Transformed – teen devotion – June 16, 2019

Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
John 3:3

Born this Way

“I was born this way. I was born gay.” Did you know there is a way to understand that to be true? That’s because people are born sinful, and none of us were born any differently. This is what David confessed about himself when he said, “Surely I was born sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). The apostle Paul helps us understand more clearly how devastating the effects of sin are on all of us. In Romans 7:18a, Paul shares that sin corrupts us absolutely: “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”

This means all people have the capacity to be any kind of sinner. We all have the same capacity to be liars and thieves as being gay. At the same time, we each have our different sins and gravitate toward particular perversities for various reasons. If it helps, think of all sin in your heart as either asleep, waking, or active and dominating your life. Usually when people say they are born gay, they are confessing that homosexuality is active in their life.

Although saying, “I was born this way” is biblically true, sin is not okay with God. That is also biblically true. Jesus points out in our passage from John 3:3 that the whole reason he came as our Savior from sin is because we weren’t born right with God. When Jesus tells us that a person must be born again, that means there’s something wrong with our first birth.

Thanks be to Jesus that he came to give us second birth, and you have been given second birth through faith in the waters of baptism. Keep holding on to your second birth! It is your forgiveness in Christ. Keep pointing others imprisoned by their first birth to the freedom of being born again.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are all born sinful. Help us to remember that you give second birth through your Spirit. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us baptism where we are born again. Help us to live holy lives, born anew. Amen.

This devotion is part three of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to come back for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 9, 2019

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

LGBTQ

The trouble with googling an issue is that you can find a lot of wrong answers that sound right. This is true when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. If you want to find arguments showing why God is for homosexuality, you can. The thing is, these arguments are not biblical. Sure, they may even reference Scripture, but they do so unfairly. They do so out of context.

If you want a divine answer about what God says about homosexuality, the passage for our consideration is absolutely clear and an easy reference. There are plenty others, but this is excellent for at least two reasons:

First, the English is very clear in this translation and practically all others. Even in the ancient Greek, the biblical word used to express homosexuality as sin covers all its forms.

Second, homosexuality is grouped together with other sins that we are all guilty of. Notice that Paul doesn’t suggest that homosexuality is a greater sin which automatically condemns a soul to hell. Not even close. In fact, at the close of this passage, Paul notes that those who have committed sins of homosexuality but believe in Jesus are washed clean in baptism, just like any other Christian and any other sin.

Remember 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 for these two important reasons. Memorize it. All sin is sin before God. But all sin was also forgiven at the cross. Since we have been washed clean, let us leave our lives of sin and have compassion on all others embracing sin, whether homosexuality or anything else.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, even as we live in a culture that does not care about your word, help us to take your Word at face value. Help us to never pervert your words to justify sinful behavior. Help us also see that all sin is equal, and it has all been washed away by your grace in baptism. Amen.

This devotion is part two of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to come back for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 2, 2019

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:35

Love

If you google “Christian LGBTQ” (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Questioning), you’ll find out from the links that these are two communities in opposition. You’ll find arguments full of emotion, sometimes hatred, and rarely love.

Does that bother you? Does it especially bother you that many well-meaning Christians don’t come across as loving to LGBTQ? Many times, it almost feels like Christians forget about the souls on the other side of the issue. They can be quick to quote chapter and verse but forget about love. What good comes of it when Christians speak and act this way? The apostle Paul says that speaking the truth without love only sounds like clanging cymbals even if you have the voice of an angel (1 Corinthians 13:1). What’s a Christian to do?

Our passage today is the answer: “Love one another.” First, remember that we are disciples of the One who bled and died for all people, gay or straight. Second, act in love towards all, just as Christ acted in love. Jesus showed exactly what love in action looks like in the opening of John 13. He washed his disciples’ feet. Following John 13, he showed love again. Jesus forgave his enemies and died for them, even though they rejected the truth and continued in their hardened ways. Jesus was compassionate to all, not wanting any to perish but all to come to the knowledge of the truth and embrace forgiveness through faith and repentance. Those precious souls include you and me, once enemies of God but now are his children by grace. Jesus loved in both word and action as he also spoke the truth to everyone.

Saved, forgiven, and loved, we are called to do the same: Befriend those who identify as being gay. Build a relationship with them as you look to genuinely care for them. When the opportunity comes, point them to Jesus who can save them from their sin of homosexuality.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us show love to all people, whether they are gay or straight. Help us to point fellow sinners to you and confess how much we all need your love and forgiveness. Finally, Lord, open the hearts of the people to whom we show love. May they see we are your disciples. Amen.

This devotion is part one of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to come back for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 26, 2019

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.

If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven.

1 Corinthians 15:35, 42-47

Easter swagger

Did you ever transform a plain white egg into a work of art? You know, the dying of Easter eggs. Do you remember the pride you felt, if one of your parents complemented your egg?

Jesus transformed our bland and basic lives into works of art. We weren’t very pretty. Our lives daily cracked and broke by the consequences of our sins. Our inner hearts smelled of the stench of sin. How incredible that God’s powerful love transformed us. Easter displays the handiwork of Christ who cleansed of sin and made us holy. Like colorful dyed eggs, we reflect what Jesus has already made us on the inside. We do that through works of service and works of love that the rest of the world can see. Our motivation starts from the inside and slowly works its way out to our outward appearance like the colorful dye on the egg.

Someday, God promises another transformation. Just as Jesus was resurrected with a glorious body on Easter, God will ornament our bodies into the works of art that will last forever! As we put off the worldly bodies, we will be renewed and regenerated with glorified bodies and a spiritual perfection. You will be God’s perfect work of art!

 

Prayer: Savior of eternal transformation, we thank you for removing our sin and guilt so that we can boast about our new spiritual condition. Lead us to accept our new calling as transformed sinners by your grace. Encourage us to look forward to the transformation of our bodies and souls when you accept us into our eternal home in heaven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 19, 2019

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
1 Corinthians 15:21-28

The final stomp

In the 2007 movie “Stomp the Yard,” a troubled teen tries to bring his own unique style of dance and interpretation to school. He wants to leave an impression on his peers and a special girl.

