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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Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation – Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Read: Isaiah 52:7-10

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7

Rejoice in the Good News of Salvation

 

Family Devotion – December 23, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:7

See series: Devotions

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

Two and a half years ago, a soccer team and their coach went exploring in a cave. While they were in there, monsoon rains hit and the cave’s entrance flooded. The coach and twelve players, ages 11-16, were trapped two miles deep. With only a rope and flashlight—no extra food or water—they had no hope.

Cave diving experts from around the world flew in to plan the extremely dangerous rescue operation. One rescuer died trying to get to the boys. Eventually, over two weeks later, rescuers made their way to those who were stranded and losing hope. They took these boys one at a time and led them to freedom.

There is nothing in the world like seeing the face (or the feet) of someone who is there to save you.

When Adam and Eve (the first two people God created) disobeyed God, their sin trapped all of us in a cave. There was no way any of us could crawl or swim our way out. Without someone to search for us, we would be forever trapped and die alone.

God knew how desperate we were, so he planned a rescue. The Bible tells us that when the time had fully come, when everything was just right, Jesus left the glory of heaven to come to the darkness of earth. He lived perfectly in our place and then took the punishment we deserved. It cost him his life to rescue us. But he didn’t stay dead. He came back to life! How beautiful are the face and feet of Jesus, our Rescuer!

There is nothing in the world like seeing his face as a baby in a manger. It means Jesus has come to save us. But there still people who don’t know the good news about Jesus’ rescue. This means they are still trapped in the dark and don’t know how to get out.

That’s where God can use your face and feet. Go to them. Tell them that God reigns, that there is hope, that there is a way out, that there is salvation, that there is freedom. Sharing Jesus makes your face and feet beautiful!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for rescuing us when we were trapped in the pit of our sins. May our feet find someone to tell the beautiful news of your rescue for us. 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 All Ages

  • Hold your breath as long as you can. What did it feel like to finally get air?
  • Compare this to being trapped and finally getting freedom.
  • Name someone you know who doesn’t know or believe in Jesus’ rescue.
  • Discuss how you might invite that person to join you in worship this Christmas.

Hymn: CW 38:1-3 – From Heaven Above to Earth I Come

“From heav’n above to earth I come To bear good news to ev’ry home;
Glad tidings of great joy I bring, Whereof I now will say and sing:

“To you this night is born a child Of Mary, chosen virgin mild;
This little child of lowly birth Shall be the joy of all the earth.

“This is the Christ, our God most high, Who hears your sad and bitter cry;
He will himself your Savior be From all your sins to set you free.

 

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 that God Sent his Son – Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Read: Luke 1:26-38

You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Luke 1:31

Rejoice that God Sent his Son

 

Family Devotion – December 21, 2020

Devotion based on Luke 1:31

See series: Devotions

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

When kids are little, they often want something right now, but often they just need to wait. One mom asked her impatient children, “What’s Grandma’s word?”

They’d sigh and reply, “Patience.”

And then they’d wait.

When you’re reading the book of Luke, the story of an angel appearing to Mary comes so close to the story of Jesus’ birth that it seems like Mary didn’t have to be patient. Actually, when the angel told Mary she’d have a baby, Mary had to wait about nine months until Jesus was born.

You want to know how long nine months is? That’s how long it’s been since COVID-19 began to shut down our country. How much have you done since then? School online or in person. You’ve played in the backyard, done puzzles, watched a lot of movies, read books, played basketball, listened to music, went to the beach, taken a walk. Maybe you even went on a small trip.

Nine months was a long time for Mary to patiently wait. But she waited, God kept his promise, and Jesus was born.

You know what? The truth is that people had to wait a whole lot longer than nine months for this baby. After Adam and Eve first sinned and God promised he’d send a Savior, believers waited 4,000 years for the Savior to arrive. While they wanted the Savior right now, God was telling them, “Patience.” God knew when the time would be right to send the one who would save us from our sins.

He knew the exact right time to send Jesus to take our place, to live perfectly for us, to endure pain and suffering and death for us. Three days later he rose from the dead to defeat Satan—and give us the victory.

