Tag Archive for: teen-devotions

Transformed – teen devotion – March 26, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus gives you real life.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”
John 11:25

Life

Have you ever wondered how people would remember you if you were gone? Kind of a morbid thought to be sure, but also something that seems to affect the way many people think and act. Athletes will put off retirement, perhaps longer than they should, in the hopes that they might be able to finish off their career with just one more championship. Presidents and other public figures build massive libraries to display their accomplishments long after they have left office. Even for people for whom death is statistically unlikely to occur in the near future, the impressions made on other people and what others think of you when you aren’t around remain influential factors in life! For many, and perhaps for Christians too, it’s tempting to find meaning and purpose in life based on what others think of us and how they remember us when we are gone.

Today’s scripture reading gives us a different perspective on all of that. The scene is this: Jesus’ good friend Lazarus died, and Jesus is comforting Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha. The focus of the conversation has nothing to do with how people will remember Lazarus now that he is gone. Instead, Martha expresses her Christian faith that she will see her brother again in heaven but remains understandably devastated by his untimely death. Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die!” Death is sad and hard to deal with, but Jesus dealt with death in a way like no one else could—he overcame it! Because death comes from sin, and because Jesus paid the price for all sin on the cross, death could not hold him! And death cannot hold Jesus’ followers either. He went on to raise his friend Lazarus from the dead, and he will do the same for you and your loved ones.

That reality grants a new perspective to God’s children. Instead of worrying about what others think of us and how they might remember us if we aren’t there and using such measures as a source of meaning and purpose in life, remember what Jesus’ resurrection promises you! No matter what others may or may not think, Jesus values you so highly that he was willing to lay down his life for you! And then he took it up again, so that you too might live again after you die. You don’t need to worry about how others will remember you, because you’ll live again, and you’ll be in heaven where the last concern possible on your mind is some hollow earthly monument that points back to a few human achievements. Your legacy and reputation aren’t based on the value other people place on you—it’s based on the price your Savior paid for you. Your legacy is this: child of God. Beyond that, nothing else matters!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you valued me so much that you were willing to give up your own life! Thank you for your sacrifice and all you’ve done for me. Teach me look at my life as you do and help me use it to serve you in any way I can. Teach me to prioritize my relationship with you above all others. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 19, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus offers spiritual sight.

His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him.
John 9:2,3

Sight

Why did God allow that tragedy happen? Why did that natural disaster strike? Why did he get sick? Why did she break up with me? Why did that car accident happen? Why, God? When hard things happen, it’s easy to wonder “why”? In John 9, the disciples thought they had an answer to such questions when they met a man who had been born blind. “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

It’s a logical line of thought. Was this man’s blindness a punishment for something he had done? Something his parents had done? What about today? Maybe this hard thing I’m facing is God punishing me! If I’m honest, I have to admit that I’ve been treated far better than I rightly deserve! Or, when life is going smoothly, maybe a related question arises: Lots of people have hardships, when is my turn coming? Surely I deserve it!

Such thinking seems to make sense, but the Bible calls such thinking spiritual blindness. It misses a critical point: God doesn’t interact with his people that way. Why not? One word: Jesus! Jesus already took care of all the punishment there is for sin! He already took on his back the entirety of God’s wrath. He paid for the smallest sins of thought that fly across the mind and that major transgression from years ago that you just can’t seem to get out of your head and everything in between!

That beautiful reality doesn’t necessarily answer the question “why” when it comes to hardships, but it does grant a change of perspective in a very important way: Hardship is indeed hard, but it’s not punishment for sin! That’s spiritual sight, and it’s based on Jesus all the way. When Jesus died he said, “It is finished,” and it was. Because of that, hard things have a blessing-filled place in the beautiful purposes God has drawn up for his world and for your life. That was the case for the blind man. Jesus told his disciples, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Jesus went on to heal the man and taught all who were watching an important lesson.

The same thing is true for you. God’s purposes might be realized in quiet words of encouragement offered to someone suffering something similar, calm confidence in the Savior’s promises amidst most challenging of times, or patient endurance under persecution. That’s spiritual sight! Look at the promises of God, and you’ll find the strength to accept even things that remain hard to understand!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, sometimes life and the world are hard, confusing, and painful. Sometimes it’s hard for me to see what your plan is. Help me overcome my spiritual blindness by fixing my attention on your precious promises. Grant me the calm of quiet trust in your forgiveness, and the perspective of looking at life through your promises. Teach me to rely on your promises and accept even those things I struggle to understand. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 12, 2023

One truth shared: The Living Water brings hope.

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:5

Hope

“God has a plan.” “Everything always works out for good.” “Jesus is with you.” “Don’t be sad, you’ll see her again in heaven.” Bible based truths such as these are the kinds of things Christians share with each other in times of hardship… and rightly so. God says all these things in the Bible. But if you or someone you love has ever gone through a hard time, saying those things doesn’t always make you feel better! Words don’t make the hard things go away! So how can promises of things to come bring hope right now?

Some have described this kind of hopeless feeling as “thirst.” Not the physical thirst for water, but a spiritual thirst for life the way God designed it to be. This spiritual thirst is a thirst to be rid of the sinfulness and frustrations and disappointments of a broken world. One might call it a thirst for heaven. In the Bible, God promises that such thirst is satisfied in Jesus—what he does, and what he promises. This good news does satisfy spiritual thirst and does provide hope, even now as we continue to live among the effects of sin.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul puts it like this: “hope does not disappoint us.” Why not? He continues, “You see, at just the right time… while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Our hope for the future based on God’s promises is not a vague wish for good things to come. Biblical hope anticipates the results of something that is an accomplished fact! In other words, Jesus already took on human flesh and inserted himself in the real history of the world at just the right time, to fulfill prophecy, to live as God required, to die for our sins, to rise from the dead. That’s not the future—it’s the past. It happened! It’s an accomplished fact, and it can’t be undone! That means all the blessings connected to it also are done and can’t be undone! There’s no “unforgiving” of sins. There’s no undoing heaven, or of any of the other results of Jesus work! That’s why biblical promises are not just words or some nice sayings. Even though they don’t always remove the outward hardship right now, they serve as a rock-solid guarantee of what’s to come based on what already happened and can’t be changed: Jesus’ work for you.

When the present is hard, cling to the good news of the past: a Savior who intervened in history! That fact guarantees that in the big picture, the future is bright!

This is your hope!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you inserted yourself into human history to be our Savior. Thank you for leaving your heavenly throne to satisfy our deepest needs! Use the realities of what you accomplished to bring us hope, even in the darkest of times! Comfort and strengthen us with the certainty of a bright future to come! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – March 5, 2023

One truth shared: The only one who can save you is Jesus.

No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.
John 3:13-15

The Only One

You’re not good enough. You’re too young. You’re too inexperienced. You don’t know what life is really like—you should sit this one out and let those with more experience handle it! Isn’t it frustrating when you hear that? You know full well there’s value to experience, but doesn’t hard work and persistence and the energy of youth count for something? Just let me try it! And when you do try, what if you fail? The pressure is on!

All of this is natural, and it’s not unique to your younger years. It’s human nature to try and take care of yourself, to long for independence and freedom… and that aspect of human nature extends beyond daily needs. It can creep into spiritual thinking as well. It’s easy to repeat the biblical teaching: “I’m not perfect, I’m sinful and I need a Savior.” But it’s a lot harder to live in that reality—it’s much easier to try and explain away our shortcomings rather than taking responsibility. Everyone around me says those words—it can’t be that bad. It’s just a picture on a phone—no one is actually getting hurt—it’s not that big of a deal. Sure, I’m not perfect, but I go to church more often than not, and I’m generally a nice person. Doesn’t that count for something?

Today’s Bible reading shows us a man who likely had similar thoughts at times. This man’s name was Nicodemus, and he’d been raised in the customs and way of life of God’s Old Testament people. Sacrifices, festivals, fasting, a special diet, and so much more—he did it all, and then some! He was a member of the Pharisees—pious religious leaders, well respected among the people. Surely that counts for something!

Ahh, but Jesus knows better. What Nicodemus had done wasn’t enough to please God. In the same way, what you and I do isn’t enough to please God. It falls so far short it would be laughable if it weren’t for the eternal consequence of hell. Notice the repeated words Jesus uses throughout this conversation: no one. No one can see the kingdom of God… no one… can enter the kingdom of God… no one… has gone into heaven. The best efforts of people fall short.

