Everything We Need to Know – May 26, 2018

“It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
Acts 1:7-8

Everything We Need to Know


Daily Devotion – May 26, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 1:7-8

See series: Devotions

How long do you think the line would be if God came down to earth to answer questions for a day? Maybe you’ve had a question someone couldn’t answer so they said, “You’ll have to ask God when you get to heaven.”

We all have questions. We question why things happened the way they did. We question why God didn’t tell us this or that; why didn’t he let us in on the secret. The disciples asked him one of those questions. And Jesus said, “It’s not for you to know…” Why Jesus wouldn’t answer the question we don’t know. We just know that there are some things that aren’t for us to know.

But there’s plenty that we do know. We know that we’re sinful and need a Savior. We know that God sent Jesus to be our Savior. We know that God sent Jesus to be born as a man, to stand in our place, to fulfill all of God’s Law perfectly. We know that God sent Jesus to endure the punishment we deserved by suffering and dying on the cross. We know that Jesus did exactly as God planned, and he rose from the dead on Easter Sunday to prove it. Everything Jesus did was just as God planned, just as God wanted, and just what we needed to be saved.

Everything we need to know for life with God, God has given us in his Word. And now that we know it, he wants us to share it. He wants us to start at home and work our way out—to our families, our neighborhoods, our communities, even to the ends of the earth. We don’t need to know the answers to all of life’s questions. What we know about God from his Word is all we need to know!

Prayer:
Gracious Lord, we thank you for telling us all we need to know for salvation. Help us to share that good news of Jesus’ living, dying, and rising with all those we know. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Jesus Will Return and Judge All – May 25, 2018

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.”
Matthew 25:31-33

Jesus Will Return and Judge All


Daily Devotion – May 25, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 25:31-33

See series: Devotions

We all take different paths throughout life. After high school, one person chooses to go to college, another joins the military, another gets a job, and another lands in prison. We wear different clothes, love different music and movies, live in different places, and choose different paths.

No matter the vivid or boring details on our varied trips through life, every single person’s path will lead to the exact same place. We will all stand before one judge: Jesus.

Jesus lived a perfect life. He died on the cross and rose on the third day. After spending 40 days with his disciples, our risen Savior ascended into heaven. On the last day, this world as we know it will come to a sudden and dramatic end. Jesus will return and will judge all. Every single person—every young and old person, every Christian and non-Christian, all the living and the dead—will stand before Jesus.

When Jesus judges all, he will use fairly simple criteria. Do you believe in the Triune God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Do you trust in Jesus as your Savior from sin and death? Jesus said it like this: “Whoever believes in him [Jesus] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3:18).

Are you ready for that day? A mound of good deeds will not get you into heaven. Only faith in Jesus and his perfect work, sacrifice, and resurrection permit you to enter heaven. A mound of bad deeds will not keep you out of heaven. Faith in Jesus and Jesus’ perfect work, sacrifice, and resurrection declare you forgiven with heaven as your eternal home.

Trust in Jesus. He is your Savior and your judge.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, one day I will stand before you, face to face. Send your Spirit through your Word to work in my heart a deep and lasting trust in you. Let everything I say and do loudly shout that I love and trust in you. Amen.

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

Be Certain – May 24, 2018

The Lord will rescue me from every evil attack and will bring me safely to his heavenly kingdom. To him be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
2 Timothy 4:18

Be Certain


Daily Devotion – May 24, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 4:18

See series: Devotions

How bad does life need to get before your certainty in God’s Word and his love is gone? Imagine that you are in prison. Not the county jail, but a Roman dungeon. Your sentence is not months or years—you are on death row. And the reason you are on death row is because you are a Christian.

That was the exact situation the apostle Paul was in when he wrote 2 Timothy. He was sitting in a dungeon, about to die for preaching Christ. If it were you, would you doubt? Would you start to think, “How can God’s Word be right when so many people tell me it’s wrong? How can I be certain of God’s love when I’m here?”

Since the Garden of Eden, Satan has been using doubt to kill certainty in Christ’s followers. He may never get you imprisoned for your faith, but he will remind you that many people think differently about God than you do. Saying that faith in Jesus is the only way to be right with God is unpopular. Telling people that their good works won’t get them to heaven is considered to be rude. So how can you be so certain when so many say that you are wrong?

Don’t let Satan kill your certainty in God’s Word and his love. Look to Jesus for building it up. That is how Paul handled his imprisonment. He knew that the Lord would rescue him from that evil attack. And when he died, the Lord would bring him to heaven.

So when you are uncertain, look to the Lord Jesus. If you just look at your life—the suffering, the loss, the pain—you will never be certain. But with the Lord Jesus is certain rescue. He was nailed to a cross, so he can tell you, “Look at my pierced hands. I do love you. Your sins are forgiven.” He rose from the dead and says, “See my empty tomb. Your tomb will be empty too. Your heavenly home is waiting.”

Because of Jesus, you can be certain that you will be in his heavenly kingdom. Heaven is being with God. Heaven is being free from death, mourning, crying, and pain. The Lord will rescue you and take you there. Be certain!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, destroy our doubts and give us certainty that you will keep your promises. Amen.

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

These Bones Live! – May 23, 2018

Then [the LORD] said to me: “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone; we are cut off.’ Therefore prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel. … I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the LORD have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.'”
Ezekiel 37:11,12,14

These Bones Live!


Daily Devotion – May 23, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 37:11,12,14

See series: Devotions

How strange the landscape was as Ezekiel looked around! He was standing in the middle of a valley, and everywhere he looked he saw nothing but scattered human bones. There were skulls, femurs, vertebrae, and every other bone that makes up the human skeleton. It was obvious from how dry these bones were that the people they once belonged to had died a long time ago. There was no way that these bones could ever come to life on their own. Yet, the Lord asked Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” Ezekiel, knowing the power of the Lord, answered, “Only you know.”

