Teen Devotions

Transformed – teen devotion – December 1, 2019

Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz, “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the LORD to the test.”
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
Isaiah 7:10-14

The best spoiled ending ever

I still haven’t seen The Avengers: End Game. I know I can get it on DVD or Blu-ray. I know I can buy it digitally online. And yes, I know I can now watch it on Disney+ (only after I watch Star Wars: The Mandalorian, of course). Point being, it’s not that I don’t know all the different ways I could watch Avengers: End Game. The problem is, I already know the ending. I didn’t get around to seeing it soon enough after it hit theaters. As time went on, spoilers started to creep into my newsfeed on social media. Now I know how it ends. I know all the ‘awesome’ moments, who dies, and who wins. All those details were spoiled for me. If you know how the story ends, you know where the story is going. It’s lost its suspense. No more twists and turns. The surprise is gone.

We don’t like spoilers. Be it books, TV shows, or movies, we like a story with surprises, with twists and turns, and nail-biting suspense—well, except when that story is my life. When we’re waiting to see how we did on a math final or worrying about those test results from the doctor, we don’t like suspense. When we’re struggling to navigate in a new school with new classes, we don’t like twists and turns. When we’re wrestling with questions of identity, wondering if we made the team, or thinking about what to do after we graduate, we don’t like surprises. We want to know how it’s all going to turn out. When we feel small and weak, or when we screw up big time and we’re left feeling broken and guilty, we want to know everything will be alright in the end. When it comes to the stories of our own lives, we’d warmly welcome any and all spoilers, wouldn’t we?

King Ahaz knew the feeling. His kingdom, Judah, was constantly under attack. Ahaz was afraid that, at any moment, these enemy nations would invade. So, God gave him comforting words of promise. “Keep calm and don’t be afraid,” God says through the prophet Isaiah. Why? Well, God spoils the ending. “It will not take place, it will not happen,” God says. But God wasn’t done spoiling the story. “You want a sign of my faithfulness, Ahaz? You want proof it’s all going to be alright in the end? That I still am advancing my plan to save my people?” Ahaz wouldn’t ask for a sign; God gave him one anyway. And that sign has been given to you, too.

A virgin woman miraculously gave birth to a boy called ‘Immanuel’, which means “God is with us.”  That child was Jesus, the Son of God! Jesus entered our broken world to save it from sin—by living a perfect life and dying on the cross in our place. Jesus has faced sin, death, and the devil—the greatest adversaries you will ever face—he fought them, and Jesus won.

There is a whole lot of ‘unknown’ that will take place in your life. But the story of your life has already been spoiled. Why? Because the God who is with you always to the very end of the age has already won. You are his dearly loved child. Your identity is safe in Christ and so is your future. Spoiler alert: it’s safe with him in heaven.

Prayer: Heavenly Gracious Savior, thank you for coming to our rescue and saving us from sin, death, and the devil. Comfort us with the assurance that, because of you and your love for us, we have heaven as our home. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 24, 2019

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.
Philippians 4:10

Thankful for the concern of God’s people

Have you ever had powdered milk? If you haven’t, don’t. It’s gross. As it sounds, you add water to powder and voila! Milk.

I remember the first time I had it. They just let dad know at work that they couldn’t pay him or any of his coworkers that month. My mom was a stay-at-home mom with a handful of kids. Money had to stretch. Meals were “creative.” And delicious, cold, milk was replaced by cheaper, pasty powdered milk. Bleh. And that wasn’t the worst thing. I remember overhearing my mom crying while she spoke with my dad. They didn’t know how they would make things work. Word was that there would be no payment the following month.

We easily take our next meal for granted. Most of us wonder what we’ll have for dinner, not if we will have dinner. In addition, many of us are discontent because we don’t have the latest iPhone, aren’t wearing the newest clothing (despite a dresser and closet full), and we don’t like food we have.

We would do ourselves a lot of good if we would pause and thank God for what he has given and how he gives it to us.

During the days of powdered milk, God did that for my family. One day out of the blue, some friends dropped by with a bunch of extra food that they had been given. They didn’t know about our situation. They dropped by “just because.” Coincidence? I think not.

God has a way of providing for us that we cannot explain. It all looks so ordinary. But our God works through the ordinary to do some of his most extraordinary work.

While Paul was in dire need, God used the Philippians to provide for him. They sent a gift to support him while he shared the gospel. These were ordinary people who gave him an ordinary gift in extreme times. He couldn’t help but overflow with thankfulness.

God has done the same for you and for me. The list is long. Parents and teachers, friends and governmental leaders, extended relatives, church family, and pastors too. Sure, they are imperfect. But God put them in your life with the purpose of caring for you in ways he has designed.

This is how God works, isn’t it? He did that in the life of his Son? He didn’t look like anyone special. He often didn’t have a place to lay his head. Even then he thanked his Father in heaven to live out the perfect thankfulness we lack. And in his sacrifice on the cross we have been forgiven from our discontentment and greed. Your God who saved you for eternity through the person of Jesus Christ also put people in your life to care for you hear and now.

Take a moment and thank him for the ordinary ways that he cares for you.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, you provide for us in so many ways, including the special people you put in our lives to care for us. We can’t help but thank you for loving us through these people. Open our hearts to live this thankfulness to you all our days. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 17, 2019

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

Thankful for the peace of God

Her dad died when she was five. Her mother died when she was in high school. She went to live with her grandparents. They weren’t in good health. It was hard for them to be involved. So it was easy for her to lose her way.

She had boyfriends who only wanted her for the wrong thing. It was hard to make friends moving to a new high school. And she didn’t know how to deal with the emotional loss of her parents.

She got into drugs and dangerous partying. She ended up pregnant, and the dad bolted. Working two jobs and raising a little girl of her own, she didn’t know how everything ended up so wrong.

We often don’t know why things happen the way that they do. But no matter where we are, no matter how much we might be hurting, God never leaves us.

That young lady is now in her 50’s. She is remarried to a wonderful man. They have a couple more kids as well. When asked what got her through those tough years she said, “When I realized that God wasn’t out to get me but was going to bring me through this no matter what… that’s when my faith deepened.”

Trusting in God’s rule is difficult when things are going poorly. When school is difficult, and friends are unkind. When tragedy happens or when we lose someone we love. Even though it looks like God isn’t near or in control, that doesn’t mean that’s true. In these moments, Jesus longs to draw us closer to himself.

