Part of a Larger Story – January 3, 2022

“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come to his people and redeemed them . . . (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.”
Luke 1:68-71

Part of a Larger Story

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Daily Devotion – January 3, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 1:68-71

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Christianity didn’t start with Christmas. Of course, Christmas is an important event. But the birth of Jesus is part of a much bigger story. If you are unaware of the greater narrative, you might miss out on the significance of all the presents and parties that go along with this Holiday season.

The bigger story focuses on the nation of Israel. In the second book of the Bible, the Israelites find themselves enslaved by the Egyptians. For 400 years, they cry out to God for their freedom—which is also called “redemption.” Finally, God sets them free, but they are not free for very long. The surrounding nations continue to oppress them until one day, the whole nation is carried off into captivity in Babylon. But God’s people hold on to the hope that they hear from their prophets, namely, one day God will set them free from all their enemies for good.

Around the time of Jesus’ birth, a priest named Zechariah believed that God was bringing all his promises to fulfillment. That is why he sang the song that you read at the beginning of this devotion. He believed God was continuing his story of redemption through the Messiah, Jesus. He believed that his son, John the Baptist, was going to prepare the way for Jesus. Finally, that Jesus was going to set God’s people free. And he was right.

You see, Christianity is a much bigger story than just the Christmas story. Christianity is a much longer narrative about how God is redeeming his people. And this story isn’t over yet. The same Jesus who came at Christmas promises to come back again to set us free from all our enemies, from sin, death, and all that is evil. Let’s join Zechariah and praise the Lord who sets his people free.

Prayer:
Jesus, I praise you for coming to rescue your people. 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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Timing – January 2, 2022

When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.
Galatians 4:4

Timing

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Daily Devotion – January 2, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 4:4

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Barton Mitchell served as a private during the American Civil War. He fought for the North. Things were not going well for the Northern army. In fact, things were going so poorly that Great Britain was on the verge of recognizing Southern independence. If the South could gain just one more victory, Great Britain might intervene on behalf of the South. In other words, if the North lost one more battle, it might lose the war.

This brings us back to Barton Mitchell. One day, Barton and his comrades were on a hillside, taking a break from their march. The place where they were resting was a former campsite for the Southern army. As they sat, Barton looked down and spotted some cigars wrapped in a piece of paper. Interested in the cigars, Barton picked them up. And that’s when he discovered that the paper around the cigars contained the marching plans for the Southern army. Quickly, Barton passed the paper up the chain of command. The information he found that day was enough to give the North a much-needed victory.

In so doing, Barton Mitchell may well have saved his country. It was one of the most dramatic episodes of good timing that history has seen.

The Bible tells us about an even better episode of good timing: one that took place in the town of Bethlehem.

The apostle Paul wrote, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son.” At a time when the Roman Empire ruled the known world, immorality and religious confusion seemed rampant, and many of God’s people felt isolated and forgotten—it was in that moment when all things were ready. It was in that moment when God demonstrated that he was in control and sent his Son.

As you stare at that new calendar on the wall, keep in mind that God’s sense of good timing has not changed. The One who sent his Son at just the right time to cleanse you from all sin is the same One who holds and blesses every moment of your life.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you are the One who sent my Savior into this world at just the right time. Move me to trust your timing in every aspect of 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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The Perfect Gift – January 1, 2022

Then [Jesus] went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them.
Luke 2:51

The Perfect Gift

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Daily Devotion – January 1, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 2:51

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What was the best gift you received for Christmas? Was it just what you hoped? Sometimes we receive a gift that is exactly what we wanted, and after opening it, we say, “It’s perfect!”

Unfortunately, even the best gifts don’t last forever. We grow tired of toys and games. New clothes wear out or become unfashionable. Things break or get lost. We discover that perfect gifts aren’t so perfect.

Except, Jesus. Jesus is God’s perfect gift to us. Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s holy law, including being obedient to his earthly mother and father. Think of it—the all-knowing, all-powerful God obeyed his sinful human parents. He did this, not because they were always right or fair, but because it was his heavenly Father’s will. Children are to obey their parents. So Jesus did, perfectly.

Can we say the same? Not one of us can. We have all been guilty of disobeying our parents and others that God put in authority over us. That’s why we needed Jesus. We needed Jesus to do for us what we were supposed to do. Jesus obeyed for all the times we have disobeyed. Jesus honored his parents for all the times we dishonored ours. His perfect life is God’s gift to us so that when God looks at us, he sees Jesus’ perfection. He sees children who are worthy of his heavenly kingdom, and through faith in Jesus, he freely gives them the gift of an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade—kept in heaven for you” (1 Peter 3:4).

Even the best gifts you receive will lose their luster eventually. But not Jesus. He is the perfect gift.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for doing what I have failed to do. Give me the strength and humility to honor those you have placed in authority over 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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Our Freedom From Death – December 31, 2021

That by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14,15

Our Freedom From Death

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Daily Devotion – December 31, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:14,15

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The further we move away from December 25th, the smaller our Christmas celebration gets in life’s rear-view mirror. For many folks, that is extremely depressing. We prepare so intently (perhaps even frantically!) to make our celebration as close to perfect as we can. And then, in a flash, it’s over. And it’s tempting to think, “Is that it? Is that all there is?”