Jesus brought a new message of love and victory to a troubled class of sinners. Jesus stomped the yard in a way that had never been witnessed before. He left no doubt that all powers and authorities are squarely under his feet, especially Satan and the sway of death. Death held us hostage because of our mistakes. Which ones? All of them. Every bad choice or desire. It doesn’t matter how big or small, intended or accidental. Jesus realized the everlasting effects of our sin. So he literally stomped out the power of death by his death! In its place, our Savior lays claim to our lives and now wields lasting power over our long-term destination.

Death died a violent death as Christ secured his claim to victory on the cross. Death has been pushed off to the side margins of our personal diaries, and a new entry now appears as “Life Eternal in Heaven.” You can now stomp the yard with your own personal victory dance because of Christ’s victory.

 

Prayer: Lord of our personal destinies, you alone have charted our personal passport for eternal life. You have given us a face and a name through our conception and births. You have stamped our destination of heaven with your personal sacrificial blood. As we approach the customs gate of heaven, we have full confidence that you will accept us because of our faith and trust in your eternal sacrifice and your love for us. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 12, 2019

If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
1 Corinthians 15:17-20

Signed, sealed, and delivered

Take a step back in time. The year is 1970, and Stevie Wonder is singing one of his many hits. This one is entitled “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours.“ These words especially connected with the teenage crowd since teens were starting their personal search for “the one,” the person they could call their own.

The reality is that whether you are married or single, you have someone you can call your own. There is no denying that a person who dies in your place exemplifies love. Therefore, if a person denied that love exists, they are denying an undeniable truth. The same logic applies, if someone denies that Christ rose from death, the empty tomb and hundreds of witnesses of his resurrection would prove the opposite. The resurrection signed, sealed, and delivered the fact that God is alive and sin is dead! Here’s God’s promise to you: Your past no longer dictates your future with him. We often can’t hold the pieces of our life together, so God sent his son to make us whole again, redeemed, restored, and forgiven. Christ’s resurrection is his final signature for mankind that his total victory over sin, death, and Satan was completely accomplished. He shows you his hands and feet and body broken for you. He says, “I’m yours, and you now belong to me.”

How do you know that you truly are forgiven? Look in the empty tomb! Look at the living Jesus! It’s the proof you need—signed, sealed, delivered!

 

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for giving me all the proof I need in your holy Word that Christ came out of his tomb while my sins stayed buried. Help me to live my life today reflecting that undeniable truth! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 5, 2019

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.
1 Corinthians 15:1-5

First things first

If you returned from the dead, who would you want to see first? What message would you want to deliver? In our reading, Paul shares the short version of the “Jesus diary” of accomplishments for human kind.

Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection put his followers into a tailspin about his person and mission. But Jesus returned to reveal himself to the apostles he personally trained over his three years of ministry. Jesus first appeared to Peter, the person who betrayed him. Then he appeared to the rest of the apostles who turned and ran from him in the Garden of Gethsemane.

Which group would you fit? Would you be a “denier” or a “garden runner?” Who needed the most assurance of Christ’s forgiveness? Jesus chose to assure Peter that he was alive first. Perhaps it was because Peter felt responsible for letting his Savior down when Jesus needed his support.

“Of first importance”, Paul says, is this: “Christ died for our sins … was buried … was raised on the third day.” First things first, take your stand on those words! The one we hurt the most with our sins forgave us through his cross. Let that be your first thought every morning and last remembrance every night. With this understanding, may your appreciation grow for the one who makes YOU his first priority!

 

Prayer: Life-giving Lord, we praise you for giving us life at birth and then offering us second life through our baptism into faith. Your assurance of love through your death and resurrection constantly reminds us of your love for us and all humankind. Thank you for putting us first, so that through faith we can put you first in our lives and actions. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 28, 2019

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.
1 John 3:1

What God calls you

What you are called by other people matters. People who know you call you by your name because they know you and who you are. Those who are closest to you might even call you by a nickname because they know you deeply. That nickname is a sign of affection. Others may call you by hurtful and hateful names. They describe you with words meant to tear down and demean.

Which words and names do you remember more? We tend to remember the hurtful things more than the helpful, encouraging things. We tend to remember how people tear us down rather than how people build us up.

Take a moment to look at your own actions too. You know how good it feels to have people call you by endearing names. You know what it’s like to be called by names that hurt. Yet how easy do you find it to call others by cruel and unkind names?

There is a name that you don’t want. Nobody wants it. But it is an accurate description of all people: sinner. This is a name that you’ve earned because of your behavior.

But while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8), God demonstrated his great love for you. He calls you by a different name: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” You are God’s child. How? God in his great love for you sent his Son, Jesus, to make sinners into his children. The Son of God loves you so much that he took all the hurtful names you’ve been called and all the unkind names you’ve called others, and he died on a cross to wipe them all away.

Child of God is who you are now! Child of God is your identity now, always, and forever.

So, when you hurt because of what others have called you, remember your identity in Christ. You are God’s child. He loves you infinitely more than the best earthly father ever could, more than you can even begin to imagine. He helps you, provides for you, strengthens and upholds you.

When you think of your sins and are weighed down by guilt, remember your identity in Christ. Your sin is washed away in Jesus’ blood. You are his forever. Child of God is who you are! Now go and live like the child of God that you are.

 

Prayer: Gracious Father, when I hurt because of the words and actions of others, show me in your Word that no matter what others say, you love and treasure me as your own child. When I hurt others, help me to recognize it and turn to you for forgiveness. Strengthen me to move forward as your child, seeking to show your great love for me to others. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 21, 2019

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
John 11:25-26

From death to life

The message was urgent. “Lord, the one you love is sick!” Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were good friends of Jesus. Lazarus became gravely ill. His time was running out. So his sisters sent word to Jesus with the immediate plea, “Come quickly! Help!”

But he didn’t. He stayed where he was for two more days. By the time Jesus arrived at Bethany, Lazarus had died, and his body had been in a tomb for four days. Jesus was too late.

