Placing Labels on People – January 15, 2022

[God] saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5

Placing Labels on People

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Daily Devotion – January 15, 2022

Devotion based on Titus 3:5

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Placing labels on people—that’s something the world loves to do. Some labels are encouraging: “You’re a winner…a natural leader…a hero.” Some hurt: “You’re a loser…ignorant…lazy.” In fact, labels can cause all sorts of problems by making some feel arrogant and others feel insecure. But those labels are based on someone else’s opinion, and it’s foolish to let the opinion of others determine how you feel about yourself.

However, when it comes to the opinion of God, that’s different. God, our Savior, has placed a label on you. “Mine,” he says. That’s not just an opinion, it’s a fact because he has done everything necessary to make it true. He has washed away your sin with his precious blood. He has wrapped you in his righteousness. He not only created you, but he also purchased and won you from sin, death, and the power of the devil. Even the faith you need to believe that saving message is something the Holy Spirit freely provided.

For those times when you wonder, “Could this really be true?” When the devil accuses, and your conscience agrees: “God could never love a sinner like you!” That’s when the Holy Spirit reminds you of a most precious blessing: baptism—the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. By the power of God’s Word, baptism connected you to Christ. God the Holy Spirit placed a “label” on you. “Mine,” he said. “You belong to me.”

Some labels should be ignored but through baptism, the Holy Spirit has placed a label on you worth pondering every day. You are his own. There is nothing in this world more important and more comforting than knowing that you belong to God, your Savior!

Prayer:
Holy Spirit, thank you for the priceless gift of baptism. Through this washing of rebirth and renewal, you have made me your own. Constantly remind me of this glorious truth. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Eight Is Enough – January 14, 2022

Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The LORD has not chosen these.” So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.” Samuel said, “Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.” So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David.
1 Samuel 16:10-13

Eight Is Enough

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Daily Devotion – January 14, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:10-13

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Strike one. Strike two. Strike three. That usually means, “You’re out!” But our God has a different way of counting. When the prophet Samuel went to anoint one of Jesse’s sons to be the next king, Samuel got all the way up to strike seven. And yet, he still wasn’t out. When son number eight walked in, the Lord commanded, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.”

Number eight was “the one.” Why was David able to be one of the most successful kings in the history of God’s people? Why would David be called “a man after God’s own heart?” Not because of his handsome features. Rather, from the day that Samuel anointed him, “the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully over David.”

Sometimes we forget that about ourselves, don’t we? We so easily can rely on our talents, our health, or our handsome features to navigate life. But talents, health and handsome features will all fail eventually. God’s Holy Spirit won’t. God’s Holy Spirit, who comes to us through the words of the Bible, connects us to our heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus. That connection assures us of God’s forgiveness and eternal life. Unlike talents, health, and handsome features, God’s Holy Spirit will never fail us.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for pouring out your Spirit on me. Lead me to rely on him as I live for you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Messengers of Peace – January 13, 2022

Samuel did what the LORD said. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town trembled when they met him. They asked, “Do you come in peace?” Samuel replied, “Yes, in peace; I have come to sacrifice to the LORD.”
1 Samuel 16:4,5

Messengers of Peace

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Daily Devotion – January 13, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:4,5

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I used to have an office across the hall from a preschool. More than once, I overheard a parent at pick-up time say to their child, “You better behave, or you’ll have to go to the pastor’s office.” I cringed whenever I heard that. First, I didn’t personally want to get involved about how a preschooler should hang her coat up on the hook. But more importantly, I didn’t want that little preschooler to view the pastor as only a disciplinarian. “If you misbehave, you have to go see the pastor.”

It’s sad how Satan works, isn’t it? While it is true that sometimes God uses his church and its leaders to confront sin, the primary purpose of his church is to proclaim the good news that Jesus paid the price for their sins. The primary purpose of the Lord’s church is to echo what the angelic messengers proclaimed just a few weeks ago at Christmas, namely, “Peace.” And yet, Satan would have us see God’s messengers as anything but messengers of peace. We may stay away from worship where God’s messengers share God’s message. And the result? We are robbed of the very thing that brings us lasting peace.

Don’t listen to Satan’s lies. The next time that you drive past that place of worship and your guilt prevents you from going in, hear what the Lord decrees, “I have been sacrificed for your sins.” The next time you wonder if Jesus came for you, know that he did. Through Jesus, you have peace with God.

