Remembering What We Have – September 22, 2018

Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.
Philippians 1:27

Remembering What We Have


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:27

See series: Devotions

There’s a story of a child who seemed apathetic about everything. He was reckless. He was careless. He didn’t work hard. His life seemed to have no purpose or direction. That all changed when a group of people decided to sit down with him and have a talk. This group of people revealed to him something he had not previously understood. They revealed that, one day, by succession, he would become the leader of their country. From that moment on, that young man’s life changed. He had focus, direction, and drive. Knowing that he was the one who would inherit the highest position of leadership—knowing that made all the difference in how he conducted his life.

Which brings us to the portion of God’s Word we have before us. Here’s the setting. The Christians living in the town of Philippi were facing people who were openly hostile towards them and what they believed. The apostle Paul knew that this was no time for Christians to appear apathetic or careless. Rather, this was a time for focus, direction, and seriousness of purpose. In light of this, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to say this to the Philippian Christians, “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.” Paul wanted them to remember what they possessed in Jesus. He wanted them to understand that the message of the gospel is the most profound truth that the world will ever know. For this reason, he called on them to proclaim with their lives how priceless and supreme the gospel really is.

In our sinful weakness, you and I often forget this. In a world filled with active opposition to Christianity, you and I often lapse into carelessness. There are times when you and I can appear indifferent or apathetic. There are times we don’t even show up. In doing so we fail our Lord and we fail to live his gospel and proclaim it.

But Paul wants us to remember. He wants us to remember how God became one of us to live and die as our Substitute. He wants us to remember the full forgiveness we have through faith in what Christ has done. He wants us to remember that Jesus lives to embrace us with his promises. He wants us to remember the crown of life that Jesus purchased for us at Calvary’s cross.

“Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ,” Paul says. Empowered by that gospel, you and I can begin to do just that.

Prayer:
Son of God, in love you became a human being. You became my Substitute. You died for my every sin and rose from death. Move me to proclaim your gospel with my 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.

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The Ultimate Encourager – September 21, 2018

Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-2

The Ultimate Encourager


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 10:24-2

See series: Devotions

“He just found out that he’d been cut from the high school basketball team.” “She didn’t get accepted to the college she wanted”  “They knew that layoffs were coming, but they hadn’t expected their jobs to be lost.” “What a challenging health report!”

Each of us has times in life when we’re discouraged and need encouragement. God is the ultimate encourager, as he assures us that he loves us, that our sins are forgiven, that we’re on the road to heaven.

Because he’s gracious, God also gives us tangible ways to be encouraged. One of the key ways that God brings that encouragement to us is through our church-home. As we worship and study together, God encourages us, and we encourage each other.

For example, as we confess our sins together, we’re reminded that we all have the same problem. That’s encouraging; I’m not alone. As we hear the message that our sins are forgiven, we’re reminded that each of us stands before God as right, as innocent. That’s encouraging! I know what God thinks about me, what he feels about me, and that’s true for each of us gathered there. As we study the Word together, we find out how the Bible applies to our lives, and how it has applied to the lives of our fellow Christians. That’s encouraging!

In fact, we encourage each other just by being there. Coming to the worship service or Bible study brings encouragement to those around us, because it says, “We are united in our belief in the true God; we treasure the same message of forgiveness; we look forward to eternal life together.” By our attendance, we give encouragement to many others. And they encourage us.

No wonder God, who loves us dearly, encourages us to not give up meeting together. As we meet together, God encourages us, and we encourage each other. And that’s just what I need!

Prayer:
O Savior God, encourage me in my walk of faith. Then use me to encourage 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peace in Jesus Is the Real Thing – September 20, 2018

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.
Colossians 3:16

Peace in Jesus Is the Real Thing


Daily Devotion – September 20, 2018

Devotion based on Colossians 3:16

See series: Devotions

In 1971 a well-known soft drink company produced a jingle which quickly became a hit song. The television ad featured young people from many different cultures on a sunny hillside in Italy singing the refrain, “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony. I’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.” The commercial was a huge success. Radio stations across the country received many requests for the song to be replayed. Clearly both the melody and the message resonated with people who longed for harmony among the nations.

Our world is just as chaotic today as it was in the early 70’s, if not more so. We grow tired of the constant conflict all around us. So much fighting and quarreling in the news, on the internet, at work, and in our homes. We wish there were some easy path to peace, some way to get everyone to work together toward common goals. But the human heart is naturally inclined towards selfishness and suspicion. For countless centuries we have lived in never-ending conflict. Clearly no song (or soda) alone can create true peace and unity.

When Christ Jesus calls his people to walk together in his name, he doesn’t use a gimmick or emotional manipulation to unite us. The hymns we sing as Christian congregations are not composed of empty lyrics, but lasting truths. The next time you attend worship with your fellow believers, pay close attention to the words of the songs you sing. The melodies themselves may be ancient or contemporary, the chord progressions may be familiar to you or brand new. But listen carefully to the words. Reflect on their meaning and their importance for you, for your family, for all people.

Good Christian songs will point you to the love of God in Christ which is revealed to us in the Scriptures. They recount the many blessings God continues to pour out on us: forgiveness, peace, life, salvation—all through the work of his perfect Son Jesus who came to unite us sinners with a holy God. Through his sacrifice, we have been reconciled to God and to each other. Faith in God’s promises joins us with the people sitting in the pew next to us—and to those all over the world who share a common Savior, Jesus Christ. We can’t help but blend our voices together in thanking him. Peace in Jesus is no illusion. He is the real thing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, open my lips to sing your praises together with your people everywhere. 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.
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The Path that Jesus Took – September 19, 2018

The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears, and I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. … Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.
Isaiah 50: 5-6,10

The Path that Jesus Took


Daily Devotion – September 19, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 50: 5-6,10

See series: Devotions

The most notorious road in the world is the Via Dolorosa, “the Way of Sorrows.” According to tradition, it is the route Jesus took from Pilate’s hall to Calvary. You can still walk the Via Dolorosa, though the current route probably isn’t accurate. Ever since Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. and again in 135 A.D., no one knows the exact route Jesus followed that Friday. But we do know where the path actually began.

