Laying a Cornerstone – October 20, 2020

Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?
Matthew 21:42

Laying a Cornerstone


Daily Devotion – October 20, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 21:42

See series: Devotions

There were so many reasons that people rejected Jesus.

Some found him far too ordinary for his claims. They had grown up with him in Nazareth. They knew his mother, brother, and sisters. He was just too normal, and so they rejected him.

Others found his message of grace and forgiving scandalous. He ate and drank with sinners while rebuking the self-righteousness of the religious leaders of his day. His mercy was too much, and so they rejected him.

Still, others thought his message was too exclusive. Jesus preached that he is the way, the truth, and the life. Jesus said that he was the only way to the Father. His road was too narrow, and so they rejected him.

For countless others, though, they saw Jesus as their only source of hope in an uncertain world. For women like Mary Magdalene, disciples like Philip, and men like Nicodemus, they saw Jesus as essential for their lives. They realized that with him, they had everything. Without him, they had nothing. He was the cornerstone of their lives. His love became their source of guidance. His forgiveness and grace became the standard upon which God would build their faith. The work he accomplished made eternal life theirs.

Jesus is your hope, as well. While you may see many rejecting him, that does not change the fact that he is still the cornerstone. Believe in him. Build your life around him. With him, you have everything. Without him, you have nothing. The forgiveness he won for you means your relationship with God is restored, and eternal life in heaven is yours.

The cornerstone is set. You can say with the Bible writer, “The Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Prayer:
Father, you have done this marvelous thing in making Jesus the cornerstone. Help me to trust in him alone. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Giving Up – October 19, 2020

“Listen to another parable: [Jesus said] There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and moved to another place. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. Then he sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said.”
Matthew 21:33-37

Giving Up


Daily Devotion – October 19, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 21:33-37

See series: Devotions

At a certain point, you just have to cut your losses and move on. The car that has been in the repair shop multiple times this year might need to get sold. That house plant you have been trying to grow keeps dropping leaves, and it may need to get thrown away. Sometimes, you have to cut your losses and move on.

Jesus shared a parable about a landowner and his vineyard. In the parable, the tenant farmers who rented the vineyard from the landowner turned out to be rather terrible. Worse than being lazy or dishonest, they actually harmed or killed the servants the landowner sent to collect the rightful rent. You would expect the owner to give up on the renters, drive them out, and move on to new renters. Instead, the landowner sent his son to people who had mistreated everyone who has been sent to them.

This is precisely what God did after so many of the prophets he sent had been harmed or killed over the centuries. Instead of giving up on the people of this world, God sent his Son, Jesus, to save the people of this world, including you.

Isn’t it comforting to know that you have such a loving God, one who has not given up on you, one who sent his own Son to restore your relationship with him and give you eternal life in heaven? Spend this day being thankful you have a God who won’t give up.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for not giving up on 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Looking for Good Grapes – October 18, 2020

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit. “Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?”
Isaiah 5:1-4

Looking for Good Grapes


Daily Devotion – October 18, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 5:1-4

See series: Devotions

A friend of mine helped me become a wine snob. He suggested that I get some bottles of a particular wine made in a certain year. A wine magazine praised this selection. I promptly went out to purchase a few bottles at my local grocer.

My friend did not steer me wrong. This wine tasted excellent. When I returned to the grocery store, I looked for more of it. I found another bottle at a reasonable price and bought it. I tasted the new bottle of wine and found that it didn’t taste as good. Then I looked at the label and discovered I had just purchased a different vintage, a year that didn’t favor the grapes as much as the year I previously bought. So it goes with wine. Some vineyards in some years produce excellent grapes. The same vineyard in another year produces so-so grapes.

God compared his Old Testament people of Israel to a vineyard. He did everything possible to make them produce excellent spiritual grapes. Here’s what he found: “When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” God looked for justice but saw bloodshed. He looked for righteousness but heard cries of distress.

God saw that nation the way he sees humanity today—people in whom he has invested his greatest care, but they keep producing bad grapes—sinful deeds contrary to his holy will. How much Israel and we today need the Master Gardener, Jesus Christ! He alone produced the good deeds acceptable to God. He alone got trampled in the winepress of God’s wrath for the sins of the world.

Marvel at God’s grace. Through Jesus Christ, God sees us as good. And by his Word, he works in us the ability to produce the good deeds that he desires.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, make a good harvest of good deeds from the good vineyard you have planted. Through the love of Jesus my Savior, produce in me the excellence that gives glory to 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Precious Faith – October 17, 2020

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. “Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralyzed, suffering terrible.” Jesus said to him, “Shall I come and heal him?” The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and that one, ‘Come,’ and he comes. I say to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.”
Matthew 8:5-9

Precious Faith


Daily Devotion – October 17, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 8:5-9

See series: Devotions

What does faith look like?

We certainly can’t read other people’s hearts. Only God can do that. Still, the Bible tells us that faith shows itself in the way people speak and act. The Roman soldier in our Bible reading for today is a good example. As an army officer, he understood the power of command. He himself could order men and they would obey. Believing that Jesus was the Son of God, the centurion understood that Jesus could certainly order a thing and it would occur. When God commands a thing, it happens—whether it is the fall of snow or rain or the fall of nations. The centurion knew this and simply asked for God’s grace and mercy to fall on his sick servant.

His faith had the look of a man utterly and completely confident in God to answer any prayer.

That’s what faith looks like. Faith that is empowered by God’s Word trusts in the abilities of God to accomplish all things, even the most difficult and the impossible. God’s gift of faith instills confidence in the Lord’s promises. It comforts us with the peace of God’s favor. By faith, we are enlightened to see the grand purpose for our existence—to live in the glory of God. In faith, we walk in confidence on the way that God is taking us toward heaven.