You see that when the disciples were stuck in a storm on the Sea of Galilee. Terrified they asked, “Don’t you care?” And Jesus got up and stilled the storm. When they were hiding behind locked doors afraid of being killed like Jesus for following him, Jesus appeared and said, “Peace be with you.” Only our Savior who calms storms and rises from the dead can give us a peace that goes far beyond what we think and feel. In fact, God doesn’t ask us to understand his control. He doesn’t ask us to always feel good about it. He simply points our eyes to facts: “Your sins were paid for on the cross. Death, sin, and the devil can’t harm you because the tomb is empty.”

God’s peace in these promises will guard your hearts and minds.

Prayer: Lord, open my eyes to appreciate your presence. You are my perfect, heavenly Father who never leaves me. Lead me to appreciate your love and your guidance especially when my thoughts and feelings try to tell me otherwise. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 10, 2019

Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.
Philippians 2:12-13

Thankful for the plan

“Aaaaachoooo!!”

He sneezed all over my lunch. Very gross. Not only did he ruin my appetite, he also spread some of his sickness my way. Getting a cold wasn’t on my agenda that day.

Did you know that frowning and complaining does the same thing? Like a virus that’s gone airborne and inhaled or ingested, our grouchiness and grumbling negatively impacts others.

We could talk about smiling more frequently, complimenting others consistently, or demonstrating our gratitude more gladly, but we should look deeper. How can we live so positively? What would make us want to live that way?

While in prison, the apostle Paul had many reasons to complain and give up. He thought he would die soon. Even so, he writes with gratitude and joy and even gives the reason why—God is working in us.

The God of heaven who has loved you from before the beginning, who has saved you through his Son, Jesus, who has claimed you in the waters of your baptism, is working in you. Think of it, the God of heaven who controls the stars is working in you for your good. The God over the earth who creates sunrises and sunsets with unrepeatable beauty is working in your life.

Consider all that went into today for you. The sun rose bringing warmth and light. God has ordered it all for us. And since his works are wonderful and his plans are always good, then you can know without a doubt that his plan for you is good. And just in case we need one more reason to thankfully trust God’s plan, Jesus’ tomb is still empty. Not only do we have eternal life, but our lives matter here and now.

You might want to know more about God’s specific plan for you. What’s next after high school? What does God want for you and your boyfriend or girlfriend? What does God seek to change through you? Whom does he want to help through you?

For all the things that we don’t know, we do know this. God loves you. He does have a plan for you. And his purpose for you is good. Since that is the case, we have reason to smile with gratitude to God.

A study conducted by Duke University and Mayo Clinic uncovered that positivity and optimism generally adds time to life. Of course, we know that the Lord is in control of that. Unlike a viral negativity, our optimistic and hope-filled outlook on life is powerful. And since we have a God who’s working in us according to his good pleasure and will, we have every reason to smile.

Prayer: Lord, please help me to trust that your plan for my life is good. Lead me to smile with joy so that my gratitude to you would lead others to know your grace as well. In the difficult days lift my eyes heavenward and remind me of the eternal hope that I have in you, all because of your great love in Jesus. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – November 3, 2019

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

Thankful for people

While he was incarcerated, he spent two days in solitary confinement. He had been in several prisons. He’d seen many jail cells. This tall, buff, bald, and tatted man helped run a drug empire. This man wasn’t scared of anything. But solitary confinement? That made him almost shake with fear.

We aren’t made to be alone. Several studies have shown that children, teens, and adults suffer when they are alone.

Maybe you know what that’s like. Does it seem like other teens have a great group of friends while you are on the outside looking in? Does it feel like you might be an after-thought when others are getting together? Or worse, does it ever cross your mind that you don’t have the number of friends others do? Maybe you wonder if people even notice you.

You’re not alone.

A man by the name of Paul knew what that was like. He had been persecuted and run out of cities. Worse than having only a few friends in Philippi, he had several sworn enemies. But that is where God stepped in.

Through the people of Philippi, Paul knew what it was like to have true friends who cared when few others did. He experienced the joy of having people who prayed for him, supported him, and were his partners in sharing the good news of Jesus. It was through the gospel that God gave them the joy of encouraging Paul. That joy was the source of his prayer of thanks to God.

Jesus too understands what it is to be alone. Crowds gathered for all the wrong reasons and ditched him by the thousands. Even his closest disciples left him when he asked them to watch and pray. After spending a night in solitary confinement, he was brutally beaten and nailed to a cross. And on the cross, he became more alone than anyone in the history of humanity. He was left all alone—even by his Father—as he suffered for our sins. But in this way, he paid the price so that we would never be alone from God.

Now the connection that we have with others means so much more.

We get to enjoy the company of our friends. More than that, in our faith family, we have partners who share eternal joy. Not just in this life, but as brothers and sisters in our Father’s eternal family. So, every encouraging word we share, every friendly moment, and every step we step we take together is all part of God’s plan in leading us to our heavenly home.

Remember that rough-around the edges character described at the beginning? He later admitted, “The only thing that got me through was knowing that I had just come to know my God and Savior. And I had a cell-mate who said he would pray for me.” He was never alone ever again. Neither are we.

Take some time this week to thank God for the people he has put in your life so you are not alone and with whom you might walk to heaven.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of friends who share my faith. I get to share not just my life with them, but by your grace eternity as well. Help me to be a support to them as they are to me on our way to heaven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 27, 2019

“Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey.

The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

“Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.’ “His master replied, ‘You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed?

Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest. “ ‘So take the bag of gold from him and give it to the one who has ten bags. For whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

Matthew 25:14-18, 24-30

Monster killer: Risk

This parable seems pretty harsh. At first glance it can seem like the master (God) is mean and overacts concerning the man with one bag of gold.

But, Jesus is giving us some key insights through this parable into how seriously God takes our relationship with him.

Imagine you just got a boyfriend or girlfriend that you’ve always wanted. They’re kind, smart, ambitious, generous and make you feel special. You never thought they’d like you, but now you’re actually together! They are committed to you.

Now imagine that every time you ask them to hang out, they say no. They justify their answer by saying they fear that if you hang out together you might discover something you don’t like about them and then you’d breakup with them.

Seems pretty crazy, right? A boyfriend or girlfriend that never wants to do anything with you? You might say there’s no relationship at all. Their inaction killed your relationship. Inaction is a monster.

God is the master of taking action! He moved heaven and earth to have a relationship with you. He sacrificed his Son, who got into the mess of this sinful world and even faced the wrath of God himself in our place. God saved us from an eternity without him. We now get to call him our Father and get to look forward to a life of perfect happiness with him.

And, God saved us for something, not just from something. He saved us for a life filled with purpose and action. He gave each of us spiritual gifts and talents that are beautiful. When we use them it’s like we’re “hanging out” with God and showing him we’re glad we’re in this relationship.

The man with one bag of gold knew that in order to gain more bags of gold he’d have to take a risk. He knew he could face ridicule, failure, jealousy, and pain if he used what he had. He didn’t want to take that risk. But his inaction produced more severe consequences than his risk would have.