So, the Lord told Ezekiel to preach to the bones. “Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord,” Ezekiel was to say. Ezekiel preached to the bones, as the Lord had commanded. Suddenly he began to hear a strange rattling sound. He looked around and saw all those dead, dry bones starting to come together into intact skeletons. Tendons and sinews appeared on the bones and joined them together. Skin covered them so that they looked like people again.

Then the Lord told Ezekiel to call to the breath and command it to come into the bodies of the people, who now were lying on the valley floor. The breath came and those people, who just a few minutes ago had been nothing but scattered dry bones, came alive and stood up. This was the Lord’s answer to his initial question to Ezekiel, “Can these bones live?” Yes, they could live—but not on their own. They could live only because the Lord, by the power of his Spirit, gave them life.

This may seem like a scene out of a modern horror movie, but it’s not. It is a beautiful picture of what God has done, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for each of us who believe in him.

All of us, when we were born, were spiritually dead just like those bones Ezekiel saw on the valley floor. Those dead, dry bones never could have assembled themselves and come to life on their own. In the same way, our spiritually dead souls never could have come to believe in Jesus on their own. Spiritually, we were dead. And dead things do not come to life all by themselves.

But then the Holy Spirit performed a miracle just as amazing as what Ezekiel witnessed in the valley of dry bones. He entered our spiritually dead souls, just as the breath entered the bodies that Ezekiel saw, and the Spirit gave us spiritual life. Through the power of the good news of Jesus, the Holy Spirit enabled us to believe in Jesus as our Savior, and receive from him the forgiveness of sins and eternal life that he won for us on the cross. And the Holy Spirit continues to give us spiritual life as he continues to sustain our faith in Jesus.

Can these bones live? Can our souls live? Yes, they can—but not on their own. We live spiritually, now and forever, because the Holy Spirit has given us life.

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, all praise to you for bringing life to my spiritually dead soul and leading me to believe in Jesus as my Savior. Amen.

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

The Meaning is in the Message – May 22, 2018

“…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”
Acts 2:11-12

The Meaning is in the Message


Daily Devotion – May 22, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 2:11-12

See series: Devotions

Nearly two thousand years ago God revealed marvelous wonders to people gathered in Jerusalem. In a display of miraculous might, the Holy Spirit filled the Lord’s followers and gave them the ability to suddenly speak in languages that previously they had not learned.

Yet the spectacle of the Spirit’s might, was also accompanied by the greater gift of his message. That message was spoken by lips now loosened to speak in various languages. With clarity and confidence given by the Spirit, their tongues were enabled to utter the wondrous truths of God’s Word.

The Holy Spirit still graciously touches the hearts of hearers through the voice of his Word. Through the message of the law the Holy Spirit silences the prideful sinner within us that vainly seeks to find lasting fulfillment and meaning to life in the world’s wealth and wisdom.

Through the life-giving gospel he comforts the sinner with God’s firm promise of forgiveness and salvation through Jesus alone. The Spirit points us to the wondrous love of God in the righteousness he freely provides through his Son. The Spirit draws us to the cross where we find real meaning for life in the wounds and blood of our selfless Savior. The Spirit enkindles our hearts with love for God and for our neighbor. He compels us to live with Christ-centered faith which he alone provides through the gospel.

Although the miraculous gift of tongues has ceased, the Holy Spirit’s message and mission has not changed. How blessed we are to live at a time in history when the Bible is available in many hundreds of languages! Until Jesus comes again on the Last Day, that Word will continue to be the means by which the Holy Spirit works and strengthens faith in human hearts to trust in Christ as the promised Savior.

Prayer:
O Lord, without the Holy Spirit’s work in my heart, I would be lost in unbelief. Thank you for your saving Word and the Holy Spirit’s wondrous work through that Word. Cause my faith in you to grow ever deeper as I search the wondrous truths of your Word. Unloosen my lips and use my life to confidently declare your praises. Amen.

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

Promise of Peace – May 21, 2018

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:25-27

Promise of Peace


Daily Devotion – May 21, 2018

Devotion based on John 14:25-27

See series: Devotions

The words of a loved one can cause anxiety. Let’s say someone close to you says something like, “I am leaving soon. I am going to suffer, and I am going to die. Here are some specific things I want you to do.” Do you think you might have a little anxiety?

Jesus said those things to his disciples. He told them he was leaving. He told them he was going to suffer and die. And he told them that they would have a very specific job, repeating the things that he had told them. The disciples had anxiety; their hearts were troubled.

But Jesus did not just cause anxiety. He also relieved it. He told the disciples that after he was gone, the Holy Spirit would prompt them to remember what he told them—with no mistakes. After the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost, the disciples would be able to preach and teach and write the New Testament of the Bible confidently, knowing that the Holy Spirit was making sure that every word was correct.

Jesus also relieved anxiety by telling his disciples that his suffering and death would bring peace and confidence. He would not remain dead. He would rise from the dead, proving that everything he said was true, and showing that God continues to be in charge of this world.

God’s love for you in Christ Jesus gives you peace and takes away fear. You can also speak words that take away anxiety for your loved ones. Because of the peace you have in Jesus, you are able to speak words of forgiveness to them. Because you know that the Bible is true, you can speak the truth to them in love.

When your heart is troubled, when you feel anxious, Jesus promises you peace.

Prayer:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Amen.

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

Not Orphans – May 20, 2018

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him.”
John 14:15-21

Not Orphans


Daily Devotion – May 20, 2018

Devotion based on John 14:15-21

See series: Devotions

Put yourself in the place of one of Jesus’ disciples. You and your fellow disciples are gathered together with Jesus on the day before he died. Over the past couple weeks, he told you about how he would be betrayed, arrested, and put to death. Again, he tells you that he won’t be on this earth much longer. He will soon leave to return to heaven to God the Father. How do you feel about it? Fearful? Anxious? Confused? Maybe all of the above.