The path began, not in the court of Pilate, but in the halls of heaven. Jesus began his journey when he left his home in heaven to rescue us from sin and death.

This is a path that Jesus didn’t have to take. He could have “side-stepped” it. He could have walked away from it. He could have walked the path of glory instead of the road of suffering to Calvary. His own disciples tried to persuade him to do as much. In the Garden of Gethsemane, certainly the devil was making it clear to Jesus what he would suffer on the cross for people like Judas who would betray him, the disciples who would desert him, the chief priests and elders of the law who would taunt him, and for sinful, rebellious people like you and me. Jesus would suffer hell for people who acted like his enemies. He could have had legions of angels come down from heaven to fight for him. And at any point he could have just called it quits. But he didn’t.

Isaiah quotes our Savior: “I have not been rebellious; I have not drawn back. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting.”

But why? It’s not only that Jesus suffered; it’s that he suffered willingly. Why? Because this was the only way to wash away your sin; this was the only way heaven could be your home. This amazing, loving, merciful Savior, Jesus Christ, willingly suffered for you.

Isaiah shares his thoughts on this wonderful comfort: “Who among you fears the LORD and obeys the word of his servant? Let him who walks in the dark, who has no light, trust in the name of the LORD and rely on his God.”

Indeed. Trust in the Lord. Rely on your God. The One who loves you so much that he willingly did everything necessary for your salvation will never let you down.

Prayer:
Dearest Savior, may your willingness to suffer and die for me make me always willing to faithfully follow 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.
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Faith Is Not Selfish – September 18, 2018

My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don’t show favoritism. Suppose a man comes into your meeting wearing a gold ring and fine clothes, and a poor man in shabby clothes also comes in. If you show special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say, “Here’s a good seat for you,” but say to the poor man, “You stand there” or “Sit on the floor by my feet,” have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him? … If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. … What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.
James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18

Faith Is Not Selfish


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2018

Devotion based on James 2:1-5,8-10,14-18

See series: Devotions

Our sinful human nature has an inborn tendency which James illustrates for us today: selfishness can raise its ugly head even among brothers and sisters in Christ. Interestingly, the two illustrations James uses have to do with how we interact with others who have much, or those who have little or nothing.

Selfish. Isn’t that what showing favoritism to the wealthy amounts to? Why would I show special attention to a man wearing fine clothes and a gold ring? It could be out of respect for the gifts and skills he has developed, for his hard work, and for a job well done. More likely, however, this special attention is sinful favoritism which is angling toward something for me. What can I get? How can I benefit? How can this work—or how can I work this—to my advantage? Such favoritism is selfish.

The same is true of empty words. Why would I tell people without clothes and food to be warm and well fed, but do nothing to address their physical needs? It could be because some circumstance got in the way, making it impossible to carry out what I fully intended to do. More likely, however, it is my sinful concern for my own comfort and ease—not wanting to be inconvenienced or have my routine disrupted. That too is selfish.

Both situations betray a sinful focus on me, and James calls me out on both accounts: “If you show favoritism, you sin …” and “faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”

The answer to a sinful focus on self is to look to our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. He is glorious because he was and is perfectly unselfish—in his coming, in his interaction with those who had much and those who had little or nothing, in his sacrifice of himself, and in his ongoing work as our Prophet, Priest, and King. Jesus is gloriously, unselfishly perfect.

As you navigate life’s opportunities and challenges, remember that God has chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised to those who love him. Then say thank you; show your faith by deeds that are rich in love toward others.

Prayer:
O Lord, forgive my sinful selfishness. Help me overcome the temptations to show favoritism or speak empty words. Enable me, in Christ, to be rich in love toward all. 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.
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More than a Man – September 17, 2018

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him. He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.” (NIV 2011)

Mark 8:29-33

More than a Man


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 8:29-33

See series: Devotions

“Who is Jesus?” and “What was his purpose?” are two key questions a reader of the Bible must be able to answer. Opinions on these questions vary widely. There are some who might say that Jesus did not exist but was merely the subject of historical fiction by some Jewish authors. Others might say he was a wise teacher of morality. Others might say he was one prophet among others like Muhammed or Buddha.

Jesus had asked his disciples who people thought he was. They reported that some thought he was just a man. Others thought he was an important prophet. But the disciples recognized there was something different about Jesus in what he was doing and how he taught. They confessed, “You are the one sent by God. You are the Lord’s anointed.”

They recognized who Jesus was, but it was that second question of what he came to do that was difficult for them to answer, and one we can struggle with too. If we just think that Jesus came to give us a set of morals to live by, to help us lead our best life now, to teach us how to raise our children, balance our bank account, or fix our marriage, then we miss the true purpose for his coming.

It is best to let Jesus describe why he came. Jesus says that he came to be rejected by the religious leaders of his day, that he be killed, and after three days rise again from the dead.

Jesus’ death and resurrection sets him apart from any individual or religious leader who came before him or who comes after him. His death and his return from death show us that he is more than a man. His death and his return from death show us that his death counted for something. Of course, when Jesus’ purpose doesn’t match up with our purpose for him, much like Peter, conflict in our hearts can arise.

Yet again, Jesus gives us an answer, “These are the concerns of God, not merely human concerns.” These are the concerns of God because he was concerned with the salvation of your soul, not just your physical life now. These are the concerns of God because he was concerned with your physical death and eternal life. These are the concerns of God because he sent his Son to die and rise again for you so that you too may rise from death and live with him forever.