But Christians know that what happened at Christmas is not all there is. Our reason for celebrating Jesus’ birth is not just that he arrived in a manger. It’s that he eventually left the manger! The story of Jesus doesn’t fade to the closing credits with angels singing, shepherds worshiping, and Mary pondering all these things in her heart. Jesus eventually left the manger and passionately carried on until he’d carried out every part of the work required to save us. Living in perfection. Reaching out with affection. Resisting the devil to the point of exhaustion. Suffering in the deepest humiliation. Triumphing through his resurrection. Ascending with the greatest celebration. Making us a new creation. It was all a labor of love done for you by your brother to “destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

One day we will die, but don’t let that thought bind you in chains of dread and fear because Jesus lived a perfect life as your substitute and paid for all your sins as your sacrifice. He then came to life, conquering death for you. He has done everything necessary for you to live eternally in heaven. And if it all depends on what Jesus has done, none of it depends on what you have done. Don’t let the thought of death hold you captive. Hear those shackles fall. What child is this? It’s Jesus, the substitute and sacrifice who has set you free.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, cast out my fear of death and every fear the plagues me. Help me face them knowing you are victorious, and you are near to 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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Our Flesh and Blood – December 30, 2021

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity.
Hebrews 2:14

Our Flesh and Blood

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Daily Devotion – December 30, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:14

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“He, too, shared in their humanity”—the import of that statement may not fully strike you until you consider how completely unwilling we are to settle for anything less than we think we deserve. If we pay for second-row seats behind home plate, there’s no way we’re going to accept being ushered up to the twenty-fifth row of the upper deck terrace instead. If our team is robbed of a hard-earned victory by an official’s error, that loss will sting as we remember it for years to come. If we reserve the SUV with third-row seating as our rental car and the best they can offer us at the counter is roughly the size of a clown car, we are going to grumble and complain and grouse to anyone who will listen.

Do you want to know how awesome Jesus is? Look at how willing he was to settle for less than he deserved. Jesus deserved the best heaven could offer. He willingly traded it for a crust of bread as his dinner and a rock for his pillow, for the indignities of childhood and insecurities of young adulthood. Jesus shared in our humanity. Being born was necessary so that he could one day die and so he could live every day in between as our perfect substitute.

Ever since the Garden of Eden, the devil has been trying to make us think that he is our closest friend. He tries to convince us that what he wants us to do will make us happy, fulfilled, prosperous. “Stick with me,” he says, “I have your best interests in mind.”

But, of course, the devil doesn’t. Only Jesus does. Only Jesus was willing to share our humanity and do everything necessary to save us from our sins so that we can share eternity with him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are not only the powerful God, but my human brother, my flesh and blood. Thank you for all you sacrificed to come and be a sacrifice for me. Help me to live my life always willing to sacrifice for you in return. 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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Our Unashamed Brother – December 29, 2021

Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 2:11

Our Unashamed Brother

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Daily Devotion – December 29, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:11

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Paul Gerhardt was a man who’d been put through the emotional wringer. Some might even call him a more recent version of Job. Because standing at the graveside of your son or daughter, especially a son or daughter who died at a young age, is one of the most horrific things a parent can imagine, that is if one can imagine it at all. Having to do that once would be borderline unbearable. Paul Gerhardt had to do it—four times. Four small caskets, four sets of funeral clothes, four painful goodbyes. And as if that weren’t enough, then Gerhardt’s wife died unexpectedly, leaving him as a single dad to their sole remaining child, a six-year-old boy.

But all that loss, believe it or not, is not what makes Paul Gerhardt memorable and noteworthy. What makes him memorable and noteworthy is the fact that he experienced what he experienced in life and yet was still able to sit down and put these words on paper in one of his hymns, “Dear Christian Friend, on him depend; be of good cheer and let no sorrow move you.” How could Paul Gerhardt say, “Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move you”? It’s because of what he wrote next. “For God’s own child in mercy mild, joins you to him, how greatly God must love you!”

God’s own child joined himself to our human family. He is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters. Shouldn’t he be? I mean, every family has at least one child who always seems to choose the more rebellious road. In God’s family, that rebel is you and me.

And yet here is our Jesus, our proud brother, unashamed to call us his siblings. And not only willing to simply call us his siblings, but our brother also went on to be our sacrifice so that we might spend eternity as co-heirs with him, sharing the same heavenly Father. Fellow rebels, rejoice! Jesus is willing to be our sacrifice, and he is not ashamed to call us his family.

Prayer:
Jesus, I am proud and so very thankful to be a part of your family. 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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Our Substitute in Worship – December 28, 2021

After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.
Luke 2:43

Our Substitute in Worship

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Daily Devotion – December 28, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 2:43

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As a 12-year-old, Jesus travels to Jerusalem with his parents, and when the festival is over, his parents accidentally head home without him. It’s unusual—but at the same time, it’s not hard to picture how that could happen. Mom and Dad are preoccupied with getting everything packed up and getting on the road on schedule. Perhaps, with Jesus being the oldest, Mary and Joseph had a few younger children demanding their immediate attention. Have you ever been on a road trip with your family? If you have, it’s a little easier to see how a semi-self-sufficient 12-year-old might not be his parents’ greatest concern at that moment.

We make a big deal about Jesus getting left there, but maybe we should be making a big deal about him even being there in the first place. He was there in Jerusalem to worship God! At any time was he tempted to think, “Wait a second, I am God!” He was there in Jerusalem to offer the required Passover sacrifices. At any time, was he tempted to think, “I’m the One all these sacrifices are pointing to? Shouldn’t I be on the other side of the altar? The object of the worship, rather than the one doing the worshiping?” Fact is, he is God. But he willingly chose to follow God’s laws. He did deserve to be the object of worship, but he willingly took his place alongside the worshipers.

So we see Jesus, even at 12 years old, already perfectly carrying out his Father’s will as our substitute. He perfectly worships at the temple for our moments of imperfect worship, distracted worship, uninterested worship. All so that on one dark Friday afternoon, he could step forward as our perfect substitute once again. Yes, all our accumulated punishment was placed on our substitute. Today, and every day, consider the magnificent and undeserved blessing of having a Savior so willing to be your substitute.

Prayer:
My sins are many, O Lord, but your mercies are even greater in number. May your perfection in my place always bring me true comfort and joy. 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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Our Substitute From Heaven – December 27, 2021

Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom.
Luke 2:41,42

Our Substitute From Heaven

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Daily Devotion – December 27, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 2:41,42

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Does studying this text at this particular time seem like we’re maybe rushing things a little bit? Wasn’t it just a couple of days ago that we were gathered around the manger, gazing with awe at the Wonder born for us there? We’ve just finished singing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing, Glory to the Newborn King.” And now suddenly, Jesus is 12 years old! The birth of our Savior is a place in the Bible where we rightfully want to linger and ponder that singular moment in human history. The Creator becoming the created is a big deal. Are we rushing Christmas out the door?