Perhaps the feeling of the disciples can be compared to that of an orphan child who would feel all of those things: fear, anxiety, and confusion. It seems he is alone on this earth. His parents are gone and it looks like there is no one to care for him. In these verses from John 14, Jesus made some wonderful and comforting promises to his disciples. And through these inspired words of John, he also speaks these promises to all his believers today. Jesus said that he will not leave us as orphans. We are not alone.

Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to us. What the Spirit does for us is nothing short of remarkable. He lives in us and gives us the eyes of faith to see Jesus even though our physical eyes can’t. Without the Holy Spirit, we couldn’t see Jesus. But because Jesus has sent him to live in our hearts, he has enabled us to see Jesus and all he has done and continues to do for us.

The Holy Spirit points us to Jesus’ cross and shows us that there our sins are forgiven. He points us to Jesus’ empty tomb and enables us to understand that because Jesus lives forever in heaven, so will we as his believers. Finally, the Holy Spirit lights a burning love for our Savior in our hearts. After showing us Jesus’ love for us, he works in us the desire to say “thank you” to Jesus by following what Jesus says. Yes, Jesus and his love can be seen in our lives through our obedience to him.

Jesus may not be physically with us on earth right now, but he has not left us as orphans. He has sent the Holy Spirit that we may continue to see Jesus through the eyes of faith. Because the Holy Spirit lives in us, our lives are living testimonies to Jesus’ love for us. And one day Jesus will do just as he said, “I will come to you.” He will come back and take us to be with him forever in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life to forgive all of my sins. Thank you for rising from the dead to give me everlasting life in heaven. Continue to send your Holy Spirit to me that I may see you through the eyes of faith. Help me to live my life according to your Word. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, continue to strengthen my faith in you. One day, do as you have promised and come back to take me and all believers to heaven. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

God Makes Himself Known – May 19, 2018

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.
Acts 17:22-23

God Makes Himself Known


Daily Devotion – May 19, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 17:22-23

See series: Devotions

“I am spiritual, but I’m not religious.” When someone says those words, the meaning is something like this: “I believe in a god, a higher power. I believe that morality is good, and goodness is noble. I believe that I should treat others the way I want to be treated. However, I don’t believe any one religious group has sole claim to the truth. I don’t think that anyone can really claim to know god fully…if at all.” Such people are sometimes labeled “agnostics”. They believe there is a god out there somewhere, but he and his ways remain elusively hidden…unknown. They may be indifferent about it. They may be casually or frantically looking, searching, grasping for this god. But in their minds, he can only be called the unknown god.

When the apostle Paul walked in the ancient city of Athens 2,000 years ago, he met a group of people who had similar thoughts. They “knew” a whole bunch of gods that they worshiped just like their ancestors had. But they didn’t want to offend any of the gods by inadvertently missing one of them. So they built an altar for an unknown god. Paul saw this altar and saw an opportunity. Paul knew what was missing. He knew that the gods the Greeks worshiped were only the imaginations of someone’s mind. And he knew the God who was unknown to them. He knew the only true God of the Bible.

Even though God remains very much hidden to our senses of sight and hearing and touch, God is real, and he wants to be known. He leaves his fingerprints on the created world in a way that causes us to say, “There must be someone behind this, but who is he?” Our hearts tick in such a way that we understand the basic concepts of good and evil, justice and accountability. At times we might think, “What does God think of me and the way I live?” When death knocks at our door, we wonder what’s on the other side. “Is it God? If so, how will that go for me?” We ask.

God gives us answers in the Bible. Paul shared them with his audience. (Read Acts 17:22-31.) God created all things, including us. We have not lived as his children—we’ve done wrong, we’ve sinned. He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to be our Savior from sin. Jesus died on the cross in our place. He rose from the dead, showing that he finished his work and the Father accepted it. God calls us to turn to Jesus in faith and live in confidence that our sins are forgiven, we are his dearly loved children and heaven is our home after death. God wants to be known to you. Turn to him and live!

Prayer:
Lord God, help us to know you by your written word, the Bible. Help us to see you as our loving Father and gracious Savior in whom we have physical, spiritual and eternal life. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Exalted for You – May 18, 2018

[God] raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.
Ephesians 1:20-22

Exalted for You


Daily Devotion – May 18, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 1:20-22

See series: Devotions

The phrase “friends in high places” refers to having people in senior or powerful positions who are able and willing to use their influence on one’s behalf.

While we may not have friends in high places, God’s Word tells us that we do have a friend in the highest place: Jesus Christ. He sits on a throne, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given…” He wields absolute power not just in time, but in eternity; not just over material things, but over spiritual things as well. Christ is exalted above all.

The key question is “Why?” Christ is exalted “for the church.” Jesus wields all power, authority, and dominion with a singular focus and goal: the eternal benefit of his believers. Jesus rules over all things in this world for you. His active work on your behalf didn’t stop when he gave his life to pay for your sin. It didn’t stop when he rose to give you victory over death and the grave. No, it continues every day. The same power exerted to conquer our spiritual enemies is the very power Jesus still holds and uses for your eternal good.

Wickedness may run rampant in this world. People you relied on may have turned their backs or let you down. An accident or a sudden catastrophe may have changed your earthly life. Your earthly life may be drawing to a close. But Jesus is still exalted above all for your eternal good.

He carried your sin. He paid your debt. He gave his life on a cross for you. He rose to conquer your grave and trusting in him as your Savior, he will bring you into eternal glory.

For today and every day after that, know that Jesus is exalted for you.

