Worth Celebrating – December 30, 2018

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Listen! Your watchmen lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the LORD returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes. Burst into songs of joy together, you ruins of Jerusalem, for the LORD has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. The LORD will lay bare his holy arm in the sight of all the nations, and all the ends of the earth will see the salvation of our God.
Isaiah 52:7-10

Worth Celebrating


Daily Devotion – December 30, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7-10

See series: Devotions

Some gifts are just better than others. It is hard to acknowledge, because every gift is a gift. But let’s be honest, there is a big difference between getting socks and getting a brand-new bicycle. There is a big difference between a pair of fuzzy slippers and a handmade picture drawn by your three-year-old that says, “I love you Mommy” on it. There are some gifts that you probably won’t remember or use only weeks later. But there are other gifts that you will remember, celebrate, and cherish for a lifetime.

Isaiah sees that kind of gift coming—the kind of gift that would have you bursting out in song, praising God, and telling the world about it. It is a gift worth celebrating, It is the salvation that comes in Jesus Christ. Jesus came into the world to promise that although our lives are often in shambles, he will pick up the pieces.

This gift is ours. God has come into our sinful world. It is a gift worth shouting to the world. Carry that gift throughout your day. Share it with your friends. Thank God for it continually. Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord…a gift worth celebrating!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, what a gift you have given us in yourself. Forgive us for the times we have not cherished you. Remind us daily how reliant we are on you. Give us the courage to share you with others. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Love Overcomes Darkness – December 29, 2018

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.… The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:1-5,14

Love Overcomes Darkness


Daily Devotion – December 29, 2018

Devotion based on John 1:1-5,14

See series: Devotions

Something began to happen this past Wednesday, December 26th. Maybe you didn’t even notice. Slowly but surely, Christmas began to fade away. Christmas leftovers are 50% off or more. The radio stations return to normal broadcasts. After 24 hours and 7 days a week for a whole month, the season of loving, sharing, and giving seems to be over as if to say, “Time to move on…”

Not so fast! We can’t afford to pack away Christmas just yet. God’s love and generosity do not have a time limit or season of the year. Jesus is the Word who became flesh. That means God decided to come to us. He came to us in the human flesh of a tiny baby. He came to stay with us until God’s plan of salvation was complete. Now he lives and will shine forever!

In the darkness of our lives, we need the light of Jesus to still shine. In him is life and that life is the light of all people. No amount of sin or trouble can overpower it. The eternal Word lights up our hearts so that we are pulled from the darkness of sin. If this light is for all people, for everyone, then surely it is for us because we are part of everyone.

We can’t afford to pack away Christmas love and light. May it heat up our hearts so that we burn with a desire to share the light of his love with others!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, the Word in the flesh, thank you for your eternal gift of love to the world. Fill us with your grace and truth. Light us up inside so we reflect you for others. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Love Makes Us Eager to Honor – December 28, 2018

For the grace of God that offers salvation to all people has appeared. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14

Love Makes Us Eager to Honor


Daily Devotion – December 28, 2018

Devotion based on Titus 2:11-14

See series: Devotions

One of the most popular secular songs of Christmas warns, “You better watch out! You better not cry! You better not pout! I’m tellin’ you why: Santa Claus is coming to town!” People sing it with gusto! “He knows if you’ve been bad or good; so be good, for goodness sake!” In other words, Be good, otherwise, no goodies for you. Be good so you can get good things in return.

How different is “the grace of God that offers salvation to all people.” God’s grace in Jesus is completely removed from anything I do—good or bad. God is the only one who truly knew what I needed. So he gave it to me through Jesus. Jesus “gave himself” for me by paying for all my bad with his blood. Jesus purified me. Jesus was wrapped in strips of cloth and laid in a manger. Years later, he was wrapped in strips of cloth and placed in a tomb. That tomb is now empty because of God’s love for us. Now I belong to him. I know God loves me and wants me in heaven with him!

God’s Christmas love teaches us to say a big no to sin and a bigger thank you to the Savior! It teaches us to “be good for Jesus’ sake,” not because he’s watching us, but because he died and rose for us. God’s grace did this, not just for you and me; he did it for everyone. Joy to the world; the Lord is come!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for making me clean of sin inside by giving yourself. May I live every day of life for you while I await your glorious return. 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 Meets the Eye – December 27, 2018

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7

More than Meets the Eye


Daily Devotion – December 27, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:6-7

See series: Devotions

A father gave his one-year-old son a wooden toolbox with a hammer, wrenches, nuts, bolts, and pegs for him to hammer into holes. But his son didn’t know how to play with this toy that said on the side of the box, “For ages 3+.” He was still too young. A year and a half went by. Finally, his son began to play with his tool kit. He could use all the tools. He could fasten the pieces together. It took him some time, but now he appreciates his toolbox.

Did you get a present you weren’t really excited about this Christmas? It may not seem like much now. Maybe your appreciation will grow once you begin to understand why it was so valuable.

Jesus didn’t look like much of a gift when he was born. After all, lots of children are born into the world. What makes him so valuable? Listen to the names given him in Isaiah’s prophecy: “…he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace…” Those are the names that describe who Jesus is and what Jesus does. He will never fail to forgive you as your Wonderful Counselor. He will never fail to strengthen you as your Mighty God. He will never fail to love you as your Everlasting Father. He will never fail to comfort you as the Prince of Peace. He will never fail to live up to his names because you are his child. He will never fail you!