Prayer:
Lord, let the peace of your forgiveness overcome my guilt. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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No Fear – January 12, 2022

But Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.” The LORD said, “Take a heifer with you and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to theLORD.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what to do. You are to anoint for me the one I indicate.”
1 Samuel 16:2,3

No Fear

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Daily Devotion – January 12, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:2,3

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Years ago, there was a TV show called “Fear Factor.” The premise was that contestants would face such daunting challenges that they couldn’t go through with it. Whoever could overcome the “fear factor” first would win the grand prize.

You may not be asked to drink blended rats, but the “fear factor” is not limited to TV shows. Fear still has a way of paralyzing people from moving forward or thinking clearly. Even if the danger causing our fear isn’t real, the fear is real. Sometimes, what causes such fear is that our eyes are focused on the wrong thing.

That was the case with Samuel. God had asked Samuel to do an important task. He had to anoint someone to be a king. What sounds like a festive occasion was a fearful occasion for Samuel. You see, there already was a king on the throne. So by anointing a new king, Samuel thought his life would be in danger. That word, “thought,” is the keyword. What we think will happen does not always match what God knows will happen. What we fear is not always God’s reality.

Consider the situations in your life. God commands us “to do” a variety of things. God commands that we honor those in authority and follow his direction for marriage and sexuality. He commands that we honor him with our wealth.

Why do we struggle with such commands? Sometimes it’s simply that we are afraid to do the right thing. We are afraid the task may be too hard or that it may hurt. With Samuel, we may ask, “How can I go?” (1 Samuel 16:2). When facing a fearful task, take comfort in God’s direction, “I will show you what to do” (1 Samuel 16:3). There is no fear factor when there is a God factor.

Prayer:
Lord, erase my fears as you keep my eyes focused on you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Who Is in Control? – January 11, 2022

The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”
1 Samuel 16:1

Who Is in Control?

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Daily Devotion – January 11, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:1

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“It’s been three years.” That’s what the mature churchgoer mourned at a recent gathering of his church friends. Church was the center of this man’s life, but it had been three long years since they had a consistent voice in the pulpit of his congregation. And it wasn’t for lack of trying to fill the void. One pastor after another was given the opportunity to serve this congregation. But each answer was the same, “No.”

Pastoral vacancies or leadership vacuums are never fun. If there is an empty seat at church, in the home, or around the conference table at work, we can flounder as we are directionless. Worse than directionless, we may even find life to be chaotic. Or we can find ourselves trying to drive forward while looking in the rear-view mirror instead of the windshield. “Oh, I wish dad was still here.” “Remember how good it was when our old boss was at the helm?” “Remember when…”

Your eye maybe sees that an aspect of your life is leaderless. But that’s not what God sees. When there is a void in leadership, it may just be God’s way of reminding us that he is the ultimate leader. God is still in control. He knows your needs and how he will meet those needs. That was the lesson God gave the prophet Samuel. Mourning the downfall of a king, Samuel had a hard time moving forward. But then God had to open his eyes, “How long will you mourn for Saul . . . I have chosen one of [Jesse’s] sons to be king” (1 Samuel 16:1).

“I have chosen.” What beautiful comfort we can find in that little pronoun. When we mourn the past or are fearful of the future, find comfort in God’s leadership. “I have chosen you to be my child… I have a plan for your future… I will work all things out for your good.” Find comfort in knowing that no matter what your eye sees, the Lord still decrees, “I am King.”

Prayer:
Lord, open my eyes to see that you are in control. Then give me confidence in your leadership. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Check the Drawer – January 10, 2022

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”
1 Samuel 16:7

Check the Drawer

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Daily Devotion -January 10, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 16:7

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Just an old-fashioned coffee grinder. That’s what the couple had their eye on as they perused the estate sale in their small town. They were intrigued, but the $100 price tag seemed a bit steep, especially when the same item could be purchased on Etsy for $27.51. So, they passed it up.

The next day, they see the “50% off all items” yard sign as they drive past the sale they attended yesterday. Determining the coffee-grinder is worth $50, they quickly turn around and grab the item off its showcase table in the kitchen. Two twenties and a ten later, they are on their way. When they get home and inspect their new possession, imagine the surprise when they open the little drawer in the grinder and find $750!

“Don’t pass up a coffee-grinder until you open the drawer” doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as “Don’t judge a book by its cover,” but you get the point. But not everyone gets the point, sometimes, not even prophets in the Bible. Samuel was sent, by God, to anoint Israel’s next king. He was told it would be one of the sons of a man named Jesse. When he saw Jesse’s oldest standing tall in front of him, his impressive appearance convinced Samuel that this must be the one who would be king.

