Come, Follow Me – January 21, 2024

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 1:14-20

Come, Follow Me

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Daily Devotion – January 21, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 1:14-20

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Jesus is a king who has a kingdom, and he calls us to follow him as our leader. We are usually suspicious of people who claim to be great leaders, especially political leaders like kings. We wonder if they are gathering a following so they might use their power over us. So, we are cautious about following those who claim to be great leaders.

But that is not what happened in Galilee 2,000 years ago. Jesus came proclaiming that he was a king who had a kingdom and that all people should follow him. Remarkably, men like Simon Peter, Andrew, James, and John did. They left everything to follow Jesus.

They were willing to follow Jesus because he was a different kind of king with a different kind of kingdom. Instead of taking from people, he gave great blessings to people. Instead of gathering a following to control, he gathered a following to set them free. He didn’t rule to take the lives of others. He came to give up his life to rescue people from sin and death. That is why the first disciples were willing to give up everything and follow Jesus.

Now what about you? Are you willing to follow this King? Jesus’ kingdom is one of freedom and forgiveness. It is a kingdom of good news—the good news of eternal salvation.

Repent and follow Jesus your King!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my King. I repent of all my sins before you. I ask you to wash them all away. And now teach me to follow you in all my ways that I might bring glory to your name! Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hold Tight to God’s Promises – January 20, 2024

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as first fruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:13,14

Hold Tight to God’s Promises

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Daily Devotion – January 20, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14

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Photos often capture that special moment in the hospital when parents hold their newborn child for the first time. Embodied in that first embrace is the selfless love parents strive to give their tiny, helpless child in the months and years that follow.

Photos could not capture the moment God first embraced us with his love. Long before God gave birth to the earth and all living things, through Jesus, he chose us to be his own. He knew us and loved us before time began.

How can we be sure that he chose us? We turn to the good news of the Bible. The Word comforts us with the message of the perfect life of Christ and the cross he willingly bore for us. His death and resurrection assure us that our sins are paid in full and that God’s eternal love for us endures!

God’s love is so great he even promises that we will share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ in heaven. No photo can capture the splendor and joy that await us in our eternal home at our Savior’s side. Since God embraces us with endless love through Jesus, we are moved to give him endless thanks with our lips and our lives.

Prayer: (Christian Worship – A Lutheran Hymnal – 610)
Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices, who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices, who from our mother’s arms has blessed us on our way with countless gifts of love and still is ours today. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Eternal and Everyday Encouragement – January 19, 2024

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.
2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

Eternal and Everyday Encouragement

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Daily Devotion – January 19, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

See series: Devotions

There are two kinds of encouragement the Lord gives us in our Bible verses today. One kind of encouragement is “eternal encouragement.” This is something God has already given us. Because we know Jesus is our Savior, we already have eternal encouragement. We are encouraged to know that God has a chair in heaven reserved for us with our name on it. This kind of encouragement is a done deal because Jesus has already died and risen from the dead for us. Our eternity is rock-solid and certain.

The other kind of encouragement God gives us is what we could call “everyday encouragement.” The apostle Paul prayed that the Lord would encourage the hearts of the Thessalonian believers. They had the eternal encouragement of heaven always in their hearts, but they also needed encouragement to face the trials of each and every day. They needed strength to carry out God’s will among their friends, neighbors, and even their enemies.

God gives you both eternal and everyday encouragement. You’ve got the big-picture hope of a life forever with Jesus. That kind of hopeful encouragement is always there. It is your safety net ready to catch you when big, bad things happen. But you’ve also got encouragement from God to live your everyday life according to his will. The Lord gives you his Word to be a lamp for your feet and a light for your path to make correct decisions. In his Word, God gives you countless stories of real people facing real situations so you can find something in common with one of them. You’ll also find favorite Bible passages that encourage you before a big test in life.

Whether you need big-time encouragement in the face of hardship or everyday encouragement for following God’s will for your life, God will have the kind of encouragement you need.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, you are the ultimate encourager for my soul. Keep me hopeful and encouraged for eternal life and everyday life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Hold on Tight – January 18, 2024

So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.
2 Thessalonians 2:15

Hold on Tight

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Daily Devotion – January 18, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:15

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If you’re treading water in the ocean during a storm, what would you do if someone threw you a life preserver right in front of you? You’d wrap your arms around it and cling to it with all your strength, wouldn’t you? You wouldn’t just hang onto it with your little pinky finger and hope you can be reeled in. You’d hold on as tight as you could to your lifeline.

The Christians in the city of Thessalonica were facing a great deal of persecution and hardship. The apostle Paul encouraged them to keep holding on tight to everything they had been taught. He told them to stand firm in the identity Christ had given them as forgiven children of God. He told them to hold fast to the Savior, who promised never to let them go.

We also want to hold tight to God’s Word. There, we find the good news of how we’ve been rescued by Christ. As we find ourselves adrift in the sea of sin and hardship, we know that only God can pull us to safety. He’s extended the lifeline of his Word. We wrap our minds and hearts tightly around his Word and cling to it like our eternal life depends on it, and it does.

God’s Word and promises won’t let us down or let us sink. And if we ever find ourselves in a similar situation to the Thessalonians, facing hardship and persecution, we learn, all the more, to cling tight to God and his Word.

Hold tight to God’s promises and trust that he will bring you to safety with him.

Prayer:
Dear rescuing Lord, I know that you have done everything necessary to save me. Help me hold tight to your Word and work. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Gospel Calls – January 17, 2024

He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:14

The Gospel Calls

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Daily Devotion – January 17, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:14

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There are some calls you get that make your day. The doctor calls with the test results of your biopsy. “I’ve got good news! The test came back negative!” The supervisor calls after the interview. “You got the job!” The wife calls her husband while he’s at work because she can’t contain her excitement. “I’m pregnant! We’re having a baby!”

