Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself – Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Genesis 28:10-17

The Lord said, “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac… All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go… I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Genesis 28:13-15

Taking Up the Cross Means Denying Yourself

 

Family Devotion – March 3, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 28:13-15

See series: Devotions

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

“I can do it myself!” The little boy declares to his mom as he tries to put his shirt on himself. But the more he tries, the more tangled his arms and head become. Finally he cries out, “Help!!” Mom comes to his rescue, helping her little boy get his head and arms back where they need to go.

Do you ever think “I can do it myself” when it comes to following Jesus? A man named Jacob had a lot of trouble with that. God promised that the Savior would come from his family. But Jacob’s father wanted to give that promise to his twin brother Esau. Jacob tried to get that promise for himself. He deceived his father to get the promise. Unfortunately, Jacob’s attempt to “do it himself” made his brother so angry, Jacob fled for his life.

Jacob got himself into a tangled mess. What was he going to do? He needed help, even though it may seem he did not deserve help. Yet the Lord still loved him. One night while Jacob was running away, he slept under the stars with a rock as his pillow. God gave him the most amazing dream. Jacob saw angels going up and down a stairway to heaven. At the top, the Lord made promise after promise to Jacob. Even though Jacob did not deserve it, the Lord would still send the Savior through Jacob’s family. The Lord would still watch over him and never leave him.

Sometimes you might think you can follow Jesus yourself. Yet how often don’t we find ourselves tangled up in temptation, hurting with guilt, or lost and confused? In moments like that, we need help, even though we do not deserve it. Jesus comes to our rescue. He untangles us from temptation, heals our hurt, and helps us follow him once again on the journey to heaven. Why? He loves us. Remember that Savior is with you. He watches over you. He forgives you, and he will bless you.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, so often I get myself tangled in temptation because I don’t think I need your help. Forgive me and help me with your mercy and love. 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 Jacob run away from home?
  • Describe something amazing from Jacob’s dream.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Lord make promises to Jacob even though he did not deserve them?
  • List ways that Jesus “did it all for me” when I could not save myself.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Recount a time when you were so mad, you wanted to run away from home.
  • How can you use the story of God’s love for a runaway Jacob to encourage someone whose life seems all tangled up at the moment?

Hymn: CW 429:1,2 – What God Ordains Is Always Good

What God ordains is always good; His will is just and holy.
As he directs my life for me, I follow meek and lowly.
My God indeed In ev’ry need
Knows well how he will shield me; To him, then, I will yield me.

What God ordains is always good; He never will deceive me.
He leads me in his righteous way And never will he leave me.
I take content What he has sent;
His hand that sends me sadness Will turn my tears to gladness.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross – Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Mark 8:31-38

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

Jesus Took Up the Cross So We Can Take Up the Cross

 

Family Devotion – March 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:34

See series: Devotions

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

Crosses are heavy. You might not think that when you see a cross hanging on your wall… and the wall is not collapsing. You might not think that when a cross hangs from a necklace around your neck… and you are not falling over under its weight. You might not think that when you see a cross on top of your church… and the roof is not caving in. Yet crosses can be heavy and even painful.

Back in Jesus’ day, criminals had to carry their crosses. A cross was made of solid pieces of heavy wood. That wood would be rough and full of splinters. Even more painful was what happened as a person’s hands and feet were nailed to the cross. Crosses were heavy and painful. If you lived in Jesus’s day, a cross was the last thing you would ever want to carry.

Jesus told his disciples that he would soon suffer and die on a cross, but they did not want to hear that. They loved Jesus very much. They did not want him to suffer such a painful death, but Jesus knew he had to take up that cross. You see, Jesus had to suffer and die on a cross for you and me. Jesus needed to suffer and die on a cross because we love ourselves more than we love God.

“I want to do what I want! I want to get what I want! I want… I want… I want…” Every one of us is selfish, no matter how young, no matter how old. We are all selfish, but Jesus was selfless for us. He willingly took up his cross to suffer and die for our selfish sins. Why? Because he loves you. He loves every one of us with a love that cares more about us than himself.

Out of amazing love for us, Jesus took up his heavy, painful cross. Now we follow him by taking up our crosses—not made of wood, but rather the “cross” of saying “No” to our selfish desires in order to honor Jesus with our lives. That is not easy. In fact, it can be painful. Still, we follow Jesus and carry our cross, because he carried his cross, until we join him in heaven someday.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, following you isn’t easy. Support me to carry my cross because you carried yours 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

  • Count how many crosses you see in your home.
  • How does a cross help you think about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain the difference between being selfish and selfless.
  • Why did Jesus have to take up his cross?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Following Jesus can be a heavy, painful cross.
  • Why is it necessary for a Christian to deny themselves and take up their cross if he or she is going to follow Jesus?

Hymn: CW 428:1,2 – Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me

Why should cross and trial grieve me?
Christ is near With his cheer; Never will he leave me.
Who can rob me of the heaven
That God’s Son For me won When his life was given?

When life’s troubles rise to meet me,
Though their weight May be great, They will not defeat me.
God, my loving Savior, sees them;
He who knows All my woes Knows how best to end them.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Are Champions – Family Devotion – February 26, 2021

Romans 8:31-39

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.
Romans 8:31-32,37

We Are Champions

 

Family Devotion – February 26, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:31-32,37

See series: Devotions

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

Sometimes there are people who are so great at sports that their teams feel like they will never lose. Lakers fans think, “We have LeBron James now. We’ll win every championship.” In the past, Chicago fans used to think the same about Michael Jordan. Some football fans have thought, “We have Tom Brady… We have Aaron Rodgers; how can we lose?” And U.S. Olympic fans have good reason to believe, “We have Simone Biles. We will win every gymnastics gold medal.”

While it is true that some athletes are so great that they help their teams win a lot, no athlete is perfect. Sometimes they miss shots, throw interceptions, or fall off the balance beam. As great as they are, sometimes they lose and leave their fans disappointed.

Thanks be to God that Jesus is nothing like those worldly athletes. Jesus’ record is perfect! He never failed to defeat a single temptation from Satan. He won the ultimate and eternal championship when he crushed Satan at the cross. Jesus is Victor, Champion, and King of all! We will never ever be disappointed with Jesus on our side!

The apostle Paul reminds us of this with beautiful words today from Romans 8. Paul asks, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In other words, if God is on our side, who can possibly defeat us and keep us out of heaven? You know the answer: No one! With God on our side, we can be confident and trust that we will win the victory of eternal life!

This is such comforting news! No matter what happens at school; no matter what disaster might happen like an earthquake, tornado, or hurricane; no matter what sickness or disease someone gets; nothing can separate us from God’s love. That’s right—not one person, not one problem, not Satan, and not even death itself can ever separate us from the love of God we have in Christ Jesus. We are conquerors! We are champions! We are winners forever in Jesus! Praise the Lord!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, you showed us your power over all things at your cross and your empty tomb. You also showed us your great love and forgiveness. Give us confidence and courage knowing that nothing will ever separate us from your power and love. 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 has Jesus shown to us that he has power over all things?
  • How has Jesus shown to us that he loves us so much?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What things in this world do you think make people the most afraid?
  • Explain why not even death can separate us from God’s love.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How does Satan use bad things in our lives to try and lead us away from God?
  • What are ways that we can grow more confident in our trust in God’s love?

Hymn: CW 200:1,4 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

The Word they still shall let remain, Nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain With his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will—Hate, steal, hurt, or kill—
Though all may be gone, Our victory is won;
The kingdom’s ours forever!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Test – Family Devotion – February 24, 2021

Genesis 22:1-18

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”
Genesis 22:2

A Test

 

Family Devotion – February 24, 2021

Devotion based on Genesis 22:2

See series: Devotions

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

It’s a word that is dreaded by almost all students. Everyone knows it’s coming eventually, but no one ever likes to hear the word come off the teacher’s lips—test. “Whaaat??? Nooooo!” It’s funny how kids act surprised, upset, or frustrated when the teacher announces a test. But no matter what class you are in and no matter how old you are, eventually there will be a test. And if the teacher is any good, there will likely be lots of tests.

That’s right. You heard me correctly. Good teachers give lots of tests. Now before you end this devotion and run away angry, consider this: Good teachers want you to be better students. They want you to gain knowledge and experience. They want you to show that you can handle things. They also want you to know where you could improve a little bit. Tests help with this. So can we agree maybe tests aren’t that bad?

In a very similar way, God tests us, his people. God doesn’t do bad things to us, and God doesn’t want us to sin. However, God does allow us to have difficult things in our lives… to test us. These tests help us to grow stronger in our faith and to remember how much we need God in our lives.

Today we heard about one of these tests—and it was a big one! Abraham was tested by God when he was asked to sacrifice his one and only son whom he loved, Isaac. God was testing Abraham to see if he would come up with excuses, refuse to obey, or do anything else to get out of it. But by faith and with God’s strength, Abraham passed this test. He was about to sacrifice his son when God finally stopped him and provided a ram to take Isaac’s place as the sacrifice.

But Abraham didn’t always pass his tests. Sometimes he failed and sinned. The same is true for us. When God allows us to be tempted or tested, sometimes we fail the test and sin too. Thank God that, just like Isaac, we have a substitute who took our place. It was the one and only Son whom God loved, Jesus. Jesus is our perfect substitute who never failed a test or fell into temptation, and Jesus is also the perfect sacrifice who paid for all the times that we have failed. Because of Jesus and his forgiveness, God looks at us now like we have straight A’s in his gradebook. We are now God’s perfect children through Jesus!

When you have difficult things come up in life (yes, even tests in school), or when you face temptations, know that God is allowing you to be tested. But don’t worry! You have God’s strength, God’s love, and God’s forgiveness every step of the way. In Jesus, we can pass each test just like Abraham!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, we thank you for allowing us to be tested by things in life. We know that you use these things to teach us, to help us grow in faith, and to help us grow closer to 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

  • How did God test Abraham?
  • Why was this test so difficult for Abraham?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What difficult things does God allow in your life to test you?
  • Even though they might not be fun, what things could God be teaching you through these difficult things?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: God proves he loves us when he allows us to be tested. Explain your answer.
  • Ask your parent(s) what has been the greatest test or challenge to their faith so far in life.

Hymn: CW 200:1,2 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done; Soon were our loss effected.
But for us fights the valiant one Whom God himself elected.
You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is,
The almighty Lord. And there’s no other God;
He holds the field forever.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Ready? Repent! – Family Devotion – February 22, 2021

Mark 1:12-15

At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”
Mark 1:12-15

Ready? Repent!

 

Family Devotion – February 22, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:12-15

See series: Devotions

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

“Kids! We have to get ready! We have guests coming over tonight!” Jose and Gabriella looked at each other, rolled their eyes, and did one big sigh at the same time—“Ugh, really?” They knew exactly what was about to happen. Jose and Gabriella would have to do a whole pile of house chores—empty the dishwasher, vacuum, clean their rooms, and more. They also knew they would need to shower and change into nicer clothes. After all, their Abuela was coming over, and everyone knew how picky their grandmother would be. She always pointed out every speck of dirt or dust!

