Let’s get ready for peace – December 5, 2022

Read: Isaiah 11:1-10

The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling together;
and a little child will lead them.

The cow will feed with the bear,
their young will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like the ox.

The infant will play near the cobra’s den,
and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
Isaiah 11:6-10

Let’s get ready for peace

Family Devotion – December 5, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 11:6-10

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When you heard Isaiah’s words, did you smile a bit? A wolf and a lamb living side by side? A lion eating straw? That’s not the way it really works! Put straw in front of a lion and he won’t touch it. Put a lamb in a cage with a wolf, and you’ll just have a well-fed wolf. Cows and bears, leopards and goats can’t get along. They’re natural enemies!

Actually, they aren’t. When God created the world, it was a perfect place. There was no fighting, no animals eating each other, no death. Sin changed all of that. Now we live in a world where wolves want to eat lambs and a child who puts his hand into a viper’s nest is going to be taking a trip to the hospital. We’re so used to sin, it’s hard for us to picture a world that isn’t like that.

That’s why God gives us these pictures. To help us understand that Jesus brings peace to the world. He uses these pictures that seem so strange to make this point: Jesus will bring peace, even where it seems impossible.

And he tells us where to find it: on his “holy mountain.” That’s a picture God uses for his church. When you and I hold to God’s Word, he brings us peace. It doesn’t always feel like it—sometimes we still hurt each other. We do something completely unnatural: we sin against people God created us to love. That will always be the case this side of heaven. But the more we’re filled with the knowledge of the Lord—as we go back to his Word for forgiveness and guidance—he’ll help us forgive those hurts, even in people that feel like our enemies. That’s the peace Jesus brings to us. And then one day, he’ll bring us to himself in heaven, where there will be no more sin or pain again.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, there are some problems in my life that I can’t imagine ever getting better. It seems as impossible as picturing a wolf and a lamb lying down together. As we listen to your Word, teach us about the peace that Jesus brings. Help us confess our sins to each other and forgive each other. Help us share our faith so that other people find your peace too, until you bring us to perfect peace in heaven. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What was your favorite animal picture from today’s Bible reading?
  • What is so strange about a lion eating straw?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Are these images “literal” (talking about real wolves living with real lambs) or “symbolic” (trying to help us picture peace)?
  • What, at the end of our reading, is bringing such great peace to the world?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How can you help spread God’s peace?
  • When we look at the world, we don’t see peace like Isaiah pictured. Does that mean God failed? Why or why not?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 King comes in gentleness – December 2, 2022

Read: Matthew 21:1-11

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
Matthew 21:1-5

Our King comes in gentleness

Family Devotion – December 2, 2022

Devotion based on Matthew 21:1-5

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

The president of the United States rides in a limousine nicknamed “the Beast.” It’s a fitting name! His car has armor plating and bullet-proof glass; it carries weapons and rides on tires that can’t go flat. When you see a car like that coming down the street, you know a powerful leader is coming.

When Jesus entered Jerusalem to die for our sins, he wasn’t riding anything like that. He wasn’t in a chariot or riding a powerful horse. He was riding on a small, young donkey. But he was coming to be a King.

There were at least two reasons why Jesus rode a donkey. Hundreds of years before this, God made a prophecy—a promise!—through one of his prophets: When God’s true King came to his people he’d be riding on a young donkey. God said, “When you see this sign, pay attention. You’ll know I’m keeping my promise.”

And riding a donkey showed what Jesus was like. You wouldn’t ride a donkey out into war. Donkeys were lowly and humble. Gentle. Jesus wasn’t coming to attack people; he was coming as a gentle King who would lay down his life for his people.

Jesus still comes to us today. We’ll celebrate Christmas soon and rejoice in the miracle of God coming as a baby. But there’s a miracle taking place, even right now. God comes to us in his Word. He promises he’s speaking to us through the Bible. So are you reading the Bible tonight? Are you going to church soon? Then, pay attention! God’s keeping his promise to you.

And it shows what God is like, too. He doesn’t come to us in a thunderstorm or an earthquake, but in words that help us see our sin and promise us salvation. He doesn’t want to scare us; he speaks gently because he wants us to know him. That’s the kind of King you have.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, when you entered Jerusalem on a donkey, you came exactly the way you promised, but so many people didn’t recognize you. You promise to come to us in your Word. As we read it tonight, as we worship you on Christmas Eve, help us to recognize you and receive you as our gentle and loving King. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What kind of animal did Jesus ride into Jerusalem?
  • What did that show about what Jesus was like?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did Jesus riding on a donkey actually show that he had complete control over what was happening?
  • Jesus is described as “gentle.” How else in the Bible do you see Jesus’ gentleness?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Jesus entered Jerusalem in this way as he was getting ready to die. Explain how his “gentleness” wasn’t the same as “weakness.”
  • List as many ways as you can that this reading shows us that Jesus is a powerful king and a loving king.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 King can turn worry to joy – November 30, 2022

Read: Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Our King can turn worry to joy

Family Devotion – November 30, 2022

Devotion based on Philippians 4:4-7

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A preacher came to a new church. Everyone liked his first sermon. He preached it again the second Sunday. And the next Sunday! An elder asked him why he kept preaching the same sermon. He replied, “None of you were doing what I said the first time, so I needed to tell you again!!”

Paul repeats himself in our reading: Rejoice! Rejoice! But it’s not to get us to do more. He wants us to worry less. Maybe you think, “Yeah, that’s easy for you to say, Paul! If you lived my life, you’d worry a lot, too!” But did you know Paul was in prison when he wrote this? Paul had reasons to worry.

Here’s a lie that most of us believe: We can’t do anything to stop worrying. It’s just the way we feel. But Paul tells us there’s a lot we can do to change how we feel.

First, you can be gentle to others. You have control over your words and actions. If you treat people with kindness, it will help calm your own heart.

Second, remember that the Lord is near. Paul didn’t mean that Jesus was close to us (even though that’s true!). He meant that Jesus was coming back soon. Whatever problem you have, you won’t face it forever and you’ll never face it alone.

Third, pray. Cast your cares on the Lord. He’s listening, and he can help.

Fourth, give thanks. When you take time to thank God as you bring him your prayers, you’ll find reminders that he really is in control and is giving you so many blessings.

Those are things you can do that will help with your worrying, but maybe you noticed something. As you do these things, God is really the one doing the important work. He’ll give you peace that you can’t even understand. Your King Jesus will be turning your worry into joy.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, sometimes I think I worry because I can’t control the things in my life. But the real reason I worry is because I forget that you’re the one controlling them all in love for me. As I show your love to others and remember your love for me, as I bring you my fears and give you thanks for your kindness, bless me with peace, even when I don’t understand how it will all work out. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Right after Paul tells us to rejoice, what does he tell us to do?
  • Why does Paul say we can always rejoice?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Describe something in your life that makes you feel anxious.
  • If there’s something you’re worried about, what can you do?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Instead of worrying, Paul tells us to give thanks to God. How does giving thanks to God actually help stop us from worrying?
  • What do you think it means that God’s peace “guards our minds”?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 King can turn tanks into tractors – November 28, 2022

Read: Isaiah 2:1-5

[The Lord] will judge between the nations
and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
nor will they train for war anymore.
Come, descendants of Jacob,
let us walk in the light of the Lord.
Isaiah 2:4,5

Our King can turn tanks into tractors

Family Devotion – November 28, 2022

Devotion based on Isaiah 2:4,5

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We’ve all seen swords in movies and TV shows. Swords were weapons of war used to hurt or kill your enemy. We don’t see plowshares as often. Plowshares were a tool used on farms. They were wedges of metal that oxen would pull through a field to break up the dirt so the farmer could plant his crop. Plowshares were used in peace.

So do you understand Isaiah’s picture? God would bring so much peace that people would turn their swords into plowshares. They wouldn’t have use for weapons anymore, so things that were created to kill could instead be tools used to grow food. Today, it would be like saying that God would turn tanks into tractors or use machine guns to spray water out onto the fields to irrigate the crops. That’s all a way of saying that when the Savior came, he would stop our fighting and give us peace with each other.

That’s one of the things Jesus does as he takes away our sins. When we hear his Word and believe it, he leads us to apologize when we argue with or war against one another. He gives us the ability to forgive each other. That’s part of what it means to walk in the light of the Lord: we can be honest about the way we hurt each other, and we can remind each other that Jesus has died for those sins. We’ll never do that perfectly on this side of heaven, but every time we do, we beat our swords into plowshares and get a little bit more of the peace God describes. Husbands and wives can love each other; brothers and sisters can forgive each other. God can fix the broken relationship with your friend.

Can you picture that peace? Sometimes it seems impossible to think that a big problem can be healed! Maybe it seems as impossible as someone using a tank to plow their field or a machine gun to water it. But that’s what your King can do!