We don’t have to feel that way. Don’t think of the verses from Luke chapter 2 as leaving the manger scene behind, but rather as filling in an important part of what the manger scene is all about.

Jesus’ birth is indeed significant and worthy of our highest joy and celebration. But Bethlehem was really just the first domino to fall in the story of God with Us. The 33 years that followed, the lifetime of humbling himself, of serving, of obedience, was a major part of why he was born in the first place.

Because we don’t have a lifetime of humbling ourselves, serving, obeying, we can’t string two seconds of perfection together. (As if we could even produce one second of perfection in the first place!) And eternal separation from God is what we have deserved as wages for our lifelong wicked work. But the One who demanded perfect and complete obedience saw our perfect and complete disobedience and came to do for us what we could not do for ourselves—to keep the law himself as one of us. And then, without there being any merit or lovability in us, Jesus gave up his life on a cross.

That is love unconditional. That’s what we celebrate at Christmas, after all. Not just that we have a substitute, but the amazing love for us that brought him here.

Prayer:
All praise and thanks to you, Lord Jesus, for the love that brought you as my substitute. Help me always to love you in return. 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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Just Like Us – December 26, 2021

Since the children have flesh and blood, Jesus too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.
Hebrews 2:14,15

Just Like Us

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Daily Devotion – December 26, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 2:14,15

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A baby born in Bethlehem. It may have seemed pretty ordinary; mothers had babies all the time. The parents were certainly ordinary enough, a carpenter’s family from Nazareth. And the humble environment was probably not so unusual for many people of that day. But Luke, inspired by the Holy Spirit, tells of that birth with such majesty and beauty that it has captured the hearts of millions of people because this really was a birth like none other.

What made the ordinary so extraordinary? God became one of us to rescue all of us. To provide the perfect human life that was demanded to pay the punishment for sin, it required a perfect human being. “For this reason,” the Bible explains, “Jesus had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.”

No wonder the angels and shepherds were so excited. This special baby, sent from heaven by God, came to “free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.” This baby has changed who we are. We used to be mortal, subject to death. But by dying for us and rising from the dead, Jesus gives us immortality. Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die” (John 14:25,26).

His was no ordinary birth; it was the most extraordinary birth of all time. God’s Son became a human being to rescue human beings. In him, we are immortal. We will live forever with God! The angels were excited. The shepherds were excited. And so are we.

Prayer:
Lord, thank you for becoming one of us and changing us by giving us immortality. Help me live my life with the confidence that in you, I will live forever. 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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Christmas Peace – December 25, 2021

And he will be their peace.
Micah 5:5

Christmas Peace

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Daily Devotion – December 25, 2021

Devotion based on Micah 5:5

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What is peace?

Peace is the absence of trouble, tension, disaster, and surprise. Peace is the presence of safety, security, contentment, and relief. When you are at peace, there’s nothing else you need. You’d like things to stay just as they are. You hope that nothing changes.

Unfortunately, earthly “peace” will change and is always short-lived. Christmas meals bring some peace, but just hours later, you are hungry again. Happy relationships bring peace, but can you guarantee that even for one fleeting year, your solid relationship will never once face discord? Christmas presents bring a little peace, but the very same gadgets that cause a hearty, “Thanks!” are soon broken or forgotten. And how many people ever get everything on their Christmas lists? And even if they did, would they have lasting peace?

For lasting Christmas peace, we look away from earthly things and look to the Good Shepherd, Jesus. The Bible tells us, “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 the ends of the earth. And he will be their peace” (Micah 5:4,5). Jesus’ peace is not only for a time, is not isolated to one area, and cannot be overruled. In power and compassion, his greatness reaches everywhere, all the time, penetrating our hearts to the core.

Jesus himself is our peace. Not Christmas meals, relationships, or presents, but Jesus. It’s not just that he knows where to find peace or that he shows us the way to peace—he IS our peace! In Jesus, we stand confidently under God’s favor. In Jesus, we live with the comfort of God’s abiding presence and almighty power. We know exactly what our eternal future will be. Jesus alone provides eternal safety, security, contentment, and relief. In him, our peace will never change.

What is peace? Jesus is peace. When you have him, you have it all.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, prevent me from looking to earthly avenues of peace and thinking they will last. Instead, turn me toward Jesus, so that I might find true peace that lasts. 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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Share the Good News – December 24, 2021

Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Luke 2:13,14

Share the Good News

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Daily Devotion – December 24, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 2:13,14

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Of all the events in the Bible, I think I most would have liked to witness the night the angels appeared to the shepherds. Can you picture the scene? It was a quiet evening with the shepherds perhaps gathered around a fire. It was dark, and the clear sky enabled the stars to shine brightly. The sheep lay sleeping nearby. Suddenly, the sky filled with the light of hundreds perhaps even thousands, of angels. Anyone who saw it surely would have described it as breathtaking and awesome.

Luke writes that this experience filled the shepherds with joy. Can you imagine their thinking? “It’s happening! He’s finally here! The Messiah promised for centuries has come!” Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem is the answer to prayer, the fulfillment of prophecy, and the basis for our hope. His coming here and accomplishing his work of salvation is our guarantee of eternal life in heaven.

To see the angel’s announcement of our Savior’s birth would have been amazing for sure. But it would also have been great to see the Shepherd’s reaction The amazed expression on their faces. Their excited shouts of joy. Their adrenaline pumping as they ran off to spread the fantastic news.

Is that your reaction to Jesus? We are certainly tempted to take the message of Christmas for granted because we have heard it all before. It is easy to quickly forget the importance of what happened on that first Christmas. I imagine those Shepherds did not so easily forget what they saw.

God bless you as you worship your Lord and Savior tonight. May you also be filled with awe that God would keep his promises. May you also be filled with joy and a desire to share the good news of your Savior’s birth. While we were not there to see the angels, we can be just like those shepherds and spread the good news of our Savior’s birth wherever we go.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, bless my worship of you tonight. Like the shepherds, fill me with joy at the birth of Jesus and move me to share the wonderful news of his birth. 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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Make Room for Jesus – December 23, 2021

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.
Luke 2:6,7

Make Room for Jesus

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Daily Devotion – December 23, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 2:6,7

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How is it that no one had room for Jesus? Poor Mary was about to give birth, and nobody would invite them in. That is difficult for us to imagine happening to anyone, let alone the true Son of God and the Savior of the world. How could it be that no one had room for Jesus?