But when things in your life are going well, do you sometimes start bracing yourself for something bad to happen? We’ve learned that no good thing lasts forever in this world. We might convince ourselves that if things are going too well, that a fall is imminent. That’s not a very fun way to go through life. Yet, it’s true to a degree. In this world, we will have trouble and, eventually, bad news will come knocking on our door. The doctor calls with the biopsy results. “It’s positive….” The supervisor calls and says, “I’m sorry. Your position got eliminated.” The pregnancy test is negative again. So, the wife doesn’t bother calling her husband. We crave good news but are all too familiar with bad news.

But God’s good news, his gospel, is different. God’s good news isn’t something that lifts our spirits temporarily as we wait for more bad news to hit. God’s good news calls us into something permanent. We are called into a verdict of forgiveness because Jesus died to take away our sins. God’s good news calls us into the peace of knowing that we are at peace with God, our Creator. God’s good news has effects that stretch into eternity. We are called to salvation through the gospel so that we get to share in the glory of our Lord Jesus. In other words, we get to have eternal life in the glories of heaven.

God’s good news of our salvation in Christ calls us into a life that can face whatever bad news comes our way.

Prayer:
Merciful Father, you have shared the best news with me that Jesus is my Savior from sin and bad news. Help me to share this good news with others so they, too, can share in your glory. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God Put You in His Cart – January 16, 2024

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13

God Put You in His Cart

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Daily Devotion – January 16, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13

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When you go shopping online, do you ever look at the reviews for products before buying them? If you came across an item that only got one-star reviews, would you choose to put it in your cart? No, you’d find something better.

God knows you. He knows everything about you. Yes, everything. He knows how many times you’ve sinned against him. He knows all the one-star reviews other people might have given you about the way you treated them. It would seem God knows too much about you to ever choose to put you in his “salvation” cart.

However, God put you in his cart anyway! He chose you to be his own. Jesus made the payment on the cross for you to be his own. God chose you, warts and all, to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and belief in the truth.

God putting you in his salvation cart had nothing to do with who you were and everything to do with who he is. He is a merciful and gracious God. He sent the Holy Spirit to you through his Word to plant the truth of the good news of Jesus in your heart. And, by grace, you believe in what God has done for you!

Prayer:
Gracious Lord, thank you for choosing me and saving me by your Holy Spirit’s work. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Thankful for Brothers and Sisters – January 15, 2024

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord.
2 Thessalonians 2:13

Thankful for Brothers and Sisters

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Daily Devotion – January 15, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13

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Siblings sometimes have rocky relationships throughout life. Even siblings who get along well and frequently stay in touch likely had plenty of fights and disagreements through the years. A first child has a hard time adjusting to a new baby and having mom and dad split their attention. The youngest child has to watch his older siblings get all the new clothes and toys and gets stuck with the hand-me-downs. The middle child might feel lost in the shuffle and take out her frustrations on her siblings.

Within the family of believers, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ. And we might feel the same way as siblings with blood ties. We get frustrated with one another. We don’t see eye to eye on many topics. We get into petty arguments and don’t feel like sharing. We give one another a cold shoulder.

But as Christians, we can always thank God for one another. We can always be thankful for our Christian brothers and sisters because they are loved by the Lord. Our Father in heaven would have every reason to be frustrated or disappointed with us, his children. We fail to listen to his Word and constantly get into pointless arguments with one another. But our Father loves each of his children all the same. If our Lord loves that Christian brother or sister we don’t get along with, we can love them, too. We can thank God that he has brought us all into his family despite our differences. Even if we don’t see eye-to-eye with a Christian brother or sister, we can still love them just as the Lord does. We can show kindness to each of our brothers and sisters because our Father first showed kindness to us in Christ.

Prayer:
Lord, we thank you for our Christian brothers and sisters. Help me to love them as much as you love me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I’m Listening! – January 14, 2024

“The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:10

I’m Listening!

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Daily Devotion – January 14, 2024

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 3:10

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The ability to listen is fast becoming a “lost art.” In our culture of hyper-communication—cell phones, email, text messages—everyone is so busy talking that we don’t have time to listen. It is an attention deficit disorder of the ears. Few are unaffected by it.

But turn on a popular children’s movie, and the kids will sit for two hours without stirring. Sunday afternoons find many sitting in front of the television for three hours or more watching football. Apparently, the “listening disorder” is a rather selective thing.

Young Samuel—a boy who lived 3,000 years ago—had the right attitude when it came to God’s Word. Rather than argue with God or say, “Listen, Lord, your servant is speaking!” he humbly responded, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”

Whenever the Lord spoke, Samuel listened, even if it was only for a short time. It is in our best interest to do the same thing. God has so much to tell us in the Bible: how he loves us, how he can help us, how he has a gracious plan for our lives. Take some time today and listen!

Prayer:
Lord, give me willing ears to listen carefully to what you tell me in your Word. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Small Things – January 13, 2024

And now the LORD says—he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself, for I am honored in the eyes of the LORD and my God has been my strength—he says: “It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:5,6

Small Things

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Daily Devotion – January 13, 2024

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:5,6

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A leading expert on stress, cardiologist Robert Eliot, gives the following prescription for dealing with stress: Rule number one is—don’t sweat the small stuff. Rule number two is—it’s all small stuff.

Looking back at your celebrations of Christmas and New Year’s, do you feel like much of what you did was hurried and stress-filled, yet ultimately all small stuff? Perhaps you are even feeling remorseful regret over not having made more of a season filled with opportunities for witness and worship. If you have sinned through selfish indulgence or wasted worship time, then behold, “I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people” (Luke 2:10).