What things do you have to do when guests come to your house? Cleaning and chores like Jose and Gabriella? Do you need to help make food or set the table? Maybe something else? Have you also noticed that when there is an extra special event with guests, there’s always more you have to prepare?

Here’s one more question to consider today: How much have you prepared for one other special guest . . . for Jesus? We heard today that Jesus preached the message that the kingdom of God has come near. That’s still true today. God’s kingdom is near us because God comes to us in his Word in Baptism and in Communion. We also know that Jesus will be coming back soon on judgment day with his eternal kingdom.

Whenever Jesus comes to us, he’s looking for more than just dirt or dust. Jesus sees every dirty speck of sin in our lives. That could be scary! How am I supposed to prepare for Jesus when I struggle to fight temptations and I sin so often?

Take comfort in God’s Word for today about Jesus’ temptation by Satan. Remember that Jesus fought Satan and won. Jesus resisted all temptations and sin. And then, Jesus took away all our sins on the cross. He washed us squeaky clean in his blood so that there are no more sin-stains on us! So how can we be ready for Jesus? You heard what he said today, “Repent!” Be sorry for your sins, turn away from them, and find forgiveness in Jesus. He alone will make you ready and prepared for him as your special guest.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, thank you for defeating Satan with your life and death. I know that your power alone will help me to resist temptation and avoid sin. Help me with this every 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

  • How did Jesus show his power over Satan?
  • What are good choices around the house that Jesus can help you to make instead of sinning?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • In what special ways does Jesus come to us now? (Hint: There were three mentioned in the devotion.)
  • Name two big temptations that Satan brings to children your age.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Jesus defeated Satan with his life and death.
  • What are ways that you can grow stronger in faith and resist temptation and sin?

Hymn: CW 200:1,3 – A Mighty Fortress is Our God

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;
He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.
The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;
Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;
On earth is not his equal.

Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done!
One little word can fell him.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Are the Man – Family Devotion – February 19, 2021

2 Samuel 12:1-13

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, “As surely as the LORD lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.”

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!

Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.
2 Samuel 12:5-7,13

You Are the Man

 

Family Devotion – February 19, 2021

Devotion based on 2 Samuel 12:5-7,13

See series: Devotions

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

“I don’t know. Maybe it was Kylah,” Caleb said. His heart was racing so fast you could almost see it beating through his Spider Man T-shirt. Caleb couldn’t even look at his father as he was talking to him. He felt terrible.

You see, Caleb’s father was very upset when he came home from work and noticed that every single light switch in the entire house had been circled with a black Sharpie permanent marker. He had been asking Caleb for five minutes about it, but Caleb kept insisting, “It was Kylah! She should be punished!” One problem though… Kylah was a baby and couldn’t even walk yet!

“No, Caleb, it was you. You did it.” Caleb couldn’t take it anymore. He felt too guilty. Finally he said, “Yes, dad. I did it.”

Have you been in a situation like that before? Sometimes when we sin, the last thing we want to do is admit it. We make up excuses. We blame other people. We even lie at times.

King David found himself in that situation. He had done some very sinful things. He took another person’s wife for himself, he had that man killed, he lied about it, and he hid his sins. Finally the prophet Nathan came and told David a story about a man who had done something wrong, too. David was angry and said the man should be punished and die! That’s when Nathan said the famous words, “You are the man!” David finally realized his sins and repented, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

During this time of the year we call Lent, we remember what we have done. We have done so much wrong by what we think, say, and do. We need to join David in saying, “I have sinned against the LORD.”

But dear friends, do not worry! God is merciful and gracious and compassionate. During Lent we also remember that Jesus came to take our sin onto himself. He paid for our sin at the cross and has washed us clean in God’s sight. Because of our Savior Jesus, what the prophet Nathan said to David is the good news that we can rejoice in every day, “The LORD has taken away your sin.” Thanks be to God for his forgiveness for every sin!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, I have sinned so many times in my life. I am so sorry. Thank you for washing me clean in your blood and forgiving all I have done. 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

  • In the story today, why did Caleb blame his sister for what he did?
  • When we do sinful things, why shouldn’t we lie to others about it?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it mean that someone feels guilty?
  • How did Jesus make us to be not guilty in God’s sight?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Describe how people feel on the inside when they hide and lie about their sins like David did.
  • What are ways that we respond to the good news of God’s forgiveness when we are at church?

Hymn: CW 304:1,6,7 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Jesus sinners does receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander.
Here is hope for all who grieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

Oh, how blest is it to know, Were as scarlet my transgression,
It shall be as white as snow By your blood and bitter passion,
For these words I do believe—Jesus sinners does receive.

Jesus sinners does receive. Even I have been forgiven.
And when I this earth must leave, I shall find an open heaven.
Dying, still to him I cleave—Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Ash Wednesday – Family Devotion – February 17, 2021

Luke 18:9-14

“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Luke 18:10-14

Ash Wednesday

 

Family Devotion – February 17, 2021

Devotion based on Luke 18:10-14

See series: Devotions

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

You couldn’t find two people who were more different than these two guys. One was a Pharisee. The Pharisees were a group of people who set themselves apart as special by doing extra things for God. They thought God would love them more when they did these extra things. This man in particular really thought he was special. He even bragged and boasted out loud in front of other people that he was so great—that he gave so much money to God and that he wasn’t as bad as other “sinners.”

The other man was a tax collector. This means that he collected tax money from his own Jewish people and gave it to the Romans. While many didn’t like this, the bad part was that most tax collectors cheated people and stole some of the money for themselves. This particular tax collector felt terrible about all his sins. He felt so guilty that he couldn’t even look up to heaven. Instead, he bowed his head and begged and pleaded, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

So . . . which guy are you?

That may sound strange, but remember that Jesus told this story to teach us something. Jesus wants us to understand that sometimes we sin by being proud and boastful, by thinking that we don’t sin much and that we are better than other people—just like the Pharisee. But other times we are like the tax collector and feel so bad and guilty about all that we have done! So which guy am I? I am both! Sometimes I’m a proud Pharisee and sometimes I’m a guilty tax collector.

Now here’s the most important question—which of the two in the story had a good relationship with God? Or in other words, which sinner did God forgive? Jesus tells us that God forgave the tax collector. Why? Because the tax collector repented. He was sorry for his sins, asked God for forgiveness, and wanted to make a change in his life.

This week includes Ash Wednesday, the first day of the church season we call Lent. Lent is a time for us to be like the tax collector. We remember our many sins, and we repent—we turn to God for forgiveness. But friends, rejoice! During Lent we will follow Jesus to the cross where he paid for all our sins so that we can be forgiven just like the tax collector. God bless our journey with Jesus to the cross this year!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, have mercy on us. We are sorry for our sins. We look to you for forgiveness, and we rejoice that you have paid for all we have done at the cross. Thank 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 made the Pharisee so proud that he would brag to others?
  • Why did the tax collector feel so guilty and sad?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain how people sometimes act like the Pharisee in this story.
  • Explain how people sometimes act like the tax collector in this story.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The word repent literally means to change your mind or to turn around. Explain in your own words then what it means for us to repent of our sins.
  • Agree or Disagree: God will not forgive any sin unless you first repent of it. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 304:1,4,5 – Jesus Sinners Does Receive

Jesus sinners does receive; Oh, may all this saying ponder
Who in sin’s delusions live And from God and heaven wander.
Here is hope for all who grieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

Come, O sinners, one and all, Come, accept his invitation.
Come, obey his gracious call; Come and take his free salvation!
Firmly in these words believe—Jesus sinners does receive.

I, a sinner, come to you With a penitent confession.
Savior, show me mercy, too; Grant for all my sins remission.
Let these words my soul relieve—Jesus sinners does receive.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Best Place Ever – Family Devotion – February 15, 2021

Mark 9:2-9

Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.)

Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
Mark 9:5-7

Best Place Ever

 

Family Devotion – February 15, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 9:5-7

See series: Devotions

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

What is the coolest place you have ever been to? Have you traveled to another country? Have you been to a national park? How about an insanely awesome water park with super cool slides? Disney World? Some other place?

Most people have been somewhere that they think is absolutely amazing. The place is so fun, so relaxing, or so beautiful that they never want to leave. If they could just stay at that place forever and never go home, they would be totally happy. Why leave the best and coolest place ever?

Peter, James, and John experienced an absolutely amazing place. Jesus took them to a mountaintop, but it wasn’t the beautiful view that was so amazing. There, atop that mountain, Jesus transfigured before them. That’s a fancy word that means to be changed. Suddenly Jesus was shining brightly, and his clothes appeared whiter than snow. Then, Moses and Elijah appeared and were talking with Jesus, too. Incredible!

The disciples were so amazed and afraid at the same time that they didn’t know what to do. But they knew it was awesome! Peter suggested that they put up some tents and stay there. After all, why leave the best and coolest place ever? That may have sounded like a good idea at first, but it shows that Peter didn’t really understand why Jesus came to earth in the first place.

Then suddenly a cloud appeared over them. God the Father spoke from the heavens just as he did at Jesus’ baptism, “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

Those words help to remind us why Jesus really came. Jesus did not come to give us a really cool and awesome place to hang out here in this world. He came to give us something better than that. The beloved Son of God came so that we could be children whom God loves, too. How would he do that? Jesus had to come down this Mount of Transfiguration so he could go up another mount called Calvary. On Mount Calvary, Jesus would die for all our sins and bring us God’s forgiveness and love. By his death and resurrection, Jesus won for us an eternal life in heaven. Peter, James, and John saw just a little bit of Jesus’ glory for a little while. But in heaven, we will live with Jesus in his glory forever. Now that will be the best place ever!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, by grace you have called us to be your disciples and to follow you. Help us to put you first in all we think, say, and do as we serve you in our lives. 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 happened when Peter, James, and John were with Jesus on this special mountaintop?
  • Who were the two people that appeared with Jesus that day?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was it foolish for Peter to want to stay on that mountaintop with Jesus? What didn’t he understand?
  • Explain why heaven will be the best place ever.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain how the Mount of Transfiguration was a sneak peek preview of heaven.
  • What do you look forward to the most about heaven? Why?

Hymn: CW 97:1,4,5 – Down from the Mount of Glory

Down from the mount of glory Came Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Recall the wondrous story, Rich gem in sacred Word.
Again your faith will view him In double glory here;
The greater homage due him Will in your life appear.

Strange how his journey ended! In love that is his fame
Our Lord again ascended A mount—the hill of shame.
Upon the cross he proffered Himself to agony;
His holy soul he offered To set the guilty free.