Closing Prayer:

Dear King Jesus, you know the problems in my life. You know the people that I’m angry at or feel hurt by, and you know the things I’ve done that have hurt others. Use the light of your Word to help me be honest about those sins. And when we confess our sins to each other and tell each other of your forgiveness, bless us with real peace. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What’s a plowshare?
  • Isaiah describes God as a judge. Why do you think he’d be a good judge?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is “war” a symbol of the pain and trouble that sin brings into the world?
  • Isaiah describes God bringing peace like someone turning swords into farming equipment. Come up with your own picture of God turning something dangerous into something helpful.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Give an example of a time “walking in the light of the Lord” helped you find peace with someone you were angry at.
  • Do you think this passage is promising a time where there will be world peace? Why or why not?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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How Do You Say “Thank You”? – November 25, 2022

Read: Luke 19:1-10

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord, I am going to give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone out of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” Jesus said to him, “Today, salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Luke 19:8-10

How Do You Say “Thank You”?

Family Devotion – November 25, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 19:8-10

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“So, what do you say?” Millie had just received a piece of candy from the friendly man behind the counter. She was so surprised to receive the sweet treat that she forgot to thank the kind man at the store. Once she heard Mom’s reminder, she blurted out, “Thank you!”

Do you ever forget to say thank you? We all have. Sometimes we don’t pay attention. Sometimes we simply forget, but every day God gives us lots of reasons to say thank you. Thank you for smiling at me. Thank you for preparing a tasty meal. Thank you for helping me with my homework. Thank you for keeping me safe. Thank you for teaching me about math, when I struggle with it. Thank you for telling me about Jesus. Thank you for giving me a hug.

So how do you say, “Thank you”? Sometimes, just saying “Thank you” is enough. But other times, we say thank you with our actions. Maybe you write a thank you note. Maybe you give a gift. Maybe you help the person who helped you. Maybe you pay it forward. That means you show kindness because someone showed you kindness. In fact, Christians have paid it forward for centuries. Why? We’ve been shown the greatest kindness of all!

God’s Word today tells us about a man named Zacchaeus. He was known for being cruel rather than kind. He was a dishonest tax collector and made people’s lives miserable. Nobody liked him. Everyone avoided him, except… Jesus. As Jesus was traveling through his city, Zacchaeus had trouble seeing over the crowd, so he climbed a tree. There Jesus found him. Imagine that! Jesus—God himself and the Savior of all on his way to the cross for our sins—looked up and found Zacchaeus. Jesus cared deeply for that lost, sinful man. Zacchaeus wanted to say thank you for God’s undeserved love with actions. So he paid back everyone he cheated and gave more to help the poor.

Jesus loves you just as much as he loved Zacchaeus. He knows what’s going on in your life. Yes, he knows when you are cruel and dishonest, but he cares deeply about you. He came to save you. He sacrificed himself for you, so you could be his holy child forever. So how will you say thank you? With words? With action? How about with an entire life devoted to giving thanks to God for his gracious love to you? May God grant it!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you are the Savior of sinners. Thank you for saving me too. Let my entire life be filled with thanksgiving for your amazing grace. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name three things you can thank Jesus for today.
  • What caused Zacchaeus to thank Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Recall the last time you said thank you to someone. What made it easy or hard to do?
  • Name two or three ways you can “pay forward” to others the love Jesus showed to you.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • It’s easy to forget to say thank you to people and God. What Bible passage can help you remember to say thank you for all God’s gifts? (e.g.: Psalm 136:1)
  • Jesus said, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” How does knowing that fact about Jesus help you take action and share his love with others?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Where Do Gifts Come From? – November 23, 2022

Read: James 1:16-18

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Where Do Gifts Come From?

Family Devotion – November 23, 2022

Devotion based on James 1:17

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, we’re entering that time of year when one thought is on the minds of many people—gifts! The countdown until Christmas will begin almost before the leftovers find a place in the fridge. People will start looking for sales to get that special gift for that special someone in their life. Wish lists will go out to parents, grandparents, and other family and friends. Busy shoppers will fill stores and malls or go searching online.

There will soon be so much focus on gifts that we can forget about the giver of all those gifts. We can forget where every gift we receive comes from. Gifts come from family, friends, neighbors, classmates, even kind strangers, but who gives them the ability to give those gifts? Who gives them the desire to give those gifts? Who gives you all the gifts and blessings you need to live your life—not just those gifts beautifully wrapped for birthdays or Christmas?

In God’s Word, James tells us that “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights.” Where do gifts come from? From God, our heavenly Father. He loves us deeply. He cares for each and every one of us more than we can possibly imagine. What’s behind every good act of giving from someone who cares about us? Our heavenly Father. What does every perfect gift that provides what we need prove? That our heavenly Father is behind it. Where does every blessing come from in our lives? It comes from our heavenly Father. That includes everything we need to live our lives—clothing, food, home, school, church, friends, family, and so much more.

In fact, our heavenly Father is the source of the greatest gift that we and all people have received—the gift of a Savior from sin and death. While we will hear much more about this at Christmas when we celebrate his birth, Jesus is God’s greatest gift to us. Jesus gives us forgiveness, peace, help, and hope. Jesus gives us strength for our lives now and life eternal with him in heaven. Isn’t that amazing?! It proves that God is behind every good and perfect gift. He is the source, the giver who knows what we need most and best all throughout our lives. Before we go searching for gifts to give or get, let’s give thanks to God for giving us his amazing grace!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, you are the source of every good and perfect gift. Open our eyes to see your love for us behind the kindness of others and behind every perfect gift we receive. Guide us to give thanks to you every day for every gift we receive from your gracious hand. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why do you get so excited about getting a gift?
  • Name two gifts that God gives to you.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain this statement: Every good and perfect gift is from above.
  • Name two ways that God can bless other people in your life through you.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Compare and contrast our typical “me, my, mine” attitude about gifts with God’s attitude about gifts in today’s devotion.
  • Explain how knowing that God is the source of every gift can actually make you more thankful for every gift you receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Blessed Are Those Who Are Ready – November 21, 2022

Read: Luke 12:35-40

“Be dressed, ready for service, and keep your lamps burning. Be like people waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. Blessed are those servants, whom the master will find watching when he comes… You also be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you are not expecting him.”
Luke 12:35-37a,40 (EHV)

Blessed Are Those Who Are Ready

Family Devotion – November 21, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 12:35-37a,40 (EHV)

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Are you ready yet? Grandma and Grandpa will be here any minute!” The house was a beehive of activity. Why? Grandma and Grandpa were coming over for Thanksgiving dinner. Kids hurried to clean their rooms. Toys needed to be picked up. Beds needed to be made. Teens and parents helped elsewhere around the house. A tasty turkey and a variety of yummy dishes and desserts were being prepared in the kitchen. A vacuum cleaner whirred away in the living room, while bathrooms were made sparkling clean.

Yet all this activity had to wrap up soon, because Grandma and Grandpa were going to arrive at any moment. “They’re pulling into the driveway!” In a matter of moments, the cleaning stopped. Grandma and Grandpa were standing at the door. “Happy Thanksgiving!”

Why do we work so hard to get ready? We don’t always do that. Is your room clean right now? Did your family prepare a feast for last night’s dinner? Maybe. Maybe not, so why work so hard to get ready? We work hard to get ready because someone special is coming. We want our rooms to look nice, our homes to be welcoming, and our meals to be tasty. When we do, all that effort often makes our time with our special guest all the more special.

In his Word, Jesus encourages us to be ready. Ready for what? Jesus wants us to be ready for his return, when he will come back to judge the living and the dead. Jesus even promises that we will be blessed if we are ready for his return, but are we ready now?

When Jesus returned to heaven, he promised that he would come back soon. Two thousand years have passed. We don’t know when he’s coming back, but he could return today, tomorrow, or another 2,000 years from now. So how can we stay ready? Jesus provided a way for us in his holy Word. When we hear it, ready it, study it, and trust what God promises in that Word, we get our hearts and heads ready for his return. That Word tells us how Jesus kept every one of his promises for us, which means he will keep that promise to come back and bring us home to heaven. What a blessing! So with that Word, let’s get ready because Jesus will be here soon!

Closing Prayer:

O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but come back to us quickly. Help us to wait patiently and be ever ready for your return. Come soon, Lord Jesus, and bring us home to heaven! Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name someone so special that it is hard to wait for their arrival.
  • What makes it hard to wait for someone special to arrive?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What makes it hard to stay ready for Jesus to return?
  • Why does Jesus want us to be ready?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: Getting ready for Jesus’s return is easy. Explain your answer.
  • Identify two ways that God’s Word can help you get ready for the return of your Savior.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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It’s the End of the World… And I Win – November 18, 2022

Read: Luke 21:5-19

Everyone will hate you because of me. But not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.
Luke 21:17-19

It’s the End of the World… And I Win

Family Devotion – November 18, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 21:17-19

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What does it take to be a winner? When you play a video or board game, you try to make all the right moves so you can win. When you play a sport, you practice a lot because you want to win the game.

