An Amazing Day – March 6, 2019

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem.
Luke 9:29-31

An Amazing Day


Daily Devotion – March 6, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 9:29-31

See series: Devotions

What an amazing day Transfiguration Day was! Peter, James, and John got to see a glimpse of Jesus’ glory! A cloud enveloped them, and a voice spoke from the cloud! It’s no wonder that we hear that Peter, James, and John were afraid, yes, terrified!

But then there was Moses and Elijah. Do you get the impression that Moses and Elijah were terrified, or even a tad nervous? It sure doesn’t seem that way, does it? There they were, in glorious splendor, talking face to face with the glorious Jesus! There seems to be no fear, no worry, no anxiety!

And someday, it will be that way for you, too! When God takes you to heaven, God will remove sin—and all its effects—permanently. Never again will you be bothered by a guilty conscience, never again will you fear, never again will the back ache or your heart be filled with sorrow, because sin will be gone! While at this point in our lives God has declared that we are holy and righteous, when we get to heaven we will be perfect and holy! And because of that, you—yes, you—will be able to talk with Jesus, face to face, not with fear, but with confidence and joy!

Prayer:
Thank you, Savior, for this glimpse of heaven! Lead me to eagerly anticipate the day you will take me there! 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 Heavenly Mountaintop – March 4, 2019

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.
Luke 9:28-29

A Heavenly Mountaintop


Daily Devotion – March 4, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 9:28-29

See series: Devotions

Each of the accounts of Jesus’ transfiguration begins with a statement that this happened about a week later than what had just been written about. So, God wants those events connected. And just what had happened about a week earlier?

It started out great! Jesus asked Peter, James, and John who people thought he was, and eventually Peter confessed oh-so-clearly that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God! But when Jesus began talking about his suffering and death, Peter took Jesus aside and rebuked him. In response, Jesus said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns” (Matthew 16:23).

So, now it’s a week later, and you’re Peter, on this mountain, and Jesus’ face suddenly changes so that it is shining like the sun and his clothing become as bright as a flash of lightning. If you’re Peter, what are you thinking? Are you thinking, “Oh no! A few days ago, I was rebuking him! Look at him now!!! What was I thinking?”

How easily we question God in an improper way, even “rebuke” God. True? Yes, it’s true. We have the audacity to tell God that he is not handling things correctly in our lives or in our world. How dare we!

What is amazing is that Jesus didn’t cut Peter off and eliminate him from the disciples. Jesus continued to love Peter. He even invites Peter to come to the mountaintop, to view his glory.

And amazingly, Jesus continues to love you and me too. Despite our failures, Jesus continues to love us. And someday he will invite us to the heavenly mountaintop where we will experience his glory forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for not rejecting me! I long to see your glory! 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 Glimpse of Glory – March 3, 2019

After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.
Mark 9:2-9

A Glimpse of Glory


Daily Devotion – March 3, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 9:2-9

See series: Devotions

Can you really blame Peter for wanting to stay on that high mountain? After years of following Jesus, now he was finally allowed to see his true glory as the Son of God. Jesus’ face shone like the sun and his clothes were gleaming white. Then, as if it couldn’t get any better, Moses and Elijah, two heroes of the Old Testament show up and by their very presence put God’s stamp of approval on the Savior’s life and mission. There was no more worrying, no more wondering, no more doubting. Just Jesus revealing himself as God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God.

Who would want to leave such a place? This is religion just how we want it—power, glory, peace. Peter wanted it all right then and there. But isn’t this what we want too? No more uncertainty. No more rejection. No more broken hearts, pain, failure, disappointment, loneliness, or death. Just glory. Just basking in Jesus’ glory and experiencing the peace that transcends all understanding.

But Jesus had to leave that mountain. He had to leave because his mission was not finished. He needed to carry out God’s plan of salvation and die for sinners, so that this glimpse of glory that Peter and the others experienced on the mountain could last for an eternity in heaven. So driven by love, Jesus descended that Mount of Glory and walked willingly to that Mount of Shame where he suffered and died for our sins.

Like Peter, we may want the glory right now. We might want to be done with all of the pain and suffering and sadness of this world, but it’s not time yet. Right now it is God’s will that we live by faith in his Son. Through the Word we too have witnessed Jesus’ glory on the mountain, and even more than that, we have seen his glory as our risen and ascended Lord. This glimpse of glory is what sustains us through difficult days here on earth and assures us of an eternal glory that will never end with Jesus in heaven.