Then hail the double glory Of Jesus Christ, our Lord,
And let the wondrous story Full peace and joy afford!
The holy mount acclaims him The majesty divine;
Mount Calvary proclaims him Redeemer—yours and mine.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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All Part of the Plan – Family Devotion – February 12, 2021

Romans 8:28-30

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

All Part of the Plan

 

Family Devotion – February 12, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 8:28

See series: Devotions

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

Have you read a good book or watched a good movie recently? Good stories are ones that have lots of twists, turns, and adventures. Sometimes there are big problems in those stories, but somehow the main characters get through it, and by the end of the story everything works out for a happy ending.

Imagine being a character in that book or that movie. With each new chapter or scene, you never know what is going to happen next. Sometimes the story makes no sense to you. But when the story is over, you are glad that everything worked out for good in the end.

On the other hand, imagine that you are the author of the book or the director of the movie. You know everything that’s going to happen. You know the beginning of the story, the problems of the story, and the happy ending. After all, because you wrote the story, you know how everything works together for good.

Sometimes in life there are things that do not make sense to us at all. Why is my friend being so mean to me? Why did we have to lose that big game? Why did mom lose her job? Why did my loved one have to die so soon? These problems are confusing and frustrating, and sometimes make us very sad.

But today the apostle Paul encourages us with some very special words. He reminds us that, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Even though we may not understand things that are happening in our lives, God does. God is like the author of a story. He knows the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story of our lives. He knows how everything will fit together and he knows how he will work it out for good.

So that friend being mean to you? Maybe God will bring a new and better friend into your life! Mom lost her job? Maybe God will lead her to a better job, or maybe God will teach your family to trust and rely on him more! That loved one who passed away so soon? Not only does God bring all believers to heaven, but he also reminds us when people die how special heaven is and that we want to be there, too.

You see, in each and every chapter of our lives, God is working all things for our good. We may not know how at the time, but we can trust that our mighty God is doing what he promises is for our good. After all, if God loved us enough to give us his own Son to save us, we can definitely trust that God will work in love in all things for our good. Best of all, God is working in all things to lead you to life with him in heaven, and that’s the happiest ending any story could ever have!

Closing Prayer:

Heavenly Father, help us to trust that you work all things, even bad things, for good in our lives. We may not know how or why, but we trust that you do. We thank you for loving us so much. 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 some bad things that happen to people sometimes in this world?
  • Explain what it means that God will work something out for your good.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why is it comforting to know that God knows every moment of your life—the past, the present, and the future?
  • How can you learn to trust in God and his promises more?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Give examples of things that happen in life where people might say, “There is no way this could be for my good.”
  • Next, give examples of how God might work through those things for good.

Hymn: CW 93:1,4 – Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free,
To take away transgression, And rule in equity.

O’er ev’ry foe victorious, He on his throne shall rest,
From age to age more glorious, All blessing and all-blest.
The tide of time shall never His covenant remove;
His name shall stand forever—That name to us is Love.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Why God – Family Devotion – February 10, 2021

Read: Job 7:1-7

When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’
The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn.
My body is clothed with worms and scabs,
my skin is broken and festering.

“My days are swifter than a weaver’s shuttle,
and they come to an end without hope.
Remember, O God, that my life is but a breath;
my eyes will never see happiness again.
Job 7:4-7

Why God?

 

Family Devotion – February 10, 2021

Devotion based on Job 7:4-7

See series: Devotions

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

Worst. Year. Ever! A lot of people said those words about the year 2020. There were so many problems that it sometimes seemed like we only heard bad news every day. And we can’t forget the Coronavirus pandemic that has changed so much of our lives! But for all of our problems last year or even right now, I’m not sure any of us have ever suffered as much as a man from the Bible named Job. Do you remember his story?

Job was very blessed. He had 10 children, 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 oxen, 500 donkeys, and many, many servants. However, on one day Job lost it all. His animals and possessions were destroyed or stolen. His servants were killed by enemies. Then worst of all, a great wind collapsed a house with all ten of his children inside, and they all died. This all happened on the same day! As if that wasn’t enough, then Job got sick himself. You heard the disgusting description today of how he had scabs and worms on his skin that was broken and blistering.

Such horrible suffering! Such awful pains! Such terrible sadness! Job was confused, frustrated, sad, and so much more. But do you know what Job did? He prayed. These words we heard today are part of a prayer to God begging for help and comfort. Why did God let this happen? Why was he suffering so much? When was God going to do something to help him?

And you know what? That’s okay. It was okay for Job to pray like this. It was okay for Job to be on his knees begging God for help, healing, comfort, and strength. It’s okay for you to do that too!

The year 2020 was very difficult for many. And you may be struggling with school. And you may know someone you love who is very sick. And you may have many other problems. These things make us confused. frustrated, sad. But do you know what you can do? Go to God! You have a God who so loved you that he saved you through his Son Jesus. He loves you like a dear Father loves a dear child. So be like Job and go to your heavenly Father! Take your hurt, pain, and sadness of this life to him! We don’t always know why God allows certain problems in our lives, but he certainly uses them to remind us, like he reminded Job, how much we need our Father in heaven. Best of all, when we turn to God for help, healing, comfort, and strength, we will be reminded that because of Jesus, one day soon we will be in heaven with him where we will never have a problem or pain again! May God lead us safely home to heaven soon!

Closing Prayer:

Lord, we have a lot of suffering and sadness in our lives. Sometimes things are so difficult for us! Help us to remember to go to you in your prayer, remember your love, and trust in your promise of life 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 were some of the problems that Job had in his life?
  • What are some of the problems that you or your family has right now?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain how God might use something that seems bad for our good.
  • Can you think of an example from the Bible of someone who experienced something bad, but God later worked it out for good?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Identify specific ways that God has used some of the bad things in the past year to bring blessings to people.
  • Children ask your parent(s) about things they remember from when they were younger that seemed bad at first but that God later worked for good.

Hymn: CW 93:1,3 – Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free,
To take away transgression, And rule in equity.

Kings shall bow down before him And gold and incense bring;
All nations shall adore him; His praise all people sing.
To him shall prayer unceasing And daily vows ascend,
His kingdom still increasing, A kingdom without end.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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I Need Help – Family Devotion – February 8, 2021

Read: Mark 1:29-39

Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. The whole town gathered at the door, and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was.
Mark 1:30-34

I Need Help

 

Family Devotion – February 8, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:30-34

See series: Devotions

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

“I need help!” Those are words that parents get to know very well. Their children say them more times than anyone could ever count. “I need help tying my shoes!… I need help cutting the pizza… I need help pouring milk… I need help with my math.” Even though they hear it a lot, parents are glad to help their children and to teach them what to do.

However, sometimes children are a little bit stubborn (okay, sometimes really stubborn), and they think they can do things without help. That’s when problems happen. They try to pour the full gallon of milk onto their cereal, and milk ends up everywhere. They try tying shoes without first learning, and they trip and fall over the laces. They try that tricky math problem they don’t understand without any help, and they get a bad grade in the class. It’s good to admit you need help and to get help from someone who loves you!

Sometimes we act like this with Jesus, too. We have so many problems in our lives, but sometimes we think we can take care of them on our own. But whether you are sick, in trouble, sad, or lonely—there is no problem we can take care of in our lives without God helping us in some way.

Jesus’ disciples found that out very quickly. Soon after Jesus called them to be his disciples, they saw Jesus perform all kinds of miracles. In today’s devotion we heard about just some of the people who were in great need. People had diseases, demons, and sicknesses—even Simon Peter’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever. Yet all of those people learned through their problems that they needed the Lord’s help and that he did have the power to help them.

If we need help with our physical problems in life like sicknesses and diseases, how much more is this true with our spiritual problems! We need Jesus’ help with our sins! The one who can take away all our sickness is also the one who took away all our sins! The one who conquers diseases also conquered death! Today we remember that we need Jesus’ help, and that he has the power to help us. We also thank God that Jesus helped us with our greatest problem by taking away our sin and giving us life in heaven.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, help me to remember how much I need you in my life. I need you with every worldly problem, but I also need you as my Savior. Thank you for being the answer to my every need. 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 were some of the problems that people had in the Bible story today?
  • Where did Jesus get all his power to help and to heal people?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What are some of the problems in your family that you would like to ask Jesus to help with?
  • Why can we be so confident that Jesus has the power to help us? What proof do we have?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • If Jesus has the power to help us with every worldly problem, why doesn’t he fix all of them for us?
  • Agree or Disagree: Jesus healed people to show that he loves them. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 93:1,2 – Hail to the Lord’s Anointed

Hail to the Lord’s Anointed, Great David’s greater Son!
Hail, in the time appointed, His reign on earth begun!
He comes to break oppression, To set the captive free,
To take away transgression, And rule in equity.

He comes with rescue speedy To those who suffer wrong,
To help the poor and needy And bid the weak be strong,
To give them songs for sighing, Their darkness turn to light
Whose souls, condemned and dying, Are precious in his sight.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Greatest of All – Family Devotion – February 5, 2021

Read: Hebrews 3:1-6

Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself. For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
Hebrews 3:3-6

The Greatest of All

 

Family Devotion – February 5, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 3:3-6

See series: Devotions

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

Who is your greatest hero of all time? Is it Spider Man or Super Man? Captain America or Captain Marvel? Maybe it’s a real person like LeBron James, Martin Luther King Jr., or Abraham Lincoln. Maybe a parent, grandparent, pastor, or teacher?

What about in the Bible? Who is the greatest hero of faith that you look up to in the Bible? Is it Abraham, David, Peter, Paul, Ruth, or Mary? There are so many to choose from as great examples of faith!

If you were an ancient Israelite, a Jew at the time of Jesus, or even a Jewish person today, there is one person that almost always is at the very top of the list of heroes—Moses. The Jews loved and respected Moses as the leader who led them out of Egypt and the one who received the Ten Commandments and laws of God. He was a great leader and prophet! But sadly, many took this too far. So many Jews put all their hope and trust in Moses and not Jesus.

One Bible writer wrote a special book called Hebrews about this very thing. The book of Hebrews tells us that Jesus is superior (which means better and more powerful) than angels, priests in the temple, and yes, even better than Moses. The verses for today remind us that while Moses was a faithful servant, Jesus was the servant of God who saved us. Moses did great things by faith, but Jesus died for our sins to bring us forgiveness and rose to life to guarantee us a life in heaven. Jesus brings us into his family, into God’s house, and gives us confident hope in our eternal life.

There is nothing wrong with looking up to people as heroes in our lives. God blesses us with many special people who make a difference in this world, who help us, and who love us. It can be fun to look up to make-believe heroes like the Avengers, but soldiers, doctors, nurses, pastors, teachers, parents, and so many more make a huge difference in our lives. Thank God for them!

And yet, may God help us to remember that greater than any hero, better than any person in our lives or in the Bible is Jesus our great and powerful Savior. He is the best and greatest of all! Praise the Lord!

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you have proven to us that you are King of kings and Lord of lords. You are the best and greatest of all because you are true man, true God, and truly our Savior. We thank and praise you always!