Entering our lives is the God of our salvation—Jesus, servant of the Lord. Jesus is the one who brings salvation to the ends of the earth. He came to rescue the world from sin.

That means he brings salvation to the homes of those who gathered and gifted until they had their fill but let Christmas and Christ pass by with little notice. It is a new year, and it is not too late to shake things up and change–to reflect upon the smallness of life here and the greatness of life hereafter.

The game-changer is Jesus. His plan and purpose is to bring salvation to the ends of the earth and gather us to himself. Don’t settle for small when you can marvel at great!

Prayer:
Gracious God, I marvel at the task you laid upon your Son to rescue and save me. By the Spirit, cause me to embrace and receive that salvation as my own. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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He Knows – January 12, 2024

And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love.”
Mark 1:11

He Knows

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Daily Devotion – January 12, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 1:11

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In our sinful weakness, there are times when you and I can slip into falsely accusing the God who loves us. The temptation can be strong when you and I face tragedy and grief. “God doesn’t know. God doesn’t understand. God has no idea how it feels to carry such difficulty, pain, and loss. And so, why should I listen to what he says? Why should I pay attention to his nice words? He doesn’t get it anyway.”

When such thinking creeps into my mind, I need to stop. First, I need to remember that God the Son not only knows all about real life in this fallen world; he has fully experienced the very worst that this world can dish out. He knows pain, grief, and loss.

God the Father understands, too. At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father spoke up. He spoke up because he had something to say—something he wanted you and me to know. In that moment, God the Father said to Jesus, “You are my Son, whom I love.”

“You are my Son, whom I love.” These are not words of some abstract theological concept. This is a Father speaking to his Son. This is a Father telling his Son that he loves him. It is this same Father who watched his Son sacrifice himself on a cross for the sins of the world. God the Father endured this loss because of his love for you and me. As Jesus himself says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.”

And so God loves us beyond what we can grasp. And he also understands.

Prayer:
Lord God, I sometimes forget that you understand the pain that sin and death can bring. Forgive my false presumptions. And thank you for your love for me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Former Master – January 11, 2024

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.
Romans 6:9

Former Master

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Daily Devotion – January 11, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:9

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The time is during the American Civil War. A man has lived his entire life in slavery under the rule of his master. Now, however, the man is free. He chooses to serve as a soldier in the Union Army. Months go by. One day, the man’s unit is near a camp that contains Confederate prisoners of war. Suddenly, he sees a familiar face. He sees the face of his former master. It is then that the man walks up to his former master and famously says, “Hello, master. Bottom rail on top this time.”

His point could not have been more clear. In their previous life together, one was the master, and the other was the slave. But that reality no longer existed. His old master was now a prisoner of war. His days of owning slaves were over. If anything, the former master now had to answer to his former slave.

Ever since our first parents, Adam and Eve, fell into sin, death has ruled as a master in this world. It has ruled us with fear, grief, and dread. It has ruled us with the awful reality that one day, sooner or later, death comes for each of us. It comes for our grandparents. It comes for our parents, siblings, children, and friends. It comes for you and me.

But then Jesus came. And he changed everything. On our behalf, he lived a life of perfect goodness. In our place, he carried our every sin to Calvary’s cross. As our substitute, he suffered and died to wash us clean. And three days later, he did something to make a point. Three days later, he walked away from death and raised himself back to life.

And because Jesus lives, death is no longer our master. Because Jesus lives, death now serves as a door to eternal life. Because Jesus lives, you and I can walk up to death and say, “Hello, Master. Bottom rail on top this time.”

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, because you live, death now must answer to you. Thank you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Official – January 10, 2024

For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ].
Romans 6:6

Official

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Daily Devotion – January 10, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:6

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For a young woman by the name of Anne Greene, the year 1650 was a year she would never forget. Falsely accused and wrongly convicted of murder, Anne Greene faced the gallows. The hangman carried out her execution. Immediately afterward, the coffin bearing her body went to a team of doctors for medical research. Upon lifting the lid, however, the doctors detected faint breathing. They rushed to do everything possible to revive her, and in so doing, they saved her life.

The consensus among all involved was that her official execution had taken place; there was no need to pursue the matter further. As a result, Anne Greene enjoyed a full and free pardon. Displaying an extraordinary sense of wonder about her indescribable experience, she took her coffin as a souvenir, settled in another town, got married, and raised a family.

In Romans chapter 6, the apostle Paul tells us that our official execution has taken place as well. When Jesus went to the cross outside the city walls of Jerusalem, God took all the sins of my old self and placed them on his Son. This means that, as far as God is concerned, my old identity as a lost sinner is no more. It’s no more because a first-century crucifixion detail carried out my execution just outside the city walls of Jerusalem. And now, through faith in Jesus, I enjoy a full and free pardon. Jesus’ death has washed my old identity away. I stand forgiven. A fresh, bright future now awaits me. And beyond that is eternal life in heaven.

One more thing. On the day of her execution, Anne Greene labored under massive debt. Afterward, however, Anne received more than enough contributions from others to wipe her debt away. In our crucified and risen Lord, the debt of our sin is gone, too. It’s official.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in God’s eyes my old identity as a guilty sinner is no more. The old debt of my transgression is gone. My life is now fresh and clean and new. Move me to live it for you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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New Life – January 9, 2024

We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:4

New Life

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Daily Devotion – January 9, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:4

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Martin Pistorius was a happy twelve-year-old boy living with his family in their home country of South Africa. One day, he came down with a mysterious illness. The illness placed Martin in a deep coma, completely unresponsive to everything around him. He remained in this state for so long that, eventually, the medical team told Martin’s family that they should take him home, as his death would now be just a matter of time.