The truth of the matter is that we likely would not have let them in either. If you do not agree, take a look at your life. How much room do you have for Jesus? Where does he fit into your schedule if he fits at all? With so many things going on, there are quite a few days where time with Jesus doesn’t seem to land on the calendar. Where does he fit in your heart? With so many things we love and chase after, Jesus does not always find a home in our hearts either. What about your Christmas planning? Have you made time for cookies and decorations and shopping and gift wrapping but somehow not managed to be in God’s house to worship?

Thankfully Jesus had room for us. He blocked off his calendar and made sure nothing would get in the way of being our Savior. In this great love, he came down to earth and lived a perfect life in our place. He died the death that should have been ours, and he rose from the dead to forever defeat death for us.

With joy and gratitude in your heart, make room for Jesus this Christmas and always. Carve out some time on your calendar to read his Word. Clear out your heart and fill it with love for Jesus who died for you. Plan worship into your holiday schedule so that you can worship the One who is truly the reason for the season. God bless you as you make room for Jesus!

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming to be my Savior even though I do not always make time for you. Fill my heart with your love and lead me to always make time 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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The Greatest Gift – December 22, 2021

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.
Isaiah 9:6

The Greatest Gift

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Daily Devotion – December 22, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:6

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What gifts are waiting for you under the tree, soon to be opened? Have you looked? Maybe, when no one else was around, you snuck in and picked up the package with your name on it to gauge its weight. Maybe you shook it to get a sense of what it might contain. What gifts are you hoping for?

Whatever is in that package under the tree, will it satisfy? Will it be as amazing as you imagine, or will it break soon after opening? Will it live up to your expectations, or will it not be all you had hoped for? Will it take away the guilt or pain that you are feeling now? Will it fill the hole in your heart? Will it provide only a momentary rush, or will it provide lasting joy?

As wonderful as the gifts might be, God has given you a gift that is greater than all. God has given you a gift that is perfect and holy. A gift that has the power to erase everything you’ve ever done wrong. A gift that is not only the answer to all we struggle with here on earth but also provides lasting joy and peace. A gift that provides your ticket to an eternity in heaven that will never perish, spoil, or fade.

This one-of-a-kind gift is his Son, Jesus. God gave the very best that he had. He gave what no one else could or would. God gave the perfect gift. In Jesus, we have forgiveness and eternal life. In Jesus, we have the love of God and the reassurance that he is there for us. This gift from God is exactly what we needed. And guess what? This gift never fades over time. It does not break. It never fails to live up to what God promised. In Jesus, we are always saved, forgiven, and loved. Through this gift, we have eternal life in heaven.

As you open your gifts this year, remember the greatest gift. Thank God for the gift of his Son, Jesus.

 

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, thank you for the gift of your Son. He is the perfect gift. Help me to appreciate the blessings he brings all year through. 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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Peace – December 21, 2021

And he will be our peace.
Micah 5:5

Peace

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Daily Devotion – December 21, 2021

Devotion based on Micah 5:5

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We hear a lot about peace this time of year. Christmas carols sing about peace on earth. Talking heads on television speak of how the true meaning of the holiday season is peace and goodwill among men. They dreamily describe a world where we all will live in perfect peace and harmony with each other.

While such a picture might look beautiful and sound wonderful, it is not reality. There is no peace on earth. Look around. Politicians stab each other in the back and refuse to work together for the common good. Nations continue to threaten each other. People scream at each other and post terrible things about other people all over social media. Family members argue and fight. This world has never known true peace, and that is not ever going to change. We live in a sinful world, and disharmony and strife come with the territory.

That is why Christmas is so important. Jesus entered into this world so full of conflict and disharmony. And he came to bring something this world longs for: peace. Yet, it is important that we understand what the Bible means when it says about Jesus: “And he will be our peace.” While peace between men and nations is a wonderful thing to have and strive for, there is a far more important kind of peace: Peace between sinners and a holy God. Jesus came to provide just that.

In Jesus’ life and death in our place, we have peace with God. Our sins have been removed, and our guilt paid for. Sin—the giant barrier that once stood between God and us—has been forever removed. We now have peace with God.

Do you realize what that means? It means we can go to him in prayer and know that he hears us. It means we have the protection he offers through his angels and the promise that he is with us always. And it means that we will live with him in perfect peace forever in heaven. This world will never experience perfect peace, but that blessing is and will be ours forever with Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for providing true peace. Help me to know that I am forgiven and saved and to keep my eyes on my heavenly 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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True Joy – December 20, 2021

In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
Luke 1:42-44

True Joy

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Daily Devotion – December 20, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 1:42-44

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What are you excited about this Christmas season? What brings you joy this time of year? Maybe it’s watching your grandkids open their gifts. Perhaps, you are eager to celebrate with family and friends. Maybe, you enjoy curling up with some hot chocolate as you watch your favorite classic Christmas movies.

Then again, maybe you cannot wait for Christmas to be over. Perhaps some hurt or hardship is making all the Christmas cheer sound like nails on a chalkboard for you. Maybe a profound loss in your life has turned this time of year into a terrible reminder of what is no longer in your life. It could be that you would just as soon avoid the whole holiday season.

Whether you are ready to celebrate or just want the season to be over, there is one reason for true joy as we prepare to celebrate Christmas. The baby who was born to Mary was no ordinary baby. John leaped for joy because of what that baby would bring. Our Savior has come into this world and achieved for us what we could never do for ourselves. Jesus brings forgiveness and eternal salvation to all who believe in him. Jesus brings peace with God now and forever. Jesus being born into this world is proof that God keeps his promises. It is proof that God cares. Because Jesus came down to earth for you and me, we have a sure and certain future in a place without pain or sin, or loss of any kind.