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 is your greatest hero that you look up to (besides Jesus)?
  • How has Jesus shown to us that he is greater than any worldly or make-believe hero?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How does knowing that Jesus is the greatest and best of all comfort you in your life?
  • What are ways that we show Jesus is best and greatest of all when we are at church?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think humans are so fascinated and obsessed with real-life and make-believe heroes?
  • Agree or Disagree: It is way harder to show that Jesus is the most important to you than it is to say that he is the most important to you. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 556:1,4 – Rise, Shine, You People

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded.

Tell how the Father sent his Son to save us.
Tell of the Son, who life and freedom gave us.
Tell how the Spirit calls from ev’ry nation
His new creation.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Just as He Said – Family Devotion – February 3, 2021

Read: Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The LORD said to me: “What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him.
Deuteronomy 18:17-18

Just as He Said

 

Family Devotion – February 3, 2021

Devotion based on Deuteronomy 18:17-18

See series: Devotions

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

Jonas and Addie ran to their rooms. They were trying to hold it back and hide it, but they couldn’t any longer. They buried their heads in their pillows and started sobbing. “Why? Why can’t we! But you said! You said we could!”

Jonas and Addie were heartbroken. Their parents had just told them that they weren’t going to Disney World. After almost a year of planning, looking at pictures, and excited talk about rides and Mickey and Star Wars adventures, it wasn’t going to happen. Despite all their many promises, the parents told Jonas and Addie that they couldn’t do it this year. They didn’t have the time to get away from work, and they didn’t have the money to pay for it. The just couldn’t do it. How sad when parents, friends, family, and others break their promises to us!

Moses made a promise to the Israelites in our devotion today. However, this wasn’t Moses’ promise, it was actually the Lord’s. And what did the Lord say? He promised that he was going to send another prophet like Moses in the future. This special prophet would be even greater than Moses and would speak the very words of God, telling us everything God wants us to know.

Unlike imperfect people, God always keeps his promises. He has the power. He can do what he says. And yes, God has kept all his promises, including this one. God sent that greater prophet—Jesus, his own Son. In the previous devotion this week, we heard one example of how Jesus proved he was this great prophet. He taught with power and with authority and showed his power by casting out a demon. But it wasn’t just that story. In all of Jesus’ words and works, he proves that he is the One God promised to send.

How thankful we can be that God keeps his promises! Because he kept every promise to send our Savior Jesus, we know that he will keep every other promise to us. When we feel lonely and sad, we know that he is still with us—just as he said. When we feel like everything is going badly in our lives, we know that he will work it all for our good because he loves us—just as he said. When things are bad in this world, we know he will take us one day to our perfect home in heaven—just as he said.

Look at God’s power in Jesus. Look at God’s promises kept in Jesus. God has proven that he will love us and help us in his grace—just as he said.

Closing Prayer:

God, we are so thankful that you keep all your promises to us. Because you do, help us always to believe and trust what you say. 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 the prophecy (the promise) that God made to the Israelites through Moses?
  • Who was the keeper of that promise?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why it is so difficult for humans to keep their promises to each other.
  • Explain, as best you can, why it is so easy for God to keep his promises to us.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name as many promises as you can think of that God has made to us.
  • Agree or Disagree: Because God has kept all his promises to us, we will never again doubt or worry. Explain your answer.

Hymn: CW 556:1,3 – Rise, Shine, You People

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded.

Come, celebrate, your banners high unfurling,
Your songs and prayers against the darkness hurling.
To all the world go out and tell the story
Of Jesus’ glory.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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He Has the Power – Family Devotion – February 1, 2021

Read: Mark 1:21-28

“Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek.

The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee.
Mark 1:25-28

He Has the Power

 

Family Devotion – February 1, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:25-28

See series: Devotions

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

There’s an old cartoon that many who were born in the 1970s and 1980s loved. The cartoon was called He-Man. The famous part of every cartoon that so many remember is when He-Man would say the words, “I have the power!” and lightning would strike as He-Man changed into a super strong hero to fight bad guys like Skeletor.

Okay, fine. So 1980s cartoons were a little weird. Don’t laugh at your parents too much. But… every TV hero is kind of the same. Whether you are He-Man, Black Panther, Thor, Iron Man, or Wonder Woman—all heroes claim to have power. Then they show off that power as they defeat enemies that threaten the world.

People were always shocked by the things that Jesus said. He claimed that he was special and had power. He even claimed to be the Son of God and promised Savior. The story for our devotion today actually took place when Jesus was at worship in the synagogue with other Jews one day. The people were shocked at the authority and power of his teachings and what he said. Then suddenly, a man possessed by a demon spoke against Jesus and what he was doing. That’s when Jesus spoke the words we just heard, “Be quiet! Come out of him!” Just like that, the evil spirit left the man. The people were amazed at what they saw and heard, and news spread quickly about Jesus.

Every miracle Jesus did was very special. Each time that Jesus did something like turning water into wine, healing people, or casting out demons, Jesus showed that he had power. Jesus didn’t just say he had power as the Son of God—he proved it!

No place is this more clear than at his empty tomb on Easter morning. Jesus didn’t just say he was the Savior. Jesus didn’t just say he would die and pay for sin. Jesus didn’t just say, “It is finished on the cross.” Jesus proved all this by rising from the dead! He did finish his work of saving us! He did pay for our sins! He is our Savior!

Enjoy this little story today as you get to see just a little bit of Jesus’ power. But like a commercial for a superhero movie, this story is just a preview. Get ready! The real celebration on Easter is just about two months away! What a joy to know that Jesus has the power—and proves it!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for telling us about your power with your words and then proving it with your actions. Help us always to trust in what you say and 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

  • How did Jesus prove his power at the synagogue on this day?
  • When did Jesus prove that he has the power of Satan, death, and hell?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why was it important for Jesus not only to talk about his power but also to prove it?
  • How does it help you to know that Jesus has more power than anyone or anything, including the devil?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain why Easter morning can give us absolute confidence that Jesus is not just a good man or a good teacher, but actually our God and Savior.
  • Explain what this means: In the Bible God often showed his power in obvious and open ways like with miracles, but now God shows his power in hidden ways with his Word and sacraments.

Hymn: CW 556:1,2 – Rise, Shine, You People

Rise, shine, you people! Christ the Lord has entered
Our human story; God in him is centered.
He comes to us, by death and sin surrounded,
With grace unbounded.

See how he sends the pow’rs of evil reeling;
He brings us freedom, light and life and healing.
All men and women, who by guilt are driven,
Now are forgiven.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Follow Jesus by Honoring Jesus – Family Devotion – January 29, 2021

Read: 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

What I mean, brothers and sisters, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they do not; those who mourn, as if they did not; those who are happy, as if they were not; those who buy something, as if it were not theirs to keep; those who use the things of the world, as if not engrossed in them. For this world in its present form is passing away.
1 Corinthians 7:29-31

Follow Jesus by Honoring Jesus

 

Family Devotion – January 29, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 7:29-31

See series: Devotions

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

Things are very different when time is running out! How a team plays in the first half of the game compared to how they play in the final 30 seconds when they are trying to come back and win is very different. How people shop for Christmas on December 1 compared to how they shop for last-minute gifts on the morning of Christmas Eve is very different. How you work on a science project a month before it is due compared to how you work on it the night before because you forgot is very different, too. When time is short, you live and act very differently!

That’s really what the apostle Paul is trying to help us understand in the verses for our devotion today. They might sound a little strange to us at first. Does Paul really mean that we should live as if we aren’t married, sad, happy, or like we don’t own anything? Well, not exactly.

It is a blessing to have a husband or wife. It is good for us to mourn when we are sad (like when a loved one dies), to be happy when good things happen, or to be thankful for the many possessions we have. Those things are good. But what the apostle wants us to understand is that none of those things—or anything else in life—should ever be more important than God. Why? Because time is running out!

We never know how many years God will bless us with in our lives in this world. We might live to be very old, but we might not. At the same time, our Lord Jesus might return on judgment day at any time. It could happen ten years, ten months, or ten minutes from now. Because our time is limited in this world, we shouldn’t get too attached to things of this world. Friends and family are wonderful. Money can be a blessing. School is good for you (yes, it really is). Toys, tools, and technology can be useful and fun. But finally, our relationship with Jesus is the one and only thing that will last forever.

Thank God that he has put us first in his heart by giving his Son Jesus to bring us forgiveness and to give us the gift of eternal life in heaven! Through Jesus we have a blessed relationship with God now in this world and forever in heaven. So enjoy your many blessings in this world. They are good gifts of God. But remember to put first in your heart the greatest blessing of all—a life with Jesus in heaven. What a joy it will be to be there in a place where time will never run out with him!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you gave yourself in love to pay the price for my sins so that I can be a child of God. Help me show you love and honor now with the way that I live 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

  • How did Jesus show us that he loves us so very much?
  • What are some ways that you can show your love for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What are some of your favorite earthly blessings that God has given to you?
  • How might some of those good blessings turn into something that leads us to push God out of our lives?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think God doesn’t tell us when our life will end or when he will return on judgment day?
  • Discuss real, practical ways that you can show honor and love for God this week.

Hymn: CW 453:1,4-5 – Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke

“Come, follow me,” the Savior spoke, “All in my way abiding.
Deny yourselves; the world forsake; Obey my call and guiding.
Oh, bear the cross, whate’er betide; Take my example for your guide.

“I teach you how to shun and flee What harms your souls’ salvation,
Your hearts from ev’ry guile to free, From sin and its temptation.
I am the refuge of the soul And lead you to your heav’nly goal.”

Then let us follow Christ our Lord And take the cross appointed
And, firmly clinging to his Word, In suff’ring be undaunted.
For those who bear the battle’s strain The crown of heav’nly life obtain.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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, Others, Me – Family Devotion – January 27, 2021

Read: Jonah 3:1-5,10

Then the word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.”
Jonah 3:1-2

God, Others, Me

 

Family Devotion – January 27, 2021

Devotion based on Jonah 3:1-2

See series: Devotions

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

“Me? . . . Them? . . . Now? . . . No way!” And just like that, Jonah ran away as fast and as far as he could.

Do you remember how that story went? God came to the prophet Jonah and told him to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. The people of Nineveh lived about 600 miles away from Israel, and they were very, very evil people. Not only were they wicked unbelievers, but they were also enemies with Jonah and his people.

Jonah was frustrated, upset, scared, and probably much more. Why would he go and preach to those people? Why would God want to save them? So Jonah ran away, hopped on a boat, and set sail in the opposite direction to a place about 2,000 miles away from Nineveh. That’s when the famous story happened where Jonah was swallowed by the giant fish, he repented, he learned a lesson about God’s grace and mercy, and he was spit back onto dry ground.

Then we pick up with the words for our devotion today: “The word of the LORD came to Jonah a second time.” God told him again to go and preach to the people of Nineveh. This time Jonah did, and the incredible happened! Every last person in that wicked city listened to Jonah, turned to the LORD, and God spared them by his grace. Amazing!