How precious is faith in Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord, give me a faith that trusts your power and helps me to live confidently according to your loving kindness. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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What Our Father Wants – October 16, 2020

“‘I will not,’ [the man’s son] answered, but later he changed his mind and went.”
Matthew 21:29

What Our Father Wants


Daily Devotion – October 16, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 21:29

See series: Devotions

Jesus once told a story about a father who owned a vineyard. He expected his two sons to do their part for the family business. One day he told them, “There’s work to do in the vineyard. Go out to the vineyard right away and help out.”

The first son was rude and disrespectful. He said, “No, Dad, I don’t want to.” But the other said, “Yes, sir. Right away, sir.”

But later things changed. The first son had a change of heart. He felt bad about what he said. He thought about how his father loved him and realized that he could show appreciation for that love by obeying his father. So, he went to the vineyard and got to work.

But the second son, who said exactly what his father wanted to hear when he asked him to do something, never showed up for work.

After Jesus told the story, he asked, “Which of these two did what his father wanted?” Of course, the answer was the first son, the one who showed up to work in the vineyard.

How do we react when God tells us to do something? Are we sometimes like the second son? We hear what the Bible says, and we say, “Okay, I will do that.” We tell God or our parents, teachers, or pastor what we think they want to hear. But then we ignore or forget what we heard.

Or are we more like the first son? Our sinful hearts initially resist what God says. But, as we hear and see more about how he loves us, he changes our hearts. And our actions follow, as we gladly obey God.

God wants us to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. The good news is that Jesus walked the walk for us. He obeyed every one of God’s commandments. And he did what his Father wanted when he suffered and died as punishment for every time we disrespect or disobey God.

For Jesus’ sake, God forgives our stubborn disobedience and our empty lip service. And his undeserved love moves us to serve him joyfully and willingly with our lips and our lives.

Prayer:
Father, move me to serve you willingly in response to your patient 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not Fair – October 15, 2020

The one who sins is the one who will die . . . I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!
Ezekiel 18:4,32

Not Fair


Daily Devotion – October 15, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 18:4,32

See series: Devotions

“It’s not fair!” Students complain when they all have to stay in from recess because a few students misbehaved. “It’s not fair!” Object family members who have to stay home from a planned outing because one child was not cooperating.

It’s not fair, but it is the reality of life in a sin-plagued world. We suffer consequences, not only for our own disobedience, but also for some of the wrongs that others commit.

The temptation we sometimes face is to blame God. “It’s not fair, God! Why should I have to suffer? I didn’t do anything wrong.”

Of course, if we looked closely at God’s legal code, we would realize that we are not as innocent as we want to believe. Each and every angry thought, each and every hurtful word, each and every selfish action makes us lawbreakers. Each one makes us guilty before God. And God’s law spells out the punishment for the crimes. It says, “The one who sins is the one who will die.”

But that same just God said, “I take no pleasure in the death of anyone.” He didn’t want to see us die for our sins. He doesn’t delight in seeing us suffer in this life, and he doesn’t want us to suffer when this life is over. And so he did something completely unfair. He sent his own innocent Son, Jesus, to suffer for us. He held Jesus responsible for our angry thoughts, hurtful words, and selfish actions. And he sentenced him to death—our death.

Because Jesus accepted the punishment for our sins, no guilt remains to be punished. God allows us to suffer only to draw us closer to him. He wants the suffering that we see in our lives to lead us to turn from our sins and seek his mercy—mercy he showed in sending Jesus to forgive our sins. Mercy that means life instead of death for all who trust Jesus as Savior.

Prayer:
God of mercy, turn my heart from sinful ways that, forgiven, I may have life with 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Pay it Forward – October 14, 2020

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, . . . then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
Philippians 2:1-4

Pay it Forward


Daily Devotion – October 14, 2020

Devotion based on Philippians 2:1-4

See series: Devotions

You have heard of “paying it forward,” haven’t you? You respond to a kind deed done for you—maybe even by a total stranger—by doing something kind for someone else. Maybe you pay for the meal of the person in the drive-thru behind you. Without being asked, you shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk or rake their leaves.

Jesus showed us the ultimate kindness. He didn’t owe us anything. We didn’t deserve his mercy. We weren’t worthy of his time and attention. And yet, he showed us kindness and love, not by paying for our coffee or cheeseburger, but by paying for our souls. Not by doing a job, we didn’t have the time or strength to do, but by doing a job we could never have done for ourselves.

It was the ultimate act of humble service when Jesus, the Son of God, became a human being to live and die for human beings. It was the ultimate sacrifice of love when Jesus, a holy God, suffered, and died to pay for the debt of guilt that we accumulated. He didn’t put himself first. He put us first. What a gift! What humble and unexpected love!

Now the Bible urges us to act on that love. We can’t pay off our debt to God—we don’t have to; Jesus already did—but we can pay forward the love we have been shown by loving others. We can, like Jesus, humbly value others above ourselves. We can put the interests of others ahead of our own.

And when our love for others reflects Jesus’ love for us, we share a gift far greater than a free meal or an hour of time. We share a love that points people to the one who invites forgiven sinners to feast with him in eternity in heaven.

Prayer:
Jesus, you humbled yourself to show me undeserved love. Help me reflect your selfless love to those around 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Nothing But the Truth – October 13, 2020

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth.
2 Corinthians 13:8

Nothing But the Truth


Daily Devotion – October 13, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 13:8

See series: Devotions

Three weeks from today, citizens of the United States will go to the polls and vote. In local, county, state, and national elections, each citizen will choose candidates to represent and serve them in government.

For many, it will be a welcome end to a long election year. Through much of this year, TV and radio airwaves have been filled with candidates jockeying for position. They make claim after claim—about themselves, about their opponents, about the issues. They make promises about what they will do if elected.

Not all of their claims are true or honest. And they will likely not follow through on all of their promises. Voters are left trying to figure out whose claims lie closest to reality and whose reality they want for their community, state, or country.