But there is an exception. No one, Jesus says, except the Son! Jesus can please God, and he did. What’s more, he did it for you. In Jesus you are reborn as God’s dearly loved child. God is pleased with you! In Jesus, you can have confidence in life even if other people have doubts, because it doesn’t depend on you. You aren’t what you make of yourself—you are what Jesus made you to be! A child of God!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you have redeemed me and called me into your family. Teach me to rely on you and your work on my behalf instead of finding satisfaction in my own actions and the opinions of others. Lead me to live each day secure in the knowledge that I was reborn in the waters and promises of my baptism and my new identity as your dearly loved child. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 26, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus is the champion you need.

Then the devil left him.
Matthew 4:11a

Champion

Isn’t it a nice feeling when you know you’ve got someone who will fight for you? It might be a sibling or parent who you know will always defend you no matter what happens. It might be a friend who stands up for you, or a teammate who’s always got your back. It might be a pastor or teacher who always has a minute to talk to you or share a few kind words of encouragement when you need it.

In this week’s Bible reading, God reminds us that we have an even greater champion than any of these in our Savior Jesus. Unlike even the most faithful of friends, Jesus will never move away or graduate. Unlike a parent or sibling or pastor, he will never get sick or die. No matter what happens, he’s always ready to fight for you! Even better, when Jesus fights for you he’s able to give so much more than any other champion. When you make mistakes, Jesus provides more than advice and support—his life and death on your behalf means that he has undone the eternal consequences you deserve by defeating your greatest enemies—sin and the devil.

That’s what is happening in today’s scripture reading. It’s Jesus against the devil. An epic conflict, a battle to the eternal death out in the desert. Jesus is humanly hungry, thirsty, tired, and worn down as the battle rages for 40 days and 40 nights. The devil deploys every trick in the book, but it all comes to nothing. Gospel writer Matthew closes with these simple but beautiful words: “Then the devil left him.” He gives up. He can’t win. Satan slinks away with his tail between his legs, unable to corrupt the Son of God in any way.

Remember that victory on the days when it feels like you’re at war and all alone and facing odds you can’t possibly overcome. You’re not alone—Jesus has your back. He provides the strength you need. He promises to work the events of your life for your eternal good. And, he promises that all these battles are temporary, because the war has already been won. The devil has been defeated, you’re forgiven, and heaven awaits!

Prayer: Jesus our Savior, you are our champion. You fought the devil for us, and you won. Give us the perspective to live in the light of that victory, confident that you won it for us. On the days when we feel overwhelmed or isolated, comfort us with reminders of your constant presence and protection. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 19, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus gives us glory through his cross.

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.

Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”

When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”
Matthew 17:1-9

The Glory of the Lord

“I don’t wanna leave,” Lauren whispered. “We can’t leave. I just wanna stay here forever.”

Lauren was standing on a mountaintop overlooking the beach, the ocean, and a picture-perfect sunset. Tears started welling up in Lauren’s eyes as she thought about going down that mountain leaving. This glorious sunset was the perfect ending to a perfect vacation. Her family’s first time in Hawaii. A week of no homework and no worries. She even got to bring along her bestie Ellie for the trip. “I don’t wanna leave either,” Ellie said. “I don’t wanna go back to that.”

You know what that is, don’t you? That non-stop pile of assignments which never gets smaller. That relationship drama. That worrying about what you’re doing and where you’re going in the future. That fighting with parents. That aching pain from heartbreak. That devastation when disaster or death strike.

No wonder Lauren and Ellie wanted to stay in that glorious Hawaiian moment on the mountain. Who wants to worry? Who wants to ache? Who wants to suffer?

Maybe it’s not so hard to understand why Peter said what he did on the Mount of Transfiguration. Jesus had been shining with the glory of the Lord and as bright as the sun. Moses and Elijah, heroes of faith, had appeared. And all the worries and problems of life seemed to be left down below. Who would want to leave that glorious moment? Who would want to go back down the mountain to all the pains and problems, suffering and sadness of everyday life? “Lord, it is good for us to be here.” No kidding!

But while it surely was good to be there, Peter’s comment was short-sighted and missing the point. Jesus didn’t come to give a momentary flash of glory on the Mount of Transfiguration—he came to win eternal glory on the mount called Calvary. Peter’s comment, though understandable, had a rather worldly focus to it. He was attracted to the glory here, in that moment, not in the greater glory that was yet to come. Peter forgot that before the glory comes the cross.

We often do the same with Jesus. We spend a lot of time and effort looking for glory here in this world. We want those glorious sunset moments of endless blessings all the time. “Lord, it’s good to be here,” we are so quick to think. But then when we suffer, when we get sick, when we have troubles, we become angry or frustrated. We doubt or question God. “Jesus, why can’t we stay here on this mountain?”

God forgive our short-sighted, misfocused hearts! Jesus did not come to give us worldly moments of glory here. Jesus came to give us eternal glory in heaven. The Son, whom the Father loved so dearly, needed to go to the cross so that we could be dearly loved children with whom the Father is so pleased. First came the cross of Christ, so that we can later see the glory of Christ in heaven.

So also in everyday life, first must come the cross. No cross, no Christian. Just as Jesus needed to go down that mount so he could go to the cross on Calvary, so now we must first take up the cross of following Christ as we suffer in a sin-filled world. But this “mount” of suffering is not the end for us. Someday soon, Jesus will take us home to Mount Zion, our heavenly dwelling, where we will see Jesus face to face in all his glory and for all eternity.

Dear teen, take heart! First comes the cross, then comes the glory. May the Savior who overcame the cross with his victory strengthen you each day until that joyful day when you will see his glory and never leave.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to keep my eyes on you and your cross. Because you suffered on the cross on Mount Calvary, I will receive glory on Mount Zion in heaven. Give me strength to endure suffering now until the day you call me home to glory in heaven. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 12, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus exposes the monster of sin in us that he might kill it and transform us.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
Matthew 5:21-24; 27-30

Kill the Monsters

Everyone has a sinful nature. There is a deep-seated monster that lives inside us. It’s like incurable cancer in a human body. Our spiritual genetics are so flawed, we won’t survive. It’s why every human being in the world dies. Sin is a monster that kills us.

In Jesus’ sermon on the mount, he shines a bright spotlight on the monster. People thought that as long as they did not murder, then they were obeying the Fifth Commandment. As long as they didn’t commit adultery, they were keeping the Sixth Commandment. Jesus explained that sin isn’t just doing the outward act of murder. Like cancer cells, sin is already there inside us. It might begin with a feeling of anger or a lustful desire that decides to look. If our hearts were pure, we wouldn’t have those feelings or desires.

We like to think, “C’mon, God, don’t take things so seriously. I’m not perfect, but hey, I haven’t killed or committed adultery.” Today, Jesus makes this clear: if you are easily angered and impulsively blurt out ugly names and curses at others, you will pay with literal hellfire.

Wow. Sin is not a little oopsie because I’m having a bad day. It’s a monster that will kill me.

How serious are you about getting rid of sin in your life? Next week ushers in the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Jesus is readying himself for the serious task of facing hellfire and death on the cross. He did not come to earth to relax God’s holy standards. He came to obey them, even the least one we think we can fudge a bit. He kept them completely. If you’ve ever put together a 500-piece jigsaw puzzle, maybe you’ve felt the frustration of a few missing pieces … So close! God demanded a righteousness no one could perfectly match. We have holes all over. Until Jesus came and completed it perfectly.

The missing piece of the puzzle is Jesus.

This week, identify your sinful impulses. Don’t let them stay hidden. Listen to Jesus’ words and shine a bright light on them. Repent of them. Remember your need for Jesus who killed the monster! Now fight the impulse to hurt people, especially people who hurt you first. Fight impure thoughts. Imitate Jesus and live a life of love.

Prayer: Lord, we thank you for your commandments that help expose the monster of sin within us. Forgive us for the times we sin against you. Send your Holy Spirit to give us the strength to resist temptations and to live a life that is pleasing to you. We do all of this to give you praise and glory. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 5, 2023

One truth shared: God-given identity moves us to live differently.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
1 Peter 2:9,10

Different me acts differently

Two teachers teach the same class to the same grade at the same school. Both teachers give the same test on the same day. Teacher 1 says, “Don’t cheat” and then leaves the room to use the bathroom. What happens? Many students cheat. Teacher 2 also needs to use the bathroom while the students are taking the test. Before leaving the room, Teacher 2 says, “Don’t be a cheater.” What happens? No one cheats. Why do many students cheat for Teacher 1 but no one cheats for Teacher 2? It is to do with connection between identity and actions. Actions (“don’t cheat”) do not determine identity. Identity (“don’t be a cheater”) determines actions.

Look at the identity God has given you. “You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession.” All of these groups are people who are different from the rest. If the rest are the sinful people of the world, then that means God is saying your identity is a person who is sinless. God has called you out of the darkness of sin and unbelief and brought you into the light of forgiveness and faith. Your identity is now as a person who has no sin.