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 536:1)
Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s head, you are her one foundation. In you she trusts, before you bows, and waits for your salvation. Built on this rock secure, your church shall endure, though all the world decay and all things pass away. Oh, hear us, Jesus. Amen.

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

Heroes – May 17, 2018

[God’s Son], who through the Spirit of holiness was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 1:4

Heroes


Daily Devotion – May 17, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 1:4

See series: Devotions

History is full of heroes. We’ve heard stories of men and women who have made great sacrifices to advance a good cause. We’re right to feel inspired by people like that.

Jesus counts as one of history’s heroes. He took on the greedy, selfish leaders of his day. He loved the poor and the outcasts of society. He was a skilled teacher and a faithful friend. He sacrificed himself not only for his loved ones, but also for his enemies. The story of what Jesus said and did has been an inspiration for people around the world for over two thousand years.

But Jesus did what no other hero could do. Jesus rose from the dead. Death could not hold on to Jesus, because Jesus is bigger than death. Jesus is the Son of God.

Since Jesus is God, the cause Jesus advanced is far greater than any other good cause this world has ever seen. His victory over sin doesn’t just inspire us, it counts for us. His victory over the tomb is our victory over the tomb too. Everyone who trusts in Jesus has God’s complete forgiveness for the debt of their sin. All believers in Jesus who die will one day exit their tombs, raised and glorified, just like Jesus did.

We can all find inspiration from the good example of others, but we need more than that. We need rescue from our sin. We need deliverance from death. Jesus is more than a hero. He is our Savior. He was declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are the Son of God. You are the Savior I need. Take away my guilty fears and fill me with resurrection joy. Amen.

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

Witnesses of the Resurrection – May 16, 2018

[Peter said,] “It is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.” … Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.
Acts 1:21-22,26

Witnesses of the Resurrection


Daily Devotion – May 16, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 1:21-22,26

See series: Devotions

The number twelve is significant in the Bible. That number is closely associated with God’s people. In the Old Testament there were twelve tribes of Israel. In the New Testament there were twelve apostles.

Well, there were twelve apostles. After he betrayed Jesus, Judas was seized with remorse and took his own life. Then there were only eleven apostles, and God does not leave things incomplete. So after Jesus ascended into heaven, Peter addressed the believers and told them that it was time to replace Judas.

The requirement for this new apostle was that he had to be with the other apostles together with Jesus from the beginning of Lord’s ministry to his ascension. Two men were proposed to fill the position: Joseph and Matthias. The believers prayed, cast lots, and Matthias was chosen.

We do not know what happened to Matthias after this. He is never mentioned again. So why does the Bible make such a big deal of his selection? Because the big deal is not Matthias, it is what Matthias was called to do.

Peter said that Matthias “must become a witness with us of his [Jesus’] resurrection.” The big deal about Matthias is that he was an eyewitness. He could tell people, “This is not made up! I was there. I walked and talked with Jesus before he was crucified, and I saw him alive again three days after he died.”

Here is the truth about Christianity. It is not made up. We did not see Jesus’ death and resurrection or hear his teaching with our own ears. But Matthias and the other apostles did, and their eyewitness testimony is recorded in the Bible.

In other words, Scripture tells the facts of our salvation: Jesus saved us by giving his perfect life and dying the death that we deserve. But now Christ is risen. It’s true; we can count on it for eternal life!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for providing us with witnesses of your resurrection and for preserving their testimony in the Bible. Most of all, thank you for giving us eternal life in the risen Christ. Amen.

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

Lord, how can I possibly love THAT person? – May 15, 2018

We love because he first loved us.
1 John 4:19

Lord, how can I possibly love THAT person?


Daily Devotion – May 15, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 4:19

See series: Devotions

Perhaps it is that co-worker whose mission in life seems to be to make your job as difficult and unpleasant as possible. Perhaps it is a family member whose addiction has not only torn apart their own life but has left your life and emotions in tatters as well. Perhaps it is your neighbor, who continues to hold loud late-night parties even after you’ve asked them repeatedly to be more considerate. Or perhaps it is that fellow church member, who always seems to find something wrong with what you’ve done no matter how hard you try to do it in “the right way.”

We all have people in our lives who are hard to love. Yet, the fact that we find them hard to love does not excuse us from loving them. Jesus’ command to us is clear: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31). And he has made it very clear who our neighbor is—all our fellow human beings. That includes our troublesome co-worker, our addicted family member, our loud next-door neighbor, our nit-picky fellow church member, and anyone else that we may find hard to love.

But how can we possibly love someone when they make it so hard for us to love them? Does God just want us to fake it? Does he just want us to put on a happy face and pretend that everything that bothers us about them doesn’t really matter?

The apostle John gives us the answer to all these questions in today’s Bible passage. He tells us, “We love because he [that is, God] first loved us.” Think about the way in which God has loved you. Did he love you because you always were so kind and pleasant toward him? Did he love you because you had so much to offer him? Did he love you because on your own you were so lovable? No, God loved you in spite of the fact that you were by nature his enemy. He loved you in spite of the fact that you had nothing but your sins to offer him. He loved you in spite of the fact that on your own you were not lovable at all. And his love for you wasn’t just him putting on a smiling face and pretending that the things that made you unlovable didn’t really bother him. No, his love for you was so real and sincere that he willingly sacrificed his Son Jesus on the cross so that everything that made you unlovable in yourself was washed away by Jesus’ precious blood.

Talk about loving someone who was hard to love! God’s love shows us what it means to love everyone, regardless of how lovable they are in themselves. God’s love demonstrates that true love doesn’t depend on how much the person being loved deserves that love. True love depends on a truly loving God who loved us unlovable sinners so much that he sacrificed his own Son for us. As God’s love surrounds and fills our hearts, we have all we need to love even those people that are hard to love. And we will be able to love all our neighbors—even THOSE neighbors—just as God loves each of us.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, so fill my heart with your love for me in Jesus my Savior that I may love all my neighbors just as you have loved me. Amen.