What does it take to win as a child of God?

In our reading from God’s Word, Jesus paints for us what seems like a “no-win” situation—a something that’s impossible to win. He describes a world like our world today—a world where there will be wars that ruin nations; people who teach lies instead of telling the truth; natural disasters and terrible sicknesses that take lives; and many other frightening things. Jesus promises that all of these things will happen in the years before he returns.

If things aren’t tough enough for followers of Jesus, Jesus then adds, “Everyone will hate you because of me.” As people drift away from Jesus, they will not want to hear what God says in his Word. They may even hate Christians for what we believe. Some people will be thrown in jail and put on trial just for following Jesus. Some may even lose their lives for him. That’s frightening. Does that makes you wonder if following Jesus is a “no-win” situation?

Listen to what Jesus promised: “Not a hair of your head will perish. Stand firm, and you will win life.” After describing the ways we could lose as children of God, Jesus guarantees victory for us. As followers of Jesus, we will win because Jesus has already won the victory for us. Jesus has already defeated the sinful world. He has already crushed the power of the devil. He has already conquered death—and given us the victory.

We win! So stand firm until Jesus comes back. Hold on to him no matter how tough life gets. We do that by spending time with him in his Word. There he promises to be with us, protect us, love us, and give us his peace. He also promises to come back and give us the eternal victory of heaven.

So stand firm. Victory is already ours in Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, as time goes on, it gets harder to be a Christian. By faith, help us to stand firm and hold on to you until you return. Come quickly, Lord. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What makes it fun to win?
  • What does Jesus want us to do until he comes back?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why can it seem like following Jesus is a “no-win” situation?
  • What did Jesus mean when he said, “Not a hair of your head will perish”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How can knowing that Jesus has already won the victory help you when life seems tough?
  • Identify two or three specific ways you can prepare to stand firm when it’s hard to be a Christian.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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It’s the End of the World… And I’m Safe – November 16, 2022

Read: 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels… on the day he comes to be glorified among his saints and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:6,7,10

It’s the End of the World… And I’m Safe

Family Devotion – November 16, 2022

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:6,7,10

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jake ran as fast as his little legs could take him. Some kids had teased him and started chasing him. He knew where he had to go to be safe, where those kids wouldn’t tease him anymore. Jake ran to his dad. Jake’s dad was a big man, bigger than the big kids. Jake even thought he was bigger than all their dads too. So he ran until he found his dad, who scooped him up in his arms high above the other kids. “What’s wrong, Jake?” his father asked. “The big kids were teasing me.” “Don’t worry. You’re safe here with me.”

Where do you run when you feel scared? Every one of us, kids and adults, needs to feel safe. When we get scared, we run to a parent or teacher, to family or friends, or even to hug a family pet or a favorite stuffed animal. While we can get scared because of nightmares or darkness, storms or monsters, sometimes those who scare us most are other people. Maybe they tease us and they’re not trying to be funny. Maybe they’re unkind and hurtful. Maybe they bully us. Maybe they look down on us. Maybe they even make fun of us for following Jesus.

People can be scary, but God makes a promise to us in his Word. He is just. It means he will make all things right. God knows what’s going on in our lives and he promises to “give relief to you who are troubled.” How will God take away our fears and make us safe forever? “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

Someday we will see Jesus come back to our world in glory, not as a humble baby like he did on the first Christmas, but with glorious power and with all his angels. It will be an amazing sight—Jesus in all his glory! He will come to rescue all of his believers from this scary world. Yet remember: This Jesus who once came to save you from sin and fear and is coming back in glory is the same Jesus who is with you now. There’s no need to be scared. Jesus protects you even now with his loving care and almighty power.

Don’t worry. You’re safe with Jesus now and always.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, where can we run when we’re afraid? Through your Word, remind us that we can run to you. Scoop us up into your almighty arms and keep us safe until you bring us home to heaven. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What scares you most?
  • Who helps you feel safe when you are scared?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Describe a time when you felt scared and someone helped you feel safe again.
  • How does Jesus help you feel safe right now? How will Jesus make you safe on the Last Day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does time spent in God’s Word keep you safe until Jesus comes back?
  • Identify a Bible passage that you can tell yourself to help when you feel afraid.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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It’s the End of the World… And I’m Dancing – November 14, 2022

Read: Malachi 4:1-6

“Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace…” says the LORD Almighty. “Not a root or a branch will be left to them. But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.”
Malachi 4:1-2

It’s the End of the World… And I’m Dancing

Family Devotion – November 14, 2022

Devotion based on Malachi 4:1-2

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

What makes you dance? Fun music with a catchy beat? Of course! You can’t help but dance. Your team winning the big game? Probably. You have to celebrate. How about hearing good news that you’ve been waiting for a long time? Absolutely! Doing a happy dance makes sense in all those situations. But how about this one: the end of the world. Does that make you want to dance and celebrate?

When God’s Word describes the Last Day—that day when the world will come to an end, it’s not usually happy. In fact, the Last Day often sounds frightening. Judgment and fear and destruction, the end of all things as we know it. Just consider the prophet Malachi’s description, “Surely the day is coming; it will burn like a furnace.” He describes the Last Day like a superheated furnace blazing with fire. That’s terrifying! There is no way that the end of world would cause us to dance and celebrate… or is there?

“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” When calves are born during the cold winter, they must stay cooped up in their warm pens. They grow in size and strength, filling them with energy that needs to be let loose. When spring arrives and the barn gates finally open, they rush out, awkwardly bouncing around the barnyard. They’re so excited to be free in the warm sunshine. They can’t help but frolic and… dance.

So why would we dance on the Last Day? Malachi gives us a clue. “For you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays.” Who is that “sun of righteousness”? Not the warm sunshine of spring, but the S-O-N of God, who will return on the Last Day to bring us home to heaven. Jesus, the Son of God, brings healing to our hurting souls—healing for our guilty consciences, healing for our broken hearts, healing for the sadness and hurt we experience every day, healing he earned for us on the cross. On that Last Day, Jesus will come back and bring us to be with him where there will be no more sadness—only joy, no more guilt—only healing, no more death—only life. So on that Last Day, let’s dance!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, as we look forward to the Last Day, there is so much that could cause us fear. Keep us from becoming afraid as that day approaches. Instead, fill our hearts with hope for that day when you will bring healing for our souls and eternal joy in heaven. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What makes you start dancing?
  • What will make you start dancing for joy when Jesus comes back?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why does the Last Day seem so frightening?
  • How is Jesus like the sun that brings “healing in its rays”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: The Last Day will be the best day in a Christian’s life, even if they’ve died.
  • How can you encourage your family or friends to look forward to the day when Jesus will come again?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Rejoice in Your Defeat – November 11, 2022

Read: Luke 6:20-23

“Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.”
Luke 6:23

Rejoice in Your Defeat

Family Devotion – November 11, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 6:23

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have you ever been a team captain and gotten to choose your teammates? Whom did you pick? If you were picking a basketball team, did you want the slowest players? Did you want the worst shooters? Did you choose the people who will help you lose the game? Or what about on a review day in school? Which side did you want to be on? Did you want to be teamed up with your classmates who never pay attention? Or with the ones who are really quiet and never answer questions? Did you want to be on the side that never wins?

Probably not. You want to be with the best. You choose the people who are going to help you win. You want to win. Even if you yourself are not the best player on the team or the smartest person in your class, you want to be on the side that wins.

In our Bible lesson today, Jesus tells us that the life of a Christian may sometimes feel like being on the losing side. Jesus upset people with his teaching. Many responded with hate, angry looks, and cutting comments. Followers of Jesus can expect to be treated the same way. It can be embarrassing. It can be painful. It can be sad. It can be really hard.

In those times when being a Christian feels like being on the losing team, Jesus says to rejoice. Rejoice in your defeat. How can Jesus say that? How can you believe it? Remember, being a Christian means that you know you are a sinner. You cannot do anything to earn heaven. Heaven is a gift that God has given you. Because Jesus gave up everything for us, we gain everything.

So when you suffer because of him, it puts the focus where it belongs: on Jesus. He takes all of the embarrassment, all of the pain, and all of the sadness that you and I feel and brings it to the cross. And at the cross, Jesus earned for you a life without pain or embarrassment or sadness. Rejoice in your defeat. It puts the focus where it belongs: on his victory for you.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, keep my eyes fixed always on your victory for me on the cross and at the empty tomb. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name one thing that you are really good at.
  • God’s Word tells us no matter how good we are, we can’t ever be perfect. Who makes us perfect? How?
    .