As Jesus approached their house, Martha went out to meet him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she said to him. Why wasn’t he there when Lazarus was dying? But Martha also knew something else, “Even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Shining through her sorrow was the glimmer of faith in Jesus, the miracle worker.

To say that the death of a loved one is terribly painful is an understatement. Life is never the same after someone near and dear to us dies. Maybe you know that grief and pain all too well. Maybe someone near and dear to you is sick. You pray and ask Jesus for help and healing, “Lord, the one you love is sick!” But what if he doesn’t answer in the way you hope he will? Does the thought of dying make you afraid?

“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus said to Martha. Then he walked up to the tomb and shouted into it, “Lazarus, come out!” And Lazarus did. Jesus brought the dead one back to life. He was there after all! He did something even greater than Mary and Martha even could have imagined.

Jesus is the resurrection and the life. He holds and uses absolute power over death. He showed it in raising Lazarus from the dead, and he proved it when he rose from the dead himself. That’s what we see on this Resurrection Day! Jesus will do for you exactly what he did for Lazarus. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” He will do the same for all who believe in him. Jesus will raise all of his believers from the dead one day, and they will never die again! They will live with him in glory forever.

In this world, you will wrestle with grief over the death of a dear one. You will face the end of your own earthly life. You will face death, but in Jesus, you have eternal life! Don’t be afraid! He has resurrection power to reverse death. Someday, Jesus will shout to you, “Come out!” And his promise will come true, “You will not die, but live again!”

 

Prayer: Lord of life, in the face of sorrow and even death, give me joy, confidence, and hope in the fact that Christ is risen, he is risen indeed! You are my resurrection; you are my life. Resurrect my faith today until the day you take me into glory. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 14, 2019

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:4-5

Fruitful in Jesus

Jane thought that her status as a good Christian was determined by how well she could follow God’s commandments. Day after day, she tried her best to follow them. But day after day, she found herself giving into temptations to do what God said she shouldn’t. She gossiped. She disrespected her parents, because she thought they didn’t understand her. She gave into peer pressure, because she didn’t want anyone to think less of her. It bothered her so much that she began to wonder, “How can I call myself a Christian if I can’t even follow what God tells me?”

Maybe you think this way too. It’s easy to think that being a Christian simply means to do what God tells us to do. We find our identity in what we do and how well we do it.

That’s not where Jesus tells us to find our identity. In John 15, he tells us that being a Christian is more than just following a set of rules. He said, “A branch cannot bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine… I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him is the one who bears much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” If you cut a branch off a strawberry plant, you can’t expect that branch to have strawberries on it in the middle of summer. That branch must be connected to vine or the trunk to grow, bloom, and bear fruit.

To bear fruit in your life, you must be connected to Jesus, your Savior. Apart from him you can do nothing. He came to earth for you. He lived the perfect life you cannot live. He died on the cross to take away all your sin. He rose again to give you heaven. He saved you to live with him eternally! All of it is a gift freely given out of his love for you. When God connects you to Jesus through faith and brings you to realize that he did all of that for you, it changes you. The good works God wants from you will happen, not because of your effort, but because God has changed you.

Branches bear fruit because that’s what branches do when they are connected to the vine. You are a branch that bears fruit because you are connected to Jesus. Through that close connection with him, you are not alone to produce good fruit in your life! Stay connected to God in his Word and in the Lord’s Supper. You have his promise: God will make you fruitful in Jesus.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are the vine and I am a branch. Keep me connected to you through faith. As you promise, make me bear fruit and to do the things that you want me to do. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 7, 2019

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6

The only way

What are you going to do after graduation from high school? Are you going to college, or will you join the workforce or military? What occupation do you want to have? Is there a family business or line of work you can join, or will you blaze your own trail? What way are you going to take?

Answering questions like these is no small matter. Weighing those decisions can be confusing and overwhelming. The pressure of the decisions can give way to worry and fear: “What if I make the wrong choice? What if my life doesn’t go the way I want?” On top of all that, the pressure of these decisions can lead us to think only about the here and now, thinking that the most important thing in life is your career or your status. We can think only about earthly life instead of eternity and heaven.

On the day before Jesus died, he was together with his disciples. He only had a little time left with them. In that time, he comforted them. In John 14, Jesus told them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions… I am going to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.”

The only way that truly and eternally matters is the way to the Father’s house in heaven. Jesus has gone there to prepare a place for you to be with him in glory forever. The most important question we can ask is the one asked by Jesus’ disciple Thomas, “…how can we know the way?” Jesus gives the answer, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus is your only way to heaven. The truth that he suffered and died to save you from sin is the only truth you need. The life he came to give you is life unending in heaven. He is the Way. He is the Truth. He is the Life.

So, no matter the direction you choose to go in life, follow the Way. Follow Jesus.

 

Prayer: Lord Jesus, when I am confused about the direction of my life, when I am confronted with the temptations to worry about everything or to forget about you, grant me your grace and remind me you gave your life and rose again to give me a mansion in your Father’s house. Help me always to trust in you as the Way. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 31, 2019

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 10:11

I am the Good Shepherd

Sheep are not very intelligent animals. In 2005, shepherds in Turkey watched 1,500 sheep walk off a cliff because the neighboring shepherds were not paying attention for a few minutes. Sheep are also defenseless. They don’t have horns, stripes, or speed to use as protection or for disguise. Sheep need a shepherd, because without one, they are an easy target for whatever predator gets to them first.

You also need a shepherd to guide you through life on the path to heaven. Trying to find your own path will lead to a terrible place. By nature, you won’t wander toward God but away from him. Following the crowd is dangerous too. Unless they know the true God, they are as lost as you are. You are also defenseless against the attacks of Satan. He is like a roaring lion looking to devour you. Temptation is always lurking for you, waiting to pounce like a tiger in the tall grass. Like sheep you are dumb and defenseless. Like sheep, you need a shepherd.