You might think that can’t be true. You know the sin that you have committed. But remember, your actions don’t determine your identity. God does. Instead, your God-given identity is going to determine your actions.

So here is what you should do. Every day, wake up and say, “I am different. I am a holy, chosen, child of God.” And then, go be who you are! Do things that godly children of God do because that is who you are. Stop sinning, love others, and tell people about Jesus. Be different. And then at the end of the day, if you messed it up and didn’t act like a child of God, be honest and confess it. Hear God say, “I forgive you.” Have peace knowing that your identity hasn’t changed. God still announces that you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. You are sinless.

Prayer: Lord, you have given me my identity. Help me to live in a way that reflects who you have made me. Help me to find my self-worth and value in the person that you have made me. Thank you for sending Jesus to make me like Jesus, someone who is sinless. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 29, 2023

One truth shared: When you are weaker or disadvantaged, God has you right where he wants you.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:11,12

Christians are Crazy

When a person looks up the definition of a crazy person, a picture of an ironman triathlete might appear. An ironman triathlon is a race consisting of a 2.4-mile swim, 122-mile bike ride, and 26.22-mile run. A definition of crazy is not acting in a sensible or logical way due to an abnormal state of mind. Swimming, biking, and running an ironman triathlon does not sound sensible or logical. Why would anyone put their body through that much pain and suffering? The only plausible explanation can be that the person must be crazy. Except, they aren’t crazy. They have normal functioning minds. So why do they act irrationally and run an ironman? For the same reason Christians endure persecution. They are focused on the reward. Whether the reward is prize money for winning or the sense of accomplishment of finishing the race, rewards motivate people to do crazy things.

Jesus calls on Christians to act crazy, not crazy in the sense of out of control and erratic, but in an irrational and unsensible way, at least according to the world. When people insult you, you are blessed. When people persecute you and say awful things about you because of Jesus, that is a good thing. Jesus wants you to rejoice and be glad when people treat you horribly. That seems irrational and unsensible. That seems crazy.

Not to Jesus. He knows what the reward is, heaven. You go through persecution or hardships for Jesus. That means you have faith in Jesus which means you are going to heaven. That doesn’t make you crazy. That makes you blessed.

So, defend your faith even when someone says you’re being naive or dumb. Stand up for the one who is being picked on even if you have to stand up to your friends. Be the one in the group who says that movie is not appropriate to watch. According to the world, only a crazy person would act like that. According to Jesus, that is how blessed people act.

Prayer: Lord God, you have given us heaven as our reward. Keep our faith in you strong. Give us courage and strength to suffer persecution and hardships because of our faith. Give us peace and joy in all situations remembering how awesome heaven is going to be. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 22, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus comes into our darkest moments and brings the light of his truth and love.

When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. Distressed and hungry, they will roam through the land; when they are famished, they will become enraged and, looking upward, will curse their king and their God. Then they will look toward the earth and see only distress and darkness and fearful gloom, and they will be thrust into utter darkness.

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—

The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.

Isaiah 8:19-9:4

The Light in the Darkness

As unpleasant as it might be, think of a dark time in your life.

A time when you suffered. A time when you were confused or angry. A time when you lost hope.

Darkness has long been associated with these things. In the Bible, darkness not only refers to these things, but also to sin, unbelief, and death.

Read Isaiah 8:19-22 again.

It’s not a pretty picture, is it? Isaiah describes zombie-like people who wander around in the darkness distressed, hungry, angry… and dead—dead inside.

It’s a description of a people who look only to themselves and their own resources to solve their problems. Not finding answers, they become enraged with their leaders and with God. Then, they look one last time at their own abilities and resources. They find no ultimate answers or help and are thrown into utter hopelessness.

If we’re honest with ourselves, we need to admit we’re often like these zombie-like creatures. We think we can get along in life just fine without God. We’ve found other people or other information that seems more modern and logical than the God of the Bible.

And we don’t think our sin problem is anything drastic, so we just try and deal with that ourselves, too.

Then, when problems come along in our lives, we get upset with anyone (especially God) besides ourselves.

However, here’s the amazing thing about God. When we were at our worst… when we were angry, hopeless, and dead inside, he came to us.

Jesus came to this dark world and lit it up with peace, joy, and hope. Though our oppressors were great (sin, death, and the devil), he was greater. He defeated darkness on the cross.

Jesus still comes to us in our dark times. He speaks to us in his Word. He whispers peace into our hearts and shouts at our enemies to stay away.

What darkness in your life are you hiding from Jesus? Don’t be shy or afraid. Go to him.

His light of truth and love will bring healing and hope.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for coming as a light into this dark world. Light up my own heart with your truth and love. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 15, 2023

One truth shared: When we see Jesus for who he is and what he’s done for us, we realize he’s actually the God we want.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 1:29

The God We Need, Not the God We Want

There are times God doesn’t do what we want him to do.

Our family member doesn’t get better, just worse. Our parents keep fighting and don’t reconcile. We don’t attract that certain boy or girl we desperately want.

We want God to make us healthy, wealthy, and popular. We want God to bring us happiness and prosperity. And, for us, that usually means we want more fun, less pain, more money, less worry, more ease, less difficulties.

Many of the Jews around Jesus’ day were the same. They wanted the Messiah to be a political and military hero who would defeat the Romans and make Israel a political superpower.

The Jews were overly impressed with Jesus’ miracles because they viewed him as more of a genie than a Savior. To them, he was someone who would give them material things and a healthy body, which they thought were the keys to their happiness.

John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God in our verse. Why? Because he wanted people to know Jesus had appeared and he’s the God we need, not necessarily the God we want.

A lamb doesn’t seem like the appropriate animal to represent the Messiah. Why not a dragon or a T-Rex? But a lamb is what we need. Lambs were used as a sacrificial animal by the Jews—a substitute which sacrificed its life for their sins. But the problem is that those animal sacrifices didn’t actually do anything except point ahead to the true Lamb of God.

Jesus is the God you and I need.

He didn’t turn away from our messiness and sin. He got right into the thick of it. He didn’t come to give us a list of rules to follow. He came to follow every rule in our place. He didn’t come to simply show us how to live. He came to die—to die as a substitute in our place.

He’s what we needed. And deep down, we know it. We know we can’t make it through life on our own. We see the sin in our lives. We see how little control we have in life. And we know we need to be rescued.

That’s just what he did.

And when we see Jesus for who he truly is, we realize he’s actually the God we want. He gives us the deep joy and happiness we’ve been searching for.

That’s Someone we have no problem telling others about.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for being the God I truly need. Thank you for becoming involved in the messiness of my sin and my life and being my substitute. You give me the deep joy and happiness I’ve been searching for. Please place others in my life who need to hear about you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 8, 2023

One truth shared: Jesus Christ is God’s real Chosen One.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Acts 10:34-38

The Real Chosen One

What do Harry Potter, Frodo (Lord of the Rings) and Luke Skywalker have in common?

They all are “chosen ones”—a hero who rises up to defeat an evil enemy and stop an impending disaster. Harry conquers Lord Voldemort. Frodo destroys the Ring. Luke Skywalker defeats Darth Vader.

Story lines that involve “chosen ones” are some of the most popular of all time. That’s because we have a keen sense that there is evil in the world and we’re in need of being rescued. And only the one who is chosen is up to the task.

But none of these “chosen ones” in the books and movies are real. They only point to our realization that we need a real Chosen One. Not some made up character. We need one with flesh on.

This is what makes Jesus Christ from Nazareth different, not only from made up characters, but also from any other religious figure. Peter points out Jesus is God’s Anointed or Chosen One. God was with him and the miracles and healings he performed proved it.

Yet, the biggest difference between Jesus and other self-proclaimed “chosen ones” is what he was chosen to do. He was chosen to suffer. He was chosen to take our place on a cross. He was chosen to die.

Only that path was the path that could truly defeat our evil enemies of sin, death, and the devil.

And Peter says something else that’s equally amazing. He calls you God’s chosen one, too! Peter says God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t choose you based on your upbringing, family, talents, race, gender, or even your good deeds.

God chooses you because he loves you. He chose you to be part of his family through faith in Jesus Christ—the real Chosen One.

Since you are chosen and accepted by God, you don’t have to live for the acceptance and approval of others. You don’t have to spend an exhausting amount of time and resources trying to prove that you’re a “somebody.” You know God already made you somebody—his dearly loved child bought with the blood of Jesus Christ!

You’re free to spend your time and resources to follow God. You’re free to love others.

It’s a great way to live!