Jesus is just who his Father intended him to be—more than a man. He is the Savior of our souls.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for showing us you are more than a man. Thank you for having in mind the concerns of God as you carried out your purpose. Keep us focused on you as our Savior from sin. 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.
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Lord Make Me Forgiving – September 16, 2018

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

Lord, Make Me Forgiving


Daily Devotion – September 16, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21-22

See series: Devotions

Peter didn’t understand forgiveness. He thought he should follow the prescribed tradition and forgive someone only seven times. Jesus corrected him by explaining forgiveness had to be more than that.

Forgiveness is not something which is counted or numbered. Neither do conditions apply which must be met before it can be offered. Nor should someone have to manifest a sufficient degree of sorrow before they can be forgiven. Forgiveness can only be understood by looking at the way Jesus has forgiven me.

Every time I come to Jesus’ cross it is with a heavy heart and the burden of guilt weighing me down. I know I have sinned and I know the sentence with which God punishes the sinner. My only hope is to plead for mercy. In an amazing display of love Jesus never turns me away. Nor does he ever tell me I have exceeded my limit of forgiveness. Neither does he demand to see some positive improvements before he can assure me my sins are removed. I come with filthy hands, a blackened heart and a desperate plea for mercy, and Jesus purifies me from all my sins. It sets my heart soaring to know I can stand before him deserving only judgment but receiving only mercy.

It is the way Jesus deals with me which motivates me to deal with others in the same way. Certainly, my sin-weakened flesh will make me reluctant to forgive someone. The world will try to convince me I need proof of genuine sincerity. Even the devil will prompt me to withhold forgiveness unless the person is completely humiliated. But this is not how Jesus dealt with me.

His undeserved love, his never-failing compassion, his dearest desire for my rescue invites me to come just as I am. It is this grace, secured by his precious work, which assures me I am forgiven. What a blessing this is for me, and what a comfort for those around me. I can respond with the same compassion, mercy, and love toward others with which Jesus dealt with me. This is why I need to pray daily and sincerely, “Lord make me forgiving as you have forgiven me.”

Prayer:
O precious Savior, not only do I need your forgiveness to comfort my aching heart, I need your forgiveness to forgive those who sin against me. Fill me with your love. Strengthen me through your death and resurrection. Make me forgiving, just as I have been forgiven. 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.

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Forgiveness – September 15, 2018

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said. But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.
Genesis 50:15-21

Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 50:15-21

See series: Devotions

“I will never forgive him!” “What do you think, am I just going to forgive you?”

If anyone had reason not to forgive, it was Joseph. Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery and years of difficulty and personal pain followed. (Read: Genesis chapters 37–50.)

However, by the time he is reunited with his brothers, he has become the “Prime Minister” of Egypt. He is in charge of the great warehouses of grain which he saved in advance of a terrible drought and famine. He has the motive, the means and the opportunity to let his brothers have it.

It is stunning to see what happens next. There is no grudge and no payback. Instead, there is gracious welcome and generous hospitality. How can this be? Joseph tells us: “Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good…”

The desire for revenge and failure to forgive are common human responses to sin, but they are not responses according to God’s love and in keeping with God’s will. God is a God of forgiveness. Through the death of Christ, he sends our sins away never to be found on our record again. He holds no grudges; he seeks to save and not to harm.

Filled with great appreciation for the forgiveness that God has freely given to me through Jesus, I am moved to forgive others. The forgiveness that I give to others frees me from anger and pain and frees those I forgive from guilt and shame. God intends forgiveness for good, and the ultimate good is heaven.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for your forgiveness of my sins. Lead me daily to forgive others even as I have been forgiven. 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.

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What We Need – September 14, 2018

The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
2 Timothy 4:3-4

What We Need


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 4:3-4

See series: Devotions

I know I should exercise, but it makes me sore and tired. I know I should eat a balanced diet, but donuts and cake taste better to me. I know that surgery will help me get back to full strength, but I’m scared to go under the knife and face painful rehab.

In daily life, our needs—things that are necessary and beneficial for a healthy and happy life—are often at odds with our wants—things that are optional and, sometimes, only superficially satisfying. But in the end, the truly wise and healthy person learns to seek, do, and even appreciate and long for the needed things.

The same holds true for our spiritual life. Our hearts are naturally tuned in to messages that are unhealthy and ultimately only superficially satisfying. So, our ears will naturally seek out messages that agree with our distorted heart’s desire. I want to hear that I am worthwhile and good. I want to hear that I can do things by my own determination and grit. I want to hear that I’m okay with God because I am a good (or at least pretty good) person. I want to hear that God is satisfied with good intentions, blessing me now and granting me a place in heaven as a result of my best efforts.

But that is not what I need to hear. I need to hear that I was born in sin and show it with thoughts that are impure, words that are unloving, and actions that are incomplete at best. I need to hear that my sinfulness separates me from a holy God. I need to hear that sinners like me deserve nothing from God but his punishment. I need to hear that, but I don’t want to…at first.

Human beings can only begin to hear and accept that difficult message when we come to know that it is not the end, or even the most important part, of what God knows our ears and hearts need to hear. I need to hear of God’s undeserved love—his amazing grace—towards sinners. I need to hear of a Savior who was sent to pay for and do away with human sin, even mine. I need to hear of a God who loves me and values me because of what his Son has done for me and the price he’s paid for me. I need to hear of a heavenly Father who promises to be with me in this life and take me to heaven when I die, because he has adopted me as his own dear child in Jesus Christ.

Tune your ears to that message. Find a church that faithfully teaches it. And you will be truly healthy and happy in your spiritual life!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, there are so many attractive and appealing messages in my world. Help me to tune my ears to your Word of Truth. In Jesus’ name. 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.
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Stick to the Playbook – September 13, 2018

Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.”
John 8:31

Stick to the Playbook


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2018

Devotion based on John 8:31

See series: Devotions

Training camps are complete. Pre-season action is over. In the United States, a sport returns that captivates millions each weekend. College student athletes and professionals alike will step out onto the gridiron—the football field.