God bless your celebration of our Savior’s birth this Christmas. May this time of year bring you true joy: the joy of knowing your sins are forgiven, and you are God’s child. And if you don’t feel much like celebrating, know that in Christ, you will be part of an eternal celebration in heaven.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for coming here to be my Savior. Help me always to find true joy in the blessings you bring. 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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Leaping for Joy – December 19, 2021

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.”
Luke 1:41-44

Leaping for Joy

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Daily Devotion – DATE

Devotion based on Luke 1:41-44

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The pressure of the holiday season can sometimes suck the joy out of us. Will everything get done on time—shopping, baking, decorating, and more? Will Uncle Ralph lose his temper at the family party? Will Cousin Betty’s nasty words bite deep? Will my kids embarrass me? And what if the unexpected happens? What if there’s an accident, sickness, or problems at work or school? What if those I’m counting on fall short? What if my hopes and expectations end with disappointment and misery?

Take a breath and remember whom we are meeting at the manger. Even before his birth, Jesus brought joy to those who knew him.

The angel Gabriel announced to Mary that even though she was a virgin, she would give birth to a child, the Son of the Most High. His name would be Jesus. After the angel left her, Mary hurried from Nazareth to Judea to visit her relative Elizabeth. As Mary greeted her, Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She knew the one who Mary carried in her womb, and Elizabeth’s unborn child also knew him. He leaped for joy.

Mary’s child is our Lord. Everything that distracts us from him accentuates how much we need him. Why do we feel empty? Because we’ve tried to fill our hearts with other things. And anything except Jesus leaves our hearts empty in the end.

But remember whom you are meeting. The one born of Mary and laid in the manger is your Savior, your Redeemer, your Lord. He lifts you up out of the depths of your guilt. He fills your empty, hungering heart with the good news of his forgiveness. Leap for joy, for you get to meet Jesus.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 19)
O Lord, how shall I meet you,
How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you,
My Hope, my heart’s Delight.

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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Christmas Joy Always – December 18, 2021

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.
Philippians 4:4,5

Christmas Joy Always

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Daily Devotion – December 18, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 4:4,5

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What a wonderful time of the year it truly is: bright, blinking Christmas lights, frosted Christmas cookies, Christmas parties, Christmas presents under the decorated Christmas trees! People seem to be much happier and joyful at Christmas time. Christmas shoppers at crowded shopping malls will smile at one another and say, “Merry Christmas” and “Happy holidays!”

But will this Christmas joy and happiness last beyond the holiday season? For most people, no, it won’t. When the Christmas lights are taken down, when the Christmas tree is hauled out to the curb, when the stale Christmas cookies are thrown away, happiness and joy will come to an end. The rat race of life will continue—same old, same old.

Friend, rejoice! Rejoice, always. The apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote these words. No matter what your circumstance in life is, rejoice. Why? How? Because Jesus Christ is your Savior from sin and eternal condemnation in hell. Rejoice because the Christmas gospel is for you, and it is all about you! The herald angel said on that first frosty Christmas Eve, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born for you. He is Christ the Lord.” Rejoice because the Lord is near. With each tick of the clock, we are one step closer to Jesus’ second and final coming to this earth. When Jesus comes again in all his glory and accompanied by his mighty angels, he will make all things new and put an end to all our troubles and sorrows.

May God grant you true Christmas joy; today and always!

Prayer:
Lord, I rejoice in the salvation you came to provide. 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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False Security – December 17, 2021

“Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’”
Luke 3:8

False Security

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Daily Devotion – December 17, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 3:8

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Between World War I and World War II, France created a sophisticated line of defense between itself and Germany. The Maginot Line was 280 miles long. It was an unbroken network of concrete bunkers, gun emplacements, and artillery forts. Everything about it was state-of-the-art. There was a telephone and wireless communications system. There was an underground railroad to transport troops. It contained comfortable barracks, mess halls, hospitals and even recreation areas.

One and a half million cubic meters of concrete went into the making of the Maginot Line. That, and 150 thousand tons of steel. Five hundred thousand personnel occupied the line at all times. This miracle of technology became the pride of France—so much so that her citizens saw little need for further vigilance.

Then came World War II. And to her shock, France watched as a modernized, fast-moving German army invaded her borders by finding a way to go around the Maginot Line. The sense of security France had possessed was false.

In Luke chapter 3, the purpose for John the Baptist’s ministry was to prepare hearts for the arrival of the Messiah, the Savior from sin. As he spoke, many of John’s listeners had a comfortable, Maginot Line sense of security. Many presumed that, because they were descendants of Abraham, the great Old Testament believer—they presumed they somehow had an automatic pass when it came to their own, personal sins. After all, why worry about your sin when your family connections already identify you as a good person?

You and I can fall into the same trap. Maybe I have fond memories of taking part in the church Christmas program as a child. Maybe I can tell funny stories about the pastor who taught me in catechism class. Maybe I can swap inside jokes about my church body with the best of them. But the moment I presume that somehow gives me a pass regarding the personal guilt of my sin—that’s the day my soul is lost.

No false security. Only Jesus. Only his perfect life on my behalf. Only his blood. Only in him will all be well.

Prayer:
No more false security, Lord Jesus. Give me a repentant heart. Move me to cling to you alone. 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 Guard – December 16, 2021

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:7

The Guard

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Daily Devotion – December 16, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 4:7

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Just outside Washington, DC, a guard is marching back and forth in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. To serve as a guard demands superb focus, discipline, and devotion to duty. A soldier first receives special training that is long, exacting, and difficult. The first phase of the training has a 60 percent fail rate. The second phase has 90 percent.

In addition, no one should ever make the mistake of presuming the guard on duty is not serious about protecting the dignity of the tomb. YouTube has several examples of what happens when an immature tourist decides to challenge the guard in some way. Every time, the results for the tourist are not pleasant.

Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, a guard is there. That elite sentinel is always watching, vigilant, and prepared to protect.

When the apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, he was writing to people who knew about military life. Many retired soldiers called Philippi home. Anyone who had served as a Roman soldier knew the profound seriousness of serving as a guard. Failure in such duty could mean your execution.

