I Will be Back – May 13, 2020

[Jesus said] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
John 14:1,3

I Will be Back


Daily Devotion – May 13, 2020

Devotion based on John 14:1,3

See series: Devotions

“Why are you leaving? Don’t you love us? We need you! How will we go on without you?”

Father was about to board a plane. He was going across the ocean to a distant and unfamiliar land. But it was a better place than the one they lived in now. He was going there to find steady employment, build a home, and set up a good life for his family. He would be gone for a long time. But he assured his wife and children, “When everything is ready, I will come and get you. Then we will be together always.” The promise of a better life lived together sustained the family during the difficult days while father was away.

The same is true for followers of Jesus. He has ascended to heaven, where he is preparing a far better life for us. When we face difficult days in this world—when a loved one dies, a relationship ends, a job is lost, or a virus spreads across the globe.

During those difficult days, remember the promise Jesus gave the night before his death. He said that our hearts do not need to be troubled because he is preparing a place for us, and he will come back one day to take us there.

And we will be with the Lord forever!

Prayer:
Come, Lord Jesus! I look forward to a better life lived together with you and all of your people. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Place for You – May 12, 2020

[Jesus said] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. . . . My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?”
John 14:1,2

A Place for You


Daily Devotion – May 12, 2020

Devotion based on John 14:1,2

See series: Devotions

“A man’s home is his castle, and each man’s home is his safest refuge.” That may sound like an endorsement for current “Safer at Home” rules. However, English judge and politician, Sir Edward Coke, penned that law in the 1600s. According to that law, no one may enter another’s home without an invitation.

Perhaps, after weeks of self-isolation, your home feels more like a prison than a palace. Perhaps you are living alone and long for fellowship with friends and family. Perhaps you are living with your family but have discovered that being together for so long can strain relationships as nerves fray and patience runs out. As comfortable and comforting as home can be, earthly homes are not perfect places.

But such a perfect place does exist. It is a heavenly home being prepared by Jesus himself. But you cannot just walk in. And he cannot just let you in. Because it is a perfect place, anything imperfect cannot enter. And, sadly, every one of us is imperfect. Thankfully, Jesus paid for our imperfection by going to the cross. He promises to cover his followers in his own perfection so that we are able to enter the perfect heavenly home he is preparing for us.

Discontent, disease, and disagreements are not going to be part of that home. Jesus has made sure of it.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending your Son to earth that I may have a place 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do Not be Troubled – May 11, 2020

[Jesus said] “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.”
John 14:1

Do Not be Troubled


Daily Devotion – May 11, 2020

Devotion based on John 14:1

See series: Devotions

What’s troubling you?

It is hard not to be troubled about something these days. We have had to cancel plans. We have postponed or altered significant life events. We have lost jobs. We have watched friends or family contract and succumb to COVID19. And there’s nothing we can do to change the situation. We aren’t in control. This tiny virus has affected every aspect of our every-day lives. No doubt, it is bound to affect our future way of life too.

It’s troubling.

But then Jesus speaks over our anxiety and distress: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.” There is great comfort in believing in the God who created the world. It means that he is more powerful than any pandemic. There is blessed assurance in believing in the God who so loves the world. It means that he gave us his Son to rescue us from all our troubles.

Don’t be troubled.

Jesus came to calm our troubled hearts. He took away the troubles of experienced fishermen by quieting a raging storm. He took away wedding troubles by changing water into wine. He took away hunger troubles by feeding thousands on a few loaves and fish. In fact, he took away every trouble that sin and death caused by overcoming them on the cross. He suffered the judgment we earned for our sins. And he silenced death by rising from the grave.

What do you want to do when trouble comes your way?

Do not let your heart be troubled by guilt. Believe in God who forgives you for Jesus’ sake. Do not let your hearts be troubled by death. Believe in God who gives eternal life to all who believe in his Son. Do not let your heart be troubled by anything else. Believe in God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Jesus, you know my troubles. As you took care of the world’s troubles on the cross, I believe that you are taking care of my troubles now. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peace be With You – May 10, 2020

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!”
John 20:19

Peace be With You


Daily Devotion – May 10, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:19

See series: Devotions

So, what makes you nervous? What brings fear to your heart or anxiety? I would think that the possibility that your life could be in danger would make you afraid. Of course, guilt is powerful, too. A guilty conscience can cause lots of anxiety, lots of nervousness.

On Easter Sunday evening, Jesus’ followers had both issues. First, they thought their lives might have been on the line. After all, the Jewish religious leaders had put Jesus to death—how hard would it be for them to get the disciples? Additionally, they were struggling with guilt. For whatever reason, they hadn’t quite gotten it, hadn’t paid attention when Jesus told them he’d rise from the dead. Then, they got several reports that he HAD risen. If he really had, how would he deal with them? In anger and judgment?

Here is what the Bible says happened: “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord” (John 20:19,20).

In the place of fear, there was now forgiveness. Why? Because of the reality that Jesus had really died, Jesus had really risen. The sight of Jesus’ nail-scarred (but risen!) hands drove fear out of their hearts!

So picture Jesus: He’s standing in front of you, smiling, hands outstretched. You can see the nail scars on his hands. He says to you, “Peace be with you.” There in his word of peace, in his nail-scarred, risen hands—is the antidote to fear, all fear. For there, in the hands and words of Jesus—there is forgiveness.

Prayer:
Ah Jesus, my risen Savior, often I’m nervous and afraid. Forgive me! Focus my attention on your nail-scarred, risen hands, that I might see clearly that my sins are forgiven, and that I’m at peace with you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Pray Boldly – May 9, 2020

Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16

Pray Boldly


Daily Devotion – May 9, 2020

Devotion based on James 5:16

See series: Devotions

I remember counseling a 16-year-old boy about a problem he was having. I asked if he had prayed about it, and he nonchalantly answered, “I haven’t prayed in three years.” When I asked him why, he replied, “Because God is going to do what he’s going to do whether I pray or not.”

He had a point. God says in Isaiah 46:10, “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’” So why bother to pray?

