Tag Archive for: womens-devotion

Giving Thanks

Giving Thanks – Women’s Devotion

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 8:10

God’s command to praise him for his blessings can be fulfilled in countless ways. But as you gather for a Thanksgiving meal this week, you may find yourself praying these familiar words,

Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest
and let these gifts to us be blessed.

As a little girl, I remember the taunting aroma of the food while we said the common table prayer. My Grandma made wonderful Greek food at Thanksgiving. Spinach pie. Orange bread. Salad with feta cheese that made my tongue tingle. I remember praying rather casually, thinking mostly about how good the food would be.

Now I’m the Grandma, and I’ve grown up a little.

It delights me to fill my table with amazing dishes, but when we join in the common table prayer, I’m not distracted by the food. I’m thankful for the gift of food but I’m mostly praying for the people in the seats. They are the priceless gifts that I want to be blessed by God. As my family gathers, I’m overcome with the joy of knowing that Jesus is our guest. His grace, planted in our hearts through baptism, continues to be nurtured by the Word of God.

Oh, give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.
His mercy endures forever.

God’s mercy has endured, giving salvation to families for generations. As your loved ones gather this Thanksgiving, Jesus will be with you. May you be blessed with love for one another and love for Jesus.

But if there are troubled or wandering souls at your table, you can still give thanks—because God is good, and his mercy endures forever. He longs to save the lost and is working to draw people to himself, even as they sit at your table. Jesus is the gracious guest who comes to extend his love forever—and he shows his love to others through you.

Table prayers are a clear reminder of God’s presence, provision, and gift of mercy. May those who join you for the holidays hear the beautiful testimony and humble plea for God’s enduring mercy.

Lord God, as we gather to celebrate Thanksgiving, we praise you for your countless blessings. As we sit with our loved ones or treasure them in our hearts, we rejoice in the salvation that joins us together. But where there are those who have stumbled, lost their way, or do not know your grace, we pray for opportunities to open our homes and show others your enduring mercy. Let our lives reflect your desire to come as our Savior from sin and bring the gift of eternal life. Amen.

Written by Naomi Schmidt


Prepare – Women’s Devotion

We’ve all heard the common phrase, “Hindsight is 20/20.” That ability to look back with clarity on a situation is priceless. We often recall the past day or week and say, “I wish I would have done this,” or “I wish I would have done that.” Hindsight is well, hindsight. It’s over with, it’s done. How much better to be present, or plan for the future and act correctly? Here’s our chance for “20/20 Foresight!” In these verses, Jesus tells us exactly what to do.

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’

“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’

“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Matthew 25:34-46

Hospitality . . . are you hospitable?

We are all capable of simple acts of kindness. We just need to have a ready and willing heart. God’s expectation is clear in these verses from Matthew and is repeated throughout Scripture. Romans 12:13 states, “Practice hospitality” and Jesus clarifies that we should be hospitable to all—friend, foe, stranger, healthy, sick, imprisoned, and more. It makes no difference in God’s sight, we are his children therefore we should be hospitable. In fact, hospitality is a fruit of our faith and a wonderful way for us to show God’s love.

Hospitality . . . are you not hospitable?

Admittedly being hospitable takes time, may cost money, and can interrupt plans. But are these any reasons not to be hospitable? Jesus simply says, “Whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.” No exceptions. When we fail to do what God commands, we are committing a sin of omission. James 4: 17 says, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.” God wants us to obey his law. If we have an opportunity to obey, and don’t do it, we have committed a sin of omission. Therefore, let’s be prepared to obey!

Hospitality . . . what does it look like?

Hospitality is always in season, but perhaps as this time of year rolls around there is even more opportunity, or we simply become more keenly aware of others’ needs. Ultimately, your hospitality is an overflow of your faith and a willingness to share God’s love and good news with others. So, what does hospitality look like? That’s up to you and the unique situation God has blessed you with, however, here are a few thoughts to get you started.