You know what else? We are still waiting for Jesus to come back again. At that time, Jesus will come to take us to heaven with him. Sometimes we want him to come right now, but God knows when the time is right.

So rejoice! Be happy! Be patient. God sent his Son once, and he will send him again.

Closing Prayer:

Dear God, thank you for always acting when the time is right. Thank you for sending your Son the first time to save us from our sins. Give us patience while we wait for you to come again so that we can all live together in heaven.

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 waiting for Christmas so hard?
  • Until Jesus comes again, how does he want us to wait? (Hint: “What’s Grandma’s word?”)

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Name two promises God gave you.
  • How have you have seen God keep those promises—even if it took a while?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss a time when weren’t happy that you had to wait, but God’s timing turned out better than yours.
  • What promise of God means the most to you and why. Talk about how you have seen him keep that promise.

Hymn: CW 59:1,4 – Christ the Lord to Us is Born

Christ the Lord to us is born, Alleluia!
On this joyous Christmas morn, Alleluia!
Refrain:
Of a virgin lowly, He, the King most holy,
Born this day to save us.

God has saved us through his Son, Alleluia!
Conquered lies the evil one, Alleluia!
Refrain

 

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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Live Your Life in the Light – Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Read: 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Live Your Life in the Light

 

Family Devotion – December 18, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

See series: Devotions

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

Some families have a “chore board.” It’s a list of things for children to do to help out in the family, whether it’s wipe off the counter, help with the laundry, empty the dishwasher, mow the lawn, or mop the floor.

God, your heavenly Father, has a chore board for you too. But they aren’t really chores. It’s more like God’s list of things that people who are part of his family naturally do. It’s part of a longer list, but today’s Bible reading gives us three to start with:

First, he wants you to rejoice always. Rejoice is a pretty church-y word. It means God wants you to show joy all the time. Not only when things happen that you like, but even when you’re sad and hurting. It’s more than the joy you feel at Christmas or when you get a new puppy. It’s the happiness you feel when you know you’re safe and secure because Jesus has made you part of God’s family. It’s the joy of knowing you belong to him—forever.

Secondly, God wants you to pray continually. That doesn’t mean you can’t do anything except pray. It means that you never stop talking to God first, all the time. When you’re sad, let God know how much your heart hurts and that you need him. Then go get a hug from your mom or dad. When you’re wondering how you should deal with a bully, talk to the school counselor, but don’t forget to also ask God to give you his wisdom and courage. When you have good news and want to share it, thank God first for the amazing news! Then share it with your friends.

Thirdly, God wants you to give thanks in all circumstances. Corrie ten Boom is a good example of this. She and her sister were in a big prison, called a concentration camp. Their bed was full of bugs. That’s when her sister thanked God for the fleas. Corrie didn’t think she’d ever be thankful for bugs that bit her. While stuck in this miserable situation, they studied their smuggled Bible with other prisoners. Later they learned that the fleas kept the prison guards away, which let them tell the other prisoners about Jesus. Corrie was now thankful for the fleas.

God’s to-do list isn’t long, but it’s what he truly wants us to be doing. May God help you rejoice, pray, and give thanks your whole life!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Father, I don’t pray all the time, I’m not joyful all the time, and I’m not thankful all the time. I’m sorry. Thank you that Jesus paid for all the times I don’t do these three things. Help me see your to-do list as a blessing and not a chore.

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Name two things that makes you happy.
  • If it’s a person, who should we pray for?
  • If it’s a thing, what are you thankful for?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What in your life feels like bugs biting you? How can we thank God for them?
  • Name three blessings from God in your life that make you happy.

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Discuss with your parents the one thing really bothering right now that God wants to use for your good. (Hint: It can’t be a sibling.)
  • Today’s devotion encouraged more happiness, prayer, and giving thanks. Which of those three do you want to focus on the rest of this week?

Hymn: CW 19:1 – O Lord, How Shall I Meet You

O Lord, how shall I meet you, How welcome you aright?
Your people long to greet you, My Hope, my heart’s Delight.
O Jesus, let your Word be A lamp to light my way,
To show me how to please you, To guide me ev’ry day.