Because God promises that our prayers make a difference. James 5:16 tells us: “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” The Bible tells us about times when prayer had a direct impact on things. For example, God told a man named Hezekiah that it was time for him to die. Hezekiah prayed for God to spare his life and God healed him and gave him 15 more years to live (2 Kings:20).

But wait. That just doesn’t make sense. How can the God who plans and controls the future tell us that our prayers affect what he does and what happens? I have no clue. But that’s ok. All I need to know is that I can trust God. And if he tells me that my prayers make a difference, then I know they make a difference.

So, pray boldly, even if you can’t fully understand how your prayers synch with God’s sovereign will. Pray boldly, not because you fully understand how prayer works, but because you are fully convinced in Jesus Christ that God loves you.

Prayer:
Lord, I am amazed that you give me the privilege to pray and promise that my prayers make a difference. Help me to be confident that you will hear and answer when I pray. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Not a Stranger – May 8, 2020

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
Luke 24:27

Not a Stranger


Daily Devotion – May 8, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 24:27

See series: Devotions

Here’s a vivid picture. It goes like this. The Old Testament Scriptures—the books of the Bible written centuries before Jesus’ birth—give hundreds of prophecies regarding the promised Savior from sin. Jesus fulfilled all of them. Someone who did the math says that the chance of one person fulfilling just 8 of those prophecies by sheer coincidence is the equivalent to the following scene. Imagine the state of Texas covered in two feet of silver dollars, with one silver dollar marked. Blindfold one person. Tell that person to wade through all those silver dollars and to pick up the marked silver dollar on the very first try.

You get the point. When we let the Scriptures speak for themselves, the Scriptures shout, loudly, that Jesus is the promised Messiah; that Jesus is the One; that Jesus is the One who came to live a holy life as our substitute and paid for our sins in full at the cross.

Which brings us to an episode that Luke records in Chapter 24. When you have the chance, read the entire chapter. Luke describes what is happening. It is Easter Sunday. Two of Jesus’ disciples are walking from Jerusalem to a neighboring village. They are sad, confused, and their minds are a blur. They both thought that Jesus was the promised Christ, but now they don’t know what to think. All they know for sure is that Jesus was dead—dead and buried. But now there are claims swirling around about Jesus’ tomb being empty, about angels announcing that he’s alive.

As they walk along, discussing all this, a man begins walking with them. He asks what they’re talking about, and they immediately pour their hearts out about Jesus. In reply, the man cites passages from the Old Testament Scriptures. He does this to show them that Jesus has fulfilled all the Old Testament prophecies. He does this to convince them that Jesus is the One. Shortly thereafter, they realize that their new traveling companion is Jesus himself!

It’s all there in the Scriptures. Let them speak. Let them shout!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, open the Scriptures to me. Let them speak. Let them shout. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stranger – May 7, 2020

Live your lives as strangers here.
1 Peter 1:17

Stranger


Daily Devotion – May 7, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:17

See series: Devotions

There’s an old theme that runs through a lot of storytelling. The theme is that of the stranger who enters people’s lives, touches their lives, and then moves on. Think of the classic western, Shane, where Shane enters the lives of a farming family, defeats the bad guys on the family’s behalf, and then rides away. Think of the old TV series, The Fugitive, where Dr. Richard Kimble, a wrongly-accused but innocent man, comes across someone in need, helps that person, then departs. You can even see science fiction with this theme. Think of that the next time you watch ET: The Extraterrestrial.

It should probably come as no surprise to us that a lot of ageless themes like this are ageless because they echo themes from the greatest story of all—a story that happens to be true. Jesus Christ came into our world and lived among us. As he did, however, he did not get caught up in the temporary distractions of this world. Instead, he kept his eyes fixed on why he was here. He was here to rescue us from the curse of our sin, then go home to prepare a place for us. This he did when he lived a life of perfect love on our behalf. When he suffered and died for our every sin. When he rose from death, and his visible presence ascended into heaven.

And now here we are, fully forgiven through faith in Jesus. Knowing that, through faith in Christ, heaven is our home. With all this in mind, the apostle Peter tells us, “Live your lives as strangers here.” When we live our lives as strangers in this tired, old world, we remember that everything here is temporary and is passing away. When we live our lives as strangers here, we are then free to give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord. And when we live our lives as strangers here, we know that the best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, here I am only passing through. Help me to remember this. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Easter Consequences – May 6, 2020

“‘It is concerning the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial before you today.’”
Acts 24:21

Easter Consequences


Daily Devotion – May 6, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 24:21

See series: Devotions

You are standing on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea in a park containing the ruins of the ancient city of Caesarea. Even now the ruins are beautiful. But go back 2,000 years and look again. What you see around you is breathtaking. You see a bustling seaport with a superb artificial harbor. Individuals of every background are going to and fro. Vendors are everywhere. For entertainment, there are athletic contests, gladiator competitions, theater performances. And there are lots of people. Caesarea’s population at this time is an impressive 125,000.

It’s also a seat of government for the Roman Empire. Walk over to the hall where the Roman governor is hearing a case. Standing before him is a man who has endured some difficult days. The man’s name is Paul. Paul has been proclaiming the Good News of Jesus back in Jerusalem. But Jerusalem’s religious leaders so detest Paul and his message that they have him arrested. And now here Paul stands, before the Roman governor in Caesarea.

Paul’s accusers have just gotten done talking. They have cobbled together all kinds of accusations against Paul, trying to paint Paul in the worst possible light. But now it’s Paul’s turn. As he speaks before the governor, Paul walks through the accusations against him, neutralizing them one-by-one. But then he touches on the real reason he is in Caesarea today. In so many words, he acknowledges that he is on trial in Caesarea because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead.

2,000 years later, the great Caesarea lies in ruins. But some things remain the same. Christians still encounter pushback for what they proclaim. The Good News of Jesus is still a target, not just from a fallen world, but also from the devil and our own, old, fallen, sinful selves. And that’s all right. It’s all right because, through faith in Jesus, forgiveness is ours. Through faith in Jesus, heaven is ours. Through faith in Jesus, our lives now pulsate with meaning, purpose, joy. And this is so because Jesus has risen from the dead.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, as I encounter consequences to your resurrection, move me to meet them with courage and joy. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Far Away – May 5, 2020

The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.
Acts 2:39

Far Away


Daily Devotion – May 5, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 2:39

See series: Devotions

In 1978, a research helicopter was flying low over a remote forest in Siberia. As the pilot made his observations, he saw something he never expected to see. He saw a human settlement. And that’s how the outside world first learned of the Lykov family.