Prayer:
Dear Lord of glory, help me to patiently bear the difficulties and sadness of this world as I keep my eyes fixed on you and await the eternal glory 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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Persistent Patience – March 2, 2019

Then [Jesus] told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ “‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’”
Luke 13:6-9

Persistent Patience


Daily Devotion – March 2, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 13:6-9

See series: Devotions

What does an orchard owner do when there are no apples to gather at harvest time? Many growers in Michigan found out in 2012. Due to early warm March temperatures combined with several April freezes, much of the tree fruit crop was damaged that year. In a state that averages 25 million bushels of apples, only 3 million bushels were harvested. Some orchards suffered total loss.

Believers are privileged to be planted in the Lord’s vineyard through the power of Holy Baptism. In that vineyard their faith grows and flourishes, bathed in the sunlight of the glorious gospel. The Lord tends to each individual tree with the greatest care. He feeds and cares for it with the continual shower of his grace.

Yet how cold and callous my sinful nature is toward the heavenly hands that care for me! Tempted by the deceptive warmth and comfort of worldly pleasures and chilled with despair while encountering life’s troubles, I fall far short of producing the fruits of faith which the Lord expects of me. Even the good works that I do in service to him are tainted by the poison of my sin. For this I deserve only to be cut down and thrown into the eternal fire of hell.

However, Jesus cares for me with greatest patience. Mercifully, he still calls me to repent of my fruitless ways. Instead of cutting me down, he himself bore shame, disgrace and death on the tree of the cross in my place. He waits, and he waits in hopeful expectation of a fruitful harvest from me. And while he waits He still lovingly digs around me and fertilizes me with the full forgiveness he freely offers. His grace ever encourages me to bear abundant fruits of faith to his glory.

Prayer:
Lord, I confess to you my fruitless, faithless ways. I trust in your forgiveness freely given through Jesus, my Savior from sin. Give me strength to live as a fruitful tree, blessed to be in your vineyard. 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 Rattlesnake – March 1, 2019

So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13

The Rattlesnake


Daily Devotion – March 1, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 10:12-13

See series: Devotions

There’s an old Native American story about the power of temptations. A young brave once climbed a high mountain to prove his manhood. As he stood at the top, he looked down at his feet and saw a rattlesnake half-frozen by the cold. The rattlesnake said to the brave, “Please, I will die up here in this cold. Please put me under your shirt and carry me down the mountain.” The brave protested. “I cannot do that,” he said, “because I know what will happen. As soon as you warm up again you will bite me.” “No, I will not,” said the rattlesnake. “I will not because my relationship with you will be different. I will always remember that you are the man who saved my life.” This made sense, and so the young brave agreed. He tucked the half-frozen rattlesnake under his shirt and started back down the mountain.

As soon as the rattlesnake got warm under his shirt, however, he bit the brave, pumping venom into his body. The brave cried out, “How could you do this? I just saved your life. You said our relationship would be different.” To that the rattlesnake simply said, “You knew what I was before you ever picked me up.”

Some temptations can make perfect sense until it’s too late. That is the lethal danger of their logic. What temptations have crawled under your shirt, claiming to be something different than what they are? Is your old-fashioned work ethic actually a disguise for your greed? Is your desire to stop and smell the roses actually a disguise for your laziness? Is your righteous need to stand up for yourself every time you feel slighted actually a disguise for your sinful pride? Is your so-called “refreshing candor” with others really an excuse for you to be verbally abusive? When you talk about others out of “Christian concern”–is it really just a license to gossip? Your claim to be content to have a simple, childlike faith in what you learned about God as a kid–is that just disguising your stubborn refusal to gather with other believers and to grow in his Word?

When we fail to see these temptations for what they are, when we fail to see where these temptations come from, sooner or later the snake is going to bite.