May your appreciation for the Christmas gift of Christ grow as you understand more and more the precious value of the names for Jesus!

Prayer:
Keep your Word in my heart, dear Lord, so I grow to see how precious the gift you have given in your Son, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Love is Never an Afterthought – December 26, 2018

In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to his own town to register. So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Luke 2:1-10

Love is Never an Afterthought


Daily Devotion – December 26, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 2:1-10

See series: Devotions

Look back at the last few weeks: How much time did you spend preparing for the Christmas season as you meticulously put decorations up, planned or attended parties, and baked cookies? Or, are you the type that doesn’t go “Christmas crazy?” So, you only set up a little tree with a few decorations to celebrate quietly with your family. Besides, the less you put up the less you have to take down later, right?

How did God prepare for that first Christmas? He moved nations around using Caesar’s decree to get everyone to just the right place. He cared for and protected Mary—the mother of our Lord. And when it was just the right time, his angels announced Jesus’ birth in a grand and glorious way! God carefully crafted every detail in order to bring you the perfect Christmas. The message for a perfect Christmas is this: “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy!”

The gift of Jesus was well planned. A God who puts that much planning into giving you the perfect Christmas gift is a God who absolutely loves you!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you always have me on your heart and mind the same way you carefully planned and prepared the first Christmas. Open my eyes to see your love for me in the details 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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A Christmas Song – December 25, 2018

And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as he said to our fathers.”
Luke 1:46-55

A Christmas Song


Daily Devotion – December 25, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 1:46-55

See series: Devotions

Merry Christmas! Today, the world breaks out in song! A Savior is born!

Mary, the mother of Jesus, sang a song too. The amazing love of God left Mary both surprised and excited. She can’t believe she is going to be the mother of the Savior! So she sings a song about God’s love:

  • She sings that all generations would call her blessed even though she comes from a lowly background.
  • She sings about how God scatters proud people but he lifts up humble people.
  • She sings about the rich who are sent away empty, but God fills up the hungry and keeps his promises.

Mary’s song reminds us how all of God’s promises come true on this Christmas Day. Christ is born into our world! Christmas is why we live and can get up each day. Christmas means God has come to save us and points us ahead to the cross and the empty tomb. Christmas Day is all about God’s love!

How do we respond to God’s love? We sing like Mary! She wanted people to know the great things God had done for her and wants you to sing with her. So let’s SING! It’s Christmas Day! Share with someone the great things God has done for us!

Prayer:
Light of the world, Fill my heart with gladness as I remember your dear birth. Help me shine my light by sharing your birth with someone in need of light and love in their 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Little Town of Bethlehem – December 24, 2018

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”
Micah 5:2

Little Town of Bethlehem


Daily Devotion – December 24, 2018

Devotion based on Micah 5:2

See series: Devotions

Bethlehem wasn’t an impressive town. At the time of Micah’s prophecy there were maybe just a few hundred people living there. The last time it had made headlines was almost 300 years before Micah, when King David was born there. Bethlehem wouldn’t have made anyone’s wish list of must-see places to visit. Bethlehem didn’t seem important. Yet God gave the highest honor to this town of being the birthplace of our Savior. Near this town angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest.”

This is often how God chooses to work. He finds the things that are small, quiet, and out of the way and gives to them great honor. He chose small Bethlehem to be the birthplace of his Son so that no one could point to any human achievement as the reason for his birth. Instead, it was only God’s free and undeserved grace that gave Bethlehem such importance.

Today, in the town of David, God gives his gift of love to you. It is not based on anything you have done, how valuable you are to other people, or how much honor the world gives. God gives his gift of love to those who do not deserve it or who feel too small, insignificant, and unnoticed to matter. To them God bestows his greatest honor. God has given you Jesus as your Savior because you are important to him. Glory to God in the highest!

May God bless your worship of the newborn King, especially as you invite someone to join you in Bethlehem to hear the angel announce, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger” (Luke 2:10-12).

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, on this Christmas Eve bless us as we gather to worship you in Bethlehem. Send your Holy Spirit upon those who may be hearing the good news of Christmas for the very first time. 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 Birth of Love – December 23, 2018

A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter. And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne.
Revelation 12:1-5

The Birth of Love


Daily Devotion – December 23, 2018

Devotion based on Revelation 12:1-5

See series: Devotions

Giving birth to a baby is an eventful experience. While you don’t remember your own birth, it is likely that after you took your first breath of air, you cried out as loud as your little lungs could handle, as if to announce your arrival into the new world around you.

Revelation chapter 12 is an unusual picture of a very eventful birth. A woman is ready to give birth to a son who would rule the earth. A dragon looks to devour the new baby. But God rescued the baby boy from the dragon. It’s a picture of Jesus’ birth which we celebrate this Christmas.

Don’t lose sight that Christmas was part of a struggle that went back to the very beginning of the world. Christmas is God’s answer to defeat an ancient dragon who wished to wage a war against God himself. Christmas is God keeping his promise to Adam and Eve that her offspring would someday crush the head of Satan. Despite Satan’s best efforts to destroy Jesus, God would win the day. Jesus was born into our world to defeat our greatest enemy!