The men who had five bags of gold and two bags of gold took a risk. They went out into the world and used their gifts. They knew their master would value the risk they took. They knew his heart—that if they failed he would welcome them still and love them.

Don’t just settle with being saved from something. Live for something. Take risks for God and use what he’s given you. Even if you get a little bruised and beat up along the way, you’ll end up stronger, more resilient, and even more reliant on God because you’ll realize you need his grace even more.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you for saving me from death and saving me for a purpose-filled life. Forgive me for my inaction. Forgive me for burying my gifts. Help me step out in faith and take risks for you. Convince me that there is a certain thrill to living my life for you. It’s what I was made to do. And when I stumble (because I will) you will be right there to comfort me, encourage me, and empower me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 20, 2019

So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
Galatians 5:16-25

Monster killer: Self-control

Just stop it.

That’s our default strategy for dealing with spiritual monsters we face. Whether it’s lust, jealousy, rage, alcohol and drug addiction, or sexual sins, we normally have one plan to battle them.

“I’m just going to stop it. I’m going to use my will power.”

But this strategy doesn’t work. You know it doesn’t work because you’ve tried (and failed) to just stop. Why doesn’t it work? Because human will power is part of the “flesh”. That means it’s corrupt, weak, and incapable of following God’s will.

That’s why we will become frustrated and filled with guilt and hopelessness if we try to achieve self-control simply by following God’s law by our own power.

There’s a better way to battle against these monsters—these sins of our flesh.

Instead of “just stop it,” how about “just step with” the Holy Spirit? This is a better strategy. Why? Because with this strategy you’re tapping into the power of the only one who can truly transform your heart and life. With this strategy, you’re getting true self-control because you understand some important things about yourself.

Keeping in step (walking with) the Holy Spirit and getting true self-control involves three parts.

  1. Remember who you belong to.

    Through faith, God has made you his dearly loved child. You belong to Christ, and he has given you his Spirit. The Holy Spirit is powerful. He has transformed your heart by giving you faith in Jesus. You are deeply loved and valued, no matter how well or how poorly you have been living. God never abandons his dearly loved children!

  2. Call things what they really are.

    When you fall into temptation, don’t deny it or hide it. Confess it. Bring it into the open. Call those actions what they are: “the old me”. You will always have a sinful nature that wants to keep sinning here on earth. These actions lead to guilt, pain, and death. The more you call out your own sin, the more you destroy its power.

  3. Put what you learn into practice and persevere!

    Stepping with the Holy Spirit means you are moving forward. He promises that when you stay close to him you will bear fruit (love, patience, goodness, kindness, and self-control). And, most importantly, don’t give up! Keep going back to #1 and #2.

Remember that keeping in step with the Holy Spirit is a marathon and not a sprint. Jesus is with you on the journey!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please give me true self-control by reminding me about myself. I am a dearly loved child of God bought with the blood of your Son, Jesus Christ. You will never abandon me! I also know I have a sinful nature. Help me put it to death every day by confessing my sins and trusting in your forgiveness. Finally, let me trust your Holy Spirit and keep moving forward. Staying close to him, I will produce good fruit in my life, all to your glory. Amen!


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 13, 2019

For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God. He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.
2 Timothy 1:6-10

Monster killer: Love

False imprisonment, whippings and beatings, a shipwreck, rumors and lies spread about him, ridicule, sleeplessness, and extreme hunger. What would you call a guy who perseveres through these things to share the good news of Jesus with people?

Courageous? For sure. Strong? Definitely. Determined? Absolutely.

Loved? Loving? Uh…didn’t think of that.

I’m talking about the apostle Paul, who wrote the Bible verses above to his good friend, Timothy. Paul went through extreme suffering in order to spread God’s Word to people who didn’t know God’s true love in Jesus.

Paul was afraid at times. Wouldn’t you be? But something kept Paul going. Something slapped his fear in the face and held it back.

It was love.

Jesus’ love for him had radically transformed Paul’s life. He realized he now didn’t have to fear the ultimate fear of eternal death. He grew up thinking the opposite. He grew up fearing God and thinking the only way to heaven was through following a bunch of rules—rules he knew he couldn’t keep completely.

But now Paul knew better. He knew that he was saved by God’s great power and love. So with his ultimate fear gone, he was now ready to face his other fears in life. Now he not only knew he was loved by Jesus, but he felt love for other people. He wanted them to have the same peace he felt. Paul’s love for other people kept him going.

The next time you face fear, especially the fear of sharing your faith, remember this: love drives out fear. Jesus loves you right in that moment. He’s with you as you stand next to that person who needs to hear about him.

Let your love for that person slap your fear in the face. When you look at that person with love, things change!

Facing the monster of fear with Jesus’ love is a recipe for success.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your love for me. Holy Spirit, thank you for giving me power, love, and self-discipline. The next time I feel afraid of rejection or suffering because of my faith in you, fill my mind and heart with the truth of how much you love me. Your perfect love drives out my fear. You help me do what seems impossible—you help me love another person and share the good news of Jesus with them. Thank you! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – October 6, 2019

All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
1 Peter 5:5b-7

Everything in love

Think of the last time a trusted friend turned on you. You thought you could count on them only to find out that they only were concerned about themselves. What’s worse is they betrayed you. They posted unkind things about you on social media. They spread lies about you. In the end, they really weren’t your friend.

That’s how pride works. For a while, you like pride. He’s your friend. You feel good about yourself. Others might even view you as confident. You seem to be getting ahead in life.

Pride inside of you says, “If you want to be great, put yourself first. If you don’t, you’ll never succeed.”

But, at some point, pride turns on you. You realize that living a self-centered life has its drawbacks: Friends might leave you or avoid you. Everything seems dependent on you and on your shoulders, but you realize you aren’t always in control of life. One mistake could ruin you. That’s a lot of pressure.

The most frightening thing about having a prideful heart is that God will oppose you. That’s not a good place to be. He will oppose you because there’s no room for him inside a prideful heart. God knows that when he’s not first in your heart, everything falls apart eventually. Pride really is a monster.

The good news is that you have another friend. A truer friend. He is humility personified. His name is Jesus Christ. He’s kind. He’s dependable. He is concerned about you. He sticks with you when others bail. He’s always thinking of you. In fact, he left everything to come rescue you and serve you. And he’d do it again if he had to!

If the monster of pride is getting to you, fight him with humility. Humility starts with confessing your pride and turning to your friend, Jesus. God will then lift you up and calm your heart with his presence.

Jesus’ love and forgiveness refresh you and empower you to a better life. Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.