Thank God for Jesus. Thank God for a Savior who withstood every temptation on our behalf. Thank God for a Savior who went to the cross and absorbed the venom for all our failures. When you’ve been bitten, there is forgiveness and rescue with our Savior, Jesus. And thank God for a Savior whose Spirit now empowers us to see our temptations with clearer eyes–whose Spirit now empowers us to leave the half-frozen rattlesnake on the ground.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when the temptations come, strengthen me in your forgiveness. Move me to leave the temptation alone. 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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Determined to Save – February 28, 2019

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.” He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem! “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing. Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Luke 13:31-35

Determined to Save


Daily Devotion – February 28, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 13:31-35

See series: Devotions

A young man gets bullied by a classmate at school. It seems that every day this bully finds a new way to humiliate him. But then one day the tables turn. As he walks down the hallway, he sees the bully getting bullied. He is faced with a choice: either come to the defense of the bully or don’t. Does that bully deserve the help that young man could give? We might be inclined to say no. It seems like the bully is finally getting what’s coming to him. He’s getting his just desserts.

It’s a concept that has grown popular today: karma. “What goes around comes around.” If you do something bad, something bad should happen to you in turn. If you hurt someone, you should be hurt. People should get what they deserve.

But that is not how the Son of God operates. In Luke 13, we see Christ’s familiar foes, the Pharisees, telling him how Herod wanted to see him dead. Was there truth in their words? Maybe. But that didn’t deter Jesus from doing the work he came to earth to do. He would continue to teach people God’s truth, no matter who opposed him. He would continue his work as the promised Savior, even though his very own people would reject him. Why? Because he was determined to save.

When Jesus would go to Jerusalem, he would die, and he would do it not just for people who believed him. He would die on the cross for every sinner. He would die for the Pharisees. He would die for Herod. He would die for all people. That means he died for you too. We don’t deserve God’s grace. We don’t deserve what Jesus did for us. But that didn’t deter him. The Bible says that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Jesus forgives your every sin. By that same grace, God gives you heaven through faith in Christ. Thanks be to God that our Lord Jesus was determined to save us!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, I’m a sinner and don’t deserve anything from you. But you still died on the cross for me to save me from sin and death. Increase my faith in you. Keep me from rejecting your grace. Make me a grateful recipient of your love so that I may be yours forever. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do not Shoot the Messenger – February 27, 2019

Then the priests and the prophets said to the officials and all the people, “This man should be sentenced to death because he has prophesied against this city. You have heard it with your own ears!” Then Jeremiah said to all the officials and all the people: “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the things you have heard. Now reform your ways and your actions and obey the LORD your God. Then the LORD will relent and not bring the disaster he has pronounced against you. As for me, I am in your hands; do with me whatever you think is good and right. Be assured, however, that if you put me to death, you will bring the guilt of innocent blood on yourselves and on this city and on those who live in it, for in truth the LORD has sent me to you to speak all these words in your hearing.”
Jeremiah 26:11-15

Do not Shoot the Messenger


Daily Devotion – February 27, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 26:11-15

See series: Devotions

In William Shakespeare’s tragedy “Antony and Cleopatra,” a messenger brings unwelcome news to the queen of Egypt: her beloved Antony had married Octavia. Beside herself with rage, Cleopatra lashes out at the hapless message-bearer, threatening to scalp and blind him. He wards off her blows crying out, “Gracious madam, I that do bring the news made not the match.” He reminds Cleopatra that he was not responsible for Antony and Octavia’s union; he’s only there to tell her about it. Today he might have used the common phrase: Don’t shoot the messenger!

A number of the Old Testament prophets were persecuted and mistreated simply because their audience didn’t want to hear what they had to say. But their message was not their own–it came from God himself. No one likes to hear that they are in the wrong, much less that they are going to suffer punishment as a result of their indiscretion. And so we are tempted to get angry with the pastor or fellow Christian who points out our sin and calls us to repentance. We act as if somehow our guilt only appears when it is spoken aloud, as if we had not brought the shame down upon our own heads through our sinful behavior.

The messenger that God sends to point out your sin has another follow-up message to share with you too: God sent his Son to take your sin and its punishment upon himself. Your guilt has been placed on the cross of Jesus who has atoned for it with his own lifeblood. God’s messengers point out the disease of sin so that they can also proclaim its cure: faith in Jesus Christ our Savior. If you reject the first half of the message, you discard the second as well. So listen carefully to all rebukes from God’s messengers, repent of all wrongs you’ve committed, and rejoice in the forgiveness which is yours in Jesus.