Do you know that God has also called you to preach? Yes, God calls some to be pastors and teachers. But God also calls all of his followers, both young and old, to go and make disciples of all nations and share the good news of Jesus as our Savior. However, sometimes like Jonah we selfishly put ourselves first instead of God and his grace. We may not share Jesus because we are afraid of what people will say or because we are just too lazy to look for opportunities. Sometimes, sadly, we are even like Jonah and don’t share Jesus because we don’t like other people. “Why would I share Jesus with people like that?” Or, “They won’t listen to me,” we may think.

How important it is for us to learn the same lesson that Jonah did. God’s amazing grace is for all people of all nations. All of us equally deserve God’s punishment. Yet God graciously sent his Son Jesus to live and die for all people, and amazingly, that includes us too. You and I know this truth, but many others do not. That’s why God sends us to share this good news (we call that good news the gospel).

So unlike Jonah at first, let’s not put ourselves first. We put God first and love him by obeying his call to make other disciples. Then we put others second as we love them by sharing the good news of Jesus with them. How pleasing to God when we get things in the proper order—God, others, me.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, you have called us to be your disciples and then to go and make other disciples. Help us to be bold and brave as we share your good news with all people. 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 God tell Jonah to do?
  • Why didn’t Jonah want to do that?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What lesson did God teach Jonah by the end of the story?
  • Can you think of people that might be scared or nervous to talk to about Jesus? Why do you feel that way?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: One of the reasons we don’t always share Jesus with others is our own pride.
  • As a family, think of one group of people not living in our country that you can pray for, asking God that they might hear and believe the good news of Jesus.

Hymn: CW 453:1,3 – Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke

“Come, follow me,” the Savior spoke, “All in my way abiding.
Deny yourselves; the world forsake; Obey my call and guiding.
Oh, bear the cross, whate’er betide; Take my example for your guide.

“My heart abounds in lowliness, My soul with love is glowing,
And gracious words my lips express, With meekness overflowing.
My heart, my mind, my strength, my all To God I yield; on him I call.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Follow Me – Family Devotion – January 25, 2021

Read: Mark 1:14-20

As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.
Mark 1:16-20

Follow Me

 

Family Devotion – January 25, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:16-20

See series: Devotions

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

What is your dream for the future? What would you like to do some day? Would you like to be a famous YouTuber? What about a movie star or popular singer? Do you have dreams of something extraordinary? Maybe you would like to be a dolphin trainer at SeaWorld or an astronaut that walks on the moon. Maybe you have big dreams of being a doctor, lawyer, or even the president someday. What fun to think and dream about what you want to do in the future!

I have one more suggestion for you: What if someday you could be someone that lots of people don’t like, that few people listen to—someone that most people want to go away and never come back. Sound like fun? Probably not.

When Jesus called Simon Peter and his brother Andrew and then James and his brother John to be his disciples, they dropped everything to follow him. They left behind their jobs as fishermen. They left their families and their friends. That’s tough enough. But do you think they would have done this if they had known how difficult it would be? If they knew how many people wouldn’t like them, wouldn’t listen to them, and would want them to go away and never come back, do you think they still would have followed Jesus that day? Would you have followed Jesus that day?

It can be a fun thing for us to dream about our future, but sometimes we focus too much on worldly things—being famous, being rich, being able to do whatever we think is fun. Those things might be blessings God gives us, but they are definitely not the most important things in life. What is most important is to know Jesus as our Savior, to trust in him, and to follow him. When we do that, Jesus is eager to give us eternal riches in heaven that are better than anything this world has to offer.

Jesus probably won’t appear to you like he did Peter, Andrew, James, and John and tell you to drop your math homework or your house chores to follow him (though that might be nice!). But Jesus does ask you to follow him by putting him first in your heart. Definitely follow your good and God-pleasing dreams for the future. But as you do, think of ways that you can use your gifts to serve Jesus and to share Jesus, just like those first disciples.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, by grace you have called us to be your disciples and to follow you. Help us to put you first in all we think, say, and do as we serve you in our lives. 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 were the jobs of Peter, Andrew, James, and John before Jesus told them to follow him?
  • What is the most important thing in the world that God wants us to tell other people?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What did Jesus mean when he told the disciples they would now be fishing for people?
  • If you were one of those first four disciples, how do you think you would feel to leave everything to follow Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What is something difficult about being a follower of Jesus today?
  • Explain why problems and troubles can be blessings for us as disciples of Jesus.

Hymn: CW 453:1,2 – Come, Follow Me, the Savior Spoke

“Come, follow me,” the Savior spoke, “All in my way abiding.
Deny yourselves; the world forsake; Obey my call and guiding.
Oh, bear the cross, whate’er betide; Take my example for your guide.

“I am the light; I light the way, A godly life displaying.
I bid you walk as in the day; I keep your feet from straying.
I am the way, and well I show How you should journey here below.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Follow Jesus by Honoring Jesus – Family Devotion – January 22, 2021

Read: 1 Corinthians 6:12-20

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Follow Jesus by Honoring Jesus

 

Family Devotion – January 22, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

See series: Devotions

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

Keith and Natasha stood in the doorway in complete shock. Their eyes were so wide they looked like dinner plates. Their jaws dropped so far open they nearly hit the floor. What happened here? Did they walk into the wrong house? Was this some sort of Christmas miracle? As they looked around their sparkling-clean living room and kitchen, they finally caught sight of the answer. There were their three children—12, 9, and 7-years-old—standing in the hallway with beaming smiles.

The children explained, “We know how hard you have been working and how much you do for us. We know that money has been tight, yet you still gave us so many amazing gifts for Christmas. We wanted to do something to surprise you after your date night to show you how thankful we are and how much we love you.”

Keith and Natasha were so happy. They loved their children so much. They were glad to sacrifice for them and to give them gifts in endless love, no matter how they acted. But for their children to show such love, respect, and honor for them as parents, it brought them the greatest joy!

Our God loves us as a dear Father loves his dear children. He gladly sent his Son Jesus to sacrifice himself for us, and he is happy to give us endless love and forgiveness. As the apostle Paul reminds us today, not only did God pay the price for us to be his own, but he also loves us so much that he lives with us and even in us. Our bodies are temples of the Lord! What grace from God, that he would love us and live with us every day!

Knowing God’s incredible love for us, Paul gives us one more important reminder, “Therefore honor God with your bodies.” Much like Keith and Natasha’s three children, it is our privilege to look for ways that we can show thanks and love back to God for all that he has done. Maybe you can show love to God by loving your parents and cleaning your room and the house—without even being asked. Or you can show love by honoring God in the way you control yourself, your words, and your behavior at school. You can honor God by going to church and singing his praise, by using your hands to help your neighbor, or simply by giving someone a hug and showing love.

Oh, how pleased God will be! When we show God love, respect, and honor for his love to us, it will bring him the greatest joy!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you gave yourself in love to pay the price for my sins so that I can be a child of God. Now you live in me! Help me show you love and honor with the way that I live 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 some ways that you can show love to your parent(s) for what they do for you?
  • What are some ways you can show love to God for what he has done for you?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does it meant to take someone, like God or your parents, for granted?
  • Give examples of ways that we sometimes do this with God, our parents, or others.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement: Sometimes the best way to say, “thank you” is without using any words at all.
  • Discuss real, practical ways that you can do something to show your thanks to God this week.

Hymn: CWS 735:1,3 – Speak, O Lord

Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for your glory.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds;
Help us grasp the heights of your plans for us.
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity.
And by grace we’ll stand on your promises,
And by faith we’ll walk as you walk with us.
Speak, O Lord, as your Church is built
And you fill the earth with your glory.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Listen – Family Devotion – January 20, 2021

Read: 1 Samuel 3:1-10

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

Listen

 

Family Devotion – January 20, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 3:10

See series: Devotions

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

“Layla… Layla… Layla! Are you even listening?” Layla’s mom asked with a very frustrated voice. “Huh?… Uh… yeah, mom. I heard you!” Layla said.

Layla wasn’t really being honest though. Sure, she heard her mom’s voice. But she wasn’t really listening to her mom. Apparently, YouTube videos of epic kitty fails were way more important to Layla. If she had been listening, she would have known that her mom had been calling her to come to dinner for over 10 minutes and now her food was completely cold!

Do you ever find this happening with the Lord? God calls out to you all the time through his Word—through pastors, teachers, and parents at church, in personal Bible reading, and in home devotions like this one. Sure, we hear God’s voice in his Word as he is speaking, but are we really listening to what he says?

Could it be that sometimes in church we are so distracted by the people around us that we aren’t even listening to what the pastor says? Are we too busy thinking about Netflix and Xbox instead of reading the Bible? Is something distracting you during this devotion right now? Oh, the things that Satan wants to use to keep us from actually listening to what God has to say to us!

Our prayer for today can be our prayer for every day, that he gives us a heart of faith that speaks the wonderful words of the young boy Samuel. God had been calling his name, “Samuel, Samuel!” but he was confused about what was happening. Finally, the priest Eli told Samuel what was happening and taught him what to say. The next time God called, Samuel answered, “Speak, for your servant is listening!”

What a blessing it would be for us to say these words every time we are around the Word of God! Through his Word God tells us how we have fallen short and sinned against him. But God also tells us the story of how he so loved the world that he sent his one and only Son Jesus. He tells us that in Jesus we have forgiveness and a new life of joy and an eternal life in heaven. And, God also tells us in his Word how we can live a life of thanks as we love him and love one another. There is nothing more special and important than what God says to us!

So the next time you are getting to hear or read God’s Word with an undistracted mind, say these humble words of faith, “Speak, Lord for your servant is listening.”

Closing Prayer:

Lord, we are so thankful you speak to us clearly through your Word. Help us not only to hear your words, but also to be humble servants who listen to what you say. 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 is it sometimes difficult to listen and pay attention in church?
  • What can you do to be a better listener and worshiper in church?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Identify all the opportunities you have to listen to God’s Word in your life.
  • When we spend more time listening to and focused on God’s Word, what blessings will come from that?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why does Satan work so hard to distract us so that we might hear God’s Word but not actually listen?
  • Each member of the family: Share one thing you would like to try this week to be a better listener to the Word of God.

Hymn: CWS 735:1,2 – Speak, O Lord

Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for your glory.

Teach us, Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility.
Test our thoughts and our attitudes
In the radiance of your purity.
Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see
Your majestic love and authority.
Words of pow’r that can never fail,
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Come and See – Family Devotion – January 18, 2021

Read: John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.”
Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
“Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked.
“Come and see,” said Philip.
John 1:43-46

Come and See

 

Family Devotion – January 18, 2021

Devotion based on John 1:43-46

See series: Devotions

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

Trey and Deanna looked at each other with panic in their eyes. They had been separated from their dad for almost 20 minutes now. It was a really big mall, and they really didn’t know where he was. They realized they were lost, and they were now very scared.