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Have you ever felt embarrassed because of being a Christian? How does today’s devotion help explain why it happened?
  • Through faith, you actually are on the “winning team” with Jesus. How can you invite others to join the “Jesus Team”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How do you deal with situations where others hate, exclude, and/or insult you because of your faith?
  • Agree or Disagree: God wants us to be happy during our lives on earth.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Worth the Wait – November 9, 2022

Read: Hebrews 11:32-40

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect.
Hebrews 11:39,40

Worth the Wait

Family Devotion – November 9, 2022

Devotion based on Hebrews 11:39,40

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Thomas was so excited. His parents promised him that after school they would take him to his favorite place to eat. His favorite restaurant has chicken tenders, French fries, chips, ice cream, and all the soda he can drink. At school that day, Thomas stayed busy so that the day would go faster. He played hard at recess. He finished all his homework. He ate his whole lunch. Even after school, Thomas didn’t pester his parents. He knew that would only make things take longer. He just waited patiently for his dad to come home, change into different clothes, and get ready to drive across town. Finally, it was time! Thomas’ family got in the car and drove to the restaurant. It was all worth it as Thomas ate all of his favorite foods!

Sometimes waiting for good things can seem to take forever. As Christians, we are waiting for the best thing. Life in heaven is what waits for us. By faith, we look ahead to this promise of perfection.

While we wait, we listen to God, and we focus on what is in front of us. God has given us things to do. He tells us to help our neighbors. He commands us to honor our parents and those in authority. He wants us to encourage our fellow Christians with his promise of eternal life. Even when bad things happen, we are not distracted from what God has told us to do.

In our Bible reading today, you get to read about some of the worst things that have ever happened to people who trust in God. But none of these believers let the bad things distract them from what they believed. They were waiting for something better. They were waiting for a perfect life with God.

So are we. God has promised that no matter what bad things happen to us in this life, we are waiting for something that makes it all worth it. We will be made perfect with these other believers to celebrate in heaven with Jesus. How awesome does that sound? It is worth the wait!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, while I wait for you, keep my eyes of faith always focused on the eternal reward you have promised. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Do you like to wait? Why or why not?
  • Waiting to be with Jesus in heaven can be hard. Think of one thing we can do that might help us while we wait.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Describe a time something bad happened to you. What does God promise about bad things when we get to heaven?
  • What is the most important focus we can have in our life while we wait for the gift of eternity in heaven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Look up Hebrews chapter 11:32-40 (today’s reading). Choose one of the heroes of faith and look up more about that person in the Bible. How did this hero demonstrate waiting in faith? What did their waiting lead to, just as ours will?
  • Agree or Disagree: Experiencing hardships in life helps strengthen our faith. Explain your answer.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 King Reigns Supreme – November 7, 2022

Read: Revelation 21:1-6

“‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Revelation 21:4,5

The King Reigns Supreme

Family Devotion – November 7, 2022

Devotion based on Revelation 21:4,5

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When did you last get hurt? How bad was it? When was the last time you cried? How long did it take you to stop? Notice the question was not, “Have you ever been hurt?” That would be too easy because all of us have been hurt before. It could be physical pain or emotional pain. It could be guilt or sadness. There’s no end of bad things in this world. Every day we are surrounded by someone that makes you cry or something that causes pain or loss. Some days it is more obvious than others.

In our Bible reading today, God shows us a new picture. It is a picture of eternal life. But look carefully; it looks so different from the world we know, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have any of those bad things we just talked about. Eternal life with God isn’t just the absence of bad stuff. It’s also the presence of everything good. Like Jesus! Jesus is there on his throne. Picture him as your conquering king. He defeated our greatest enemies of sin and death. They are what cause us so many tears and pain. When we enter eternal life with Jesus, we will see with our eyes what we only know now by faith.

Yes, we still live in an old, tired world damaged by sin. Sometimes, it can look like Jesus really isn’t in control. That’s why God gives us something wonderful to believe and dream about like today’s Word of God. What we see and know by faith is far greater and better than anything we see now.

When you experience pain or sadness, trust that your King reigns supreme. His words are faithful and true. You have them written for you in the Bible, recorded for you that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. This life is completely new. It is completely perfect. One day we will see it. For now, we see it with eyes of faith: Our King reigns supreme.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, continue to rule over all things for my good in order to bring me to the new life you have promised in eternity. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Draw a picture or describe what you think heaven will look like.
  • Discuss: Who will we get to see there?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • List at three bad things caused by sin in our world. Why won’t we need to worry about them in heaven?
  • What is the job of an earthly king? What does Jesus do for us as our heavenly king?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Respond: “I can’t believe in a God who lets horrible things like natural disasters, sickness, and wars happen. Why would he allow these if he really loved us?”
  • When we make promises, sometimes we can’t keep them. How do you know that God will keep his promise for eternal life in heaven?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Calls You His Child – November 4, 2022

Read: John 8:31-36

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever.
John 8:34,35

God Calls You His Child

Family Devotion – November 4, 2022

Devotion based on John 8:34,35

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A preschool student asked his teacher, “What is slavery?” “It is when you are considered someone’s property and are forced to work, but do not get paid,” the teacher said. “That doesn’t sound like fun,” the preschooler replied.

One day, that preschooler will grow up and learn more about the history of slavery in our country and around the world. He will learn that slavery is way worse than “not fun.” Slavery has led to some of the most horrible things that have ever been done to human beings. When that preschooler learns more about slavery, he will no doubt say what many of us believe: slavery is evil.

In our Bible reading, Jesus connects sin to slavery. If you sin, you are a slave to sin. If you try to obey God’s law to earn heaven, you will only see the many times you fail. God’s law shows us our sin. You can try your best and follow as many of the laws as you can. But because you are sinful, you will not receive any payment or reward. No, the law shows us that by ourselves we are slaves to sin. It shows us the evil that lives in our hearts and lives. Jesus is clear: living in sin is terrifying and leads only to death.

But Jesus is also clear about something else. He has made us children of God. He has bought us out of slavery to sin to make us free children. This is the gospel message that shows Jesus as our Savior. No longer do you have to follow the law as a slave, with no hope of reward. You are a child of God. You get to live in his household forever.

And what do children of God do? They follow Jesus. They listen to his teachings. They follow his commands. And most of all, they trust his freeing work. They live in the comfort and confidence of knowing that Jesus loves them more than anyone else. You are free indeed!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for freeing me to live confidently as a child of God each day. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • List the people in your family. How does it make you feel to know that God wants you in his family but not as a slave?
  • Jesus tells us to hold to his teachings. Where do we hear Jesus’ teachings?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Agree or Disagree: Now that Jesus has set us free from sin, we won’t ever sin again.
  • “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples.” As a child of God, are you also a disciple? What do disciples of Jesus do?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is slavery an appropriate comparison to our spiritual condition apart from God’s grace?
  • Why do we need to hear both law and gospel? What would happen if we only heard the law? The gospel?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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 Freedom – November 2, 2022

Read: Galatians 5:1-6

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

True Freedom

Family Devotion – November 2, 2022

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Do whatever you want. I don’t care.” What would you do if your parents said that to you right now? Would you run to the kitchen and eat all of the sweets? Would you go to your room and play video games all day and all night? It might sound like exactly what you want most! But what if your parents said that every time you talked to them? Imagine asking them, “Mom, Dad, can you please help me do my homework?” and they say, “Do whatever you want. I don’t care.” Or you ask them, “Can you please tuck me into bed?” and they say, “Do whatever you want. I don’t care.”

Doing whatever you want might sound great at first. But even though you are a Christian, you are also a sinner. A sinner is someone who doesn’t do what God wants, but only what “I” want. And sin hurts your relationship with God. Sinful “freedom” to do whatever you want is really no freedom at all.

Christ has given you true freedom. How? He paid freedom’s price by offering his own life into death. No more paying needs to be done. It means a couple of things:

First: It means your sin no longer separates you from God. You never have to be afraid that God does not care about you. God does care! Always! He cares so much that he sent Christ to set you free from sin. You will never be separated from God.

Second: It means God helps you flee from sin. You know that sin damages your relationship with God. So God gives you the strength in Christ not to sin. When you are tempted, you can look to Jesus for help.

Third: It means you are free to live as God wants. Instead of sinning, you get to live a life of thanks to God by listening to his word. You obey your parents. You help your neighbors. You do your schoolwork. You get to do these things free from worry and free to think first of others.

Stand firm in this true freedom. When you sin, trust in God’s forgiveness. When you are tempted to sin, ask for God’s strength. In Christ, this freedom is yours.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, hold me fast in the freedom you have won for me. Give me confidence in the forgiveness of sins that Christ has given me. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name two sins you have a hard time saying “no” to.” With your family, come up with a simple prayer asking God to help you when you are tempted.
  • How does knowing that God has washed all your sins away make you feel?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Imagine you could do anything you wanted for a day. What would you do? Would all of your choices be God-pleasing?
  • “Freedom isn’t free.” We know that we can’t do anything to free ourselves from sin. Who paid the price to save us? How?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Pick a sin that often pesters you (example: your temper). Plan a strategy to keep you free the next time you are tempted to sin.
  • What does it mean to “serve God with our lives”? How will this guide you as you think about what you want to do as an adult?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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It’s Not Fair! – October 31, 2022

Read: Jeremiah 31:31-34

No longer will they teach their neighbor,
or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest,”
declares the Lord.
“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:34

It’s Not Fair!

