Transformed – teen devotion – October 14, 2018

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19:16-22

Rebel #2 – The Guide

People love a good “how to” guide. We want to know how to fix a phone that got dropped in the toilet. We want to know how to run a little bit faster. We want to know how to do all sorts of things. We even want to know how to get into heaven. This week we consider the guide that we have from our God, the “how to” of getting to heaven.

In Matthew 19, a man came up to Jesus to ask, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” He had the idea that if he did the right “good thing” he could get heaven. He was looking for a “how to” guide from Jesus. Jesus did give him a guide, but he couldn’t follow it, so he went away sad.

Take a moment to evaluate yourself and your relationship with God. How close to God are you on a scale of 1-10? Rate yourself closer to 1 if you feel like you’ve got a long way to go. Rate yourself closer to a 10 if you feel like you’re doing a good job in your relationship with God. After you’ve evaluated your relationship with God, read on.

I would be willing to guess that you didn’t rate yourself a 10. You looked at your relationship with God and felt like you weren’t quite where God wants it to be. You’re not a “10.” By doing this, you’re evaluating yourself the way this man did. You’re looking for a “how to” list from God to be good enough. If you can to do all the right things, you’d be a 10. But if you keep evaluating yourself this way, you’ll always walk away sad because you’ll never be a 10.

Jesus wanted this man to completely give up on his own ability to be good and find his goodness in Jesus. This man walked away before Jesus could tell him the only way to be good. Jesus would have told him, “I am your goodness. I am your righteousness. I am your perfection.”

We are perfect because Jesus declares us so. We are good because Jesus declares us to be good. We are righteous because Jesus makes us so. The apostle Paul says it like this: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). So you see, you already are a “10” in God’s sight.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on my sin and claimed it as your very own. You give me your righteousness, and by faith, I claim it as my very own. You became what you were not, to make me what I was not. By your grace, I’m a “10” in your sight. Thank 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – October 7, 2018

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25

Rebel #1 – The Enemy

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in?

It’s supposed to be that way for us in this world. The Bible calls us aliens and strangers in this world. We’re supposed to be different. While our friends go one direction pursuing sin and priorities that are not God’s, we go against the stream pursuing that for which Jesus took hold of us. We don’t belong in this world. Heaven is our destiny; that is where we belong. Not only that, but we have a different God, a different guide, and we fight a different war than everyone else in this world.

This month’s devotions consider what it means and looks like to be rebels as followers of Jesus. This week we look at our enemy. Immediately, we think of the devil who like a prowling lion creeps in the tall grass looking to devour us. We also think quickly of the temptations that the world dangles in front of us.

Those are certainly our enemies, but sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Paul knew it was true: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” There was a war inside of him. It made him a prisoner to sin. Previously in Romans 7, Paul expresses a deep frustration because he isn’t doing and can’t do what he knows he should.

You’ll find the same thing as you look at your heart and life. You know the good that you should be doing, but you don’t do it. Sometimes you intentionally plan to do that thing you shouldn’t do. Other times, you fall into sin and feel helpless against it.

Paul is teaching us a powerful and important truth about ourselves: We’re worse than we thought. There isn’t a spark of goodness in us. We can’t just get over our sin by trying hard and doing the right things. It’s not in us. What a bunch of wretches we are!

Our only hope is that we are more loved than we would even dare imagine. Our God has delivered us from sin and death. Our God has even rescued us from this wicked, sinful nature in us. He has drowned it to death in our baptisms. He has given us complete victory in our Savior Jesus and set us free to live for him. He does it daily for us as we confess our sins and hear his forgiveness. He does it daily in the waters of our baptisms.

The truth is you don’t belong to sin anymore; you belong to your God. He redeemed you by his Son and gives you the victory through his Son, Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so frustrated by the sins I commit. I don’t want to do them. Sometimes I do them on purpose. Sometimes I do them without even thinking about it. Forgive me for them all and set me free by your blood to live for you. I belong to you. Help me to live for 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – September 30, 2018

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Luke 22:39-43

God’s strength

This week we’re wrapping up our devotions on spiritual habits. I want you to think back to all of these devotions and notice something. We want to spend time in God’s Word, because in his Word he gives us his strength, courage, and motivation to live for him. We want to spend time talking to our God in prayer, because God promises to always answer our prayers. We want to spend time with the community of believers, because they will give us strength from the Lord.