In the 1930s, Karp Lykov and his very young family traveled deep, deep into the Siberian Wilderness to escape the persecution of Joseph Stalin. They were still there in 1978. The Lykov family was so distant from civilization that the family knew nothing about television, the moon landing, or even about World War II.

None of us have ever experienced such physical separation for such a long period of time. Most of us, however, have felt distance of a different kind. Many factors can cause this different kind of felt distance. Perhaps I’ve said some things I never should have said. Perhaps I’ve left undone some things I should have done. Perhaps, for reasons unknown, others have kept me at arms’ length. Perhaps it’s a combination of all these factors and more. Whatever the cause, most of us know what it’s like to feel far away from others. Even more so, most of us know what it’s like to feel far away from God.

This is where Jesus enters the picture. So great is his love for you and me that the Son of God came here to walk among us. In fact, he became one of us. On our behalf, he demonstrated perfect faithfulness in every relationship. Then he carried our sins of unfaithfulness to the cross, where, in our place, he experienced the greatest isolation ever felt in all eternity. And after his death, to assure us that he is here and we are not alone, Jesus rose. Now, through faith in him, we possess his full forgiveness. And he is by our side.

By the way, in the Lykov home there was a well-read Bible. In Jesus’ eyes, they were not far away at all.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, at those times when I feel far away from you, remind me through your word that I’m not. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Extra Time – May 4, 2020

When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart…
Acts 2:37

Extra Time


Daily Devotion – May 4, 2020

Devotion based on Acts 2:37

See series: Devotions

Perhaps one upside over these past several weeks is that you’ve had extra time to think and reflect. It could also very well be that a downside over these past several weeks is that you’ve had extra time to think and reflect.

Let’s give ourselves permission to admit something. Busy, hectic lifestyles—moving from one activity to the next, checking one deadline off after another, constant motion, constant music on the car radio—busy, hectic lifestyles can be a big advantage in one respect. They can help keep at bay the things that haunt us. But when the frantic pace stops, when the rapid routine grinds to a halt, when the familiar distractions have vanished—suddenly I may be confronting some hard truths about myself. Hard truths I have managed to avoid until now.

Perhaps it’s an old regret from the past. Perhaps it’s the face and voice of someone I’ve disappointed. Perhaps it’s a sinful weakness in my life that’s been hiding in plain sight for a very long time. Whatever it is, such confrontation with truth can cut me to the heart. It can dissolve my excuses. It can pulverize my denials. And that’s good.

It’s good because God can use these difficult moments. Through them, he can remind me of what he says in his Word. He can remind me that my greatest need is not a frantic schedule. My greatest need is not a hectic lifestyle filled to bursting with enough distractions to keep me from ever thinking about my failures and regrets and the people I’ve let down.

My greatest need is Jesus. In my place, he lived a perfect, regret-free life. On my behalf, he carried my every failure to the cross. And to assure me that he has kept his promise to cover me in his forgiveness, Jesus has risen from the dead.

So, when that extra time comes to think and reflect, let it come. If there’s a confrontation with a hard truth that cuts me to the heart, that’s okay. It just reminds me all the more that real peace—and real life—is in Jesus Christ alone.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when certain truths about my life cut me to the heart, draw me to yourself all the more. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Stay Positive – May 3, 2020

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

Stay Positive


Daily Devotion – May 3, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 5:8

See series: Devotions

Are you finding it hard to be positive and optimistic during these difficult COVID-19 days?

Let me tell you about a remarkably positive man you may have never heard about. Paul Gerhardt was a Lutheran pastor in the mid-1600s in Germany. When he was a child, his family home and church were destroyed in the Thirty Years’ War. As an adult, he lost four children in infancy because of disease. He lost his church when he refused to compromise his beliefs at the demands of the government. He went for a year without a paycheck. A year after that, his wife died, leaving him to raise the one son who had survived the epidemic.

Your life may not be marked by tragedy and hardship as much as Paul Gerhardt’s, but can still be hard, and not just due to the fallout from the coronavirus. Maybe your marriage isn’t great. Maybe your job is mentally, emotionally, or physically draining. Maybe you have serious health problems. Maybe you never seem to catch a break, or your dreams routinely turn into disappointment. Maybe you are disappointed in yourself, and you realize God should be the one disappointed in you and your sins.

Paul Gerhardt realized that his sin was actually his biggest problem because it meant that he had no right to expect anything from God. So, what made him so positive? He knew that God loved him anyway. That in love for him, God had sent Jesus to die for his sins and rise again; all so that Paul could know God loves him, had forgiven him, and would take him to heaven.

God loves you and sent his Son for you and your salvation too. So even in these hard times, find your reason for hope and optimism in Jesus Christ, so you can say with Paul Gerhardt.
Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near with his cheer; never will he leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God’s Son for me won When his life was given?
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 428)

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for proving your love for me by sending Jesus to save me from my sins. Use this truth to keep me positive during difficult times. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Foreverland – May 2, 2020

People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.
Luke 13:29

Foreverland


Daily Devotion – May 2, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 13:29

See series: Devotions

Do you remember the name of Michael Jackson’s estate? He called it, “Neverland,” after the fictional island in “Peter Pan: It included a lavish home with a huge theater, gardens, fountains, a four-acre pool, and a private amusement park and zoo.

But did it make him happy? A lot of people who knew him described him as troubled. Michael’s dream estate never gave him true peace and contentment. Sadly, the name “Neverland” was fitting.

“Neverland” is a fitting name for the world we live in. It never seems to give us the peace and contentment we are looking for. Things might be going great, and then a pandemic turns our lives upside down. But even before the coronavirus brought upheaval and anxiety into your life, you probably had financial pressures, relationship problems, work stress, illness in your body, or sadness in your heart. Because this life is “Neverland”—never able to give us the life we long for.

