Transformed – teen devotion – September 10, 2023

One truth shared: The Church is willing to say hard things in order to save a soul.

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.”
Galatians 2:11-16

Pulling from the Wreckage

The Jaws of Life seems like an odd name for a portable, hydraulic tool meant to save someone. “Jaws” make you think of the fangs of a lion or a great white shark making its way close. But “jaws” can save people too, like in a car accident. If someone is in a rollover accident and pinned inside a crushed vehicle, the Jaws of Life are a handheld tool firefighters use to extricate a victim by cutting the metal of the car or separating it. These tools have ten to twenty thousand pounds of cutting/pulling force! When they come your way, you know you are going to be safe.

If you have ever driven by the scene of a car accident, you know how scary it can be. What if firefighters lacked the rescue tools or had no clue how to use them? Worse, what if they were scared to even come and help? What if they didn’t have the stomach for it and fainted every time they saw blood? Would that be loving? Helpful?

Nope.

In Galatians chapter 2, Paul witnessed a spiritual wreck. Not collision of cars, but a horrifying pile-up of souls being led to believe that God loved some souls (Jews) more and other souls (Gentiles) less, based on who they were at birth. They started separating themselves from people who had a different background than them. And the worst part was that another leader in the church, the apostle Peter, was leading the way in this accident.

Paul could have found excuses to stay away from the conflict, but he went in with the Jaws of Life—the rescue tool of God’s Word. He confronted Peter in front of the group so that the damage would stop and the healing would begin. Peter would realize his error. The Galatian group was extricated from a messy situation back to safety. Now they knew that it was Jesus, and only Jesus, that saves us. Our background and works have nothing to do with it. We are saved by grace alone!

What’s the takeaway for us? Paul was willing to get his hands dirty if it meant pulling a soul from the world’s wreckage and saving them with the love of Jesus. So can you! Sometimes people in our lives make a mess with their own sinful decisions. Jesus wants us to love them enough to point out their sin, but in a way that shows how every sin is forgiven by Jesus too. Freed by grace new life begins! There is no better job to have!

Prayer: Lord, help me to run towards the people who need my help most. Give me the courage to confront sin in order to help others. Give me humility when someone confronts my own sin. Use those conversations to grow us in our faith in you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 3, 2023

One truth shared: Because Jesus carried his cross for us, we deny ourselves and carry our crosses for him.

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.

Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”

Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.
Matthew 16:21-27

A Necessary Weight

Everyone packs with different priorities. Which best describes you? Do you travel light or pack heavy?

  • Some will pack light and take as little as possible along with them (like in a backpack). It’s someone who prioritizes getting to and from places fast without bringing the extra weight of luggage.
  • Others like to be prepared for everything. They’ll pack an outfit for every weather scenario and all the beauty products from the bathroom counter… just in case! They’ll be prepared, but the luggage will be heavy. Who knows, maybe the weight will be necessary to carry?

In Matthew 16, Jesus tells his followers that the extra weight of the cross is necessary. Peter just confessed that Jesus was the Christ, the Savior of the world. But when Jesus told him that dying on the cross would be necessary to save the whole world, Peter didn’t want to hear it. In fact, he pulled Jesus to the side and tried to get him to avoid the weight of the cross waiting for him in Jerusalem.

Here’s how Jesus replied: “GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!”

Wow! What if Jesus would say that to you? Does that get your attention? Why was Jesus so serious with Peter? Because he wanted Peter to understand something important. If Jesus avoided the cross, our sins would not be forgiven and we would have no idea where we were going after we die.

But Jesus carried his cross for us. He didn’t avoid the weight or the pain. He denied his own comfort so that we would someday be comfortable with him in heaven forever. But until then, Jesus tells us we too must carry crosses. No cross? No Christian. It means that Jesus wants us to put him first in our lives. He wants us to put others first as well. To keep it simple, Jesus wants us to deny ourselves and follow him. This is the Christian carrying their cross.

When we realize that we have all the life we need in Jesus, we can live as selflessly as Jesus did. Will it be easy? No! But will it be worth it? Absolutely. The cross of Jesus was worth it. After he rose from the dead, he was seated in heaven as King of kings and Lord of lords. He carried his cross first, then received his crown of glory. It will be the same for us. The best part of a long trip with heavy luggage is dropping it on the floor when you get home. That’s what it will be like when we get to heaven. We get to drop the weight of our crosses and pick up the crown that Jesus has waiting for us in heaven. First the cross, then the crown.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, it is not easy for me to deny my own wants and desires. Keep me focused on how you gave yourself up for me on the cross. Use your sacrifice to motivate me to live a sacrificial life for my friends and family. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 27, 2023

One truth shared: God gives us all we need to know about him in his Word.

Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
Exodus 34:5-9

God Speaks for Himself

Play out this scenario in your head: You start a new summer job not knowing anyone there. You get to know people slowly as the weeks go by. You really get to know them in the lunch break room. On Friday they share their weekend plans. You share yours. They catch on that you go to church most Sundays. It confuses them. They ask, “What’s so special about God that you would plan your weekends around him?”

How would you answer?

You’ve been put on the spot to explain why God is so awesome you feel the need to worship him. They are asking a big question! There are so many ways you can describe God because the Bible is a big book with lots of details about him.

If God was in the lunchroom, how would he respond? Well, in Exodus 34 Moses begged God for more of an explanation. Moses just wanted to know more about God. He wanted to see his glory. And as God passed by, God defined himself.

He uses the name LORD. This name means that he is the only God. He is eternal. He is the Lord. He is the one who saves. He is the one who saves you. He is your Lord.

Your Lord stoops down to see how you are doing and picks you up when you’ve fallen. Your Lord doesn’t treat you like your sins deserve, he loves you regardless of them. Your Lord doesn’t jump at you to accuse. Instead, he overflows with love that will never run out and will always be there when you need it. Your Lord doesn’t love a select few, he loves all his creation, all his people, all his children, all of you.

Your Lord forgives. Yes, he punishes sin. He doesn’t just turn a blind eye. But he doesn’t punish you. He sent his one and only Son to die in your place so you would be with him forever.

That is how God describes himself. Would you say it the same exact way in the break room? Probably not. But you can say it! And you do know who your Lord is. Whether your answer is long or short, God speaks for himself now through you. Through you, others can know how God is defined by his compassion and grace.

Prayer: LORD, thank you for describing yourself in a way that assures me I am constantly loved and I always yours. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 20, 2023

One truth shared: The church is meant for all people.

Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is demon-possessed and suffering terribly.”

Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”

He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”

The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.

He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.”

“Yes it is, Lord,” she said. “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.
Matthew 15:21-28

Their Faith Might Surprise You!

When you think of heaven, what do you think of? Maybe you think of the people you’ll see there who you can’t wait to spend the rest of eternity with! But have you ever thought of the people you’ll see in heaven that might surprise you? Do you think you’ll be walking down paradise street and see someone you weren’t expecting? How many “surprises” will be with us in heaven?

When Jesus was on the cross, he was dying next to one of those “surprises”—a man who had a track record of crimes. He knew he deserved to die for his sins. But Jesus? Our Savior deserved no punishment at all. So the criminal asked Jesus for help. He asked Jesus to simply remember him after this was over. What did Jesus do? Laugh? No. Jesus promised he would be with him in heaven that very day. The man believed in Jesus. In the end, that’s all that mattered in his life.

Jesus wants us to view the people in our lives through the perspective of his love and forgiveness won on the cross. Do we always do that? When someone who doesn’t fit the profile of a “regular church-goer” walks through the doors on Sunday morning, what goes through our minds? Are we welcoming or hesitant? Do we wait to get to know the person, or do we judge them simply based on their appearances or past history?

The disciples assumed the worst about the Canaanite woman who came to Jesus for help in Matthew 15. They thought they watching out for Jesus when they asked him to send her away because of she wouldn’t leave him alone. Besides, the disciples grew up with prejudice towards any Canaanite who lived on the wrong side of their shared border. Their hearts were trained to look down on her.

Jesus needed to show them a better way, his way. He sees her hurt and he hears her cry for mercy. She just wants Jesus to heal her daughter. But Jesus also wants to use her to teach a lesson for us all. He tests her. He seems to push her away, but she won’t give up. She won’t leave without his help. She knows Jesus is all she needs now and forever. “Then Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, you have great faith!’” And he heals her daughter right then.