But he was wrong. Because God told him that “The Lord does not look at the things people look at” (1 Samuel 16:7). Thankfully, that’s still true. Thankfully, when the Lord looks at you, he doesn’t see what others see—the selfishness, the lack of love, the sin. When the Lord looks at you, do you know what he sees? A person whose sins are covered with the blood of Jesus. When he looks at your heart by grace, he sees his home.

Prayer:
Lord, fling wide the portals of my heart and make it a temple set apart for you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Meaning of Mercy – January 9, 2022

When the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.
Titus 3:4,5

The Meaning of Mercy

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Daily Devotion – January 9, 2022

Devotion based on Titus 3:4,5

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In the early 1800s, Napoleon Bonaparte ruled as emperor of France. His word was final. A woman appeared before him one day. She was seeking a pardon for her son.

Napoleon explained to her why this was not possible: Her son was guilty of committing a serious crime not once but twice. Under the law of the land, he had been sentenced to death.

But the mother persevered. “I plead for mercy for my son,” she said.

“But your son does not deserve mercy,” pronounced the emperor. It was then that this mother got to the heart of the matter. “You are correct,” she said. “My son does not deserve mercy. But if he did, it would not be mercy. And mercy is all I ask for.”

“Then I will have mercy,” Napoleon said. He spared her son’s life.

This woman understood the meaning of mercy. The apostle Paul did too. Paul said that, with the arrival of Jesus Christ, “God saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” The Son of God invaded our time and space to conduct a rescue mission. He rescued us from the curse of our own sin. He did this through the perfect life and innocent death he lived and died on our behalf.

But why? Here is where Paul gets to the heart of the matter. God did this not because we deserved it; not because he saw us as diamonds in the rough; not because we’ve done something that made us sparkle in his eyes. He did it because of his mercy.

It’s his mercy through Jesus Christ that makes your relationship with God so secure. It doesn’t depend upon what you have done for God. It depends on what the Savior, in mercy, has done for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in my moments of anxiety and doubt, fill me with your Holy Spirit. Through your Word, remind me that my relationship with you rests not on what I do for you, but upon your mercy. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Perfect Timing – January 8, 2022

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4-7

Perfect Timing

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Daily Devotion – January 8, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4-7

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The apostle Paul says that “when the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” But have you ever wondered why God chose to send Jesus into the world when he did? Looking back, we can see several reasons why he might have chosen the time that he did. The common Greek language, the peace of the Roman Empire, improved travel, and even the spread of the Jewish people, along with their synagogues, all helped the good news of a Savior from sin spread far and wide. Yet these are just observations made from a human perspective. The Bible never gives us the reason why God sent Jesus when he did. Instead, we are told that God sent his Son when the “time had fully come.”

We don’t know why God sent Jesus when he did, but we can be thankful that he did. God’s own Son became human and put himself under the law to redeem us from all our sins and failures under God’s law. He did this so we might receive the full rights of sons. Through faith in Christ, we have been brought into God’s family and can now call out to our Father in heaven with words of heartfelt intimacy “Abba, Father.” God’s timing was perfect, and so was his gift—Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, help me to continually rejoice in your perfect timing in sending your Son into the world. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Access to the Father – January 7, 2022

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4-7

Access to the Father

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Daily Devotion – January 7, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4-7

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The story is told of a soldier who was fighting for the North during the United States Civil War. All his brothers had died in battle. And he feared that if he died too, his mother would not be able to take care of their family farm all by herself. So, he marched up to the White House and asked to speak with President Lincoln. Unfortunately, he was denied access to enter.

Feeling dejected, he sat down by a nearby bench. A young boy noticed this soldier and asked why he looked so sad. He told the boy his concern. The boy responded, “follow me.” The young boy led the soldier up to the White House doors, where they passed right through. Together they walked down the hallway and strolled right into the room where President Lincoln was meeting with his staff.

The young boy spoke up, “Father, this man has a problem, and I would like you to listen to him.”

Now, I don’t know how accurate this story really is, but it makes an important point: Children have access to their parents, even if nobody else does.

This is the same point that Paul made when he wrote to the Christians in Galatia. He told them that no matter what family they grew up in, Jesus had made them children of God. And God’s children get access to their heavenly Father. He goes so far as to say that we can call the almighty God our “Abba, Father.” (“Abba” is the way of saying father in Aramaic.)

You don’t need to remain outside the presence of the Father. You can walk right into God’s presence through your prayers, empowered by the Holy Spirit to speak whatever is in your heart.