Prayer:
Lord God, let me never close my ears to those who bring your word to 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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The End of Guilt – February 26, 2019

“He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
Acts 10:42-43

The End of Guilt


Daily Devotion – February 26, 2019

Devotion based on Acts 10:42-43

See series: Devotions

Jesus’ message about Judgment Day was simple: “Watch out that no one deceives you.” and “see to it that you are not alarmed” (Matthew 24:4,6).

Peter had not forgotten this warning. Once we knew that “Jesus is the Lord of all,” we also realize that he has the right to judge all. Old Testament visions (Daniel 7:9-14) reveal this truth about Jesus, the Lord of all. Jesus says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left” (Matthew 25:31-33).

Peter witnessed to Cornelius that they both would stand in front of this Jesus on the last day because “Jesus is the Lord of all.” That’s why Jesus commanded Peter “to preach to the people and testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.”

God reassured our sin-filled parents that the seed of the woman [Jesus] would crush the devil’s power. Jesus’ death brought to Cornelius, his family and “everyone who believes in him,” the end of guilt through the forgiveness of sins. The dying Lamb of God “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). That means that we who have put our trust in Jesus do not need to fear Judgment Day because we know the Judge. We know his mercy and his love for the whole world.

We know that we and all who trust the words and promises of the Bible will enter heaven together. We know that in heaven we will see “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.” Look closely! By God’s grace you will see Cornelius and his family, and they will see you!

Prayer:
Gracious Holy Spirit, reassure us and give us the peace of forgiveness in Christ so that we never fear Judgment Day, but long for the appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 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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Chosen by God – February 25, 2019

While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud. A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.”
Luke 9:34-35

Chosen by God


Daily Devotion – February 25, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 9:34-35

See series: Devotions

“I think God will let me into heaven.” This was Tom’s response to his friend John’s question. He assured John that while he was not perfect, God would certainly choose him before others who were worse than him. John responded to his friend’s false sense of security, “I really don’t think God would agree with you.”

The difference between Tom and John was that Tom looked to what he had done to merit God’s choice, whereas John looked to Jesus and what he did to make him worthy.

As I look at myself, how would I answer the question, “Why should God choose to let me into heaven?” Would I review my good works to convince the Lord that I am worthy of his choice? Would I remind God how much better I am compared to other people? Or, would I plead that God should overlook my shortcomings and faults? If I try to rely on what I do to merit God’s choice, I will be disappointed, because there is no way I can convince God to choose me based on the record of what I’ve done.

There is only one hope for me, as well as for every sinner. In a bold and gracious proclamation, God the Father revealed where that hope is found. His words comfort my aching heart and bring peace to my desperate soul: “This is my Son, whom I have chosen.”

With these words the Lord turns the focus away from me and places it on his Son. Jesus is not only God’s Son from all eternity, he is also the one chosen by the Father to secure forgiveness and peace for all. When I put my confidence in Jesus and the precious work he accomplished, the results are staggering. No longer am I God’s enemy. No longer am I rejected because of my failures or inadequacies. No longer am I doomed to be separated from him for eternity. In Jesus, God has washed away my sin and made me acceptable in his sight.

So, why should God choose to let me into heaven? There is only one sure answer, and that is Jesus Christ. Through him alone I stand chosen and worthy of life in heaven.

Prayer:
O blessed God and Lord, there is nothing I could do to stand worthy or acceptable in your sight. Through Jesus and his precious work, you have cleansed me and chosen me to receive life in heaven. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Choose Your Battles – February 24, 2019

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.
Ephesians 6:12-13

Choose Your Battles


Daily Devotion – February 24, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:12-13

See series: Devotions

I knew parents once who had a helpful philosophy for raising their children. The rule of thumb around the house was “everything is negotiable, except the Ten Commandments.” The point was to avoid unnecessary wrangling over issues that did not involve sin. If their son wanted to wear an earring or have a rattail haircut for example, it was not a sin to do so. Despite a parent’s personal distaste for earrings on boys and unusual haircuts, they left the issue “negotiable.”

The Ten Commandments reveal sin. They do not save us from sin, but they do make us aware of our sin. We face a real, spiritual battle. The apostle Paul wrote, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood.” When we are battling the “powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms,” we have to know that we are fighting for our souls. We are fighting against sin.