Faith. That is what Jesus looks for. He wants us to come to him knowing we’re anything but perfect. He wants us to come to him when we need help. He wants us to come to him when we need forgiveness. And he promises to give us all the help and forgiveness we need.

Jesus welcomes “surprise”—anyone who comes to him regardless of age, race, gender, talent, or popularity. He knows we all have the same problem. He gives the same solution to all—himself. So let’s ask ourselves, if this is how Jesus views and treats me, then shouldn’t I do the same with the people in my life? And shouldn’t I especially do the same when someone visits my church for the first time? Absolutely! And you can!

May Jesus give you all the love you need to view others with his same love.

Prayer: Lord, give me your perspective which sees others as your beautiful creation. Keep me from placing quick judgments on those you have put in my life to serve. Give me and my church the opportunity to tell them that you sent your Son for them too. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 13, 2023

One truth shared: When experiencing moments of doubt, you can trust the truth of Jesus’ words of never-failing love and promises.

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”

Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
Matthew 14:27-31

Someone Worth Trusting

Come on, Peter! Really?! What is your problem?!

There Jesus was, standing on the water. This was so abnormal that the disciples first thought it was a ghost. But Jesus calmed them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid!” Phew! It’s Jesus!

Peter, as usual, was quick to speak (and speak boldly). He asked if he could walk on the water with Jesus, to which the Lord replied, “Sure, come on down!” So Peter gets down out of the boat, probably quite carefully and slowly, and miraculously, he’s walking on the water too! You gotta be kidding me! This is awesome!

But then he looked elsewhere. He saw the wind and the waves and likely had a more logical moment, “Wait . . . how is this possible? Humans don’t walk on water. What if the waves are too strong? What if this doesn’t last? What if I sink? What if . . .”

Peter! Really?! What is your problem?! You are literally living a miracle. You are literally face to face with Jesus with his promise to walk on water still ringing in your ears! How could you doubt?!

But Peter isn’t alone, is he? You might not have walked on water before, but surely those questions have plagued your mind:

“What if I drown in my homework? . . . What if I don’t pass this test? . . . What if my dad loses his job? . . . What if I don’t get accepted into college? . . . What if grandma’s cancer doesn’t get better? . . . What if . . .”

From the very beginning in the Garden of Eden, Satan has been tempting people in the same way. He first sparked doubt in Adam and Eve by asking, “Did God really say?” Suddenly doubts flooded their minds, wondering if God was holding back on them or if there was something better they were missing. So they ate the fruit because they doubted God’s love and God’s words.

Satan did the same with Peter. Peter doubted Jesus’ words that clearly told him to come and walk on the water, and he doubted Jesus’ love that he would keep him safe. And Satan still does the same today. He wants nothing more than for you to doubt Jesus’ words to you and love for you today.

Dear teen, look at the blood-stained cross. Look at the empty tomb. They are all the proof you would ever need. God’s love for you is boundless and endless. God’s promises never fail. God’s words are always true. Trust the God who so loved the world that he sent his Son for you. Jesus reached out his hand to grab Peter when he was sinking in doubt, and he does the same for you. Listen to your Savior and trust him always as he says, “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

Prayer: Jesus, so often doubts fill my mind. I can hardly help it. My sinful heart is so broken and it’s so hard to trust. But I know that you’ve never failed me. I know that your words are always true. I know that you love me. Give me a confident and courageous faith that always trusts, even when I’m sinking. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 6, 2023

One truth shared: God provides what we need in life—especially our greatest needs in Jesus.

Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
1 Kings 17:1-6

God Always Provides

What’s the last thing you ate? I suppose the answer depends on what time of day you are reading this. If you just woke up, it might have been a late-night snack of pizza rolls the night before. Or maybe you are having breakfast right now. Or could it be that you finally had a day to sleep in and you slept all the way to lunch? Nothing like some pizza leftovers to get your day started right! Is this a nighttime devotion and you’re eating some fresh, hot, delicious pizza just delivered to your door? (Are you sensing a theme?)

Whatever it is you ate last, where did it come from? You might say it came from your fridge or pantry or the delivery person. But how did it get there? Okay, so maybe it came from the grocery store or fast food chain. But how did it get to those places? And how did it get from that location to your house?

We could play this game all day long and you would probably get pretty annoyed. So before you stop playing the question game with me, maybe you get the point? It takes a lot for you to get one slice of pizza, one protein bar, or one loaf of bread. There are farmers who grow and produce products and ship them off to factories. There are workers in the factories. There are drivers to the factory and from the factory to the store. Then there are managers, shelf stockers, and the friendly people who check out your groceries or deliver your pizza. But you wouldn’t have those groceries unless someone in your family had a job and earned money and then used that money to buy food and then brought that food to your home or ordered that pizza to arrive at your house. That’s a lot of people who go into one piece of pepperoni and cheese!

But if we really trace everything back to its source, doesn’t it always go back to God? He is the one that sends rain and sunshine. He is the one that causes things to grow. God is the one who gives people their vocation as farmer or driver or worker or father or mother and uses each person together in an intricate web of connection so as to provide for all of us.

It’s probably true that in America, a land of abundance, we often take God’s providing for granted. I mean, wouldn’t you recognize God’s loving care a little more if you had ravens dropping off food for you like Elijah did in the story for today? (Do you think you would need to tip the raven like the pizza delivery dude?) But just because your PBJ sandwich wasn’t delivered by animals or you haven’t seen Jesus feed the 5,000, it doesn’t mean that God’s providing for you is any less incredible. God works in many, incredible ways to make sure you have what you need.

Of course, the food in the fridge or even the burger in your to-go bag is nothing compared to our greatest need God has met. He provided a Savior for the entire world. He provides forgiveness for your sins. He provides a place for you waiting in heaven. Now that is truly miraculous! God gives you pizza and eternal life with him! What a gracious God!

In our land of consumerism where you can order or buy just about anything you want any time you want, and most people have fridges and pantries spilling over in abundance, don’t forget the God who makes that all possible. Most importantly, don’t forget the God who provides for your greatest needs in Jesus.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, King David wrote that, “The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food at the proper time. You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing” (Psalm 145:15,16). Thank you for all that you provide for me, especially for the gift of your Son Jesus. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 30, 2023

One truth shared: Go “all in” on treasuring and loving Jesus and his gospel more than anything or anyone else.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.
Matthew 13:44-46

A Priceless Treasure

What make and model phone do you have? Is it the newest and best, or is it old and beat-up with a shattered screen? How many pairs of shoes/sandals/slides/crocs do you think you have? Which is your favorite pair? If you could be a fashion influencer on social media, what clothing brand would you love to have an endless supply to model? If you won the lottery, what’s the first thing you would buy?

The old saying is that “money makes the world go round.” Well, ain’t that the truth! You’ve probably figured that out by now as a teen. The version of the phone you have, the kicks in your closet, the fabulous fits you wear, your decisions about college and career, your desire for things like a car, a home, and much more in the future—it all depends on and revolves around money.

In our commercialized America, it’s so easy to get caught up in some kind of fictitious dream of what life should look life—“I need a four-bedroom, three-bath house on one acre of land with two cars and a boat and three smiley kids.” OH . . . “And I need to earn this many dollars in scholarships and pay this much (or little) for college and get a career that makes this much money so I can get all that.”

Be careful! Satan wants to suck you into worldly thinking quicker than you can say mucho dinero. Too many teens worry way too much about scholarship and college costs. Too many teens make career choices based on how much money they might make some day. And too many people in general obsess about getting worldly treasures.

But when your plans fall apart, or your job cuts your salary, or your car breaks down, or your phone is obsolete, or your shoes are out of style, or your house has rain damage from a leaky roof—Satan will only sit back and laugh that you put your heart and mind into so much worldly “stuff.”

Instead, consider what is real treasure. Is it not knowing that your sin is washed away forever? Is it not knowing that you were dead to God but freely made alive in Christ? Is it not knowing that you have the glorious riches of heaven waiting for you to enjoy for all eternity? Worldly “stuff” disappears or breaks or loses value. None of it lasts. But in the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ our Savior, we find and receive a treasure that will never spoil, perish, or fade.