But Martin did not die. His body kept going. Each morning, his father fed him, got him dressed, and took him to the care center for the day. In the evening, he brought him home, fed him, bathed him, and got him ready for bed. This went on for twelve years.

What no one knew was that Martin was aware of everything going on around him. He could see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. His body was incapable of showing any response in any way. However, he knew precisely what was going on.

It’s the stuff of nightmares: To live as a prisoner in plain sight, completely isolated from others for any affection, any attention, any meaningful relationship. It’s also a jarring illustration of what sin does—your sin and mine.

Because of sin, you and I, by nature, languished in prisons of our own making. These prisons isolated us from each other and from God.

But then came Jesus. Through his perfect life in our place and his suffering and death on our behalf, he threw open the prison doors. He cleansed us. He clothed us in his holiness. In Holy Baptism he claimed us as his own. And now, through his gospel, new life is ours. We are forgiven. We are his. And we are free.

Twelve years later, Martin’s imprisonment came to an end. His body woke up, and he’s happily married, living his new life. In Christ, our imprisonment is over too. And our new life lasts forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for rescuing me from my prison. Thank you for my new life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Every Faraway Place – January 8, 2024

“I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Every Faraway Place

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Daily Devotion – January 8, 2024

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

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Try this on for a fun fact. There are twice as many mobile devices in the world as there are people. And you can find mobile devices everywhere. Everywhere! You can find them in the South American jungle. You can find them in the mountain villages of Tibet. You can find them among nomadic tribes in the Sahara. You can find them in isolated huts with dirt floors.

For this reason, there are Christian volunteers who prepare memory cards for missionaries to take to these faraway places—memory cards the missionaries can easily install in people’s mobile devices. The memory cards include Bible studies, songs, an audio New Testament, and a movie about Jesus—all in the language of their region. Thanks be to God.

But faraway places do not just include remote villages on the other side of the world. To anyone who’s living a life without Jesus—that life is also in a faraway place—the aide who cares for your dad at the nursing home; the new friend you’ve made at Thursday night volleyball; the girl who cuts your hair; the mechanic who maintains your car; the couple who’s moved in across the street; the co-worker in the cubicle next to yours; the old friend you’ve known since high school; a member of your own extended family.

In other words, people who live in faraway places include souls you and I see in our lives all the time.

When God the Son came to this earth, he had you and me in mind. When he lived a perfect life on our behalf and suffered and died for our every sin, he had you and me in mind. When he rose from the grave, he had you and me in mind. He also had in mind everyone else living in faraway places, whether that faraway place is in a primitive village on a tiny island or a lonely life someone is living right before your eyes.

And maybe, just maybe, the Lord will reach that faraway place through you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for touching lives in faraway places. And thank you for touching mine. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Dead To Sin – January 7, 2024

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
Romans 6:1,2

Dead To Sin

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Daily Devotion – January 7, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:1,2

See series: Devotions

Sometimes Christianity doesn’t make sense to people who are not Christians, even though they have a general idea about its core belief system.

For example, if it’s true that Jesus died on a cross 2,000 years ago and paid for everyone’s sins, wouldn’t that encourage people who claim to be Christians to keep on sinning if they are forgiven anyhow? If you gave someone a credit card and said that they would not have to pay for whatever they bought, wouldn’t that encourage them to go on a spending spree? That is how a greedy person would think to take advantage of the credit card owner’s generosity.

But Christians, out of love for Jesus as their Savior, do not think, “Let my life be a life of immorality and self-indulgence and of doing whatever sinful thing comes to mind because I’m forgiven!” Christians do not live to sin in order to have more of God’s grace. The truth is that we love God because he has so richly blessed us. And our love for him prevents us from seeking to take advantage of God’s great love for us by living a sinful life.

Therefore, the attitude of Christians is, “We died to sin.” We don’t approve of sin! Our relationship with sin is over. Why? Because Jesus loves us and has freed us from sin’s guilt. Christians show their love for Jesus by striving not to have any relationship with sin—we are dead to sin.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for paying for my sin with your life. Now I am dead to sin. I don’t want to have a relationship with sin. Help me in my struggle against it. I love you for loving me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Getting Ready – January 6, 2024

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations.”
Luke 2:29-31

Getting Ready

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Daily Devotion – January 6, 2024

Devotion based on Luke 2:29-31

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Think back to when you were in second grade. When the bell rang, what would the students do? They’d put their books in their desks, they’d make sure the floor around them was clean, and they’d sit quietly, waiting for the teacher to fulfill her promise of “When you are ready, you will be dismissed.”

God made a promise to a man named Simeon that was similar, but not identical, to the grade school teacher. Instead of “When you are ready, you will be dismissed,” God promised Simeon, “When I am ready, you will see the Christ-child; then you will be dismissed.” The Lord didn’t give Simeon a detailed timeline—Simeon needed to trust God’s perfect timing instead. So when would this happen? When would he see Jesus and be dismissed?

Second graders only need to wait a few seconds; Simeon had to wait a few decades. Yet, when God was ready, Jesus was born, Simeon saw him, and Simeon fully trusted that God’s salvation was in front of his own eyes. Now, he would be dismissed in peace. That means he would die, leave earth and go to heaven because of what this baby Jesus would do.

Would you like to be dismissed in peace? Would you like your death day to be calm and not scary, like Simeon? Then, listen carefully to God’s promises. God has guaranteed that “Whoever believes in [Jesus] shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). The Lord has prepared his salvation for the eyes of all people. That includes you.