  • Bake a pie or a plate of cookies to share with family, friends, or others in your community.
  • Invite people from your neighborhood to church.
  • Serve at a homeless shelter or food pantry.
  • Hold the door for someone going in or out.
  • Cut lawn/shovel snow for a neighbor or shut-in.
  • Smile.
  • Host a Bible study or hymn sing.
  • Invite fellow church members to share the holidays with you, especially if they may be alone this season.

We can serve others with hospitality in so many ways with actions that are small, medium, or large. Let God guide your hospitable acts as expressions of faith.

Hospitality . . . is it worth it?

Hospitality is a blessing for all involved, the receiver and the giver. When you are hospitable, your faith is evident, your relationships are strengthened, and your light shines. Even as you serve others, you will find joy and encouragement to continue acts of kindness. A busier season of the year will soon be upon us. Take time now to use the “20/20 Foresight” you are given in this section of Matthew—make your hospitality plan for this season and the year ahead. How grand it will be to hear Jesus direct these words to you one day, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

Written by Trish Plichta

Missional Living

Missional Living – Women’s Devotion

Missional living is a mindset that adapts the daily actions, thinking, and practices of a missionary to share the gospel message with others.

Jesus says, “You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Roughly paraphrased, that means “in your home, community, beyond your community and into all the world.” This is missional living. The idea is simply a Christ-centered mindset that sees our daily lives as a mission field where we can share God’s grace and love with others.

The concept of living as a missionary can be hard to grasp, but the pressure isn’t on us to make it work. We know the Holy Spirit is working to draw people to God. So, when you look at someone, you can ask yourself, “Is God working to reach this person with his love and grace? Does this person need forgiveness and hope?” The answer will be yes. It will always be yes. Jesus said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). We live with our eyes open, trusting that God has planted fields and created us as workers to watch and care for the fruit as it ripens.

Imagine your life as a gigantic apple orchard with paths that lead you to work, the gym, grocery stores, coffee shops, and home again. There is a path to your school, a local park, and places where you enjoy recreation. Walk that path with more purpose than reaching your destination. Open your eyes and look around you! You are surrounded by fruited trees that may be weak or dying. Ask, “Where can I love, encourage, or nurture faith? Can I befriend someone God is trying to reach?” The concept of missional living sees that daily life is full of opportunities because God is tilling, planting, and nurturing faith all around us. He is doing the work, and he will open your eyes to see it. Grace moves your heart to respond and join in his work.

What does that sound like?
“Hi, I think I’ve seen you when I’ve been at school events with my kids. Do you have kids here?” Have a casual conversation. Listen. Be a friend. Think, “Jesus wants this parent to know about his grace and love. I wonder how I could share that with him?”

People are thirsting for caring relationships. People need hope and love. People ache to be free of the guilt and shame they hide. We have been in the same place—separated from God by sin and in desperate need of a Savior. Now, with grace-filled hearts, we are moved to point others to his boundless mercy. The Spirit is working to save the lost and wants you to look at the fields and live in a way that seeks to love God’s harvest. His field. His work. Your opportunity to join him.

Written by Naomi Schmidt

Community in church

Community in church – Women’s Devotion

In spring 2023, the US surgeon general released a report about social connection, sharing that the country is in an epidemic of loneliness and isolation. Even before the pandemic, with its subsequent isolation, about half of U.S. adults reported experiencing loneliness. From the surgeon general’s point of view, that’s a health risk because the physical consequences include a 29% increased risk of heart disease, a 32% increased risk of stroke, and a 50% increased risk of developing dementia.

For those of us who are Christians, how can we make a difference? Well, we obey the encouragement in Galatians 6:10: “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

We do good to people with different political, social, and religious beliefs; to our coworkers, boss, or employees; to grouchy neighbors, people at the gym, and members of the book club.
But let’s not overlook the part that tells us to do good “especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” See, while loneliness may have physical dangers, loneliness in the church can present spiritual dangers. If people don’t feel loved in the family of believers, they might get bitter, stop coming to church, grow distant from people who can keep them connected to God.

As Christians, we are in a unique position to give people community, because we have the best community ever. It’s a family that loves each other now and lives together with God eternally. So, for now, with the Holy Spirit living in us, we have the gift of being the ones who make human connection. We use the specific gifts God has given us to bless the family. We listen to each others’ hurts, celebrate each others’ joys. We practice hospitality, encourage each other, and hold each other accountable, which is the hard part of friendship. We pray with and for each other. Ultimately, we “one another” each other.