Childbirth is an eventful experience. Christmas is even better because Jesus is born for us! It is God’s announcement that his Son came down into the world to defeat sin. Thank God for his eventful gift of love born into the world!

Prayer:
Lord God, you sent your Son to battle our great enemy, the devil. Through his death and life, he defeated that ancient serpent and won heaven for us. Remind us always of the true purpose of your Son’s birth into our world. 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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Joy on Judgment Day – December 22, 2018

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Christ. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one more powerful than I will come, the thongs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” And with many other words John exhorted the people and preached the good news to them.
Luke 3:15-18

Joy on Judgment Day


Daily Devotion – December 22, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:15-18

See series: Devotions

Do the verses of that lesson seem to contradict each other. John the Baptist talks about how Jesus is going to burn up bad things with unquenchable fire. A fire that never goes out. John’s talking about hell. But in the very next verse our lesson claims that John said those things to encourage us. How can talking about Jesus’ wrath possibly be encouraging to us?

Well, let me ask you this. When you see someone being mistreated, do you get angry? Say someone at school is bullying someone else. That makes you upset, right? It bothers you to see someone be teased or hurt. When bad things happen to people, it makes us angry.

It is no different with Jesus. There is nobody who loves you more than Jesus. He loves you more than your parents. He loves you more than your pastor. Our lesson says that people thought John the Baptist was so great, they wondered if he might be the Christ. John told them, “I’m not even close.” Jesus is so much greater, so much more loving, than anyone else. Therefore, when he sees someone hurting you, he gets angry. When he sees you suffering, it bothers him greatly. Because he loves you, he gives you this promise. Anything that hurts you, anything that scares you, anything bad in your life eventually Jesus is going to come and set all those bad things on fire. He is going to destroy everything that could do you harm. He is going to roast anything that could cause you pain or sorrow. So, when you are hurting, you have that encouragement. Jesus hurts with you, and he is coming to take your pain away.

You might say, “But what if I’m the source of pain? What if I’m the bully? What if I’m the one who caused someone to cry themselves to sleep? Is Jesus going to set me on fire?” NO. Because on the cross, Jesus himself was torched for you. He was punished for your sin, so that you might be set free. When you were baptized, Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to live inside you, to give you the gift of faith. Jesus is going to set bad things on fire. But through your faith in Christ, you don’t look bad to God. You look beautiful, holy, perfect.

Judgment day is coming, and with it, an unquenchable fire. That news is rightfully terrifying to some. But judgment day is not scary for those who know what happened after Jesus came on Christmas Day. Jesus Christ redeemed us. So, we look forward to judgment day. We will be saved. But everything that causes pain in this world—that will all be incinerated.

Prayer:
Lord, you are the Savior that I need. I want others to have the same joy that Jesus gives. Use me this Christmas season to share it with everyone I can. 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 Sorrow and Joy of Repentance – December 21, 2018

Tax collectors also came to be baptized. “Teacher,” they asked, “what should we do?” “Don’t collect any more than you are required to,” [John] told them. Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” [John] replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely—be content with your pay.”
Luke 3:12-14

The Sorrow and Joy of Repentance


Daily Devotion – December 21, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:12-14

See series: Devotions

If you do something wrong, get caught, and are punished, there are two possible reasons you could be sad. You could be sad because you are being punished, and punishment is never fun. However, you should be sad simply because you did something wrong.

For example, say your mom tells you not to eat a Christmas cookie before dinner. When she’s not looking, you sneak one anyway. But she catches you. She tells you that now don’t get to eat any more of those cookies. You could be sad that you are being punished and can’t eat cookies. But you should be sad that you disobeyed your mom. She’s your mom! She loves you. She made those cookies for you. Moreover, when she tells you to do something like NOT have a cookie before dinner, it’s not because she’s being mean. It’s because she loves you and she wants you to be healthy. Your mom is a wonderful woman. You should feel sad that you disrespected her, not that you’re being punished.

That first type of sadness—when we are sad that we got caught and punished—is selfish. It is not healthy. But that second type of sadness—when we are sad that we did something wrong—that is healthy. It’s the first part of true repentance. Repentance begins when we are sad that we disobeyed God. God has been so good to us. Moreover, when he tells us to do or not to do something, it is only because he knows that is what’s best for us. When we disobey him, we should be sad that we wronged a God who has been nothing but loving to us.

Repentance is complete when the Spirit helps us understand that precisely because God loves us, our sin has been forgiven.

So, how do you know if you are sad for the right reasons? In our lesson, John the Baptist told us. If you are sad because you were caught, you will soon commit that sin again. You’re going to try and steal another cookie the moment mom isn’t looking. But if you are sad because you wronged someone who loves you, your mom, or, more importantly, your loving God then you will fight against that sin in the future. You will do all you can to avoid committing that sin ever again.

Friends, when you slip into sin, be sad for the right reason. Not that you got caught. But that you did something offensive to a God who has been nothing but good to you. That’s the first part of repentance. But then be joyful, that because of what Christ did when he came on that first Christmas, your sin has been taken away. That joy, that gratitude you feel, that is what will give you the desire to fight against your sin moving forward.