Thank God you don’t have an ordinary shepherd, but the Good Shepherd, Jesus. He said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” You would have ended up in hell on your own, but Jesus laid down his life for you, his sheep, to lead you into heaven. Satan had his sharp teeth and piercing claws ready to pounce on you, but Jesus destroyed the devil on the cross. He has no power over you. He is no longer a threat to you because of Jesus.

Rest secure. Each day when you wake up ready to face everything the world is going to throw at you, remember that you have the Good Shepherd watching over you. He will lead you in paths of righteousness. He will not let any harm come to you that he will not work out for your good. Yes, Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He is YOUR good shepherd.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, my victorious Savior, I pray that your will be done. Destroy the work of the devil and his demons. Stop all of those who oppose your Gospel. As the Good Shepherd, guide and guard me, and bring me to glory everlasting. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 24, 2019

Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world. … For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”
John 9:5,39

I am the Light of the World

“You believe in creation? Look at the scientific proof! Are you blind?”

“Why won’t you have sex with me? Look at what everyone else doing. If you watch The Bachelor, you’ll see that being a virgin is not a good thing for a relationship. Are you blind?”

“You think that just because I don’t believe that Jesus is the way to heaven, I am going to hell? Look at all the good, kind things I have done. Look at how loving I am. I know my loving God wouldn’t send me to hell. Are you blind?”

Do you ever feel blind? Do you ever feel like you can’t see what other people seem to clearly see?

Now let me ask this: is it better to see through the world’s eyes or to see God and view the world through his eyes? Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

Jesus is the light of the world. He shows us God. We were walking around in darkness and uncertainty, but he has given us sight. We see the love the Father has for us in Jesus who died for our sins. We see our relationship with God restored so that we are his dearly loved children. We see the gates of heaven opened and the paradise that is waiting there for us. We see our lives in a new way. They aren’t for us to live for ourselves, but to live for God the way he calls us to live. We see everything clearly now. We were once blind, but now we see through Jesus.

So you—you stand in the light of Jesus. You clearly see your God, and he sees you. May this truth give you strength and encouragement to stay in the light as you walk through this world of darkness.

 

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you are the light of the world. I ask that you give me the strength to resist those things which try to pull me back into the darkness. Keep my eyes fixed on you until that day when I will spend eternity in your beautiful light in heaven. In your name I pray, Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 17, 2019

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 4:13-14

I am the Bread of Life

What would it have been like to be an Israelite in the middle of the desert and have no food? A long time ago, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God freed them from their slavery and led them out into the desert. Eventually, their food ran out. There wasn’t a simple solution like a nearby Taco Bell for picking up some crunchy beefy Frito burritos. I can’t imagine what it would feel like knowing that if nothing changed, they would die. But God provided for them. He sent down bread from heaven called manna. The Israelites ate it and lived.

You too were in a situation where if things didn’t change, you were going to die. If God had not intervened in your life to give you faith and bring you to him, you would have wandered in this world. You have wandered in this world seeking satisfaction and rescue but never finding the bread that truly satisfies.

But God sent down bread from heaven to save you. Not bread from heaven like the manna God gave to the Israelites. God sent Jesus, the Bread of Life. Because of your sin, you were going to die eternally in hell. But God sent Jesus into the world. He lived a perfect life and died on the cross for your sins. He took away your sin and gave you eternal life. Just like bread in the desert, Jesus has given you eternal life.

Do you know what is better than bread? Free bread! Do you know what is better than Taco Bell? Free Taco Bell! Do you know what is the best part of Jesus, the Bread of Life? He was freely given! Jesus said, “My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.” God knew the tremendous cost of your sin. Instead of having you pay the full price, it came at great cost to him. He sent his Son to pay for it. Out of his grace and mercy, God has freely given you Jesus.

There is nothing better than the free Bread of Life. There is nothing better than Jesus. Believe it.

 

Prayer: O Lord God, you hold all things in your hand. I ask that you give me opportunities and courage. Give me opportunities to freely share Jesus, the Bread of the Life with those who do not yet have him. Give me courage to make the most of those opportunities to your glory. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 10, 2019

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

I am the Living Water

When your body gets thirsty, it starts quietly but then begins to shout, “Warning! We are lacking what we need to live.” It normally starts with a dry mouth or a dusty throat, but if the lack of hydration gets worse, the warning signs get stronger. The skin gets dry. The heart rate goes up. Eventually you might faint. All of these symptoms drive a person to look for relief. People are willing to do whatever it takes, even walk miles, just to find some water to relieve their thirst.

The same thing happens spiritually. We will often do just about anything to find relief. Some find relief in the satisfaction they get playing video games. Some find satisfaction in success with grades, sports, or work. Some find satisfaction in being a perfectionist.

Others find relief in the abuse of substances that give them an escape. Still others find satisfaction in feeling loved in a relationship, even if it means they find that in pornography or a damaging relationship. Like drinking salt water, all of these may give temporary relief from spiritual thirst but end up leaving a person thirstier than before. None of these things can give relief or satisfaction.

Instead, true relief and satisfaction for spiritual thirst comes from the one who gives real and perfect relief. Jesus says, “Whoever drinks that water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

When your spirit is lacking, go to the one who gives you relief. When you need to feel valued, go to the one who gives you value and self-worth. Your Savior values you so much, he gave his life for you.

When you seek perfection, go to the one who has made you perfect. Your Savior Jesus lived a perfect life and gives you credit for his life.

When you need to feel success, go to the one who has taken all of your failures away. Go to the one who gives you relief that overflows, like looking for a sip and instead getting a fountain. Go to the one who will give you perfect and eternal relief in heaven.

 

Prayer: Dear God, there have been times I sought personal escape from my problems through temporary ways that leave me thirsting for more in life. Thank you for offering to be the perfect relief my parched soul needs. Now quench me with your promises to never leave me or forsake me—today, tomorrow and forever. May the water of your Word always flow into my heart. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 3, 2019

A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Luke 9:35

This is God’s Son

What is an identity? Identity is the objective truth or fact of who a person is. It does not matter what a person thinks of himself or what other people think of that person, at the end of the day, a person’s identity remains fact. You are who you are. So, who are you?