 

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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See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son – Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Read: Malachi 4:1-6

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.
Malachi 4:2

See the Light of the Sun Who is the Son

 

Family Devotion – December 16, 2020

Devotion based on Malachi 4:2

See series: Devotions

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

If you live in California, you can wear flip flops in December. But not if you live in the Midwest where it’s dark and cold in winter. Wintry weather means you have to bundle up to go to work, school, shopping, and basketball games. As much fun as it is to go sledding, ice fishing, ice skating, have snowball fights, and drink hot chocolate, by March you just want to feel the warmth of the sun again. That’s why so many people go to Florida, Arizona, and Texas for a spring break.

Living in this world is like living in the middle of winter. Some of it is fun—like friends, family, sports, toys, dances, volunteering—but some parts are so hard. Parents fight, people get sick, friends can sometimes not be so nice, teachers don’t always seem to understand you, or you get cut from the team. That’s why we yearn for the “sun of righteousness”—Jesus, the Son of righteousness. He will come back and heal all the hard times.

And he will do that—because he promised he would! He said that we would have problems in this world, but that he has already overcome them. Plus, after he rose from the dead, he went to heaven to get your room ready for you. There’ll be no more crying, sadness, or pain. There will just be healing, joy, and happiness because you are with God!

When that day comes, you are going to frolic like a baby cow who gets let out of the barn. To give you a better picture, the prophet Malachi could have said it like this: When Jesus comes, “you will run around like kids who have been let out of school for the summer!” or, “You will jump up and down like kids entering Disneyland!”

There’s just one problem. People who don’t believe in Jesus don’t have this hope or promise. There isn’t a future full of joy for them. God says there will only be even more sadness for them. Do you see why Jesus wants you to tell them about a “sun of righteousness” who brings healing for them? Tell them that he’s paid for their sins. Tell them that he’s coming back. The good news is for them too!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, you know that this world can be sad. Thank you for your promise to come back and take us to a place where there will be no more sadness or darkness, only your Light—a place where we will jump with joy and excitement forever!

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

Questions for Younger Children

  • Do you have a friend who is sad or sick right now?
  • Consider making a card to help him or her feel better and know that Jesus loves them.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • What one thing do you wish Jesus could come back and fix for you right now?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, how might Jesus use you to make a difference and be a ray of light in the dark?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name the hardest thing that’s happened to you—something that still bothers you to this day?
  • Until he comes back to fix it forever, Jesus doesn’t want you to stay sad. Name three things he’s done or given you that makes you really happy.

Hymn: CW 31:1,2 – Oh Lord of Light Who Made the Stars

O Lord of light, who made the stars, O Dawn, by whom we see the way,
O Christ, Redeemer of the world: Come now and listen as we pray.

In lowliness you came to earth To rescue us from Satan’s snares,
O wondrous Love that healed our wounds By taking on our mortal cares.

 

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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John Proclaimed the Light of the World – Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Read: John 1:6-8, 19-28

He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.
John 1:7-8

John Proclaimed the Light of the World

 

Family Devotion – December 14, 2020

Devotion based on John 1:7-8

See series: Devotions

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

I am pretty sure an angel didn’t show up at your dad’s job to let him know you’d be born. But that’s how Zechariah learned about his son John. (Some people call him John the Baptist.) God had a specific job in mind for John’s life: Tell the truth about Jesus to as many people as possible.

When he was old enough (after his parents had raised him and taught him all about the Scriptures and the promise of a Savior) John didn’t head off to college. Instead, John went into the desert wearing camel’s hair clothes and eating locusts and honey. He started to preach, telling people to repent, be baptized, and prepare for the Savior who was coming very, very soon.

You might not think that would make him popular, but it did. Crowds of people—children, teens, and adults—all came out to listen to him. That’s because what sounds like bad news (repent of your sins) was actually good news instead. He pointed to the Savior who would be punished for their sin and give them credit for his perfection.

You weren’t announced by an angel, but God still has a specific plan for your life. When God says that he “knit you together” at birth, it means he made you exactly as he wanted you to be.