Prayer:
Father, you have been so good to us. That is why it saddens us to disobey you. Thank you for sending Jesus to take our sins away. Thank you for letting us live in the joy of your forgiveness. We ask you to give us strength, so that we might avoid committing those sins in the future. 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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Living Joyfully – December 20, 2018

John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.”
Luke 3:7-8

Living Joyfully


Daily Devotion – December 20, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:7-8

See series: Devotions

You have probably read the story or seen one of the movie versions of “A Christmas Carol” by Charles Dickens. In the story, Ebenezer Scrooge is a despicable character: a selfish, arrogant, hard-hearted, mean-spirited, uncaring, tightwad. But Scrooge is visited one night by three ghosts who force him to see himself as he really is—selfish and awful. That night changes him completely! Scrooge wakes up to Christmas Day. He sends presents. He gives to charity. His life was completely turned around!

Why are we so fascinated with this story? Probably because it is similar to our story. We too needed to be turned around—needed to be converted from selfishness to love, from unbelief to belief. So God sent us, not ghosts, but a spirit—the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit, through God’s holy law and through God’s messengers, helps us see ourselves as we really are. In our lesson, one of God’s messengers, John the Baptist, says that sometimes we act like snakes. We slip into all sorts of sins.

But the Spirit does not just help us see our sins. He shows us the Savior. John the Baptist prepared people to meet Jesus, the Lamb of God whose sacrifice would take our sin away. When we see Christ make that sacrifice on the cross for us, it turns us around. John said, “produce fruit in keeping with repentance.” He is telling us that our lives will change completely, that we will live differently, now that we have seen Christ and understand what he did for us.

Once Scrooge realized the truth, his life changed completely. He gave instead of taking. He served others instead of making demands of others. His life was marked by joy, not anger. Likewise, we who have seen the Christ—we don’t want to live for ourselves, but for him. Christ changes us from greedy, selfish people into generous, loving, gracious, servant-like people.

Jesus has turned us around. He has enabled us to repent. That’s good news! So do the kinds of things that show you are sorry for your failures and show how thankful you are that you have forgiveness in Jesus. He is coming to take you to everlasting joy. So, live in that joy! Live like your life has been turned around—because it has!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to bring us joy. Forgive us for our failures. Lead us to live the kind of lives that reflect the new life you have given to us. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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A Joyful Song for You – December 19, 2018

On that day they will say to Jerusalem, “Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:16–17

A Joyful Song for You


Daily Devotion – December 19, 2018

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:16–17

See series: Devotions

There are some songs that everyone knows. That’s especially true this time of year. I’ll prove it. Complete the following lyrics. “I’m dreaming of…” (pause) “…a White Christmas.” Here’s another: “Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, had a very…” (pause) Everyone knows it’s “shiny nose.” One of the reasons we all know these songs is that we love to sing them.

What if I told you that there is a song that God loves to sing?

Zephaniah told us that when God looks at mankind, he often sees us fearful. What is it that is making you afraid? Is it fears about your financial future? Are you frightened by the state of our world or country? What about death? Does the thought of dying scare you? Maybe what scares you is that you’re wrestling with some sin. You know that God sees that sin every time you commit it, and that thought scares you.

Zephaniah told us that when God comes to us in those scary times and he quiets our fears with his love, it makes him so happy, he himself bursts out in joyful song.

If you think Christmas makes you happy, my friends, think about how happy it made your God. Because when Christ came to earth, he took away everything we fear. You fear your financial future? In the future, you will live in Christ’s very own mansion. You fear for the state of our world? Christ is going to make a new heavens and a new earth. You fear death? Look into the empty tomb. You are going to be raised, just like Jesus. You fear your sin? Jesus paid it all. In your baptism, you were washed clean. When God looks at you, he sees the perfection and holiness of Christ. You have nothing to fear! Absolutely nothing.

That all is good news of great joy which the angels sang about on that first Christmas Eve. We hear that good news, and it quiets us…it calms our fears. We rejoice in Zephaniah’s promise: “The LORD your God is with you.” That is what Immanuel means, “God with us.” We sing that this time of year too. “Oh come, oh Come, Emmanuel.” When God hears that song, when he sees that his grace has calmed our fearful hearts, he sings for joy too!

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, thank you for taking away our fears. Fill our hearts with the joy of our salvation, and we will sing your praises, 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Singing with Greater Joy – December 18, 2018

Sing, O Daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O Daughter of Jerusalem! The LORD has taken away your punishment, he has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
Zephaniah 3:14-15

Singing with Greater Joy


Daily Devotion – December 18, 2018

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:14-15

See series: Devotions

What kind of songs make you sing along? Maybe it’s the latest hit that tops the charts. Maybe it’s a blast from your past. This time of year, maybe it’s one of the Christmas songs playing on the radio. Whether you are the giddy gal who belts it out behind the wheel or you’re the tone-deaf guy whose range is somewhat monotone, chances are there is something that will make you sing along.

God loves that! He’s the one who created the physics of sound, the sense of hearing, the mouths that shape our words, and the very breath that enables us to sing. The birds can make pretty sounds, but they cannot really sing. God gave that gift to mankind.