Satan’s business is to drag people down into the darkness of sin and unbelief. Because of that, we have to choose our battles. We have to fight, not against each other, but against sin. We have to fight in such a way as to win the battle and finally enjoy victory forever. Therefore, put on the full armor of God. We could enumerate all the pieces of armor at our disposal or we can say simply, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:11).

Jesus’ mighty power is the power to save us from our sins. He lived not to show us how we should look on the outside, but on the inside to have the holiness and perfection that our Savior freely gives us. Jesus died, not to forgive unusual haircuts or questionable fashion sense. He died to take away real sins, real violations of the holy will of God. Jesus lived, fought, died, and rose in a winning battle against the darkness of sin, death, hell, and Satan.

Put on Jesus in faith and you will have put on the full armor of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, remove my sin, surround me with your holiness and give me the victory over the spiritual forces of evil, now and forever. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Keep It Simple – February 23, 2019

“Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
Matthew 5:37

Keep It Simple


Daily Devotion – February 23, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 5:37

See series: Devotions

Stan had a problem with the truth. It wasn’t that he was a blatant liar. He just had a problem with embellishments and exaggerations. As a result, people were skeptical about everything he said.

On one occasion Stan actually told the unvarnished truth. While he assured his hearers there were no exaggerations, he couldn’t convince them. To offer some assurance he added, “with God as my witness,” to his testimony. Even then people were still slow to accept he was trustworthy. He finally resorted to taking an oath, “cross my heart and hope to die!”

Stan’s problem can be mine. I color the truth to fit my needs. I rely on “white lies” to avoid accusations. I even call on God to serve as my witness. But what am I really doing with my words?

The moment I ask God to be my witness, I am inviting him to be the judge of all I say. I also permit his just judgment if I mishandle the truth. The effects of such an invitation could be disastrous. What if God would decide to strike me dead as soon as I didn’t tell the truth?

This is why Jesus’ lesson is so relevant. Not only does he say, “keep it simple,” he further adds that I should be a person who delights in and relies on the truth.

Certainly telling the simple truth is a challenge, because my heart is full of lies. I am also easily swayed by the devil who is the author of every lie. I can only overcome this propensity to lie when I rely on Jesus to make me a person who delights in being truthful.

During his earthly ministry Jesus established and proclaimed the truth. It convicted. It convinced. It converted. Along with the truth, his innocent death and shed blood washed away every stain and stigma of my lying nature. His blood cleansed my heart. It also purified the words of my mouth.

It is only because of Jesus I can be truthful in all things. It is also only because of Jesus I can keep all my conversations simply “yes” and “no.”

Prayer:
O Jesus, overcome the deceitfulness of my words with your truth. Replace the sinful weakness of my heart with your strength. Fill me with joy in speaking what is simple and pure. 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 Citizenship to Treasure – February 22, 2019

Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Philippians 3:17-20

A Citizenship to Treasure


Daily Devotion – February 22, 2019

Devotion based on Philippians 3:17-20

See series: Devotions

Roman army vets had retired to the Greek colony of Philippi. The Roman government gave these vets in Philippi special privileges because of their army service. The Roman government could not tax them directly. Their city government was run by Roman law. As Roman citizens they could not be punished without a fair trial. The vets were so thankful they dressed like Romans, they spoke Latin, and they lived like Romans. They were citizens of Rome, even though they lived in Philippi.

Paul reminded the Christians in Philippi of their even greater citizenship. Because of Jesus’ service, Christians are citizens of heaven. Jesus won our citizenship by completing his 33-year tour of duty as our Savior. He followed every rule and obeyed every command God gave him. He also “threw himself” on the cross to redeem us as a people belonging to him.

By faith we have a citizenship with more privileges than Roman citizenship. We belong to a King who hears and answers our prayers, who works in all things for the good of those who love him, who will deliver us from this evil world and take us to himself in heaven.

It’s a citizenship to treasure. But Paul warned the believers that some lived only for this world. Their goals were to make more money, have more fun, enjoy more pleasure, go on longer vacations, become more important at work. They were turning their backs on the Savior who sacrificed his life to earn for them the rights of citizens of heaven. Their path was leading to eternal destruction.

What are we living for? Do we prize the pleasures and recognition of this world, chasing them at the cost of our life with God? Or are we proud and grateful for the citizenship Jesus has given us? Do we treasure his gifts of forgiveness, undeserved love, peace, joy?