So when you have this gospel-treasure, go all in! Be like the man Jesus describes who found a treasure in a field and sold all he had to buy that field. Or be like the treasure hunter who found a pearl of great value and sold all he had to buy it. Jesus isn’t telling you to sell your cool phone or nice pair of shoes and get rid of all your stuff. No. Surely you can enjoy those blessings. Instead, Jesus is telling you to go “all in” on treasuring and loving him and his gospel more than anything or anyone else. After all, when you have Jesus and you have heaven guaranteed and waiting for you, what else could you possibly want or need!

Prayer: Jesus, my priceless treasure, help me to have a heart that craves nothing more than to have you and your Word. I know you will graciously give me all I need and even countless blessings beyond my needs. I’m so thankful for my many blessings. But give me also a heart that is focused first on you, my treasure beyond worth and value. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 23, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus promises to keep Christians safe while living in a world of unbelievers.

Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.

“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’

“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.

“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’

“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”

Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”

He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.

“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
Matthew 13:24-30,36-43

Wheat and Weeds

Why won’t God do something?

Ever wonder that before? Why won’t God do something about terrorism? Why won’t God bring justice to those being oppressed? Why won’t God take care of those who persecute Christians so that his Word and his kingdom can flourish?

Those are good and logical questions to ask, much like the question the servants asked in Jesus’ parable. An “enemy” had come and planted weeds among the wheat. The servants asked the owner of the field, “Do you want us to pull them up?” A quick and easy solution, right? Get rid of the weeds! But the owner explained the problem—if you pull up the weeds, you might take some wheat along with. A better plan was to leave both until the harvest and then separate the weeds and wheat.

Satan has sown many weeds in this world. There are many unbelievers who follow Satan’s ways instead of God’s ways, and quite a number of them pose big problems (even big threats!) to us the wheat. But rather than removing them from the world now, God has a different plan—to wait until the harvest called judgment day to sort and separate the weeds and the wheat.

In the meantime, we need to trust the owner of the field—the Son of Man, or Jesus himself. He is the one who conquered the devil and this sinful world with his life, death, and resurrection. He is the Master Farmer, who graciously sowed seeds of the gospel into our hearts and sent his Holy Spirit to make those seeds grow. He is the One who tends the farm with care and protects us, the wheat, from the weeds.

Moreover, who knows how God might graciously work yet so that some of those weeds might become wheat (believers) before the harvest of judgment day? Who knows how God might use the challenges of living among weeds for good in our lives? Only the Lord knows.

Trust God’s plan. Trust God’s care for the garden of his kingdom. Trust that God will sort the weeds and the wheat on the Last Day. While the weeds will sadly face the fires of hell, we the wheat will be gathered to his storehouse of heaven. Lord, keep us safely to that day!

Prayer: Jesus, life in this world is not easy. Living as wheat among wheat is so challenging. Strengthen and support us through this weary life until that last and glorious day when you gather us to our heavenly home. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 16, 2023

One truth shared: Let your light shine! Even when you can’t see any results, God promises his Word will always do its work.

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

The Word Works

Grace was very passionate about her faith. She loved Jesus so much. She was so thankful for everything he had done. She loved going to church and teen Bible studies. She had so much joy and she wanted nothing more than for others to have that joy too.

At work, Grace would drop little comments about what a great service she attended last week and would often invite other teens she worked with to their teen group outings. Everyone knew Grace was a Christian on her club VB team, too. She wore a cross necklace and always put a black sharpie cross on the athletic tape on her wrists. Grace’s social media profile had a cross icon and her confirmation verse. At school it was much the same. Grace tried to let her light shine in the hallways and classrooms, and she especially loved witnessing to her new international student friend—Kat from Vietnam.

Grace went on like this, shining as a bright beacon of Jesus light, for some two years in high school. But then one day at work something happened. One of her coworkers, Kyle, whom she had worked with for over a year, finally said, “Grace, enough already. Enough with all the Jesus stuff. Can’t we just work? I’m not ever going to come to church with you, okay?”

Ouch. That hurt. Later that night, Grace was lying in bed and reflecting on the incident. That led to more thinking about all of her witnessing. She started to realize that no one from work had ever agreed with anything she said about Jesus. No one from her VB team had ever come to church with her. Then she started to think about the people who occasionally laughed behind her back at school when she would talk about her faith. And Kat, well, Grace wasn’t sure if Kat even understood what she was saying about Jesus.

It can be hard and frustrating to live and share your faith in this world, especially as a teen. You’re a teen—will any adults take you seriously? You’re a teen—will your peers still like you? You’re a teen—does anything you say matter, and will anyone even listen?

Grace was pondering these thoughts and whether it was all worth it, when suddenly her phone dinged. Someone had DMed her. She opened the message, and it was from Brandon, another teen boy she worked with. “Oh great. More rejection,” she thought. But to her surprise the message said:

Hey Grace. How r u? Just wanted to say thanks for what you do at work. You know. The Jesus stuff. I overheard how Kyle kinda dissed you today. But I wanna let u know that I always hear you. It’s been bad 4 me recently, and I appreciate u. Would u mind if I came to church with u sometime? I think I kinda need it.

The biggest tears streamed down her cheeks as the biggest smile also beamed across her face. Grace had forgotten the famous words from God in Isaiah 55. Just like the rain and snow fall from heaven and always accomplish God’s purposes on this earth, so with his Word. It always accomplishes his purposes and never returns to him empty.

God spoke and the world came to be. Jesus spoke and calmed a storm and healed the sick and raised the dead. Jesus spoke, “It is finished,” and it was. God’s Word has always been powerful. So also when we speak and share it. We may not know how or when or why, but God promises that his Word will always be powerful and effective in the ways that he knows best.

Sure enough, Grace’s last two years of high school taught her that all the more. Kyle never did come to church, but Grace found out that her witnessing really caused him to think about faith for a long time and wrestle with his sinful lifestyle. Brandon? Well, he did come to church that week with Grace and ended up joining a year later. And almost exactly two years after that tearful night, Grace had another memorable moment—Kat was baptized at her Vietnam church and became a Christian.

Don’t sweat the how or the when or the why. God knows that. God takes care of that. Let your light shine. Share your faith. Spread the Word. Then trust that God’s Word will work, because it always does.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, help me to be a witness who boldly shares your Word and confidently trusts that it will work powerfully in people’s hearts. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 9, 2023

One truth shared: When burdened and overwhelmed by this world or your own sin, go to Jesus.

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

Rest!

Kaiden couldn’t take it anymore. His bed was covered in homework—chemistry, math, and Spanish books were lying open with various worksheets scattered on top of them. His laptop was open on his lap, but he was only about two sentences into his essay on why the French Revolution was a pivotal time in world history. How would he ever get all this work done? How could any teacher think this amount of homework was reasonable?

Kaiden’s heart started racing as he realized it wasn’t all the teachers’ fault. Kaiden was the one who had basketball practice until 5:30 p.m. that day and then stayed late to get some extra shots up. Kaiden was also the one who signed up for the jazz band and had practice after that until 7:00 p.m. And Kaiden was also the one who thought he could handle being on student council as well (which had a video conference call for an hour after jazz band). Okay, maybe he felt a little coerced to run for student council, but still . . .

There was just so much to do! There was so much pressure to perform! Kaiden knew the ACT was coming around the corner. Then college applications. Oh, and that big end of the year jazz concert and the huge student council event. What about his social life? What about his girlfriend?

Oh, yeah, his girlfriend. Kaiden started thinking about the pressures of dating and the temptations of that relationship. His heart began to race even more as memories flashed through his head of temptations they had fallen into occasionally. How could they have been so foolish?

Kaiden had so much pressure! Kaiden was so overwhelmed! Kaiden felt so guilty! And most of all, Kaiden felt so tired.

Been there before? It’s easy to be overwhelmed with the burdens and pressures we bear, and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with the guilt that we carry, too.

But dear teen, Jesus knows. Jesus knows pressure. Jesus knows burdens. Jesus knows suffering. He experienced it all as he lived in this world with us and for us. Jesus even knows sin. Not because he committed any, but because he carried your sin along with the sin of the whole world. He took sin upon himself to pay for it and wash it away in his blood.

Listen to the words of your Savior who knows burdens. Listen to the one who carried them and overcame. Listen to the Savior who promises to be with you and to work all things for your good and to give you strength in all things.

Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” When you feel burdened and overwhelmed by this world or your own sin, Go. To. Jesus. Don’t go to vaping or smoking or drinking. Don’t go to acting out in other sinful choices. Don’t go to your room and lock the door and hope you can just figure it out on your own as you mindlessly scroll through social media. Go. To. Jesus. In his Word, in worship, in communing with him in the Lord’s Supper, you will find rest. In the sweet comfort of his love and forgiveness in the gospel, you will find rest. In the reassurance of his promises, you will find rest.

Every time. Go to Jesus and rest.

Prayer: Lord, my life is sometimes so overwhelming. The burdens I carry and the sins I bear are too heavy. But reassure me with the comfort that you overcame this world and took away my sin. Welcome me with open arms, as you promise! Help me find rest in you alone. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 2, 2023

One truth shared: The Christian loves God above all.

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
Matthew 10:37-39

Love God above All

What do you love the most in your life? Your parent(s)? Your sibling(s)? Your BFF? Your boyfriend or girlfriend? Mr. Fluffers your 5-month-old puppy who sheds hair like he’s going bald (but you love him anyways)? Sports? Music? Video games? Your phone? (Please don’t say your phone!) So many things to love! But what in your life do you love the most?

Our God is so good and gracious that he opens his hand and satisfies the desires of every living thing (Psalm 145:16). But not only that, most of us have WAY more than we could ever want, need, or desire. Our list of blessings is longer than the line for the bathroom at a Taylor Swift or Beyoncé concert. It is simply incredible how he blesses us with so many good things. Be careful though! Very quickly good things become god things.

God’s First Commandment is: You shall have no other gods. Martin Luther explained that commandment quite simply: “We should fear, love, and trust in God above all things.” Any time we put something in front of God in our hearts or minds that becomes a god to us. That’s easy to recognize when it’s a statue of Buddha or a false religion like Islam. But that’s really hard to see when it’s a regular part of your daily life.

Ever been in a situation with friends or at work when you know you should have said something, you should have done something different, you should have let your light shine—but you didn’t? Could it be that you love your reputation or the opinion of friends or peers more than God? How does your screen time compare to your Scripture time? Do you scroll through YouTube or TikTok more than you scroll through the Bible? Could it be that you love technology, or specifically your phone, more than God? Do your actions with your boyfriend or girlfriend or what you look at online match up with God’s guidance for purity? Could it be that you love your desires and cravings more than God at times?

How many examples might we identify where we fail and fall short of God’s expectations? How many times have we made good things into god things?

Thank God that we have a Savior who has loved us with an everlasting commitment! Jesus set aside his glory, his power, and his crown to come here to this world for us. He showed a committed love that was not distracted or deterred. He marched all the way to Calvary for you and for me so that the Father could open his arms in forgiving love to us. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1)

God’s love for us can be life changing. The more we see his love and commitment to us, the more we become committed to him. Jesus words in this devotion from Matthew 10 are very difficult to process. But then we see his loving arms stretched out on a cross and his victorious empty tomb. That is the Savior that we love more than anything, even good things. We love Jesus more than family, friends, sports, music, and even our phones. “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you loved us with a selfless, self-sacrificing love that put us first. Help us to be so committed to you that we always fear, love, and trust in 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.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 25, 2023

One truth shared: God gives us endurance to serve!

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear… But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry… Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.
Timothy 4:1-3,5,8

Jesus—Give Us “The Guts” to Serve!

Are you tired? After a day of turning on the TV, or going online, or Instagram, or watching non-stop TikTok series of mountain biking or people chopping steaks, or Facebook, do you ever just feel tired? (Most of the time I’m watching too!)

The world you see on social media and videos can be overwhelming! That’s especially true for people who love Jesus and think his Word is true—every single verse of it. Including the verses for today. It’s actually kind of funny to think that these words from 2 Timothy were written almost 2,000 years ago. These verses talk about people not wanting to put up with teachings of God’s Word that make sense in society and in their own lives; people gathering around them others who basically tell them “Yeah, sure, whatever you say man—that sounds good to me!” And follow that up with phrases like, “After all, who am I to judge (or say anything contrary to your thoughts)?” What’s up with that? Ultimately, it’s simple. People want control of their own lives, no matter what kind of trainwreck they might be. We want to deny the work and power and, in the very sad end, the very love shown in Jesus’ life, and cross, and empty tomb—because that has everything to do with God’s work, not ours. And that can lead to more than just a “meh” attitude—it can lead to an “attack”! That’s what happened to Paul and Timothy 2,000 years ago. The result was physical suffering for God’s people who put Jesus and the Word first!

In an overwhelming world, God gives us this charge today—preach the Word, keep your head, remember Jesus, all the while knowing he’ll give you the gifts to do it, even in suffering, as you serve others. It won’t be easy, God never promises that, but it will end with the greatest gift of all—the crown of eternity in heaven that Jesus himself will put on your head, and not just for you, for all of those who love Jesus with you and as you serve, maybe will even be led to love Jesus through you!

Throughout the last few weeks we’ve been talking about what it is to serve others. And that’s what God calls us to. Try this now: When you’re tired, spend a little more time this week serving yourself with the promises that God gives to you. Remember them. Embrace them by grace through faith. Start your day with them. And ultimately, know God will use that to lead you to share them with others—and to serve. To God be the glory!

Prayer: Jesus, you are so loving and powerful, and you used both of those things to save us. You faced the ultimate persecution to win peace for us. You faced rejection so we can be accepted. You stood up as the Word made flesh so we can stand up and share the Word with all. Help us face down the temptation to give in to the thoughts of the world and its persecutions and celebrate when that persecution is related to us sharing your Word. Help us remember all you have done for us so that we may do for others—serving you every step of the way! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 18, 2023

One truth shared: God gives us the guts to serve—God, help us to do it to your glory!

Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
Matthew 9:35-38

Jesus—Give Us “The Guts” to Serve!

Have you ever wanted to help someone so badly that your gut hurt? That’s what drove Jesus to help others—an insane, looking out for everyone, not passing anyone by, love that led him to serve. It was defined in a simple word in the Greek—compassion. It was from a word that literally meant “the inner parts” like the bowels, intestines, heart, kidneys, liver, lungs, etc. When it all hurt from seeing others in need and in pain, suffering from sickness and disease, from poverty and injustice, from racism and social struggles—that “compassion” is what led to Jesus’ action. He worked. He healed. He drove out demons. He fed. He led. He loved. Ultimately, it’s what led Jesus to lay down his perfection to become sin for us on the cross, that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21). It was compassion that led Jesus to serve. It was compassion that led Jesus to rise from the grave to serve our ultimate need—proof that our sins are really forgiven, and they are!

Think of all of the times we have passed by people in need; or given in to apathy or resentment in the face of social injustice or racism; or gotten angry with God when our mom got cancer or our dad had a heart attack, or grandma got COVID. How many times have we shown the ugly insides of ourselves and fallen so far short of God’s glory, we thought that there was no possible way to have forgiveness and peace with a perfect God. Every one of those times, Jesus made you perfect, because he felt compassion so deep inside for you—that it led him to die—for you. To rise—for you. That changes things. It changes us. Now, he calls you to be his own and live under him in his kingdom. Now, he calls you to serve.

People look different when you see them through the lens of Jesus’ compassion. They don’t look like a person, or a gender, or a color, or an income bracket, or a gen; they look like a soul that is precious to Jesus and worth everything—including, but not limited to, our care; our inner parts; our compassion, our service, and our love. After all, you are a little Jesus! It’s really the love of Jesus through us that he already showed to us. And it’s his call that leads us to serve!

Who are you able to serve with compassion today? Look around, consider starting within your very own home, and you’ll probably be surprised at how many people are hurting that God has placed you, his forgiven child, in the life of. God bless your compassion as Jesus guides your inner part—right down to your very soul!

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for seeing me, helpless and harassed by the world and my own thoughts of doubt and anxiety and sadness—and sin—and then for having compassion on me. You know and feel my sins right down to your deepest and most inner parts—and you died for them all. Risen in glory, dear Savior, help me show compassion to others and, I pray boldly, give me chances to see them—by first seeing what you have done for me. In your name I ask it. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 11, 2023

One truth shared: God calls us to serve!