So, hang out with and follow your best friend, Jesus, today. Put on your new self. Live today thinking of the interests of others, not just your own. Do something today that lifts up another person. Doing so will be a punch in the gut to the monster of pride.

Prayer: Father, you thought of us first even when we brought sin into the world. You promised us Jesus. He had everything, but willingly put our interests ahead of his own. Convince us that you belong first place in our hearts. Show us the ugliness of pride. Forgive us for our pride. Give us the strength to lift up another person today. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 29, 2019

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Everything in love

Who is the most accomplished person you know personally? A classmate with a 4.0 and tons of scholarships coming? The all-conference captain of the team? The soulful singer who steals the stage and the show? The neighbor who seems to have endless friends and perfect relationships?

The words that open 1 Corinthians 13 are fascinating. And they open our eyes to a completely different way of thinking. You might have the greatest gifts and abilities (which these devotions have talked about a lot this month), but unless you act in love you do nothing, you gain nothing, and you are nothing. Without love, then, the greatest action or deed is meaningless.

It all comes down to love. So, what better thing can there be than a checklist of what love looks like, right? However, reading through the description of love in verses 4-8 of this great “love chapter of the Bible” is like reading your own personal list of epic fails. Patient? Nope! Not proud? I wish! No record of wrongs? Fat chance! For me, it seems like love always fails.

But this is where our attention needs to shift focus to true love, to the one who embodies love and even is love—God. “God is love,” the Bible says, and it also tells us how “God so loved the world,” and how “God demonstrated his love for us.” We need look no further than Jesus. There we see perfect love that never has, never did, and never will fail. In Jesus we see love that was perfectly patient, kind, compassionate, forgiving, and every other descriptor you could add.

That perfect love of Jesus is your love. Why? Because he is your substitute and his perfect righteousness now belongs to you. And, he is also your Savior who blots out and erases your every failure. Now that is perfect love!

That love of Jesus is what wraps us in a warm and snuggly embrace. That love of Jesus is what fills our hearts with joy to the point that eventually it spills out as we love and serve others. That love of Jesus is what never fails to be good or the right thing to do. Yes I may fail, but his love never does—either for me or through me.

So go on friend! Live your life. Pursue your goals. Chase your dreams. Do your daily work. But whatever you do, let the love of Jesus drive each thought, word, and deed.

Prayer: Jesus, so fill my heart with your love that I may live that love for you and others in all I do. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 22, 2019

Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.
1 Corinthians 12:14-18

We are many

Ever have that one little pain that drives your whole-body crazy? A sprained ankle leads to limping and possible back and hip pain, as well as sore hands and shoulders from using crutches. Waking up with a knot in your neck muscles leads to impaired mobility and subpar functionality throughout the day. A severe headache might cloud your thinking and sideline you for the whole day.

Of course, the more severe the impairment, the more difficult it is for the body. Those without use of limbs (either by birth, accident, or otherwise), have a great deal of work to do to compensate. Those without senses have to figure out certain ways to navigate this world without being able to see, hear, or speak.

You see, God designed the body in such a way that every part has a function. Every part is important. And, every part is meant to work together in unison as one fully functioning body.

The same is true for God’s church on earth. You are not less important if you are not a pastor. You are not useless if you are female and not male (or vice versa). You are not a waste of the church’s time because you are young.

As we said a few weeks ago, every service and every servant matters. The apostle Paul tells us again here that every part belongs because, “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be.”

Maybe you are part of the tech team on Sunday morning. Maybe you are an usher. Maybe you help with VBS. Maybe you sing or play an instrument, or help canvass and pass out fliers, or simply offer whatever best offering you are able. God has given you the abilities to function as that “part” of the body of Christ and your work matters to the functionality of the whole body of believers in the church.

Think carefully about what you enjoy doing—activities, hobbies, work. These are likely things that involve the unique gifts and abilities God has given you. How can you use those to serve your Savior and serve your neighbor? It doesn’t have to be big! Maybe you will be a mouth that witnesses. Maybe you will be hands that serve. Maybe you will be ears to listen and a shoulder to cry on. But whatever you do, know this—your part matters to the body of Christ!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, in addition to the many gifts you shower me with daily, you also have given me unique gifts and abilities to serve you and others. Help me to use these gifts as a part of the body of Christ. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 15, 2019

Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

We are one

Division hurts. No, not the mathematical functions that hurt your brain in homework sessions. Division between people hurts. No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’ve seen and experienced the pain of divisiveness.

The family that once was whole, now ripped apart by divorce. The friend group that crumbled because of backstabbing gossip. The team that couldn’t get along. The street filled with opposing protestors screaming back and forth. The red-faced political pundits debating (and debasing) each candidate for office.

Quite frankly and quite sadly, when you look out at the world today, there isn’t much you see except division. Does anyone get along? Will anyone play nice? Is anyone united anymore? YES! We are.

The apostle Paul reminds us of a spectacular truth that Christ Jesus has accomplished for us. He has made us to be one in him. We are one body of believers!

There really is nothing like it in the world. You see, you could be black or brown or white, rich or poor, young or old, male or female, or any other combination of variations and differences in life. Yet you stand side by side and united with the entire holy Christian church on earth and every saint already in heaven. Each soul is bought with blood of Christ and each soul is brought into his family through baptism. Together we form one body united in our Savior and our salvation won for now and eternity.

On this side of heaven, you certainly will feel the pain of division. Sin tears apart and separates. It creates loneliness, isolation, and sadness. But the next time that hurt creeps in, remember your vast support system—a vast body of believers throughout the world and throughout time in heaven and on earth who are your brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ.

We are one. What strength! What comfort! What peace!

Prayer: Lord of the Church, you have purchased and won for yourself the souls of all mankind, and in baptism you have united all believers together as members of your body. Give me comfort in times of loneliness and courage in times of hurt that the body of Christ is there to support me. Help me also to love and support my brothers and sisters in need. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 8, 2019

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good… All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.
1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 11

Every service matters

“I just want to find a good job someday—you know, doing something that matters and is meaningful.”

It seems to be the elusive dream of every teen. Get into a good college or trades program. Find a job that is influential and important. Do something that really makes a difference. After all, who wants to be a low-class person doing low-class work?

The apostle Paul challenges you to think differently today. There is no such thing as doing more important work than others. There is no such thing as being gift-devoid or ability bankrupt, as if everyone else has some special gift (academics, athletics, personality, etc.) but you have nothing. Whether in the world or in the church, all work and all workers are equal. Why is this?

Because it is the same Holy Spirit who distributes gifts to each person. It is the same God who works in and through each person.