When you believe in Jesus as Savior, being dismissed from this earth is peaceful. It is no scarier than being dismissed from a second-grade classroom. And the best part? In second grade, when you are dismissed, you go home for the night, but then you have to come back to school. But when you are dismissed from this earth, you go home to heaven, and you stay there forever.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to earth so that I could be dismissed in peace. Help me to wait patiently until the day you are ready to dismiss me and take me home. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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More Than a New Year – January 5, 2024

Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.
Romans 6:3,4

More Than a New Year

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Daily Devotion – January 5, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:3,4

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How was your New Year’s celebration? Did you spend time with friends and family? Did you stay up until midnight? Did you sleep in on New Year’s Day?

Here’s another question: How has your New Year’s celebration impacted your life in the new year? I imagine not much. It may have been fun, but now you’re back to life as usual.

In today’s Bible reading, the apostle Paul tells us about an event that is more than a one-day celebration, an event that changes the rest of a person’s life. The event is a person’s baptism.

Christian baptism, you see, is not simply a ceremony. Paul tells us that when a person is baptized, they are spiritually covered in all the benefits of Jesus’ death on the cross. Their sins are forgiven. And because their sins are forgiven, they can look forward to an eternal life in heaven one day.

But there’s more. The apostle tells us that baptism also empowers a person to live a new kind of life, a life that no longer wants to do its own thing but rather wants to do God’s thing.

That’s much more exciting than any New Year’s resolution. It is God’s promise to empower those who have been baptized to live a new, God-pleasing life. How could those who have received such a gift have anything but a happy new year?

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord, for reminding me today of the remarkable blessings of baptism. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Too Small – January 4, 2024

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
Isaiah 49:6

Too Small

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Daily Devotion – January 4, 2024

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:6

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The tribes of Jacob were waiting for someone to restore them. Some had been conquered and deported by the Assyrians and lost to the ends of the earth. Others had been invaded by Babylon and were living as captives in a city far away. A few had been left behind in poverty and desperation in the ruins of their homes. Whoever would finally restore the tribes of Israel would be the greatest hero they had and would be remembered for generations.

The coming Christ would be this person. But restoring only the tribes of Israel would be too small a thing. Rather than just influencing a small place for a short time, the Christ would bring restoration even to the ends of the earth.

Two thousand years later and thousands of miles from ancient Israel, you are the fulfillment of God’s big work. You have been restored and brought back from the futility of your sin and the emptiness of your life. You have seen the light of his forgiveness and how to love and serve God and your neighbor.

It was too small for Jesus to just be a local savior. He brought salvation to the ends of the earth. He brought restoration and light to you.

Prayer:
Forgiving Lord, I thank you for magnifying the work of your Son that I would be included in the blessings of salvation that he gives. Cause me to give him the praise and service he is due for this great work. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Same, Same – January 3, 2024

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.
Romans 6:5-7

Same, Same

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Daily Devotion – January 3, 2024

Devotion based on Romans 6:5-7

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A dad and his young son had busy schedules, but Saturday was their day together. With rare exceptions, the day always started the same way—dad and son would get matching bowls and fill them with identical cereal, and dad would say, “Same?” and the son would echo, “Same.” After breakfast, it was time to get dressed, and both dad and son put on a pair of blue jeans and a faded red shirt and the dad would say, “Same?” and the son would say, “Same.” Tackling the day’s to-do list, dad got out his toolbox to fix a few things around the house, and son got out his smaller toy toolbox to help. Dad would say, “Same?” and son would echo, “Same.”

In today’s Bible reading, the apostle Paul tells us that, like the son was united to his father on their special day, every follower of Jesus is united to him. But, unlike that little boy, Christians are not kind of like Jesus. Paul tells us that we are genuinely united to his death and resurrection.

This means the Christian’s sins were nailed to his cross and are no longer counted against them. This means the sinful soul with which every person is born no longer rules over the Christian. They are set free from bondage and are now able to live a life pleasing to God. It’s a whole new way of life! And all because the Christian is connected to what Jesus has done.

Prayer:
Everlasting Lord, I praise you for uniting me with Christ. Make me confident that I am forgiven, that I will be raised to eternal life, and am free to serve you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Authority Over Appearance – January 2, 2024

Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:10,11

Authority Over Appearance

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Daily Devotion – January 2, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 1:10,11

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The Jordan River doesn’t appear particularly impressive. It runs a somewhat straight line for less than 100 miles from the Sea of Galilee in the north to the Dead Sea in the south. It isn’t a pure river and doesn’t start in some beautiful glacial mountain but with a heavily fished lake.

Jesus didn’t appear particularly impressive, either. He was not born in a palace in an influential city, but he came from a small town in a poor and mostly forgotten part of the world. He wasn’t wealthy, nor did he command mighty armies to follow him.

When Jesus first appeared to begin his earthly ministry, he looked like anyone else coming to John to be baptized. But, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, this baptism anointed Jesus for the great work he was about to undertake. Jesus was the son of Mary and grew up in Nazareth, but when the voice came from heaven, no one could doubt that this man really was God’s own Son. By appearance, it looked like just a simple man in simple water, but with God’s authority, it was revealed to all that Jesus was God’s chosen servant, the one who had come to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.

You might look in the mirror and see only a failure. You might look back on your life and see many reasons you have given God not to love you. You might be staring at death, and it all appears very final. None of these appearances matter when God speaks with authority. When he says that your sins are forgiven, you can be assured that all your sins have been paid for. When he calls you his child, he has the authority to make you his own. When he promises that everyone who believes in him will live, he has all the authority to bring life and resurrection.