And if that isn’t amazing enough, he knew you would be his child before he even created the world. Now your whole point of living is the same as John’s: “to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe.” The bonus is that you don’t have to shout in a desert and wait for people to come to you like John did! You can wear normal clothes and eat normal foods. Just be yourself! Whether you are walking into school, sports practice, music lessons, or around town , use the special gifts and talents God gave you to share him. That glorifies him and how he created you. You get to use your words to tell people about the one who saved them from their sins. Then tell them that the Savior who came once is coming back again.

As much as that is good news, it isn’t always easy to say. It might get hard for you too. Someone might get mad at you, or they may think you’re weird. That’s okay. Just remember, you’re sharing God’s good news!

Your job this Christmas is this: Proclaim the Light! Just like John.

Closing Prayer:

Dear Jesus, just as John had a purpose to be a witness about you, I know my purpose too. Give me courage to testify about you as the Light of the world and tell people the truth about you, forgiveness, and eternal 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

  • Name a friend of yours who doesn’t know about Jesus.
  • Say out loud what you want them to know about Jesus.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Who are your best friends?
  • What are ways that your friends know you believe in and belong to Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Talk about a time you weren’t picked for something special. What did you feel like when that happened?
  • Read Ephesians 1:4. How does hearing that God picked you before creation for his purpose change how you feel about yourself?

Hymn: CW 13:1 – There’s a Voice in the Wilderness Crying

There’s a voice in the wilderness crying, A call from the ways untrod:
Prepare in the desert a highway, A highway for our God!
The valleys shall be exalted, The lofty hills brought low;
Make straight all the crooked places Where the Lord our God may go!

 

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 Foretold Comfort for His People – Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Read: Isaiah 40:1-11

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem and proclaim to her that her hard service has been completed, that her sin has been paid for.
Isaiah 40:1-2a

God Foretold Comfort for His People

 

Family Devotion – December 11, 2020

Devotion based on Isaiah 40:1-2a

See series: Devotions

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

When children are little and they get hurt, they will come running to a parent. There is nothing more healing for little ones than the hugs and kisses of a mom or dad. There is an invisible magic in how quickly a kiss will heal whatever is making them cry. Kisses and hugs bring great comfort. As children grow and their difficulties and pains become more complicated, will hugs and kisses still solve their problems?

During Isaiah’s time, God’s people were in captivity. But God loved his people, even when he had to discipline them because they disobeyed him and did wrong. He sent them prophets to try to keep them faithful to him, to bring them comfort, and to remind them of his promise that his son Jesus would more than cover the payment needed to save them from their sins. What comfort these words must have been for God’s Old Testament children!

What brings you comfort? We do not always look in the right place for comfort. We sometimes look for it the possessions we own. Other times, we brag about our achievements. We hurt the people that hurt us, thinking that getting even will make us feel better. But this is wrong. We need to look to Jesus for comfort and to God’s promise that he gives his peace and comfort to all his people. In a world of sin and darkness, pandemics and death, interrupted schedules and lives, Jesus’ birth and his perfect life and death are our comfort and our salvation. Our God comforts us. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (v11).

So this Advent season, sit back and get comfortable. God’s got you. He will comfort you when hurting. He will carry you through any trouble.

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, Lord, for speaking tender words of comfort to us. In these days before Christmas, use those words to cheer us when we feel sad and to encourage us when we are afraid. 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

  • Tell your parents how best they comfort you when you get hurt by someone?
  • How does God comfort you when you get hurt by sin?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Why did the Israelites need comfort from God?
  • Before God comforts you with his forgiveness, recount how you hurt someone today that you feel sorry for. What tender words do you now want to say to them?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Read Isaiah 40:9. What should you say when you see someone struggling and sad?
  • Recount a Bible story that gives you comfort and why.

Hymn: CW 11:1 – Comfort, Comfort All My People

“Comfort, comfort all my people; Speak of peace,” so says our God.
“Comfort those who sit in darkness, Groaning from their sorrows’ load.
Speak to all Jerusalem Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell them that their sins I cover, That their warfare now is over.”