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The LORD said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt… So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you.”
Exodus 3:4-7,10-12

Bruh or Bro? Jesus—Give Us The Words To Serve!

It’s kind of funny when some of the latest and greatest words floating around in the world today are confusing to older generations. Have you ever had to “translate” for aging ears what is being said?

Imagine if you if you had to do the same today, but the words were from Scripture. How would you help adjust aging ears to Moses’ interaction with God through the burning bush? Let’s give it a try.

God had some amazing work for Moses—go and tell Pharaoh to “let his people go!” In power God also promised he was going to be with him as Moses proclaimed God’s Word. Moses’ response? Excuse after excuse, all the while freely admitting that he was unworthy as he remembered his past and his guilt and his weaknesses. Basically, he told God that this was not going to work. That he didn’t think he was the right choice for God. To sum up Moses’ response in one teen word, “Bruh.”

But God wasn’t going anywhere, and his plan for Moses was not going to change—he had work for him to do—and he was going to be with him every step of the way. God’s response, I suppose you could say was, “Bro!” In boomer terms: “Moses, focus up. You got this, and I’m with you. You’re forgiven—you know me, it’s time to get it done—and you just wait to see what I’m going to do!” Ten plagues later, God’s work of power and judgment against Egypt came on display and it was amazing, it was phenomenal, it was “slay.”

So what does that mean for you? It’s hard thinking that the all-powerful ruler of the universe actually thinks we are exactly the ones he needs to serve others, to share Jesus our Savior, and share with confidence too! We are broken, weak, and can easily come up with 100 excuses of our own—all of which might be accurate and on point. We are sinners just like Moses. But the God who didn’t give up on Moses will never give up on you either. Our God rejoices, not when he calls the equipped, but as he equips the called! And he has fully equipped you. It all goes back to Jesus’ perfect life, his love-filled sacrifice on Calvary’s cross, and the glory of an empty tomb. Forgiveness was won, and in faith it is yours! You are ready. And God shouts out your name in victory and adds to the end the biggest “Bro!” ever heard! So focus up!

Look around, you might not see a Pharoah, but you’ll see someone soon enough that you will get a chance to share your amazing God with—just like Moses. No. Cap.

Prayer: Powerful Jesus, I am weak, but you are strong. I am broken and sinful, but your work of saving me has done more than fix me—it has made me perfect in your sight. Thank you for calling me to faith through the Holy Spirit. Thank you for calling me to serve. Give me courage. Give me strength. Give me the words of truth—your Word is truth—to share with others in joy! In your name I, a humble minister of your Word, pray. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 4, 2023

One truth shared: There are blessings to believing in a Triune God.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 Corinthians 13:14

Why Do I Believe in a Triune God?

Can I ask you a personal question? How are you doing in your relationship?

What relationship? Good question. It could be the relationship between you and your parent(s). Or, with your boyfriend or girlfriend. How about the relationship with your boss? Your coworkers? Your friends? Is it genuine? Or do you smile through clenched teeth? Is there a relationship in danger right now?

Relationships seldom die because they suddenly have no life left in them. They wither slowly because there’s not enough love or commitment.

Can I ask you one more personal question? How’s your relationship with God? Ever experience a moment of shakiness in faith? Maybe you forgot God’s love and forgiveness. Maybe it feels like an up-and-down experience. One moment, one Sunday… you feel very close to God. The next moment, next Sunday, next month… you feel a million miles away from God.

Here are words that keep you close to him: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” In his triune name, God is reminding you of some very important things for your relationship with him:

  • The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ – “Grace” is God’s loving and forgiving attitude toward you. His name is “Lord” because he purchased and won you on the cross and now you belong to him. His name is “Jesus”, the name by which everyone called him here on earth when he came to save us with his grace. His name is “Christ” to indicate his role as your Savior. “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” continues to hug you even when you are or feel unhuggable!
  • The love of God – Love is the key ingredient in any relationship. But our love sometimes shifts depending upon the wind. On the arrow of a weather vane on top a barn were these words; “God is Love.” Whichever way the wind blows, God is still love! His love for you never changes but follows you wherever you go!
  • The fellowship of the Holy Spirit – One time, Jesus’ disciples asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?” Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:28,29). Did you catch that? To believe in Jesus is the work of God! It doesn’t depend on how you feel or how you think he feels about you. The magnet that moves your heart from spiritual blindness to sight, from being spiritually dead to alive, from being an enemy of God to a lover of God… is the Holy Spirit. He creates a fellowship, a union, between you and God.

One more time: How are you doing in your relationship? “Grace, love, and fellowship… to you.” Because of the unified work of the Triune God, your relationship with him—is good!

Prayer: Lord God, accept my praise for revealing yourself to me as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, three persons and one God. Hold me fast in my faith, so that your name is with me now and forever. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 28, 2023

One truth shared: Grace is the key to creating meaningful community.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
1 Corinthians 12:7

Better Together

Throughout the six days of creation, there was only one thing that God called “not good.” That one thing was Adam’s loneliness. So before day six was done, God created woman and brought her to him.

To this day, loneliness is still not a good thing. Researchers point to countless studies that show the negative effects loneliness has on a person. Some studies suggest that loneliness is even worse for you than smoking.

Humans were created for community. The need for one another was baked into our very being. But as it always does, sin steals from us what we need the most.

Throughout the Scriptures (and perhaps in your own life), you can see examples of how sin separates people from one another. Sin makes it so that people cannot coexist the way we were designed to. Just like two papers glued together will rip when you try to separate them, so it tears us apart when human relationships are broken by sin.

This is bad. But not as bad as the greater relationship that was broken between God and us. The distance from God created by our sin is insurmountable. Nothing in this world can fix it, and nothing in this world can fill the hole.

So God sent someone to this world who could fix it. Jesus filled the gaping hole between us and God with his own righteousness, and he brought us back to God when he paid for our sin.

The beautiful result is that you now have the power to restore human relationships that have been broken by sin. The power comes from the grace that you received from God himself.

When several people come together with relationships restored through Christ, that’s what we call the church. Is it perfect? No. But that’s the beauty of grace. Imperfect as we are, God’s Spirit works fruits in each person that are for the common good. Relationships restored. Grace overflowing. Now Jesus looks at his church that he gathered, and what he sees is very good!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for restoring me to be in a close relationship with you. Allow me to be the answer to someone else’s loneliness this week. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 21, 2023

One truth shared: Heaven celebrates when we reflect God’s glory on earth.

I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
John 17:4,5

Glory on Earth

It can be fun to daydream about all the things we can do in heaven. But did you know that there is one amazing thing we can do now that we cannot do in heaven?

Before we get to that one thing, we need to remember how good this world used to be. In the beginning it was better than good. It was, as God said, “very good.”

The Garden of Eden was created to be a thing of perfect beauty and perfect efficiency. And that was just a nest to get things started. God created an entire world for us to discover and inhabit. Relationships were perfect. Work was a joy. God was there. Everything was very good.

Then darkness came.

A temptation led to doubt, and doubt led to sin. The world was darkened by the constant fear of death and all the many ways it causes suffering throughout life. Relationships were broken. Work became painful. We became distant from God, and nothing about that was good.

We will always long for the joy of heaven because we were created with eternity in our mind and a longing for God in our heart.

But Jesus brought something very good to a world that was darkened by sin. He brought glory to God on earth.

His selfless sacrifice for our sins was a remarkable demonstration of divine grace unlike anything this world had ever seen. Not even the beauty of Eden could compete with the way his light shone through the darkness.

And that brings us to the one amazing thing you can do now that you can’t do in heaven. You can shine in the darkness. When you reflect the love of Jesus to others, you bring hope in a way that makes heaven rejoice.

It’s okay to long for heaven. But don’t miss the opportunity you have right now to let your light shine in a dark place. You never know when God might use your light to bring hope to others.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there will be days when I long for the joys of heaven. But until you bring me there, help me to see the joy of shining your light in a dark place. Shine through me this week. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 14, 2023

One truth shared: You have been given confidence to stand before others.

For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
Acts 17:31

Confidence to Stand

It has been said that the two things people fear most are death and public speaking. And for many people, public speaking is the more frightening of the two.

Just imagine standing in front of a crowd with all their attention undeniably focused on you. Being in a situation like that can make you hyper-focused on yourself. You wonder how you come across to people. You worry about what people might be thinking about you.