So yes, some people may function as leaders in the world or in the church. Some people may have higher profile jobs that get more attention than others. Some people may make more money than others. But what of it? Different does not mean better. Each person has gifts from God and so is an instrument of God with those gifts.

Think of the bread you eat in your home. Some farmer raised and harvested the crops. Someone bought the product. Workers in a factory processed and produced and packaged bread. Truck drivers delivered it. Stock boys (or girls) put it on the shelves. Someone rang up the groceries. And someone in your family purchased it with money earned from their job. Each had a different set of skills used in a different vocation (life-calling), but God used each to provide for you and many others.

Think of a Sunday morning. The pastor often gets the limelight and attention. But what if no one replaced the lightbulbs, turned the lights and AV on, or even paid the light bill for that matter? What if no one greeted you, gave you a service folder, collected and counted the offering? What if no one played an instrument or led the congregation in singing? Or, God forbid, what if no one made coffee or had snacks available?

This is precisely what Paul is teaching. There are many gifts and many kinds of service. Each is valuable and important—both inside and outside the church. You have been given gifts and abilities by God. So friend—get to work! And trust that your service is important and valuable to God and to others. Why? Because God himself is working through you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to see the gifts that you have given, to make wise use of them, to be grateful for the opportunities to serve you and others. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – September 1, 2019

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31

Every moment matters

What does it even matter? It’s just Algebra. Like you’re ever going to use Algebra in your life! Then again, what’s the point of any of your classes? Dependent and independent clauses? Give me a break!

The same goes for your job. You get paid so little to ask, “Would you like fries with that?” And this certainly isn’t your future career. Who cares if you slack off a bit to eat up the time clock? What does it matter?

Well, actually it does matter. A lot. Every moment does.

Satan wants nothing more than for us to think that every moment of our lives is meaningless. If he can convince us of this, soon he’ll convince us to indulge in a selfish laziness in those moments—an attitude of, “What does this matter if I don’t like it or it doesn’t benefit me?” But as soon as he has you trapped in thoughts of meaningless monotony, he will then push for the death blow of you doubting God and his purpose for your life. “If these moments don’t matter, what do I matter? If I don’t matter, what kind of God is he anyways?”

The apostle Paul reminds us in this verse that the opposite is true. Actually, every single moment of your life matters. Why? Because you mattered to God. God came for you. God lived for you. God died for you. God rose for you. Jesus gave everything of his life for yours as he washed you and bought you with his blood. He did so in order to make you a prized possession of our God—his own dear child.

Knowing this value your life has to our God means that every moment of your life also has value, because every moment is an opportunity—an opportunity to live to the praise and glory of a God who has loved you so much.

So do your quadratic equations and do them well. Flip burgers with all you’ve got. Take notes with all the intellect you’ve been given. Compete and perform with every ounce of strength and ability. In fact, live every moment now and into the future with your best and to the fullest. And know that when you do, it matters. It matters because you are glorifying your Savior God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, fill me with the joy of your love found in Christ so that my heart spills over with thankful living for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 25, 2019

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight. There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead. Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted.
Acts 20:7-12

The fall of Eutychus… (a.ka. “Sleepy”)

Our last Bible character could be called Sleepy, but Scripture tells us his name is Eutychus (pronounced “Yoo-ti-kuss”). Of all the Bible characters we’ve met over last few weeks, he is one we might be able to understand the most. Especially if the pastor has droned on during a warm summer morning at early service when your parents tore you away from your comfy bed. Didn’t they realize you had a long night texting a friend through her troubled relationship or going for that next rank in a game of Rocket? Eutychus was a boy who was in church listening to the apostle Paul speak for a long time. He fell asleep. Not because he hated Jesus, nor was he annoyed by the Word of God. He fell asleep because he was human. He tried, but he still fell…asleep. Sadly and shockingly, he also fell…three stories to his death.

The lesson to the story is not to stay awake in church, especially if you are sitting in the balcony.

Look at this story from a different perspective. Why was Eutychus still there? Why did he stay so late at night that he fell out of a window? Because he loved God’s Word that much! He was tired. He probably wanted to be in bed. He was weak. But he still loved God’s word that much so that he stayed. And that’s the place where we need to start. Even if we’re tired. Even if we’d sometimes rather be somewhere else. Start there and show up for church. At least we’re there.

And then realize that we need a wake-up call. Because attendance is not the same as attention. Showing up in church is not the same as honoring God’s Word and taking it in for our souls and for our faith. We certainly need a wake-up call because God’s Word is more important for our faith than getting a few more hours of sleep in the morning. God’s Word is more important than mastering that next level of your game.

Jesus died and rose again so that you can wake up and do this again. He died for all of you who “mean well” but in reality “act bad.” He died for you who fall asleep in church or don’t even get up for it. He died for a world of sinners, of whom I am the worst. He died for all of us. And that means he died for you. And on the third day Jesus didn’t rise from sleep; he rose from the dead. He rose to wake us up from our slumber, to open our weary eyes, and to let us know that this is what we get up for. And not just on Sundays, but EVERY DAY of our lives! So, friends in Christ, “Wake up!”

There will still be the occasional boring sermon on a hot summer’s day after a long weekend. But may God wake you up to see his forgiveness, his love, his peace, and the power to wake up, praise him, follow him, and rouse others from their slumber of sin to the wide-awake joy of life in Christ now and forever! To him alone be the glory and praise!

Precious Lord, remind me of my baptism as I pray:
My loving Father, there you took me
To be henceforth your child and heir.
My faithful Savior, there you let me
The fruit of all your sorrows share.
O Holy Spirit, comfort me
When threatening clouds around I see. Amen.
(Christian Worship 294:2)


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 18, 2019

From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the boys. And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
2 Kings 2:23-25

Elisha the prophet

In the short three verses of our reading, a number of things happen. A bunch of boys made fun of Elisha, a prophet and leader of Israel. Elisha called down a curse on them for their sin. Then bears came out of the woods and mauled the children. Afterwards, Elisha goes on his way without another word.

What is the lesson from this story?

When I was young, I thought this lesson from God’s Word was to teach us not to mock those God has placed over us—those serving the Lord in their lives to the best of their imperfect ability—otherwise you will be punished like those who were mauled by bears. But there is more to the story.

Think about the words of Hebrews 13:17: “Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.” (NIV 2011) The lesson of Elisha is more than a lesson on punishment that we deserve for not respecting and honoring those in authority over us, it is a powerful reminder of what God wants us to have—joy in loving, obeying, and having confidence and trust in those God has given to take care of us.

That’s not always easy. When a parent completely embarrasses you in front of your friends, you may feel like calling them names or saying bad things about them to your friends. When you are frustrated by your teachers’ high expectations of you in school, you complain about them to fellow classmates. When people in charge of us do things that bother us or seem unfair, all kinds of names, phrases, and disrespect bounces through our brains and comes out of our mouths.

