Grace and Forgiveness – September 30, 2018

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.
Matthew 21:28-31a

Grace and Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 30, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 21:28-31a

See series: Devotions

Jesus’ question was not hard to answer. Could it have been any simpler? Although the first son answered his father harshly and rudely, in the end he did what was asked. Although the words of the second son sounded sweet and polite, in the end he only paid lip service to his father.

It was meant to be an easy question with an obvious answer. But then Jesus transitioned to his true intent. The deeper spiritual point was meant to be just as clear to his hearers. That audience was made up of upstanding people, including the religious leaders of the day: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:31b-32).

The first son represented the openly sinful. They had turned away from God and his will. They had lived a life that was obviously contrary to the commands of God. But then John the Baptist came. He called out to sinners to turn from their sinful ways. He urged them to place their trust for forgiveness in a coming Savior. Many heard the message, believed it and lived!

The second son represented the outwardly righteous. They boasted about their relationship with God. They believed they had earned that relationship by who they were and the good they had done. But then John came. When he pointed out that they too were sinners who needed a Savior, they rejected his message and the Messiah (Jesus) who followed.

God the Father comes with this message today: “Go and work in the vineyard.” Jesus himself tells us that “the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). Jesus was sent into this world as Savior of all. He lived, suffered, died, and rose again to redeem you and me and everyone else from the punishment of God that our sins had earned. Now, he calls on us to place our trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you lived an openly sinful life? Turn to Jesus and his promised forgiveness…and live! Do you place your confidence of a good relationship with God on the goodness that others can see in you? Listen to Jesus’ call today and turn from that misguided idea. Place your trust in the righteousness Jesus alone can give…and live!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, help me always to see my need for your grace and forgiveness. Help me always to turn to you in humble faith for the forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and life that you alone can give. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Humility – September 29, 2018

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 2:3-5

Humility


Daily Devotion – September 29, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 2:3-5

See series: Devotions

These are words that burrow deep into the soul. Humility is not something that comes naturally to us. The three-year old who figures out how to tie his shoes runs to his mother with a pride-filled smile, directing her attention to his feet and his accomplishment. His greatest desire at that moment is to receive her praise. That desire for others to recognize our greatness and the grand things we have accomplished does not diminish with age.

Scripture does not just command humility, it gives us the ultimate example. Of all the people who have ever walked upon this planet Jesus certainly had every reason to think that he was better than everyone else. The fact is that he was. As true God and Creator of everything, the power, wisdom, glory, and authority that he had could not even be compared to that of the greatest ruler our world has ever seen.

Yet he did not pound his chest and stand on the highest mountain for all to see his greatness and praise him. His greatest goal was not for all people in the world to serve him, waiting on him hand and foot, and immediately providing for his every desire. Instead we are told that Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Instead of looking to his own interests, Jesus was focused on yours. Setting aside his glory, he humbly entered into our world with one purpose: to sacrifice himself for you and pay the price for your sins. That meant humbling himself to the point of being publicly humiliated and executed, suffering the wrath of God for sins he never committed.

Thank God that Jesus showed such humility! In doing so, he not only provides us with an example, he saves us from our sinful lack of humility.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I struggle with humility. I long for the praise of others. I would rather have others serve me than give my life in service to others. Forgive me. Thank you for your love and humility. Thank you for your willingness to place the needs of others, my needs, above your own. Thank you for dying that I may live. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Christian Teammates – September 28, 2018

We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.
1 John 1:3

Christian Teammates


Daily Devotion – September 28, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 1:3

See series: Devotions

When professional athletes quit playing their sport, we often hear them say, “I’ll really miss the guys in the locker room. I’ll really miss my teammates.”

God has knit humans together in such a way that we long for fellowship. We long to have friendships, to have people with whom we can share experiences. It is certainly true that it shows up in different measures in different people, but all of us need other people at least to some extent. We need fellowship.

And God wants you to have it! So, what does he do? He tells us about Jesus! He tells us about how Jesus really came to this earth, how he really died and rose. God tells us how he won forgiveness for us and eternal life for us. As God tells us these things, he works faith in our hearts, which connects us to himself! Wow! What companionship that is!

But in grace, there is even more. Faith connects us to God; by connecting us to himself, God also connects us to other people. If I am connected to Jesus, and you are connected to Jesus, that means we are also connected to each other, through Jesus! Because of God’s grace, we are teammates! And we will be forever!