Some people see the church the same way. People who claim to be Christians make all kinds of claims about what God says. Those claims don’t always agree. And those who read or hear those claims are left wondering whom to trust and what to believe.

When it comes to speaking for God, we need to fact check what we hear. And we do that in the Bible. The Bible comes straight from the mouth of God, who cannot lie. The Bible is one unified truth. What we believe about God, about life and death, about heaven and hell, must be in line with what is written in the Bible.

We never want to deviate from that truth. That truth points us to Jesus, who called himself “the Truth.” Jesus came to fulfill the truth of God’s demands for perfection. Jesus came to live the truth of God’s love for the world. Jesus came to show that all of God’s promises are true by giving his life to restore us to God and then rising from the dead to give us life with him. No truth is more profound. No truth is more beautiful or praiseworthy. No truth is more true.

May God give us courage and joy to live our lives to know and share the tremendous truth of his Word.

Prayer:
Father, open my mind and heart to know the truth. May all that I do work for the truth and never against it. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Examine Yourself – October 12, 2020

“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? And I trust that you will discover that we have not failed the test.”
2 Corinthians 13:5,6

Examine Yourself


Daily Devotion – October 12, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 13:5,6

See series: Devotions

An examination can be a scary thing, whether it is a performance review at work, a final test for an important class, a medical test to see what’s making you feel so sick, or an interview to see whether you have what it takes to do the job.

Honest self-examination can be even scarier. Yet the Bible tells us to examine ourselves. And what do you find when you do? Do you find thoughts and desires and cravings that you are ashamed of, that you hope no one else ever knows about? Do you find attitudes and emotions that reveal how unloving you can be to others? Do you find doubts and fears where you know there should be faith and confidence? As you look inside and examine yourself, do you find, as I do, a lot that doesn’t make God happy, a lot that doesn’t meet his expectations?

But today’s verses shift our focus. They urge us to ask different questions, as we examine ourselves. Didn’t Jesus die to pay for your sins? Hasn’t he forgiven you for everything you’ve done wrong? Didn’t Jesus rise from the dead to assure you that you will live with him in heaven?

You can answer yes to all of those questions. After looking inside ourselves to honestly assess the condition of our hearts, God wants us to examine what Jesus did outside of us and for us. He conquered sin and death for us. His blood covers every one of our sins. His holiness is his gift to us. Know that. Believe that.

When God, through the Bible’s message, leads you to trust that Jesus has done those things for you, Christ Jesus himself lives in you. He gives you confidence in your Creator, trust in the treasures of his mercy, peace in his perfect pardon, and the hope of a home in heaven. When Christ lives in you, God gives you a perfect score on the entrance exam to eternal life with him!

Prayer:
Jesus, live in me to bless me with your forgiveness and eternal peace with God. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Repent and Live – October 11, 2020

“Therefore, O house of Israel, I will judge you, each one according to his ways, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. Why will you die, people of Israel? For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!”
Ezekiel 18:30-32

Repent and Live


Daily Devotion – October 11, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 18:30-32

See series: Devotions

When my children were little, one of the rules was, “Do not play in the street.” This rule restricted their freedom and limited their place to play. But this rule also protected them. Playing in the street could result in their injury or even death. Whenever I saw one of my children wander into the street, I would call him back. I called him back because I loved him.

Our heavenly Father also gives us rules for our lives—do not lie, do not hate, do not steal, do not commit adultery, and many more. These rules restrict our freedom. But he gives us these rules to protect us. He knows what is best for us. He knows that when we go against his rules, we are in danger of being injured—physically or spiritually. He knows that when we go against his rules, we ruin our relationship with him. Going against God’s rules leads to eternal separation from him, to eternal death. This is why, when we go against God’s rules, he calls us back. He calls us back because he loves us. “Repent and live!” says the Lord.

And when we do, when we turn away from our sin and turn to our Father for forgiveness, we can be sure we have it. After all, he was willing to give up his own Son to pay the price for our sins. He is always willing and eager to assure us that we are forgiven when we turn from our sin and turn to him for forgiveness.

Whatever sin is putting you in danger this day, turn from it. Repent and live!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for warning me about the things that endanger my life and my soul. Thank you for calling me to repentance. And thank you for assuring me of your forgiveness when I do repent. Please provide the strength I need to repent and live! 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Faith Credited as Righteousness – October 10, 2020

The word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” But Abram said, “O Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:1-6

Faith Credited as Righteousness


Daily Devotion – October 10, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 15:1-6

See series: Devotions

The name Abram means “exalted father.” The irony was probably not lost on him when he was over eighty years old and still childless. Especially since many years earlier, God himself had promised to make his offspring into a great nation. And what’s more, Abram was assured that one of those future descendants would be the long-awaited Savior of mankind. Still, here he was an old man without a single child to his name.

But Abram was a man of action. (Just read in Genesis 14 how he mounted a rescue of his nephew Lot who had been captured by a coalition of four kings!) So Abram had already hatched a plan to deal with his childlessness: his servant Eliezer would be his heir.

You and I can hardly point an accusing finger at Abram. After all, our hearts have harbored many of our own doubts regarding God’s promises. We have falsely believed that our lives were in our own hands, that we controlled our own future.

What a patient God we have! Instead of abandoning us to our doubts and an uncertain destiny, he graciously repeats his promises. God assured the childless old man that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars visible in the night sky. And God assures sinners like us that all his promises of forgiveness have been kept in his Son Jesus Christ.

The Lord Jesus truly is our shield and very great reward. Although we are sinful, Jesus credits his own righteousness to us through faith in him. Although we have little in this world, Jesus is our eternal treasure that waits for us in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord God, I have no righteousness of my own to stand before you. But I believe you when you promised to forgive my sins for the sake of Jesus. Let his holiness be credited to me, as you have said. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stay Above the Fray – October 9, 2020

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:9

Stay Above the Fray


Daily Devotion – October 9, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:9

See series: Devotions

Wise people stay above the fray. For instance, when there’s a heated argument, wise people hold their tongues. Rather than engaging in a Facebook folly or a Twitter tirade, they step away from their laptop. What inspired counsel the apostle Paul once gave when he wrote, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things” (Philippians 4:8). In other words, stay above the fray.