Written by Linda Buxa

God’s Plan for Relationships

God’s Plan for Relationships – Women’s Devotion

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Colossians 3:12

I had just found out another school mom was going through some very tough stuff. And, for her, this resulted in

  • a hurting heart,
  • a mind that couldn’t be quieted, and
  • pain that kept her from showing up like a “good” mom would.

For me, I found myself asking questions.

  • Why didn’t I talk to her sooner?
  • Why didn’t I open up about my own situation?
  • Why hadn’t I asked if she wanted to meet for coffee?

And now our family was days away from moving. Not just a few minutes, but seven hours and four states away.

Why hadn’t I reached out to her? Maybe I was scared—scared to connect with the other moms and teachers at school. Maybe I was afraid to be vulnerable because I might be laughed at or alienated. Maybe I would open up to someone who couldn’t possibly understand what I was dealing with. So sometimes we hide. We stay home from cross country meets or basketball games. We don’t go to the moms’ Bible study and shy away from school volunteer opportunities all because we are uneasy.

How can we overcome this unease and the fears to reach out?

Our Father calls us to “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” (Colossians 3:12). As we mimic his grace (no matter how apprehensive we may be) we will seek out those who need a hug or need someone to listen. We are a smiling face that invites someone to grab a cup of coffee—or, if I’m being honest, a glass of wine! This can be the start of an amazing friendship. You can comfort a mom who needs to be reminded of Jesus’ love. Or start a relationship with a teacher who might not even know Jesus yet. But people can feel his love as he shines through you.

And, even if—even if it doesn’t go the way you hoped, what does our Father tell us? “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved…” (Colossians 3:12). We are chosen! We should have been rejected but instead, our God specifically selected you and me to be his daughters. We are chosen to walk in the beauty and perfection of heaven someday. We are holy and dearly loved by a God who is our Father. Our Dad. He will wrap you in his arms and remind you of his many promises.

Step out of your comfort zone and reach out to the school mom struggling with her kiddo or your child’s teacher who looks a bit frazzled this week. Even a smile or a kind word can change their life and yours.

Hundreds of miles. Seven hours. Four states. But all were spanned by God’s grace. We are still connected, concerned for one another and able to celebrate God’s good news.

Written by Rachel Learman

No Shame in the Mundane

No Shame in the Mundane – Women’s Devotion

With every child, I have had to pare down my life a little more. Now with six kids, an average day is personal time with Jesus, being a wife and mother, homeschooling, cooking, and cleaning. It’s hard not to think how mundane my life is right now.

One constant pressure parents face is to be relentlessly busy, having a calendar filled with “important” things. The temptation is real. I feel it myself. And when someone asks me what I’ve been up to and all I can think of is cooking, cleaning, and refereeing, I can almost feel a sense of shame or the instant need to try to come up with something that sounds more worthy. Why is there such embarrassment in a simple life filled with ordinary things?

But as God draws me nearer to him in his Word, I’m reminded that he’s not at all worried about what looks great to the world. He sees victory, success, and a life well-lived through a very different lens. In fact, the One worthy of all honor, glory and the Name that is above every other name, took on the nature of an obedient servant to win our salvation.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

Jesus set aside his glory.
Jesus came not to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Jesus spent three years making 12 disciples who would be his witnesses.
Jesus willingly suffered, bled, and died to redeem unworthy sinners like me.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

Jesus didn’t send us into the world to make a name for ourselves. He didn’t ask us to conform to the patterns of the world. Instead, he commanded us to go make disciples. And the mundane life where I’m present for my kids and my family is where God has called me to do that work. Motherhood may be a humble calling, but when we lay aside our ideas of what we should be doing, we get to be a part of what God is doing, and that is always so much better. Helping my kids fall in love with reading the Bible; teaching them to cook, clean, serve and become people with character and strength; modeling a life where we strive to rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; these are the hidden seeds that I’m tending in the seemingly ordinary life that God has me in for this season. So next time you ask me what I’ve been up to I may just keep it simple. I’m making disciples. How about you?