But even as we are keenly aware of how this life fails us, here’s what does not fail: God’s love for you. The Bible describes God’s love as “unfailing” no less than 32 times. He loves you so much that he sent his Son to undo the mess you have made in your relationship with him and the mess that human sin has made of life. He sent his Son into our world to suffer on a cross for our sins as if HE was the one who had messed things up. Through that sacrifice, you are forgiven.

Now there is nothing to keep you from going to heaven, a very different kind of “Neverland.” In heaven, there will NEVER be any sin. There will NEVER be any suffering. There will NEVER be any disappointment. There will NEVER be any death.

So, expect this world to be “Neverland” when it comes to being what you long for it to be. But be content and at peace anyway. Because God’s love in Jesus Christ will never fail you. In that love, God will keep forgiving you and giving you what you need until that day when he brings you to perfectly restored life in the “Foreverland” of heaven.

Prayer:
Lord, I know that this life will never be the perfect paradise you intended. But I thank you that, through Jesus, you promise me a perfect paradise in the life to come. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Worth it in the End – May 1, 2020

For “you were like sheep going astray,” but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
1 Peter 2:25

Worth it in the End


Daily Devotion – May 1, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:25

See series: Devotions

“Now I see!” Isn’t it a wonderful relief when it finally dawns on you? You could never understand why something so terrible had happened, but now you get it. The suffering begins to make sense. It’s as if the veil has been lifted, and all the darkness has turned to light.

The Old Testament believer Joseph had endured a lifetime’s worth of such darkness. His lousy brothers had sold him into slavery. His Egyptian master’s wife had falsely accused him, prompting his master to throw him into prison. He was separated from his beloved father for years, forced to live in a strange land. One miserable day of suffering, after another.

And then it happened. God filled him in on the why. The whole region was struck by famine. By that time, Joseph was second-in-command in all Egypt, in charge of distributing the stored-up food when who should show up but his hungry brothers. Joseph could hardly contain himself.

But it wasn’t the feeling of revenge that got him choked up. It was his thankfulness. Joseph finally understood the reason for all that suffering. He said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Genesis 50:20). For Joseph, it was worth it in the end.

Joseph’s suffering to save his family from hunger was nothing compared to Jesus’ suffering to save the world from sin and death. But Jesus, too, understood that his suffering would be worth it in the end and for all eternity.

And that goes for our suffering, as well. We might not understand it now, but God has a good reason for it. As Saint Peter reminds us, our suffering has the divine purpose of inducing straying sheep like you and me into the safe and saving arms of our Good Shepherd, Jesus. Saint Peter wrote, “‘…you were like sheep going astray,’ now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Peter 2:25). And one day we will see that this will make our suffering worth it in the end.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me see your loving purposes even in my suffering. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Eternal Healing – April 30, 2020

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”
1 Peter 2:24

Eternal Healing


Daily Devotion – April 30, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:24

See series: Devotions

Are you a quick healer, someone who can’t be held down long? If so, count your blessings. It’s a wonderful attribute to have.

Chronic sufferers will tell you: it’s no fun imprisoned by pain. It’s often a Catch-22 situation since the physical activity you need to get better is sometimes the very thing your condition prevents you from getting.

But no matter how quickly you heal, you can’t avoid contracting one chronic condition common to everyone. This disease puts you down and keeps you down. Benjamin Franklin had it right when he said there are only two certain things in life, death and taxes. And this devotion isn’t about taxes.

Yes, death finally gets us, and for a simple reason, too. The Bible tells us that, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). We can’t fix that, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. The doctors of this world can’t either. Every patient they treat will eventually die.

But the Great Physician, Jesus, has. Jesus’ prescription for overcoming death has nothing to do with something we take or something we do. Instead, it involves what he took on himself and did for us. Our Great Physician conquered sin and death forever by carrying our sins and dying our death as our perfect substitute. Quoting the Old Testament prophet Isaiah, Saint Peter writes, “‘He himself bore our sins’ in his body on the cross.” Yes, Jesus “is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Whether you believe it or not, Jesus died for you. He is “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He bore your sins. He is your Savior. And why? Because he loves you. “By his wounds you have been healed,” not just for the moment or for a lifetime. Forever.

Imagine. Eternal healing. Our suffering Savior’s gift of love to you!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me revel in the truth that by your suffering and wounds, I am assured of eternal healing. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Favorite Teacher – April 29, 2020

When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23

A Favorite Teacher


Daily Devotion – April 29, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:23

See series: Devotions

Have you had a favorite teacher in your life? I have.

Why was he my favorite? Not because he was tough, and certainly not because I dreaded entering his classroom. He was my favorite because he was fun, easygoing, and interesting. Best of all, he loved to hand out A’s.

I’ve had other teachers whom I didn’t like so well. Their classes were hard, sometimes confusing. Some were unfair; others boring. In those cases, I was thankful when the school year came to an end. I was finished with them—forever!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could say that about suffering? “I’m finished with it forever!” But Professor Suffering has a way of dragging us back into his classroom and even keeping us past the bell.

Or didn’t you know that suffering is our divinely-sent teacher?

Martin Luther knew that. He knew it all too well, in fact. He was speaking from experience when he once wrote a grieving friend, “This is the school in which God disciplines us and teaches us to trust in him so that our faith may not always stay in our ears and hover on our lips but may have its true dwelling place in the depth of our hearts.” Luther may not have considered suffering his favorite teacher, but it was one of his best.

Ours, too.

Why? Because suffering teaches patience. Indeed, patience means “longsuffering.” When we suffer, we’re learning how to be patient with God and with others. Peter says that when Jesus suffered, “he did not retaliate . . . he made no threats.” Suffering taught him patience, yes, perfect patience for sinners like you and me.

The other chief lesson that suffering teaches us is trust. When Jesus suffered unjustly, “he entrusted himself to him who judges justly”—his heavenly Father. Rather than taking matters into our own hands, suffering teaches us, as it taught Jesus, to entrust matters to our perfectly just God.

Patience and trust are not easy to learn. But when you’re in Professor Suffering’s classroom, you’re learning from the very best. And through faith in Jesus, we all get an A+.