When we’re tempted to wallow in the mud, the apostle reminds us that God created us to be like him, in his image, in his likeness (Genesis 1:26). He created us to think higher thoughts, to act nobly, and to ennoble others through our thoughts, words, and actions.

But we fail. Too often we find ourselves in the middle of the melee. Sometimes we’re even guilty of lighting the fire ourselves and creating the fray.

Not Jesus. He always stayed above the fray. Yes, there were instances in his ministry when he spoke the truth candidly yet lovingly. But his reason for doing so always reflected the very highest principles. He was never nasty, never unkind. Even when people were nasty to him, he never responded unkindly. The Apostle Peter wrote this about Jesus: “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats” (1 Peter 2:23). Through the prophet Isaiah, our Lord and Savior makes it clear to sinful people like us that “my ways [are] higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” He stays above the fray.

But then he invites us—yes, he calls us—to do the same. To be like him. “Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing” (1 Peter 3:9).

Be wise like Jesus. Stay above the fray.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me marvel at your higher thoughts and ways, and through your Spirit guide me in the paths of mercy, kindness, peace, and love. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Thinking Outside the Box – October 8, 2020

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.
Isaiah 55:8

Thinking Outside the Box


Daily Devotion – October 8, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:8

See series: Devotions

“You break it, you buy it.” It’s a pretty simple concept. If you’re foolish enough to pick up a valuable and fragile item in an antique store, you had better be ready to purchase it in case something happens. If you drop it on the floor and it shatters into a million pieces, “It was an accident,” probably isn’t going to satisfy the store owner. If you’re the one who broke it, then you’re the one who will pay for it.

If imperfect human beings like us abide by that simple motto of retail justice, then certainly we should expect our perfectly just God to expect the same, right?

It would make sense. When, for instance, our Creator-God handed his perfect and priceless world over to human beings, it would stand to reason that it came with a warning: if you break it, you’ll have to fix it or buy it. That’s just simple logic.

But that’s not the way our Savior-God operates. The prophet Isaiah tells us that he freely pardons sin, and then God tells us why: “‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.” In other words, God doesn’t operate with a human standard of justice. No, our Savior thinks outside the box.

The psalmist wrote, “Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him” (Psalm 115:3). And what pleases him? It pleases him to be merciful to sinners like you and me. He “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). What’s that truth? He desires mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13).

So when our creator God saw that we sinfully broke everything—his perfect creation and our perfect relationships with him and one another—he didn’t ask us to pony up ourselves. He paid the awful price himself. He sacrificed his greatest treasure, his Son, to make restitution for what we destroyed. By his death on the cross, Jesus paid for our shattering sins “once for all” (Hebrews 7:27). He declares sinners perfect!

That’s called thinking outside the box.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me marvel in the fact that by your death and resurrection, you declare me what I am not: perfect. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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An Everlasting Warranty – October 7, 2020

Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
Isaiah 55:7

An Everlasting Warranty


Daily Devotion – October 7, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:7

See series: Devotions

It would be nice to know that once something is fixed, it’s fixed forever. But it doesn’t usually work that way. Things break. We fix them. Then they break again. Eventually, we buy a new one. Even when companies provide a lifetime warranty on their products, there’s normally a catch. The fine print neatly hides the limits involved.

Do God’s promises come with fine print, with strings attached? Sadly, many people believe that because there are many who teach that. Their shtick normally goes a little bit like this: “God is a loving God who wants to forgive you. All you have to do is … (fill in the blank).” In other words, they suggest that God’s forgiveness involves some fine print. There are strings attached.

But that’s simply not true. God doesn’t base his forgiveness on what we do or don’t do. His forgiveness is not remotely tied to us being a certain way or achieving a certain standard. If that were true, how could we ever know whether God really forgives us, whether we’ve cleared the bar?

The Bible assures us that, in Jesus, God has forgiven the sins of the world. John the Baptist once pointed to Christ and said, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), and the apostle John of him, “He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2). That means you. In Christ Jesus, God forgives you of every sin. Believe it. It’s true.

And that’s why, through his prophet Isaiah, the Lord urges us to forsake our evil ways and turn to him. Not because he will then forgive us. He already has! He wants us to know with certainty that “he will have mercy on (us) . . . for he will freely pardon.” That’s no limited, lifetime guarantee. That’s an everlasting warranty, purchased “with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). God’s forgiveness is waiting for you!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me confidence that, though I am sinful, you freely forgive me for Jesus’ sake. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Give Me a Call – October 6, 2020

Call on him while he is near.
Isaiah 55:6

Give Me a Call


Daily Devotion – October 6, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:6

See series: Devotions

“If you need anything, just give me a call.”

It’s nice to know—isn’t it?—that help is just a call away. When you need someone to let the dog out because you’re in the middle of a project, you can call the kids to do it. Or when you need someone to get that jar of pickles off the top shelf, you can call your long-armed husband. And while you hope you never have to do it, even as kids we’re taught to dial 9-1-1 in case of a fire or other serious emergency. It’s reassuring to know that help is just a call away.

Telephones have made it easier to call other people for help, but they haven’t improved the communication lines we have with our Savior-God. In our time of need, we do not need to raise our voice so that he can hear our cry for help. The psalmist reminds us that God is everywhere. “If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:8-10). Jesus has made us a most certain promise, “Call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me” (Psalm 50:15). It’s those kinds of assurances that prompted the prophet Isaiah to urge God’s people, “Call on him while he is near.”