Keep on hearing the message! Hear it regularly! Rejoice that God has connected you to himself and rejoice that he is connecting you to Christian “teammates” all over the world!

Prayer:
O Holy Spirit, unite me to you, and unite me to my fellow believers. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Most Precious Family Heirloom – September 27, 2018

Tell it to your children, and let your children tell it to their children, and their children to the next generation.
Joel 1:3

A Most Precious Family Heirloom


Daily Devotion – September 27, 2018

Devotion based on Joel 1:3

See series: Devotions

I have a photograph which is very dear to me, taken on the day of my confirmation. It shows four men standing in a line, with about one foot and twenty years between each of them. Earlier that day, I had made a public confession of my faith in Jesus together with my fellow eighth-graders and then received Holy Communion for the first time. After the service I posed for that picture with my father, my grandfather, and my great-grandfather. Four generations who had grown up in the Christian faith thanks to the faithfulness of each generation that came before them. I am eternally grateful to these men and their Christian wives for passing down their most valued possession—the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ and a commitment to remain in his Word.

I learned in catechism class all those years ago that I inherited my sinful nature from my parents, and they inherited it from theirs, and so on. Every generation passes along original sin to the next. We are born outside of God’s grace, foreigners to his kingdom, and ignorant of his promises. That is why every generation needs to hear of their desperate need for a Savior and the good news of God’s forgiveness. Every child needs to learn about their Savior Jesus who loves them to death and beyond. Even Christian parents can’t simply assume that their children will somehow pick up their faith by osmosis. A conscious effort needs to be made to share God’s Word with our children.

In more recent family pictures, I am farther up the generational ladder. Over the years nothing has given me greater joy than to worship together with my wife and children. And what a privilege it is now on those occasions when my grandson sits on my lap in the church pew! I watch as his daddy reminds him to fold his hands when we pray. I love to hear his little voice sing Bible songs with his mommy. I’m thankful their young family attends a church where they receive support and encouragement in raising their child to walk with Christ.

If your family does not attend church together, it’s not too late! It may seem challenging at first but remember that this is God’s will for your family, so he will most assuredly help you. Your efforts to speak with your children about Jesus today will bring blessings to your family for generations to come.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for making me your child. Help me teach my family about your love so that together we may receive your grace. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Danger of Sharing the Gospel – September 26, 2018

Because the LORD revealed their plot to me, I knew it, for at that time he showed me what they were doing. I had been like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter; I did not realize that they had plotted against me, saying, “Let us destroy the tree and its fruit; let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.”
Jeremiah 11:18-19

Danger of Sharing the Gospel


Daily Devotion – September 26, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 11:18-19

See series: Devotions

On August 15, 2015, a Christian pastor in India was abducted from his home by anti-Christian forces. They had warned him on four previous occasions to stop sharing the gospel. He refused. Family members found his body the next day. Shortly after that, the family buried their beloved son, husband, father, and brother, saying goodbye to a man who only wanted to share the love of God in Christ Jesus our Savior. In an interview with a Christian organization, the wife of the slain pastor wept as she told a reporter, “I am happy that my husband…died for Christ. He is in heaven. I am happy with that. I cannot lose the faith. I am still faithful. God forgive them. I forgive the person who did all of this.”

The prophet Jeremiah could relate to the danger this pastor faced because he was in danger for much the same reason. God sent him to proclaim a message of severe warning to his Old Testament people who had turned away from the Lord to worship idols. Naturally, Jeremiah’s message enraged the people and they didn’t want to hear it; in fact, they were plotting to kill him.

Most of us have never faced the possibility of death for the privilege of sharing God’s Word, but that message is still despised and those who share it are still hated by the unbelieving world we live in. Should that stop us? Of course not! It didn’t stop Jesus. His love for all people moved him to risk and sacrifice everything—even himself—to establish the way of salvation for us.

That pastor in India knew the love of Christ. He shared the gospel of salvation with his people even though he was in great danger. He prayed that some would hear and believe God’s saving message and he took the risk. God’s love filled him with love for his people.

Jeremiah continued to proclaim God’s Word for the same reason. And so should we.

Prayer:
Dearest Savior, may your love for us fill us with love for all people and make us willing to share the good news of salvation no matter what the risk. 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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Wisdom – September 25, 2018

Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.
James 3:13-18

Wisdom


Daily Devotion – September 25, 2018

Devotion based on James 3:13-18

See series: Devotions

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” Well, that depends on your definition or standard of wisdom.