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

Not of This World – May 14, 2018

“They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.”
John 17:16

Not of This World


Daily Devotion – May 14, 2018

Devotion based on John 17:16

See series: Devotions

Sarah felt out of place. While she always enjoyed the company of her friends, she noticed something had changed. Initially she just ignored her feelings, but as time went on she felt more and more uncomfortable.

One day she went to her father and wanted to know what he thought. She explained, every time I get together with my friends all they talk about is parties, drinking, their latest escapades with guys, and criticizing other people. Sarah confessed she liked her friends, but she didn’t appreciate their decisions. Her father thought for a moment. Then he asked his daughter, “Do you remember Jesus’ prayer for his disciples?”

What Sarah needed to remember is what I need to understand. As a faithful follower of my Savior, I am unique. Jesus has not only forgiven my sin and purified me from guilt and shame, he has also set me apart for his holy purposes. My life belongs to my Savior. I am not of this world.

The direct result is, that while I live in this world, I do not consider myself a part of it. I have been set free from the selfishness, the self-centeredness, and self-indulgence which defines the world. I have also been set free to serve my Savior and others unselfishly, selflessly, and sacrificially.

Although this is what my Savior has made me, I realize that it will always be a struggle. My sinful, worldly flesh will always seek to gain control. The devil will also tirelessly work to lead me away from my Savior and his will for my life. My strength, my confidence, and my only hope for victory is through Jesus. As my Savior, he provides me with the motivation and the ability to live completely for him. He also assures me, when I do fall, he will be there to forgive me and restore me through his precious love.

How blessed I am to be united to my Savior. How blessed I am to be his faithful disciple. How blessed I am to be “not of this world.”

Prayer:
O dearest Jesus, you have set me apart from this world. Keep me safe. Keep me strong. Keep me yours forever. Amen.

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

Jesus is the Trail – May 13, 2018

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

Jesus is the Trail


Daily Devotion – May

Devotion based on John 14:6

See series: Devotions

The scenery whizzed by along Interstate 94. Fields and rivers, forest and prairie. Who first blazed these trails? Before bulldozers, there were horses and wagons. Before them, French fur traders and explorers. Before them, Ojibwe and Sioux.

I could not have traveled that road back then. Such a trip would’ve left me lost, suffering from exposure, and starvation. It would’ve ended in tragedy. I needed those who have gone before.

Jesus blazed the trail that no one else could. Who could’ve opened the path to the Father’s house? God’s holiness is a consuming fire; I am a guilty sinner. What is the guilt that nags your conscience? Even the smallest sin excludes you and me. Even one failure to keep God’s commands is like a roaring river or an impassable mountain cutting off our way to the Father. If you and I do our best to get around our sin and find our own path, it will end in tragedy.

Jesus came from the Father. He came sent by the Father. He came on the mission to bring you and me to the Father. He didn’t blaze a trail for us to follow by our own power. How lost that would have left us!

Rather, Jesus is the trail. He is the way. He alone brings us to the Father. For he alone has come from the Father and returned to the Father to prepare a place for us.

He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. For only his death brings us life with the Father. Only his death atoned for all guilt—yours, mine, and everyone’s. Only his death reconciled the world to God. Only his death has removed sin, which ought to have blocked us from our Father’s house forever. His death truly did all this, for he has risen. He lives. That is the truth. Believe it.

Yes, believe that Jesus is the one and only way to the Father. Believe that he is your way.

Prayer:
Without you, dear Jesus, I am lost and damned. You alone bring me to the Father. Keep me from pursuing my own self-sought ways. Draw me closer to you until I dwell in your Father’s house forever. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Death – March 12, 2018

“I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.”
John 11:25

Death


Daily Devotion – March 12, 2018

Devotion based on John 11:25

See series: Devotions

Alfred Nobel woke up to a grim and unexpected notice one morning. In the local paper he read his own obituary! You see, the local reporter had mistaken the death of Alfred’s brother for his own. But the appearance of Alfred’s obituary did not alarm him as much as what he read in that obituary. It read, “The Dynamite King has died!” Alfred was described as the man who had made a great fortune from his invention of dynamite. Sadly, he would be remembered by the world as someone who profited from bringing disaster; a merchant of death and destruction.

Many of us may wonder how we will be remembered after we die. Maybe more than once the question asked so jokingly in the commercial, “What do you want on your tombstone?” has occupied our minds.

Someone once said, “Death is the ultimate statistic.” It’s a hardened reality that is completely inescapable. Death can fill us with a feeling of defenselessness. Most of us do not get the opportunity to reflect on our own death like Alfred did. So, when these thoughts creep into our minds, we find ourselves with a lot more questions than answers. When? … Where? … WHY?

Our God desires a different statistic for all people. Our Savior Jesus Christ says, “I have come that they may have life and have it to the full” (1 Timothy 2:4). This life that Jesus offers each of us extends beyond the grave. It is life in its fullest; it is life with God forever!

Jesus does not want us to have a heart full of worry and questions about death. Instead he wants us to be confident of his power over death. Jesus declares, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies.” Even though death will make its unwanted visit, Jesus breaks through the gloom of death with the assurance that he will raise all the dead and give eternal life in heaven to those who believe in him.

It’s not so important how people remember us after we die. What is important is that we know Jesus before we die. When questions about death plague our minds, Jesus teaches us to be confident that through faith in him we will live forever!