The answer, believe it or not, is found in Jesus’ identity. You learn your own identity by understanding Jesus’ real identity from the true words of the Bible. You find who you really are in Jesus.

Look to that moment of his life when Jesus was on top of a mountain with his closest disciples, Peter, James, and John. There, before their eyes, Jesus’ face changed and became as bright and glorious as the sun, and his clothes were like a lightning flash. Then, the voice of God came from a cloud and said, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen, listen to him.”

Here we see Jesus’ identity as if we were looking at his driver’s license. Who is Jesus? He is God’s Son. If the bright sunshiny face is not enough to convince a person, then listen to God’s words. God cannot tell a lie, and before three witnesses he said, “This is my Son.” Who is Jesus? He is glorious. He is perfect. He is God’s chosen Son. He is loved by his heavenly Father, and so are you.

When you were baptized, the Bible tells us that you became united with Jesus. So, at the end of a day when people make you feel worthless by the way they treat you, remember who you are. At the end of the day, after you have committed such a terrible sin you think that God could never forgive you, remember who you are. At the end of the day, after the devil has been leading you to believe the lie that you are not good enough for God, remember who you are. You are a baptized child of God! You are glorious and perfect in God’s eyes. Your relationship with God is the same relationship God has with his dearly loved Son. That is who you are. That is your identity.

 

Prayer: My perfect God, you have given me my identity. I ask that you help me this week to live in a way that reflects my identity to others. Use me to bring others to faith in you so that they too may have the same identity I have. I ask this through Jesus, your dear Son. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 24, 2019

Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.
Ephesians 5:24-25

Love and Marriage

Is marriage a good or bad thing? More important is that it be a God thing. In the beginning of the world, God instituted marriage to be a safe place for husbands and wives to enjoy each other intimately and to provide a healthy and secure environment for children to grow up and be loved.

The further we get from Creation, the easier it is to forget God’s good design. The apostle Paul reminds us of that design in the book of Ephesians and uses God’s love for his church to describe it.

Wives are to submit—to put themselves under the authority and guidance of their husbands just like the church puts itself under the authority and guidance of Jesus. Husbands are to love their wives sacrificially, just like Jesus did when he died on the cross for his church.

Let’s be clear: it would be absolutely incorrect to say this passage makes husbands more important and wives merely side-kicks in marriage. If that’s what you’re thinking, repent of it!

“The Lord God said, it was NOT good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18). It was essential that a woman be brought to Adam to be a part of his life. She would be someone that he could love and protect from his position as husband.

Maybe this illustration will help: Picture ballroom dancers. The man leads. The woman follows. But they both need each other for it to be a dance. He gives strength and direction. She provides grace and beauty. The beautiful dance doesn’t stay beautiful. You’ll step on each other’s toes and fall many times—sometimes hard and it will hurt—but in Christ there is forgiveness as we strive to sacrifice and submit.

What a breathtakingly beautiful image of the interdependent dance God intends between a husband and wife! It’s loving and leading. It’s being loved and protected—just as Christ loved and led us by humbly submitting himself to death on a cross. He gave it all for his bride, the Church, of which you and I are a part. To be loved, protected, and guided … it makes us so happy! Our dependence on Christ not only makes possible, but BEAUTIFUL, the interdependence of husbands and wives. What love! What beauty! Christ makes marriage a beautiful thing!

 

Prayer: Jesus, marriage is a good thing because it’s a God thing. If it’s your will to give me a spouse one day, help me to be the best husband or wife that I can possibly be! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 17, 2019

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:8-9

Satisfied with God

When I was in college studying to be a pastor, I met with one of my advisors and he asked me, “Are you married?” I said, “No.” He then asked, “Are you dating?” Again, I said, “No.” Then he spoke of how important it was that I find a wife before I became a pastor, otherwise my ministry, not to my mention my personal life, would suffer tremendously.

I was 19 or 20 at the time and I took that conversation seriously. Every date I went on became an interview for marriage, which didn’t bode well for a second date. The ladies could sense the desperation radiating from me, and they wanted nothing to do with it.

Eventually I ended up at the seminary learning how to be a pastor. I met with another advisor who asked me the same questions, “Are you married? Are you dating anyone?” Again, the answer was, “No.” To my surprise, his response was completely different than the first. He said, “Good for you. I didn’t get married until I was in my 30’s. Enjoy your single life for a while.”

Both of my advisors gave me advice based on their personal experiences. I wish they had opened the Bible to 1 Corinthians chapter 7 and told me what God says about whether you are single or living the married life. If you haven’t read that chapter before, read it. It’s makes a lot of sense.

In short, God wants you to be content whether you’re single or married, because there are spiritual advantages to both. Single people can spend more time serving the Lord without having the responsibilities a family brings. Married people get to reenact God’s love story every single day with their spouse.

Whatever your situation, ask Jesus to give you a content heart that’s willing to serve him and a believing heart that trusts him to lead your future.

Prayer: Jesus, you and the apostle Paul were single and used your time to minister to others. Help me to find true contentment in my present state of singleness so that I can be fully devoted to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 10, 2019

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20

My body, God’s temple

Do you have a pet? If you do, that animal belongs to you. You paid for it, so you get to name it. You get to tell it what to do and where to go. It has to obey you. But your pet doesn’t just obey you because you have a receipt proving that you bought it. It obeys you because you love it and take care of it.

Just like we are our pets’ masters because they belong to us, we like to think that we’re our own masters and that we can do anything we want with our bodies because they belong to us. So why shouldn’t we be able to eat what we want, drink what we want, or engage in sexual activity if we want?

But, “You are not your own.” Your body doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God Almighty. He bought you at a very high price. He paid for you with the life of his one and only Son, Jesus. Since you are God’s child, the Holy Spirit has set up his throne room in your heart. Your body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

God is your heavenly master who didn’t just pay a high price for you, but loves you and cares for you by giving you food to eat, a place to sleep, video games to play, friends to hang out with, sports to enjoy, and most importantly a spot in his family.