Written by Katy Goede

To Some…, But to Me…

To Some…, But to Me… – Women’s Devotion

Another severe thunderstorm was raging over the Connecticut parsonage, and the pastor’s daughter was scared. Mom tried to reassure her with the story of Jesus calming the storm, but little Ann was not feeling it. Ann looked across the yard toward the church office where her father was working. “You stay here with Jesus,” Ann said, “I’m going to get Daddy.”

Several years later, now in the Midwest, the father laid his hand on the permed head of this same, eldest daughter. He surprised her with the same passage he himself had received at confirmation, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). Perhaps he was thinking of that Connecticut lightning storm and reminding her, “Ann, no matter what physical or metaphysical storms may trouble you, God will be with you.”

That’s my dad.

About ten years later, our family was camped on Maine’s coast. My dad was facing a change in his ministry—from charge of one congregation to a synod. Perched on the cliffs overlooking the Atlantic, the sound of crashing waves in our ears, he led us in a devotion about a rock-solid, unchanging, loving God who upholds and saves us. “God is our refuge and strength…”

Memories of my dad aren’t all devotions and sermons. I remember helping him relive his prep and college football careers as my sister and I retrieved high kicks over the backyard maple. We screamed in mock terror at his lion imitations. With strong arms, he pulled my siblings and me to and from the skating pond in a red plastic sled. He shared his love of ice cream, popcorn, and beloved childhood stories from Caledonia. He brought surprise gifts for the family, which often surprised our mother, too. His love of classical music endures (I was instructed to only play “good” music on my birthday clock radio). And he has a famous kangaroo joke.

Threading through all of these memories is my dad’s love for the Lord and his people, a joy in ministry, especially clear when company surrounded the table and stories like “The Wrong Mrs. Weber” entertained and inspired. He was devoted to our family, but also to the larger family of God, pausing for dinner and devotions, but then back to his sermon or a meeting. My parents traveled all over the world to see and do God’s work, and in his later years, when some might settle down, his ministry took my mom and him farther afield—to retirement calls in Texas and twice to Hong Kong. He encouraged me to follow this course to ministry and family with Psalm 46 strength. My own children saw him as the “faraway Grandpa,” but also as a faithful servant, and my first graders still come to class with surprising stories like, “Your dad gave birth to my mom.” (Translation: My mom was baptized by your father.)

These recollections also include those very present times of trouble, frustration, or anger. My dad would be the first to admit that he is a sinner; so am I. Many days, our matching temperaments got the best of us. Forgiveness was asked for, given and received; a necessary and treasured gift. My father was not perfect, but he made God the Father’s grace through Jesus perfectly clear.

Long ago on Father’s Day, I carefully and colorfully stitched these words on a piece of white cotton: “To some people, you are a rev. or a pastor, but to me, you are the best person in the world, you are my dad.” These words are still true today. I thank God for a loving father who exemplified our heavenly Father and faithfully pointed to the only refuge, strength, and salvation. Happy Father’s Day!

Oh, blest the house, whate’er befall,
where Jesus Christ is all in all!
A home that is not wholly his—
how sad and poor and dark it is!

Oh, blest that house where faith is found
and all in hope and love abound;
they trust their God and serve him still
and do in all his holy will.

Blest such a house, it prospers well;
in peace and joy the parents dwell,
and in their children’s lives is shown
how richly God can bless his own.

Then here will I and mine today
a solemn promise make and say:
though all the world forsake his Word,
I and my house will serve the Lord!
(Christian Worship 760:1,2,4,5)

Written by Ann Ponath

The beast (a devotion on depression)

The beast (a devotion on depression) – Women’s Devotion

“When was the last time you felt deep, complete joy?” she asked. “You know, when you feel like everything is just about perfect in your world at that moment.”

I’d already had several sessions with this therapist, and she knew a lot of the details of my life by now. She knew that things were generally pretty good. I’d had a solid upbringing, a happy childhood. I was married to a man I loved and who loved me, and our healthy, happy son was just over a year old. We had everything we needed. And yet, in five years, I could not remember a time when I’d felt deep joy.