Prayer:
Jesus, forgive my sins. Forgive my living for this life instead of living for heaven. Thank you for making me a citizen of heaven despite my sin. Thank you for daily forgiving me all I have done wrong. Keep my eyes and my heart focused on the home you won 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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The Problem of Darkness – February 21, 2019

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6

The Problem of Darkness


Daily Devotion – February 21, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 4:6

See series: Devotions

In 2007, a man by the name of Adam Bloom agreed to take part in an experiment. Scientists took him to an underground bunker. From there they led him to a small bedroom the size of a prison cell. The room contained microphones and infrared cameras. After Adam walked in, the scientists closed the door and turned off the lights. The lights would not come back on for 48 hours. And so, in a tiny cell of this underground bunker, Adam Bloom would experience total, pitch-black darkness for two full days.

At first, Adam didn’t think it would be so bad. He led a hectic lifestyle, and the idea of spending two days in total darkness did not seem like the worst thing in the world. But that soon changed.

To keep himself occupied he tried talking out loud, but he soon tired of that. Quickly he began to lose track of time. Whenever he awoke from sleep, he could no longer determine how many hours—or minutes—had passed. Then the fear began to set in. Even though he and the scientists had been preparing for months, he began to wonder: Had they all gone away? Was he trapped there forever? Finally he began to hallucinate, his mind creating its own images in the absence of seeing anything else. He even started to lose his own sense of identity.

When humanity chose to cut itself off from God, it plunged itself into a chasm of pitch-black darkness. In our sinful madness we thought we would find freedom. But we found nothing of the kind. Instead, in the absence of God’s light, there began a swirling nightmare of unreality. Fear set in. Disorientation. Dead ends. Confusion. Even our own sense of identity began to fall apart.

But then, into our chasm of darkness, there came the Light of the World. God sent his Son to retrieve us from the nightmare we had created. In our place, Jesus lived the life of light that our darkened lives could no longer live. Then, on our behalf, Jesus went to the cross to experience the outer darkness of hell, all to pay the price for our sins—all to pay the price for our sins in full.

And now he lives. He lives as the Light. And because he lives, our nightmare is over. Fear has given way to joy. Anxiety has given way to gratitude and sweet relief. Bitter confusion has given way to the clear confidence of God’s love for us in his Son.

By the way, Adam Bloom says that, when he left that underground bunker, he realized how vivid and beautiful the world of light truly is. Through faith in Jesus, you and I can say the same thing.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when darkness threatens to cloud my thoughts, fill me with your light. 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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His Victory – February 20, 2019

Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous. But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to hard labor. Then we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression. So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, LORD, have given me.” Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him.
Deuteronomy 26:5-10

His Victory


Daily Devotion – February 20, 2019

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 26:5-10

See series: Devotions

After accomplishing some great success in life, perhaps you have been given the counsel: “Don’t rest on your laurels.” A sign of victory in ancient times was to wear a wreath made of laurel leaves as a kind of crown. To rest on your laurels, then, means to be so satisfied with your past achievements that you make no further effort to improve. Such a person basks in the glow of glory years gone by.

When the people of Israel entered into the Promised Land after wandering in the wilderness, they would be tempted to “rest on their laurels.” After years of suffering, they had found success. They had journeyed to a land “flowing with milk and honey” with rich soil that produced abundant crops. But Moses reminded them that the laurel wreath of victory was not theirs to wear. The Israelites, descendants of Abraham, owed everything they had to the Lord, the God of their fathers. When they were helpless, the Lord had saved them from slavery and had led them safely to this new land. By all rights, the Lord deserved their thanks and praise.

Can Christians be tempted to rest on their laurels? After all, we believers have been promised an eternal home in heaven. As God’s children we have the privilege of going to him in prayer. By his grace we even see some successes in our struggles with sin and may have been able to resist temptations that have been the ruin of others around us. But no, the crown of victory does not rightly belong to us. We sinners could never earn peace with God ourselves. It was won by Christ Jesus the Son of God, who with his outstretched arms on the cross defeated sin, death, and the devil for us. He gives salvation as a gift to all sinners through faith. We rest secure on Jesus’ laurels—his victory—rather than our own. And responding to such a Savior in faith and gratitude, we bring the firstfruits of godly living, setting apart for him the best of our resources, our schedule, and our heart.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you used your mighty power to win me back from death and the devil. Let all my thinking, speaking, and doing this day reflect your great love 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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Christ is Your Glue – November 25, 2017

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:13-20

Christ is Your Glue


Daily Devotion – November 25, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 1:13-20

See series: Devotions

Your body is made up of 100 trillion microscopic things called “cells.” Cells are the basic unit of life, the foundation of every living thing. And the glue that literally holds those 100 trillion cells together is called laminin. Laminins are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of your body to the next cell. Without laminins, you would literally fall apart. The coolest thing about laminins is what they look like. The glue that holds you together, the foundation upon which your body is built, comes in the shape of a cross.