And yet of all the things that make us want to sing for joy, the reality is there are circumstances in life that make us silent. When Zephaniah shared the words of our text, the people of Judah did not feel like singing. They were facing catastrophe and death. They had brought this upon themselves. After decades of unrepentant sin, God had had enough. Punishment was coming. The nation of Judah would be conquered by pagan foreigners. The great city of Jerusalem would fall.

How then can Zephaniah encourage the people to sing for joy? It would be a ridiculous request, except for the fact that Zephaniah also told them, “The LORD has taken away your punishment.” It is not that Judah would stay safe and Jerusalem would be spared. No, they would be destroyed. But Zephaniah is referring to a worse punishment—the eternal punishment of hell. Everyone in Judah who put their faith in the LORD, the gracious God who had promised to send a Messiah, would escape that eternal punishment.

Friends, even for repentant believers, sin has earthly consequences. But our time on earth is very short—eighty years if we are fortunate. Then comes eternity. Because of our sins, some of which we committed this very day, we deserve to spend all eternity in agony and remorse in a place called hell.

But on that first Christmas Eve, that Messiah was born. Jesus came, and by his life, death, and resurrection turned back the enemies of sin and death. You have an extremely short amount of time on this earth. After that, you shall spend eternity in a place where you will know only comfort and joy and peace. Heaven will be so vibrant…so wonderful…so exciting, you will not even be able to remember any hardship or pain you experienced here on earth.

As you prepare to celebrate the coming of Jesus at Christmas, all the while mindful that he will come again, remember that God has given you something to sing about. He’s given you a song of forgiveness, fearlessness, and joy. How can we not sing along?

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give joy to the sad-hearted. You have pardoned our sin and covered us with your grace. We have a secure heritage in heaven. There, with you, we shall live forever in glory. Help us grasp the certainty of that perfect future, so that we might sing for joy even now. 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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Joy Versus Anxiety – December 17, 2018

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

Joy Versus Anxiety


Daily Devotion – December 17, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 4:6-7

See series: Devotions

Don’t be anxious? Does the Apostle Paul sound a little too optimistic here? Our lives are filled with so many reasons for anxiety—especially this time of year! Is there any month where your “to do” list is longer than December? Is there any season where you have more events on your calendar then this one? We can be anxious about little things this time of year like, “Should we visit her parents or my parents this Christmas?” And we can be anxious about big things, like, “Will mom even make it to Christmas. Her health is so bad.”

When the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians, he was writing to people wracked with anxiety. The believers in Philippi were worried about Paul as he wrote to them from prison. Paul himself was worried for them as he wrote about enemies of the cross of Christ. There is always something to make us anxious.

What has you anxious? Is it the impending Christmas break or what will be under the tree? Is it travel plans and all you have to finish before you leave town? Is it the pressure to make this Christmas memorable because the family is growing up so fast? Is it a lack of plans that has you anxious? Whoever you are and wherever you live, there is always something to make us anxious.

But the peace of God that Paul speaks about is the complete opposite of that anxiety. Living in anxious world and in the midst of an anxious time of year, we can appreciate the contrast. The more we see the anxiousness of the season, the more the peace of God that transcends all understanding stands out as the blessing that it is.

So, slow down and gaze at the baby in the manger. There is no need to spend or plan or hurry. There is nothing for us to do, nothing to busy ourselves with. Instead as we come to the manger, we can be still. Friends, slow down. Take a deep breath. And enjoy the peace he brings. As we gaze at this child in the manger, we see the one who did all that needs to be done to make us right with God through his death on a cross and his resurrection from the dead. We see the one who has forgiven every one of our sins. We see the one who will come again to take us to a world where anxiety does not exist.

In the middle of all our doing, what a joy it is to be still and to rejoice in all that is already done.

There is always something to make us anxious—especially this time of year. But we know where to find peace. We find it in the Savior lying in a manger. Return to his manger often. Leave your anxiety with him. Present your requests, prayers, and petitions to him. He is the reason for peace!

Prayer:
God of peace, you promise to hear and answer our prayers. You know the anxiety that fills our hearts and minds. We commit it to your care. Do what you know is best. Bless our efforts according to your loving will. And lead us to find rest in all that you’ve done for us in your cross. 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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Rejoice Always – December 16, 2018

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4-5

Rejoice Always


Daily Devotion – December 16, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 4:4-5

See series: Devotions

Can you remember Christmases from long ago? Christmas is a time of nostalgia. Our attics, smart phones, and social media accounts are filled with memories from past Christmases. It can be fun to go down memory lane as you look at old pictures or watch old videos.

Sometimes, we even try to recreate moments that brought us joy in Christmas past. We still use our favorite childhood Christmas traditions. We make the same Christmas cookies that mom used to make. We try and decorate our homes the same way we did when we were young.

There is a place for such nostalgia. But nostalgia might also reveal deeper struggles taking place within our heart. We live in a broken world. Life can be hard. And so we use nostalgia—recalling the joy of Christmas yesteryear—in our effort to forget about current problems. That approach can give us some joy…until December 26th.

Friends, if our joy this holiday season is found only by looking backward—remembering fond days of Christmases past—then our joy will be fleeting. Nostalgia cannot help you to rejoice always. To rejoice always, you need to look forward, not backward.