Family Devotion – October 31, 2022

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:34

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

John and Eric decided to make a trade. John will give Eric a cool pen he found. Eric will give John his brand-new bike. Do you think that is a fair trade? A pen for a bike? Definitely not! Eric’s parents asked him why he made this trade. Eric simply said, “My friend really needed a bike.”

You might do something similar for one of your friends. But would you be that nice to someone who hates you? Would you give one of your favorite toys to a person who is always mean to you?

In the Bible passage you just read, God tells us about a trade that he makes with us. And it is not fair. God says that he will forgive people who hate him. In return, he will not receive anything. “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

When you do bad, you deserve to be punished. That’s fair. But instead of being fair, God punished someone who never sinned and who never did anything bad. God punished Jesus in our place. That’s why God is able to say about you, “I forgive your wickedness.”

You can look at the world around you and see the effects of sin. People are treated unfairly. Bad things happen. The truth is people deserve much worse than this. Sinners deserve death. But instead of remembering your sin, God instead remembers Jesus.

Why does God make this trade? He answers, “Because you are my people. I love you.” Because God loves you and me so much, he sent Jesus to make this trade. Not once did Jesus ever say, “It’s not fair!” He, too, loves us enough to be punished in our place.

Whenever you are afraid that you haven’t done enough to make God happy, remember God’s trade. It’s not fair! God doesn’t want it to be. He loves you too much. He wants you to trust him above everything else. Don’t ever trade that precious truth!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for giving me the forgiveness I do not deserve. Increase my trust in you. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What does it mean to forgive? Share a time that you showed forgiveness or asked someone to forgive you.
  • Jesus willingly took the punishment for our sins. Is that fair? Why did he allow himself to be punished?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How do you know that God forgives you? Describe how that makes you feel.
  • How should God treat us because of our sins? How can we treat others knowing that God forgives us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Imagine that you are not forgiven for your sins. Describe how you feel if that were true.
  • Why is it so difficult for us to demonstrate the same love to others which God has shown to us?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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If I Were a Poor Man – October 28, 2022

Read: Luke 18:18-30

A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

[Jesus answered], “You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.’”

“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.

When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy.

Those who heard this asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Luke 18:20-23,26,27

If I Were a Poor Man

Family Devotion – October 28, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 18:20-23,26,27

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

In the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof, the lead actor, Tevye, sings a song entitled, “If I Were a Rich Man.” It is a popular song even among those who have never sat through the entire three-hour show. And why not? There are not many popular songs that sing the praises of being poor. Would people be humming the tune if the title had been, “If I Were a Poor Man”? I doubt it.

In the upside-down kingdom of God, we actually sing with honor, “If I Were a Poor Man.” Oddly, it is the question of a rich man that gives Jesus the opportunity to teach us that the kingdom of God is more poor than it is rich.

We are using “rich” and “poor” differently than normal. The kingdom of God is not about material wealth, but about spiritual riches. And the more we understand that sinners are spiritually poor, the wealthier we will be with the riches only God can provide.

Jesus’ conversation helped the rich young man see his spiritual poverty. The young man thought he was spiritually rich, “All these [commandments] I have kept since I was a boy.” But when Jesus asked him to give up his wealth to people who were poor and then follow Jesus, the man became sad. He loved his wealth more than he loved God. Jesus’ request opened the young man’s eyes to his own spiritual poverty.

What if Jesus had the same conversation with us? Would it open our eyes to how spiritually poor we are? But that conversation must happen so that we can realize we cannot earn our way into God’s kingdom. We may think we have spiritual wealth to offer God, but we don’t. It is better to see that we are spiritually poor. We cannot do it by ourselves.

The crowd grasped what Jesus was saying. How can sinners be saved when we have nothing to offer God? God saves us purely by his grace. He makes the impossible, possible by showering us with his riches. “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”

Whether you are wealthy, middle-class, or poor, it makes no difference; heaven is only for the spiritually poor!

Closing Prayer:

I thank you, my heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, your dear Son, that you have graciously kept me this day. Forgive me all my sins, and graciously keep me this night. Into your hands I commend my body and soul and all things. Let your holy angel be with me, that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • With whom did the rich young ruler come to speak?
  • How much money did the ruler have?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was the rich young ruler sad when Jesus asked him to sell his possessions and follow Jesus?
  • How did Jesus show his love for the ruler?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is it necessary to be spiritually poor in order to be saved?
  • What commandment do you find most difficult to keep? Why?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Love what Lasts – October 26, 2022

Read: 1 John 2:15-17

The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.
1 John 2:17

Love what Lasts

Family Devotion – October 26, 2022

Devotion based on 1 John 2:17

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

A picture of the family from a Christmas long past popped up on Samantha’s phone. She could tell it was an old picture because the clothes looked dated—bright colors with bold checkered patterns, flared pants, polyester materials. Samantha was glad that fashions had changed, but at the same time she sighed, “nothing lasts.”

It is true about the things of this world. Cars break down and houses need remodeling. Roads seem constantly in repair and cities grow or shrink. The toys you received as gifts last Christmas are either broken or don’t seem as shiny. But it is bigger than that. People change. Kids get bigger while the elderly slow down. A job is lost, and another is gained. People move from house to house, state to state, even country to country. New relationships are formed, and others fade. But it is even bigger than that. People do more than change; people pass away. Our very life on this earth will not last forever. It’s true, nothing lasts.

The problem comes when we set our hearts on the things that do not last. It does not take much effort to fall in love with the things of this world. A fancy car is fun to drive. Relaxing with family and friends is enjoyable. Who doesn’t want the upgraded gadget that does ten more things ten times better than the old model? But none of them last. And none of them unlock the key to eternity.

The apostle John offered a solution to our eternity problem, “whoever does the will of God lives forever.” There is something—or better, someone—that lasts forever. God does! He has no beginning and no end. He does not change but is always the same. And he is love! God’s love shines brightest from the cross of Jesus where forgiveness for all sins was unlocked. Jesus’ forgiveness opens heaven to us, a place that will last forever.

A crowd once asked Jesus what they ought to do to carry out God’s will. Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the One He has sent” (John 6:29). Now listen again to John’s solution for eternity, “whoever does the will of God lives forever.” Trust in Jesus is the key to eternity. “Do not love the world”; love what lasts. Love Jesus!

Closing Prayer:

Love in Christ abides forever, fainting not when ills attend; love, forgiving and forgiven, shall endure until life’s end. Amen. (Christian Worship 723:3)

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name three things that you love.
  • Where do you want to live forever?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why don’t the things of this world last?
  • How did God prove his love for us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why would God choose to love us when we are sinful rebels?
  • Why is it important for our spiritual lives that the things of this world wear out?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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We Get More than We Deserve – October 24, 2022

Read: Deuteronomy 10:12-22

And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?
Deuteronomy 10:12,13

We Get More than We Deserve

Family Devotion – October 24, 2022

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 10:12,13

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Raise your hand if you have ever heard of the country of Kiribati. It is a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a population of about 100,000 people. Its location makes the island nation the first country to bring in the new year.

Go ahead, you can Google it!

If we can be excused for not knowing about Kiribati, the people of 1500 B.C. can be excused if they never heard of the nation of Israel. Before Israel left Egypt for their new home in Canaan, they did not have any land to call their own. Israel wasn’t large or strong. And yet, God chose them to carry his promise of a Savior and receive a lot of blessings. They received more from God than they deserved.

Sadly, Israel did not respond to God’s undeserved gifts with happy hearts. They disobeyed God’s commands. They followed other gods. They looked out for themselves at the expense of others. Still, the Lord God continued to protect and provide for them. He gave them a land of their own, their population grew, and the promise of the Savior remained with Israel. They received far more from God than they deserved. In his final “sermon” to the nation he had led for many years, Moses urged the Israelites to live in ways that reflected their gratitude for God’s undeserved gifts.

I have a friend who, when you ask him how he is doing, answers, “better than I deserve.” It is a humble answer that he also reflects in the gracious way he lives. How about us? Do we grasp the grace that God has showered on us? He gives us food to eat and clothes to wear. We have cars to drive and phones in our hands. But more than that, we know that the promise of the Savior came true! Though we have been no less “stiff-necked” in our sin (it means to be stubborn!), God assures us that all our sins are forgiven in Jesus and heaven is our home. We, too, can live in ways that show others how much we appreciate God’s gifts.

Who are we that we should receive such grace from God? The answer: We are the objects of God’s love who get more than we deserve.