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for giving us the real Chosen One that we needed. Through Jesus we have peace with you. Thank you for also choosing us to be part of your family. Let your acceptance of us sink deep into our souls, causing us to live a free life—one that’s unchained from trying to prove ourselves to other people. We are already yours through the peace that Jesus won for us! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 1, 2023

One truth shared: Just as Jesus came out of Egypt, so too he will bring us out of the Egypt of our sins.

So [Joseph] got up, took the child and his mother during the night, and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2:14,15

The Way Out

Egypt is a place, but it’s not just a place. Maybe I should explain what I’m getting at. Egypt is the place, or location, where the Old Testament Israelites were enslaved by Pharoah. Egypt is the place where Joseph took his family, including Jesus, when King Herod wanted Jesus dead. It is a place. I don’t want to lose that fact. And God brought his Son back out of that place, just like he brought the Israelites out of Egypt between walls of water. Egypt really is a place, and God really did bring his Son out of there.

But it’s not just a place, a location. Egypt was a place of slavery. Just like there are things that enslave you. Maybe an addiction that has its grip on you. That video you can’t turn away from. That thought you can’t escape. That sin which has its hold on you. And it does have a hold on you like Pharaoh had on the Israelites. A chain on their necks and a whip at their backs. In that sense, Egypt is more than just a place.

And Jesus came out of that place. His Father brought him out of Egypt when it was safe for him to come. That’s a thing that happened in Jesus’ life. But it is not just a thing that happened in Jesus’ life; it is the thing that Jesus came to do in your life. He came to bring you out of your Egypt. He has come to redeem you and to set you free from Egypt and from the death grip of Pharoah. He has come to bring you out, to give you exodus, not just from sin now, but for all eternity.

Jesus is your way out of Egypt. Just as he came out of Egypt, so he will bring you out.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you came out of Egypt just like God said you would. I am looking to you now to bring me out of Egypt. Set me free from the sin that makes me its slave. Set me free that I might live for you. Bring me out, Jesus. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 25, 2022

One truth shared: The one whom we unwrap in the manger is truly God and helps us to know God.

In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things and through him he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.
Hebrews 1:2,3

Unwrapping God

Each family has their own traditions when it comes to opening gifts. Some open them on Christmas Eve. Others on Christmas morning. But whenever you open them, most of the unwrapping fun comes in the discovery. What is hidden underneath this wrapping paper and beneath all this tissue paper? In my humble opinion, some of the best gifts are ones in which a person can constantly discover new gifts hidden in each of the gifts.

As we unwrap God this Christmas, we have to get beyond the cliched ideas about him and discover new gifts hidden in the gift. What do we find when we unwrap this One lying in the manger? To say that we have found God doesn’t seem to go far enough. In fact, the writer of the verse above can’t seem to say enough about who he is. And we’ve only got two verses in front of us! Consider a few highlights:

  1. Jesus is the Way by which we know God. In other words, if you want to know what God is like, you have to listen to his Son. He is the One through whom God speaks.
  2. Jesus is the One who made this world and everything in it together with the Father. Indeed, he still holds this world together with his almighty, creative, and creative Word.
  3. He is the radiance of God’s glory. To say it simply, the Son is the reflection of God, but not like you when you look in the mirror. He is the real deal. Truly and fully, God. He isn’t a knock-off Nike. He is the original, the real, and the only true God.

As we keep pulling back the wrapping paper on this child lying in the manger, he is truly a wonder to behold. Today, just marvel at what you find there and know that he is fully for you. It may seem cliché to say it, yet it is true. This one whom we unwrap is your God and your Savior. He is yours, and you are his. Merry Christmas!

Prayer: Lord God, you were given by the Father for me. You came down from heaven for me. Thank you. Help me to look to you as God’s highest gift to me. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 18, 2022

One truth shared: God works through difficult circumstances as part of his greater plan and helps us see our role in his plans.

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.”
Matthew 1:18-25‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Part of the Plan

Alyssa was crushed. She had failed her first driving test. What would everyone think when they found out? The thought of having to do it all over again made her panic level rise inside. In Alyssa’s mind, the sky was falling.

Joseph was crushed. He and Mary were pledged to be married, Suddenly, Joseph got the worst news of his life: Mary was pregnant, and he was not the father. In that moment in his head, the sky was falling.

When dealing with disappointment, it’s hard to know how to respond. For Alyssa, failing the driving test threw a huge wrench into her plans. For Joseph, it looked like a big mess filled with major hurt and broken relationships.

How did God respond to the mess? God sent an angel to visit Joseph. The angel assured Joseph that Mary’s pregnancy was the work of God and that the baby to be born was the long-promised Savior from sin—Immanuel—God with us! The angel told Joseph to not be afraid, but to take Mary home to be his wife. He and Mary were part of an incredible bigger plan that Joseph never could have imagined. All of a sudden, it all made sense.

What amazing grace! What unfailing love! God used what looked like a mess of a situation as part of something bigger and better. God also used a sinful human being, Joseph, and showed him his important role in that plan.

God‘s plans are still happening. Just like God worked through Joseph and that difficult situation, God continues to work through sinful human beings like you and through your difficult situations.

How do you respond to difficult situations? Do you get angry and upset? It’s understandable, But next time, ask yourself this: how might God be working something better through your momentary pain or failure? How might God be calling you to trust him and to be a part of his plans?

Whatever you might be experiencing, remember that Immanuel is with you. He forgives you when you struggle to trust him and his plans. And like he did for Joseph, God will give you strength and faith to see his loving hand at work and to play your part.

Prayer: Merciful Savior, we praise you for looking on us with compassion when we doubt. Forgive us when we doubt your Word, and assure us of your grace and unfailing love. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 11, 2022

One truth shared: Everyone struggles with doubt, but we can find comfort in our Savior Jesus who handles our doubt with love and compassion.

When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples to ask him, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor. Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” As John’s disciples were leaving, Jesus began to speak to the crowd about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed swayed by the wind? If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? No, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written: “ ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
Matthew 11:2-11‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Dealing with Doubt

Doubt. The devil loves to create it in the heart and mind of every person—doubt about God and his promises. It’s what he used in the garden of Eden. He questioned Adam and Eve and caused them to doubt God’s words as well as his goodness and love for them.

Doubt is the devil’s greatest power. He uses whatever he can—fine sounding arguments, challenges in life, etc.—to raise questions in our mind. He works through anybody he can—teachers, professors, bosses, coworkers, friends, and even family—to make us doubt the words of God that he gives us in the Bible.

And the devil shows no partiality. He attacks everyone, unbelievers and believers, people of weak faith or those of strong faith.

John the Baptist was one of those guys who was strong in faith. He was the forerunner for the Messiah. He confronted religious leaders and kings and called them to repentance. He pointed people to their Savior, the Messiah. But the devil attacked him too. He preyed on John when John was thrown into prison. He created doubts in John’s mind causing him to ask, “Jesus, are you the one sent to save us—or not?”

How did Jesus respond to John’s doubts? How does Jesus respond to your doubts? Look at today’s Bible verses from the Gospel of Matthew. Jesus doesn’t scold us and tell us that we should know better. He doesn’t humiliate us either. Instead, he points back to the evidence of his works and his Word. He assures us that he is indeed the Messiah that was long promised in the Bible. He encourages us and reminds us that as children of God we are among the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. He sweeps away our doubts and strengthens our faith.

When you struggle with doubt, take heart! Your Savior Jesus loves you. He came to die for you and his blood covers your doubts. He comes to you with compassion and understanding when you doubt. His words give you assurance that he is indeed the long-promised Messiah and you are his dear child.

Prayer: Merciful Savior, we praise you for looking on us with compassion when we doubt. Forgive us when we doubt your Word, and assure us of your grace and unfailing love. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 4, 2022

One truth shared: God worked through incredibly unlikely beginnings to bring us Jesus. He is our one, true king and champion.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
Isaiah‬ ‭11:1-10‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

True Champion

We all love a good champion story. You know the one, where a person or team rises from the ashes and overcomes incredible odds to achieve a glorious victory. Rudy, Remember the Titans, and The Blindside are just a few of the many movies that tell a champion’s story.

Why do we like those stories? Well, they seem to lift us up to a better place. They give us something to feel good about in the midst of life’s problems. In a way, we almost feel like we share in their victory.

In today’s Bible verses, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah tells another champion’s story—the story of a mighty ruler, a victorious king from humble beginnings. This king would come from a line of kings that had been all but cut off—from a family tree that had been cut down without a trunk, branches, leaves, or fruit, and only its stump left in the ground. The miracle of Christmas is that from a dead stump in a dead, decaying world comes a live twig—a small, living shoot—in the form of a real person. God raised up a new king—a champion.

