortcuts. We’ll settle for mediocrity instead of pursuing excellence. Sometimes it’s honestly because we’d rather scroll through TikTok or play PUBG. But a lot of the time, it’s because we struggle to focus. There’s stuff going on at home. You’re picked on at school. You’re grappling with some major questions about your identity or who you are. And when our head and heart are divided, even a small amount of incoming due dates and deadlines can feel debilitating. We can feel so overworked or overwhelmed, we’ll even give up on projects entirely.

Now put yourselves in God’s shoes. I mean, think about all the projects on his plate. Think of all the promises he’s made to you. He promises to provide for you richly and daily. He promises to put clothes on your back and food on the table. He promises to send his angels to guard you in all your ways. He promises he’s with you every second of every day. He promises to work all things—including the bad—for your eternal good. And God doesn’t just make these promises to you, but to every single one of his children. And yet, your God does not default on one of his promises.

The God who uniquely and wonderfully made you is the same God who uniquely and wonderfully saved you. At just the right time, God sent his Son. Your Savior Jesus, out of his amazing love for you, would perfectly carry out all his heavenly Father had given him to do. He would be perfect in our place, take our failure onto himself, die with it on a cross, and be buried with it in his death. And our failures and shortcomings stay buried—but our Savior Jesus did not! He lives! And because he lives, we, who cling to him in faith, will live too!

The faith your God worked in your heart through his Word is the same faith your God is committed to bringing to completion—that being the day you meet him face to face in heaven. Until that day, he is committed to strengthening and nurturing that faith through his means of grace because he’s not a God who fails to finish what he starts. He’s a God who gets his people home.

Take comfort knowing your God doesn’t sweat deadlines and due dates. Your God is a finisher.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you know we are constantly stressed by deadlines and due dates. When we feel overwhelmed and overworked, give us the peace that comes from your Son Jesus. Remind us that everything is going to be okay—because you, our loving Father, are in control. Remind us that, in Jesus, we have heaven as our home and you to thank for that! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


Teen 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 – October 31, 2021

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.
Ephesians 2:19-21

The solid foundation

Have you ever seen a house being built? It’s impressive. If all of the supplies were laid out, they would stretch for miles and miles. But when put together correctly, it makes one house. And yet, all of the boards, shingles, appliances, walls, etc. would become trash if one thing gave way—the foundation. If that cracked and crumbled, the rest of the building would be ruined. So much depends on the foundation standing firm.

Is your life built on a firm foundation? If you’re like me, it seems like everything is changing too quickly. Our current culture is getting carried away. Social issues are getting more sickening. The government and other leaders prove to be flawed humans regardless of their party affiliation. Even our fellow Christians can disappoint us. We rely on so many flawed people. It can feel like our lives are kind of like a house built with a bunch of supplies and resting on the cracked foundation of friends, family, and our country.

Thankfully, our lives are built on something much better and stronger than that. We have the foundation of God’s Word. And before we dismiss that, consider the following. God spent 1,500 years putting his Word together so that we would know a few things:

  1. We would know of his saving plan in Jesus. From the first promise proclaimed in Adam and Eve’s hearing, to Jesus’ cry “It is finished!” to the fact that you now hear that God loves you and wants you to be part of his household, that’s a foundation built to last. And that’s for you.
  2. If God has been building other people into his eternal household for all of time, then your life is built not on flawed humans, but on the living and enduring strength of God himself. He will never let you down.
  3. God has built you into his house and even dwells in you by his Spirit so that you have a strength that perseveres regardless of the challenges of this life.

God’s Word is your foundation. He worked through apostles and prophets to record his saving words and work for you. And now he has built you into his household on a foundation that won’t give way, because Jesus is the chief cornerstone that will never break.

Prayer: Lord God, you have made me part of your household, built me onto a foundation that will never let me down. Keep me cemented in Jesus now and forever. Amen.


Teen 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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