Prayer:
Father, help me learn the lessons you desire to teach me through suffering. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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What is the Point – April 28, 2020

To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
1 Peter 2:21,22

What is the Point


Daily Devotion – April 28, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:21,22

See series: Devotions

“Oh, what’s the point? I give up!” Sometimes we just need to throw in the towel because we don’t have what it takes. That’s perfectly understandable if what you’re doing is voluntary, like trying to make 10 out of 10 three-pointers.

But it’s not quite so simple when you’re under an obligation, or you’ve made a promise. God doesn’t allow you to say, “My marriage is difficult; I quit.” Or to conclude, “Raising children involves too many sacrifices. I’ll just leave them on the roadside.” Often the most important things we do aren’t easy. They involve suffering.

We naturally don’t like to suffer, but suffering has an important point and purpose, a divine one. Peter says that suffering is a calling, an assignment that God regularly gives to you and me for a good reason.

What’s the reason? We can’t always know exactly. But we can be certain of this: God is disciplining, that is, he is training us.

True, it’s not fun. “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful,” the Bible says. Yet the suffering to which God calls us is not pointless! And if we stick it out, the Bible promises that it, “produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).

We might not like it, but God has his reasons. And those reasons result in overwhelming blessings for us and others.

Want proof? Consider Jesus’ suffering. Was it unjust? Absolutely. Peter reminds us that, “he committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” Unlike us, Jesus was a perfect 10 for 10 every time in everything he did. And yet he suffered.

Why? Was it pointless? Not for you and me, because Jesus’ suffering was for you and me. His perfect, painful suffering resulted in our perfect forgiveness. His death grants us eternal life as a gift.

You might not get the point of your suffering but hang in there. God gets it. And he will use it wisely for your good.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me to see and understand that my suffering has a point, and that through it you will bless me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Making Sense out of Suffering – April 27, 2020

For it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because they are conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
1 Peter 2:19,20

Making Sense out of Suffering


Daily Devotion – April 27, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 2:19,20

See series: Devotions

We don’t like to hear, “I told you so,” yet we have no one to blame but ourselves. Someone warned us, “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” They predicted it would turn out badly, and now we’re suffering.

I hate it when that happens.

How did they know? Probably because they had tried it themselves and discovered it hurt. It’s simple. The cause is a bad decision. The effect is suffering.

Can’t you hear Mom’s progression of logic? The stove is hot. I told you not to touch it. You touched it anyway. Now you’re suffering. “I told you so.”

You caused your own suffering.

But what if you didn’t? What if you were just minding your own business, following the rules, doing everything correctly, and suffering came anyway? The worst kind of suffering is suffering that makes no sense.

That’s the type of suffering Saint Peter is describing in our Bible reading for today. He says, “it is commendable if someone bears up under the pain of unjust suffering.” In other words, if you didn’t cause your suffering but you’re enduring it anyway, you’ll be rewarded. Especially, Peter adds, if the reason for your patient endurance is because you “are conscious of God.”

We need to realize that sometimes the only cause for our suffering is God himself. No, he’s not punishing us for something we did wrong. He hasn’t stopped loving us. He hasn’t taken the day off. Instead, in his perfect wisdom and saving work, he has allowed some suffering to darken our days that we never saw coming, and it doesn’t make sense.

Until we realize, this is God’s will and say, “God’s will be done.”

That’s hard!

But rather than complaining or shaking our fist at God, what do God’s people do? We endure suffering patiently. We trust that our loving Father has a good reason for it and that one day it will all make sense.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me endure all my suffering patiently by putting my trust in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Keep Praying – April 26, 2020

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

Keep Praying


Daily Devotion – April 26, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 8:28

See series: Devotions

So, what are you praying for these days? For God to keep you and your loved ones from getting the coronavirus? For God to end the threat of the virus, so people don’t get sick or die from it anymore, and so you can stop losing income and pay your bills?

Those prayers are appropriate because God invites us to pray, “Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver you,” he says in Psalm 50.

But, in the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus also taught us to pray, “Your will be done.” (Matthew 26:42) Why would you pray, “Your will be done” in these days when you are stressed about your future or that of those you love? Because God has promised to bring good out of your suffering. The apostle Paul reminds us of this in Romans 8:28 when he says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What good could God bring out of the uncertainty and anxiety caused by this virus? He could be reminding you that you need him so that you rely more on him and less on yourself or the things of this world. That would be good. He could be showing you that things you assume will always be there—your health, your job, your income, your lifestyle—can be gone in a flash so you don’t build your life on such unreliable things but instead on him. That would also be good. He could be helping you rethink your priorities, so you think more about what matters—your relationship with God, being there for your loved ones, helping the needy, and hurting. That would be good too.

Maybe it would be good to pray for God to open your eyes to all the good that he can work through these present hardships and the suffering they may bring you. Because that is his specialty. Through the worst suffering possible—his Son’s suffering at the cross for your sins, he achieved your greatest good—your eternal salvation. So, keep praying “Your will be done,” with confidence that he will keep working good for you in these difficult times.

Prayer:
Lord, even as I ask you to protect my loved ones and me during this difficult time, I also pray that your will be done. Help me to trust that your will is always best for me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus By Your Side – April 25, 2020

[Jesus said] “Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Matthew 28:20

Jesus By Your Side


Daily Devotion – April 25, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 28:20

See series: Devotions

I just took all my financial information to my accountant, who does my taxes. A few weeks ago, I took my car to my mechanic to get it fixed. A couple of months ago, when my furnace went out, I called a heating and cooling company that sent out a tech to get it working again.

We’re used to having professionals take care of things that we can’t. But this coronavirus is different. There is no medical researcher with a cure for this virus. There is no doctor we can go to get an immunization vaccine. The best the government can do is recommend we limit contact with each other. We’re feeling very vulnerable because we are feeling very helpless, and that is scary.

Jesus’ disciples felt like that one day on the sea of Galilee when a furious storm came up so quickly the disciples had no time to make it to shore. Before they knew it, the rain was blowing sideways, the waves were crashing into and over their boat, threatening to sink it. They were helpless.