Isaiah tells us that this king, despite his humble beginnings, would be like none the world had ever seen.

  • He would reign with perfect power, authority, wisdom, understanding, and justice.
  • He would always do what was right, and most importantly for you and me, he would make us right with God.
  • He would conquer every obstacle that this world and the devil could throw at him.
  • He would overcome the most incredible odds to live perfectly in our place, lay down his life, and win for us forgiveness and eternal life with God.
  • He would bring forth a kingdom where there would be nothing but peace and comfort everywhere.

Who is this king? Who is this champion? He’s Jesus! Movie characters like Rudy, the Titans, and Michael Oher (from The Blindside) may help us feel better temporarily, but Jesus is the only champion that can fulfill all our eternal needs and give us the lasting joy, hope, and peace we long for. Why? Because his victory truly is our victory.

This Advent and Christmas let’s celebrate the king and champion foretold by Isaiah the prophet. Our one true champion—Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the true champion we need. We marvel at your humble beginnings and celebrate your glorious victory over sin and death. Thank you that your victory is our victory. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 27, 2022

One truth shared: Our King Jesus brings a divine peace.

“This is what Isaiah son of Amoz saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem: In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the Lord.”
Isaiah‬ ‭2:1-5‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Picture of Peace

From the on-going war in the Ukraine to the struggles in our own living rooms, this world is full of conflict. Even during the holiday season, when families get together and times are supposed to be festive and joyful, we still experience conflict—arguments, hurt feelings, broken relationships, worry. And conflict robs us of a peace that we all yearn for.

The prophet Isaiah experienced conflict in his life too. His home nation of Israel was being threatened by foreign powers. Unfaithful kings were leading God’s people astray. Most people were unwilling to listen to Isaiah’s call to repentance and refused to turn back to the God who saved them. Isaiah too yearned for peace.

God came to Isaiah and gave him a picture of what was to come. He saw the “mountain of the Lord’s temple.” He saw God settling disputes between people so they would stop fighting. He saw a picture of peace for him, for his people, and for us too.

God’s picture centers around a person—a Messiah—Jesus. Jesus was born into our world of conflict. He experienced conflict his entire life—conflict between his own Jewish people and the oppressive Romans, conflict among the people he discipled, and even conflict from his own family.

Thankfully Jesus came not just to live in conflict, but to put an end to conflict. He knew the source of all conflict—sin—sin that started thousands of years before his birth when our first parents fell to the temptations of the devil. Sadly, you and I inherited that sin, and it infects the core of our being. It finds its way into every aspect of our lives, creating conflict at every turn. Every day.

Are you tired of living in conflict? Then listen to this: Jesus came on a mission to end conflict—to bring forgiveness for your sins and my sins and for all sins. Through his perfect life, innocent death on a cross, and resurrection from the grave, he completed his mission and brought peace between us and God, and between us and others.

At Christmas we celebrate the first coming of Jesus. We’ll sing “Silent Night” with the line, “sleep in heavenly peace” because Jesus is the Prince of Peace who comes into our world of conflict. We see the same picture Isaiah saw—a Messiah who will someday come again to bring a final and eternal peace—to put an end to any and every conflict once and for all.

Prayer: Prince of Peace, thank you for coming into our world of conflict and bringing everlasting peace. This Christmas season may your peace reign in our hearts and flow over into the lives of others. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 20, 2022

One truth shared: We eagerly wait for Jesus’ final day of deliverance.

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
Luke 12:35-40

A Day of Deliverance Which God’s People Eagerly Await

Layla: Where r u??!!
Chase: I’ll be there soon.
Layla: What is soon??!!
Chase: Be patient!
Layla: I AM PATIENT. Lol . . . But 4 real . . . how long?
Chase: Just be ready for me.
Layla: Prom will be over by the time you get here! Are you actually coming?
Chase: Yes.
Layla: Really??
Chase: Really. Soon.
Layla: SMH. This is taking too long!

Layla was so excited for Chase to pick her up for prom, but 30 minutes late felt like an eternity. All kinds of questions rolled through her mind. “Is he really coming? Does he really love me? Will I even make it to my senior prom?”

But before Layla could finish her next burst of messages, she saw headlights coming around the corner. Then she heard blasting music coming down the street. It came closer and closer. Sure enough! It was Chase! But actually, Chase wasn’t really late. Chase had this planned all along. He had planned to have Layla wait a bit so that she could truly appreciate the surprise of his grand entrance—he arrived in a Mercedes party bus for her and all their friends! They were going to ride in style to the greatest celebration ever!

Ever feel like Layla? Not about your HOCO or prom date. About Jesus. Do you ever hear Jesus speak in the Scriptures about the Last Day and how he’s coming back for us soon, but then wonder, “Soon? What’s soon? It’s been forever! Are you really coming back?”

It’s tough to be patient and wait for Jesus’ return in glory on judgment day. There are so many things that we suffer through that we just want to be with him in heaven so badly! At the same time, there are many distractions that take our focus off the blessed hope of heaven.

Listen carefully to Jesus’ words today though. He reminds us to keep watch and to be ready because he will come when we least expect it. It could be at any moment—even before you finish this devotion! But also note that the wait will be worth it. Our Master will return in grand style and take us to the greatest celebration of all time. What prom could compare to the joyous celebration of the wedding banquet of heaven? What hope! What peace! What joy! It’s all ours in Jesus . . . so come quickly, Lord Jesus, come!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, give us wisdom to wait with careful patience and preparation. Come claim your final victory and take us home! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 13, 2022

One truth shared: Jesus will come back in justice to judge the living and the dead.

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering. God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

A Day of Terror for All Those Who Troubled God’s People
There hasn’t been a day like it for more than two decades. On this one specific day, nearly every single American had their eyes glued to the television watching news coverage of one specific event—the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. It was an awful and tragic day as many were left reeling in fear, anger, and frustration. Questions flooded the minds of many, including Christians. “Why God? Why would you let this happen? When are you going to do something about it?”

It’s deeply saddening, and yes even maddening, to see the evil and wickedness around us in the world. Teens today weren’t alive yet when 9/11 happened, but surely you have seen and heard many details about that day. But though you might not have been born yet, there have definitely been plenty of tragedies since. School shootings, racial injustice, and too many more everyday evils seen on the news and online video clips.

As if the evil around us isn’t enough pressure to face, there is also the constant squeeze that the unbelieving world puts on Christians. They laugh at our faith. They scoff our beliefs. They poke fun, call names, accuse, and sometimes blatantly hate us.

Living with all these things, perhaps you have had questions enter your mind like, “Why God? Why would you let this happen? When are you going to do something about it?”

The words of the apostle Paul from 2 Thessalonians 1 bring us unique comfort. We certainly try to love and forgive our enemies as Jesus did and taught us. We want them to know Christ, and just as our God, we want “all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). However, we also know the harsh reality that far too many live as enemies of Christ and us, his people. So Paul comforts us and encourages us to be patient. Here’s why: There will be a day when Jesus brings justice and vengeance on all our (and thus his) enemies.

Perhaps too often we simply think of Jesus as our BFF, a nice guy who loves us and will help us. While Jesus certainly is loving, caring, and compassionate, we sometimes may forget that Jesus is also the mighty Alpha and Omega, the King of kings and Lord of lords who will come back in blazing fire and glory to judge the living and the dead.

When you see evil in this world, when you face pressure and persecution, first pray for those people who don’t yet know Christ. But then, take heart! Jesus will bring those enemies to justice, and he will bring you safely to your heavenly home!

Prayer: Jesus, King of glory, in your grace you redeemed me from my greatest enemies—sin, death, and the devil. Now come back in your glory and justice to deliver me from the evil of this world. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 6, 2022

One truth shared: While we struggle here in this world, we have the hope of heaven where the saints shine in glory forever.

Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

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

He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Revelation 21:1-6

We Feebly Struggle; They in Glory Shine
An endless trickle of tears streamed down Gabriella’s face and pooled on her pillow. How could she sleep when her heart was so broken? How could she rest peacefully knowing her abuela, her grandmother, was suffering on her deathbed at the hospital?

Gabriella’s abuela, Carlita, was her dad’s mother. For decades Carlita had been the rock of the whole family. She was the one who first immigrated from Colombia to make a living in the U.S. She was the one who made sure her children (and later her grandchildren) were always in church. She was the one who pushed her family for success in education and work. She was also the one who passed down their Colombian heritage and traditions.

Gabriella always thought it was so funny when her abuela would get angry and revert to correcting them all in Spanish. She was so strong yet so kind and loving! But now stage four cancer had quickly ravaged Carlita’s body. The once strong pillar of the family was now lying frail and fragile in a bed, seemingly a shadow of the person she once was.