Are you wise?

There is a kind of wisdom that is fueled by selfish ambition and bitter envy. Such wisdom wants to get ahead in life; it wants to fulfill its desires at whatever cost. It is willing to deny the truth to do so, even to the point of resorting to evil practices. Though it leaves a trail of disorder in its wake, it boasts of the great things it has accomplished. The Bible calls this earthly wisdom. It also calls it unspiritual, even of the devil. It is wisdom which is characterized chiefly by a selfish focus on me.

There is, however, another kind of wisdom. It is never willing to sacrifice the truth; it is pure. Rather than seeking to get ahead of others, it is peace-loving and considerate. Rather than striving for personal gain, it is submissive and full of mercy. Instead of resorting to evil, it bears good fruit; it is impartial and sincere. Such wisdom has no room for boasting; it is full of humility. The Bible calls this heavenly wisdom. It points out that it produces a harvest of righteousness. It is wisdom that is characterized chiefly by a loving focus on others.

Are you wise?

As you fight the temptation to be me-focused and strive to lovingly focus on others, remember where true wisdom comes from. It comes not from within or below. It comes from above, from God. It comes from the One who was and is wisdom personified. It comes from the Savior who never sinfully focused on himself and always lovingly focused on the spiritual and eternal welfare of others. Remember that this wisdom is revealed in and fueled by the gospel.

“Who is wise and understanding among you?” The one who knows and trusts and walks with Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for the times I have embraced earthly wisdom and left behind me a trail littered with hurt and hardship. With eyes focused on you and others, may my faith shine as I pursue and practice heavenly wisdom. 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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Jesus Our Greatness – September 24, 2018

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.” He took a little child and had him stand among them. Taking him in his arms, he said to them, “Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.”
Mark 9:35-37

Jesus Our Greatness


Daily Devotion – September 24, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 9:35-37

See series: Devotions

Children are adorable. They can say hilarious things and have endearing antics. But often children can be seen as the least of us. On the one hand they are helpless. They rely on adults for shelter, clothing, and food but yet have little ability to help adults provide for them. On the other hand, they can be extremely self-centered.

The disciples had been quite childlike. They were helpless, failed to recognize their helplessness, and were acting quite self-centered. Jesus had shown them their helplessness when he had warned them that he was going to be killed and was going to rise from the dead. They didn’t get what he meant, so instead they found something else to talk about—their own self-centeredness—or as they saw it their own greatness. And so, the disciples argued and argued until Jesus asked them, “What are you arguing about?” And maybe quieted by embarrassment, they had nothing to say.

As much as we hate to admit it, we are childlike too. We often fail to see our own helplessness. You may think that if you do some good here and there that God will send some good things your way. Maybe you think that you have earned every single thing that you have been given without realizing you could lose it all in an instant. You may fail to see your own helplessness because you, like the disciples, try to focus on how great of a person you are.

Jesus says that true greatness is letting go of self-centeredness and pride by understanding your own helplessness. Greatness comes through Jesus’ cross. He handed himself over for you so that he would die for your self-centeredness and vanity. He is the one who conquered death and defines greatness in his life and death for you.

Doesn’t this move you to care for those who do not seem as great or deserving? If Jesus thinks you are great, then you can humble yourself without losing value. If Jesus thinks those who are least deserving are great, then you can care for those you think do not deserve it.

When children are self-centered, be patient. When children are helpless, continue to care. Encourage them and show them love. Jesus says you receive him because he cares for all those who are least deserving.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for humbling yourself for me and going to the cross to die for me. Because of your death and resurrection, you are great. Help me to understand my own need for you and empower me to serve those who are least deserving. 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 Fair – September 23, 2018

“But he answered one of them, ‘Friend, I am not being unfair to you. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?'”
Matthew 20:13-15

More than Fair


Daily Devotion – September 23, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 20:13-15

See series: Devotions

Some people might argue that God isn’t fair. He doesn’t punish quickly enough. He doesn’t punish severely enough. He even allows bad things to happen to good people. God’s fairness is also questioned when it comes to people entering heaven. It doesn’t seem fair that some people are excluded.

While I might be tempted to think God is unfair, I need to remember the truth which Jesus teaches. God is more than fair.