Closing Prayer:

Gracious Father in heaven, even though we are sinners, you know us and continue to provide us with blessings for our bodies and souls. Give us grateful hearts that spill over into thankful lives, that the world may know your grace. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Moses spoke today’s Word of God. Tell as much as you know about him.
  • What is at least one blessing that you have enjoyed today?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What was it about the nation of Israel that made them seem unqualified for God’s blessings?
  • Today’s word of God started like this: “what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God?” What does it mean to “fear the LORD”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why had the Israelites received more than they deserved?
  • Make a list of “undeserved” earthly blessings and “undeserved” spiritual blessings. Which list is longer? Why?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Be a Pest! – October 21, 2022

Read: Luke 18:1-8

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’

“For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’”

And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”
Luke 18:1-8

Be a Pest!

Family Devotion – October 21, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 18:1-8

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Betty lived in the corner house across from the high school, with the well-trimmed lawn and gorgeous flower beds. But the kids from the high school cut across her lawn after school and ruined her landscape. She asked them to stop, but they didn’t listen. So, Betty went to court to get a ruling against those who trespassed on her private property. The judge initially tossed the case from the court. But Betty came back. The judge tossed it again. Betty came back again. As many times as the judge tried to get rid of Betty’s case, Betty came back.

Finally, the judge had enough. He took the case and ruled in her favor. However, the judge did not consider Betty’s case because he felt compassion for her, but because he was worn out. Betty had pestered the judge enough to get her day in court.

Betty sounds like the widow in Jesus’ parable. And she ought to sound like you and me when we pray to God. This is the point Jesus makes in his story—that we “should always pray and not give up.” In other words, Jesus wants us to be a pest.

You can “bug” Jesus every day with your prayers and requests. He has promised to hear and answer. For instance, Jesus did not teach us to pray for bread once in a while, but for “daily bread.” Jesus expects that we will come to our Heavenly Father every day and pester him to fill our earthly needs according to his promise. Even greater than earthly bread is the food of forgiveness that feeds our souls. That, too, we need every day—and every day God forgives us. Remember, however, that unlike the judge in Jesus’ story, God is not “unjust.” He loves to give us those things he has promised.

Not everything we pray for is clearly promised in the Word. When we get sick, we may pray for health, but God may have other plans. Or we may ask for an earthly want that isn’t really a need, and God may not give it to us. In those cases, Jesus encourages us not to give up. Keep bugging God with your requests. His answer may not be “no,” but “not yet.” Don’t give up on your prayers. Go ahead, be a pest!

Closing Prayer:

Patient Lord, you are always more ready to listen than we are to pray. Forgive us for forgetting that you want us to be bold and persistent in our prayers. We are grateful to you because no matter how often we beg your mercy, you forgive us all our sins. Inspire us to rush your throne of grace with our petitions again and again, trusting that you want us to pester you with our prayers. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Why did the judge finally listen to Betty (or the widow in Jesus’ story)?
  • How often does God want you to pray to him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How is God both like and not like the judge in the story?
  • What are the answers God can give to our prayers? What should we do when the answer seems to be “no”?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Give an example in your life of a request you have made in prayer more than once. What about it made you persist in praying?
  • Why is it tempting for people to pray once or twice about something and then give up?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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You Can Have Whatever You Ask For! – October 19, 2022

Read: 1 John 5:13-15

I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life. This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
1 John 5:13-15

You Can Have Whatever You Ask For!

Family Devotion – October 19, 2022

Devotion based on 1 John 5:13-15

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prepare a list in your head of the presents you want for your birthday. What is on your list? Most wish lists can be divided into three categories: those things you know you will get, those things you hope you will get, and those things you will not get… but it is fun to dream!

What if I told you that God wants you to prepare a list and whatever you ask for, you will get? That’s right, you can ask God for anything according to his will, and he promises that you will get whatever you ask for.

Did you catch the caveat? The apostle John writes, “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” The doors of God’s blessings stand wide open, but … only when we ask for things “according to his will.” There is a limit to what we can demand and know that God will give us. The limit is ”God’s will.” We can find God’s will (or his promises) laid out in his Word. So, we can ask for a million dollars—and God may even give it to us—but we have no promise in his Word that a million dollars is God’s will for us.

What, then, can we ask for with the certainty that God will give us? Here is a short list:

  • You can ask that people teach God’s Word correctly and lead lives in line with that Word.
  • You can request God the Father to send the Holy Spirit so that people believe the Word and live godly lives.
  • You can call on God to destroy all the evil plans of his enemies.
  • You can demand that God give you all the things that you need for your earthly welfare.
  • You can insist that God forgive you all your sins.
  • You can pray that God protects you from the plots of those who would pull you away from the faith.
  • You can order God to deliver you from those things that threaten your faith and, in the end, that God would take you to heaven.

The list above may not include a million dollars. But it includes something far better—heaven itself. It is yours for the asking!

Closing Prayer:

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Who wrote the letter we call 1 John?
  • What is something you want to ask God for?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What would you call people “who believe in the name of the Son of God”?
  • What things can we ask for and know that God will give us?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why is the Lord’s Prayer an excellent example of praying for things we know God will give us?
  • Why doesn’t God give us everything we ask for?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Wrestle with God… and Win! – October 17, 2022

Read: Genesis 32:22-30

That night Jacob got up and took his two wives, his two female servants and his eleven sons and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. After he had sent them across the stream, he sent over all his possessions. So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak. When the man saw that he could not overpower him, he touched the socket of Jacob’s hip so that his hip was wrenched as he wrestled with the man. Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.”

But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.”

The man asked him, “What is your name?”

“Jacob,” he answered.

Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”

Genesis 32:22-28

Wrestle with God… and Win!

Family Devotion – October 17, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 32:22-28

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

For a night, Jacob wrestled with the almighty God! It should have been no contest. God ought to have pinned Jacob in a second. But it was a contest. So much so, that in the end, Jacob won!

It was God that came to Jacob with the challenge. To understand why, we need to know more about Jacob. Jacob was shifty. His name, “Jacob,” eventually came to mean “trickster.” He tricked his brother into selling the birthright (the right to the family inheritance). He tricked his father into giving Jacob the blessing of the firstborn. But both the birthright and the blessing that came with it had already been promised to Jacob by God himself. Jacob did not need tricks. Jacob needed to trust God’s promises.

Jacob’s tricks failed to secure God’s blessings. Just the opposite. Jacob was hours away from meeting his brother, Esau, for the first time since Jacob had run away. Jacob’s last memory of Esau was his brother so angry he threatened, “I want to kill Jacob.” And now Esau was approaching with 400 men! Jacob sent gifts in hopes of calming Esau’s fury. He split his family and fortune into two camps thinking at least one could escape. And then Jacob slept alone.

In this moment of deepest weakness, God Almighty came to Jacob and challenged him. This wrestling match was the climax of Jacob’s faith-training. God gave Jacob his word to protect and bless him. All God ever wanted was for Jacob to trust God’s promises. No tricks; just trust!

After a long night of wrestling, Jacob finally demanded of God exactly what God had always promised. Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” So [God] blessed him there. Jacob wrestled with God… and won!

God has given us a Bible full of promises; promises to protect, provide, forgive, and empower us. Rather than rely on our own cleverness, God asks us to trust him. Like Jacob, in times of weakness God may come with challenges. We wrestle with him through his Word and in prayer. But all God has ever wanted is that we demand of him exactly what he has promised. Find his promises and then hold God to his Word.

You, too, can wrestle with God… and win!

Closing Prayer:

Lord God Almighty, humbly lead us to wrestle with you in prayer, understanding that you give us the victory when we pray according to your promises. Keep us under your protection until that day when we join you in glory everlasting. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What did the name “Jacob” mean?
  • How much power does God have?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What was the climax to this account and why?
  • List at least three promises from the Bible that God wants us to trust.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recall a time in your life when you have wrestled with God in prayer.
  • God gives Jacob a new name in this account. What is it, and why is that name significant?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Thinking Leads to Thanking – October 14, 2022

Read: Luke 17:11-19

One of lepers, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him.
Luke 17:15

Thinking Leads to Thanking

Family Devotion – October 14, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 17:15

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Abby was sitting next to her mom when her grandparents came up and placed a present on her lap. Her eyes lit up as she checked the wrapping for the best attack point. Then she ripped into it—paper, tape, and ribbons flying this way and that! Finally, she found the toy they bought for her. Quickly, she scooted off to play with it. Her mom called her back, “Hold it! Didn’t you forget something?” Abby froze in her tracks with a blank expression. Abby’s mom tried to nudge her memory, “What do you say?” Suddenly, Abby remembered and replied, “Thank you, Grandpa and Grandma!” She gave them a quick hug and ran off.