Prayer:
Jesus, fill my mind with the knowledge that you defeated the power of death by your resurrection from the dead. Teach my heart to trust in your promise that you will raise me from the grave and give me eternal life. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Going to Prepare a Place – May 11, 2018

In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.
John 14:2-3

Going to Prepare a Place


Daily Devotion – May 11, 2018

Devotion based on John 14:2-3

See series: Devotions

Imagine that you are planning on going camping with some friends, when they call a couple of days before the trip and say, “Hey, we got off work a day early, so we will go and get a couple of good sites. If you want to bring your tent by, we will set it up for you, start a fire, and have dinner waiting for you when you get there.” They would never do such a thing, if they didn’t think you were coming to join them.

When Jesus promised that he was going to prepare a place for his disciples, he knew what lay ahead of them. He knew their faith would be severely tested, because soon he would be taken from them. Judas would leave only to come back with a detachment of soldiers to arrest him in the garden. Then Jesus would be detained and put on trial where he was mocked, spit upon, and beaten. After being crucified and buried, it would seem like Jesus had left them forever. But then, after three days he rose from the dead and appeared to them on many occasions. He was back! Until…forty days later he visibly ascended into heaven.

Sometimes we feel so alone, don’t we? Sure, we might have friends and family all around, but what about Jesus? He doesn’t always seem so close as we struggle to understand all the hate and violence in the world around us. He doesn’t always seem so near when we find ourselves falling into the same temptations that so easily lead us astray. Where has he gone?

He has gone to prepare a place for those who repent and trust in him. And this isn’t just some wishy-washy-pie-in-the-sky promise. Jesus is doing something for you right now. He left his disciples the first time to give himself as the once and for all sacrifice for sin. Now he has left to prepare a place for you in heaven. Why would he ever do such a thing, if he didn’t think that you were coming to join him?

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, when we feel all alone, help us to listen to your promises and be assured that one day we will go to be with you in the place you have prepared for us. Amen.

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

Look Up – May 10, 2018

After the Lord Jesus had spoken to [the disciples], he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God.
Mark 16:19

Look Up


Daily Devotion – May 10, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 16:19

See series: Devotions

I am left-handed. That puts me in the minority. That also connects me to the Latin root word for left, which is sinister. Furthermore, if that were not bad enough, what about Judgment Day where the goats on the left are told to depart from Christ and enter hell?

Before you start feeling sorry for left-handers, please stop to consider that we are all sinister goats in some way or the other. Every new day is a day of “impending evil.” My sinful nature does not take a day off or release its grip from me so that I have the occasional, blissful, sin-free day. No, each day I am aroused to new selfish desires that lead to lust, greed, envy, and the like. Each day a sinful world offers fields of garbage upon which goats may graze.

So, what is a goat to do? Look up! Look up and see the risen, victorious Christ ascend to heaven to sit at the right hand of God. The right hand—a special place of blessing and honor; not to mention power, glory, and might. From this exalted place, Jesus looks down on the world in which he lived as the perfect shepherd of the sheep. He looks with loving forgiveness. He looks on us as the divine mediator of the new covenant of peace.

Jesus sees all that is sinister and still extends mercy and forgiveness over the whole world. He still shepherds his sheep with power from on high. The Lord is my shepherd … not my executioner. Surely, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, by your mercy you call us into your eternal flock where we live as sheep who safely graze now and forever. We thank and praise you our Good Shepherd and God’s right-hand man. Amen.

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

Encouragement from the Lord – May 9, 2018

When [Barnabas] arrived [in Antioch] and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
Acts 11:23

Encouragement from the Lord


Daily Devotion – May 9, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 11:23

See series: Devotions

Everybody likes to be encouraged. Encouragements can refresh us, cheer us up, and make us feel better. An encouragement from God’s Word can do even more than that.

In the early days of the Christian church there was an encourager known as Barnabas. The church was being persecuted. Anti-Christian forces were at work trying to stop the message of the Savior and to destroy all who believed it. Believers were tempted to turn away from their faith in Jesus and to give in to doubt and despair. Barnabas did more than cheer them up. He gave his fellow believers a place to hide. He pointed them to the Lord, their Savior.

We need that same kind of encouragement. We do not expect life to be easy, but sometimes problems pile up to the point where we may begin to wonder if we’re being punished. Even on a good day, it can feel at times as though the Lord is far away.

Listen, my fellow sinner. The Lord knows every sin we have committed, but he has already paid for them all in full. Our Savior Jesus died for the sins of all. This means that whatever it is that we deserve for our sins, we will never be punished, not even a little bit.

The Lord is your hiding place, friend. Take shelter in his saving promises, because the Lord is on your side.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, no encouragement can compare to the good news that Jesus is my Savior. Encourage me with this good news and help me to use that same good news to encourage others. Amen.

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

The Danger- May 8, 2018

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God.
1 John 4:7

The Danger


Daily Devotion – May 8, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 4:7

See series: Devotions

In the world of 21st Century philosophy, Charles Taylor is a pretty big name. According to thebestschools.org website, Taylor “has been influential in defining how we conceive of ourselves in the modern world.” In a book entitled, “Dilemmas and Connections”, Taylor makes a compelling observation about the secular mind and what motivates the secular mind to do good for other people.

A paraphrase of Taylor’s observation is as follows: People with a secular mindset do good for others because, among other things, it makes them feel good about themselves. However, cautions Taylor, the danger with this kind of motivation is that it can easily slip into feelings of superiority and even contempt for the very people you are trying to help. This can especially happen, says Taylor, when the people you are trying to help are not as responsive or grateful as you think they should be.

Let’s take the observation of Charles Taylor and turn it on ourselves. As you work to do good for others, how do you react when the people you are trying to help are not as responsive or as grateful as you think they should be? Does your attitude harden, even just a bit, into an attitude of superiority? Does it even darken into an attitude of contempt? Are there times when a bitter voice within you says, “After all I’ve done for them, this is the thanks I get?”