God deeply loves you. He lives in you. Therefore, honor God with your body. Looking at pornography and touching yourself inappropriately isn’t honoring God. Having sex of any kind with someone who is not your husband or wife does not honor God. It’s sinning against your body; the body that God gave you. It’s also sinning against your God, who lives in you.

So, if you struggle in any of these areas, ask God your heavenly master to help you honor him. He will do both. He will forgive you and will help you honor him with your body.

Prayer: God, my body is your temple. Forgive me for the times that I’ve trashed it with sexual thoughts or actions that were inappropriate. Help me to honor you with my body. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 3, 2019

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22

Pursue the right thing

God created you to be a sexual being. Of course, you already know that because you’re a teenager. You’re at a time in life when you’re hyper aware of what’s going on with your body and everybody else’s. You no longer see your friends of the opposite sex just as friends but as potential mates. It’s normal. It’s all part of God’s design.

But there’s a problem. That design got messed up when the first male and female, Adam and Eve, decided to go rogue and disobey God. Ever since then, that natural process has been perverted, and humans have taken sexuality out of its original context.

Sex was always meant for the enjoyment of one man and one woman who have made a life-long commitment to each other in marriage. Society doesn’t want you to believe that anymore. Social media, television, and blockbuster movies tell you that sex is for anyone who feels like having it with whomever they feel like having it.

What they don’t tell you about are the dangers of having sex outside of marriage: a guilty conscience toward God, a sexually transmitted disease, an unplanned pregnancy, a broken relationship, and a lot of other unforeseen consequences.

That’s why God says to “flee the evil desires of youth.” That means to run away from anything that would cause you to pursue sex outside of marriage, like watching movies with sex scenes and looking at pornographic images. It means having a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to let them know you are saving yourself for marriage.

But notice that God doesn’t just tell you to flee from these evil desires. He says instead to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

God isn’t trying to keep you from having fun with this command. He’s trying to keep you safe. That’s why Jesus Christ lived his life pure and holy. He went the way of the cross because he wanted you for himself. He loves you so much! You will find the model for a committed relationship by reading of his love in your Bible and spending time with Christians in your local church, because that’s where you will find this righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

Prayer: Jesus, I want to flee from my evil desires. Give me the strength to do that and replace those desires with your righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 27, 2019

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Fresh start – #4 Be Transformed

There can be a ton of pressure to change and improve your life in a new year. There is pressure to improve your skills on the court or in the classroom. There is the constant challenge to maintain healthy, happy relationships with your parents or your friends. There may even be pressure to change your appearance or health.

There is just as much pressure to change and to improve in your spiritual life. There is pressure to grow in your relationship with God. There is pressure to get rid of certain sins and live a God-pleasing life.

Notice two words Paul uses in our reading that relieve the pressure—be transformed. Paul doesn’t say, “Transform yourself,” like Bumblebee when he morphs from car to robot in the “Transformers” movie. Rather than saying, “Change yourself,” Paul says in the strongest possible way, “Be transformed.”

The pressure of making a change is no longer on us. The power for making a change is no longer on us either. It is God who changes our wants. Driving this radical change is God’s divine mercy and pity for our pitiful state of being. He does it through Holy Spirit when you spend time in his Word. It is God who will change your actions. Again, he does this by his Spirit and his Word. God will transform and change you.

The pressure is officially off to change yourself. It was transferred to the cross. It was placed upon Jesus Christ. He earned our salvation and gives it to us as a gift. He transforms us so that our priorities and habits, even our lives, change for his glory.

Today, empowered by God’s mercy, we CAN have a new attitude, created and shaped by God! We CAN make right decisions and be certain what God’s will is, what is good, pleasing, and perfect (verse 2b). Live today in him! Live life for him!

Prayer: Lord God, change me by your Spirit and your Word so that my life is good and pleasing in your sight. Transform me to desire what you want and to think of your will. I ask this according to your mercy Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 20, 2019

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 3:13-14

Fresh start – #3 Goals

Goals can be powerful motivators. They give us something to work toward achieving. If our goal is to be healthier, we may incorporate exercise and healthier eating into our life.

When we add action steps toward those goals, they give us some clear direction for our life. For example, to get healthier, we are going to exercise three times a week and eliminate the late-night snacking. With these action steps, we now have some clear things to work on to get healthier.

As we seek our one priority, Paul sets the goal for us in his own example. His goal isn’t to be smarter in the faith. His goal isn’t to live a holier life. He certainly wants those things, but those things aren’t his goal. His goal was to get the prize of heaven.

Paul knew that a life in pursuit of heaven includes certain things. As you pursue heaven, these are things you need in your life too.

  • You need to be people of prayer (Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Let your heart and your mind continually be turned to the Lord in prayer.
  • You need to be people of the Word and of worship (Look up Psalm 1; Colossians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:14-17). Let God’s Word live in your richly and deeply as you live your life for him.
  • You need to be in community with other Christians (Look up Hebrews 10:21-25). God has given you the community of believers to support you in your walk of faith as you pursue heaven.

Christ made you and your eternal life with him his top priority. His goal is for your life to be lived with him every day. That’s why he encourages your daily life to include time in prayer, God’s Word, and with God’s people (your faith community). Make a plan. Pray about it. Then, with God at your side, press on!

Prayer: Lord God, I need you, your Word, and your people in my life. Give me the self-discipline I need to incorporate these things into my life. Give me Christian friends who will encourage me in my walk of faith. Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fail and help me as I pursue heaven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 13, 2019

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Fresh start – #2 Priorities

Have you ever noticed that life always seems to be busy? There is a reason that it is called a rat-race. We’re constantly on the run, constantly chasing from one thing to the next. But for what? The things that keep us busy are often really good things. But what is the meaning of it all?

Someone that I know dearly had a near-death experience. He thought that he was going to die within the next 15 minutes. In those moments that might have been his last, he didn’t think about his calendar. He didn’t think about his job. He didn’t think about his friends. He mainly thought about his faith and his Savior. That’s the only thing that mattered to him in that moment.