I gazed at the floor, trying to come up with something. “Definitely on my wedding day,” I said. “But that was over five years ago.” I stared out the window, as if something out there would bring back a memory. “There must be something since then. Surely something when my son was born…” Nothing on the ceiling jogged my memory either.

“You’re thinking way too long about this,” the therapist said. “It shouldn’t be that hard.”

* * *

It wasn’t just that I lacked joy. As our fifth wedding anniversary came around, the picture was more grim than that. Too often anger and frustration with this circumstance or that offense made me rage inside. Sometimes I couldn’t keep it inside, and I was downright ugly to be around. My husband bore the brunt of my foul mood. A few times I yelled at my son, but even when I held it inside I feared that he would sense my grumpiness and pent up rage and it would somehow scar him.

I wish I could say that I prayed fervently that God would help me find joy. But when I was seething with rage, I didn’t pray and I didn’t want to look to Scripture at those moments. My default nature, opposed to God, was firmly in control. I just wanted to be angry. Looking back I can honestly confess with Asaph the Psalmist, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.” (Psalm 73:21-22) The only prayer my troubled spirit was capable of was a feeble “Lord, help me…help us…” breathed into my tear-stained pillow from time to time.

Only God knows how long I might have let this go on—and how bad it might have gotten. But he had a plan to turn things around for our little family. We were preparing for my husband’s first deployment to the Middle East with the United States Air Force. I feared that our marriage would not make it through four months of physical separation. I feared that my mental state would prove harmful to my son’s emotional well-being. And so I sought the help of a therapist.

The diagnosis was dysthymia—mild, long-term depression. I continued my sessions with the therapist. She coached me in coping strategies. I made sure I was getting sufficient sleep. I exercised regularly. I was faithful in my daily Bible study time. I read books about nurturing our marriage relationship and worked to apply what I learned. I ate nutritious meals. I allowed myself to relax and be unproductive once in a while. And yet, the brute beast was always there, ready to rage if provoked.

Then one day the therapist suggested medication. I balked, thinking surely if I really trusted God—if I really had faith—shouldn’t the certain hope of salvation bring me joy? My Savior loved me enough to take the punishment for my sins upon himself. Shouldn’t that be enough to make me happy? Would I be relying on pills to solve my problems, and would that be a sin?

I talked with my husband about it. We agreed that if I did indeed have a mental disorder, it was okay to try some medicine. Besides, the time for him to deploy was approaching like a freight train, and if pills might help, we needed to give it a shot.

* * *

That was almost nine years ago. I have been on antidepressants ever since, with the exception of my pregnancy with my second son. God has allowed me to experience joy again—the deep, complete kind. There are still problems in my life, and I still struggle. As a doctor once told me, “Medication can only make you normal. It can’t make you happy all the time.”

I have also found that medication on its own doesn’t do the trick. Regular exercise helps a great deal, and I need daily time in God’s Word. I may end up taking those pills for the rest of my life. I’m okay with that. But I don’t rely on the pills to solve the problems in my life. I rely on the Lord, who led me to the relief that the medication provided.

God told his people through the prophet Nehemiah, “Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10) I have come to know that the joy of the Lord is my strength, even when I don’t feel joyful, even when my emotions don’t express what my soul knows. And now, by God’s grace, I am often able to feel the joy he gives through faith in his Word.

Psalm 73, the one that talks about the “brute beast,” ends like this:

Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Those who are far from you will perish; you destroy all who are unfaithful to you.
But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
I will tell of all your deeds.

God did not abandon me when my sinful nature was in control and anger and frustration made me rage inside. And thanks be to God that my husband loved me “as Christ loved the church,” (Ephesians 5:25) because he didn’t abandon me either.

God waited until my spirit was quieted, and then in that still, small voice, he spoke to me gently through his Word. He showed me that his love is constant. Even when I am raging, his love is calm and steadfast. When I am a brute beast, he looks at me and loves me. And then he gently rescues me.