Paul, therefore, meant something when he promised the Philippian Christians that “the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” This peace, of which Paul spoke, was not some sentimental wish. Rather, it was a specific peace that Christ Jesus had conquered for them on their behalf. He had conquered it for them through the sinless life he had lived in their place. He had conquered it for them through his suffering and death for their every sin. And now, because Jesus lived, the peace of God they possessed would guard their hearts and minds. Through the troubles and griefs of a broken world, the peace of God would be on duty, always watching, always vigilant, always prepared to protect.

In those moments in our lives when the storms are fierce, when the stress is great, when our weakness is clear, the peace of God is on duty. It’s right by our side, just as Jesus is.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, your peace stands guard over me always. 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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The Enemy of Grief – December 15, 2021

“Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”
Nehemiah 8:10

The Enemy of Grief

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Daily Devotion – December 15, 2021

Devotion based on Nehemiah 8:10

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Not long ago, a journalist by the name of Amy Paturel was driving to see her father. He was dying and did not have long to live. She stopped to gas up her car. She then promptly got back into her car and drove off—only to discover, too late, she had left the nozzle in her tank.

A neurologist by the name of Lisa Schulman describes a similar experience. Several months after her husband’s death, Lisa was running a simple errand but somehow got lost. In that moment, she could not remember where she was or how she got there. She had to use the GPS on her phone to find her way home.

Such is the power of grief.

Researchers have discovered that grief can have the same impact on the brain as blunt force trauma. Signals between your left and right hemisphere take unexpected routes. Your body releases a cocktail of chemicals that affects how you process information. In addition, the journey of grief has no shortcuts. As someone has said, “Grief is a desert that must be crossed on foot.”

Profound grief is, perhaps, one of the strongest reminders we have that you and I live in a shattered world; a world shattered by sin—yours and mine.

When God the Son entered our time and space, he experienced our grief first-hand. “Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows,” Isaiah chapter 53 proclaims. But his whole purpose for stepping into our grief-stricken world was to see to it that grief would not have the last word. In our place, he lived a life of perfect holiness. As our substitute, he marched to the cross and paid our debt of sin in full. Then, to demonstrate his victory, he rose from death.

Does this mean that you and I will never experience grief? No, it does not. However, it does mean that as bitter as our tears of grief may be, such tears are temporary. We will taste them in this life alone. But the tears of joy are eternal. Because Jesus lives, the tears of joy we will taste forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, remind me that my tears of grief are temporary, and my tears of joy are eternal. 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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Body Language – December 14, 2021

“Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp. The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.”
Zephaniah 3:16,17

Body Language

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Daily Devotion – December 14, 2021

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:16,17

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One of the greatest speeches in all of Shakespeare is the “Band of Brothers” speech from Henry V. The play is based on actual events.

Here’s the scene. It is the night before the English must wage a great battle with the French. The English Army is exhausted, hungry, and sick. The French Army is healthy, well-rested, and well-fed. In addition, the French outnumber the English by four-to-one. The body language in the English forces is clear. Their heads are down. Their shoulders slouch. Their hands are limp in despair.

But then along comes their mighty warrior-king, Henry V. To his men, he delivers such a rousing speech that, by the end, their body language has changed. Their heads are up. And their hands are no longer limp in despair. Rather, they raise their hands high. They are ready to fight the good fight. The next day, victory is theirs.

In Zephaniah chapter 3, the Word of God is speaking to the Lord’s people to a moment when their hands are hanging limp in despair. Do you ever feel that way—so haunted by your regrets that your hands feel limp, so troubled by things you cannot take back that you are dazed and paralyzed about the future?

“Do not fear, O Zion; do not let your hands hang limp,” God’s Word says. Then he tells us why. “The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save.” God has come. God the Son has arrived in the person of Jesus Christ. He has defeated the forces of evil on our behalf. He has lived a life of perfect goodness in our place. He has canceled the guilt of our sin through his suffering and death on the cross.

And now he lives. Through faith in him, you and I stand forgiven. We are his, and he is our King. He stands by our side. He is mighty to save. For this reason, we can move forward. We can fight the good fight of the faith. For in Jesus, the King, all is well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, you are my King. You are by my side. Move me to march forward 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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Liberation – December 13, 2021

The LORD . . . has turned back your enemy. The LORD, the King of Israel, is with you; never again will you fear any harm.
Zephaniah 3:15

Liberation

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Daily Devotion – December 13, 2021

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:15

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It is August 25, 1944. An AP correspondent by the name of Don Whitehead has been traveling with Allied forces as they slowly drive the Nazis out of France. Now the Allies are on the outskirts of Paris. For four terrible years, the residents of Paris have been under the boot of Hitler’s tyranny. Today, however, the tyranny is over. The enemy has fled. Paris is free.

Later that day, Whitehead reports what he saw. “[W]hen the last enemy resistance crumbled…[Paris] went mad—wildly, violently mad—with happiness. All the emotions suppressed by four years of [Nazi] domination surged through the people. The streets of the city, as we entered, were like a combined Mardi Gras, Fourth of July celebration, American Legion convention and New Year’s Eve in Times Square all packed into one.”

Another reporter, who is there later writes, “[We] drove into Paris with eyes that would not stay dry, and we were no more ashamed of it than were the people who wept as they embraced us.”

That day in Paris came to be known as Liberation Day. Throughout Paris that day, there was a titanic explosion of tears, laughter, relief, and joy. Those who were there would remember it for the rest of their lives.

By nature, you and I were under the boot of an enemy as well. It was the tyranny of our own sin. There we were trapped, enslaved, imprisoned, chained hand and foot to the curse of our own impulses and rebellious desires. Left to ourselves, we would have died alone, lost, forever separated from God.

But Jesus came. The Son of God became one of us. On our behalf, he lived a life of perfect goodness. In our place, he suffered and died for our every sin. Then he rose. Through his work in our place, Jesus has turned our enemy away. Instead of fear, there is now joy. Instead of anxiety, there is now thankfulness and relief. Instead of despair, there is now a sure and living hope.