God gave us a gift that helps us to look forward, the gift of his own Son in human flesh. Jesus came to us—our “Immanuel,” God with us. God drew near to us on that first Christmas. He came to earth bearing the types of gifts which bring a joy that never fades.

Jesus drew near to conquer sin, death, and the devil for us. Jesus draws near to us still today in the waters of baptism and welcomes us into his family. Jesus draws near to us in his Word. He binds himself to us in promises he will never fail to keep.

Do you want to rejoice always? Then look forward. Because this same Jesus will draw near again, when he returns on the Last Day with a new heavens and a new earth created just for you.

There is joy to be found in our Christmas celebrations. But lasting joy is found only in Jesus. Rejoice in him always.

Prayer:
O Immanuel, you are a God who is near us, with us, and one of us. Lead us to find our joy this Christmas first and foremost in you. And bless us also with those other smaller joys of the season—safe travels, good health, time with family and friends, and other gifts as you see fit. In Your name we ask 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Pure and Blameless – December 15, 2018

And this is my prayer: that…you may be…filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:11

Pure and Blameless


Daily Devotion – December 15, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:11

See series: Devotions

Christmas is filled with traditions. One that I remember from my childhood is the family Christmas picture. The boys had their hair combed, my sister was wearing her favorite dress, and (most years) everyone had a smile. My parents hoped to capture a moment when everyone was looking their best.

But it didn’t always work out this way. Sometimes there was an untucked shirt, stains on a sweater, or a shock of hair sticking out the side of someone’s head. We did not always appear as perfect as we would have liked.

The same is true for us spiritually. When our Lord returns on the Last Day, his hope is that we will be perfectly clean of any sin and perfectly obedient to his Word. But so many things stain our spiritual appearance: apathy towards God’s commands, sloppiness in obedience, a lack of love toward others, and the list goes on. These are not superficial details. These blemishes threaten to cut us out of God’s family picture.

Thank God that he sets our hearts at peace this Advent season. We were made pure and blameless when we were baptized—washed in the forgiveness Jesus won for us. We are assured of that purity and forgiveness whenever we receive the Lord’s Supper. In God’s Word and sacraments, we are connected to Jesus and everything he has done to cleanse us from our sin.

Even more, God still sends his Spirit to work in our hearts and turn us away from behaviors that would damage our faith. He preserves us in holiness, turns us from sinful habits, and gives us new desires pleasing to God.

No longer do we appear before God stained and wrinkled with sin, but rather “pure and blameless.”

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for cleansing, washing, and preserving me in holiness for the day of your return. 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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Picking What is Best – December 14, 2018

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

Picking What is Best


Daily Devotion – December 14, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:9-11

See series: Devotions

“It’s the thought that counts.” This phrase is meant to rescue us from awkward holiday moments, like when grandma knits you a sweater two sizes too big. But sometimes, the thought, or lack thereof, can actually cause harm. For instance, if you bake cookies that are not gluten free for your friend who is allergic to gluten. When giving gifts to loved ones, thinking about what would be good for and pleasing to them is important.

The same is true when we give gifts to our God. We want our gifts to be good and pleasing to him. The apostle Paul prayed about this very thing in Philippians chapter 1. He prayed that that their love would increase in the knowledge of God’s will so that their lives would be pleasing to him. Paul knew that it is God who fills our hearts with both love and spiritual knowledge. He tells us exactly what he wants us to do in his Word and sends his Spirit to help us do those things. Without our loving Lord, we would be lost, settling for whatever we think God might want and falling far short.

Thankfully, Jesus gave us credit for the ultimate gift. He lived the perfect life that God so dearly desires, and he died the death that we should have died as payment for our sins. Those gifts put us in God’s good graces and set our hearts at rest for the day Jesus returns.

What’s more, through Jesus’ sacrifice and through the Spirit’s guidance, we can offer works pleasing to God. No wondering, no scratching our heads. We can be confident that God delights in, cherishes, and celebrates what we do for him as we follow his commands. Through Christ, we know we are pleasing to our Father.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, we praise you for giving us credit for a gift we could never afford—your perfect life and innocent death. Spirit, we thank you for enabling us to offer works that are pleasing and perfect, and for giving us the peace to stand before you on judgment 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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An Early Thank You Card – December 13, 2018

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

An Early Thank You Card


Daily Devotion – December 13, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:3-6

See series: Devotions

Thank-yous are usually sent out after the Christmas gifts are opened. A family member takes inventory of the gifts, cash, and cards. Then, at the urging of their parents, children write out their thank-yous and put them in the mail.

In the first few verses of his letter to the Philippians, the apostle Paul broke from this practice. Well before he received his gift in full, he wrote his thank you note and expressed his joy. Paul was thankful for something that had not even happened yet—a gift that had yet to be given! Wouldn’t it seem strange to write a thank-you to your aunt before she had even sent you her Christmas gift?

Why could Paul be thankful for something that had not yet happened? Because Paul trusted the promises of God. He knew that the same God who had planted faith in the hearts of the Philippians could sustain that faith until Jesus returns.