Prayer Suggestions:

  • Praise God for his gentle mercy toward beast-like sinners opposed to him by nature.
  • Confess times when you have allowed your inner beast to take over, or you have taken your anger and frustration out on others.
  • Thank God for the moments of joy he gives. Thank him for providing solutions to our problems in all the various methods he uses to help us. Thank him for solving our deepest problem of sin and the punishment we earned for it.
  • If there are people you know who struggle with symptoms of depression, ask God to soften their hearts to his gentle mercy. Ask that he shield those around your struggling loved ones from any negative effects of their condition. Ask that he make a way to alleviate their symptoms, by whatever means he sees fit.

Written by Tracy Siegler

A Messy Blessing!

A Messy Blessing! – Women’s Devotion

The very first thing God instituted, even before the church, was family. Family is part of God’s design for how we learn about him. Through family we learn how to get along with others and how to reconcile when we do not. We learn what it means to love unconditionally and to practice forgiveness and grace.
What a messy blessing!

You could have been born at any time in history, on any continent, in any civilization. Out of all the families in the history of time, God put you in the family he put you in.
What a messy blessing!

We come into the world completely dependent on another human being. We are unable to feed ourselves, dress ourselves, or protect ourselves. Family does that for us. And, if we live long enough, we will probably leave this life unable to do many of those same things for ourselves. What a privilege to be able to care for our elderly parents who once cared for us in this way.
What a messy blessing!

What a blessing and a challenge to meet them wherever they are mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually and to walk with them during the final season of their earthly journey. Our aging parents face tremendous challenges as their bodies and minds begin to fail. Frustration, anger, loneliness, and physical pain can all be crippling. We can assure them they are not alone. We can remind them that God loves them and provides for them. Many times, God is using us, their family members, as the means for providing for them.
What a messy blessing!

It is difficult work that requires intentional grace. Mistakes will be made; feelings will be hurt. It requires patience, love, and forgiveness—all those lessons that they taught us as they cared for us when we were younger. There are times when they are not grateful for our sacrifice, there are times when they want more of our time and attention than we are able to give, and there may be other times when they want less of our attention and involvement in their affairs. And there are gut-wrenching times when there simply are no good answers to the problems they are facing. Suffering through diminishing health and abilities is… suffering. The root meaning of the word compassion means “to suffer with.” One of the greatest gifts we can give to someone who is suffering is simply to be with them. Although we cannot fix what they are going through, we can assure them they do not have to be alone as they go through it, we can suffer with them.
What a messy blessing!

Jesus modeled this for us on the cross. As he looked down on his mother who had taught him about his heavenly Father, he was concerned about her and did not want her to suffer alone. He had compassion on her as he asked his best friend John to care for her now, “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home” (John 19: 26-27).

I was blessed to have my aging mother live with me in my home for sixteen years after my father passed away. Together we suffered through her breast cancer, heart issues, diabetes, over a dozen surgeries on her legs, and finally a drug resistant infection that God used to take her home to heaven. There was no way to keep track of the number of doctor visits, ER visits, surgeries, hospital stays, rehabilitation centers, pain, frustration, and tears. There is also no way to count or measure the depth that our love and respect for each other grew as we suffered together. She was an excellent mother who taught me about Jesus, unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and having a zest for life. In the end, I was able to remind her of those same lessons.
What a messy blessing!

To be used by God to care for an aging parent is both an extremely challenging and significantly meaningful opportunity. It is God who gives us the strength and compassion as we are motivated by the love he shows to us. “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-34).

What a messy blessing!

Written by Rhoda Wolle

Not Here

Not Here – Women’s Devotion

You might know how it feels. Anyone who has experienced the turn of events during a sudden death of a loved one can identify with the accompanying experience. Life screeches to a halt. Minds go numb. Hearts shrink, shell-shocked. Our loved one is no longer here.

Ever been there? Take heart, dear one, you are not alone. Easter morning, the women were most certainly in this state of mind. As Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and Salome trudged to the tomb, the spices they toted were not nearly as heavy as their thoughts and hearts. The last few days had been a living nightmare.