Does Isaiah mean to suggest there are times when God is not nearby? Hardly. But what the prophet is implying is that too often we are ready to cut the lines of communication with the One who helps us best. Not only do we fail to call on him in our times of need; more tragically, we fail to listen confidently to his eternal promises and be assured of his saving presence and power, now and forever. “Never will I leave you,” Jesus says. “Never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

Salvation is that near, that certain, that perfect! Jesus says, “Give me a call.”

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, through your Holy Spirit, give me strength to call on you and trust your promises now and 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Looking for Jesus In All the Right Places – October 5, 2020

Seek the LORD while he may be found.
Isaiah 55:6

Looking for Jesus In All the Right Places


Daily Devotion – October 5, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:6

See series: Devotions

We don’t know much about Jesus’ childhood from the Bible. Only the books of Luke and Matthew tell us anything about baby Jesus, and when it comes to Jesus’ childhood, we know even less.

What’s interesting about the accounts we have, however, is that almost every one includes people searching for Jesus. The shepherds were told by the Christmas angel to seek out a child wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. They said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about” (Luke 2:15). When the wise men, or magi, mistakenly arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2), they were redirected to Bethlehem because of what the prophet Micah predicted (Micah 5:2). When the magi later duped a jealous King Herod, he became enraged. An angel warned Joseph that “Herod is going to search for the child to kill him” (Matthew 2:13), and he urged Jesus’ stepfather to escape to Egypt. And when the twelve-year-old Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem unbeknownst to his parents, Mary and Joseph spent three days searching for Jesus before finally finding him at the temple. “Why were you searching for me?” Jesus asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49).

What do all those accounts demonstrate? That it’s natural for us to look for Jesus in all the wrong places. When searching for the Lord, we imagine that we should be looking out for something visually spectacular. After all, it’s God, right? And God must be easy to spot because he’s big, grand, and glorious.

Well, yes, he is. But when God calls on us, as he does through the prophet Isaiah, to “seek the LORD while he may be found,” he wants us to go looking for Jesus in all the right places. And where will we find him? In his Word, the Bible, where we learn of his unconditional love for sinners like us, his perfect forgiveness of the sins of the world, and his promise of everlasting life to those who place their trust in Jesus alone.

Prayer:
Jesus, guide me to look for you in all the right places. Send me to your Word, where I know you’ll be found. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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You Can Trust Me – October 4, 2020

One thing I ask of the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.
Psalm 27:4

You Can Trust Me


Daily Devotion – October 4, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 27:4

See series: Devotions

What if you could only ask for one thing from God when you prayed? What would it be? Would you ask for health for yourself or your loved ones? Would you ask for wealth? Power? Prestige? Perhaps you would ask for world peace or personal success.

There are so many things for which we might pray. And we honor God when we ask him for his help. We demonstrate that we trust he is able to answer our prayers. But, if you could ask for just one thing, what would it be?

Long ago, a man named King David gave an interesting answer to this question when he wrote Psalm 27. Listen again to what he wrote, “One thing I ask of the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”

Isn’t that something? The main thing David wanted was to be in God’s house—a member of God’s family. He knew that as a member of God’s family, he had everything he needed—God’s love, forgiveness, and care. As long as he was a member of God’s family, he would be fine.

May this be our prayer as well—that what matters to us most, what we ask from him more than anything else, is that he keep us close to him so that we can continue to marvel at his beauty—the beauty of his love, his forgiveness, his care and concern for us. What could be better?

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, this one thing I ask: that I may dwell in your house all the days of my life. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Forgiveness – October 3, 2020

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. . . . He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.
Psalm 103:8,10

Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – October 3, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 103:8,10

See series: Devotions

As the story goes, a king was in the process of taking over the throne. As part of taking over, he made a list of all his friends and his enemies. He placed a mark in front of the name of everyone who had tried to keep him from becoming king. When those whose names were marked heard about the list, they were terrified. They were convinced that their days on this earth were numbered because the king would certainly take revenge and do so soon.

Then they learned that the mark before each of their names was a cross. It was put there by the king to remind him of the love that Christ had shown to him and the love he needed to show to others—especially his enemies.

The king had taken to heart the truth expressed in Psalm 103:10. “The LORD does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

God does not seek revenge. His goal is not to get even with us for breaking his commandments. He doesn’t treat us as we deserve. Instead of getting even and making us pay for our sins, God punished Jesus, his Son. In effect, God placed a cross by each of our names. The cross assures us that he loves us! Through the cross, God proclaims, “You don’t have to be afraid! I’ve forgiven you!”

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I join the psalmist in praising you for not treating me as I deserve. In your love and compassion, you have forgiven my sins. Thank you for taking my sins to the cross! Thank you, Jesus, for dying for them! In your name, dear Lord, I pray. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Empowered to Forgive – October 2, 2020

“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred silver coins. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt.”
Matthew 18:28-30

Empowered to Forgive


Daily Devotion – October 2, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:28-30

See series: Devotions

In Matthew 18 Jesus told a story about a servant who owed his master billions of dollars. Remarkably, his master forgave his debt—all of it.

And so, it’s with surprise—and maybe even anger—that we hear Jesus tell us that this servant who had been forgiven so much refused to forgive a fellow servant who owed him a debt. He demanded repayment, then imprisoned him when the man could not pay. How could he be so thankless? He’d been forgiven so much. How could he fail to forgive?

Jesus wants us to see ourselves in this servant. God has forgiven you and me for so much. Over and over again, he has forgiven our sins. Yet we often struggle to forgive those who sin against us.

Jesus was not suggesting that the sins people have committed against us are insignificant. Those sins are serious. Those sins hurt. This is why it is so difficult for us to forgive.

What will empower us to forgive, even those sins which caused such deep hurt? It will be the reminder that God has forgiven us over and over and over and over again. God has never stopped forgiving us. He never will! He has forgiven us for our entire mountain of sin-debt!