Don’t be fooled by appearances. Trust God’s words of authority.

Prayer:
Gracious Father, help me to walk by faith and not by sight. Lead me to always trust your words as the true authority in my life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Savior Found with Sinners – January 1, 2024

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.
Mark 1:9

A Savior Found with Sinners

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Daily Devotion – January 1, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 1:9

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As Mark tells us the story of Jesus, he starts with Jesus’ baptism. This seems like a strange place to start, but it gives us a wonderful preview of who Jesus would be.

Jesus showed up at the Jordan River, where many sinners were gathered together. All types of sinners were at the water’s edge. Sinners, whom most people thought had some flaws but were still pretty good, stood on the banks of the river. The sinners that society despised, like the tax collectors, were also there standing along the shoreline. Even sinners like the Pharisees, who most thought weren’t bad at all, were at the Jordan River. Mark begins his account of Jesus by telling us that Jesus was there among all those different sinners.

Jesus did not separate himself from those sinners but stood with them to get baptized by John. Down he went into the water as countless sinners had before. Jesus brought no sin of his own into that water, but he would be counted among the sinners, nonetheless.

This is the first thing Mark tells us about Jesus because it is what his entire ministry was about. He would have no sin of his own but would be found with sinners. Whether that was healing their illnesses and diseases or eating and drinking with those who needed a word of forgiveness, Jesus was found with sinners. Even when it came to his death, he took the place of sinners under God’s wrath so you and I would not need to face what our sins deserve.

As you ponder Jesus’ baptism today, thank him that he was willing to be found with sinners.

Prayer:
Father, you introduced your Son by having him be baptized with the sinners though he had no sin of his own. I thank you that this is still his work among us today. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Anxious Waiting – December 31, 2023

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation.”
Luke 2:29,30

Anxious Waiting

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Daily Devotion – December 31, 2023

Devotion based on Luke 2:29,30

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As a young man awaiting the birth of our children, I never worried that something could go wrong. I just didn’t think about the dangers of pregnancy or childbirth, not even after our second child required time in the neonatal intensive care unit. Later, after seeing close friends experience the tragedy of stillborn births, I found myself very anxious when waiting for news that a new grandchild had safely arrived, and all was well with mother and child.

Anxious waiting, this well describes Simeon’s experience. As a Jewish man with Messianic hopes, he was waiting for a baby…waiting for a Savior…waiting for God’s salvation…waiting to die in peace. Then the day came and Simeon—led by the Holy Spirit—went to the temple so that he might see Jesus. Today, people are still led by the Spirit to go to places of worship so they can see Jesus with the eyes of faith and embrace him in the arms of faith.

Why? So that they might have peace. In Jesus, there is the peace of forgiveness for all our sins instead of painful separation from God because of sin. There is the peace of God’s presence in our lives. There is the peace of the present rescue from the guilt of sin and the peace of future rescue from every painful effect of sin. Jesus removes anxiety, fear, and shame and, in their place, grants us his peace.

So many people say with thanksgiving: “My eyes have seen God’s salvation.” We see it in the promises God has given us in the Bible. We see it through the faith the Holy Spirit works in our hearts. As the Lord has promised, we can, with Simeon, one day depart this world in peace just as the Lord has promised.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me to see you in your Word and to hold you in my heart. Fill me with your peace. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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David’s Greater Son – December 30, 2023

“He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.”
2 Samuel 7:13

David’s Greater Son

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Daily Devotion – December 30, 2023

Devotion based on 2 Samuel 7:13

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These words are a message from God addressed to the aging King David. He had a desire to build a magnificent temple for the Lord, but the Lord had a different plan—a greater one. David had been a man of war; his son, Solomon, was to be a man of peace. God’s words are a prediction that it was the son who was to build the temple for the Lord. “For my name” designates what God had made known about himself.”

But the prediction prophesies more than that. In the next generation, Solomon would reign in Jerusalem and build his fabulous temple there, but David was to look forward to an even greater descendant than Solomon. This is the One who would reestablish God’s domain in people’s hearts an reclaim them as living components in his eternal sanctuary. A dying world awaited David’s Son.

This is the One who would come from heaven to cancel mankind’s guilt by becoming one of us, and by serving and obeying perfectly in our place, and then suffering and dying as our substitute to cancel the penalty against us. He would be God’s Son and also a descendant of David! That’s why it is so significant for us that Mary, his virgin mother, was from the family of David, and that her child was born in Bethlehem, David’s town. In him, this ancient prophecy began to be fulfilled for our benefit.

Prayer:
Lord God, when I realize how in past ages You predicted and carried out Your plans to restore our fallen race, reassure me You will carry out Your plans for my future. Remind me You want to have me be a citizen of heaven as a partner with Jesus, trusting your mercy and experiencing your majesty. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Shepherd of Peace – December 29, 2023

“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.” . . . He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. And he will be our peace.
Micah 5:2,4,5

The Shepherd of Peace

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Daily Devotion – December 29, 2023

Devotion based on Micah 5:2,4,5

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Jerusalem was in trouble. Many of its kings had led the people astray and away from worshiping the true God. Now, foreign armies were coming to carry out God’s justice on a people who preferred worshiping themselves. God assigned Micah, the prophet, to foretell the coming destruction.

But God also had Micah prophesy about a ruler who would rescue his people. About eight miles from the capital city of Jerusalem lay a small village, Bethlehem. Its population size was tiny compared to Jerusalem. Yet, this village would be the birthplace of that ruler, the greatest king ever born.