 

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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Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return – Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Read: 2 Peter 3:8-14

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief … [so] what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.
2 Peter 3:10-11

Prepare Your Heart for Jesus’ Sudden Return

 

Family Devotion – December 9, 2020

Devotion based on 2 Peter 3:10-11

See series: Devotions

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

Tom and Jennifer’s home on a school morning can best be described as organized chaos. Parents of three children, a typical morning goes something like this: Child 1 intently watches videos about lawn mowers. Child 2 is bouncing off the walls with excitement that he gets to go to school. Meanwhile, Child 3 is still in bed ten minutes before everyone has to leave. Jennifer works full time, so both she and Tom work hard to be on the same page and get out the door in time for school and work. To assist them, they lay out the day’s clothing that everyone will wear the night before. They pack the backpacks before going to bed. If cold lunch is the school choice of the day, then lunches are made the night before. All these little steps may not seem like much, but they help to make an already hectic morning go smoothly so everyone gets out the door and to school on time.

As we look to the manger and to the sky for Christ’s return, we do not know when that will be. His timing is on a completely different level than ours. Peter says, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. … Make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.” The best place to be ready is in your heart. What steps help get us ready? We can pick out clothes to wear like patience, kindness, and gentleness. We can take the time to be in God’s word to start, end, and get us through our day. We can pack our spiritual lunches with little prayers asking God to help us be ready for his return. We can fill our backpacks with his promises that he came as the babe of Bethlehem to give us rest and peace, and he will come again as the Prince of peace to take us from the chaos and craziness of this sin-darkened world into his light-filled presence.

Missing or being late to school is one thing. Missing or being unprepared for Christ’s return is a completely different and more serious matter. So pack up, dress up, and be ready!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, strip away from my holidays this year anything that would keep me from being ready for your arrival. Take away any pressure and weariness. Give me a quiet mind and a heart spilling over with joy. 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

  • When Jesus returns for us, what special place does he want to take us?
  • Like getting ready to go to school, name one thing that will help you get ready for Jesus this Christmas.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Discuss a time you were late or missed out on something. How did you feel?
  • Why does God want us to be ready for his sudden return on judgment day?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Agree or Disagree: We should be afraid of judgment day.
  • Which one best prepares you for Jesus’ return on judgment day: 1) your parents 2) your phone 3) your Bible? Explain why.

Hymn: CW 14:1,5 – Arise, O Christian People

Arise, O Christian people! Prepare yourselves today.
Prepare to greet the Savior; Who takes your sins away.
To us by grace alone The truth and light were given;
The promised Lord from heaven to all the world is shown.

Prepare my heart, Lord Jesus; Turn not from me aside,
And help me to receive you this blessed Advent-tide.
From stall and manger low Come now to dwell within me;
I’ll sin your praises gladly And forth your glory show.

 

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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John the Baptist Prepared the Way – Family Devotion – December 7, 2020

Read: Mark 1:1-8

“A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”
Mark 1:3

John the Baptist Prepared the Way

 

Family Devotion – December 7, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 1:3

See series: Devotions

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

Living in the Midwest, one becomes familiar with the changing seasons. That means shovel, swat, and construction. We learn to shovel snow, and by the time our backs are aching we are swatting the mosquitos that land on our arms. However, a season that never seems to go away is construction. Whether it’s rural farm roads, busy city streets, or highways, the orange barrels and “Construction Ahead” signs line our path from January to December. However, construction is necessary. Without it, the roads would be worse than what they are. But ignore those signs and damage can happen to our vehicles. When these projects are done, which can take years sometimes, the finished product is worth the drive (especially in the summer with the top down on your car).

We are in a new church season called Advent. It means “coming.” In Advent, we prepare our hearts for Christ’s coming as a baby and as the King of kings. Like a road sign that prepares you for what’s coming on the road, God sent John the Baptist to pave the way and make straight the path for people to see the coming of God’s long-promised Messiah. John’s whole mission was to fulfill the words of the prophet Isaiah, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (Isaiah 40:3).

Like us, the people of John’s day needed to hear the message of repentance. It’s a message that warns, “Your hearts and lives are on the dangerous road of disobedience. Turn back! But it’s a message filled with the amazing, good news of, “Look! Jesus is coming to save you!”