Eventually Gabriella fell asleep that night, but sadly more tears would be waiting for her in the morning. That night her abuela passed away in her sleep at the hospital. It seemed like Gabriella’s world was flipped upside down. Now what was she going to do? Now where would the family find strength? Now who was going to make the world’s best empanadas?

The family was not looking forward to the funeral and final goodbyes at all, but it turned out to be just what they needed. The pastor read the words of this devotion from Revelation 21. Here the apostle John sees a vision of God’s people beautifully dressed as a bride at a wedding. The bride is radiant, glorious, and filled with joy because God dwells with his people and wipes every tear from their eyes. No more suffering. No more troubles. No more cancer! “I am making everything new!” Jesus declares. The pastor reminded everyone at the funeral that Carlita was now dressed so beautifully and sitting at the marriage feast of the Lamb, Jesus Christ. This was his gift of grace to her. “To the thirsty I will give water without cost,” Jesus says. It was so comforting to Gabriella and her family to be reminded that their dear abuela was now living with Jesus in eternal peace and joy. How gracious that God would take her from pain to peace, from death to life!

How many things do each of us suffer through in a lifetime? Oh, the pain and the hurt as we and our loved ones struggle through life! Yet even as we struggle, we remember with joy those who have been called home to heaven. They have won the race and received the crown of life! They are no longer just saints who live by faith like we are, but they are saints who live by sight, face to face with Jesus forever. What comfort to know of their joy, and what comfort to know it will soon be ours! Amid all the sadness of this life, know the joy that Jesus guarantees you. After all, he declares in these verses, “It is done.”

Prayer: Jesus, dry my tears of sadness in this life. There is so much suffering and pain! Give me strength and fill me with the hope of heaven where there will never be tears again! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 30, 2022

One truth shared: We look to Christ and his Word as the ultimate source of all truth.

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 8:31-36

The Truth Will Set You Free
Kylie was caught off guard. She sort of froze in the moment with all the frozen fries in her hand. She nearly dropped the whole batch in the fryer.

It had been an ordinary day at work. Burger here, fries there. A couple quick jokes among workers between orders. Normal stuff. However, as soon as things had slowed down a bit after the dinner rush, the conversation began to pick up among workers. Somehow, they got onto current topics in the news and what they thought about issues. Everyone had opinions about huge things like marriage, abortion, LGBTQ+, and even democracy and how to be a good citizen.

Tasha rattled off all kinds of buzz words and catch phrases you could find on Reddit or Instagram memes. “But it’s the truth,” she asserted. José fired back with his passionate response. “I’m happy you have opinions, Tasha. But this is my truth,” José insisted. Then came that awkward moment that froze Kylie. “What about you, Kylie? What’s your truth?”

Have you found yourself in these kinds of situations? Have you had discussions with people at work or in your clubs or on your teams? Have you argued about hot topics with people at school? Have you found yourself in a posting war online, arguing back and forth with posts and memes on your timeline or story?

So many today have very strong opinions about all kinds of issues, and many claim that what they are saying is the truth. And it’s not unusual to have two different people with two opposite opinions both say, “Well that’s my truth.”

(TIME OUT! . . . If you think about it, this is craziness today. It doesn’t even make logical sense. How can two opposing ideas both be true? For example, how could creation and evolution both be true at the same time? It’s impossible! Something to think about. TIME IN . . .)

When we are caught between conflicting claims to truth, we need to go to the source, to the Truth—to Jesus. In the words for our consideration from John 8, Jesus reminds us that if we hold to his teaching, we are really his disciples, and then we will know the truth. This reminds us of what Jesus also says six chapters later. “I am the way and the truth and the life.”

If you want to search for ultimate and absolute and objective truth, go to Christ and his Word. He is the truth, he speaks the truth, and he shares the truth with us.

It can be so confusing in a world full of seemingly opposing truths. Whom do you listen to? What “truth” is right? Don’t find yourself lost as a slave to sin and the lies of this world. Go to Jesus. Go to his Word. “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to see you and your Word as truth. Help me also to filter all issues and opinions through the lens of your Word to know with godly wisdom what is true. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 23, 2022

One truth shared: Getting into heaven is totally dependent on God, not you.

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

“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.”

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

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

When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

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

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
Luke 18:18-27

Faith Demonstrated Through Total Dependence

An archery competition is a fairly simple concept. If you hit the target, you win the prize. The ruler wanted the prize of heaven, so he asked Jesus what the target was that he needed to hit in order to win the prize of heaven. Jesus’ answer, obey the commandments. The ruler was thrilled. He truly believed he had hit the target and had earned the prize, but he was wrong. He hadn’t obeyed all of the commandments. He loved money. The sad reality for the ruler was that he had missed. If you don’t hit the target, you don’t get the prize. If the prize is heaven, then not getting the prize is hell.

Everyone thinks that they can step up to the line and hit the target to get into heaven. But hitting the target doesn’t just mean to be a good person or try hard. The target is perfection. The target is sinlessness. No one is capable of hitting that target including the ruler. Everyone must face the reality that they have missed the target and deserve hell. That is why when the crowd heard this they asked Jesus, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “No one… without God’s help. But with God, you are saved.”

God in his grace sent Jesus to step up to the line, and Jesus hit the target. He was perfect. Instead of enjoying the prize of heaven for himself, Jesus hands you the trophy. But why? You did nothing to deserve the prize of heaven. Your arrow didn’t even come close to the target. Grace. Jesus loves you. The proof? He gave you his victory.

This is true for you yesterday, today, and forever. Knowing that you are guaranteed the prize of heaven gives you incredible confidence, peace, and hope. These things are better than popularity, relationships, money, basically everything this world has to offer. So hold on to them. Don’t go thinking that there is still some expectation for you to hit the target. Just turn to Jesus and say, “Thank you for giving me your prize.”

Prayer: Thank you Lord, for making it possible for me to receive your free gift of salvation. I am not worthy to receive such a gift, but I thank You in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 16, 2022

When we ask God for something that is according to his will, we can be absolutely confident we will receive it.

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

Faith Demonstrated Through Persistent Prayer

Prayers are like retainers for teeth. They keep things formed the right way. I can still remember the day I got my braces off. I couldn’t stop smiling in the rearview mirror. Finally, after years of having braces, I was finally free, or so I thought. I didn’t realize that after braces comes the retainers. I was frustrated that I still had to have something in my mouth to keep my teeth straight. Isn’t that what the braces were for?

But if you have had braces, you know why retainers are important. Your teeth like to move. So if you don’t use your retainer, your teeth will become crooked again.

Prayers are like retainers. They help keep our mind and heart in line. The question is, what is the shape of your prayer retainer? Is it shaped to keep your heart and mind in line with God’s heart and mind, or is it shaped to keep your heart and mind in line with your own heart and mind? (Kind of like a retainer shaped like your original crooked teeth.) If you are not sure, examine the content of your most recent prayers.

Prayer is not just to ask God for stuff or to expect him to make things go our way. That would be like wearing a crooked retainer. Prayer is an act of faith. Prayer is talking to God and saying, “Lord, you do it your way. Let things happen in my life according to your plan. You give me what I need and what is best.” If prayer is done in faith, then our prayers are like wearing a straight retainer with our heart and mind in line with God’s.

Think about the blessings that come with a prayer life that is shaped in line with God’s heart and mind. What happens if you ask for healing, success, or happiness and God doesn’t give it to you? If your prayer life is in line with your own heart and mind, then you will get angry or frustrated at God. But if your prayer life is shaped in line with God’s mind and heart, then no matter what happens, you can be at peace. You will know that whatever God is doing in your life, it is all according to the plan of your good and gracious Father in heaven.

That is why John can say, “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.” When our prayers end with, “Lord, do everything according to your will,” that is a prayer that will always be answered in the best possible way.

Prayer: Lord, you invite me to pray and call on you for help in any trouble because you promise to deliver me. Thank you for hearing and answering my prayers according to your gracious will for my life. When trouble comes again, lead me to your mercy, for I know it never ends. Amen.


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

One truth shared: God replaces my anxious thoughts with the reality that he has shown incredible generosity in my life.

Then God said to Noah, “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives. Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: “Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

“As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
summer and winter,
day and night
will never cease.”
Genesis 8:15-22

Lord, Increase Our Faith That Overflows With Gratitude

“Over a year in that boat with those animals! That’s at least 375 days, God. My home, destroyed. My friends, gone. There is literally no one and nothing left. What am I supposed to do now?” – hypothetical Noah.