You can have the same confidence. The God who planted faith in your heart is quite capable of sustaining that faith until Jesus returns. This Advent season, you have every reason to say thank you to your God—even for gifts he has yet to give!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for your promise to preserve and protect my faith, and for the confidence I have in your coming. 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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Stand Forever – December 12, 2018

But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years.
Malachi 3:2-4

Stand Forever


Daily Devotion – December 12, 2018

Devotion based on Malachi 3:2-4

See series: Devotions

America is in love with reality TV shows. We can’t get enough of “America’s Got Talent,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and the long running “Survivor.” We want to know: who will be the last one standing? Who will perform under pressure, play the game right, please the judges, and remain the last person standing at the end? The suspense is gripping. The drama is real.

As gripping as these shows are, they don’t really affect our lives and they certainly don’t affect our eternal fate. What will affect our eternal fate is whether we will be able to stand before God when we are brought before him on the Last Day. Talk about drama! This is the ultimate in reality. On that day we will not stand before a panel of celebrities. God himself will judge us. And there will be no immunity idol we can produce at the last minute to save ourselves.

The truth is that we don’t have what it takes to stand alone before God. Our peace comes from knowing Jesus already stood before God on our behalf. God punished Jesus for our sins when Jesus hung on the cross. Jesus met the standard of perfection God demands with his perfect life. Through faith, we are covered in his righteousness. This is what brings us peace. We know where we stand with almighty God because of Jesus. And, because of Jesus, we will stand forever with him in eternity.

Prayer:
Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the peace you give to us through the forgiveness of sins and the promise of life 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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Promises Kept – December 11, 2018

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:1

Promises Kept


Daily Devotion – December 11, 2018

Devotion based on Malachi 3:1

See series: Devotions

In our world, promises are often broken. As parents, we sometimes have to break promises to our children when circumstances outside of our control change. Children make promises to clean their rooms and wash the car but are then distracted or find something more fun. Just because someone makes a promise does not give us the certainty it is going to be kept.

Except when God makes promises. He always keeps his promises. He promised he would send a messenger to prepare the way for the Messiah. God kept that promise when he sent John the Baptist who prepared the people for the coming Messiah by calling them to repentance. After Adam and Eve fell into sin, God promised he would send a Savior who would crush the devil’s head and reconcile God and man. God kept that promise when he sent Jesus into the world who lived perfectly as we could not, who died on the cross to pay for our sins, and who rose from the grave to conquer death. God has kept every single promise he has ever made!

This gives us the peace of knowing he will continue to keep every promise to us. We don’t have to fear the problems we face or be filled with anxiety over what is to come. God has always been faithful to his promises and always will be. May this truth bring you peace today.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, come quickly in your might and with your power. Give us peace as we face the challenges of today knowing that one day you will have us to live with you eternally 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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A Peaceful Highway – December 10, 2018

As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.'”
Luke 3:4-6

A Peaceful Highway


Daily Devotion – December 10, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:4-6

See series: Devotions

In ancient times, roads were often built or improved before a king would travel to a distant country. The king was supposed to have a smooth, easy ride from one place to another. The more important or well-loved the king, the bigger and better the highway. You could learn a lot about a king by looking at how nice a road was built for him.

As we prepare for the arrival of our King, Jesus, this Advent season, how will we prepare the way for him to come into our hearts? It begins by repenting of everything that would get in the way—every selfish thought, every evil intention, every hurtful word, every mean look, every arrogant attitude. Repentance begins with recognizing what is wrong in our lives and then looking to Jesus as the solution to our sins. Knowing that in him we have forgiveness, we seek to thank him with lives that please him.

In the days before Jesus’ ministry, God used John the Baptist to prepare the way for King Jesus. Today, God uses people like pastors to preach God’s Word and prepare us for the arrival of our King. Or, he uses our reading of the Bible or a devotion such as this one. May God continue to prepare our hearts to celebrate the birth of our King!

Prayer:
Loving Savior, we thank you for paving your way to our hearts and leading us to repent; trusting in you for 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Forgiveness Brings Peace – December 9, 2018

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
Luke 3:1-3

Forgiveness Brings Peace


Daily Devotion – December 9, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:1-3

See series: Devotions

Guilt is a terrible burden to bear. Maybe you stole a cookie from mom’s cookie jar. Maybe you nicked someone’s car in a parking lot but then drove off. Maybe there’s a dark secret that needs to be admitted to a spouse before a marriage splits at the seams. Guilt over sins we have committed can shatter any semblance of peace our hearts once held. Guilt keeps us awake at night and makes us not want to wake up in the morning. As painful as it is, admitting when we have been wrong is the first step in returning peace to our hearts.

This is what John the Baptist was preaching in the desert country around the Jordan River. He was preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. John’s whole purpose was getting people ready to meet their Savior, Jesus. The only way for them to be prepared to meet their Savior was to admit that they needed a Savior. When they did, John pointed them to Jesus and the forgiveness only he can provide.

The forgiveness Jesus brings is for you too. No sin is too big for Jesus to forgive. No guilt can overcome the victory Jesus won for you on the cross.