Whatever season of life you are in, whatever road you are traveling, pause to look, listen, and prepare your hearts to meet Jesus in the stable this Christmas and in the sky for his glorious return.

Closing Prayer:

Lord Jesus, this Advent, pave the path of my heart with humility. Clear away any obstacles that would block me from clearly seeing you coming this Christmas 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

  • Why is waiting so hard this time of year?
  • Why is it important to watch and wait for Jesus?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did John the Baptist get people’s attention?
  • Explain how John the Baptist was like a road sign for the coming of Jesus?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Explain: The road I am on does not matter, what matters is that Jesus is with me on this road.
  • Our hearts can be messy. Identify two things in your heart you would like to ask God’s help to clean up before Christmas comes.

Hymn: CW 16:1,2 – On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Announces that the Lord is nigh;
Come then, and listen, for he brings
Good news about the King of kings.

Then cleansed be every life from sin
And furnished for a guest within,
And let us all our hearts prepare
For Christ to come and enter there.

 

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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Baptism Prepares Us for Jesus’ Coming – Family Devotion – December 4, 2020

Read: 1 Peter 3:18-22

This water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a good conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:21

Baptism Prepares Us for Jesus’ Coming

 

Family Devotion – December 4, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Peter 3:21

See series: Devotions

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

Is it four or five? What exactly am I asking you? That’s the number of baths and showers Ian, Lincoln, and Nolan took in one day this past summer. Their parents recently built a new home, and with new construction comes new and exciting things to play with … particularly MUD. Lots and lots of mud! Sprinkle in some of God’s rain, and they had themselves a muddy mess. Add a pinch of three boys drawn to dirt and grime and, voila! The three little brothers were covered from head to toe … in mud.

The first time the parents cleaned them up was amusing. But by the third and fourth times in the SAME day, for multiple days? Um, not so much. There was mud on new white walls, lost clothing because of mud, plugged bathtub drains … mud made for a real disaster.

On a bigger scale, the human race in Noah’s day really “muddied” things up with their lack of trust and love for God. We are no different today. We can shower and put on our best clothes, but beneath the dress pants and shirt lies a heart caked with the mud of our sin. Left to ourselves, we deserved to sink into the pit of despair. But enter our Savior Jesus who in his willingness said “As you wish” to God and laid down his life for us. He lowered himself into the muddy pit to rescue us! And now the water of baptism is not only simple water that washes away dirt, it assures us that ALL our sins are washed away. Not a single muddy streak remains!

Coming this Christmas is someone who will make us clean and keep our consciences clear. So look to the manger, look to the skies, and take heart. Jesus is coming to earth so he can one day take us to be with him in heaven. Be assured that you, as a baptized child of God, are already showered and ready to go!

Closing Prayer:

Thank you, heavenly Father, for the Christmas gift of my baptism. In it, you washed away all my sins and said I am your child. Help me improve my obedience to live my life 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

  • Because we are muddy inside, what water did God use to wash us?
  • Ask your parents to share the story of your baptism day.

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Have your parents help you find your baptism certificate. Then read it out loud and discuss what it says.
  • What were the most important words spoken at your baptism? (hint: every WELS Family Devotion begins with them!)

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Growing up can be hard. If you struggle being comfortable with who you are, how does your baptism give you identity?
  • If baptism is an important part of our identity, name someone you know and care about who may not yet be baptized. Discuss what you might say in order share with them God’s wonderful promise of washing!

Hymn: CW 299:1 – All Who Believe and Are Baptized

All who believe and are baptized
Shall see the Lord’s salvation;
Baptized into the death of Christ,
They are a new creation.
Through Christ’s redemption they shall stand
Among the glorious, heav’nly band
Of ev’ry tribe and nation.

 

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 Judgment Saves His People – Family Devotion – December 2, 2020

Read: Genesis 6:1-3,5-14,17-22

Everything on earth will perish. But I will establish my covenant with you, and you will enter the ark.
Genesis 6:17,18

God’s Judgment Saves His People

 

Family Devotion – December 2, 2020

Devotion based on Genesis 6:17,18

See series: Devotions

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

If you listen to the news on TV or read the latest top story on your smart phone, it doesn’t take long before you hear news about bad storms and bad people that result in damaged homes and destroyed lives. It’s hard to hear of it. It hurts our hearts.