About 700 years after Micah finished his work as one of God’s prophets, Jesus was born in the tiny town of Bethlehem to a humble virgin. The only birth announcement was made to simple shepherds in the field. But the announcers were anything but simple. Angels, the messengers from God, told the shepherds, “Today in the town of David (Bethlehem) a Savior has been born to you.” (Luke 2:11). Those angels also announced something else Micah had foretold. This Savior would bring peace.

It is fitting that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was visited first by shepherds. Jesus leads his people. He watches over them and protects them like a shepherd. But Jesus takes his shepherding to the extreme. He offers his life for his sheep so they can have peace with God. From the humblest of origins comes the greatest gift of all, peace with God, the forgiveness of sins. All who put their trust in Jesus will live securely.

Prayer:
Dear God, help me to follow Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who has brought me peace. Allow me to live in this peace all the days of my life and forever with you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Abba, Father – December 28, 2023

Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.
Galatians 4:6,7

Abba, Father

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Daily Devotion – December 28, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:6,7

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A couple of years ago, I was sitting in an airport waiting for a flight when I noticed a young child walking by herself. She had a stuffed animal in her arms, and she was looking frantically at the faces around her. After a quick scan, I didn’t see anyone who looked like they could be her parents. She was lost, and tears filled her eyes.

Thankfully, some airport workers noticed her and quickly came to help her. As they tried to calm her down and ask her questions, a concerned couple came down the concourse. They were calling a name, her name. When the little girl heard her daddy calling her name, her expression completely changed. Joy and relief filled her face. She ran into her father’s open arms crying, “Daddy!”

Like that little girl, you were once lost and separated from your loving heavenly Father. Left to your own devices, you would have remained that way–separated from your Father for all eternity.

But your loving Father did not leave you to your own devices. He sent Jesus to find you and rescue you from the sins that separated you from him. And because Jesus has found you, he changes your identity. You are no longer a slave but a child of God. And not just a child of God, an heir. And Jesus has an inheritance that is greater than you could ever imagine. Because Jesus has removed your sin, he promises you the riches of God’s Kingdom, an eternity spent in the never-ending love of the Father who invites you to call him “Abba, Father.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for finding me and changing my status. I am your child. Help me live as an heir of eternal life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Perfect Timing – December 27, 2023

But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.
Galatians 4:4,5

God’s Perfect Timing

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Daily Devotion – December 27, 2023

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4,5

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The timing of Jesus’ arrival was not arbitrary. God purposefully planned for Jesus to come into the world at the fullness of time. From the beginning, God had planned for this. And at the appointed hour, God executed his rescue plan.

God chose the humble setting of Bethlehem to unfold the greatest story ever told. In the simplicity of a stable, under a starry night, God became flesh.

Jesus was born of a woman, just like every human before and after him, just like you. Jesus was born under the law, just like every human before and after him, just like you. Being born under the law means you are to love God above all else and to love your neighbor perfectly. It’s an impossible task. You cannot keep this law.

But Jesus can. And Jesus did. He was born just like you were so that he can fulfill your obligation to the law and pay the rightful penalty for your sin. With that sin removed and your guilt taken away, there is no more hostility between you and God.

By sending his Son, God demonstrates the lengths his love would go to rescue you from sin. God guided all of human history so that everything would be just right for Jesus to enter the world.

And God is still guiding history. He’s arranged things just right, in the fullness of time, for you to learn the real meaning of Christmas. That God loves you so much that he sent his Son, Jesus, into the world to take away your sins, and to purchase you from your slavery to sin. God wants you to know how much he loves you, so much that he has adopted you into his family.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for loving me and making me a part of your family because of what Jesus, my Savior, had done for me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Unconquerable Light – December 26, 2023

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.
John 1:4,5

Unconquerable Light

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Daily Devotion – December 26, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:4,5

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Nyctophobia is the fear of the dark. Darkness hides things. Darkness means you can’t see what’s around you. That darkness creates anxiety and uncertainty. The fear of the unknown, along with the vividness of the human imagination, causes terror.

There is a different type of darkness that causes fear. It’s the darkness of death. Death casts a long shadow that endarks everyone. To many people, death is the ultimate unknown. They can’t see past death, and so the fear of death affects what they do in life.

The truth of Christmas is that Jesus came as light to shine in this darkness. Each twinkling Christmas light on the tree and houses is a reminder that Jesus came as the Light of the world. And Jesus came to defeat the darkness of death.

For hours, the darkness tried to defeat Jesus as he hung on the cross. And for three days, the darkness thought it had defeated the Light of the world. But Jesus rose triumphantly from the dead on the third day. Jesus, the Light of the world, defeated death and its darkness. Death could not overcome Jesus.

That’s why Jesus is the life and light of all mankind. Jesus has illuminated what lies beyond the grave to all who follow him. Death is no longer the scary darkness of the unknown. Because Jesus came, because Jesus defeated death, it means death has no power over those who trust in Jesus as their Savior from sin.

As you gaze at the Christmas lights this year, remember they are not just a festive spectacle. But they remind us that Jesus is our light. Our lives are illuminated by the love of Christ, who brings warmth and joy to a world in darkness. Jesus lights up our lives because he has conquered the darkness of death.

Prayer:
I pray, O God, for those who are gripped by the fear of darkness and death. Surround them with the light of your love, illuminated by the gospel of the forgiveness of sins. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christ – December 25, 2023

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

Christ

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Daily Devotion – December 25, 2023

Devotion based on John 1:1-5,14

See series: Devotions

Perhaps you have seen the symbol etched into a stained-glass window, embroidered on a banner, printed on the front cover of the hymnal, or embedded into the white candle of the Advent wreath. The symbol looks like the letter X with the letter P placed over it. But the letters are not English; they are Greek. The letter that looks like X is equivalent to ch, and the letter that looks like P is equivalent to r. These Greek letters chi and rho are an abbreviation for Christ. In Christian art, the letters are often adjusted so that the two are merged together, appearing to be a single letter. The logo on the cover of Christian Worship: Hymnal provides an example of such a stylized Chi-Rho.