But unlike Liberation Day in Paris, our joy does not fade. In Christ, the joy of our Liberation Day lasts forever.

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord Jesus. You have set me free. 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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Singing Over You – December 12, 2021

“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17

Singing Over You

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Daily Devotion – December 12, 2021

Devotion based on Zephaniah 3:17

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When my family brought home our Christmas tree this year, something spontaneous and special happened. As our three oldest children began to decorate, each child also began to sing their own Christmas song to themselves. One was humming, “Away in a manger, no crib for a bed…” Another was singing, “Red is the color of the blood that flowed down the face of someone who loved us…” The little one was making up her own tune about ornaments and Jesus and lights. Each precious heart was lost in its own little world, singing quietly, decorating joyfully. For once, there was actually no arguing or fighting!

And two smiling parents were drinking it all in.

Little Christians singing joyfully to themselves is a precious picture. Did you know that the Bible paints a similar picture of God’s thoughts towards you? The prophet Zephaniah records, “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.”

It’s true! The Lord has taken great delight in you. Don’t be mistaken—this Lord is no pushover. He is mighty, and he held every right to come to earth as a pulverizing conqueror. But instead, he came as a baby. He came not to conquer but to rescue! He came not to punish but for peace! He will quiet your conscience with his full and free forgiveness, even for the sins you’re ashamed to remember. He will rejoice over you with his singing. The Savior’s heart is lost in his deep concern for you, gazing at you, beaming inside, singing because of you.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for taking great delight in me, so much that you were willing to lay down your very own life for me. Quiet my soul as I drink in your promises and give me courage as I picture you singing over me and remember that you are with me 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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Filled With Fruit – December 11, 2021

Be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:11

Filled With Fruit

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Daily Devotion – December 11, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 1:11

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When I was in college, one of my roommates liked to eat at an all-you-can-eat buffet. One night he took that all-you-can-eat part as a challenge. He loaded up on mashed potatoes and gravy to the point of being so uncomfortable that someone else had driven home.

God tells us to stuff ourselves, but not with food for our stomachs nor with all kinds of things to satisfy our heart’s desires. We are to be filled with the fruit of righteousness.

Righteousness is the reason for which Jesus, the Son of God, was born and lived here on earth. For us to live with God forever, we need to be absolutely perfect. God requires us to be righteous. But none of us, no matter how good we try to be, can live up to God’s perfect standard. That’s why the birth of Jesus that we celebrate at Christmas is so important. In love for you, Jesus took on our human nature and lived a perfect, sinless life. The peace that Christmas brings us is the assurance that our relationship with God is restored. By grace, God credits us with the perfection of Jesus! We are righteous in God’s eyes through Jesus.

God’s Word says, “Be filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ.” Fill your life with words and actions that demonstrate how thankful you are to Jesus for all he has done for you. Just like those thank-you notes that will soon be written for the Christmas gifts you receive, your life is a living thank-you to the Savior for the greatest gift you could ever receive. Demonstrate your love for Jesus with many acts of kindness and generosity towards people and with words overflowing with care and encouragement for others.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit so that this day I am filled with fruits of righteousness that 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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In With the New – December 10, 2021

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.
Philippians 1:9-11

In With the New

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Daily Devotion – December 10, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 1:9-11

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Some educators have said that the key to adult learning is “unlearning.” All too often, learning a new skill is made more difficult later in life because of one’s previous experience. Then it becomes necessary to first unlearn earlier habits and practices in order to make room for the new.

When the Lord calls us sinners to repentance, he demands that we turn away from the sinful attitudes and behaviors that had separated us from him. His law shows us the disastrous end of our disobedience and convinces us that the path we were on only leads to death. The Lord’s goal is not our eternal humiliation but that in humble faith, we might turn to him and live. He points us to Christ Jesus, his Son, whose sacrifice canceled our debt and whose righteousness is credited as our own.

Where once there was nothing but barren, unfertile ground, now a bountiful garden grows. Our hearts have been nourished by the love of God, in Christ. They have been watered by his promises of free forgiveness, and a new and holy life has begun in us as a result. The Holy Spirit continues to cultivate these new attitudes through the Word so that they might produce “the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.”

Prayer:
Lord, you have come to me with your Word to bring me to repentance. Turn my heart away from sin and everything that would turn me away from you. Replace my selfish habits with new attitudes of selflessness, love, and compassion for others. Let Christ’s love for all inspire me to live for him and others, so that my whole life may 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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Seeing It Through to the End – December 9, 2021

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.
Philippians 1:3-6

Seeing It Through to the End

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Daily Devotion – December 9, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 1:3-6

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Pastor Ron was blessed to serve all 46 years of his ministry in one congregation. He had walked alongside at least two generations of believers during the various stages of their lives. For several members of the church, Pastor Ron was the only pastor they had had from their baptism to their burial. As sad as those funerals were, they also gave the pastor a source of joy. Another soul bought by the blood of Christ had been led safely to their heavenly home.

It doesn’t always happen that a Christian is served by the same pastor their entire lives. More often, the Lord provides a series of spiritual shepherds to accompany you through the ups and downs of your walk with Christ. The most important thing, of course, is to recognize that it is God himself who is guiding you through his messengers. He is the one who called you to repentance and worked the miracle of faith in your heart through baptism. He is the one who blew on the sputtering embers of your faith and caused it to grow as you learned about him in Sunday School and catechism classes. He is the one who continues to send people into your life to bring you back to him when you start to stray. And God is also the one who will give you the strength to remain in that humble yet confident faith until the end.

Prayer:
Lord God, I thank you for all the pastors, teachers, and others you have sent into my life to bring me to faith and to keep me close to you. Above all, I thank you for sending your Son, Jesus. He saw my salvation through to completion, coming to this world as a servant, dying on the cross as my substitute, and rising to life as my Savior. I trust that you will keep me close to him in faith until the day that I see him with my own eyes. 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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Preparing the Way – December 8, 2021

In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar—when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, Herod tetrarch of Galilee, his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and Traconitis, and Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene—during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Luke 3:1-6

Preparing the Way

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Daily Devotion – December 8, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 3:1-6

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Today’s Bible passage begins with a list of some powerful individuals: emperors, governors, kings, and high priests. The author wanted to pinpoint for us the time in history when the ministry of John the Baptist started. The incidents in the life of Jesus that Luke would go on to describe were verifiable historical events. But as influential as these rulers were in their day, someone far more important was about to arrive on the scene.