Their dear master? Gone. Marred beyond recognition. Crucified. Pierced through. Sealed inside a tomb. Gentle Jesus—dead. The mighty One who had fed the five thousand, walked on water, healed the masses, and proved his right to be called the Son of God, was cruelly betrayed—by one of their own! Their male companions witnessed the arrest and were stunned at the outcome.

Heads covered, arms full, and hearts broken, the women arrive to find the surreal scene, unexpectedly odd. The seal is broken. The stone is rolled away.

Going inside, they look, seeing only the grave clothes. How could this be? Next, two men in brilliant garments stand near them, illuminating the emptiness where Jesus’ body was laid.

Frightened, they bow low. I imagine them missing the obvious joy of the angels, who said:

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen!”

Note the exclamation point—risen! The angels are joyous. Next, words of reassurance:

“Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’”

The dawn grows brighter as the dazzling truth begins to sink in.

Luke pens their response. “Then they remembered his words” (Luke 24:5-8).

Could it be true? Yes, today was the “third day”!

He had risen!

Though society saw them as less, Jesus saw them all throughout his ministry. He arranges this glorious morning to be filled with firsts: first at the empty tomb, first to hear the resurrection news, first appearance to Mary, and entrusted by Jesus with the first resurrection report to the disciples.

Does your heart burst with Easter joy for these sorrowing women? With fresh eyes of faith, their grief beyond belief turned to wonder, and their wonder turned to praise. Can you see them excitedly rushing back to Jerusalem, daring to believe?

Daughters of the King, rejoice with these sisters, for their story is ours! We, too, have seen the risen Lord in God’s Word and believe. Jesus lives! Together, we can share this epic news.

“He is not here. He is risen, just as he said!” Hallelujah!

Happy Easter!

Written by Marilyn Sievert

Make me see

Make me see – Women’s Devotion

Make me see your great distress, anguish, and affliction,
bonds and stripes and wretchedness and your crucifixion;
make me see how scourge and rod, spear and nails did wound you,
how for them you died, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.
Christian Worship 402:2

I love beautiful paintings of Jesus loving little children, smiling, and blessing them. I love images that reflect his warming love and peaceful grace; the comforting reminders that I am his child.

But that is not the picture here. We sing, “Make me see your great distress”—and not just a general view—this haunting melody drives us to remember the anguish that must have distorted his face and body; the affliction as he suffered the punishment of hell. Bonds and stripes, wretchedness—this is not a pleasant image, but the hymn writer knows we need to dwell here. MAKE ME see how scourge and rod, spear and nails did wound you! My tender heart says, “No! Don’t make me look!” but my spirit cries out to see his incomparable suffering—to look—and to remember. Because what I see in that wretched image is the payment for sin. “How for them you died, O God, who with thorns had crowned you.” This is how it had to happen; how God would accomplish it! The death of Christ paid for the sins of those who whipped stripes into his body without mercy. It bought forgiveness for those who mockingly crowned him with thorns. His bloody sacrifice was poured out for those who hatefully crucified him.

And then as I look, I see it. I see the payment for my sins. I see that all my failures and shortcomings drove the whips and nails into his body. It was my guilt that caused him the torment of hell. As much as it grieves me to look, and as uncomfortable as I am with the image—it is what I need to see. I must look to remember the price of sin and the depth of his love. I must look so I never become casual about Christ, never lukewarm or ungrateful. I will look because the darkness of hell and ugliness of sin make the gospel that much sweeter and oh, so needed. What a blessing to look—to be driven to embrace his forgiveness.

Make yourself look—you’ll never take grace for granted again.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as I meditate on your passion, burn on my heart the image of your suffering that I always remember how desperately I need you. Remind me that without your payment for sin, I would suffer in hell for eternity. I know my sins caused your suffering, and I repent of them Lord and pray for your forgiveness. Give me the assurance that because you suffered, died, and rose my salvation is secure. You are my Savior. Let me never take that for granted, but let it instill in me a desire to love you and seek you in your Word. Thank you, Jesus, for all you have done to make me yours. In your holy name I pray. Amen.