Are you a fan of American football? Even if you aren’t, you can understand that in football, as in any team sport, the coach has a playbook. The playbook guides players to take the right number of steps, make the right cuts, throw the right passes, attack the right angles, all to defeat their opponent and win the game. Training camps and practice after practice drill those plays into the athletes, so they become second nature during the game. Imagine the disappointment of the coach when his players don’t follow the playbook!

Imagine the disappointment of God when his people don’t follow his Word! Indeed, the Bible is so much more than a playbook. God hasn’t given his Word just to drill into you exactly the right steps to take and tell you the decisions you need to make, but the Bible does present a message of victory for you.

Jesus teaches you of the victory you have in him. Even though you have taken the wrong steps, attacked the wrong angles in your life, and disappointed God, Jesus teaches you that you are forgiven. Jesus teaches you that he is your Savior. He stepped onto the gridiron of this world and faced the fiercest opponent. Jesus faced death itself for you, and he won. He gave up his life on the cross for your forgiveness, but then rose again in victory over the grave.

That’s why his teaching is so important. It’s why he tells you, and all who follow him, to hold on to it with such a grip that no opponent can ever force a fumble out of your hands. As you look around you, there are so many “teams” of Christians. Each seems to wear a different uniform. Which will you choose?

Find a church that’s running the right routes, saying the right things, taking the right angles—that is, they hold dearly to Jesus’ teaching. Then you know they will always point you to him as your Savior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach and strengthen me to hold firmly to your Word of Truth. Help me to boldly live my life as your disciple. 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.
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Your God will Come – September 12, 2018

Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
Isaiah 35:4-7

Your God will Come


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 35:4-7

See series: Devotions

Jennifer had a fearful heart. She was afraid of failing. Afraid of not being the person, mother, wife, sister, daughter she wanted to be, should be. Afraid of her own weaknesses and sins. Afraid of what God would think of her.

So how does this help? “Be strong, Jennifer. Do not fear; your God will come, with vengeance, with divine retribution.” God is coming? With vengeance and divine retribution? God is coming to pay me back for all my sins and failings? That is enough to make an already fearful heart completely fall apart. Terrifying!

But that’s not what God’s Word is saying in these verses. “Your God will come…to save you!” His vengeance and divine retribution are not against us, not against the repentant sinner with a fearful heart. The vengeance and retribution are reserved for Jennifer’s enemies. “He will come to save you, Jennifer.” God is coming to dish out divine payback to all of Jennifer’s enemies and save her from them.

God did come. Jesus arrived on the scene as a human being, God himself in the flesh. He defeated sin and all its consequences. He healed illnesses. He restored sight, hearing, speech, and movement. He drove away sin and death by his death on the cross. When he died and rose again from death, Jesus paid out retribution to sin, death, and the devil, and set his people free. He set Jennifer free. She is completely forgiven of every sin and failing. She is perfectly accepted and approved by God, through the work of Jesus. Instead of fear stalking her through the desert, Jennifer now walks in faith and joy through a vibrant paradise where grace grows.

She still has a fearful heart now and then. But she knows God came for her and died to save her. And he will come for her again to take her to be with him forever.

Prayer:
Dear Father, calm my fearful heart with your salvation. Restore all that sin has ruined in my life. Bring me to the paradise of heaven, through Jesus 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.
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Astounding – September 11, 2018

Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
Romans 11:33

Astounding


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 11:33

See series: Devotions

Perhaps you enjoy viewing nature programs on public television. Perhaps you don’t. Regardless of your general interest in such programming, however, there is a nature series that towers above the rest. It’s a series of televised nature programs produced by Sir David Attenborough. Attenborough has combined his superb production values with the outstanding camera work of the BBC. Together, they capture moments in nature that are astounding.

If you watch, you will never forget the newborn lizard racing across a beach for its life while being chased by scores of fast-moving snakes (by the way, the lizard wins). If you watch, you will never forget what a father penguin is willing to endure to keep his young safe and warm. If you watch, you will never forget how the Australian lyrebird is able to imitate almost anything—even the intricate sounds of a camera. And if you watch, you will never forget the migration of a single monarch butterfly from Canada to a specific, pre-ordained cluster of trees in Mexico.

The series is not at all religious. Nevertheless, when one views these episodes in light of the reality that God is the Creator of all, the words of the apostle Paul seem to rise up and shout when he declares in pure astonishment: Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!

As awe-inspiring as God’s creation is, however, Paul is not just speaking about the miraculous creatures that fill this planet. More than all that, Paul is speaking about the gospel.

God became a human being. God became one of us. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God lived among us. He ate and slept among us. He worked, got tired, and made friends. He wept when a loved one died. He suffered ridicule and rejection. He gave up his life on a cross.

He did all that to wash us clean and to set everything right between God and us. He did all that to ensure that all of our sins, all of our failures, all of our wrongs would never come back to haunt us ever again. And to assure us of this, he raised himself from the dead.

That’s what you and I have through faith in Jesus Christ. Through faith in him we have more than an awesome Creator. We have a Savior, Brother, and Friend.

And that is astounding.

Prayer:
Holy God, the wonders of your creation are astounding. Even more so, Lord, is your love for me in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep me close 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Simply Amazing – September 10, 2018

People were overwhelmed with amazement. “He has done everything well,” they said. “He even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.”
Mark 7:37

Simply Amazing


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 7:37

See series: Devotions

There are some things in life which are simply amazing: the glow of a sunrise, the iridescence of a sunset, the reflection of mountains in a calm turquoise lake. These are all amazing. To these, specific events from life can also be added: the birth of a child, the longevity and health of a relative, the unexpected recovery from a life-threatening illness. These too are all amazing.