You might be able to go through life avoiding the big stages. But the scripture points out that there’s one stage that nobody can avoid. One day we will all stand before God in judgment.

As you stand in front of your all-knowing Creator, how easy it might be to feel as if a million eyes are on you. He will see you as you are, as you were, and as you could have been. He will see beyond your behavior and discern your hidden intentions. Did you lust in your heart or coat the truth in your head? No sin will be able to hide in the light of his perfect judgement.

Despite how frightful that may sound, scripture also adds a beautiful truth. The one who will judge you is the one who already absolved you.

While the day of judgment has not come yet, the verdict for you has already been determined. The justice for your sins was already served on Jesus. The holiness God expects from you was wrapped around you like a robe. So when you stand before God in judgment, his eyes will be on Jesus instead of you.

When you find yourself worrying what other people might be thinking about you, that’s a cue to find your identity in what God has already declared about you. It does not really matter how people might judge you in their minds. When God sees you, he sees his Son whom he loves. Imagine a life where your confidence was not dependent on what people might think about you. Jesus’ empty tomb means you have been given the confidence to stand before God himself.

Prayer: Dear Father in heaven, I often lack confidence because I am too concerned by what other people might think about me. Help me live in the confidence that Jesus alone can provide. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 7, 2023

One truth shared: You will never be more loved than you are right now.

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

Never More Loved Than Now

True story: A young man once asked a spiritual leader how to get to heaven. After a moment of thought, the leader told this young man that the way to get to heaven was to keep the Ten Commandments. All of them.

I don’t think your pastor would ever give you that answer. Any Christian out there knows that the way to heaven is only Jesus. That makes it all the more surprising that the spiritual leader mentioned above was none other than Jesus himself.

But the answer Jesus gave this young man was exactly right.

Just as darkness cannot coexist with light, so sinful people cannot coexist with a holy God. You must be perfect, and perfection is spelled out in the commandments. That’s the only way to be with God.

What everyone eventually comes to realize is that there’s a problem. The perfection required of us is not something we can attain.

The young man mentioned above went away sad because he did not think there was a way for him to be with God. He was right. Nothing we do can atone for the darkness of our sin and make us fit for life with God.

So Jesus became the way for us. He consumed the darkness of your sin when he died on the cross, and he clothed you in his righteousness when he came back to life. The way to God is still to be perfect, but Jesus became the way by providing his perfection for you.

There will be days when you feel unlovable. Something you said, did, or thought will leave you with a guilty feeling, and you won’t feel worthy of God’s love.

The good news is that the way to God’s love was never through what you do. Because of Jesus, you can tell yourself every moment of every day: “I will never be more loved than I am right now.”

Prayer: Dear Father, thank you for establishing a relationship with me that is not dependent on how good I am. Help me live in the joy of your grace every day. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 30, 2023

One truth shared: Applying Jesus’ words makes you better at life.

But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.
1 Peter 2:20,21

Better Life

Do you believe that your life is better when you put Jesus’ words into practice?

At the conclusion of his longest recorded sermon, Jesus told people how important it was to put his words into practice. He used the illustration of a person building a house.

He said that there is no benefit if you merely listen to his words and do not apply them to life. He compared it to building a house with no foundation. Your life might seem fine on the outside, but hardships will show that there is no stability.

But when you listen to his words and apply them, Jesus said you will have a solid foundation upon which to build your life. Storms will still come, but you will be able to withstand them.

So when you apply Jesus’ words to your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your life immediately gets better. It doesn’t mean that you will bypass the hardships of having a sinful nature or living in a sinful world. Storms will still come. Temptations will still hit you with the same force.

But when you take Jesus’ teachings and live by them, something amazing happens. It makes you better at life. Storms cannot move you when you have Jesus’ resurrection power as your foundation. Hardships cannot break you when your core identity is found in the declaration that Jesus forgives you. Temptations cannot entice you when everything you need is already given in Christ.

Living out Jesus’ words makes you better at life, but don’t do it just for your benefit. Do it as a testament to the incredible power of God at work in you. When you follow Jesus and suffer for it, you demonstrate to the world the incredible, resilient power of God at work in you.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you suffered for doing right, and the result was my salvation. Help me demonstrate complete trust in you, so that your resurrection power would be shown through me. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 23, 2023

One truth shared: The Scriptures provides direction for life.

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:25-27

The Secret to Seeing Jesus

Three days after Jesus was crucified, two of his followers left Jerusalem and walked seven miles to a town called Emmaus. They traveled with a deep sadness because they thought Jesus was gone forever. Everything hurt.

Have you ever felt a sadness like that? Maybe someone you loved was suddenly taken from you. Perhaps you were betrayed by someone, and it felt like part of your heart was ripped away. Maybe you have been so angry over an injustice that it came out as sadness.

There can be times in your life when you feel a sadness that makes everything hurt. But even in those times, Jesus walks alongside you.

We know this because Jesus walked alongside the two disciples who were walking to Emmaus. The funny part is that they did not know he was standing next to them. Rather than popping the confetti and giving them a hug, Jesus did something unexpected.

He pointed them to the Scriptures.

He showed them from the Scriptures how the Messiah’s suffering and death were all part of a greater plan to redeem a world that was lost in sin.

Jesus walks alongside you in your sadness, though you will not always see him. He points you to the Scriptures that show how suffering and death are the result of mankind’s sinfulness. Yet from the very beginning, Scripture shows how God’s plan was not to eradicate sin by condemning sinners. His plan was to walk alongside sinners and have his Son take their place.

When you find yourself wandering through life because you’re not sure what God is doing, take note of who is by your side. Let God’s Word speak direction into your life, and you will see the bigger picture of God’s loving plan for you.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I believe you are with me in the times I need you the most. Help me to see you clearly through the Scriptures that teach me about you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 16, 2023

One truth shared: Knowing how your story ends helps you navigate your story.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
1 Peter 1:8,9

You Know the Ending

Ever find yourself watching a predictable movie? There’s a tense moment where you don’t exactly know how the hero can win, but you know that the hero always wins. So, you just wait to see how they do it.

Life is full of tense moments too. There are some chapters where everything goes according to plan:

Grades are up. Friends are close. Family is together. Future seems clear.

But then there are chapters of life when things are anything but certain. You are frustrated by a class. Your friends seem distant. Your family doesn’t seem to care. Maybe the path you envisioned for your future is totally erased.

Those chapters are not fun. But they do not have to take you off track.

Jesus experienced the joys of discovery and the joyful laughter of friendship. He also experienced the sting of grief and the pain of betrayal. But no matter what happened, there was never any question how his story would end. He would give up his life as a sacrificial payment for your sins. And then he would come back to life to prove that the payment was good.

Sometimes your life will be predictable. A lot of times it won’t be. The good news is that your hero won the battle over sin and death for you. The circumstances of today hit differently when you compare them to the certainty you have about your eternity.

Is there an uncertainty in your life right now that you are wrestling with? Are you doubting God’s ability to work good through it? Because of Easter, you already know how your story ends. All that remains is to see how God works out the details between now and then.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there are times in my life when I can be anxious because of the uncertainties I face. Thank you for coming into my life to show me how my story ends. Help me trust you every step of the way. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 9, 2023

One truth shared: The resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of your faith.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.”
Matthew 28:5,6

Proof of God With Us

Imagine that a seemingly ordinary person walks up to you and claims to be God. They say things that only God has the right to say. There is something magnetic about the way they act—you are drawn to them, but at the same time you are skeptical of their claims. As well you should be.

What would they have to do to prove that they are who they claim to be? What kind of miracle would it take? What feat of power would settle your doubt?

There are lots of tricks that mankind has figured out over the years. What we can do today with our science and technology would seem like miracles to people who lived 200 years ago.

But there is one thing that science and technology will never figure out: a way to get around death.

Death is something we are constantly at war with. Thanks to God’s gift of medicine, we can win a lot of battles against sickness and prolong our lives. But we cannot win the war against death. Death wins every time.

So if God were to show up as a person on earth to help us, it would be a very short-lived solution if his priority was to cure illnesses, establish justice, or address poverty.

What is amazing is that while Jesus did those very things, they were just a prequel to a greater battle that he would face. He battled death just like every other human. But unlike any other human, he won.