But Jesus was also on that boat. And standing up, he addressed the storm as if it was an unruly child, and said, “Quiet! Be Still!” Suddenly, the wind stopped blowing, the rain stopped falling, the waves stopped churning, and the once wildly rocking boat now glided calmly along the glassy surface of the sea.

Jesus has power you and I do not have. He has the almighty power of God. And in this present health crisis, which makes us feel so small and weak and helpless, he is with us. He promised that when he said, “I am with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

So Jesus—who is your almighty God and your loving Savior—will get you through this crisis. He will end this threat at the right time. And until then, he will make sure you have what you need each day. No matter how helpless you may feel, you are never helpless with him by your side.

Prayer:
Jesus, I know that I am helpless in the face of this virus. But I also know that you are more powerful than any virus. Protect me and my loved ones until this storm has passed. Amen

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Bible Is Not Random – April 24, 2020

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.
John 20:30,31

The Bible Is Not Random


Daily Devotion – April 24, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:30,31

See series: Devotions

The news seems so random lately. Things that were not significant last month seem very important this month. Things that were crucial last month seem unimportant now.

The news that Jesus rose from the dead is not random. When the gospel writer John finished describing that important event, he wanted to let you know why he wrote what he did. He could have chosen many other things to write about. He was with Jesus every day, and there were many other things he could have described.

But he had a good reason for writing the facts of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. His reason? That you would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the promised Savior. When John wrote about what Jesus did, he wanted you to see how God kept his promise to win forgiveness for you by sending a Savior.

John also wanted you to know that Jesus is the Son of God. He’s not just some random man who had some good ideas. He existed as God from all eternity, and he remained God when he took on a human body to live and die for you. Now that he has risen; he uses all of his power as God.

When you believe in Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, you have eternal life. You realize that your seemingly random life has a purpose, that you are on the way to heaven. Now that you are going that direction, you can say thank you to God by how you live.

The promise that you are going to heaven comes directly through the name of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God, your Savior. The Bible was written to assure you of that. There’s nothing random about it at all.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for the certainty that you provide in the words of the Bible and the person of my Savior, Jesus. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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My God – April 23, 2020

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.” Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
John 20:27,28

My God


Daily Devotion – April 23, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:27,28

See series: Devotions

Some people don’t believe that Jesus is fully God. Those people don’t understand how God could take on a human body and still remain God. Those people try to downplay Bible passages that call Jesus God or describe Jesus doing things only God can do.

But they are stumped when Thomas calls Jesus “my God” after seeing him risen from the dead. The best they can do is suggest that Thomas swore, using the same kind of language as people who abbreviate their swearing as OMG on the internet.

Thomas did not swear. He confessed a wonderful truth. When you realize that Jesus rose from the dead, you realize that he is God, just as he said. And when you realize that the only true God has called on you to believe in him, you realize that he’s not just God—he’s my God in a very personal way.

There are a lot of false gods in the world, but the true God suffered and died for you, all to take the punishment for your sins. There are a lot of idols in the world, but the true God lived and rose from the dead for you, all to provide you the righteousness that is yours through faith in Christ Jesus. There are a lot of misleading philosophies in the world, but the true God spoke the truth so that you would know who is the Lord of your life.

We are going through challenging and confusing times, but this truth will help you find clarity: Jesus is your Lord and your God.

Prayer:
Jesus, my God and Lord, do not forsake me. I trust your Word. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Believing Goes Beyond Seeing – April 22, 2020

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them. … Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:24-26,29

Believing Goes Beyond Seeing


Daily Devotion – April 22, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:24-26,29

See series: Devotions

I have a confession to make. I’ve noticed that I believe everything I read in the newspaper—that is, until it’s about me or something I have seen for myself. Then I note all of the inaccuracies in the story. But afterward, I go back to believing everything I read.

The disciple Thomas was not like me. He was a skeptic. Even when reliable people told him that Jesus rose from the dead, he thought it was fake news. I don’t know what made Thomas like that. Maybe he had been disappointed in life. For whatever reason, he said that he had to see the risen Lord Jesus for himself.

He saw Jesus. Jesus let him touch his wounds from the crucifixion. We have the eyewitness testimony of John that it happened. Thomas went out as a missionary to the world and told everyone what happened.

So, do you believe it? Jesus says that you are blessed if you believe it even though you have not had the same experience that Thomas had.

How are you blessed? Believing that Jesus rose from the dead means that your sins are forgiven. Because Jesus rose from the dead, you know that all of his promises are true, and he can keep all of them. When he promises to be with you wherever you are, you know he can and will do it. Even death can’t hold him back.

The internet has made me suspicious of believing every news item I read online. But because I believe the eyewitness accounts in the Bible wherever I read them, I am blessed.

Prayer:
Lord, help me to believe even though I have not seen. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Breathe on Me – April 21, 2020

Jesus said, “As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that [Jesus] breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, their sins are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
John 20:21-23

Breathe on Me


Daily Devotion – April 21, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:21-23

See series: Devotions

Over the past couple of months, you have no doubt become much more aware of people breathing on you. Social distancing has led you to a pretty good idea of how far away six feet is. You have been hesitant to be any closer to people who might infect you with the coronavirus.

Now you read in the gospel of John that Jesus breathed on his disciples after he rose from the dead. Maybe you never noticed those words before, but they jump out at you now. What was Jesus doing?

Jesus explained a couple of things that he was doing. The first explanation is that he was connecting his disciples to God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He was sending them just as his Father had sent him. They would be going with the presence of the Holy Spirit and the power he provided.

What power? That’s the second explanation Jesus gave his disciples. He told them that now they had the power to forgive the sins of penitent people and withhold forgiveness from impenitent people.

That power to forgive people is an awesome privilege and responsibility. Every Christian has it, and every Christian will want to practice it until it becomes as natural as breathing. When someone asks for forgiveness, Christians are eager to assure them that they are forgiven because Jesus has earned forgiveness for them.

Perhaps some people have not done right by you during this pandemic. Forgive them. Breathe these words out loud: “I forgive you. Just as God has forgiven me, I forgive you, for Jesus’ sake.”