This is true for us also. The only thing that matters in this life is your Savior and your faith.

The things of this life are only temporary. Your clothes will fade and wear out. Sporting opportunities will be here for a short while, but then go away. Work will come and go. Friends also come and go.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things. They are good. They are God’s gifts to enjoy while you have them. But don’t chase them. Don’t make your life so full that you can’t pursue and seek the one thing that matters. Don’t get so busy with the many good things that you forget about the one best thing—Jesus.

Seek your Savior and his kingdom. Follow him with your whole life.

Now is the time to start. Start every day seeking him first!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have filled my life with many good things. Keep me from filling up my life with so many good things that I forget about the best thing—you! Help me to make you and your kingdom my priority this year. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 6, 2019

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

Fresh start – #1 Evaluate

A new year is a great time to think about our lives and where we’re headed. A new year means a fresh start. We can start brand new in 2019. We can start brand new in Jesus, because he has forgiven all of our sins. This month, our devotions will look at what God says to us about our new year and our life in Christ.

First, we need to evaluate our time. God gives each one of us the gift of twenty-four-hour days. Each one of us has been given the gift of life and breath today from the same God. Each one of us has been forgiven all of our sins by the same Savior. It’s a brand-new gift that our God gives us freely and daily.

How will we use this time? How will we use fresh set of twenty-four-hour days that our God gives us? What is the best way to use our days and to make the most of every opportunity?

It’s a time to look at how we’re using our phones. (Check out your phones and see how many hours per day or per week that you’re using your phone. My iPhone tracks my phone usage for individual tasks.)

It’s a time to consider how we’re using our time with family and friends. Do we live for ourselves or in service to others?

It’s a time to consider how we’re using our time to grow in our faith. Do we set aside time for God to speak to us in His Word?

It’s a time to consider how we can make the most of every moment in every day to seek God and to share him with the people in our lives. Do we know someone who really needs God’s gift of forgiveness?

So, take a look at your calendar. May your use of time reflect your appreciation for this gift as you joyfully serve him and others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have given me each moment of my day. Each moment is a gift from you. Help me to use every moment for you and for your glory. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 30, 2018

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Still the same

So much changes so quickly. Just a look at the news or out the window reveals how much is changing around us. In this world, change is inevitable.

Look at me. I’m not the same person with the same likes and dislikes that I was a few years ago. I don’t live in the same place. I don’t work the same job. I don’t have the same friends in my life.

I would like to say change is always for the better, but remember the times when it wasn’t? We changed. Remember the moments of discontentment with change in life? Remember that commitment to get closer to God and his Word? Did you feel guilty? Or didn’t it bother you? In both ways, Satan worked hard on us.

It’s time to change! Whenever we feel burned out or irritated in life, it’s time to go to God and let him speak through his Word. We need to be reminded of how bad we are and how good the Gospel is. God’s Word and Spirit work a godly change is us!

Through all the changes in our lives and in this world, we can be confident that the God who created us will not change. He remains the same throughout our life. He will not stop loving us or change his standards. Jesus who came to save us will remain by our side to continue to transform us by his Spirit. The promises God gives to us in his Word will not change or be revoked. We can sure that all God has said and all that God is will remain true and constant into the new year.

With all the change in the world, thank God there is one who is still the same—Jesus!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, with all the change that happens in me, in my life, and in this world, I am often left feeling unsettled and unsure. Grant me a solid footing in this world with the assurance that you never change. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 23, 2018

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:16-18

Grace upon grace

I’ve been wondering about something for a while. What’s the downside to following Jesus? What’s the downside to holding on to the faith and walking in it?

It is pretty easy to figure out a downside to just about everything else. For every medicine that helps me get better, there is often a nasty side-effect. Just read the warning label sometime. Exercise is good for me; but at the same time, it breaks my body down so that some body parts may wear out more quickly. I think you get the idea.

Everything else in my life has an upside and a downside. But not Jesus. Jesus came to live with us, and there is no downside to that. There is an upside. John explains it the verses in front of us today.

First, Jesus is full of grace and truth. We don’t always like to hear the truth, especially when the truth is painful and uncovers sin. (I know that I don’t!) But it is good. What if your doctor never told you that you had terminal cancer? Would that be good for you? Of course, not! It would hurt when he told you, but how else would you know about your sickness and need for treatment? It’s the same when Jesus comes with truth!

We also see that Jesus isn’t stingy with grace. In fact, he gives grace in place of grace already given. It’s like he gives us grace; and then he gives us grace again. And again. And again! He loves you and longs to forgive you over and over again. He deeply desires for you to know how good and gracious he really is.

Finally, he shows us God! If you really want to know who God is, get to know Jesus as he comes and walks on this earth. To know what God is like, get to know Jesus! He is the one who makes the Father known. He is the one came to reveal God to us.

This Christmas, see how good Jesus is for you. Instead of gift upon gift, he gives something eternally better—grace upon grace!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the one thing I really need. Tell me the truth about my sin so that I can come to you for forgiveness and healing. Give me grace upon grace. I need your grace more and more every day. Keep showing me God. Thank you for coming to be that one thing I really need. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 16, 2018

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Emmanuel

There is no other time of the year like this. I really enjoy the season of Advent and the many Christmas services. Most people do. It is a special time of year.

It wasn’t quite so special for the shepherds, at least not at first. Suddenly the night sky was lit up with angels. The shepherds were scared. They should have been. God had come. God’s glory was all around them. They were exposed.

That’s what light does—it exposes. It uncovers all ugliness and sin. That’s the part that we hate. The glory of God and the light of his Word shines in the deepest corner of your heart to expose the dark thoughts of your heart. The light of his Word exposes the sins that have owned and controlled you this past year. You know what he’ll find, and it’s dark.

God does not withhold the truth. In fact, Jesus is full of truth. He tells us things just the way they are. He tells us he sees all the sins hidden in our hearts. God doesn’t hide the truth or cover it up.