But God has given them to you so that you might honor and obey them. God has given them authority over you for your benefit. And he wants you to see him when you see them. These authorities that are over you—teachers, parents, pastors, government—these are his representatives. He has put them there to exercise his authority. When you honor them, you honor him! And when you dishonor them, you dishonor him. So when these boys called Elisha “Baldy,” they were disrespecting God.

Learn from this strange story. Apologize for your disrespect. Confess it to God. Confess it to the one you disrespected. See that these people over you are standing in for God. See those authorities differently and give them respect that is due them.

Thank you, God, for the authorities that you have placed over me. Thank you, Father, for forgiving me when I forget to show them respect and giving me a new day to show it again.

#PGFWABF ALWAYS!

Prayer:
All that I am and love most dearly—
Receive it all, O Lord, from me.
Let me confess my faith sincerely
And help me your own child to be!
Let nothing that I am or own
Serve any will but yours alone.
(Christian Worship 294:4)


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 11, 2019

After Ehud came Shamgar son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad. He too saved Israel.
Judges 3:31‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Shamgar the judge

What can you do with a 10-foot pole? It’s an odd question. Shamgar used one, called an oxgoad, as a weapon. An oxgoad was a long, pointed tool used by farmers to prod their cattle and make them move when they decided to stop and rest for a while. God called Shamgar to use his oxgoad for more than oxen. It was a strange weapon to use to kill 600 men, and the odds seemed impossible for Shamgar. How could Shamgar believe that a stick with a sharp iron point would be all he would need? Shamgar knew it wasn’t the stick or his ability that accomplished the seemingly impossible. It was God’s power that gave Shamgar the confidence to fight and God’s grace that gave him victory.

The previous two chapters in Judges show that time and time again Israel decided to leave God, follow the world, worship false gods, and enjoy the sensual sins that accompanied the worship of those false gods—in essence forgetting the true God altogether.

It’s rather sad. The God of grace was always before his children—saving them, providing amazing homes they took for granted, blessing them with parents who tried their best (flawed as they were) to put food on the table and clothes on their backs—only for another opportunity to save them when they decided to completely take him for granted and go their own way…. Suddenly, we are talking about more than the Israelites.

How similar we are to them! It’s not just the Philistines that deserve to end up at the end of a prodding pole. Our sin has earned us even worse. God gave Israel Shamgar and used him to save Israel in an amazing act of power, justice, and love!

God gave us Jesus. Taking on flesh, leaving his throne of grace, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! He saved you, in an amazing act of power, justice, and love! Now God prods us with the stick of his Word, driving us beyond ourselves and our selfishness to see not the oxgoad that skewered 600, but the staff of the Good Shepherd that pulls us along, guides us in truth, and seeks to steer us away from danger and sin every day. Better yet, we see the big piece of wood that held our Savior—his cross!

Thank God for Shamgar and his oxgoad. Most importantly, thank God for sending a Savior—the living, faithful, powerful, grace-filled Jesus Christ! Through water and the Word in baptism, he saves us!

#PGFWABF ALWAYS!

Prayer:
Baptized into Your name most holy,
My faithful God, you fail me never;
Your promise surely will endure.
Oh, cast me not away forever
If words and deeds become impure.
Have mercy when I come defiled;
Forgive, lift up, restore your child. Amen.
(Christian Worship 294:3)


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – August 4, 2019

Go ahead, try it. Name the seven dwarfs from memory. Can’t? You’re in good company. Hopefully, it also explains why the devotion series for August make sense. Each week in August will share a name of a biblical person that you may not know. But amazingly, they also served God’s purpose—each in their own unique way. Instead of Happy, Bashful, Grumpy, or Sleepy, you will hear names like Shamgar and Rahab. God help us to see who he has made US to be. Despite our flawed pasts, he uniquely gifts us to glorify him every day!

 

Then Joshua son of Nun secretly sent two spies from Shittim. “Go, look over the land,” he said, “especially Jericho.” So they went and entered the house of a prostitute named Rahab and stayed there.
Joshua‬ ‭2:1‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Rahab

When I was in high school, I had a teacher who said “One of the reasons I love the Bible so much—besides the amazing grace of Christ—is that it’s filled with broken people, like me.” I have never forgotten those words. And they still mean the world to me. I pray they do (or will) to you too.

I find it hard to imagine someone more broken than Rahab. She was a woman whose livelihood came from selling her body to be a “spouse for an hour.” That’s what a prostitute does. Rahab was a prostitute. Throughout the entire Bible she is called “Rahab, the prostitute” except in one place—the genealogy of Jesus. This broken woman who spent too much of her life in sin and loaded with guilt became an ancestor of Jesus himself! (Look at Matthew 1:5.)

What does this mean? The answer is simple: God’s grace smashes our guilt. God’s love completely wipes away our past. God’s gift of faith calls the most broken soul and conscience and says, “I am making you a brother or sister of Jesus now.”

Jesus didn’t just live perfectly for Rahab; he lived perfectly for you. The Bible says he was tempted in every way as we are. That includes Rahab. That includes you. Yet he faced it without falling. Jesus didn’t only die on the cross for his great-great-great grandmother Rahab; he died on the cross for you. Jesus didn’t just rise from the grave on Easter to prove that Rahab’s sins really were forgiven; he rose on Easter for you, to prove that your sins are forgiven too.

The Holy Spirit didn’t just come to create faith in Rahab through the message of the spies or whoever she heard it from first; the Holy Spirit came through water and the word, through the healing Gospel of Jesus to create that same “Rahab-faith” in you—broken, guilty, and despairing. The amazing thing is God didn’t just save Rahab, he used her to protect the spies. He included her in the family tree of Jesus. God didn’t just do that for her, he did that for you too. He intended to include you in his kingdom. He intends to use you in his kingdom, in ways that you can hardly begin to imagine.

God bless your week of growing, sharing, loving, and mending. PGFWABF (Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!) ALWAYS!

Prayer: Baptized into Your name most holy,
O Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
I claim a place, though weak and lowly,
Among your saints, your chosen host,
Buried with Christ and dead to sin.
Your Spirit now shall live within. Amen.
(Christian Worship 294:1)


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 28, 2019

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice.
Proverbs 25:20

Good smells and good advice

Walk by Bath and Body Works at the nearest mall, and you will be bombarded by vanilla, fresh rain, and summer berry (whatever that is). Step outside on the Fourth of July, and it’s likely you’ll be able to tell that someone in your neighborhood is grilling. Smell is a funny thing. A good smell can lift our spirits. A bad smell can kill our mood. Solomon compares good advice to a wonderful smell.