His victory establishes a new hope for you and all mankind. We still have the daily problems of life that go along with living in a sinful world, but we do not have the eternal problem of death to deal with.

At his resurrection, Jesus proved he really is “God With Us.” Even more, his resurrection was the beginning of hope for the entire world.

Prayer: Dear Savior, let the certainty of your resurrection be the foundation for my faith and hope in you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 2, 2023

One truth shared: A better King!

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9

King

When it comes to your life, who is your “king”? I’m not talking about some royal ruler or political entity, but rather who or what do you turn to for comfort, for security, for peace, for hope? Most who are Christians would probably answer “God” or “Jesus” and rightly so. After all, the blessing of living life under the guidance and blessing of God is among the most basic of Christian teachings.

But, for as easy as it is to say that Jesus is the “king” in our lives, it’s interesting to note how hard it can be to live according to that confession. There might be times when we live as though the king is someone or something other than God.

  • Maybe it’s the quiet attitude that our own hard work and careful planning are what guarantee a smooth and successful life!
  • Maybe it’s secular authorities: if we could just elect the better people and enact the perfect policies and advocate for the right causes—then life would be good!
  • Maybe it’s human innovation and technology. Science and medicine seem to have the answers to everything!

And yet, for as many times as God brings amazing blessings into our lives through all of these things, we are served well by making sure they don’t become the ultimate “king” so to speak, because they aren’t always reliable! Problems arise that we didn’t anticipate, the new group of political leaders struggles just as much as the previous one only in different ways, and there are plenty of challenges that science and medicine don’t have the answers to.

Who is your king? Jesus is—and that makes all the difference.

Zechariah described King Jesus in prophecy using these words: “Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” Appearances can be deceiving. Earthly kings usually aren’t gentle, and they definitely don’t ride donkeys. But for Jesus that’s exactly the point. What does King Jesus bring? Exactly what you need. Righteousness. Salvation. Righteousness not found by human power but by the Savior’s selfless sacrifice. Righteousness earned by a perfect payment for sin. Righteousness that brings salvation—first as Jesus rules the world already now through the lives and testimony of his people and later the fully realized salvation that God’s people have in heaven!

What better king could there be? Live in that knowledge! Live knowing that no matter what kind of chaos or uncertainty life might bring your way, Jesus already defeated your greatest enemies, and satisfied your deepest spiritual need, guaranteeing that you share in his victory and are a citizen of his eternal kingdom!

Prayer: Dear Jesus our King, you rule the world in truth and grace, nations and kingdoms bow to your will and move at your command. Teach me to submit myself to your reign over my life. Protect me from my sinful desires that lead me to depend on myself and so many other things instead of you. Point me to your sacrifice for me and the many blessings you promise. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 26, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus gives you real life.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
John 11:25

Life

Have you ever wondered how people would remember you if you were gone? Kind of a morbid thought to be sure, but also something that seems to affect the way many people think and act. Athletes will put off retirement, perhaps longer than they should, in the hopes that they might be able to finish off their career with just one more championship. Presidents and other public figures build massive libraries to display their accomplishments long after they have left office. Even for people for whom death is statistically unlikely to occur in the near future, the impressions made on other people and what others think of you when you aren’t around remain influential factors in life! For many, and perhaps for Christians too, it’s tempting to find meaning and purpose in life based on what others think of us and how they remember us when we are gone.

Today’s scripture reading gives us a different perspective on all of that. The scene is this: Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died, and Jesus is comforting Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. The focus of the conversation has nothing to do with how people will remember Lazarus now that he is gone. Instead, Martha expresses her Christian faith that she will see her brother again in heaven but remains understandably devastated by his untimely death. Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die!” Death is sad and hard to deal with, but Jesus dealt with death in a way like no one else could—he overcame it! Because death comes from sin, and because Jesus paid the price for all sin on the cross, death could not hold him! And death cannot hold Jesus’ followers either. He went on to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead, and he will do the same for you and your loved ones.

That reality grants a new perspective to God’s children. Instead of worrying about what others think of us and how they might remember us if we aren’t there and using such measures as a source of meaning and purpose in life, remember what Jesus’ resurrection promises you! No matter what others may or may not think, Jesus values you so highly that he was willing to lay down his life for you! And then he took it up again, so that you too might live again after you die. You don’t need to worry about how others will remember you, because you’ll live again, and you’ll be in heaven where the last concern possible on your mind is some hollow earthly monument that points back to a few human achievements. Your legacy and reputation aren’t based on the value other people place on you—it’s based on the price your Savior paid for you. Your legacy is this: child of God. Beyond that, nothing else matters!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you valued me so much that you were willing to give up your own life! Thank you for your sacrifice and all you’ve done for me. Teach me look at my life as you do and help me use it to serve you in any way I can. Teach me to prioritize my relationship with you above all others. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 19, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus offers spiritual sight.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:2,3

Sight

Why did God allow that tragedy happen? Why did that natural disaster strike? Why did he get sick? Why did she break up with me? Why did that car accident happen? Why, God? When hard things happen, it’s easy to wonder “why”? In John 9, the disciples thought they had an answer to such questions when they met a man who had been born blind. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

It’s a logical line of thought. Was this man’s blindness a punishment for something he had done? Something his parents had done? What about today? Maybe this hard thing I’m facing is God punishing me! If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’ve been treated far better than I rightly deserve! Or, when life is going smoothly, maybe a related question arises: Lots of people have hardships, when is my turn coming? Surely I deserve it!

Such thinking seems to make sense, but the Bible calls such thinking spiritual blindness. It misses a critical point: God doesn’t interact with his people that way. Why not? One word: Jesus! Jesus already took care of all the punishment there is for sin! He already took on his back the entirety of God’s wrath. He paid for the smallest sins of thought that fly across the mind and that major transgression from years ago that you just can’t seem to get out of your head and everything in between!

That beautiful reality doesn’t necessarily answer the question “why” when it comes to hardships, but it does grant a change of perspective in a very important way: Hardship is indeed hard, but it’s not punishment for sin! That’s spiritual sight, and it’s based on Jesus all the way. When Jesus died he said, “It is finished,” and it was. Because of that, hard things have a blessing-filled place in the beautiful purposes God has drawn up for his world and for your life. That was the case for the blind man. Jesus told his disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Jesus went on to heal the man and taught all who were watching an important lesson.

The same thing is true for you. God’s purposes might be realized in quiet words of encouragement offered to someone suffering something similar, calm confidence in the Savior’s promises amidst most challenging of times, or patient endurance under persecution. That’s spiritual sight! Look at the promises of God, and you’ll find the strength to accept even things that remain hard to understand!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, sometimes life and the world are hard, confusing, and painful. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see what your plan is. Help me overcome my spiritual blindness by fixing my attention on your precious promises. Grant me the calm of quiet trust in your forgiveness, and the perspective of looking at life through your promises. Teach me to rely on your promises and accept even those things I struggle to understand. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 12, 2023

One truth shared: The Living Water brings hope.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

Hope

“God has a plan.” “Everything always works out for good.” “Jesus is with you.” “Don’t be sad, you’ll see her again in heaven.” Bible based truths such as these are the kinds of things Christians share with each other in times of hardship… and rightly so. God says all these things in the Bible. But if you or someone you love has ever gone through a hard time, saying those things doesn’t always make you feel better! Words don’t make the hard things go away! So how can promises of things to come bring hope right now?

Some have described this kind of hopeless feeling as “thirst.” Not the physical thirst for water, but a spiritual thirst for life the way God designed it to be. This spiritual thirst is a thirst to be rid of the sinfulness and frustrations and disappointments of a broken world. One might call it a thirst for heaven. In the Bible, God promises that such thirst is satisfied in Jesus—what he does, and what he promises. This good news does satisfy spiritual thirst and does provide hope, even now as we continue to live among the effects of sin.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul puts it like this: “hope does not disappoint us.” Why not? He continues, “You see, at just the right time… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Our hope for the future based on God’s promises is not a vague wish for good things to come. Biblical hope anticipates the results of something that is an accomplished fact! In other words, Jesus already took on human flesh and inserted himself in the real history of the world at just the right time, to fulfill prophecy, to live as God required, to die for our sins, to rise from the dead. That’s not the future—it’s the past. It happened! It’s an accomplished fact, and it can’t be undone! That means all the blessings connected to it also are done and can’t be undone! There’s no “unforgiving” of sins. There’s no undoing heaven, or of any of the other results of Jesus work! That’s why biblical promises are not just words or some nice sayings. Even though they don’t always remove the outward hardship right now, they serve as a rock-solid guarantee of what’s to come based on what already happened and can’t be changed: Jesus’ work for you.