On Christmas Eve and Day, the symbols of Christ surround us—manger scenes and Christmas trees, Chi-Rhos and candles. Perhaps you attend an evening candlelight service in which the light from the Christ candle, the center candle of the Advent wreath, is used to light other candles that in turn light all the candles held by worshipers. With building lights dimmed, the light from the candles fills the room with a heavenly glow.

But the glow produced from the Christ candle is a pale comparison to the brilliant glory of the angels who filled the night sky to announce Jesus’ birth! Any symbolism we employ at Christmas is only a dim reflection of the first Christmas and an imperfect representation of the miracle that the angel messenger announced: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:11).

Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew word Messiah. Both words mean “Anointed One.” This special name for this special child tells us that there is more than what meets the eye in Bethlehem’s manger. This child is anointed and appointed to be the King of kings and Lord of lords. The innocent baby wrapped in strips of cloth is also the almighty God wrapped in human flesh. God has become one of us and one with us! The One who created heaven and earth is now cradled in a manger. What an amazing heaven-sent miracle from the heart of God the Father.

Even greater than this miracle is the heavenly rescue that the Christ Child will accomplish. Jesus Christ’s mission would take him from the wood of the manger to the wood of the cross as the perfect payment for our sins and the sins of the whole world. And after the darkness of his death, the bright light of Easter morning would announce to all that the mission that began in Bethlehem’s manger was fulfilled by Calvary’s cross. The miracle of Christmas was just the beginning of the miracle of our salvation!

Rejoice! Today your Savior has been born! He is the Messiah—Christ, the Lord!

Prayer:
Almighty God, you sent your Son, Christ, the Lord, as our Savior. Receive our thanks for this miracle of your grace and enlighten our hearts with the good news of his birth that we may proclaim his praises now on earth and forever in heaven. Amen.

This Advent devotion is brought to you by Forward in Christ magazine. For an enhanced version of this devotion including a flipbook and video or to read other devotions in this series, visit forwardinchrist.net/advent-2023.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Peace – December 24, 2023

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 greatness 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

Peace

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Daily Devotion – December 24, 2023

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:6,7

See series: Devotions

What is the worst part of a vacation? Preparing for it! Taking care of all the tasks that need to be done before a family getaway is downright chaotic and stressful! Are the suitcases properly packed? Do the kids have everything they need? Did you line up someone to take care of the pets and check on the house? Is there anything you have forgotten? The stress of vacation preparation sometimes makes you wonder if the trip is worth the hassle!

But then you finally leave. At some point, peace and calm begin to settle in your mind and slow down your once-racing pulse. Maybe that moment comes when you pull out of the driveway. Maybe it’s when everyone takes a seat on the plane. The preparation is done. Now you can breathe deeply, relax, and feel at peace during the vacation days before you.

On the Fourth Sunday in Advent, Christians are on the verge of celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Our busy Advent preparations will soon give way to the peace that the Christ Child came to bring his people.

The peace that flows from Jesus’ birth is so much greater than any earthly comparison we could make. That’s because this peace is not simply a relaxed feeling. This peace is the cessation of war! Your sins and my sins and the sins of the whole human race led to a holy war between God and humankind. And God’s justice demands that those who rebel against him be eternally sentenced for their war crimes. But God’s love fulfilled those demands in his perfect Son, the one whom Isaiah calls the “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The perfect Son of God endured the perfect justice of his Father for our sin, taking our punishment on himself and restoring us to a peaceful relationship with his Father.

For earthly families broken by sin and hurt by tension, the Prince of Peace comes as a child who was born to be our brother. Through our faith in that child, his heavenly Father has become our Father who welcomes us into his family of peace and forgiveness.

All four candles surrounding the Advent wreath are now lit. Turn off the lights in your home, sit in the soft glow of the candlelight, and enjoy a moment of peaceful ambiance. But remember that the peace Jesus came to bring is so much more than ambiance. His peace comes from blood-bought forgiveness. His peace is eternal, and we will bask in its glow forever.

Prayer:
O Jesus our Savior, you came to bring peace to a world broken by sin. Heal our hearts with the good news of your grace so that we may find true peace in your forgiveness and the promise of everlasting life. Amen.

This Advent devotion is brought to you by Forward in Christ magazine. For an enhanced version of this devotion including a flipbook and video or to read other devotions in this series, visit forwardinchrist.net/advent-2023.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Encouragement Before Christmas – December 23, 2023

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil. May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Encouragement Before Christmas

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Daily Devotion – December 23, 2023

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

See series: Devotions

For many, the Christmas blues are a real issue: winter weather, hectic schedules, social pressures, missing loved ones who are gone or live far away, and other family issues that seem to get magnified this time of year.

But this time of year is one of the most joyful when we cherish the message that comes from God’s Word. Wrapped in that message are the most beautiful Christmas presents, bought by Christ and carried to us by the Holy Spirit. This message prepares us for the real Christmas and the joy God wants us to have in Christmas.

It is the joy of peace with God even when conscience accuses. It is the joy of knowing that God is faithful and will not leave or forsake us no matter what happens to us in this life. It is the joy of knowing that through faith in our Savior, Jesus, we are prepared and can look forward to an eternal future in heaven. No wonder Christmas is so wonderful!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, keep me focused on the true joy of Christmas—your Son, my Savior, Jesus. Help me to celebrate this gift at this time of year and always. Amen.

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