Instead of covering up the truth of our sinfulness, God covered himself up.. To save us and to spare us from his blazing glory, God covered or clothed himself in flesh. That’s what John is saying: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God clothed himself. How does the hymn go? “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity… pleased is God with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”

God clothed himself in flesh. He hid himself in the flesh of baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. He hid himself behind the frailty and weakness of a human being. Yet, right there, in the flesh of Jesus, all the fullness of the Deity lived in bodily form.

God comes at Christmas, but not to consume us with his anger. That’s why the angels spoke up quickly when the shepherds were so scared. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you! A Savior has been born for you, he is Christ the Lord.” God had come to help his people. God clothed himself in flesh to cover you with blood. Don’t be afraid! His name is Emmanuel, which means God with us. God is with us to save us!

Prayer: Lord God, you clothed yourself in the flesh and came to this earth not to condemn, but to save the world. Help me to marvel at the majesty clothed in flesh; you are Emmanuel! Help me to rejoice that you have clothed me with your blood; I am forgiven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 9, 2018

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:9-13

Rejection

Rejection is a natural part of our lives. You are rejected when you don’t make the team or get a call back for a second audition. You get rejected while dating and in so many other situations in life. Everyone experiences rejection in their life.

There is someone who knows what rejection feels like—Jesus. From the very start of his life and ministry, he faced rejection and ridicule. People saw the miracles he performed and expected him to be their earthly king. When Jesus made it clear that he wasn’t an earthly king, they left him. Even his own family rejected him. Some of his brothers didn’t believe he was the Son of God.

Jesus was rejected throughout his entire life. Out of love for you and me, he chose to take our place and to take our sin on himself in order to suffer the death we deserved to give us the life he earned. That’s why Jesus came. He came to be rejected by men, so that we would be accepted by God. He came to be condemned by God for our sins, so that we would be forgiven. He even came to be rejected by God, so that we would be accepted by God. Because of Jesus and his rejection, God receives us as children of God. We will not be turned away or rejected by him.

Dear friend, receive the Word of God this Christmas: Jesus loves you! He has come to give you new life and to bring you into the family of God. Rejoice! You are an accepted child of God!

Prayer: Father, we confess that we often have rejected and rebelled against your Word. Forgive us. Thank you for restoring us daily as your children. We rejoice that in Christ our Savior, you accept us as children of God! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 2, 2018

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

Light has come

I was sitting in a strange car in the middle of Buenos Aires when I heard these very words from St. John. A friendly man was driving me to the airport. After some roundabout Spanish small talk, he told me that he too was a Bible-believing Christian! He plugged a flash drive into his car’s stereo and together we listened to these words, “En el principio ya existía el Verbo.” Translated, it is the opening of John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”

Studying Spanish in a foreign country helped me understand the power of words. My words could communicate to a waiter that I’d like to order the pizza with extra cheese or help me navigate my way through the city in a taxi. But when I consider that Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit created the world with a word from their mouth, my words seem like nothing. I can use words to tell people what I want, but God used the words “Let there be,” to create the world from nothing! And he saw that it was good; yes, it was very good.

God was happy with his perfect creation, but that perfection didn’t last long. The first sin plunged the world into spiritual darkness. But God doesn’t settle for mediocrity, he demands perfection! I can’t do anything perfectly. I snap at my siblings, throwing insults at them. I gossip. I blame. I complain. God hears every terrible word I say, he even knows each sinful thought I think. Do you struggle controlling your words and thoughts too?

Our future would be bleak if God didn’t say anything after the first sin, but he did. God spoke to Adam and Eve and promised them a Savior to bring light into the darkness. What gracious words!

Flash forward to Good Friday. The sky is dark as night in the middle of the afternoon. Jesus suffers on the cross while the sin of all people of all times hangs on his shoulders. This gruesome death in the pitch dark brought us life. There in the dark, Jesus, true God, spoke, “It is finished.” What powerful words!

After three days Jesus rose from the dead! He burst out of the tomb after conquering the darkness. Death has lost its power. Death doesn’t lead to eternal darkness and terror. Jesus promises us victory over death and eternal life in heaven. He is the light! He is the life! Yes, he is our light and our life.

Prayer: Dear God, your words are powerful. Your words created this world. The Word made flesh, Jesus, saved me from sin and death. The Word came to scatter the darkness. You have brought us light! Now, help us be lights to others so that they can also be with us in heaven! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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 25, 2018

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

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Changing shapes

Have you ever looked in a mirror that distorts your body? Some of the mirrors make you look tall and skinny, and others make you seem short and fat. I was at the mall the other day and watched as a boy in a wheelchair came up to the mirrors. He sat there and rolled back and forth between the two mirrors. He seemed to be having such a great time. Even though he was not able to fully enjoy the effects of it, you could see the happiness in his eyes.

How could that boy be thankful for having to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of his life? Have you gone through times in life and sometimes found it hard to be thankful? When things don’t go our way, we tend to start blaming God for not providing. We may go as far as disowning God for a short time. When we do not know the outcome of our future, doubt starts to creep in and causes us to take matters into our own hands. The truth is that we do not deserve a God who gives us perfect gifts. We are lost and hopeless sinners.

Jesus never promised that being a Christian would mean freedom from problems. Our verses remind us to be thankful in all circumstances. We don’t know the plan God has for us in the future. We may even be in pain while going through a bad time in life, unable to see light at the end. We may even feel completely lost and feel abandoned by everyone, and God still tells us to give thanks! We have a reason to be glad because we have a way to handle problems. James tells us our God does not change like shifting shadows. Shadows come and go. Our God is forever. He promised to be with us forever whether walking or in a wheelchair. He knows your burdens. He will help you carry your burdens.

Stop and take a moment to thank God because you woke up this morning. Thank God for life. For each other. For friends. For parents. For house and home. For Christ and salvation. He is the satisfaction for my soul.

Prayer: Dear Savior, you hold me in the palm of your hand. Give me the faith to thank you even on the darkest days. Even when all hope seems lost, remind me to give thanks because you have washed us clean by the blood of your innocent Son. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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