When I slip into such thoughts is when I need to stop and realize something. I need to stop and realize that I have just tipped my hand as to how rancid my motivation has been. I need to stop and realize that I have been living my life for myself. And there is no uglier form of idolatry than that.

That’s why we need Jesus. Out of a kind of selfless love we will never fully comprehend, the Son of God lived a life of perfect service on our behalf. Then he took upon himself the guilt of all of our self-serving motives, our hidden agendas, our false humilities, and he paid the price in full at the cross. And now, as our living Savior, he comes to us in his Word, calling us to repentance, washing us clean, renewing our hearts, empowering us to love others as he has loved us.

What drives real love is not my self-serving pride. What drives real love is Jesus’ love for me.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive my self-serving agendas. Empower me to love others with your love for me. Amen.

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

Remain in My Love – May 7, 2018

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”
John 15:9

Remain in My Love


Daily Devotion – May 7, 2018

Devotion based on John 15:9

See series: Devotions

“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so. Little ones to him belong. They are weak, but he is strong.” The words of this song are simple, yet they are profound. Think about it, Jesus loves me! And not only does Jesus love me, God the Father also loves me. As a result, my life is blessed richly and daily with everything I need. What more could I desire than knowing God the Father preserves and protects me from every danger? Now, couple this with Jesus’ unselfish and self-sacrificing love, I should be able to live every day rejoicing in the love which is mine. But do I?

Every day I can be certain of the love my Lord and Savior has for me. Still, every day I am tempted to question his love. I am distracted by things that the world offers. My attention is drawn to all the things I do not have. The world wants me to cut my ties with the Lord and pursue its empty pleasures and fleeting treasures. The devil also joins with the world to form an unholy alliance. He fills my heart with discontent and greed. He seeks to deceive me into believing God is withholding something from me. Worse yet, he looks to make me believe that God is punishing me by not giving me my heart’s desire.

The only way I can combat the world’s influence and the devil’s deceptions is to focus my attention solely on the words and work of my Savior. Jesus exhorts me to “remain in his love.” He, then, strengthens and encourages me to do just that. Through his precious life given into death, through his resounding victory over the devil, and through his never-failing promises I can remain in him and in his love.

Yes, Jesus loves me, and I want to remain in his love.

Prayer:
O precious Savior, forgive me for not seeing your great love and making it my most priceless possession. Strengthen my faith to hold on to you and to every gracious gift you have secured for me. Amen.

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

Help! – May 6, 2018

Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
Psalm 124:8

Help!


Daily Devotion – May 6, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 124:8

See series: Devotions

“Daddy, I need your help.” Seven-year-old Samuel was trying to build a little house for the family’s pet dog. But cutting and joining the boards was proving to be a challenge for his ability. His father was honored that his son would look up to him for guidance. So dad gladly pitched in and provided the help to complete the project.

Whether we are seven or seventy-seven, there are times that we all need help. When challenges at our jobs become more than we can handle, we are wise to ask for assistance. We might need someone’s expert help to fix the car or repair the roof, because if we tried to do it ourselves we’d make matters worse. When a relationship we have with someone is strained to the point of breaking, we’ll look for help to mediate the matter.

How foolish it would be to seek the help of someone who is incompetent or unreliable. I wouldn’t ask someone for help to repair my car’s transmission if the person knows very little about vehicle maintenance. I wouldn’t ask someone to help me with a job if I’m fairly sure that they are not going to be there when I need them. I need to be able to count on people who have the ability to provide help for me.

We can always rely on God for his help. The Bible says, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” God is certainly capable. He is the creator of the universe. He called all things into being with his all-powerful word. And he still controls the course of his creation. We can have confidence in the almighty God! He is always near to help us.

The greatest help that God has provided is Jesus. He sent his Son from heaven to live with us here on earth. We needed his help because our sin separated us from God and the joy of eternal life with him. Jesus restored our relationship with God by bearing the punishment we deserved as sinners. He is our helper who died for us and rose from the dead to give us the hope of heaven.

Prayer:
O almighty God, lead me to trust you for help and not be afraid for you are my strength and my hope. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

Unfair Treatment – May 5, 2018

While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he fell on his knees and cried out, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he fell asleep.
Acts 7:59,60

Unfair Treatment


Daily Devotion – May 5, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 7:59,60

See series: Devotions

Stephen was a believer and follower of Jesus in the early Christian Church. He was full of God’s grace and power. Stephen was allowed to perform great wonders and miraculous signs. He did good things and told people the Good News of Jesus.

Some people admired and supported Stephen because they believed in Jesus, the Savior whom Stephen loved and shared. And some people hated him. They spoke against Stephen and argued with him. They secretly convinced some people to spread the lie that Stephen was speaking insultingly and disrespectfully about God’s Word and God. Stephen’s enemies brought him to trial where they continued making their false accusations against him. Stephen defended himself with a long, eloquent, truthful speech that culminated in talking about Jesus. Stephen’s enemies reacted by “gnashing their teeth”, dragging him outside of the city, and stoning him to death.

If you were Stephen, what thoughts would have been racing through your mind as your enemies are hating you, lying about you, and stoning you to death? Wouldn’t you start to think, “This is totally unfair! How could they do this to me? How could God let this happen?”

“Unfair!” From the first time you cried that as a little child to the most recent time “unfair” has crossed your mind, you felt you have a legitimate gripe. But the greatest injustices and unfair treatment have not been done to you, no matter how badly you’ve been hurt and mistreated. With a far greater injustice and unfair treatment you and I have acted toward our holy, caring, loving, and faithful God. Every sin—from the biggest and nastiest to the “smallest” sin—is horribly unfair treatment of our God.