There is one more area of my life where I never cease to be amazed, and that is with the love of my Savior.

In connection with today’s verse of God’s Word, when I consider his care and compassion for the man who could barely speak and was without the sense of hearing, it is simply amazing. Jesus healed him completely. No recovery needed. No therapy required. No further treatment prescribed. It is the same care and compassion Jesus promises for my life.

While I may not see a miracle such as this man experienced, I do know he promises goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life (Psalm 23:6). This is simply amazing that Jesus is so focused on my daily and personal care.

What is even more amazing is the care and compassion Jesus provides for eternal life. I was dead in my transgressions and sin. I was blind to his love and forgiveness. I was an enemy opposed to him at every turn. Yet, Jesus loved me. In that love he did everything to rescue me from my self-inflicted condemnation. He secured new life through his death and resurrection. He opened my eyes through the powerful working of faith. He reconciled me and brought me into his family. I deserved nothing but punishment, but he gave me everything. This is simply amazing.

There is only one response to Jesus’ undeserved love. I love him who loved me first. I also live every day in awe, thanking and praising my Savior for what he did—which is simply amazing.

Prayer:
O precious Savior, truly your love is amazing because it is undeserved. Keep me in your love and your compassionate care until I receive the greater blessing you have prepared for me in heaven. 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.
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Repentance – September 9, 2018

“If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or tax collector. I tell you the truth, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:15-18

Repentance


Daily Devotion – September 9, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15-18

See series: Devotions

“It’s none of my business.” “I’m afraid it will damage our friendship.” “Who am I to point out the sin of another since I am a sinner myself?”

When a fellow Christian is caught in a sin, these are the excuses that so often find their way into our vocabulary. On the surface, they all seem legitimate. Why would we ever want to be considered meddlers, or controversy starters, or self-righteous hypocrites?

But when we trace such excuses to their roots, they get exposed for what they are: tricks and schemes of the devil. After all, Satan will do everything in his power to make sure we do not view sin for what it truly is—a poison that doesn’t just wound or hurt, but a poison that kills. And Satan desires nothing more than for people caught in deliberate sin to continue down that road of sin unrepentant—refusing to recognize their sin and refusing to recognize their desperate need for the forgiveness of our Savior. This is always Satan’s desire, because the road of unrepentance leads to hell.

That’s also why Jesus commands what he does in these words from the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 18. Jesus desires the salvation of souls. And so, Jesus commands Christians to call those caught in sin to repentance, that they may recognize their sin and then turn to him for forgiveness.

The steps Jesus calls Christians to follow are clear concerning a brother or sister in Christ. First, approach the fallen sinner privately, that your careful warning may lead him to the repentance God desires. If the person does not repent, involve two or three others, that the seriousness of the matter may be underscored while its privacy maintained. If the sinner still does not repent, take the matter to the church, that the entire body of believers may demonstrate just how seriously the Lord desires repentance and just how greatly the Lord desires to forgive. Finally, if the unrepentant sinner refuses to listen even to the church, exclude him from the church, that he may be continually reminded that impenitence kills saving faith.

Because our Savior has issued us this command solely out of love for sinners, we carry it out with that same spirit of love. We approach it with a single-minded desire to lead sinners to repentance, that they may experience the joy of his forgiveness once again. And we approach it with a humble heart, recognizing that it is only by God’s grace that our own sins have been forgiven. May God grant all of us such love and humility as we carry out this important work!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in your unlimited love for souls, you have commanded your believers to call sinners to repentance. Move us to carry out this command with that same spirit of love. 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.

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Life for You – September 8, 2018

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”‘ Say to them, ‘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! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezekiel 33:7-11

Life for You


Daily Devotion – September 8, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7-11

See series: Devotions

The cancer support group gathers in a circle in the church basement. They tell their dreary stories of unending fatigue, nausea, and pain. Finally, a young man who has been listening quietly announces, “I have a brain tumor. The doctors want to do surgery and remove it, but I’m not going to do it.” Support gives way to exasperation. “What?” “How can you do this?” “Don’t you want to live?”

When faced with a cancer diagnosis, our loved ones will most likely make every effort to see to it that we seek out every treatment available. The goal is staying alive.

“Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” The inner, spiritual death caused by sin is cause for deep concern. Too many of us know the agony of watching our loved ones separate themselves from God through careless and persistent sin. God insists that we stand guard and speak out to dissuade our loved ones from their sin.

There is no reason to die because of sin. God “takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked.” He wants us to live so much that his own Son took all of the careless and persistent sins we have committed and removed them by his sacrificial death on the cross. Troubled sinners cry out, “How then can we live?” Our loving God answers, “Turn from sin and trust that my Son’s death is life for you.”

Prayer:
Gracious God, lead us all away from sin and to your loving forgiveness in Jesus. Overcome everything harmful to body and soul with your promises of heavenly glory. 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.

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Test the Spirits – September 7, 2018

Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 John 4:1

Test the Spirits


Daily Devotion – September 7, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 4:1

See series: Devotions

Test the spirits? That sounds a bit creepy or just plain weird. It seems like something outside the normal person’s expertise and abilities. Maybe we should leave such a thing to scientists. Although perhaps we would find that most scientists have moved beyond a belief in the spirit world. Maybe we need to call the Ghostbusters.

Seriously, today’s encouragement from God’s Word through the pen of a man named John is a vital matter that has critical consequences. God, who himself is spirit (John 4:24), tells us that there is a spirit world. He tells us that not every spirit comes from him. Not every spirit is good and faithful, trustworthy and true.

The chief of those evil spirits is called the devil or Satan. He is an angel who was created good but rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven. Satan and those evil angels, often called demons or devils, who followed him now roam the earth seeking to lead people away from God. They do their destructive work by speaking lies about God to deceive people about the way to have a peace-filled relationship with God. They most often do their deadly work through human beings called “false prophets.”