At times, our friends need our counsel, but our advice isn’t very good or very godly. Someone wrongs them, and you are filled with rage on their behalf. “You should totally get back at them!” Your friend wants to do something you know is wrong, but you want to be supportive, so you blurt out: “You should do what makes you happy!”

Sometimes you are the one who needs good advice but get bad instead. You needed someone to tell you a hard truth, but the people around you just told you what you wanted to hear.

Later in the aftermath of bad decisions, the smell of this bad advice makes us sick to our stomachs. Why didn’t we just say/seek the right things? A cloud of stink only enhances our misery.

Jesus gives the best advice. To the guilty and burdened he advises, “Come to me and find rest.” To the fearful and anxious he says, “Cast all your anxiety on me.” To those wrestling with relationship issues he says, “Love as I have loved you.” To those who are feeling lonely he says, “Know that I am with you always.” To someone about to do something harmful to their souls he says, “Be careful that you are standing firm on what I’ve taught you.” These pieces of wisdom are so good, they are better than even the smell of summer berry (whatever that is). They are so valuable because they come from God himself.

What does Jesus teach us here about wisdom for our friends? 1) Make sure your advice is well grounded in God’s Word. That’s yet another reason to make Bible study a priority. 2) Surround yourself with friends whose heartfelt advice comes from a heart where Jesus makes his home. I thank God for friends over the years who told me exactly what I did not want to hear and kept me from making terrible mistakes in the heat of the moment. 3) Be the friend and surround yourself with friends who tell you about the love and forgiveness of Jesus. I’m so grateful to God for friends whose wisdom took me back to Jesus’ cross and empty tomb again and again. The fragrant smell of their words still brings me joy to this day!

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, only you can teach me to be a good friend. Help me not only give sound, biblical advice but also surround myself with people who will do the same for me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 21, 2019

Like one who takes away a garment on a cold day, or like vinegar poured on a wound, is one who sings songs to a heavy heart.
Proverbs 25:20

Choose your song carefully

There was a sharply dressed older man. He had on his best black suit. For the last hour he stood in the church entry and greeted a long line of people who had come to say goodbye to his wife. They had told him they loved him and that everything would be okay; they reminded him that his wife was in a better place. He nodded and smiled. He knew all those things were true, but now he was just tired. He allowed himself to slump down into a comfortable chair and he stared straight ahead, wondering how long all of this would hurt.

Finally, one more visitor walked through the church doors. It was an old friend who had lost his own wife a year or so ago. He said nothing. He nodded hello and just sat down in the next chair. They sat like that in silence for a long time. It was the best thing that had happened all day. Sometimes it’s enough to know that someone else understands your pain.

When one of our friends or someone we know is going through something hard, we often feel like we have to say something. We want the person to stop crying, stop panicking, stop being negative. We want to make it better. So, we try telling a joke, and it is WAY too soon. We read someone’s cry for help on social media and respond with a praying hands emoji. We get under that heavy heart and try to lift it with all our might … but it won’t budge. It’s as sensible as thinking that stealing your friend’s big puffy jacket in the middle of winter would be a favor to them. That’s what Solomon is trying to say in this proverb.

There was a younger man in his early thirties at a different funeral. The man made no attempt to hide the tears streaming down his face. He was sad for his friend who was dead. He was sad for the two sisters this dead friend had left behind. He was sad because none of this was the way this world was supposed to go. This younger man is Jesus. He’s weeping at the funeral for his friend Lazarus. Even though he is well aware that Lazarus will soon be walking around alive again, Jesus takes the time to listen to Mary and Martha, joining in the sad song their hearts were singing. Jesus, as a good friend, gets down in the dust and ashes with them and with us.

What’s the lesson from Jesus? Listen. Take the time to listen. Then, consider carefully what someone needs in the moment. Remember that God’s design for us includes a healthy need to complete the grieving process. Sad songs can be just what we need at certain times. At other times, a different song is good to direct them to the words and promises of God.

Choose carefully the song that you “sing” to your hurting friends. Ask the Spirit for wisdom to discern what their heart needs to hear at the right time. Don’t be afraid to get down in the dust and ashes with them. Don’t be afraid to sit with them and walk with them in their pain.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, only you can teach me how to be a truly good friend. Give me the wisdom to know how to lovingly help those who are hurting. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 14, 2019

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
Proverbs 17:17; 18:24

Stand by me

I was doing yardwork this past Memorial Day when my neighbor pulled into his driveway. He served in the U.S. military for many years, so I took the opportunity to thank him for his service. He thanked me politely and then looked down for a few seconds. When he looked up again he said, “I miss the friendships…What I miss most is the friendships.” Then he walked inside his house. I spent the next few minutes behind my lawnmower thinking about those friendships built between my neighbor and his brothers in arms as they faced all kinds of adversity.

We need a friend who will stick by us during times of stress and trouble. That person becomes more than just a friend, they become a brother…a sister.

Can you picture the disciples sprinting away from Gethsemane in the moments after the soldiers began tying Jesus up? Can you see the desperate glances thrown back over their shoulders? The adversity has hit them hard, but they are certainly not acting like they are Jesus’ brothers.

It’s sad to consider how little adversity it can sometimes take for us to stop being someone’s friend. Maybe there was someone you used to hang out with in grade school, someone who was like a brother or sister to you. Lots of memories from sleepovers at each other’s houses. Then you got to high school, and other people decided that friend of yours was weird. Nerdy. Someone to be AVOIDED or MOCKED. You saw it happen. You saw the abuse they were taking. Rather than drawing close to them during their trouble, did you run away instead?

Jesus didn’t give up on the disciples as he was led away to the cross that night. He doesn’t give up on us bad friends either. In fact, his entire existence on earth was to prevent our ruin. He refused to leave us, even when it cost him dearly. He continues to stick closer than a friend or brother. Look at yourselves through Jesus’ eyes. You were the perfect candidates to be ignored and avoided. Yet Jesus still seeks a closer relationship with us and never leaves us.

As I think about the people in my life that God has graciously placed around me, I think about sitting on a dorm room bed and talking with some of them about guilt, about family struggles, about worries for the future. I think about them sticking up for me, even when they would have been better off sprinting away, casting desperate glances over their shoulders. I am grateful for friends who are closer to me than brothers and sisters, and I am well aware that I don’t deserve them. I pray that God allows me to be the kind of friend who supports people on the battlefield that is this entire life.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, only you can teach me how to be a truly good friend. Give me the love and courage to support others, even when it will cost me something. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – July 7, 2019

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.
John 15:13-14

The foundation for friendship

He says that he loves her. She is the best girlfriend ever. She makes him so happy. But he’s cheating on her. Every week at the same time after school. Does he really love her? Does he really?