And when we’re reminded of the greatness of God’s forgiveness for us, we will be empowered to forgive those who have sinned against us.

Prayer:
Remind me, O Savior, that you have forgiven me richly; lead me to richly forgive 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Cancelled Debt – October 1, 2020

“The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.”
Matthew 18:27

A Cancelled Debt


Daily Devotion – October 1, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:27

See series: Devotions

The servant in Jesus’ story owed his master a debt he could never possibly repay. In today’s dollars, it was billions of dollars. Those listening to Jesus’ story must have been on the edge of their seats, wondering what happened to the man. Surely, he was thrown in debtors’ prison or sold with his family into slavery so that his master might at least recover a portion of his debt.

But, as he so often did, Jesus concluded his story with a shocking ending. The master took pity on his servant, canceled his debt, and let him go.

Jesus used this story to illustrate what our God has done for us. We have racked up a debt with him that we could never possibly pay. That’s how the Bible describes our sins against God—as spiritual debt. Jesus wants us to understand that we could never possibly make up for what we have done wrong.

But he could. And he did. Jesus paid our debt in full when he went to the cross. He suffered what we should have suffered for our sins. And, because he did, God forgives what we owe him. Every single time you and I have lied, cheated, stolen, been selfish or uncaring—that debt is canceled. Every single time you and I have failed to fear God, to love God, to trust in God—that debt is canceled. Every single time you and I have failed to love our neighbors as ourselves, failed to love our spouse or parents or children—that debt is canceled.

And how do you know? You know because Jesus has told you. When he died, he didn’t say, “It is started.” Rather, he said, “It is finished.” And by saying that, he was telling you that your debt has been paid for. Every single bit.

Prayer:
Dear Savior, thank you for your saving love and your willingness to pay my debt in full. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Repayment – September 30, 2020

“At this the servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’”
Matthew 18:26

Repayment


Daily Devotion – September 30, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:26

See series: Devotions

Jesus was telling a story about forgiveness. He described a servant who owed his king far more money than he could have ever repaid. Think in terms of a man making forty thousand dollars a year and owing billions of dollars today.

And, in today’s Bible reading, we hear the servant promising to pay it back.

“Yeah. Right.” There’s no way a servant could possibly pay back a debt like that!

This was precisely Jesus’ point. Just as that servant could never have paid back his king, you and I could never pay back our God for all the times we have sinned against him. In fact, it’s foolish—and sinful—for us to even think that it’s a possibility. To think that something I do could satisfy God could somehow serve as a “repayment” for the enormous debt of sin that I owe means I am either unaware of just how great my debt is, or I am arrogant enough to believe I could pay it off.

Thankfully, as enormous as our sin is, even more, “enormous” is our salvation. Since no mere human could make a sufficient payment for sin, God stepped into the mix himself. God himself took sin upon himself, God himself went to the cross, God himself paid the full price, and announced, “It is finished.”

Wow. That’s enormous.

Prayer:
O Lord, lead me to trust wholeheartedly in your enormous saving work. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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An Unpayable Debt – September 29, 2020

[Jesus said] “Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand bags of gold was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.”
Matthew 18:23-25

An Unpayable Debt


Daily Devotion – September 29, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:23-25

See series: Devotions

Ten thousand bags of gold. That is what Jesus said the servant in his story owed the king. At that time, a “bag of gold” was likely the equivalent of six thousand days’ wages. So, let’s do some math. An average day’s wage in the United States is around $100.00. This would mean that, in today’s money, one bag of gold would be worth $600,000. And the servant in Jesus’ story owed 10,000 bags of gold. That’s $6,000,000,000! There was no way the servant would ever be able to pay the debt he owed the king.

Which was precisely Jesus’ point. The servant in Jesus’ story represents us. The king represents God. Like the servant, we owe a debt we can never pay. It’s not a monetary debt. It is a spiritual debt. We have sinned against God so often and in so many ways that there is no way we can ever make up for it. Think of it—how many times have you and I failed to love God with all our hearts—even just today? Has it been dozens of times? Hundreds of times—just today? And then there was yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that. And, there is the issue of how many times we have failed to respect God. And then there is the issue of how many times we have failed to trust God, and how many times we have failed to love our neighbor and … well … our debt of sin just keeps piling up!

And, it is important for us to be reminded of this. Why? Because knowing the enormity of our sin means that when we hear God say, “Take heart my child; your sins are forgiven,” we will appreciate it all the more.

And, here’s the truth: because of what Jesus has done, your sins—that horrible mountain of sins—have all been forgiven. All 6,000,000,000 of them … or even more.

Thank God for his enormous forgiveness!

Prayer:
O Lord, lead me to appreciate the enormity of my sin, that I might, even more, appreciate the enormity of your forgiveness. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Forgiving Again and Again – September 28, 2020

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21,22

Forgiving Again and Again


Daily Devotion – September 28, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21,22

See series: Devotions

The apostle Peter asked Jesus an important question—one that many of us would like to ask—namely, “How many times shall I forgive someone who sins against me? Up to seven times?” From what we know about that time, about that culture, it seems as if it was culturally appropriate to forgive a person three times if they’d committed the same sin. So, when Peter suggested “seven times,” he likely thought that he was being very generous.

Jesus’ answer unmasked him. “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.” Jesus’ point was clear; we aren’t to count how many times we forgive. Instead, we are to just keep on forgiving.

Why? Because God doesn’t count how many times he’s forgiven you and me. As much as I’ve messed it up—and badly—God keeps on forgiving me! Jesus’ death won forgiveness for all of it, no matter how “big” or “small” the sin was.

And no, that doesn’t lead me to say, “Ok. I can go out and sin again.” Rather, it leads me to say, “Wow! Thank you, God, for your gracious, forgiving love, which is never-ending.” And then?

And then it empowers us to forgive others. Not three times. Not seven times. Instead, we’ll forgive as many times as is necessary . . . just as God has forgiven us.