Noah had a lot of things he could have complained about or been anxious about. But instead of complaining, whining, or worrying, he worshiped God with gratitude in his heart. That is a surprising reaction. Sure, God saved Noah and his family from the flood, but did he really have to make the flood last that long? Did God really have to wipe out the whole earth? Noah was now in charge of starting the world over. Talk about pressure. Noah had a ton of reasons to complain or feel anxious, but instead, he was grateful to God.

Why?

Because Noah was very aware of reality. Noah was aware of who God is. Noah was aware of who he was. He was aware of what he deserved. He was aware of the generous grace of God that God poured out on Noah and his family.

Ask yourself, “Do I live with an awareness of God’s generosity in my life? Why do I sometimes feel so anxious and frustrated?” Why? Because we lose awareness of our reality. When we complain, we’ve lost sight of all of the blessings God has shown us. When we are anxious, we have forgotten who is walking alongside us. When we grumble, we have ignored the truth that we are sinners and that God has showered us with his love to make us his adopted children.

Be a Noah and open your eyes of faith! Be aware of this reality: You are a child of God. That means he made you sinless in his eyes and he loves you like crazy. The super powerful God, who made everything and rules over everything, made and rules everything with you in mind. The goal of your life has already been set by God, heaven. He is going to do whatever it takes to make sure you get to enjoy heaven forever. These truths help drive anxiousness from your lives and fill us with thankfulness.

So, open your eyes of faith. Be fully aware of reality. Enjoy life with gratitude in heart to God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, open my eyes to truly see how generous you have been to me in my life. When I’m anxious or complaining, remind me again that I am safely yours, today and forever. Amen.


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

One truth shared: It is our duty and a delight to serve God because we know everything we have comes from him.

Then King David said to the whole assembly: “My son Solomon, the one whom God has chosen, is young and inexperienced. The task is great, because this palatial structure is not for man but for the Lord God. With all my resources, I have provided for the temple of my God… But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand. Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a temple for your Holy Name comes from your hand, and all of it belongs to you.”
1 Chronicles 29:1,2,14,16

Lord, Increase Our Faith that Delights in Duty

Being a Christian is not like a video game where you have to complete missions and objectives in order to level up. But when it comes to our faith life, we have to be careful not to treat it the same way, as in doing good to level up as a Christian. That kind of mentality can lead to frustration or laziness when serving God.

Take David for an example. Think of the level of Christian he would have been. He slayed Goliath, became king of Israel. He led God’s people to become a great empire. He wrote a large section of the Bible. And now, here is David at the end of his life. He is collecting a crazy amount of money and materials to build God a temple. That would make him at least a level 99 Christian, yet he says things like, “But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this?” And “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent. And now I have seen with joy how willingly your people who are here have given to you.”

Even after all of the good things David had done for God, it was still a delight for him to serve God because it came from faith. David recognized the awesomeness, patience, love, mercy, and generosity God had shown him in his life. David wasn’t serving God to get to level 100 Christian. David was delighted to serve God because God had already made him a perfect level 100 Christian through faith. David didn’t have to earn it. David simply recognized the gift of forgiveness and heaven God had given to him. And so, no matter how many times David served God or no matter how difficult it was to do so, David delighted to serve God.

God has made you also level 100 Christian—forgiven, holy, and perfect in God’s sight. Let this truth make your duty to serve God a delight and not a burden.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for opening my eyes to delight in serving you. Recognizing that everything I have was given by you, may I count it a privilege to imitate my Savior’s service and give myself in service to you and others. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 25, 2022

We cling to Christ—the one who clings to us through earthly hardships and will carry us to heaven.

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”
Luke 16:19-31

What Seems to Help in Life Fails in Death; What Seems to Fail in Life Helps in Death

June 15, 1904. The PS General Slocum, a 264-foot dual-paddle steamboat, set out with 1,300 passengers for an annual summer cruise on New York City’s East River. Not even thirty minutes after launch, that cruise took a tragic turn for the worse. It was 12-year-old Franky Paditski who first spotted signs that the ship was on fire. Franky raced to the pilot room to inform the captain, shouting “fire” all along the way—but no one paid any attention to him. He burst into the pilot room and told the captain about the fire. But the captain told Franky to get out—thinking the kid was only joking. But Franky wasn’t, an uncontrollable blaze had started within a storage room in the hull of the ship, a room that had been packed with hay insulated barrels and containers of kerosene oil—needing nothing more than a stray ember from a cigarette to ignite a surging fire that would overtake the entire ship. 1,021 people died that day.

What makes this story really sad is, it could have been avoided. The captain neglected any fire drill protocol. The crew waited too long before notifying the captain about the fire. The boat firehoses were cracked with dry-rot and burst immediately. In addition, nearly all the 2,500 life jackets on board were useless—the cork having rotted and dissolved into powder. The lifeboats were all wired in place, permanently fixed to the ship. But the error easily forgotten in this story was disregarding the warning cries of a 12-year-old boy.

Can you see the parallels between this tragic story and Jesus’ parable from Luke 16? The rich man’s wealth did him no better than a rotted-out life jacket. His confidence before God was anchored in his status, his popularity, and his prestige—but it did him no better than clinging to a lifeboat that’s been bolted to a burning ship. This rich man ignored the warning cries of Scripture—which tell us that sin has rendered this world no better than a sinking ship in need of saving.

We don’t have to look too far to see the same thing today. Sure, we know people who cling to wealth like this rich man. But money isn’t the only rotted-out lifejacket. We cling to sinful self-gratification, hatred, grudges, and bitterness. We can be self-absorbed and self-righteousness. And to those who insist on clinging to faulty life jackets and useless lifeboats for life, God’s Word is not silent: the result isn’t life, but death—not just physical death—but spiritual and everlasting separation from God.

We neither earned nor deserved God’s love. We didn’t deserve even the scraps from God’s table. We are beggars. But that’s what makes God’s undeserved love so awesome. When we would have drowned by the weight of our guilt, God, in love, reached out to save us. When sin had rendered us worse than dogs in the kingdom of God, he, in grace, opened the door to bring us in—not as strays to sit under the table, but as family to sit at the table. God sent his Son Jesus to take the sickness of our sin onto himself so—by his wounds—we would be healed. God himself would bleed to buy you a seat at his banquet and a home in his heaven.

We, like Lazarus, can cling to God’s Word of promise in the midst of every storm. We can anchor our identities on sure foundation of the gospel promises embedded in Scripture and sealed by Christ’s blood. So, let go of those rotted life jackets and lifeboats that ultimately can’t save anyone. Cling to Jesus—the one who has saved you, and the one who will carry you through the storms of this life to the safe shores of heaven.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for reaching out in love to rescue us from sin, death, and hell. Strengthen our faith through Word and Sacrament—assuring us that heaven belongs to us as we belong to you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 18, 2022

Lasting contentment comes from Christ, our heavenly treasure.

But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:6-10,17,19

Serve God With Money; You Can’t Serve God and Money

Tom and his mother lived in Asia but got a chance to live in the United States. While he was there, he got connected with a particular Christian church where he and his mother came to faith. But during his time there, one of the leaders in that congregation “prophesied” that in two years after Tom would return to his home country, he’d land a prosperous job, he’d marry a beautiful wife, get a car, buy a big house, and he’d be able to pay for his mother’s medical treatment. This, of course, was immediately met with Tom’s joy and excitement. I mean, who wouldn’t be?

That was twelve years ago. Tom still isn’t married. He’s still stuck in a dead-end job that he hates. He’s still living in an apartment. And his mother is still sick. Tom is no longer a Christian. That unfulfilled, empty, audacious promise made by a church leader was the reason he left Christianity behind.

Stories like this certainly highlight the danger of false teachers within the church who preach anything but the Word of God. But there’s another danger this sad story shows—that being the self-inflicted, self-destructive damage caused by the love of money. For Tom, he associated his sense of meaning, purpose, identity, and worth by his employment and how big his salary was. He hinged his hope, joy, and peace on earthly treasures. And his love for those things was so great, it shipwrecked his faith.

So, let’s ask the obvious question posed by our Scripture reading today: Can true, lasting hope, joy, and peace come from earthly treasures? Can I find lasting contentment from material possessions?

Joel Osteen is a prosperity gospel preacher. In a 2012 sermon entitled “The Power of I Am”, he says you can have your best life now. “Feeling old? You can be younger! Feeling weak? You can be stronger! Feeling poor? You can be rich! It all starts with you! God is ready to give you what you want!” You want to guess how many times that sermon referenced the name “Jesus”? A grand total of zero times. Yet it’s the most popular sermon on the internet. In a society saturated in materialism and consumerism, such sermons cash in on peoples’ love of earthly treasure—a lie that says true meaning and purpose, joy, peace, and happiness rest in material wealth. Meanwhile, God invariably is reduced to nothing but a resource, a big sugar daddy in the sky, a means to my end—a divine vending machine.