In Noah’s time, the world was no different. People didn’t care about God. They did not live as God wanted them to live. Instead, they did what they wanted, married who they desired and disrespected everything God asked them to do. When God saw that the people were very bad and were always thinking only evil in their hearts, it hurt his heart.

So the LORD said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

As we read this, we do not need to look at our phone or watch the news to see the same disrespect. Go look in a mirror. The answer is staring right at us. Each one of us has, at times, cared more about what we wanted instead of God.

The weeks before Christmas (called the Advent season) are no different; we are more concerned about stuff than we are our sins. God should say, “I will wipe you from the face of the earth.” But he doesn’t. Listen: “I will establish my covenant (a mutual agreement) with you, and you will enter the ark.” God directed Noah to build an ark that would save him and his family. That ark would also keep safe God’s promise to send a Savior.

This same Jesus saves you and me. Jesus was “wiped out” on the cross, not you. As the waters lifted Noah and his family in the ark, the waters of baptism assure us that we are saved. We are God’s favorites! Now there’s some good news that brings joy to our hearts!

Closing Prayer:

Use your power, Lord, and come to help us! Protect us by your strength and save us from the threatening dangers of our sins. 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 Noah to build to save him, his family, and two of every living thing?
  • Who did God send to save you and your family?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • Admit an evil thought in your heart that proves we are no different than the people of Noah’s day.
  • Why is God’s promise to save Noah and his family in the ark so important for us to know our badness is 100% forgiven?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • How did God use the destruction of the flood to save the world?
  • Read 1 Peter 3:18-20. Then compare the waters of the flood and the waters of your Baptism.

Hymn: CW 6:1 – Come, O Long-Expected Jesus

Come, O long-expected Jesus,
Born to set your people free;
From our sins and fears release us
By your death on Calvary.
Israel’s Strength and Consolation,
Hope to all the earth impart,
Dear Desire of ev’ry nation,
Joy of ev’ry longing heart.

 

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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Watch for Jesus Coming – Family Devotion – November 30, 2020

Read: Mark 13:32-37

“What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”
Mark 13:37

Watch for Jesus Coming

 

Family Devotion – November 30, 2020

Devotion based on Mark 13:37

See series: Devotions

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

Two brothers rode the bus to school every weekday morning. Between 7:00 and 7:30 am, the bus would stop outside their home. The boys would run outside and hop on for the short ride to their grade school. Mom made them responsible to get ready each morning and to watch for the bus so that it didn’t come and go without them on it.

One morning, they were playing with each other and fooling around instead of watching for the bus. The unthinkable happened—the bus arrived and then left, but they weren’t on it. Despite having a small window of time to keep watch, they were not alert to its coming and going. They missed the bus. Their mom was upset when they called and admitted their mistake. She had to rearrange her schedule and drive out of her way to come home in order to take them to school.

The Christmas season will soon be here! The days before it are called the season of Advent. Advent is like a small window of time to keep watch. For what should we be watching? How easy to be distracted by the glitz and glitter of Christmas lights and trees. Will our eyes miss the true reason we love this time of year? It is not gifts, decorations, and holiday parties. It’s the incredible, almost unbelievable blessing of Jesus who once left a perfect heaven and came to this imperfect earth to be with us. Why? Because that’s the only way we someday can leave this imperfect earth to be with him in a perfect heaven.

The people of the Old Testament did not know when that first Christmas would arrive. They heard God’s promises that it would be coming. So they watched for them to be fulfilled. As we celebrate Jesus’ first coming to earth on Christmas, we also need to keep our focus on the day of his second coming to take us away from earth to be with him in heaven. Before he ascended into heaven, Jesus promised, “About that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Because we are unaware of the timing of Jesus second coming, it is so important that we be prepared to go at all times. That’s why Jesus encourages, “Be on guard! Be alert!” If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. (Mark 13:33,36).