A theme emerges from these spiritual disciplines: They turn us to our God who gives us his gifts of strength, answers, help, and courage.

We see an Jesus’ example as he cried out to his Father in anguish. He was thoroughly overwhelmed by what was about to happen. He even begged that God would take this cup of suffering away from him. Look what God did in answer to his prayer: An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

This is what God promises to do for you as you walk through life. He promises that his Word is power for salvation; it is food and strength for you and your soul. He promises that he will always hear your prayers for help and for strength. He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15). He promises that his church, his community of believers, will endure to the end. You will never be alone on this earth as you live by faith here.

God has given you the gifts of his Word and Sacraments, prayer, and his people to give you his strength and his support through life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me your gifts to help me stay faithful to you until death. Thank you for giving me your strength to live for you all the days of my 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – September 23, 2018

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

The power of habit: Know your weakness

No one gets married and thinks, “In ten years, I’ll be unhappy in this marriage and go looking for love somewhere else.” No one ever says to themselves, “I think I’ll be a drug addict or an alcoholic when I grow up.” No Christian ever confessed their faith thinking, “I won’t always believe this.”

Yet it happens every day. It even happens to pastors of churches and the most dedicated students of the Bible. They fall into sin and away from Jesus. What happens?

Peter never dreamt that he would be the one to deny Jesus. He actually took an oath, because he was so sure that he would never do it. But just hours later, he swore another oath saying that he didn’t even know who Jesus was.

What happened?

Jesus identifies it for us: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We have the heartfelt desire to remain faithful and steadfast. We have the sincere intention to stay true, faithful, and steadfast in our faith. Our spirit is certainly willing.

But our flesh is weak. Our nature has been weakened by sin and weakness. Ever since Adam and Eve, our nature has been tipped toward sin in the most despicable and vile ways. Even as Christians, our sinful nature is still a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. Because of the weakness of our nature, we need spiritual disciplines to bolster and to hold us up. We need the power of God’s Word to correct, rebuke, encourage, and train us. We need to be people of prayer, constantly turning to our source of strength. We need close and trustworthy Christian friends around us to keep turning us back to the God of our salvation.

Because of our sinful weakness, it vital for us to keep active in God’s Word and prayer and to stay close to God’s people.

His Word, prayer, and his people are God’s gifts to keep us close to him all the days of our life and to call us back when we stumble and fall. Use them. They are God’s gifts to you.

Prayer: Lord God, I know my weakness more and more each day. Keep turning me back to you for strength and direction. You are my Savior. I need you. Please help. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – September 16, 2018

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

The power of habit: Christ-centered community

These are the days when we are more connected and yet more disconnected at the same time. We are more connected on our phones, more connected through social media. At the very same time, we are also quite disconnected as we live life. We’re connected thumb-to-thumb but not face-to-face and not soul-to-soul.

That can be a dangerous thing. Social media can lead us to be fake with other people. We easily filter the way life is really going. We can easily hide what is really going on with us. We can easily isolate ourselves from the Christ-centered community that we so desperately need. The truth is: The lone wolf gets picked off. That’s who the devil goes after because there is no one around to help when tempted.

God’s people need each other. We need other people in our lives. That is precisely why the writer wrote these words to us. He knew that we needed a Christ-centered community around us.

On the one hand, we need each other to see the blind spots in our faith and the sins that hide in the corners of our lives that we can’t see. We need other Christians to show us our sins. Even more than that, we need them to show us Jesus’ forgiveness. We need a Christ-centered community around us to keep us close to our Savior.