Then take a deep breath and relax. This is how a Christian lives now that Jesus has risen from the dead.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving me the Holy Spirit and letting me breathe words of forgiveness. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Meaning of the Greeting – April 20, 2020

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”
John 20:19-21

Meaning of the Greeting


Daily Devotion – April 20, 2020

Devotion based on John 20:19-21

See series: Devotions

Jesus had risen from the dead. Now he appeared to his followers. What’s the first thing he said to them? “Peace be with you!” What did he mean by that?

This was more than a usual greeting. Jesus was not just saying, “Hello! How are you?” He meant something special by what he said. He even repeated it, so the disciples got what he was saying.

At first, we might guess that “peace be with you” was Jesus’ way of addressing the disciples’ fear. They had every reason to be afraid for their lives since their leader had just been killed, and they all wondered if they would be next. They were gathered behind locked doors.

Jesus certainly did not want them to be afraid of being killed, but his “peace be with you” was news that went way beyond that. Jesus emphasized his message by showing his hands and his side to the disciples. They all knew that he had been crucified, that his hands had been pierced with nails, that his side had been wounded with a spear. He was showing them that it was really him, risen from the dead.

And his “peace be with you” was his first sentence explaining what it meant that he rose from the dead. He was telling them that he had earned peace with God the Father for them. God would not punish them for being afraid. God would not punish them for any sin. Jesus had taken that punishment. They had peace.

In these unsettling times, we might worry whether God is punishing us for our lack of faith or our lack of action. But Jesus has risen from the dead, proving that God punished him and will not punish us. Instead, God reassures us. We have peace with him through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for calming me with your peace. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Certainty in Uncertain Times – April 19, 2020

John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:29

Certainty in Uncertain Times


Daily Devotion – April 19, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:29

See series: Devotions

I recently checked out some survey data for a community here in my hometown. At number five on the list of life concerns were, “Fear of the future and fear of the unknown.” If you were to survey that same community today I am sure that “fear of the future and fear of the unknown” would be a clear number one with all the questions about the future on our minds these days as we face the threat of the coronavirus.

Two thousand years ago, the apostle John was also feeling uncertainty and anxiety about the future. In a vision God gave him, he saw a scroll with the future recorded on it. But it was rolled up and sealed. The uncertainty of the future reduced John to fearful tears. He said, “I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside” (Revelation 5:4).

But when John finally wiped away his tears, he saw a Lamb which appeared to have been sacrificed but was alive and standing near the throne of God in heaven. And as the Lamb picked up the scroll, all of heaven broke into a joyful song with lyrics that went like this: “You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).

The sacrificial Lamb next to God’s throne was Jesus, whom the Bible calls “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). At the cross, Jesus took your place and died for all of your sins. It’s a great comfort to know that the one who holds the future in his hands is the God who loves you so much he suffered and died and rose again for you!

But it gets better. The Lamb opened the scroll. He revealed the future. And it is good news! Life will not be easy. But through it all, the Lamb will be with you. Whatever comes, he will give you strength and comfort to get through it. And when death comes, he will share his victory over death with you and bring you to a life free of all danger and uncertainty forever in heaven.

Prayer:
Lamb of God, comfort me in these uncertain times by reminding me that my future is in your loving hands. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Free from Fear – April 18, 2020

“When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, LORD, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple. Those who cling to worthless idols turn away from God’s love for them. But I, with shouts of grateful praise, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good. I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the LORD.’” And the LORD commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.
Jonah 2:7-10

Free from Fear


Daily Devotion – April 18, 2020

Devotion based on Jonah 2:7-10

See series: Devotions

Jonah was a reluctant prophet. God had told him to travel to the city of Nineveh and preach to the people there so they could turn to God and be saved. Jonah didn’t want to go. He didn’t want the Ninevites, who were enemies of his own people, to be saved. So, he jumped on a ship heading in the opposite direction. But you can’t run from God. God saw to it that Jonah was tossed overboard and swallowed by a great fish. It was in the belly of that fish that Jonah repented and turned back to God. He knew that only God could help him.

In his prayer, Jonah confessed, “Salvation comes from the LORD.” This is the truth that comforted his heart, and his confidence was not misplaced. God rescued Jonah from death in the sea by his almighty power, and God delivered him from death in hell by fulfilling his true promise of sending his Son to redeem him and all sinners.

With a heart free from fear through faith, Jonah worshipped the Lord with a song of thanksgiving for saving him from death and damnation. He expressed his great gratitude by making a sincere promise to live according to his faith in the Lord.

“Salvation comes from the LORD,” is what our aching hearts need to always hear. If being saved were up to you or me, we would fail. But we need not fear because salvation from death and damnation is from the Lord, Jesus Christ. That’s what the cross and the empty tomb are all about. Jesus is our Savior!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 446)
I am trusting you, Lord Jesus, trusting only you,
Trusting you for full salvation, free and true.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Glorious Life – April 17, 2020

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:4

Glorious Life


Daily Devotion – April 17, 2020

Devotion based on Colossians 3:4

See series: Devotions

You wouldn’t think that Easter would be a time for “hard to hear” words from our God. But in Colossians 3:4, the apostle Paul brings two of the most “hard to hear” Easter words into the conversation: when and then. “When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Okay, in reality, they’re not that troublesome for us! But they do carry some difficult implications, nevertheless.

When indicates an indefinite time in the future. Think of cold weather people, cooped up inside their homes for 6 (or more!) months of the year. They just want to see a 75-degree day! And it will happen when spring comes. Well, when will spring come? That we don’t know for sure. And that waiting is hard.

Then indicates something that is coming in the future, something separated from us by a length of time. But we tend to want things now. After 6 months of winter, the frostbitten northerners don’t want to hear about another 3–5 inches of white stuff in the forecast. They just want to be able to sit outside on the patio today. They don’t want then, they want now. And that waiting is hard.

But that first 75-degree day, enjoyed in the sunshine on the patio? It’s glorious and totally worth the wait.

Don’t misunderstand. Easter absolutely gives us a reason to rejoice today and every day of our lives. We have a living Savior, one who hears and helps, upholds and strengthens, one who sits at the very right hand of God himself. Easter definitely blesses us now. But “if our hope in Christ applies only to this life, we are the most pitiful people of all,” wrote the Apostle Paul. (1 Corinthians 15:19, EHV).