Jesus’ parable of the workers in the field (Matthew 20:1-16) reveals God’s goodness and his mercy. The landowner, who is the Lord, graciously calls many to come into his field. Some are there for a long time. Others are there only for a short time. At the final accounting, the Lord gives everyone what he promised. Unfortunately, the fairness and the generosity of the Lord is called into question.

The landowner’s response is critical: “Are you envious because I am generous?” The parable addressed the jealousy of the descendants of Abraham who assumed they deserved more from the Lord. The Lord’s answer gave them a completely different perspective, and it becomes a valuable lesson for me when I harbor doubts about the Lord’s fairness.

While I may be tempted to think I deserve more from the Lord, I need to start with what I actually deserve. I should be punished, rejected, and separated from God forever. My sin is the reason why God should have turned away from me. God’s love, however, brought about a different response. Through the sacrificial work of Jesus, as well as through the substitution of his righteousness for my lack thereof, I am saved. If God were fair, none of this would have happened. Instead, God would judge me and sentence me to eternal punishment.

Through his wonderful love the Lord leads me to rejoice in my rescue and the promise of heaven. It also leads me to rejoice that God offers the same rescue and promise of heaven to all people. He wants all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. This is more than fair. It is grace.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, you have poured out your grace into my life. Bless me through the work of the Holy Spirit so that I acknowledge your love, rejoice in your love, and daily grow through your love. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Remembering What We Have – September 22, 2018

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

Remembering What We Have


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2018

Devotion based on Philippians 1:27

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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The Ultimate Encourager – September 21, 2018

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

The Ultimate Encourager


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 10:24-2

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
O Savior God, encourage me in my walk of faith. Then use me to encourage those around me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peace in Jesus Is the Real Thing – September 20, 2018

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

Peace in Jesus Is the Real Thing


Daily Devotion – September 20, 2018

Devotion based on Colossians 3:16

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, open my lips to sing your praises together with your people everywhere. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Path that Jesus Took – September 19, 2018

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

The Path that Jesus Took


Daily Devotion – September 19, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 50: 5-6,10

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Dearest Savior, may your willingness to suffer and die for me make me always willing to faithfully follow you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Faith Is Not Selfish – September 18, 2018

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

Faith Is Not Selfish


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2018

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

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
O Lord, forgive my sinful selfishness. Help me overcome the temptations to show favoritism or speak empty words. Enable me, in Christ, to be rich in love toward all. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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More than a Man – September 17, 2018

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

Mark 8:29-33

More than a Man


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 8:29-33

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Lord Make Me Forgiving – September 16, 2018

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

Lord, Make Me Forgiving


Daily Devotion – September 16, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21-22

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Forgiveness – September 15, 2018

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

Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2018

Devotion based on Genesis 50:15-21

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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What We Need – September 14, 2018

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

What We Need


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 4:3-4

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, there are so many attractive and appealing messages in my world. Help me to tune my ears to your Word of Truth. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stick to the Playbook – September 13, 2018

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

Stick to the Playbook


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2018

Devotion based on John 8:31

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, teach and strengthen me to hold firmly to your Word of Truth. Help me to boldly live my life as your disciple. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Your God will Come – September 12, 2018

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

Your God will Come


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 35:4-7

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Astounding – September 11, 2018

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

Astounding


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 11:33

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that is astounding.

Prayer:
Holy God, the wonders of your creation are astounding. Even more so, Lord, is your love for me in Jesus Christ. By your Spirit, keep me close to you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Simply Amazing – September 10, 2018

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

Simply Amazing


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 7:37

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Repentance – September 9, 2018

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

Repentance


Daily Devotion – September 9, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15-18

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Life for You – September 8, 2018

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me. When I say to the wicked, ‘O wicked man, you will surely die,’ and you do not speak out to dissuade him from his ways, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man to turn from his ways and he does not do so, he will die for his sin, but you will have saved yourself. “Son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?”‘ Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?’
Ezekiel 33:7-11

Life for You


Daily Devotion – September 8, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7-11

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

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

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Test the Spirits – September 7, 2018

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

Test the Spirits


Daily Devotion – September 7, 2018

Devotion based on 1 John 4:1

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Word of God Produces – September 6, 2018

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

The Word of God Produces


Daily Devotion – September 6, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10-11

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Almighty God, send forth your Word into my heart in abundance, so that my faith in Christ may grow and flourish. Amen.

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