On the other hand, other people need us just as deeply in their lives. They need us to lovingly show them the blind spots of their faith, the sins that hide in the corners of their life. They need us to show them their sins and even more than that to tell them that Jesus has forgiven it all! They need us to spur them on with gospel encouragement!

You, dear Christian, need the family of believers, the community of Christ-followers, around you. In fact, they are God’s gift to you to keep you close to Jesus until he returns. And in the very same way, you are God’s gift to them to keep them close to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for blessing me with many wonderful friends. Be with my friends and me. Help us to encourage each other to grow in your Word. Keep Christ as the center of our lives and bring us closer to each other by bringing us closer 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – September 9, 2018

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:16-18

The power of habit: Prayer

Why we don’t pray more? I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes don’t pray more because I think I can get more done if I actually “do” it than if I pray about it first. I think that my thinking, my working, my worrying, and my planning are more powerful than actually praying about it.

When I write it down it sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? But our lack of prayer says just that. Our lack of praying says to God that our activity and our working is more important than asking him to act and work and do.

James inspires us to believe that prayer is a powerful thing. He tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Our prayers matter. Our prayers change things. Our prayers make a difference.

If you believed that something was powerful, would you do it? Of course. If you thought something would make all the difference in the world, you would make sure it happened. If you thought something mattered, you would make time for it, intentionally, purposefully, regularly. That’s what we do for things that make a difference and matter to us.

James gives an example of an effective prayer. He reminds us of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. Elijah prayed that it would not rain—and it didn’t rain. God withheld rain for three and a half years because of Elijah’s prayer. Then Elijah prayed again that it would rain—and God sent rain.

Prayer works. Prayer matters. It is powerful and effective, not because of the person who is praying, but because the person praying invokes God’s powerful name and humbly relies on God’s gracious promises and saving will. The story of Elijah—and many other stories throughout the Bible—show us that this is true.

So pray. Make a habit of it. Your Father in heaven loves you. He has forgiven all your sins, and he now invites you to call on him in prayer. In his love for you, he hears your prayers and works powerfully for you and for the world.

Prayer: Lord God, you teach me that prayer is a powerful thing. In your grace, Father, you invite me to pray. Help me to understand how powerful prayer is so that I make it a part of the very fiber of my life. Yes, Lord Jesus, teach me to pray without stopping. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – September 2, 2018

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

The power of habit: Bible reading

What if I told you that you would die tomorrow unless you took one pill? Would you miss it? Probably not. You would probably set an alarm. You would do something to make sure that you always took that pill every single day, because you know it is a matter of life and death.

There are other things like that in our life, things that aren’t a matter of life and death, but still very important to us. We have daily routines and habits that are really important—brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing your homework, or eating meals. These things have become part of your regular life, and you wouldn’t really consider cutting them out.

This month we’re going to talk about some disciplines that are important for your spiritual health. These are things that we want to be diligent about practicing. If we don’t practice these things, we put our faith at risk. We risk falling from the faith and losing out on eternity. Jesus himself tells us to “watch and pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation.

The first habit is Bible reading. It’s something that Paul tells Timothy to continue. He urged him, “Continue in what you learned and have become convinced of.” Paul wants to Timothy to make a habit of remembering what he had been taught. He wanted Timothy to keep Scripture on the front of his mind, continuing to remember it.

Then he tells him, and us, why.

The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. There is no better or higher reason than this. God’s Word rebukes us when we are wrong. It teaches us of God’s love for us. It points us to God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. It equips us for a life of righteousness. It gives and strengthens our faith in Jesus.

God’s Word is good for everything else in this life too. In short, God’s Word is also a personal trainer for our daily walk as Christians. It equips and trains us to live as God’s people in this world.

Would you ever skip brushing your teeth on purpose? Of course not! It wouldn’t be healthy. The same goes for daily Bible reading. Sustain your spiritual health and grow in it by including God’s Word in your daily life.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, we thank you for the many opportunities you give us to make your Word a part of our daily routines. Strengthen our bond with you and help us realize the importance your Word has on our daily lives. In His 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – August 26, 2018

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew‬ ‭6:19-21

Tough conversations about stuff

This morning as I scrolled through my Facebook memories, I caught a project from about a year ago. I was laying some flooring in the first floor of our Texas home and also painting the exterior. I was trying to make that house our home. But that was a year ago. Today, my family and I live in Milwaukee. Someone else is living in what used to be our freshly painted, newly floored, clean and pristine house. We’re living in a house which meets our needs well but needs some maintenance and work.