When VIPs travel, they want to ensure that everything is ready for their arrival in advance. Messengers and assistants are sent ahead to make necessary arrangements, looking to maximize the impact of the dignitary’s visit. If this is true in the case of mortal men, how much more appropriate this preparation was when the Son of God himself was due to arrive!

In truth, nothing we can do would ever be enough to prepare to meet this King of kings, Jesus Christ. We cannot successfully rid our hearts of hatred, greed, and the mountain of other sinful attitudes that are repugnant to the holy God. But God himself prepares us to receive him. He works the change of repentance in our hearts through the preaching of his law and gospel. Do you want to be ready to celebrate Christmas this year? Plant yourself at the feet of those who prepare his way through clear gospel preaching.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for sending messengers to prepare my heart for your coming. 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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Return to the Lord – December 7, 2021

“So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty. “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
Malachi 3:5-7

Return to the Lord

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Daily Devotion – December 7, 2021

Devotion based on Malachi 3:5-7

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Due to the forces of nature and the erosion of time, the face of the quickly evolving planet we live on is much different today than when God first created it. Human empires also rise to power only to fall back into the dust of history over time. As individuals, we are even more fickle and subject to change—sometimes, the entire course of our lives can turn on a dime with one rash decision. Unlike his creation, however, God is eternal and unchanging.

For one thing, this means that God’s perspective on right and wrong does not “evolve” over time—nor does it need to. He was already perfectly holy and immeasurably loving from all of eternity. The One who will judge all nations has revealed to us his divine law, which is his unchanging will for the lives for all people of all times. Meanwhile, our sinful and impulsive human hearts try to justify our faithless disobedience by claiming that times have changed. Some, for example, attempt to redefine adultery as not hurting anyone, an “old-fashioned” idea. Others don’t even offer an excuse as they trample others in their never-ending quest for self-satisfaction. But the LORD Almighty says, “I will come near to you for judgment.”

Fortunately, God’s changelessness means that his mercy and compassion are also eternal. His promises to forgive all who repent are as valid today as they were when he first spoke to them. For the sake of his Son Jesus Christ, God still offers grace to us today. “Return to me, and I will return to you,” he says. Today, as you hear his invitation, turn to God in repentance and trust in his unending love.

Prayer:
Lord God, turn my fickle heart away from sin and towards your Son. 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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Endure His Coming – December 6, 2021

“Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?
Malachi 3:1,2

Endure His Coming

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Daily Devotion – December 6, 2021

Devotion based on Malachi 3:1,2

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Nine-year-old Emma was pleased with herself. She was the first in her class to finish the assignment, and now the teacher was walking around the room checking everyone’s work. Just one more row of desks and the teacher would look down on Emma’s paper with a smile and hand her a big sticker. But wait! Emma suddenly realized she had missed an important part of the instructions. No wonder she finished before everyone else! With the teacher now only two desks away, Emma had a terrible sinking feeling in her stomach.

God’s people had been waiting and praying for the Lord to send the promised Messiah for hundreds of years. They longed for his arrival and were confident that his coming would bring many blessings. Then God sent the prophet Malachi with this message: “Yes, the one you are hoping for is coming soon. But are you ready?” The prophet pointed out many ways in which God’s people and their leaders had been disobedient. And it wasn’t just that they had heard God’s instructions wrong—they had willfully chosen to follow their own sinful desires. They were not as ready as they thought for the coming of God’s holy Son.

Does the Christmas season bring a knot to your stomach? Perhaps you become stressed at the thought of all the work that needs to be done before the holidays. Maybe you are anxious about upcoming family gatherings for any number of reasons. But what about the fact that the holy God himself has come to earth and will return one day in judgment! This fact need not fill you with terror. Although we have been just as disobedient as those before us, Jesus Christ, the righteous Son of God, came to make us right before God. He calls us to repent and believe the good news that in him, all our sins have been forgiven. We can stand before God’s throne confident that our Savior Jesus has come to make us clean.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, make me ready to welcome you with a humble but joyful heart. 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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Making a Good Memory – December 5, 2021

I thank my God every time I remember you.
Philippians 1:3

Making a Good Memory

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Daily Devotion – December 5, 2021

Devotion based on Philippians 1:3

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In the movie screen of your mind, picture this: You see a pair of sandaled feet walking inside of a house. The walking that you see is a restless pacing. The feet stand at one window. They cross the floor to another window and sigh. Then the feet cross the floor again. These feet belong to the apostle Paul. He’s in Rome and living in a rented house. But here’s the problem: He can’t leave. There’s a Roman guard in the room there with him. Paul is under house arrest, awaiting trial to face accusations from people who do not like what he’s preaching. And he’s not simply stuck there for a week or two. He’s there for years.

But the Lord sustains him. One of the ways the Lord sustains him is through the happy memories Paul has of his fellow believers. Paul cherishes these memories so much that he even tells the Christian congregation in Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”

Based on what Jesus Christ has done on your behalf at the cross, God has purged from his mind every memory of your sin. Instead, there are only happy memories of your fruits of faith; fruits of faith that are big or small, carefully planned or impulsive, long or short, complex or simple.

One of those fruits of faith can be this: Making a good memory for someone else.

In the weeks leading up to Christmas, give some thought to doing that. Maybe you could pick up the phone and thank someone for the kindness that really made an impression on you. Maybe you could tell a fellow Christian with chronic pain how their patient example inspires you. Or perhaps you’re just the person to give someone a hearty, much-needed laugh.

Whatever you do, do it to God’s glory. And don’t underestimate the power of a good memory. Look what it did for Paul.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for washing me clean in Jesus’ blood and remembering only my fruits of faith. Help me to touch others with good memories of Christian love. 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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