But how do we test spirits? Not by their personality, eloquence, passion, or sincerity. Test the spirits…by the message that is spoken. God’s Word—the Bible—reveals God’s truth in Jesus Christ. Jesus is the Truth. During his life here on earth he spoke the truth from his own mouth. Now from heaven he still speaks through God’s Word recorded in the Bible. He speaks through true and faithful messengers who believe the Bible to be truth and speak it clearly and correctly.

Not everybody who claims to speak the truth of God speaks truthfully. Some are counterfeits. People trained to spot counterfeit currency are first trained to thoroughly and accurately know the genuine thing. Because of this training, they can easily pick out the fake. John, as a dear friend, encourages us to compare the message we hear with the message of God in the Bible. That means we need to read and know our Bible. We need to diligently seek out and surround ourselves with teachers who know the Scriptures and speak God’s truth faithfully. We need to connect ourselves to churches that seek out and speak God’s gospel truth. True spirits will point us to the Truth—Jesus Christ—who is our Savior from sin and the source of every blessing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, we daily need your help. Help us to test the spirits by knowing your truth and then comparing what we hear to what you say. Give us wisdom and discernment as we seek to grow in our relationship with you. In your saving name, 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.
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The Word of God Produces – September 6, 2018

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

The Word of God Produces


Daily Devotion – September 6, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10-11

See series: Devotions

Perhaps this summer you often see a farm field where both sunshine and rain have come down on that field. You have watched as rows and rows of corn reached toward the sky. First appeared little sprouts that hardly seemed more than organized weeds, but then they grew taller, knee-high, and now those little sprouts have become full stalks that stand taller than you.

Maybe, though, you don’t see corn fields where you live. Instead you have watched your tomato plants or your garden flowers. You have witnessed that when water contacts the soil, plants grow and thrive.

It is a perfect picture of what occurs in the places we call churches. As people gather, it is God’s Word that comes down from heaven—the Bible is read, songs are sung, messages are delivered by the pastor. God’s Word contacts human hearts. We cannot watch hearts as closely as we do the soil of the fields, and we may not witness green sprouts reach for the sky, but people grow and thrive. God promises it. He promises that when he sends his Word to human hearts, it produces. It accomplishes his desire and achieves his purpose.

What is God’s purpose for you? He desires that you will come to him because you thirst for his love and mercy. (See Isaiah 55:1.) He desires that you will turn to listen to his Word and know his mercy and pardon. (See Isaiah 55:7.) He desires that you will be able to go forth in your life with joy and peace. (See Isaiah 55:12.)

In his Word, God tells you that his Son also came down to accomplish what he desired and achieve the purpose for which God sent him. That purpose was that his own Son give his life over to death for you. Jesus died to purchase your life out from underneath the weight of your guilt. God’s purpose was that Jesus’ blood shed on the cross makes you clean in God’s sight. God’s purpose is that the victory his Son accomplished by his resurrection from the dead, be your very own by trusting in Jesus as your Savior.

Do you see a church where you live in which God’s Word is proclaimed? Now is the perfect time to let God’s Word cause faith to grow and thrive in your heart.

Prayer:
Almighty God, send forth your Word into my heart in abundance, so that my faith in Christ may grow and flourish. 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.
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His Calling Card – September 5, 2018

Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the LORD your God that I give you. … Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
Deuteronomy 4:1,2,6-8

His Calling Card


Daily Devotion – September 5, 2018

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 4:1,2,6-8

See series: Devotions

Jim was a salesman. He traveled to visit his customers. He always left them a business card, so they would be able to contact him again later.

God uses his people as his calling card. On his people, he imprints his promises: “I will be with you. I will be near you. I will never leave you nor forsake you. I will always, always listen when you pray.” And a host of other promises. On his people, he imprints his laws: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.” And he added a fully fleshed out code of conduct for his people’s society, worship, and personal life. God wanted his people to be his calling card. The people of other nations would see Israel and see God’s promises and commands stamped across the fabric of their lives. And it would have worked…

Except his people sinned. They fell away from God again and again. They disregarded his commands and promises and turned to other gods.

How about you? Do you represent God well? Do you display God’s commands to the world by the way you live? Do you promote God’s promises by what you say and do? Or are you guilty of giving God “bad press?”

God in his mercy sent another calling card: his own Son. In his Son, people of every nation can see the imprint of God’s righteousness, God’s laws. In God’s Son Jesus, the world can see God’s love, God’s promises. Jesus not only publicized God well in life but connected lost souls with God through his death on the cross. People from every nation who believe in Jesus not only learn about God, but know God as their Father, receive forgiveness of sins, and live forever.

God forgives you through Christ. And in grace, sends you out as his calling card into the world.

Prayer:
Dear Father, forgive me for giving you a bad name by a sinful life. Forgive me and cleanse me in Christ and use me as your calling card in a world of lost souls. 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.
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Raw Recruit – September 4, 2018

Put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.
Ephesians 6:13

Raw Recruit


Daily Devotion – September 4, 2018

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:13

See series: Devotions

In the world of the First Century AD, the Roman army was a sight to see. It had great numbers. It was well-supplied. It had cutting-edge weaponry.

However, its real strength was not in numbers, weapons, or supplies. It was the training. The training of the Roman soldier in the Roman army was superb. The historian by the name of Josephus got to observe the training of Roman soldiers firsthand. What struck him the most was their determination to always be ready for the day of battle. Their training was constant. Josephus wrote: “[T]hey do not sit with folded hands in peace time only to put them in motion in the hour of need. On the contrary, as though they had been born with weapons in hand, they never have a truce from training.”

In addition, this constant training was not just for the soldier who was new to the army. It was for the seasoned veteran as well. We know this from an ancient manual on Roman military training. After it emphasizes that the seasoned veteran has orders for daily training too, the manual then explains why. It says, “No matter how many years he has served, an unexercised soldier is forever a raw recruit.”