Prayer:
Lord, remind me that you have forgiven me over and over and over again, that I might be motivated to forgive others, too. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Unlimited Forgiveness – September 27, 2020

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21,22

Unlimited Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21,22

See series: Devotions

“How can I forgive you?” Perhaps you’ve said that to someone. The person really hurt you. And this isn’t the first time. The person has wronged you before. Now it’s very hard to find the inner strength or motivation to forgive and forgive again.

The apostle Peter raised a significant question when he asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter’s question is direct and to the point. How often should he be willing to forgive someone who sins against him repeatedly—perhaps with the very same sin? Is there a limit to the times that he should forgive others? At what point is he to say, “That’s enough; I can forgive you no more!”

Relationships between sinful people are often marred by sinful words and actions—some recurring over and over again. In every marriage, in every family, in every friendship, there is the continuing need to forgive those who repeatedly sin against us. However, we, too, may wonder with Peter whether our forgiveness toward others has limits. Since we identify with Peter in this question, Jesus’ answer also applies to us: “I tell you (to forgive), not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

How is this possible? How do we find the love and strength to forgive those who sin against us? We remember how much God has been willing to forgive us. In spite of our many sins—in fact, because of our many sins—God sent his Son, Jesus, to this world. His perfect life and innocent death earned forgiveness for us. What a patient and forgiving God we have!

Remember this the next time it is your turn to forgive those who have sinned against you, whether it is the seventh or the seventy-seventh time.

Prayer:
Jesus, in the peace of forgiveness that I have through you, give me the ability to forgive 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I Forgive You – September 26, 2020

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; . . . Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:1,2,7

I Forgive You


Daily Devotion – September 26, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 51:1,2,7

See series: Devotions

Mitchell shuffles over to his crying sister. “I’m sorry I hit you.”

“That’s okay,” his sister sniffles.

How many times have we responded to an apology with those very words? Of course, we can understand it in the right way, but isn’t it a bit inaccurate? Was the sister really saying it was okay that Mitchell slugged her? Being wronged is never fine and okay.

So let’s listen again, but notice the difference:

Mitchell shuffles over to his crying sister. “I’m sorry I hit you.”

“I forgive you,” his sister smiles.

What an impact those three words make: “I forgive you!” Forgiveness acknowledges the wrong, yet, offers something more substantial than a cliched “That’s okay” response.

God deals with us in the same way. When we pray, “Lord, I’m sorry I’ve sinned,” God would never respond, “That’s okay.” Sin is never okay. Instead, God responds with something better for those who trust in his Son, Jesus. God says, “I forgive you because of Jesus.” It’s a response with substance!

That’s why, with faith in Jesus and anticipation of God’s forgiveness, we can confidently pray:

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. . . . Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Restoration – September 25, 2020

[Jesus said] “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:18

Restoration


Daily Devotion – September 25, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:18

See series: Devotions

Dr. Robert Morin transforms lives. There simply are no two ways about it.

Dr. Morin specializes in reconstructive surgery. Every year, he gathers a medical team and travels to a poverty-stricken part of the world. There, he and the team offer to restore the faces of children—children whose faces have been broken for a wide variety of reasons.

The waiting lines are long to see Dr. Morin’s team. The work is exhausting. It’s not uncommon for the staff to labor from sunup to sundown for six days straight. Family after family. Face after face. Heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story. Procedure after procedure. After each one, however, there are tears—tears of gratitude from the families; tears of joy from the medical team. The tears come easily. After all, everyone there knows that such a restoration will transform that child’s life.

Imagine you are part of Dr. Morin’s team. Imagine how it must feel to have in your hands the means to change a life. According to Jesus, we do.

In love, Jesus saw our lives in all of its brokenness—lives broken by our own sin. He knew we were helpless to put the pieces back together. And so he came to us. He became one of us. In our place, he lived a perfect life—sinless and holy. On our behalf, he carried the entire sorry mess of our wrongs to the cross, blotting them out in his blood. Then he rose from death. Now he comes to each of us through his living Word. He calls us to repentance. And in his gospel message of forgiveness, he brings us healing. He brings us restoration. In himself, he puts the pieces of our lives back together.

But as he does, he also entrusts us with something extraordinary. He entrusts us with that same message of restoration. He says that because he has paid for the sins of the whole world, we have the right to announce forgiveness to repentant sinners–to restore their relationship with God.

And the beauty of this restoration is that it does not simply last a lifetime. It lasts forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for your gospel message of restoration. Move me to bring your healing to a broken soul. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Awkward – September 24, 2020

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
Matthew 18:15

Awkward


Daily Devotion – September 24, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15

See series: Devotions

Essayist Leah Hickman has spoken to what she sees as a growing fear in our society. It’s the fear of the awkward moment—the fear of experiencing what follows in the presence of someone else when you need to raise a difficult subject or when you have to deal with a difficult situation. No one ever enjoys awkward moments, of course. But Hickman makes the case that, somewhere along the line, uncomfortableness has grown into outright fear.

It can be fun recounting awkward moments. They’re part of life. On the other hand, a fearful impulse to avoid the awkward at any cost is nothing to smile about. Hickman cites an older gentleman who’s observed, “It seems as if fear of awkwardness has become a barrier to doing the right thing.”

All of which brings us to Jesus, and his unapologetic love for every soul. When the Lord puts me in a position to speak in loving concern to someone about a specific sin—a specific sin that threatens to create spiritual harm in all kinds of ways—such a moment is tailor-made to be awkward. In all candor, you and I must confess to our Lord that there have been all kinds of times when we have retreated from speaking the truth in love—often from a simple fear of the awkward.

When fear of the awkward has been our motivation, however, you and I must also confess that we have been guilty of placing our own precious comfort zones ahead of a precious soul for whom Jesus died. I am placing my convenience ahead of someone else’s need. And that is a profound wrong.