Prayer:
Abba, Father, thank you for sending your Son so that I too can be a child of God. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Just Like He Promised – January 6, 2022

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to him and said, “I am God Almighty; walk before me faithfully and be blameless. Then I will make my covenant between me and you and will greatly increase your numbers.” Abram fell facedown, and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You will be the father of many nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I have made you a father of many nations.”
Genesis 17:1-5

Just Like He Promised

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Daily Devotion – January 6, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 17:1-5

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As a father, I want to give my kids the world. I want to take them places and give them memorable experiences. There have been times when in my excitement to bless my kids, I make promises to them that I can’t keep.

Did your parents ever do something similar to you? Did they ever over-promise and under-deliver?

Our Heavenly Father made a promise to the first Hebrew, Abraham, 2000 years before Jesus was born. He promised to turn Abraham’s descendants into a great nation that would bless the world. The Lord God confirmed that promise with an oath, called a covenant, which means that he was committing himself to keep this promise.

But for most of Israel’s history, it seemed like the heavenly Father was acting like earthly fathers. He seemed to be breaking his promise to his people. Instead of being a great people, they were a small, harassed group with little prestige or honor among the nations.

But then Jesus, a descendant of Abraham, was born. After he lived, died, and rose on behalf of us all, people from all nations put their faith in him. They were baptized and became children of God. And in that way, believers from all over the world have become “descendants of Abraham.” The oath that God swore to Abraham has come true!

Our Heavenly Father is not like earthly fathers. He always keeps his promises. So, you can be sure he will keep all his promises to you.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for being faithful to all of your promises. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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No Longer Slaves to Sin – January 5, 2022

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. . . So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:4,5,7

No Longer Slaves to Sin

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Daily Devotion – January 5, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4,5,7

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The apostle Paul compared the human condition to slavery. He wrote, “We were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world” (Galatians 4:3). In other words, our selfish passions and desires seem to control us, and the law (meaning all the good things God wants us to do) feels like a task master magnifying our failures.

That might sound overly dramatic but think about the internal struggle of everyday life. Think about the feelings of envy, anger, or lust that seem to pop up in your heart. Day after day you fight against ungodly thoughts and feelings that tempt you toward ungodly words and actions. You (like all people) are, by nature, enslaved by sin.

But that’s why Christmas is such good news! Paul also wrote, “But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law.” That means, at just the right time, Jesus was born as a real human. And he was placed in bondage under those same laws and temptations as we are. But what made Jesus different is that he did not give in to the temptations. He overcame them to redeem us, which means to free us from our slavery to sin. Now Paul says that those who trust in Jesus are no longer slaves to sin but adopted sons or daughters of God.

That doesn’t mean that we will never struggle with sin. But it does mean we don’t need to let it control us, nor do we need to wallow in guilt and shame. We are not slaves to sin! We are sons and daughters of God!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you have set me free from sin and shame. Fill me with your Spirit, so I can live for you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Serve Him Without Fear – January 4, 2022

[God has shown] mercy to our ancestors and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Luke 1:72-75

Serve Him Without Fear

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Daily Devotion – January 4, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 1:72-75

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Fear is an all-encompassing emotion. When a person is afraid, they can become virtually paralyzed. The fight-or-flight system kicks in, and the whole body goes into survival mode. Can you think of a time when you were so afraid that you couldn’t carry out your normal responsibilities?

The Bible describes much of Israel’s history as one of fear. They were afraid of their enemies. And because they kept turning to idols to deliver them, they were also afraid of God and his just punishment.

But God had promised from the very beginning, from the time of Abraham, to rescue the people from all their enemies so that they would no longer be afraid. That’s why when John the Baptist was born (the forerunner to Jesus), his Father, Zechariah, sang the words above.

Zechariah knew that the coming Messiah was going to fulfill the promises that God made to Abraham, namely, to rescue God’s people from their enemies. Then, God’s people could finally serve God without fear.

Through his life, death, and resurrection, Jesus defeated our enemies of sin, death, and the devil. We no longer need to live in fear. We don’t need to fear the devil and his lies. We don’t need to fear our enemies who want to harm us. We don’t even need to fear the judgment of God. Because of Jesus, we are free to serve God without fear.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you came into this world on the very first Christmas to set me free. Set me free from all those things that cause me to be afraid, so that I can serve you in love. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Part of a Larger Story – January 3, 2022

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them . . . (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”
Luke 1:68-71

Part of a Larger Story

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Daily Devotion – January 3, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 1:68-71

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Christianity didn’t start with Christmas. Of course, Christmas is an important event. But the birth of Jesus is part of a much bigger story. If you are unaware of the greater narrative, you might miss out on the significance of all the presents and parties that go along with this Holiday season.