Which leads to you and me.

As a Christian, how many times have I presumed that I am a seasoned soldier of the cross when the reality is that I often behave like a raw recruit? As soon as the Lord gives me an opportunity to display some genuine Christian maturity for others, how often do I react with the immaturity of the raw recruit? And when this sinful world gives me a very trying day, how often do I glower, pout, and carry myself as if this were my first day in the Lord’s army?

We have all had our turn at letting down our Lord.

That is why my present strength as a soldier of the cross is not the number of years I have lived. It is not my happy memories of Sunday School or Christian Elementary School. It is not my past work on this or that committee at church. Rather, it is the Spirit-wrought realization that I need the Lord Jesus now more than ever. I need the forgiveness he has purchased for me at the cross. I need the peace and strength he gives me in his Word and Sacrament.

When that happens, the more fully I wear the armor of God. When that happens, the more fully I live to the Lord’s glory as a seasoned soldier of the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, so often I have behaved as if I were a raw recruit. Wash me clean. Empower me by your Spirit to realize my need for you is greater than 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.
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Heart Problems – September 3, 2018

“From within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly.”
Mark 7:21-22

Heart Problems


Daily Devotion – September 3, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 7:21-22

See series: Devotions

Nancy was concerned about her husband. His lifestyle choices made him a perfect candidate for heart problems. Even Ken’s doctor agreed. Ken was overweight. He got little exercise. He was under a great deal of stress. What was most troubling was his attitude. Every time Nancy encouraged him to change, he replied, “You have to die from something.”

In many ways I can be like Ken, especially when it comes to the spiritual condition of my heart. Jesus wants to claim it as his own, but often I reject that claim and live my life the way I choose. This leads to a struggle between what is good and God-pleasing, and what could lead to my eternal condemnation.

My heart is the problem. Jesus’ warning to his disciples is one I need to take seriously. I may believe my heart is filled with good intentions, but the opposite is true. By nature, it is filled with evil thoughts and desires which result in evil actions. In the end, I either must confess I have a heart problem or deny it.

What a blessing it is that Jesus opens my eyes with the warning he gives. Not only do I need to see the horrible condition of my heart, I must acknowledge it. Once I admit my heart has a problem, my Savior leads me to look to the cure he provides.

In Jesus, I have forgiveness for the evil condition of my heart. In Jesus, I receive the desire and the strength to change. In Jesus, I have his peace which continually guards my heart and life. It is only Jesus’ undeserved love, his sinless life, and his triumph over every evil that replaces what exists by nature, repairs the damage, and renews my heart for a life of loving service.

This new life and new heart is mine only by faith in Jesus. And though I may never be completely free from heart problems in this life, I can live in hope. Jesus continues to call me, change me, and claim my heart as his own.

Prayer: (Psalm 51:10)
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

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.
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Following Jesus is Worth Whatever It Takes – September 2, 2018

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.”
Matthew 16:21-26

Following Jesus is Worth Whatever It Takes


Daily Devotion – September 2, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 16:21-26

See series: Devotions

Human beings put a value on everything. How much we value someone, or something affects the decisions we make. If we value a certain piece of meat enough to pay thirteen dollars a pound for it, we buy it. If we value our pet enough to pay a thousand dollars for the surgery she needs, we tell the vet to schedule the surgery. If we value winning a marathon enough, we get up early every morning to train for it. If we value losing weight enough, we avoid certain foods.

Jesus values you more than anyone has ever valued anything. He wants to spend his eternity with you. He knew that the only way he could do this was to go to the cross and spill his blood as a payment for your sins. It would be painful beyond words. It would be difficult beyond description. As Jesus said, he would have to “suffer many things.” But, for Jesus it was a simple equation. Lose his life or lose you. He chose to lose his life.

And now, because of what Jesus did, all his followers will live eternally with him. Those who do not follow him will suffer separation from him forever. So, what are you willing to suffer in order to follow him? It is a simple equation. Lose him and you lose everything. Or, to put it positively, follow him at all costs. Carry whatever burden you must. Put up with whatever ridicule you must. Pass by whatever temporary pleasure you must in order to follow him. Because when Jesus leads you to the glory of heaven you will exclaim, “Wow! It was worth it!”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I thank you that you valued me enough to suffer so much to save me. My relationship with you is worth more than anything else. Send your Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this conviction so that every decision I make this day will reflect how much I value you. 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.

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The Wonders of His Mercy – September 1, 2018

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy … Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Romans 12:1-2

The Wonders of God’s Mercy


Daily Devotion – September 1, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 12:1-2

See series: Devotions

Little hands shape Play-Doh into so many things: hot dogs, stars, and colorful creatures. And when they finish they make something else.

How much like Play-Doh we are! What is molding our hearts, minds, and character? Either the world is shaping us to conform to its standards, or the Lord is changing us inside and out.

The world works hand-in-hand with our inborn, sinful nature. An advertisement leaves us dissatisfied with what God has given. A movie scene or Internet picture stirs lustful desires. Another person’s harsh words kindle our resentment.

Even potentially good virtues like hard work, family values, and self-reliance become ungodly in the world’s hands. Work or family can become more important than our Savior. Self-reliance can fail to fully rely on God, and it can foster indifference towards the needs of others.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But how? How can we resist the power of this world? Look at what the apostle writes: “In view of God’s mercy.”

The preceding chapters of Romans laid out the wonders of God’s mercy. The opening verses proclaimed the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. What mercy! Our own sin made us worthless. Yet even though all have sinned, God has freely justified all, because Jesus paid the ransom by sacrificing himself in our place. God justifies the wicked. He gives us a clean record. Faith believes the good news of this verdict. Only by faith in Christ, and not by works, we have access to God and rejoice in the hope of glory. “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).