But that’s when I remember that Jesus’ blood not only washes away the sins of the whole world. He washes away my sins too—including my sin of neglecting a precious soul.

And so let’s take a walk to the cross. Be washed in the blood of God’s Son. And as we see what he was willing to suffer to save us, may it make us willing to move out of our comfort zones, when necessary, to warn others about the sins that endanger their souls.

Prayer:
Lord, my fear of awkward moments has often overpowered me. Forgive me and renew my zeal to love others enough to warn them about sins that separate them from 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Continuing Debt – September 23, 2020

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.
Romans 13:8

Continuing Debt


Daily Devotion – September 23, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 13:8

See series: Devotions

It’s World War II. It’s nighttime. A paratrooper is about to jump out of a plane. Just before he does, he looks down from the plane’s open door. He sees that he is about to jump into an air space that is alive with explosions, bullets, and flak. “Lord,” he prays, “if you get me through this night, I’ll never have a bad day again.”

The Lord got him through that night. And, as the old veteran loved to say for the rest of his life, “I’ve never had a bad day again.”

Think about that. So profound was the man’s gratitude for the Lord’s deliverance from death, that for the rest of his life he happily obligated himself to look upon the remainder of his days as all good days—every single one.

It’s the same kind of grateful spirit that the good news of Jesus works within Christians. In Romans chapter 13, Paul speaks of what he calls, “the continuing debt to love one another.”

This turn of phrase describes something unique. This is not a debt in the sense that I need to pay something off to God before I get something good in return. Jesus has already paid the debt of my sin in full. On my behalf, he has already lived a life of perfect love. In my place, he has already carried away the guilt of my every sin at the cross. And now, through faith in my risen Savior, I live. I stand forgiven. I am at peace. Heaven awaits.

In light of all this, something wonderful happens. The more this good news sinks in, the greater the gratitude grows. As it does, the Christian soul searches for some way, any way, to show thankfulness to Jesus. And one immediate way to do it is to demonstrate love toward others.

And so there it is. Just as a grateful survivor of war happily obligated himself never to have a bad day again, Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness empowers you and me to obligate ourselves in love to others. We do it not to get something, but to thank God for what we already have.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you. Give me opportunities to thank you more every day. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Way Home – September 22, 2020

“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!”
Ezekiel 33:11

The Way Home


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:11

See series: Devotions

There’s only one road into Wabush. It also happens to be the only road out.

Wabush is a remote town in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with a population of about two thousand people. You’ll find friendly people there. You’ll find all the basic amenities, along with a post office, bank, barbershop, bowling alley, gymnasium, swimming pool, library, and hotel.

But if you find yourself in Wabush because you took a wrong turn, you cannot simply drive through it and keep going. Remember, Wabush is the end of the road. If you’re lost, and you want to get back to where you need to be, you’re just going to have to turn around. In Wabush, it’s that simple.

Left to ourselves, you and I are lost. We are lost in a wilderness of our own making. Our sinfulness makes us naturals at isolating ourselves from each other and isolating ourselves from the God who made us.

And so God marched into our wilderness to rescue us. He did so in the Person of Jesus Christ. Through the sinless life, he lived on our behalf, and through the death, he died on the cross to wash us clean, Jesus is the way out. Jesus is the way home.

Where do you find yourself in your life right now? Could it be that, for some time, you have been making a series of turns—reckless turns, distracted turns, rebellious turns, selfish turns—a series of turns where you now find yourself isolated, alone, despairing?

God does not want you to despair. As we heard him say in our Bible reading for today, he wants you to turn from your sins and live. He loves you. He proved this when he sent his Son to save you from those sins. So, don’t delay! Turn to him and live!

Prayer:
Many times, Lord Jesus, I’ve gotten so lost. Thank you for coming to find me. Remind me of your love and forgiveness and empower me to turn from my sins to 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Watchman – September 21, 2020

I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel.
Ezekiel 33:7

Watchman


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7

See series: Devotions

In 2019, Israeli soldiers made a discovery. On a remote part of their army base, the soldiers uncovered what turned out to be an ancient Israelite watchtower. The watchtower is massive, its boulders weighing up to eight tons. It is twelve feet wide and rises to seventeen feet. It stands on a hill. Even today, you can see why the watchtower is there. From that hill, you have a commanding view of the ancient city of Ashkelon. In the days of the Israelites, Ashkelon was a hostile city, an enemy of God’s people.

Go back three thousand years. You’re in Israelite soldier. It’s nighttime. It’s your turn to stand watch in the tower. You climb to the top, relieve the watchman on duty, and begin. The length of your watch will be four hours. During that time, you will exert all the powers of your perception—your sight, your hearing, your sense of smell, your trained instinct—to protect your loved ones from forces that wish them harm. As the watchman, you do not sleep, you do not daydream, you allow no distractions. You are the watchman, and you are on the front lines. You are the watchman. People’s lives are depending upon you.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the Lord told Ezekiel, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel. He was a watchman, however, not in the sense that he stood in a physical watchtower to keep an eye out for physical threats. Rather, Ezekiel was a spiritual watchman. His role was to keep an eye out for spiritual threats—anything that could invade or displace his people’s relationship with their Savior-God.

Which brings us to one of the great blessings of belonging to a Christian congregational family. The Lord, through congregations, calls leaders to help serve as a spiritual watchman. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps distractions to my faith at bay. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps my focus on Jesus, the One who lived a perfect life in my place, suffered and died for my every sin, and who now lives for me.

If you are a member of a Christian congregation, thank the Lord for your pastor who keeps watch over you. If you do not have a church home, find one that faithfully teaches the Bible so that you, too, can be blessed by the gift of having a spiritual watchman.

Prayer:
Lord, bless those who serve as a spiritual watchman. Keep them faithful to your Word so that your people are protected from the lies that might harm them. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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