A Brother Like No Other – January 1, 2019

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.
Hebrews 2:10-11

A Brother Like No Other


Daily Devotion – January 1, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:10-11

See series: Devotions

“I wish I had a brother to play with me,” said the boy who dribbled the basketball on the court alone. “I wish I had a brother to stand up for me,” said the girl who dreaded the bullies on the bus. Maybe you have said, heard, or thought those words. Perhaps you have gone through life and wondered what it would be like to have a brother.

But you and I have a brother. And, “Jesus is not ashamed to call (us) brothers.” Can you believe it? Think of how ashamed parents are when their child misbehaves in church. Think of how ashamed an upstanding member of a community is when his sister is arrested for dealing drugs. Think of how ashamed a child is when her father speaks rudely to the waitress at the restaurant. Even we, sinful human beings, are ashamed of our relatives when they say and do things that are shameful.

Yet, Jesus is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters. How can this be? Think of all the shameful things you have thought, said, and done. How could Jesus not be ashamed of you?

The author of the letter to the Hebrews tells us. Jesus suffered for your sins. He washed them all away with his blood. You are now perfect in God’s sight. There is no longer anything of which he would be ashamed. You are his brother or sister. And, he is thrilled about it!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you came into this world to sacrifice yourself for my sin. Though I’ve given you every reason to be ashamed of me, in love you died and rose for me. Thank you for making me a member of your family! 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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Finally – December 31, 2018

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:1-3

Finally


Daily Devotion – December 31, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 1:1-3

See series: Devotions

You have likely been there before. Whether as a child waiting for that special Christmas gift; a mother or father waiting to meet their baby for the first time; or a seasoned worker longing for the day of retirement. Waiting is hard. Especially when the thing you are waiting for is going to be so amazing.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to wait for the Messiah? For thousands of years God’s people lived life based on promises. “He is coming, but not yet. He is going to be life changing. Just keep watching!” It must have been extremely difficult to live in a world of sin and pain in that state of waiting. But do you see what the writer of Hebrews is saying to you and me? We don’t have to live in wait. He has come.

The fact that Jesus Christ came into the world means that the glorious gift has come. He stands right before us and so we don’t have to wait to experience the joy he brings. He no longer says, “wait.” He says, “look.” Jesus, our gift, means we daily get to enjoy Jesus by our side sharing forgiveness, love, and comfort. What a joy to remember every day—he finally came!

Prayer:
Jesus our Savior, thank you for renewing in us a daily appreciation for your coming into the world. You are our greatest gift, for which we thank you 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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Worth Celebrating – December 30, 2018

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

Worth Celebrating


Daily Devotion – December 30, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7-10

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Love Overcomes Darkness – December 29, 2018

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

Love Overcomes Darkness


Daily Devotion – December 29, 2018

Devotion based on John 1:1-5,14

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Love Makes Us Eager to Honor – December 28, 2018

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

Love Makes Us Eager to Honor


Daily Devotion – December 28, 2018

Devotion based on Titus 2:11-14

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for making me clean of sin inside by giving yourself. May I live every day of life for you while I await your glorious return. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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More than Meets the Eye – December 27, 2018

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

More than Meets the Eye


Daily Devotion – December 27, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:6-7

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Love is Never an Afterthought – December 26, 2018

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

Love is Never an Afterthought


Daily Devotion – December 26, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 2:1-10

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you always have me on your heart and mind the same way you carefully planned and prepared the first Christmas. Open my eyes to see your love for me in the details of my life. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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A Christmas Song – December 25, 2018

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

A Christmas Song


Daily Devotion – December 25, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 1:46-55

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Light of the world, Fill my heart with gladness as I remember your dear birth. Help me shine my light by sharing your birth with someone in need of light and love in their life. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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Little Town of Bethlehem – December 24, 2018

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

Little Town of Bethlehem


Daily Devotion – December 24, 2018

Devotion based on Micah 5:2

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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The Birth of Love – December 23, 2018

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

The Birth of Love


Daily Devotion – December 23, 2018

Devotion based on Revelation 12:1-5

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Joy on Judgment Day – December 22, 2018

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

Joy on Judgment Day


Daily Devotion – December 22, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:15-18

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Lord, you are the Savior that I need. I want others to have the same joy that Jesus gives. Use me this Christmas season to share it with everyone I can. Amen.

 

 

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

 

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The Sorrow and Joy of Repentance – December 21, 2018

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

The Sorrow and Joy of Repentance


Daily Devotion – December 21, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:12-14

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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Living Joyfully – December 20, 2018

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

Living Joyfully


Daily Devotion – December 20, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 3:7-8

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

 

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A Joyful Song for You – December 19, 2018

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

A Joyful Song for You


Daily Devotion – December 19, 2018

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:16–17

See series: Devotions

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, thank you for taking away our fears. Fill our hearts with the joy of our salvation, and we will sing your praises, now and forever. Amen.

 

 

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 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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