The bigger story focuses on the nation of Israel. In the second book of the Bible, the Israelites find themselves enslaved by the Egyptians. For 400 years, they cry out to God for their freedom—which is also called “redemption.” Finally, God sets them free, but they are not free for very long. The surrounding nations continue to oppress them until one day, the whole nation is carried off into captivity in Babylon. But God’s people hold on to the hope that they hear from their prophets, namely, one day God will set them free from all their enemies for good.

Around the time of Jesus’ birth, a priest named Zechariah believed that God was bringing all his promises to fulfillment. That is why he sang the song that you read at the beginning of this devotion. He believed God was continuing his story of redemption through the Messiah, Jesus. He believed that his son, John the Baptist, was going to prepare the way for Jesus. Finally, that Jesus was going to set God’s people free. And he was right.

You see, Christianity is a much bigger story than just the Christmas story. Christianity is a much longer narrative about how God is redeeming his people. And this story isn’t over yet. The same Jesus who came at Christmas promises to come back again to set us free from all our enemies, from sin, death, and all that is evil. Let’s join Zechariah and praise the Lord who sets his people free.

Prayer:
Jesus, I praise you for coming to rescue your people. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Timing – January 2, 2022

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

Timing

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Daily Devotion – January 2, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

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Barton Mitchell served as a private during the American Civil War. He fought for the North. Things were not going well for the Northern army. In fact, things were going so poorly that Great Britain was on the verge of recognizing Southern independence. If the South could gain just one more victory, Great Britain might intervene on behalf of the South. In other words, if the North lost one more battle, it might lose the war.

This brings us back to Barton Mitchell. One day, Barton and his comrades were on a hillside, taking a break from their march. The place where they were resting was a former campsite for the Southern army. As they sat, Barton looked down and spotted some cigars wrapped in a piece of paper. Interested in the cigars, Barton picked them up. And that’s when he discovered that the paper around the cigars contained the marching plans for the Southern army. Quickly, Barton passed the paper up the chain of command. The information he found that day was enough to give the North a much-needed victory.

In so doing, Barton Mitchell may well have saved his country. It was one of the most dramatic episodes of good timing that history has seen.

The Bible tells us about an even better episode of good timing: one that took place in the town of Bethlehem.

The apostle Paul wrote, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” At a time when the Roman Empire ruled the known world, immorality and religious confusion seemed rampant, and many of God’s people felt isolated and forgotten—it was in that moment when all things were ready. It was in that moment when God demonstrated that he was in control and sent his Son.

As you stare at that new calendar on the wall, keep in mind that God’s sense of good timing has not changed. The One who sent his Son at just the right time to cleanse you from all sin is the same One who holds and blesses every moment of your life.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you are the One who sent my Savior into this world at just the right time. Move me to trust your timing in every aspect of my life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Perfect Gift – January 1, 2022

Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.
Luke 2:51

The Perfect Gift

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Daily Devotion – January 1, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 2:51

See series: Devotions

What was the best gift you received for Christmas? Was it just what you hoped? Sometimes we receive a gift that is exactly what we wanted, and after opening it, we say, “It’s perfect!”

Unfortunately, even the best gifts don’t last forever. We grow tired of toys and games. New clothes wear out or become unfashionable. Things break or get lost. We discover that perfect gifts aren’t so perfect.

Except, Jesus. Jesus is God’s perfect gift to us. Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s holy law, including being obedient to his earthly mother and father. Think of it—the all-knowing, all-powerful God obeyed his sinful human parents. He did this, not because they were always right or fair, but because it was his heavenly Father’s will. Children are to obey their parents. So Jesus did, perfectly.

Can we say the same? Not one of us can. We have all been guilty of disobeying our parents and others that God put in authority over us. That’s why we needed Jesus. We needed Jesus to do for us what we were supposed to do. Jesus obeyed for all the times we have disobeyed. Jesus honored his parents for all the times we dishonored ours. His perfect life is God’s gift to us so that when God looks at us, he sees Jesus’ perfection. He sees children who are worthy of his heavenly kingdom, and through faith in Jesus, he freely gives them the gift of an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 3:4).

Even the best gifts you receive will lose their luster eventually. But not Jesus. He is the perfect gift.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for doing what I have failed to do. Give me the strength and humility to honor those you have placed in authority over me. Amen.

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