The brother and sister rushed up and down the different hallways of the mall, darting in and out of the different stores. This went on for a while until finally Trey ran over to his sister and shared the good news with Deanna, “I found someone who can help! I found the mall security guard who will lead us safely back to dad!” Deanna was surprised, “Really? No way!” “Yes, really! Come and see!” Within minutes the brother and sister had both met the security guard who then quickly helped them reunite with their dad. What a relief!

Even more scary than children being lost in a mall, all people are lost in this world. They are lost in their sin and separated from our eternal Father in heaven. All of us sinners need someone to rescue us and reconnect us with our God and Father! How scary!

But that’s when Jesus enters the scene. By his grace, Jesus comes to find lost sinners like us, just like he found Philip and Nathanael in the devotion for today. First Jesus found Philip and told him, “Follow me.” Philip was so happy and excited about meeting the Savior that he ran to tell Nathanael. Nathanael was unsure at first. “Really? No way!” But Philip told him, “Yes, really! Come and see!” That’s when Nathanael went to meet Jesus for the first time as well. What a relief! What joy! They were no longer lost! They were now going to follow Jesus their Savior.

Jesus has called you to follow, too. No, he didn’t call you on FaceTime, send a SnapChat message, or even say to you “Follow me,” the last time you were shopping at the grocery store. Instead, Jesus called out to you in his Word. He called you through a pastor who baptized or taught you or through your parents, grandparents, or teachers who taught you. Through the power of his Word in the Bible and in Baptism, Jesus revealed himself to you and said, “Follow me!” And by grace, God has given you faith to believe and follow Christ! That’s why you are called a Christian. What a relief! What joy! And now, what an opportunity to go and tell others about Jesus, just like Philip, “Come and see!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for giving me faith to believe in and follow you. Help me to tell others to “come and see” what a loving Savior you are. 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 were Philip and Nathanael so excited to meet Jesus?
  • Who is someone you would like to know about Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What exactly does it mean to “follow” Jesus?
  • Explain how Jesus called you to follow him.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • The best news is news that you just have to share with someone else. What does that statement mean, and how does it apply to your faith?
  • Witnessing your faith doesn’t have to be difficult or scary. Sometimes it can be easy and simple! Describe how you might be like Philip and simply say to someone, “Come and see,” about Jesus.

Hymn: CWS 735:1 – Speak, O Lord

Speak, O Lord, as we come to you
To receive the food of your Holy Word.
Take your truth, plant it deep in us;
Shape and fashion us in your likeness
That the light of Christ might be seen today
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith.
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us
All your purposes for your glory.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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What Must I Do? – Family Devotion – January 15, 2021

Read: Acts 16:25-34

He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Acts 16:30-31

What Must I Do?

 

Family Devotion – January 15, 2021

Devotion based on Acts 16:30-31

See series: Devotions

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

Can you picture the scene? The ground had just finished rumbling from an earthquake. A man rushes to find that the place he was in charge of, the jail, had doors standing wide open. Oh no! He was going to be in big trouble if all the prisoners had escaped! This was the worst thing that could have possibly happened for the jailer in the city of Philippi.

But suddenly this worried and scared jailer heard the voice of the apostle Paul, “We are all here!”

What? How could this be? Why would the prisoners stay? What was going on here? There was something different about these prisoners named Paul and Silas who had been singing hymns all night long!

Still scared and confused, the jailer asked them, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now perhaps this man was worried about saving his life and not getting in trouble with his Roman government bosses. But more likely, this man recognized Paul and Silas were a different kind of people with a different kind of message. This jailer wanted to know what they knew—“How can I be saved spiritually?” Listen again to their beautiful response, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”

What a wonderful message! The jailer wanted to know if he could do something to earn his way to heaven. But Paul and Silas shared with him the good news of the gospel—it’s already been done! The Lord Jesus has done it all! He came to live perfectly in the place of that jailer and all people. He came to die to pay for the sins of that jailer and all people. He rose to life to prove his victory to that jailer and to all people. There is nothing left to do, only to believe what has already been done by the Lord Jesus. And so, in the greatest miracle of this story, God worked faith in Jesus in the jailer’s heart. The jailer believed—he and his whole household—and they were then baptized as children of God’s eternal family.

Every Christian has a different story. Some join God’s family right away when they are baptized as infants. Some learn the good news of Jesus in school. Others hear about Jesus when they are adults, and still others when they are very old and near the end of life. But the wonder of God’s grace is that God has done all the work. God has saved each person through the life and death of Jesus, and God has worked faith in their hearts to believe it. What a blessing!

Want to know another blessing? You now know how to answer the most important question of all time! What must someone do to be saved? NOTHING! Simply believe in the Lord Jesus! Praise God…and tell others!

Closing Prayer:

God, I am so thankful that you have worked faith by the power of your Holy Spirit in my heart so that I believe in the Lord Jesus. Now help me to share with others the good news of our Savior so that they also might believe. 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 was the jailer in this story so afraid?
  • What did the jailer want to know from Paul and Silas?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • The most important thing for all people in the world is to know how to get to heaven. What’s the simple answer you can share with those who don’t know?
  • Do you know anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus? How or when could you share the good news with them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain this statement in your own words: The jailer asked a question of works, but Paul and Silas gave an answer of faith.
  • Some have said there are really only two kinds of religions in the world—religions based on good works and religions based on grace. What does that mean?

Hymn: CW 89:1,4,6 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

Then from God’s throne with thund’rous sound Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is my Son,” was his decree, “The one I love, who pleases me.”

Now rise, faint hearts: be resolute! This man is Christ, our substitute!
He was baptized in Jordan’s stream, Proclaimed Redeemer, Lord supreme.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God’s Great Plan – Family Devotion – January 13, 2021

Read: Isaiah 49:1-6

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

God’s Great Plan

 

Family Devotion – January 13, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 49:5-6

See series: Devotions

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

“I’ve got a plan!” These are always funny words for any fan of Scooby Doo. Whether you are watching the original Scooby Doo cartoons (the best in my opinion), some of the newer versions, one of the Scooby Doo movies, or the newest movie called Scoob!, it happens the same way almost every time. Fred usually comes up with some plan to solve the mystery. Then they split up. Then Daphne gets captured, Velma loses her glasses, and Shaggy and Scooby get lost looking for sandwiches. Finally, the team makes another detailed and tricky plan to catch the ghost. Something always goes wrong, but there’s a happy conclusion as the team ends up unmasking the ghost and finding out it was old Mr. Stevens the janitor.

This makes for fun and funny TV, but thank goodness God’s plans are nothing like an episode of Scooby Doo! God’s plans are perfect and precise. They always happen just as he promises, and they are always filled with love and grace.

Today we hear about one of God’s plans through the prophet Isaiah. These words are very special. They are a like a secret behind-the-scenes conversation that the Lord allows us to hear. The conversation is between God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ. What are they talking about? Well, Jesus the Son, recognizes in verse 5 that his heavenly Father chose him specifically and specially to be born in our world as part of a great plan of grace. What was God’s plan? The Father tells us in verse 6. He was going to send his Son to the world to save people. But not just the tribe of Jacob (the Israelites)! The Father says, “I will make you a light for the Gentiles (non-Israelites), that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.” God’s plan was that Jesus would come to this world to bring salvation to people all over the world and throughout all time.

Want to know something else incredible? Isaiah recorded these words about 700 years before Jesus was even born! God had this plan of salvation in mind long before Jesus even came! And not only did God promise this plan over and over, but he carried it out perfectly through Jesus for you and for me. Thank God for his perfect plans and promises, and thank God for Jesus who fulfilled that plan to bring us salvation!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for revealing your plan of salvation to us, and thank you for sending Jesus to accomplish that plan. 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 something you or your family planned to do that didn’t work the way you wanted?
  • How did God carry out his plan to save people?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Explain why humans are so bad at accomplishing their plans and keeping their promises.
  • How do you know you can always trust God’s promises?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • When would be a time in life when it might be difficult for us to trust God’s promises? Why?
  • Discuss things we can do when we are struggling to trust God and his promises.

Hymn: CW 89:1-2,5 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

The Savior came to be baptized—The Son of God in flesh disguised—
To stand beneath the Father’s will And all his promises fulfill.

The Father’s word, the Spirit’s flight Anointed Christ in glorious sight
As God’s own choice, from Adam’s fall To save the world and free us all.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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This is My Son – Family Devotion – January 11, 2021

Read: Mark 1:4-11

At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Mark 1:9-11

This is My Son

 

Family Devotion – January 11, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 1:9-11

See series: Devotions

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

Andre was beaming with joy. Friend after friend and family member after family member came to visit in the hospital room. Even after 20 different visitors, the joy didn’t get old. Each time Andre held up his new baby boy like it was the opening scene from The Lion King as he announced to each visitor, “This is my son. His name is Ty.” Every single person knew without a doubt that Andre loved his dear son so very much.

Of course, the joy of that day didn’t last so long. Soon Andre was changing diapers that looked like an explosion had taken place. Not long after that, Andre was battling temper tantrums over toddler toys. A few years later, Andre was pulling out whatever hair he had left on his head trying to figure out how he and his wife could be better parents. He still loved his growing son Ty, but sin always makes our human relationships so difficult!

Today we hear about the famous story of Jesus’ baptism. What a spectacular event! The Son of God was present in the water of the Jordan River, the Holy Spirit was descending as a dove, and the Father declared from the heavens, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” As Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were all present for this special event, everyone there that day and everyone who has read the story since then knows without a doubt that this Son Jesus is special and dearly loved by his heavenly Father.

But here’s something else special about this story. The relationship between Jesus and his Father was never strained by sin. There was never any sassy talk or temper tantrum for Jesus. There was never pouting or shouting and never any disobedience. There wasn’t one sin ever from Jesus! In the same way, there was never one time that the Father failed to show love to his Son Jesus. It was only a perfect relationship of love all the time between this Father and Son! If only we had perfect relationships like this in our lives!

Actually, we do! The marvel of this story is that Jesus stood there in the waters of the Jordan River for us. He came to be the perfect Son because we fail to be perfect. He came to live for us and then die for us to erase all our sins. He came to clothe us in all of his forgiveness and perfection so that we can have a new life and a new relationship with God. When the waters of your baptism touched you, God opened up the heavens once more and declared, “This is my son/my daughter, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” Jesus has given to us a perfect relationship with his heavenly Father by his grace. It’s given to you in your baptism, and it’s a relationship that will last for all eternity. Praise God for his love!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for coming to be my substitute and Savior so that I can become a baptized and dearly loved child of God. 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 were the three persons of our God that were present at Jesus’ baptism?
  • How does God act as a perfect father to us?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Have you been baptized? (Check with your parents.) When? Ask your parent(s) what that day was like.
  • Your heavenly Father loves you and is pleased with you, just as he is with his Son Jesus. How can knowing that help you in your everyday life?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What are ways that your family does already—or could in the future—celebrate and remember your baptism?
  • Family discussion: What reminders of baptism and/or our three-in-one God do you have in your church or in your worship services at church? (Hint: Look for symbols or visuals in windows, on furniture, in a bulletin, etc.)