Easter’s fullest triumph is not something we know now, but something we will know then. When Jesus comes back to judge the world, those who were with him through the troubles and trials of this life will then appear with him in glory—glory that never diminishes, a glory that never ends. When will that happen? We don’t know. Wait with eager expectation. Wait in faith. Because it will, indeed, be glorious and totally worth the wait.

Prayer:
Preserve me in faith until the day of your return. And come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen!

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Your Life – April 16, 2020

When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Colossians 3:4

Your Life


Daily Devotion – April 16, 2020

Devotion based on Colossians 3:4

See series: Devotions

“He lives all glory to his name. He lives, my Jesus, still the same.” These lines are from one of Christianity’s most beloved hymns entitled: “I Know That My Redeemer Lives.” You can often see tears welling up in people’s eyes as they sing these words.

I’m not sure why these lines, in particular, tug at heartstrings and cause lumps in throats. But I think it’s probably because of the personal pronoun. In that line of the hymn, he’s not just “Jesus.” He is “my Jesus.” And that one little word—those two little letters—take the Almighty God, the Savior of mankind, the most famous person in the history of the world and they make him…mine. They tie him to me.

Insignificant me, barely keeping it together me, screw up me. I see abundant proof everyday of how I’ve done everything to deserve God’s hatred and nothing to deserve God’s love. And every day, I pile on more. All of that is true. And yet, Jesus is mine.

He is mine as I remember the water of baptism where I became his. He is mine in the Lord’s Supper, where he gives me his true body and blood. He is mine on the pages of the Bible, where he promises time and again that nothing will be able to separate me from him.

Do you see the personal pronoun in Paul’s words from Colossians 3? “When Christ, who is your life, appears…”

Here Jesus is not just “life.” Jesus is your life! A “still in the tomb” Jesus would still be a wonderful role model and teacher for you. He’d provide a wonderful voice from the past. But a living Jesus, a “no longer in the tomb” Jesus is infinitely better. A living Jesus can keep his promise that you too will conquer death. A living Jesus can keep his promise to be with you always, till the very end of the age. A living Jesus can bless you today with his power and presence. Because by faith, he’s your Jesus, still the same. He’s your life.

Prayer:
Risen Savior, in the midst of sadness and death in this world, you remain my life. Calm my fears and anxieties by ever reminding me that you live and you are mine. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hidden Life – April 15, 2020

For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.
Colossians 3:3

Hidden Life


Daily Devotion – April 15, 2020

Devotion based on Colossians 3:3

See series: Devotions

Did you know that R2D2 and C3PO make a brief appearance as hieroglyphs in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? Or that “Boo”—the little girl from the Disney Pixar movie “Monsters, Inc.” makes an on-screen cameo in another Disney Pixar movie “Toy Story 4”? Or that Alfred Hitchcock made an uncredited appearance in almost all of his movies? These are all examples of what film devotees call “Easter Eggs”—little surprises that are carefully hidden by movie creators in their final product and left for big-time fans to unwittingly stumble upon to their amusement and delight.

The idea of things hidden in plain sight is fascinating. The idea that something kind of fun, interesting, or maybe even awesome could be right in front of your eyes, and you’d never even know it.

The Apostle Paul talks about something “awesome, hidden in plain sight” in Colossians 3:3 when he says, “Your life is now hidden with Christ in God.”

Can you see the awesomeness? At baptism, the child of God is covered with Christ. His perfection blankets us, burying our disobedience far beneath it—so that only Jesus’ perfect obedience is visible to God. That’s why Paul can say, “You died.” “You” as a separate entity, isolated and alone before an angry eternal Judge…died. That version of “you” is no longer a thing. You are hidden with Christ. And that is awesome!

But that awesomeness is hidden in plain sight. The children of God are not given sashes to proclaim their status. They look the same as their neighbors. They endure job losses and rejection, infertility and tragedy, illnesses of the body and mind. But although hidden in plain sight, the awesomeness remains.

Paul himself says, “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8,9).

The devil can do a lot of damage, but he can’t go back and change this fact. Jesus won. Death remains defeated. Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. What a blessing beyond measure to be hidden with him.

Prayer:
Risen Savior, in you I find refuge, in you I find shelter. Comfort me in every season of life with the blessed assurance that I am hidden in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Higher Life – April 14, 2020

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.
Colossians 3:1,2

Higher Life


Daily Devotion – April 14, 2020

Devotion based on Colossians 3:1,2

See series: Devotions

I know nothing about savings bonds. Today I went to an online calendar and tried to figure out the value of a $50 savings bond my child received in 2011. Over the course of almost 10 years, it’s gained $1.46 in total interest. The person who gave it to her definitely had her future in mind. I’m just not sure we realized how far into the future we’d have to go to see the benefits.

Does the promise of Easter ever feel that way―like something that might pay off at some time in the distant future, but that’s maybe not all that much benefit to people living a troubled life in a difficult world today?

Easter doesn’t just mean future good things when we die. It means good things for God’s people today. Having an “alive” Jesus leads to us having an “ascended” Jesus and having an “ascended” Jesus means that right now, today, as we speak, we have a friend in high places! A friend who sits in the highest place, to be more specific—at the very right hand of God himself.

That leads to a new perspective on our lives right now. Paul encourages us “to seek the things that are above.” You see if what we amass during our 70 or 80 years in this world is the entirety of our existence…it’s not hard to see why folks put so much time and effort into “getting”—getting status, getting “likes,” getting stuff. But knowing that the 70 or 80 years here is only the introduction to our story, and there is a higher throne and an eternal home waiting for us, our focus turns. It turns from downward and inward to outward and upward. To a higher life—one that’s not just waiting for us when we die, but also affecting the way we look at our lives right now.

Easter changed the people who experienced it. You can bet that the women at the tomb were never the same after seeing the angels and hearing their message. You can bet that Peter and John were never the same after seeing that Jesus had risen. So also Easter changes us. It sets our minds on a higher life.

Prayer:
Risen Savior, remind me daily that you sit at the right hand of God, and help me to live my life, setting my mind on things above. Amen.

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