In speaking about Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul had this to say: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Cross-shaped laminins literally hold your body together, and the eternal life that Jesus Christ purchased for you when he died on the cross in your place is the foundation of your faith, the glue that holds your entire life together. No longer do you need to worry about where you will spend eternity—Jesus has made things peaceful between you and God now and forever. Jesus has freed you from being a slave to sin and now empowers you to say “no” to its temptations. And when we fail to say “no” to sin, Jesus is ready with his forgiveness to lift us back up and empower us to live as his children.

There is no need to worry about your life now or ever because Jesus, both true God and true man, is not only your Savior, but also your King. He is in control of your life. He is going to hold you together in every way.

Prayer:
Christ my King, I know you will never let me down. You will hold my life together in every way. When I forget about that, forgive me. And then lead me through the precious promises of your Word to trust that with you holding me together I can handle anything now and forever. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Happiest Day of My Life – August 18, 2017

For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Philippians 1:21

Happiest Day of My Life


Daily Devotion – August 18, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 1:21

See series: Devotions

A teacher asks her second-grade class to draw a picture of the happiest day of their lives. After they turn in their assignments, she straightens them into a pile and begins to scan through them. She pauses at one picture. The picture is of a funeral. She looks for the name at the top and calls the student up to her desk. When she asks him to explain, he tells her the happiest day of his life will be his funeral. The happiest day because he will go to heaven.

When the Christian Paul wrote “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” he was expressing the heart of being a Christian.

From the Bible, Christians understand and believe that they are full of sin. They see the selfishness inside themselves. They see how much they resent God commanding them to do things they don’t want to do. They realize how they really have nothing to offer God for him to look on them with favor.

They also understand and believe how much God loves them. Jesus lived a completely innocent and sin-free life. He then covered himself with all the garbage of our sin and guilt. Jesus took all the blame and all the shame we deserve. He stood still under the crushing justice of God’s anger over our sin. His sacrifice guaranteed no Christian will ever experience even an ounce of God’s justice.

Christians understand and believe that heaven is waiting for them. When they die, Jesus will welcome them into that place filled with joy and peace, where there is no sadness, and sorrows no longer exist. It’s no wonder Christians look forward to the day when they leave their pains, their aches, and their struggles behind to gain the perfect happiness of living with Jesus forever!

The same love from Jesus that fills Christians with hope also fills them with purpose. Jesus’ love leads believers to want to serve Jesus in any way and in every way they can. They live to give glory to Jesus.

I’m looking forward to my funeral. In the meantime, I thank Christ he’s given me another day to serve him.

What about you?

Prayer:
Jesus, thanks for giving me heaven. I can’t wait to be there with you! In the meantime, help me live for you, serving you with my whole life. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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If Only… – March 8, 2017

The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. … The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” … Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 2:7, 15–17, 3:1–7

If Only…


Daily Devotion – March 8, 2017

Devotion based on Genesis 2:7, 15–17, 3:1–7

See series: Devotions

“If only… I had more money.”

“If only… I had a better relationship with my family.”

“If only… I could just find the right job.

It’s not only greed. It’s not only a desire for more. It’s a complete lack of faith in God to provide all that’s good. Adam and Eve fell into that trap.

“If only… we could have our eyes opened and be like God. If only we could know evil, as well as good. If only we could enjoy something more than what God has already given.”

What more could God have given them? What more could God give us? We have from him all that we need and so much more.

Yet we are not content with him. “If only …”

If only there was a way out of this trap we have fallen into. If only God would take pity on us and forgive us for wanting more than him. If only there was a Rescuer to set us free from our foolish sin and greed and mistrust of God. If only there was a way to escape the curse of death that we have brought on ourselves.