We all have something in common with Abby. Gratitude is not something we are naturally born with. Never has a parent said, “Oh, I’ll just give my child another year or two… they’ll learn how to say thank you on their own!” We have to be taught how and when to say, “Thank you.” Like Abby, we sometimes just plain forget. We take for granted all the good things God has given us and forget to say, “Thanks!”

In Luke chapter 17, Jesus hears ten men crying out for his help. They were so sick, no one wanted to get near them. Because he is God, Jesus was able to make all ten of them better. One of them returned, fell facedown at Jesus’ feet, and thanked him. Jesus asked, “Where are the other nine?” All ten cried out to Jesus for his help. But only one remembered to say thank you.

Every day we live is a reminder of how Jesus healed us, cleaned us of sin’s sickness. He took away our disease of sin, he took away our lonely separation from God. His cross cleansed us so that we run to God and he declares us healthy in his sight again! You’ve been given a clean bill of health today!

Jesus doesn’t need our thanks. He deserves our thanks. For what? Take a moment and think of all the reasons you have to thank him. Then take another moment tomorrow. And the day after. That makes every day a day to run back to Jesus and fall at his feet and say, “Thank you!”

Closing Prayer:

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
who wonderous things has done, in whom the world rejoices;
who from our mother’s arms, has blessed us on our way,
with countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.
(Christian Worship 597:1)

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How many sick men did Jesus make better in Luke chapter 17? How many came back and thanked him?
  • The ten men weren’t the only ones who were sick. From what did Jesus heal us on the cross?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Who’s the most thankful person in your family? Ask him/her why that is. What can you learn?
  • Take a moment to think of someone you may have forgotten to say “Thank you” to. What might you want to do right after this devotion is over?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss. Thanksgiving is one day a year. But giving thanks to God ought to be every day of the year.
  • A lot of parents tell their children, “Count your blessings.” So do it! Make a top ten list of things you are thankful for using your ten fingers.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Thanks Means Giving – October 12, 2022

Read: 2 Corinthians 9:10-15

You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11

Thanks Means Giving

Family Devotion – October 12, 2022

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 9:11

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Caleb loved his yellow Labrador dog so much—no dog could compare to his Skipper! He would sleep at Caleb’s feet and lick his nose to say hello. He especially loved to sit intently and wait for a treat. The minute Caleb gave him one, Skipper would gulp it down and go back to slobbering and panting and wanting more!

Can you imagine Skipper biting a treat given him in half, and with his paw nudge it back in Caleb’s direction? Of course not, he’s a dog! Can showing thanks be just as rare among humans? Do we imagine that we have shown God thanks if we take what he’s given, run behind a corner, and enjoy it all just for ourselves?

Today’s devotion encourages the kind of thanks that gives back. Some early Christians had this opportunity. They had so much. But some fellow Christians had very little. The encouragement? Each person should give to help. A gift from the heart. Not because they had to. Not thinking, “I’ll help you now, if you help me later.” God loves a giver who has a huge smile on his face! And God is powerful. He is able to give to you generously and over and above, with this purpose: so that in all things, at all times, having all that you need, you can give over and above in every way.

Because isn’t that how Jesus gave to us? He was poor, but he used every moment, every breath, every thought, and every drop of his blood for one thing: to bring good to us; to obey the commandments; to love his neighbor as himself; to love his God with all his heart and soul and mind until it was all finished. So that you are now free—a forgiven, freed child of God who can now be rich in the kind of thanks that gives!

Something wonderful happens when we nudge a little something back to help someone who needs our help. The person we help is led to give thanks to God. Gifts given in the name of Jesus result in words of thanks flying from lips on earth to God in heaven. When you give an offering that shares Jesus, words of thanks fly from lips in your church and in your community. When they see what you’re doing out of love for Jesus, more people praise God!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, thank you for giving so generously to me. Give me a generous heart that finds joy in giving to others. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Pretend that someone knocks on your door looking for help. They are shivering and cold. What do you have in your bedroom that you could give them?
  • Describe how you feel at the thought of giving to someone who really needs your help. Why do you feel that way?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Agree or disagree. God gives to us so that we might give to others.
  • Giving doesn’t have to always be about money. Think of a two other areas of life you can be a more generous giver to others. (Examples: forgiving, kind words, encouragement, helping, etc.)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Evaluate yourself. Are you a natural “giver” or “taker”? What is the motivation behind each of them?
  • Discuss what would need to happen for you to grow in the grace of giving.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Faith that Overflows in Gratitude – October 10, 2022

Read: Genesis 8:15-22

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives. Then Noah built an altar to the LORD and he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.
Genesis 8:15,16,18,20

Faith that Overflows in Gratitude

Family Devotion – October 10, 2022

Devotion based on Genesis 8:15,16,18,20

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Noah could hardly contain his excitement. It had been 1 year and 10 days since the last time he had done it. For over a year, he and his family lived on a huge wooden boat with every kind of animal imaginable. It kept them safe from the waters of a monster flood. Finally, the day came. God said, “You can come out of the ark now, Noah.” He’d been waiting such a long time for this moment. With one final step, Noah’s feet left the boat and touched soft, dry ground. It made him so happy, the first thing he did was build an altar. In as visible a way as possible, he wanted to say, “Thank you.”

Two little words. One big meaningful phrase. Have your parents taught you it? Do they remind you of it when you forget? But “thank you” is more than words. It’s the heart behind it. We say thank you to the person who serves our food or the stranger who holds a door open. Little selfless acts make us thankful. But to be thankful when faith is challenged? When something horrible happens in life? Do we think we deserve something better from God? Does God sometimes seem more generous to others than he does to me?

At that moment when you are feeling sorry for yourself or ungrateful, think of Noah floating on top a world of water, cooped up in an ark for an entire year, leaning on the mercy of God. Until one day he stepped off the ark… alive. God kept him and his family alive. He was so grateful—not just to get off on dry ground—but thankful for a generous God. He knew he didn’t deserve God. So he brought an offering to express his thanks and appreciation to the God who kept him and his family alive.

Every time a winter is followed by a spring and a summer by a fall, it’s a reminder that God still promises to give us undeserved blessings—even when we are not grateful. We live under that promise. And that makes us so grateful and thankful! God is generous. His blessings are undeserved. Look at all the things we have to be grateful for: Health. Home. Family. Friends. Especially Jesus.

So say it out loud with all your heart, “Thank you!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for simply being a generous God. Help me find as many ways as possible to live and express my thanks for you. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What are the two words you are reminded to say after someone gives you something nice?
  • What was the first thing Noah built after he stepped on dry ground? Why did he build it?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Noah’s ark floated safely on top of the flood waters. What water saved you from sin’s destruction?
  • Recount at least two blessings of waking up every day as a baptized child of God. Be sure to say “thank you” to God!

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • When horrible things happen, some people think God is a monster. Even after the horror of the flood, Noah found reasons to thank a generous God. Name a few.
  • The next time something horrible happens or you think you deserved better, what could you remember from today’s devotion to pivot your thinking from complaining to thanking?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Look at what I did! – October 7, 2022

Read: Luke 17:1-10

So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.”
Luke 17:10

Look at what I did!

Family Devotion – October 7, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 17:10

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Little Danielle loved caramels. So her parents used the candy as a reward for successfully finishing a chore. After she put away all her clothes, she would run to tell her parents, “Look at what I did!” Then she would hold out her hand and wait for her caramel.

Now, what if I told you that when Danielle turned 16 years old, she still ran and told her parents “Look at what I did” every time she finished a chore and then waited for a caramel. That would be ridiculous, right?

A caramel reward was important when Danielle was a toddler, but not when she is a teenager. As Danielle grew older, she learned how to do more and more things on her own. It is the same for us as we grow in our faith. God gives us parents and spiritual leaders who patiently teach us about Jesus and what life looks like with him in it. As we grow older, we strive to live a godly life—not to get some sort of reward from God. We’re older now and just want to show our love for Jesus in all that we do.

We see all that God has done for us—he loves us, he lived for us, he died in our place, he forgives our sin, he gives us eternal life, he is with us each and every day, and so much more!

We can easily say that God doesn’t owe us anything. (Look at what he has done for us!) So what we do, we do as a way of saying thank you to God. We don’t look for special rewards or blessings from God for what we do—we do them because of what God has done for us—saved us, brought us to faith, and made us a part of his family.

Caramels are delicious, but they aren’t why we live a Christian life, are they? Live who you are—a loved, forgiven child of God—not as a way for others to see what you do or to have God owe you something. Live your Christian life as a way to say “Thank you” and “I love you” to your gracious God.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, please help me to see my life as something I do, not to get something from you, but as a way of saying thank you for all you have done for me. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Have you ever gotten a reward for doing something? What was it?
  • What is the best thing God has done for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Can you think of an example at school where you get something because of what you have done?
  • How is our connection with Jesus different than that?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does thinking that God should do something for me because of what I have done for him change our relationship with God?
  • How does living a Christian life show our love and thankfulness to God?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Is following Jesus hard? – October 5, 2022

Read: 2 Thessalonians 1:1-5,11,12

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing. Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.
2 Thessalonians 1:3,4

Is following Jesus hard?