While the love of money comes in many forms, at its heart is a lie—a lie that challenges the definition of “enough,” a lie that gets us hung up on what the word “need” means, a lie that not only confuses what we “need” with what we “want” but a lie that leaves us forgetful of the greatest need we all have, a need that threatened our eternal standing with God, a need our money can’t meet—the need to be rescued from sin and be reconciled to God.

But in Christ, that need has been met! That is why Paul says to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.” Your God can and will provide for your earthly needs. But he’s given you something far greater than money, a great job, a nice house, and a full fridge. He’s given you far more than your friends and family and your gifts and talents: God has given you the gift of himself. Jesus would take on flesh to die for the sins of that world—including our sins of loving money, all to win for us eternal life with him in heaven. Through Jesus, we have the gift of eternal life! Your God has conquered sin, death and the devil for you! We are heirs of eternal life in the glorious riches of heaven.

You see, earthly contentment doesn’t come from earthly treasures. That you and I can be content is entirely because of the heavenly treasures we already have in Jesus. He’s given hope for the hopeless, peace for the broken, comfort for the guilt-ridden, rest for the weary, strength for the weak, and joy for the heartbroken. You and I can be “rich in good deeds” and “rich in generosity,” not to earn heaven, but because, through faith in Christ, it’s already yours! Through faith in Christ, you are already rich!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us house and clothing, friends and family, food and drink, our mind and all our abilities. We especially thank you for meeting our greatest needs in your Son. Move us to treasure your gracious words of promise and be content in all circumstances. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 11, 2022

You are the reason the angels celebrate—but you are not the reason you are found: Jesus is.

Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:3-10

The Found Are Left; the Lost are Found

Did you catch that? Angels threw a party for you!

Contrary to pop culture, we were never once angels, we are not an angel now, and, when we die, we will not become angels, either. The Bible draws an incredibly clear distinction between humans and angels. And although these servants of God are very knowledgeable and incredibly powerful, angels are not the apple of God’s eye. They are not the crown of God’s creation: you are. So, it’s no surprise then that, behind the stories of shepherds and women celebrating with friends and neighbors, we find angels celebrating for every sinner who comes to faith in Jesus.

Jesus paints the picture of a shepherd leaving the 99 sheep ‘found’ in his flock in pursuit of one who was lost. And when he finds it, he tells all his friends and neighbors—because that one sheep is totally worth the celebration. In the second parable, Jesus portrays a woman with ten coins (each worth a day’s salary) and—when she loses just one of them, she turns her whole house upside down to find it. And when she finally does, she—like that shepherd—tells all her friends and neighbors that her lost coin was found. And yet, such rejoicing over lost coins and sheep pales in comparison to the celebration of the angels in heaven when even one sinner repents—when even one person turns away from sin and turns to Jesus in faith—including you.

“Well, why?” you might be wondering. “Why am I worth the party?” Maybe your heart is filled with regrets from all the mistakes you’ve made, and you wonder “How could God’s love possibly run that deep?” We, as breakers of God’s law, look at our total lack of worthiness to be called God’s child and wonder “How could God possibly love someone as broken and messed up as me?” But maybe your first thought wasn’t “Why would I be worth a party?” Maybe your first thought was “Why wouldn’t I be worth a party? I’m a good person! I’m nowhere as bad as some of the people I know—including other Christians! I try to read my Bible and go to church. I’m not out partying or wasting my life away. Why wouldn’t I be worth celebrating?”

Don’t get me wrong: you were worth celebrating; but if we double down and insist it’s by virtue of “who I am” or “what I’ve done” that we’re deserving or worthy of God’s love, we’re dead wrong. When you and I stare into the mirror of God’s law and try to see an entitled or meritorious ‘me’, we’re only going to find a wayward ‘me’ covered in pig slop and rags—stinky and stained with sin. We needed a new wardrobe.

But if you feel that you’re too sinful to be forgiven, too broken to be fixed, or simply too lost to be rescued, you’d be wrong about that, too. God’s love runs deep. This is where God’s grace—amazing, sweeping, saving grace—just blows our man-made economies clear out of the water.

You see, we were the lost sheep. We were the lost coin. The Bible tells us that we were born spiritually blind, deaf, and dumb—born enemies of God—estranged from God. And without God’s gracious, divine intervention, estranged is where our relationship would have stayed. But the seeking compassion of our God took action and found us. We must celebrate!

You are the reason the angels celebrate—but you are not the reason you are found. After all, that you are “found” means someone else had to find you. That means someone, in love, sought you and pursued you—in spite of you. Your God calls out to us through his Word when we drift away. Your Savior binds you up in his loving arms through his Holy Supper. Your God receives you with arms open wide in grace. There is no sin that stinks too much that he couldn’t possibly love you. There is no stain too deep that Jesus’ death on the cross hasn’t washed away with his holy, precious blood. When your heart is heavy with guilt, know you can always come to your God—knowing that grace is what he stands ready to give. He stands ready to hear and receive each and every one of your prayers—and he lovingly invites you to cast all your cares and anxieties onto him because he cares for you. You are forgiven. You are free. And all the angels in heaven celebrate.

Prayer: Lord, you, in your mercy, sought us to be your own. When we wander and go astray, call us back to you through your Word and comfort us by your redeeming love. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 4, 2022

Your Savior counted the cost to rescue you—and you were totally worth it.

Large crowds were traveling with Jesus, and turning to them he said: “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple. And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Luke 14:25-27

Put down What You Love; Pick Up What You Loathe

That probably caught you off guard, didn’t it? That Jesus would say you need to hate your father and mother to follow him? Or maybe, when you heard that, your first thought was, “One step ahead of you, Jesus! I already hate my parents!” Before you get ahead of yourself, consider two things. First, Jesus’ list of loved ones you’re called to “hate” also includes [spouse] and children, brothers and sisters—and yes, even [your] own life. Second, this is the same Jesus who calls us to love our worst enemies. So, what does Jesus mean when he says “hate”?

Jesus isn’t saying you need to wish the worst of those closest to you. What he is saying is “If you want to come after me, I’m going to reorient your relationships.” Jesus, as God, calls us to fear, love, and trust in him above all things—with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind. That is a love so great, all our other “loves” in our life look like hate by comparison.

Our love for our family and friends is incredibly great. So great, that our lives might completely revolve around them. Don’t get me wrong: God intended our relationships with family and friends to be good relationships. The problem is when our good relationships become ultimate relationships. We look to our parents or others to give us what only God can. Don’t believe me? Then why do we enter romantic relationships with ridiculous expectations that no sinful human being will ever be able to fulfill? Why do we hold our friends and family to incredibly high standards—standards we don’t even meet?

At the very core of all this relational disorder, we find a love that is greater than our love for our friends and family. We find a love of self. And that love of self comes into direct conflict with Jesus’ message about counting the cost to follow him. Following Jesus may cost you status or reputation. It may cost you popularity and acceptance. It might cost you relationships with friends and family. It will definitely come at a cost to our personal comfort. And the cost of following Jesus is non-negotiable—meaning we can’t come at Jesus and say, “Lord, I will follow you, but only on my terms.” Christian discipleship isn’t broken down into categories of “casual Christians” and “Jesus freaks.” There is no middle ground. It’s all or nothing. And our sinful nature hates that. We may even think, “What kind of loving God would have me follow him down a path of self-denial that leads to suffering for him—even dying for him?”

The same God who walked a path of self-denial that inevitably led to him suffering and dying for us. When other religions will give you a list and tell you “Here’s what you need to do to get right with God,” Jesus says, “You couldn’t do what needed to be done, so I did it for you.” What we couldn’t pay, the Son of God did. Jesus would “hate” his own life out of love for yours—because a restored relationship with you was a priority to him. Jesus has paid and paved our entry into heaven by his precious blood shed for us on the cross. That he rose from the dead reinforces the reality that our sins of disordered love have been objectively buried in his death and we, in Christ, are forgiven! That Jesus lives means our greatest relationship—our relationship with God—has been completely and eternally restored in Christ!

The world can’t give what Christ alone has—because the world can’t be what Christ alone is. In him we have peace with God. In him, our identity is as God’s blood-bought, redeemed child. In him, our lives have renewed purpose and eternal significance. You carry your cross in the shadow of a Savior who already carried his cross perfectly for you. Why trade Jesus for anyone in this world? Your Savior counted the cost to rescue you—and you were totally worth it.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know the weight of the crosses we carry to follow you. You carried your cross perfectly for us. Give us strength and patience to carry crosses in your name—until the day you carry us home. Amen.


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