Hymn: CW 89:1,3-4 – To Jordan’s River Came Our Lord

To Jordan’s river came our Lord, The Christ, whom heav’nly hosts adored,
The God from God, the Light from Light, The Lord of glory, pow’r, and might.

As Jesus in the Jordan stood And John baptized the Lamb of God,
The Holy Spirit, heav’nly dove, Descended on him from above.

Then from God’s throne with thund’rous sound Came God’s own voice with words profound:
“This is my Son,” was his decree, “The one I love, who pleases me.”

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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A Mystery of God’s Grace—Jesus is for All People – Family Devotion – January 8, 2021

Read: Ephesians 3:2-12

This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 3:6

A Mystery of God’s Grace—Jesus is for All People

 

Family Devotion – January 8, 2021

Devotion based on Ephesians 3:6

See series: Devotions

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

“Wow. Didn’t see that coming.” When you read a good mystery, you feel the suspense as the author unfolds the story chapter by chapter. In a movie mystery, the build-up of the plot keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Have you ever heard of the mystery of God’s grace? It’s absolutely thrilling! Listen to how it gradually unfolded in the Bible:

  • After the first people sinned in the Garden of Eden, God made a promise that a hero would crush Satan (Genesis 3:15).
  • The entire first half of the Bible (the Old Testament) is filled with similar promises, that a Savior would come who would restore peace (cf. Isaiah 57:19) and forgiveness (cf. Jeremiah 31:34b).
  • This week, we learned that “nations will come” to this light—Jesus, the light of the world.

Even after Jesus completed his ministry on earth, the mystery of God’s grace continued to unfold. Jewish believers were part of the earliest Christian churches. They were used to being God’s special people. They sat in their pews with other Jewish people and listened to the apostles like Paul teach about God’s grace given to them in Jesus. Then Paul threw a curve ball. Listen: “through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.” God’s grace belongs to all people, no matter where they come from. The Jewish people were now supposed to share the grace of God with others. They might have said at the time, “Wow. Didn’t see that coming.”

That’s the amazing thing about God’s grace. Just when we think we have it figured out, God pushes the boundaries of our minds even further. Just think about God’s grace to you:

  • God loved all people—including you—so that he sent his Son to be the sacrifice for sin, so that fallen sinners can have peace with God.
  • Of all the times and places you could have been born, you were born into a family where you could learn about Jesus and his forgiveness.
  • You are free to read about him in the Bible and worship him—a blessing many people have not had.
  • He continues to strengthen your faith through the Holy Spirit every time you hear his Word.

We are truly blessed! His grace to us is boundless!

The mystery of God’s endless grace continues. There are still conflicts and tensions that have to be resolved. Sin is still present in our hearts and in the world around us. God still intends for his grace to conquer all of that and for the gospel to reach all people. On the Last Day, the last chapter of this great mystery, the suspense will end and Christ will reign as the conquering hero forever!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, the grace you show us in Jesus is amazing. We thank you that we are included in your story of grace. Equip us to share your grace with others in all we do. In Jesus’ name we 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

  • Think of your life as a story. How is Jesus the hero of your story?
  • Can you think of anyone who needs a hero like Jesus in their life? Name one thing Jesus did for that person.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did God include you in the story of his grace? (Hint: Your baptism connected you to God’s grace.)
  • How does God intend for the message of his grace to reach all people?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain what God’s grace is. Explain three different ways that God has shown grace to you in your life.
  • Describe a conflict you see within yourself or in the world around you. How does God’s grace conquer that conflict?

Hymn: CW 384:1-2 – By Grace I’m Saved

By grace I’m saved, grace free and boundless;
My soul believe and doubt it not.
Why waver at this word of promise?
Has Scripture ever falsehood taught?
So then this word must true remain:
By grace you, too, shall heaven obtain.

By grace God’s Son, our only Savior,
Came down to earth to bear our sin.
Was it because of your own merit
That Jesus died your soul to win?
No, it was grace, and grace alone,

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Magi Meet the King – Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Read: Matthew 2:1-12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

The Magi Meet the King

 

Family Devotion – January 6, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1-2

See series: Devotions

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

It’s a new year! Of all the people making predictions for the year ahead, who do you trust?

In our last devotion we heard a prediction God made through the prophet Isaiah: “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.” Today’s reading tells us how that prediction came true. It’s the story of the first people from other nations who came to worship Jesus, the light of the world.

The story of the Magi’s visit to Jesus actually starts before they boarded the camels bound for Bethlehem. The Magi were very well-educated people who lived in the nations east of Bethlehem. These studious people knew that the Jewish nation was waiting for a Messiah to be born. How did they know? Several generations earlier, the Jewish people had spent years in captivity in the eastern nation of Babylon. The Magi likely learned about the promised Messiah while the Jews were living among them. Jewish prophets like Isaiah had called the Messiah a king. That information was passed down through generations. So the Magi began to look for the “King of the Jews.”

Although Jesus was called the King of the Jews, the story of the Magi shows us that Jesus is a King for all nations. God made it possible for the Magi to learn about Jesus, even though they lived far from where He was born. God made them curious about the predictions. Then by putting the unique star in the sky, God made it possible for the Magi to find Jesus and worship him. The Magi learned something very important: This God—the one worshiped by the Jewish people—was trustworthy and his promises came true.

Notice that the Magi’s journey to Jesus began with God’s Word and promises. Those promises were talked about and kept alive for generations. By his grace, God continues to lead people to Jesus through his true and trustworthy Word. When your family gathers together around God’s Word, you are listening to the most credible and trustworthy voice you can find. Want to know how much God loves you? It’s in the Word. Want to know the plans God has for your future? It’s in the Word. Want to point someone to Jesus and his forgiveness? Share the Word.

Every prediction in God’s Word has already come true, except one—Jesus’ return on the last day of the earth’s existence. Until then, let us worship our king and share what we know about him with all people of all nations!

Closing Prayer:

Oh Jesus, my King, thank you for leaving your heavenly throne to live here on earth and be my Savior. I know that everything written about you is true. As you led the Magi to meet you, lead me closer to worship you through your Word. 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

  • How did God make it possible for the Magi to find Jesus?
  • Give two ways or places that God makes it possible for you to find Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the story of the Magi teach us about Jesus?
  • A star guided the Magi’s way to Jesus. What are some ways that God leads people to see Jesus today? (cf. 2 Peter 1:19-21)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why do you think the Magi were so interested in finding “the King of the Jews?”
  • Identify promises God makes in his Word that you have found to be trustworthy and true in your life.

Hymn: CW 81:2,4 – Arise and Shine in Splendor

See earth in darkness lying,
The heathen nations dying
In hopeless gloom and night.
To you the Lord of heaven—
Your life, your hope—has given
Great glory, honor, and delight.

Your heart will leap for gladness
When from the realms of sadness
They come from near and far.
Your eyes will wake from slumber
As people without number
Rejoice to see the Morning Star.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations – Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Read: Isaiah 60:1-6

Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
Isaiah 60:1

The Savior Will Be a Light to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – January 4, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 60:1

See series: Devotions

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

Mom flings open the curtains to let the morning light stream in. “Rise and shine!” she proclaims. This is a common morning greeting to rouse sleepy heads out of bed. But do you know the origin of the phrase? It’s our Bible verse for today: “Arise, shine, for your light has come!”

Isaiah spoke these words to God’s people long before Jesus was born. The words were meant to tell God’s people that he would deliver them from the foreign king who had taken them captive. God wanted this small group of his children to know that when they turned away from sin and toward him, they would be rescued. Better days were to come!

Those were welcome words for the small nation of people living in captivity. But God had something even bigger in mind when he spoke these words through Isaiah. In the first portion of the Bible, the Old Testament, we find many prophecies like this—promises that God would deliver his people in a big way. Our reading today is one of those predictions. “Darkness covers the earth” is a reference to sin in the world, a “thick darkness” that covers all people. Sin is in us and all around us. We are captive to it. None of us can escape that darkness on our own. So God planned a rescue, and he used prophets like Isaiah to prepare his people.

How do we know that this is a prediction about Jesus? Bible scholars tell us that whenever the words “the glory of the Lord” are used, it’s a reference to God’s wonderful grace and his presence among us. God’s people were led by “the glory of the Lord” when they wandered in the desert (Exodus 16). The “glory of the Lord” shined brightly on the night Jesus was born (Luke 2:9). Here, “the glory of the Lord” rising upon the people predicts the coming of Jesus.

Jesus is like the morning light streaming into our room, delivering us from the night’s darkness of sin. Isaiah tells us something even more wonderful about Jesus: “Nations will come to your light.” Although Jesus was born into God’s special nation of people whom he had prepared and protected for centuries, He was to be a Savior for all nations. Jesus himself said this during his ministry: “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

Do you know someone who is sitting alone in darkness? The Christmas message can brighten that person’s world. You can speak the words of God from Isaiah, “Arise, shine, for your light has come!”

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you are the light of the world. Thank you for rescuing us out of spiritual darkness. Give us the strength to rise each day in gratitude for what you have done for us. Help us shine with the light you give us, so others might see your light in us. In your name we 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

  • Have you ever been afraid of the dark? How did you feel when someone finally turned a light on for you?
  • What does the Bible mean when it calls Jesus “a light” for the whole world?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why do you think the Bible talks about sin as darkness and Jesus as light?
  • Isaiah says, “arise” and also “shine.” What did he mean by that? What are some ways you can “shine” as you go about your day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain how the captivity experience of God’s people before Jesus time parallels the spiritual captivity of all people. How does God’s rescue of his Old Testament people parallel our rescue? (cf. Colossians 1:13-14)
  • What does Isaiah call all people to do when God’s rescue comes? What effect does your “shine” have on those around you? (cf. Matthew 5:16)

Hymn: CW 81:1,3 – Arise and Shine in Splendor

Arise and shine in splendor;
Let night to day surrender.
Your light is drawing near.
Above, the day is beaming,
In matchless beauty gleaming;
The glory of the Lord is here.

Lift up your eyes in wonder –
See, nations gather yonder
From sin to be set free.
The world has heard your story;
Your sons come to your glory,
And daughters haste your light to see.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts – Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Read: Colossians 3:12-17

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.
Colossians 3:15

The Peace of Christ Fills Our Hearts

 

Family Devotion – January 1, 2021

Devotion based on Colossians 3:15

See series: Devotions

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

“You cannot have dessert until you eat your dinner,” Mom says with wisdom. She knows that if you fill your belly with sweets, you won’t eat the good food that is nutritious and beneficial for you.

What’s true for our bellies is also true for our hearts, spiritually speaking. In our reading today, the apostle Paul tells us what God wants to fill our hearts: the peace of Christ. That’s the quietness and contentment we have because we know Jesus and his forgiveness. It’s the good stuff that allows us to grow and thrive.

Still, we look longingly at the sweets—things that are not good for us—and we are tempted. Why is that? We are born with sin in our hearts, and we sin because we are weak. Sometimes we even scheme to get the things we crave, even if they are not good for us. Who of us has not hidden some of that Christmas candy to eat between meals?