Although Jesus was perfect and holy, he had the guilt and shame of the entire world’s sins placed on him. What all sinners (all people) deserved, Jesus suffered. Jesus was mistreated, crucified, and died. Jesus never did anything wrong. Doesn’t his suffering and execution seem “unfair”?

Stephen joyfully said that by the injustice that brought Jesus’ death, God’s justice was served. Sin was punished in full. Your sins are forgiven.

God’s “unfair” treatment of Jesus changed Stephen’s heart and life. In fact, it even changed the way Stephen viewed and treated people who were being totally unfair. As they hurled murderous stones at him, Stephen prayed: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.”

Who is treating you in a way that is totally unfair? Perhaps it’s someone who instead of hurling stones has chosen to pick up their words and aim for your heart. What kind of words do you speak back to them? What is your prayer for them?

You are someone who has been given the benefit of completely unfair treatment: God punished Jesus, not you. That’s completely unfair, but that’s how much God loves you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I have not treated you like you deserve. Each sin I commit is an unfair way for me to treat my holy and loving God. Thank you for forgiving me through the “unfair” suffering and death of Jesus. Give me the strength to love and forgive others. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

A Most Important Victory Parade – May 4, 2018

Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison.
1 Peter 3:18-19

A Most Important Victory Parade


Daily Devotion – May 4, 2018/b>

Devotion based on 1 Peter 3:18-19

See series: Devotions

January 12, 1946 saw one of the grandest parades in American history. It was held in New York City to celebrate the end of World War II. The parade was led by 13,000 men of the 82nd Airborne Division who were followed by tanks and other armored vehicles. The parade was reported to have been four miles long with more than two and a half million people in attendance. Ticker tape showered down on the soldiers and spectators as everyone celebrated the defeat of the Axis powers. It was a victory worth celebrating!

Jesus once had a victory parade too. He paraded, not through New York City, but through hell! It’s true. God’s Word recorded by the apostle Peter tells us that after Jesus died for the sins of the world and rose from the grave, he went to hell and announced his victory. He had done it! He had defeated sin, death and the devil! And because he did, his victory is also YOUR victory. Your sins can no longer condemn you. Your death cannot hold you. And the devil has no power over you.

Christians have confessed this comforting truth for hundreds of years. The Apostles’ Creed states that Jesus descended into hell. The next time you confess this creed, take comfort that he did. And let your life be a celebration of Jesus’ victory!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, today I celebrate the victory you announced when you descended into hell. The penalty for my sins has been paid. My fear of death has dissolved and my enemy, the devil, cannot harm me. Thank you! Amen.

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

Exalted for Us – May 3, 2018

God exalted [Christ Jesus] to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:9-11

Exalted for Us


Daily Devotion – May 3, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 2:9-11

See series: Devotions

During the prime of his career, Muhammad Ali was sitting on a plane waiting for takeoff, when the flight attendant walked by and kindly reminded him to fasten his seat belt. The great boxer joked, “Superman don’t need no seat belt.” The flight attendant said, “Superman don’t need no plane either.” Responding to her remark the great fighter fastened his seat belt. Ali was probably just having fun with the flight attendant, but the exchange reveals something about human nature. We tend to think of ourselves more highly than we ought. In addition, our culture sends the message that humility is a sign of weakness: If you are humble, people will walk all over you, and you will never get ahead.

Jesus’ entire life sends a different message. The Bible points to it as the ultimate example of humility: “Christ Jesus, who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8) Even though Jesus was more powerful than a superman, he never once flaunted it. Even though he is the creator of the universe, he never used his control over nature to bring himself glory or honor. Instead he made himself nothing—the Son of God humbled himself to death on a cross.

But God exalted Jesus to the “highest place and gave him the name that is above every name.” Even though Jesus looked more like a worm than a man as he hung suffering on the cross, on the third day God glorified him by raising him from the dead. Forty days later he gave Jesus the position of highest authority at his right hand in the heavenly realms. One day everyone will acknowledge his glory.

Right now, we can acknowledge his glory and “confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.” Jesus humbled himself for each of us to become our sin. His exaltation guarantees that all those who trust in him will go where he has gone. Even now as we live humbly here on earth, we can place our faith in a Savior who forgives our sins and uses his exalted glory for the good of his people.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus who willing humbled himself and was exalted by your power. As we face doubts, challenges, and difficulties today, help us to remember that our exalted Savior is using all things for our eternal good. Amen.

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

The Best Day Ever! – May 2, 2018

Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The eunuch was reading this passage of Scripture: He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth. In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.” The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus. As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. Why shouldn’t I be baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing.
Acts 8:26-39

The Best Day Ever!


Daily Devotion – May 2, 2018

Devotion based on Acts 8:26-39

See series: Devotions

I have young granddaughters and one thing I especially love about them is their enthusiasm for life. A get-together with the cousins, a day at the lake, or a birthday party will be eagerly declared to be “the best day ever”! We have had many “best days.”

What for you is the “best day ever?” Is it hard to pick just one?

If you asked the important Ethiopian official, he would not hesitate. The “best day ever” was the day God sent Philip to him on the desert road. On that day, God opened up his Word to this man. On that day, God applied his Sacrament of Baptism to this man. That day was a day of salvation brought about by the power of God using the means he has given his people.

In the Word, Philip pointed this man to Jesus the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. In Baptism, God washed his sins away and clothed him with Christ. God saved this man from an eternity of suffering and separation in hell. The best day ever!

Are you now thinking that an event you may have no memories of is the best day ever? At our baptisms, God’s Word was spoken and the Sacrament applied. On that day God saved us from sin, death, and hell by joining us with Jesus the Savior of the world. The best day ever!

Prayer:
Lord God, I thank you for sending faithful pastors to proclaim your Word and to administer the Sacraments for eternal salvation. I look forward with joy to the day you bring me to heaven. The best day ever! Amen.

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