The young woman claims this person is her friend. They have been through so much together. They’ve laughed and cried. But as soon as her friend leaves the room, the young woman immediately begins to criticize her. The way she dresses. The way she complains. How annoying she can be. Does she really love her? Does she really?

It is embarrassing to consider the things you have done or said to your family and friends. Think of all the passive aggressiveness. Think of the ways we have manipulated people to get what we want. Consider the ways we have failed to give the people whom we claimed to love what they truly needed. They needed us to sacrifice our time or energy. A friend needed our support when they were struggling. They needed us to sacrifice our pride and forgive them. But we just wouldn’t. We say that we love and care for people, but our emotions and actions project a different message.

Martin Luther said that there was a teaching that would be the key to a church standing securely or falling with a terrible crash. It was the teaching that we are declared not guilty in God’s courtroom because Jesus lovingly laid down his life for us, his terrible friends. That’s also the teaching on which our love for our friends will either stand or fall. If our love for others does not have Jesus’ cross as its foundation, that love will inevitably reveal itself to be fake.

His cross is both the foundation for our love and supreme example of what loves does. There the love dripped from his head, his hands, his feet, as he died. Here is perfect obedience to the Father’s command to love. “Whatever these people need,” Jesus said, “I will gladly do.” Jesus says he loves us. Does he really? Absolutely! Look at the cross and see it! Its selflessness covers all the times that our selfishness prevented us from loving in a real way. That is Jesus’ love for you.

Over the next month we’re going to think through what friendship looks like and what a good friend does. I want you to think about this question: “What does a good friend do?”

For now, rest on this foundation: Jesus is your best and greatest friend. He only thought of your needs and your salvation. Whatever you needed, that’s what he gave. He gave no thought to what it cost him. He only thought about what he gained, you. That’s true friendship.

Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, only you can teach me how to be a truly good friend. Forgive me for my selfishness and lead me to love selflessly. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 30, 2019

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” … [Jesus] said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
John 8:1-11

Judge Not

Perhaps the most popular passage in our culture today is “Judge not!” (Matthew 7:1). Many pervert what Jesus is saying here. Some believe that Jesus doesn’t want us to ever point out anything someone does that is wrong. Of course, this isn’t true.

To save the world, Jesus had to point out sin. Jesus had to judge all hearts, whether they were sorrowful over sin and trusted in him or not. Jesus was all about saving, and he wants us to be too, just like him. He wants us to point out sin, first in ourselves, and then in others, not to stone them to hell, but to save them by the gospel.

A perfect example of how to judge someone to save them is John 8:1-11. Jesus encounters a woman who is clearly guilty of adultery, aa sin punished by death. Does Jesus condemn her? No, Jesus offers her “no condemnation,” telling her to leave her life of sin.

Like Jesus, do the same. Start first with yourself. See your sin. Then hear the most beautiful judgment ever declared, “Not guilty!” in Jesus. What a beautiful message to share with your friends whether straight or gay. To you and all your forgiven friends Jesus encourages, “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help us to remember that on all issues of sin, your Scriptures were written not to condemn but to save people. As surely as you have saved us by your Word of truth and grace, help us share your Word with others in all truth and grace. Amen.

This devotion is part five of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to search out the previous devotions for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 23, 2019

Blessed is the one who always trembles before God, but whoever hardens their heart falls into trouble.
Proverbs 28:14

Can LGBT people be saved?

There seems to be the thought among Christians that gay people can’t go to heaven. That is absolutely not true. There are plenty of awesome children of God who have same sex attraction. Whoever believes that gay people can’t be saved simply does not know Scripture as they ought. Furthermore, what do people think about their own salvation, if they believe gay people are beyond saving but they are not? Do such people believe that their good works save them? Paul is pretty clear in Romans 3:20 that “no one will be declared righteous by keeping the law. Rather, through the law we all become conscious of sin in our lives.” We also see our need for a Savior. No one is good enough to save themselves, not even in part. No one is beyond God’s grace either, especially not gay people.

Sin is sin. All sin condemns equally, and all sin is equally forgiven by Jesus. The issue, then, is not homosexuality but the attitude in the heart of the individual. This is true for any sin.

The most important issue is repentance. Are you sorry for your sins? Is a gay person sorry for their sinful thoughts, words, and actions? Is the liar sorry for lying? Is the thief sorry for stealing? Do we trust that Jesus has truly forgiven us? Then by grace we are saved! That same grace covers the person who struggles with same sex attraction. The gift of God’s grace causes us to hate our sin and fight it all the more, striving toward holy living day by day.

What is the unforgiveable sin? It’s not homosexuality. The only unforgiveable sin is the hardened sin which rejects Jesus and the forgiveness he brings. The only unforgiveable sin is refusing to embrace in faith the Savior from sin.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, sin can be so tempting. Continue to lead us out of temptation. May we never choose sin over you and our salvation. Forgive us for all our sins and especially for our sinful natures which would only harden us against you. Amen.

This devotion is part four of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to come back for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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Transformed – teen devotion – June 16, 2019

Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.
John 3:3

Born this Way

“I was born this way. I was born gay.” Did you know there is a way to understand that to be true? That’s because people are born sinful, and none of us were born any differently. This is what David confessed about himself when he said, “Surely I was born sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Psalm 51:5). The apostle Paul helps us understand more clearly how devastating the effects of sin are on all of us. In Romans 7:18a, Paul shares that sin corrupts us absolutely: “I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature.”

This means all people have the capacity to be any kind of sinner. We all have the same capacity to be liars and thieves as being gay. At the same time, we each have our different sins and gravitate toward particular perversities for various reasons. If it helps, think of all sin in your heart as either asleep, waking, or active and dominating your life. Usually when people say they are born gay, they are confessing that homosexuality is active in their life.

Although saying, “I was born this way” is biblically true, sin is not okay with God. That is also biblically true. Jesus points out in our passage from John 3:3 that the whole reason he came as our Savior from sin is because we weren’t born right with God. When Jesus tells us that a person must be born again, that means there’s something wrong with our first birth.

Thanks be to Jesus that he came to give us second birth, and you have been given second birth through faith in the waters of baptism. Keep holding on to your second birth! It is your forgiveness in Christ. Keep pointing others imprisoned by their first birth to the freedom of being born again.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, we are all born sinful. Help us to remember that you give second birth through your Spirit. Thank you, Lord Jesus, for giving us baptism where we are born again. Help us to live holy lives, born anew. Amen.

This devotion is part three of five devotions on the topic of LGBTQ. Be sure to come back for more insight from God’s Word on how to address this issue.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
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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