In view of God’s mercy, why wouldn’t we daily resist the world’s efforts to mold us like Play-Doh? Rather, take God’s word to heart to transform your mind, making you new each day.

Prayer:(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 70:4)
Jesus, be with me and direct me;
Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire;
Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me;
Jesus, be all my heart’s desire;
Jesus, be in my thoughts all day
And never let me fall away.

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.

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God is Everywhere – August 31, 2018

“Where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”
Matthew 18:20

God is Everywhere


Daily Devotion – August 31, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:20

See series: Devotions

I know that God is everywhere. When I have done something wrong, I know I cannot hide from him, even though I feel like trying. No matter where I go, no matter how I try to avoid what I did, God is still there, and he knows the truth.

But I would like God to be present with me in a soothing way, not in a condemning way. I want his presence in a way that goes beyond his just being there. I want it to be something special, something good.

Jesus tells me how God achieves this special, soothing presence. Jesus invites me to come together with other people in his name.

What does it mean to come together in the name of Jesus?

The name of Jesus is his titles and everything else he has revealed to us about himself in the Bible. To come together in his name is to join with other people in listening to what God says about himself in the Bible. The good news about Jesus, the gospel, is how Jesus presents himself, with the name, “Savior.”

With these words recorded in the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus is talking about church! Where the gospel is proclaimed in Word and sacrament, Jesus is present in a special way. That way is especially helpful when I have done something wrong, because the gospel tells me that Jesus has taken the punishment for my sin, and I have forgiveness through faith in him.

That way of Jesus being present is especially helpful when I am feeling lonely, because the gospel tells me that God will never leave me or forsake me. Jesus cried out on the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Because Jesus was doing that for me, God promises that he will never forsake me like that. Instead he will be with me my entire life, all the way to heaven.

I may not always feel like gathering with other people for worship in church, but I know it’s worthwhile, because Jesus promises his special presence there, and I do want to be with Jesus.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 533:1)
I love your kingdom, Lord, the place of your abode, the Church our blest Redeemer saved with his own precious blood. 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.
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The Kingdom of God is In Your Midst – August 30, 2018

Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (NIV 2011)
Luke 17:20-21

The Kingdom of God is In Your Midst


Daily Devotion – August 30, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 17:20-21

See series: Devotions

Things are not always as they seem. An old, beat-up pair of shoes is the most comfortable pair in the closet. A restaurant that looks like a dive serves amazing food.

When the long-awaited Savior finally arrived, many who saw him weren’t impressed. He was from a poor family. He was too ordinary. Sure, there had been miracles. But if he was the promised Savior, when was he going to establish his reign? When was he going to usher in a new golden age for the people of Israel? In today’s reading, some religious leaders called Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come.

Things were not as they seemed. Jesus was not running for office; he was heading for the cross to pay for the sins of all. He was not raising an army; he was inviting people to repent and believe in him. And wherever people heard the Savior’s words and believed, there was the kingdom of God. So, when Jesus was asked when the kingdom of God would come, he said, “The kingdom of God is in your midst.”

Things are still not as they seem. When we read a devotion like this one, when we bow our heads and pray, when we go to church and worship, it all looks and feels so ordinary. We might wonder if it’s worth our time and effort to commit ourselves to such things. We might be tempted to focus on other things instead. Let Jesus’ words in today’s reading put any doubts to rest. Where the words of Jesus are heard and believed, there the kingdom of God is in your midst.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you have paid for all my sins. Keep me close to your Word. Reign as king in my heart. 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.
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Lord of My Heart and Home – August 29, 2018

“…as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD.”
Joshua 24:15

Lord of My Heart and Home


Daily Devotion – August 29, 2018

Devotion based on Joshua 24:15

See series: Devotions

God’s service to his people is ever-faithful! He served the children of Israel through his almighty Word as he promised to give them a home of their own in Canaan. He also served them through the work of his almighty hand as their faith-filled hope of a promised home was finally fulfilled. Buoyed by a bold faith in God’s promises, Joshua passionately pledged to serve the Lord.

Such a desire to selflessly serve the Lord does not come naturally. The human heart instinctively seeks to serve the sinful self. Earthly idols abound all around us in the riches and pleasures that appear so attractive. The devil seduces the human heart and enslaves it into serving what is appealing to the eye rather than what is appealing to God. How disquieting it is when we repentantly recognize the countless occasions we have not lived up to the perfect service standards that God deserves and demands!

The Lord heals the haughty heart as he holds out his helping hand of grace to the helpless sinner. Just as he served Joshua and the Israelites through his faithful promises, he speaks to us of his promise to revive the brokenhearted with his free gift of forgiveness. In absolute selfless service to sinners, God sent his dearly loved Son, Jesus, who came to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus teaches us that real freedom is found in serving him with all our heart. Like the lifeless idols of Joshua’s day, the modern gods that lead the heart to lust after them are helpless to liberate the sinner. They eventually lead to disappointment and eternal destruction. Only in Jesus does the empty heart find everlasting joy and peace. Our Servant-Savior once said, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Through God’s life-giving Word he grants us freedom to serve him gladly and willingly.

Out of heart-felt thanks for our Savior’s service to us, we serve Jesus by sharing the Lord’s promises with our families. Not only did Joshua commit himself to serving the Lord, he committed his household to the Lord’s service too. God’s work in the hearts of sinners begins as babies are brought to be baptized. God’s service continues in the hearts of his children as parents and guardians share the life-giving Word of God through family devotions.

The Lord kept his promise to give the Israelites a home in Canaan. The Lord has graciously given us the infinitely greater promise of a home with him in heaven. Inspired by his promise of life eternal, we live to serve him with all our heart!

Prayer:
Almighty Lord, reign unrivaled in my heart through your powerful Word so that I selflessly and ceaselessly serve 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.
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