It’s more than “if only”–it’s a rock-solid, gospel-truth promise of God: the “offspring of the woman” (Genesis 3:15) has crushed the serpent’s head for us. His name is Jesus. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).

We don’t need “if onlys”. We have a gracious, forgiving Savior who is our all in all.

Prayer:
Dear Father, forgive me for wanting more and failing to trust you for all. Thank you for forgiving me and saving me through Jesus, your Son. In him, I have all I could ever want. 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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Angels Attend Me – March 6, 2017

Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Matthew 4:11

Angels Attend Me


Daily Devotion – March 6, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 4:11

See series: Devotions

All too often I am tempted to think I’m on my own. No one is concerned. No one is paying attention. No one offers any help. The thought becomes especially strong as life becomes more complicated. I may wrestle with uncertainty in my job. I may be anxious over family matters. I may be overwhelmed with health issues. It seems when I really need someone, no one is there. I may even be tempted to think God has abandoned me as well.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. I can always rely on the Lord for his help, just as he sent angels to attend to Jesus’ needs.

Jesus had just completed forty days of grueling and incessant temptation. The devil tried to derail Jesus’ God-given ministry, but he was not successful. Jesus triumphed over every deceptive device his enemy employed, yet his faithfulness came at a cost. He was physically and emotionally drained. This is why the Father sent angels to attend him.

Today, I live with the same assurance. When I am physically and emotionally drained, when I feel abandoned, when I think I am on the verge of despair, I know where I can look for help. God will send his angels to attend me.

Angels attend me according to God’s gracious command. Angels attend me to strengthen and keep me safe. Because of what the Lord has done for me, and continues to do for me, I am never alone. By faith I know God’s angels will be there to attend me. Even more important, by faith I know God’s angels will work in perfect harmony with Jesus for my blessing.

My Savior wants me to be in heaven with him, and he gave up his life to give me this assurance. Through his blood-signed promise and his precious sacrifice on the cross I also know I will never be alone. Jesus will always be with me, and he will always strengthen, comfort, reassure, and forgive me. I also have every confidence he will send his angels to attend me.

Prayer:
O gracious Savior, I rejoice in your all precious promises. Keep me in your care. Strengthen me through your grace. Send your holy angels to attend 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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A New Covenant – November 2, 2016

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the LORD. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31-34

A New Covenant


Daily Devotion – November 2, 2016

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:31-34

See series: Devotions

You get a new job. Before you go to work, you have to sit down with your employer and come to an agreement on your wage, benefits and the tasks you are expected to complete. When all of those details are ironed out, you and your employer put those details down on paper and sign it, stating that each of you will honor your end of the deal. You promise to work a certain amount of hours completing a certain task or tasks. Your employer promises certain compensation to you for your work. It’s a contract, a legally binding agreement between two parties which outlines what each party does for the other.

While it is not an exact parallel, the word “covenant” in the Bible is much like a contract. In Jeremiah chapter 31, God says, “The time is coming… when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers…because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them.” God speaks about two covenants, the new one and the one which had been broken but not by God.

God had made a covenant with Israel. It is summarized in Exodus chapter 19, verses 5 & 6, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession… you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Simply put, God would make Israel his special people for a special purpose, and on the other side Israel was to obey God fully. Sadly, the Israelites were just like all of us: sinful. They forsook God and broke his covenant. We’re no different. Daily we choose sin over righteousness, lies over the truth, hurtful words over kindness, grudges over forgiveness, anger over patience, selfishness over selflessness. The list could go on.

If our status before God depended upon holding up an agreement with God, eternity would not look good for us. But here is where God’s “new” covenant comes in. This is a one-sided covenant, where God does something for us and that’s it. He says, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This sin-forgetting forgiveness is accomplished by the sinless life of Jesus, his death on the cross, and his victorious resurrection from the dead. Through faith in Jesus, God does not hold our sins against us because he held them against his Son. Through faith in Jesus, the God of heaven and earth is our God and we are his.

The only covenant, the only contract that matters for you is one-sided: God declares you his forgiven son or daughter and he signed it with the blood of his Son, your Savior, Jesus.

Prayer:
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 389):

Rock of Ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee; Let the water and the blood from thy riven side which flowed be of sin the double cure: cleanse me from its guilt and power.

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill thy laws demands. Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone. Thou must save, and thou alone.

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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