Family Devotion – October 5, 2022

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Going to school can be hard work. There is homework, quizzes, and tests.

Being a parent can be hard work. There are meals to be made, clothes to be washed, and seemingly endless events to go to.

Having a job can be hard work. There are shifts to work, things to do, and projects to complete.

What about being a Christian? Is being a follower of Jesus hard work? It can be.

The work of following Jesus isn’t about what we have to do to get to heaven. Jesus has already done that hard work for us. He worked hard when he was here on earth to obey all of God’s commands—and he did it perfectly! It was hard when he took all our sin and failures and said they were his sin, and as a result of our sin, Jesus died. It was not an easy thing to live in our place, die for our sin, and then rise in victory over death and the devil. Being our Savior was hard work!

Following Jesus can be hard work too! Sometimes, we might not want to spend time with Jesus at church or in reading his Word. Sometimes we won’t want to love others when they can be mean or unkind. Sometimes people may even be mean or want to hurt us because we follow Jesus. It is not always an easy thing to follow Jesus.

But Jesus promises that as we listen to what he has done for us, as we grow in our faith and trust in him, he will strengthen our faith so that we can do the hard work of following him! He will be with us and help us so that we can do the things he tells us to do in his Word.

It won’t always be easy, but Jesus has already done the hardest work of forgiving our sin. Now, we can follow him here on earth until he takes us to heaven!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you so much for all that you did to save me. That was hard work. Help me to follow you, even when it is hard. In your name I pray. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What is the hardest thing you have ever done in your entire life?
  • What do you think was the hardest thing Jesus did in his life? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What is your hardest subject at school?
  • What do you think is the hardest part of following Jesus? Why?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What makes it hard for you to follow Jesus at times?
  • List two or three things you can do when following Jesus is hard that Jesus promises to bless.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do I have to? – October 3, 2022

Read: 1 Chronicles 29:1,2,10-18

I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.
1 Chronicles 29:17

Do I have to?

Family Devotion – October 3, 2022

Devotion based on 1 Chronicles 29:17

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Do I HAAAVVVVEEE to?” Mike whined.

Mike was not happy. He really didn’t feel like doing what his mother had just asked him to do. Maybe he could get out of doing it. Maybe someone else would do it. So he whined.

Complaining about something we’re asked to do seems to be something we all do at some point.

Listen again to David’s words—does he sound like someone who is complaining about what he is doing?

“I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you” (1 Chronicles 29:17).

David doesn’t sound like he is complaining about some he has to do. No, David sounds excited about something he gets to do! That is a big difference, isn’t it?

David had in mind all that God had done for him. God guarded him from wild animals when he was a shepherd, protected him in battle, made him king of Israel, and best of all—said that the Savior who would come to forgive all of his sins would come from David’s own family!

That made David joyful and thankful. So, he gave a great and generous offering to build a big church for God. David didn’t do it because he had to, he did it because he wanted to. God’s love for David changed David’s attitude!

God’s love for you does the same! He guards and protects us, he gives us things we need to live each and every day like clothing and food, and best of all, he sent his Son, Jesus to die for our sins. Your God really loves you!

And that love makes us to do the same as David—we listen to what our God tells us to do and we try to do it not because we have to, but because we want to as a way of saying thank you to God.

It means we get to go to church, we want to read and hear God’s Word, to have a devotion, to give an offering; to listen to our parents; to obey our teachers… not because we have to, but out of love for God, we want to.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, sometimes I find it hard to do the things you want me to do. Please forgive me. Help me remember how much you love me. May it work in my heart the same attitude David had—a thankful, joyful attitude that wants to do the things you ask me to do. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name at least one thing you have complained about doing today.
  • Name three things God let happen today that makes you thankful.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What kind of things do you find hard to do without complaining?
  • How can you show a thankful attitude in the things you do?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What things does God ask you to do that you find hard? Why do you think they are hard for you?
  • What is the difference in attitude between I have to… and I want to…? How will that show itself in what you do?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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Are You a Beggar? – September 30, 2022

Read: Luke 16:19-31

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side.
Luke 19:22

Are You a Beggar?

Family Devotion – September 30, 2022

Devotion based on Luke 19:22

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Do you know what a beggar is? You might beg your mom or grandma for one more delicious cookie. But Jesus’ story today is about a homeless man named Lazarus. Does Jesus want us to be like him—to leave our homes and live on the streets as beggars? Thankfully, no! Jesus’ story is not really about being rich or poor, having lots of amazing food or just crumbs, owning a big home or being homeless. It’s about realizing that all people, the rich and the poor, are… beggars. And the biggest thing you have to ask yourself is this: Am I a beggar?

The Bible shows us how we are all beggars. A homeless person with a cardboard sign on the street has a need for food or shelter. But if we are beggars too, then what do we need? Well, we are all going to one day die, and we need someone to save us from that. Our world is decaying and there is violence everywhere. We can’t fix it! We need someone to make a “new heavens and a new earth.” But there’s a lot of wrong feelings like anger and thoughts inside us—we need someone to save us from ourselves.

So, who do we beg from? We beg from the one who gave our bodies and the world to us in the first place—God! We have a God who doesn’t simply give us a crumb from his table. He feeds our faith. He sacrificed his Son Jesus to forgive us. He invites us to a feast that will last forever in heaven. With great care and love, he prepares a room for us in his mansion.

Better to be a beggar asking God to save us than the rich man in Jesus’ story who ignored Lazarus—even worse, he ignored his own need for God. God never promised an easy life. But, dear beggar of God, our feast is coming! Like Lazarus, we will be at Abraham’s side, living with GOD!

So, remember. Remember every day that you have a wonderful thing coming to you! God promises this to you. The more you remember, the more joyful and steadfast we will be as we live on this earth.

Closing Prayer:

God, thank you for not merely giving us a crumb from your table, but preparing a huge feast for us in heaven one day! Give us strength to remember you and to patiently wait for life with you. In the name of Jesus. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • What does it mean to beg?
  • What do we beg from Jesus? What does Jesus give us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • If this parable isn’t about being poor like Lazarus, then what is it about?
  • How is the reward of heaven greater than any reward we could have on earth?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How can we be tempted to be like the “rich man?”
  • What is the purpose of regularly remembering God’s promise of heaven?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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ME! – September 28, 2022

Read: Hebrews 13:1-6

Let brotherly love continue.
Hebrews 13:1

ME!

Family Devotion – September 28, 2022

Devotion based on Hebrews 13:1

See series: Devotions

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

After dinner, someone asks, “Who wants the first piece of cake?” The answer is probably “ME!” On vacation, someone asks, “Who wants the biggest bed?” The answer likely is “ME!” When good things are before us, we often want it for “me, myself, and I,” right?

But if you’re in a home with more than one child, parents don’t want all of the good things to go to just one child. They want their earthly blessings to be shared with your siblings too. They also want you to share. They want to hear less “ME!” and more sibling, or brotherly, love.

God, who is our heavenly Father, wants the same for all of us, his children. He asks that we think about “ME!” less and about each other more. We are to be loving to each other before ourselves. That’s a hard thing to do when we see something really good in front of us and we want it for ourselves. Brotherly love is not easy. In fact, it is impossible, and we fall short of what God asks of us.

Good news! Though we continually fall short, we are saved by the blood of a “Brother.” When there was a good thing put before him, Jesus didn’t yell out “ME!” Instead, he used everything God gave him in brotherly love for others—even his life. He gave up his life to save our lives. That’s love! His love pays for every single time we love “me” more than God.

Now, we are brothers with Jesus and with everyone who believe in him. We might see others living out the “me first” game, but we know that Jesus wants to be together as family. We can give up our video game time to help mom when she needs it. We treat our time with family as important. And we can sacrifice screen time to be with our great brother Jesus in his Word and prayer. Instead of more “ME,” we can be “FREE!” in Jesus—not enslaved to our own wants but freed to share brotherly love!

Closing Prayer:

Lord, how good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! Free us from our selfish wants. Renew our joy of having you as part of our family! Strengthen us to give our lives for others. Amen.

The questions below are to help families discuss this devotion. The questions are divided by age group as suggestions, but anyone could reflect on any of the questions as they desire.

Questions for Younger Children

  • How did our brother Jesus show us love?
  • Do you have a brother or sister? Think of a way you can you show them “brotherly love.”

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name something that gets in the way of you showing brotherly love to someone.
  • Instead of being boring, how does being with our brother Jesus in the Word bring us joy?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Give an example of Jesus showing brotherly love. Then think of a way you can model the same love.
  • Discuss a time you didn’t feel very loved. Why is the brotherly love of Jesus so important to remember in that moment?

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
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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