Our God loves us enough to give us a warning to keep watch, to keep our eyes locked on Jesus despite the distractions and sin of the world.

So keep watch! When Jesus comes, you don’t want to miss the bus.

Closing Prayer:

Jesus, you have planted in us the hope of your coming again. In these days of Advent, keep us alert and watchful for an eternal Christmas that will never end. 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

  • Whose birth do we celebrate at Christmas?
  • Until it’s Christmas, what does Jesus want us to be doing?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • When will Jesus return to take us to heaven?
  • Why does Jesus warn us to keep watch?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Name two specific ways that you can stay focused on Jesus during the Advent season.
  • Think of the name of one person who may be unaware of Jesus’ coming. How can you help them keep watch for Jesus?

Hymn: CW 9:1,5 – Jesus, Your Church with Longing Eyes

Jesus, your church with longing eyes
For your expected coming waits.
When will the promised light arise
And glory beam from heaven’s gates?

Teach us in watchfulness and prayer
To wait for your appointed hour,
And fit us by your grace to share
The triumphs of your conqu’ring pow’r.

 

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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Our King is Victorious Now and Forever – Family Devotion – November 27, 2020

Read: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28

For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
1 Corinthians 15:21-22

Our King is Victorious Now and Forever

 

Family Devotion – November 27, 2020

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:21-22

See series: Devotions

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

Do people ever tell you that you look like your parents? Parents pass down their traits, or the way they look, to their children. You can probably recognize such things as the color of your hair, the shape of your nose, the color of your eyes, or your height as being passed on to you from your mom, your dad, or a combination of the two. Other things get passed down from parents to children as well. Children often have similar personalities to their parents, similar interests, or hobbies that they enjoy.

Today’s Bible verses remind us of something else that was passed on to us from our parents. But this time, it’s not good. From the moment we begin to exist, the Bible tells us we have inside us a sinful desire that naturally wants to do whatever we want, not what God wants.

Where did this sinful nature first come from? Today’s Bible reading tells us. These passages remind us about the how Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden shortly after creation. They disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Ever since, every parent has passed the same sinful nature to their children. Sin separates us from God and leads to eternal death in hell. That is why 1 Corinthians says that “death came through one man” and “in Adam all die.” How sad!

God loved us too much to let us die like that. If our inner sinful condition can be traced back to one man, Adam, so our rescue from it can be traced back to one man as well—Jesus! Jesus was born a human being from a mother just like us! Unlike us, Jesus was born the Son of God! He lived a perfect life—inside and out. Jesus kept God’s commandments perfectly. He died in place of every parent and person born with a sinful nature. Why? So that Christ’s pure nature would replace our human nature. His coming alive at Easter means we can look forward to an eternity with God in heaven. Death has no power over us anymore! In Jesus, the day we die will be the day we open our eyes to our heavenly home! “In Christ, all will be made alive!” Jesus has won the victory over sin and death!

Closing Prayer:

Dear Lord, thank you for loving us despite our sinfulness! Thank you for taking upon yourself the punishment of hell that we deserved and dying to forgive our sins! Give us the confidence that heaven is our home and that we have the victory over sin and death through 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 do you look like your parents?
  • What did Jesus “pass on” to you so that you can look like him?

Questions for Elementary Age Children

  • How did death come from one man? How did life come from one man?
  • Why does our sinful nature make baptism so important—even for newborn babies?

Questions for Middle School and Above

  • Why was it important for Jesus to be both true God and true man?
  • A common belief in our world is that someone gets to heaven by being a good person. Use our Bible passages for today to explain why that isn’t true.

Hymn: CW 378:1,5,6 – All Mankind Fell in Adam’s Fall

All mankind fell in Adam’s fall;
One common sin infects us all.
From one to all the curse descends,
And over all God’s wrath impends.

As by one man all mankind fell
And, born in sin, was doomed to hell,
So by one Man, who took our place,
We all were justified by grace.

We thank you, Christ; new life is ours,
New light, new hope, new strength, new pow’rs;
This grace our ev’ry way attend
Until we reach our journey’s 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.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email