When the present is hard, cling to the good news of the past: a Savior who intervened in history! That fact guarantees that in the big picture, the future is bright!

This is your hope!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you inserted yourself into human history to be our Savior. Thank you for leaving your heavenly throne to satisfy our deepest needs! Use the realities of what you accomplished to bring us hope, even in the darkest of times! Comfort and strengthen us with the certainty of a bright future to come! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 5, 2023

One truth shared: The only one who can save you is Jesus.

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
John 3:13-15

The Only One

You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too inexperienced. You don’t know what life is really like—you should sit this one out and let those with more experience handle it! Isn’t it frustrating when you hear that? You know full well there’s value to experience, but doesn’t hard work and persistence and the energy of youth count for something? Just let me try it! And when you do try, what if you fail? The pressure is on!

All of this is natural, and it’s not unique to your younger years. It’s human nature to try and take care of yourself, to long for independence and freedom… and that aspect of human nature extends beyond daily needs. It can creep into spiritual thinking as well. It’s easy to repeat the biblical teaching: “I’m not perfect, I’m sinful and I need a Savior.” But it’s a lot harder to live in that reality—it’s much easier to try and explain away our shortcomings rather than taking responsibility. Everyone around me says those words—it can’t be that bad. It’s just a picture on a phone—no one is actually getting hurt—it’s not that big of a deal. Sure, I’m not perfect, but I go to church more often than not, and I’m generally a nice person. Doesn’t that count for something?

Today’s Bible reading shows us a man who likely had similar thoughts at times. This man’s name was Nicodemus, and he’d been raised in the customs and way of life of God’s Old Testament people. Sacrifices, festivals, fasting, a special diet, and so much more—he did it all, and then some! He was a member of the Pharisees—pious religious leaders, well respected among the people. Surely that counts for something!

Ahh, but Jesus knows better. What Nicodemus had done wasn’t enough to please God. In the same way, what you and I do isn’t enough to please God. It falls so far short it would be laughable if it weren’t for the eternal consequence of hell. Notice the repeated words Jesus uses throughout this conversation: no one. No one can see the kingdom of God… no one… can enter the kingdom of God… no one… has gone into heaven. The best efforts of people fall short.

But there is an exception. No one, Jesus says, except the Son! Jesus can please God, and he did. What’s more, he did it for you. In Jesus you are reborn as God’s dearly loved child. God is pleased with you! In Jesus, you can have confidence in life even if other people have doubts, because it doesn’t depend on you. You aren’t what you make of yourself—you are what Jesus made you to be! A child of God!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you have redeemed me and called me into your family. Teach me to rely on you and your work on my behalf instead of finding satisfaction in my own actions and the opinions of others. Lead me to live each day secure in the knowledge that I was reborn in the waters and promises of my baptism and my new identity as your dearly loved child. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 26, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus is the champion you need.

Then the devil left him.
Matthew 4:11a

Champion

Isn’t it a nice feeling when you know you’ve got someone who will fight for you? It might be a sibling or parent who you know will always defend you no matter what happens. It might be a friend who stands up for you, or a teammate who’s always got your back. It might be a pastor or teacher who always has a minute to talk to you or share a few kind words of encouragement when you need it.

In this week’s Bible reading, God reminds us that we have an even greater champion than any of these in our Savior Jesus. Unlike even the most faithful of friends, Jesus will never move away or graduate. Unlike a parent or sibling or pastor, he will never get sick or die. No matter what happens, he’s always ready to fight for you! Even better, when Jesus fights for you he’s able to give so much more than any other champion. When you make mistakes, Jesus provides more than advice and support—his life and death on your behalf means that he has undone the eternal consequences you deserve by defeating your greatest enemies—sin and the devil.

That’s what is happening in today’s scripture reading. It’s Jesus against the devil. An epic conflict, a battle to the eternal death out in the desert. Jesus is humanly hungry, thirsty, tired, and worn down as the battle rages for 40 days and 40 nights. The devil deploys every trick in the book, but it all comes to nothing. Gospel writer Matthew closes with these simple but beautiful words: “Then the devil left him.” He gives up. He can’t win. Satan slinks away with his tail between his legs, unable to corrupt the Son of God in any way.

Remember that victory on the days when it feels like you’re at war and all alone and facing odds you can’t possibly overcome. You’re not alone—Jesus has your back. He provides the strength you need. He promises to work the events of your life for your eternal good. And, he promises that all these battles are temporary, because the war has already been won. The devil has been defeated, you’re forgiven, and heaven awaits!

Prayer: Jesus our Savior, you are our champion. You fought the devil for us, and you won. Give us the perspective to live in the light of that victory, confident that you won it for us. On the days when we feel overwhelmed or isolated, comfort us with reminders of your constant presence and protection. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 19, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus gives us glory through his cross.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Matthew 17:1-9

The Glory of the Lord

“I don’t wanna leave,” Lauren whispered. “We can’t leave. I just wanna stay here forever.”

Lauren was standing on a mountaintop overlooking the beach, the ocean, and a picture-perfect sunset. Tears started welling up in Lauren’s eyes as she thought about going down that mountain leaving. This glorious sunset was the perfect ending to a perfect vacation. Her family’s first time in Hawaii. A week of no homework and no worries. She even got to bring along her bestie Ellie for the trip. “I don’t wanna leave either,” Ellie said. “I don’t wanna go back to that.”

You know what that is, don’t you? That non-stop pile of assignments which never gets smaller. That relationship drama. That worrying about what you’re doing and where you’re going in the future. That fighting with parents. That aching pain from heartbreak. That devastation when disaster or death strike.

No wonder Lauren and Ellie wanted to stay in that glorious Hawaiian moment on the mountain. Who wants to worry? Who wants to ache? Who wants to suffer?

Maybe it’s not so hard to understand why Peter said what he did on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus had been shining with the glory of the Lord and as bright as the sun. Moses and Elijah, heroes of faith, had appeared. And all the worries and problems of life seemed to be left down below. Who would want to leave that glorious moment? Who would want to go back down the mountain to all the pains and problems, suffering and sadness of everyday life? “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” No kidding!

But while it surely was good to be there, Peter’s comment was short-sighted and missing the point. Jesus didn’t come to give a momentary flash of glory on the Mount of Transfiguration—he came to win eternal glory on the mount called Calvary. Peter’s comment, though understandable, had a rather worldly focus to it. He was attracted to the glory here, in that moment, not in the greater glory that was yet to come. Peter forgot that before the glory comes the cross.

We often do the same with Jesus. We spend a lot of time and effort looking for glory here in this world. We want those glorious sunset moments of endless blessings all the time. “Lord, it’s good to be here,” we are so quick to think. But then when we suffer, when we get sick, when we have troubles, we become angry or frustrated. We doubt or question God. “Jesus, why can’t we stay here on this mountain?”

God forgive our short-sighted, misfocused hearts! Jesus did not come to give us worldly moments of glory here. Jesus came to give us eternal glory in heaven. The Son, whom the Father loved so dearly, needed to go to the cross so that we could be dearly loved children with whom the Father is so pleased. First came the cross of Christ, so that we can later see the glory of Christ in heaven.

So also in everyday life, first must come the cross. No cross, no Christian. Just as Jesus needed to go down that mount so he could go to the cross on Calvary, so now we must first take up the cross of following Christ as we suffer in a sin-filled world. But this “mount” of suffering is not the end for us. Someday soon, Jesus will take us home to Mount Zion, our heavenly dwelling, where we will see Jesus face to face in all his glory and for all eternity.

Dear teen, take heart! First comes the cross, then comes the glory. May the Savior who overcame the cross with his victory strengthen you each day until that joyful day when you will see his glory and never leave.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on you and your cross. Because you suffered on the cross on Mount Calvary, I will receive glory on Mount Zion in heaven. Give me strength to endure suffering now until the day you call me home to glory in heaven. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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