Things in this life are temporary and fleeting. We live in a house for a while, maybe even for a long time. But the house wears out and needs to be updated and repaired. Or we move to a new house, maybe into a new city, a new state, and a new school. Things in this life constantly fall apart. We buy a new pair of shoes, and in just weeks they’re already creased and wearing out. Our favorite pair of jeans becomes thin and worn.

Everything in this life is temporary. Yet, these are the things that we chase. We’ve got to have the right shoes, the right jeans, the right clothes. We want just the right house in just the right neighborhood where we drive just the right car. We work extra hours to have a little extra spending money. Then it disappears and wears out. It’s here today and tomorrow it’s gone.

That’s not even the most dangerous part. Jesus points it out to us: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If our hearts treasure the stuff of this world—which can make life comfortable and enjoyable—then we will go the way of our treasures. Away. Worn out. Tossed out and away from God.

That is why we must have this tough conversation. In some ways, it is none of my business what you do with your money and what kinds of things you enjoy, especially if it isn’t forbidden by God. But I am concerned for your heart and for your eternity. That’s why I have to warn you. If your treasure is your stuff, then you will go the way of your treasures.

But when Jesus is your treasure, you have everything. You have forgiveness, life, and eternity. You have a Father in heaven who loves to give all these things to those who seek first his kingdom and a Spirit who loves to dwell in your heart to give you contentment and joy whatever the circumstances of your life. When you have Jesus, you have everything. He isn’t ever going to go away. He won’t ever wear out or fade away. He will remain for you and with you forever.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are everything to me. You are my life, my righteousness, my redemption. You are my eternity. Help me to set my heart on you and treasure you above all 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Transformed – teen devotion – August 19, 2018

Or 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

Tough conversations about sexuality

“I am straight.” “I am gay.” “I am lesbian.” “I am bi-sexual.” “This is who I am. This is what I do.”

These are the days when people are more proud than ever to say these kinds of things. You’ve likely heard people say these things with pride before; maybe you’ve even said them yourselves.

Paul has something to say, “These people who claim this identity and live this life will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.” Paul actually enlarges this group to those who also say: “I am a thief.” “I am greedy.” “I am a drunk.” “I am a swindler.” “I am a slanderer.” “This is who I am, and this is what I do.”

If you—or if anyone else—want to claim an identity and live a life that God calls sin, then you are asking God to leave you out of heaven. Paul is clear. “These people will not inherit the kingdom of heaven.”

But that’s not the only answer here. He is talking to you, dear Christian, who is struggling with what to think about your sexuality. For you who refuse to be identified by your sexuality but instead by your repentance, something else is true. For you, who struggle daily with what God says is sin, who grieve because you know the good you ought to do but don’t do it, Paul says something else to you. “That is what some of you were.”

You were identified by sin, but now you’re not. Now you are identified by your Savior Jesus. You are cleansed by his blood. You are justified and not guilty in his sight. You are washed. You are not who you used to be. You are forgiven.

If you’re struggling with your sexuality, reach out to a Christian friend and lean on God’s Word and Jesus’ blood for salvation for help. If you’re struggling with the sexuality of your family or friends, seek God’s wisdom in his Word and some counsel from your pastor. Tough conversations about sexuality do not have easy answers.

But there is always this: Jesus takes us as we are and makes us someone new. He always forgives. He always helps us in our struggle with sin, whatever that sin happens to be, even in our sexuality.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give me your words and your wisdom as I talk to people in my life about their sexuality. Give me a broken heart when I see how I have sinned against you in my own sexuality. Lead me to find my identity and my salvation in what you have done. 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email