Fortunately, Jesus earned forgiveness for all our sins, big and small. When we repent, that is, turn away from our sins and turn to Jesus for forgiveness, we have it. The bad stuff is washed away, and peace can fill our hearts. Our reading even goes so far as to say that the peace of Christ can “rule” in our hearts. That means the peace of Jesus wins every time … sin loses!

With temptations all around us, we need to be strong, filled with the powerful peace Jesus provides. God in his wisdom sets good, nutritious food right before us in his Word. Each time we hear gospel-filled words like, “You are mine,” “you are dearly loved,” and “forgive as the Lord forgave you,” the Holy Spirit is giving us spoonsful of nourishment for our faith. That’s when peace fills us up and strengthens us. Then we have more power to do the kinds of things strong Christians do: show compassion and kindness to others, be gentle and patient with others, be humble. These are difficult things to do, especially if others around us are not kind, compassionate, or humble. But the peace of Christ strengthens us.

All this growth and strength doesn’t happen overnight. We are always learning and growing. We get stronger and more mature in our faith when we feast on God’s Word—the good stuff—and hear that message of peace daily, so it fills our hearts.

Soon, the Christmas candy and the sweets of the season will be gone. The peace of Christ proclaimed at Christmas will last and has the power to make us stronger. Let’s fill up on that gospel peace every day!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Savior, please let your peace fill my heart and rule over sin. Never let me forget the peace I have in you. Help me build spiritual strength, so that others may see my behavior and know that I am your child. 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

  • Is there a sin you keep doing, even though you try not to do it? What does Jesus do with that sin?
  • How can you grow stronger in your faith? What does God provide that strengthens your faith?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What does the peace of Christ mean to you? Why does it matter?
  • When the peace of Christ fills your heart, describe how you think it would impact your behavior. Why does that matter?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What temptations do you struggle with? What happens to your desire for sin when the peace of Christ fills your heart?
  • Name one wholesome habit you would like to put in place to be sure you are receiving spiritual nutrition from God’s Word every day.

Hymn: CW 32:1,2,5 – When Sinners See Their Lost Condition

When sinners see their lost condition
And feel the pressing load of sin
And Jesus comes on his blest mission
To heal the sin-sick heart within
All grief must flee before his grace,
And joy divine will take its place.

When Jesus enters meek and lowly
To fill the home with sweetest peace,
When hearts have felt his blessing holy
And found from sin complete release,
Then calm and joy within shall reign
And hearts divided love again.

Oh, may he soon to every nation
Find entrance where he is unknown,
With life and light and free salvation,
That Satan’s power be overthrown,
And healing to all hearts may come
In heathen land and Christian home!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 Alone Gives Peace to All Nations – Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Read: Isaiah 45:20-25

Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:22

God Alone Gives Peace to All Nations

 

Family Devotion – December 30, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:22

See series: Devotions

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

Arms folded, back turned, feet planted firmly in place. Can you remember a time when you assumed this position? Maybe you were defying your parents’ authority. Maybe you were trying to show them that you did not want to hear what they had to say.

To this stance, your parent might say, “Turn around and look at me!” Your parent wants you to face the situation. How do you feel in that moment? Still angry? Ashamed? Afraid to turn around?

Many of the Old Testament people of Israel and Judah assumed a similar stance toward God. They often turned their backs on him. They became friends with ungodly people. Instead of sharing their faith in the one true God, they began following the false gods of other nations. They turned toward their own ideas instead of toward God.

All God wanted was for his nation of people to be special, to live under his protection, and to see his promise of peace fulfilled. He loved them and had made promises to them—promises he intended to keep. So he called out to his people through prophets like Isaiah: “Turn to me and be saved.”

These words are not as much a command issued in anger; they are an invitation. The invitation to “turn around” shows just how patient and loving God is. He wants his children to receive the forgiveness that only he can give. The false gods the people had turned to were not capable of issuing forgiveness. Only the true God could do that, because he had a plan to pay for those sins in full. That plan included the birth of God’s Son into this world. Jesus lived perfectly, died willingly, and rose victoriously—for us! For that reason, God’s people do not have to face an angry God. Because of what Jesus did, we can turn around, tell God we are sorry for our stubbornness, and receive his forgiveness.

No other “god” out there offers that kind of grace! “There is no other,” that is like him.

So many people need to hear this message! It’s a message God intended for all people of all nations, for all time. Sure, some people will stubbornly turn their backs on him. Even then, God lovingly reaches out, through people like you and me. Using words from the Bible accompanied by our genuine love, we can tell someone who is hurting, angry, or lost that our God—the God of the Bible—invites us all to turn to him for grace, forgiveness, and peace.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, I know I often stubbornly turn away from you. When I sin, please call me back. Help me turn toward you, and help me share the peace I find with others who need to hear it. In Jesus’ 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 kinds of feelings might make you cross your arms and turn your back on someone? Is that a good way to behave? Why?
  • When we turn to God for forgiveness, what will he always do? Why?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Old Testament people of God turn away from God so often? What led them astray? Now compare that with you. Any similarities?
  • What does God’s behavior toward his Old Testament people teach us about him?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Can you think of a time you struggled to forgive someone? How does God’s treatment of his Old Testament people provide an example how we are to treat others?
  • Explain how this thought applies to us: God’s grace is free, but it is also very expensive.

Hymn: CW 54:1,3,4 – Where Shepherds Lately Knelt

Where shepherds lately knelt and kept the angel’s word,
I come in half-belief, a pilgrim strangely stirred;
But there is room and welcome there for me,
But there is room and welcome there for me.

How should I not have known Isaiah would be there,
His prophecies fulfilled? With pounding heart I stare;
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me,
A child, a son, the Prince of Peace for me.

Can I, will I forget how Love was born and burned
Its way into my heart unasked, unforced, unearned,
To die, to live, and not alone for me.
To die, to live, and not alone for me.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person – Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Read: Luke 2:25-40

For my eyes have seen your salvation.
Luke 2:30

Simeon Saw the Peace of Christ in Person

 

Family Devotion – December 28, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 2:30

See series: Devotions

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

Your family is home together, and everyone is busy with school or work. Suddenly, Dad lets out a loud chuckle. Something he is watching is VERY funny.

“Let me see! I want to see!” the children cry as they run to Dad’s lap. Everyone wants to see for themselves what made Dad laugh out loud.

There is something rather special about seeing something with our own eyes. Simeon knew that. God had promised Simeon that he would see the Savior Christ with his own eyes before he died. Simeon believed God and was waiting patiently for that day.

On that special day, the Holy Spirit moved Simeon to walk out into the temple court. Maybe he needed to stretch his legs. Maybe he heard the soft cries of the baby Jesus and was drawn to the noise. When Simeon’s eyes fell upon the child in Mary’s arms, he immediately knew he was seeing something special. He broke into song:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people.”

Not only did Simeon know who Jesus was; he also knew what Jesus would do—bring salvation to all people. As a faithful servant in God’s temple, Simeon knew a Messiah, or Savior, would be born into the world (Isaiah 7:14) and he would bear the sins of many (Isaiah 53:12). Simeon was carefully and constantly watching for these promises to happen.

When God finally allowed Simeon to gaze into the eyes of his Savior, Simeon knew that the child looking back at him could see right into his heart and see the sin living there. Through eyes of faith, God allowed Simeon to see that this child would take away Simeon’s sin and give him peace with God. That moved Simeon to burst into praise!

What does God see when he looks into your heart? Sadly, he sees sin living there. Whether we like it or not, whether we see it or not, we sin daily. Happily, we know from the Bible what Jesus did with our sin: He paid for it all through his death on the cross. Like Simeon, when we look with eyes of faith at Jesus, we see our Savior for who he really is—the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). Now, because of what Jesus did, God sees us as his forgiven, sinless children.

Simeon could leave this world in peace. We can leave our devotion time together at peace, knowing Jesus brings us peace for each day, now and for eternity.

Closing Prayer:

Loving Savior, when I see my sins, let me also see your forgiveness. I know that you lived, died, and rose to bring me peace. Thank you for doing that for me, and for all people! 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 Jesus see when he looks into your heart?
  • What does your heart look like after you ask for forgiveness?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What prompted Simeon to burst into song?
  • How do you feel when you see Jesus through faith and remember what he has done for you?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • What role did the Holy Spirit play in the story of Simeon?
  • Explain how our family can see Jesus, even though we are living centuries after his birth. (cf. John 5:39 and 1 Corinthians 2:12 for help).

Hymn: CW p. 61 – Song of Simeon

In peace, Lord, you let your servant now depart according to your word.
For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for every people.
A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel.

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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 the Word Made Flesh – Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Read: John 1:1-14

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Rejoice in the Word Made Flesh

 

Family Devotion – December 25, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:14

See series: Devotions

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

Superheroes need super cool transportation. King T’Challa’s Talon Fighter in the Black Panther is pretty sweet. Wonder Woman has an invisible jet. To be fair, Superman doesn’t have a flying machine, but that’s because he can fly by himself—and he has a cape.

When we hear at Christmas that the time was right for God to rescue his people, you might have expected the Savior to arrive in an awesome Jesus-worthy spaceship wearing some super cool outfit. Instead he came as a human, wrapped in strips of cloth, and landed inside a feeding trough in a barn. A place full of smelly animals isn’t really a place for a super Savior.

Yet that’s exactly what God chose. You see, the one true God loved you so much that he was willing to give up the glory of heaven to take on flesh and live in our dirty, smelly world. He was willing to be connected to humans by being born of a human mom. He lived his whole life knowing that his life would end on a cross, suffering the punishment we deserved. He rose from the dead so that we could live forever too. He was born in a barn, so he could prepare a mansion for us in heaven.

Even his name, Immanuel, tells us that the Word became flesh. That’s because Immanuel means God with us—not God above us, not God only watching us, not God vaguely aware of us. God with us means that God is with you. God is with me. God chose to leave heaven and become one of us. All to save us.

Merry Christmas!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for being with us, for taking on human flesh so that you could save us from our sins. You are the God of all creation and yet you chose to be born in a room full of animals. When we forget how much you love us, help us look at your manger to remember just how good you are to us. When we feel like we are alone, remind us that you are with us.

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 the Whole Family

  • Look around the home. What do you see that reminds you God is with us? (Hint: Christmas decorations…)
  • Where else can you go to be reminded that God is with us? (Some ideas: go to church, go to God’s Word… like this devotion)

Hymn: CW 56:1,3 – Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
There he lay, the undefiled, To the world a stranger.
Such a babe in such a place—Can he be the Savior?
Ask the saved of all the race Who have found his favor.

Gentle Mary laid her child Lowly in a manger;
He is still the undefiled, But no more a stranger.
Son of God, of humble birth, Beautiful the story;
Praise his name in all the earth, Hail the King of glory!

 

Family Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.Creative Commons License
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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