Admitting guilt and getting everything out in the open is very hard to do. It is especially hard to admit your guilt to the person whom you have wronged. But when you repent, you can rest assured that God has forgiven you, even if no one else will. God’s forgiveness brings peace.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, giver of peace, extend your forgiveness to me and rid my heart of guilt through the work of your Son, my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Hope That Increases Love – December 8, 2018

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
1 Thessalonians 3:12

Hope That Increases Love


Daily Devotion – December 8, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 3:12

See series: Devotions

The weeks before Christmas are called Advent—it’s a Latin word that means “coming.” Advent invites us to wait—quietly and patiently for Jesus to come this Christmas. But do you know how hard it is to wait? Holiday times are hectic and stressful. We sing “Joy to the World,” but family fighting, overspending, and physical exhaustion steal our joy and drain our love. Toys don’t work without batteries. Smart phones die without an overnight charge. Cars don’t run without gas. When we get impatient or speak sarcastically, it shows our supply of love is running on empty.

But what if God could give the kind of holiday love that actually increases your love and patience in the coming days before Christmas? Would that help as you wait? Would that make it easier for others to be around you? God wants to fill you up with his love. Every day before Christmas, we remember why we are looking so forward to celebrate Jesus’ birth. His tiny hands and feet born at Christmas were the same hands and feet that died on the cross. Now, the living Jesus is just the proof that we need, “God will always love me!”

As you head into the first weekend of December, hear the voice of Advent encourage, “Wait, slow down a bit! Don’t get entangled in the hustle and the bustle of the season. Get focused instead on what really matters. It’s Jesus.” Love is God’s gift to you. Christ’s love makes it possible for our hearts to brim over in love and patience to others like our children or spouse, our siblings or coworkers, our friends and neighbors.

While you patiently wait for Christmas to come, pray that God would so fill our hearts, souls, and minds that we want to then share this love with someone who is empty inside and desperately in need of love. No outside love can fill that void. Only Jesus and his love can!

Prayer:
Dear Lord, as we wait for your coming, supply what you know is lacking inside us. Deepen our faith and fill us with your love so that our love increases for you and for others. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Hope that Deepens Faith – December 7, 2018

How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith.
1 Thessalonians 3:9-10

Hope that Deepens Faith


Daily Devotion – December 7, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 3:9-10

See series: Devotions

The Apostle Paul was in a happy mood. He just received some good news. A group of believers were safe. Troublemakers had stirred up bad feelings toward anyone who believed in Jesus. They formed a mob, they started a riot. For months, Paul worried about what happened to the believers. Finally, news reached Paul’s ears. Not only did the little group survive, but they were growing stronger in their faith! The good news made Paul so happy! “How can we thank God enough for you,” he cried out.

Have you experienced that feeling when your worst fears never materialized?

  • A young child imagines a lurking closet shadow to be a real monster. A flick of the light switch shows it was only a hanging shirt. What a relief!
  • A student thinks he bombed a test, but he got an “A!” What joy!
  • The auto shop warns the repair bill may be huge, but it turns to be a quick fix! What happiness!
  • The doctor cautions about the outcome of the medical tests, but it turns out to be nothing! What a surprise! You just want to hug someone!

Jesus gives us news this Christmas that gives real hope, it dispels the dark and replaces fears. What good is a house filled with decorations and lights if your heart is empty of Jesus? Only Jesus can fill a heart “lacking in faith.”

The Apostle Paul wanted only the best for the people that he loved. So he shared Jesus with them. He prayed for their faith to be safe and strong. Do you know someone who lives in the dark because they don’t know Jesus? Are you worried that they may be in real danger? Maybe Jesus can use you to share him, so their faith may be in Jesus too! Start thinking and praying that Jesus turns on the light of faith and gives them the gift of hope in their hearts and may share it through you.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, your coming this Christmas makes us so happy! Supply what is lacking in our faith. Make it strong! Give us someone to share our happiness so the gift of hope can be theirs 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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Hope When Facing Stress – December 6, 2018

[Jesus said] “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Hope When Facing Stress


Daily Devotion – December 6, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 21:34-36

See series: Devotions

Andy Williams raised Christmas expectations when he sang his Christmas classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” What a wonderful time of year for holiday songs and Hallmark Channel movies! We dream of a white Christmas and the perfect family gathering.

But what happens when our dreamy expectations for the perfect Christmas don’t come true? It may explain why holiday times are some of the most stressful days of the year for people. For some it’s the stress of fighting the crowds and trying to find the perfect gift. For others it’s the stress of getting everything decorated, baked, and ready on time. We stress from trying to create the wonderful Christmas we dream about and now, it’s only 19 days away! Stress is dangerous if it tempts us to cope with it in unhealthy ways—unhealthy for the body and the soul. That’s why Jesus warned: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life” (v. 34).

Are you feeling the holiday stress? Do you want to get rid of it? Then Jesus offers this remedy: He said “Be always on the watch, and pray” (v. 36). This time of year requires spiritual vigilance and prayer. Our hope for the perfect Christmas is connected to the One whose love led him to the cradle and then to the cross for us. Our hope for the best future possible isn’t a dream. It’s certain because it rests on him who promised to come back again to take us to be with himself forever. He’s the One who said “Be on guard! Be alert!”

We may not be able to completely insulate ourselves from all stress. But we can take what is stressing us to the Lord of all who loves us completely. Now we are ready to face our stress and to work it out in faith-filled, faith-building ways, in Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when the holiday season or earth’s end-time season gets me stressed, help me find rest in you and help me to remain vigilant in my walk of faith 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

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