Written by Naomi Schmidt

Closed Doors

Closed Doors – Women’s Devotion

“When God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window.” If you have watched The Sound of Music as many times as I have, you will recognize that as a line spoken by the Reverend Mother to Maria. Even if you haven’t seen the movie (gasp!), you have probably heard a similar statement. It’s not from the Bible, though the intent behind the quote could be considered biblical. Basically, it’s a reminder that God is working everything out for our good and that his path may be different from ours. It’s a comforting thought, but I heard a pastor speak a few days ago who made me think about that quote in a very different way.

He challenged the idea of open doors and windows, and suggested that God doesn’t always work that way. He referenced John 20, when the disciples were hiding together with the “doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders.” Thomas wasn’t there the first time, and was still doubtful that God’s plan was in place and that Jesus was even alive. It was not until Thomas was locked in that room with nowhere to go that he actually saw the truth. It was only there that he was in a place to reach out and touch his Savior.

Sometimes God uses closed doors and windows. I love the joy that comes with being a Christian. When I’m going through a difficulty, I always try to look for the good, for a way out, for where God might be leading me. But sometimes that’s not clear. Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be any good at all. Sometimes there is no way out and no clear path, and it seems like all the doors and windows are shut. Christians suffer sometimes, with no earthly resolution in sight. Some of our Christian brothers and sisters in other parts of the world are suffering horrifically right now. And you don’t even have to go that far. Christians are suffering here too—in this country, in this state, in your church, maybe in your home.

Have you ever felt locked in a room of suffering with no doors or windows to escape? Do you feel that way right now? If you do, I won’t presume to tell you exactly why God has you there. I don’t know when or if he’ll ease your earthly suffering by opening up a window or a door. But I know this: Jesus is in the room with you. He meets us in locked rooms—where the only place to go is into his arms. He stands face to face with us as we cry to him in despair and as we listen to his words of truth. Paul knew that suffering can bring us closer to our Savior.

“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10).

Jesus suffered and even asked for a way out—a different door to walk through. But God didn’t give him one. Our suffering gives us a glimpse into his, and into the intense love that led him to go through so much for us. The One who loved us enough to die for us will be with us in our trials. Closed doors and windows don’t matter in the end, because Jesus himself is the Door—to peace during suffering now, and to the end of all suffering in heaven.

“Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door…. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10:7,9 NKJV)

Written by Sarah Reik

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Renewal – Women’s Devotion

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

January freshness. New calendars. Fun Day-Timers. Blank squares.

We love the feeling of starting again, and the New Year brings many reminders of what we hope will be different. But before you enjoy the beautiful new things that are coming, look at what has been thrown away. A scribbled, grimy calendar in the kitchen. A tattered Day-Timer with loose pages and messy sticky notes. Lists and reminders that never let us rest. Toss them in the garbage and start over!

The words of Psalm 51:10 bring us encouragement and hope for spiritual newness. God’s grace and the washing of rebirth is so much more than a new calendar. Its fresh hope brings a daily treasure we need more than a Day-Timer. Forgiveness in Christ. Eternal life. Joy. But the words that precede this verse tell us about what is thrown out in our spiritual lives. Worse than grimy, tattered calendars, our sin is filthy baggage that needs to be taken out. “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge” (Psalm 51:4).

Jesus does that for you. He comes and takes everything dirty, hopeless, and ugly and destroys it with his death on the cross. Every new day he wakes you with the promise of new life purchased for you by the blood of Jesus. Each moment you are covered with his love. Everything is pure and renewed because of him.

Written by Naomi Schmidt

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Thankful on Repeat

Thankful on Repeat – Women’s Devotion

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Psalm 118:29

Has anyone ever said to you, “I can’t thank you enough!”? Usually that phrase means the person is so grateful to you that they don’t feel they could even convey the extent of their gratitude. You have blessed them greatly and they are truly appreciative. They may even say, “Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

David proclaims his thankfulness to God. He thanks him for his goodness, mercy, and love. He states that that the Lord is with him, and that he will not be afraid. He declares that he almost fell, but that the Lord helped him. He joyfully expresses that the “gates of righteousness are open for him, and he will enter and give thanks to the Lord.”

Friends, we have what David is thankful for! We can be thankful for the exact same promises because they are ours through Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. We can wake up every single day and recite the praise of verse 24, “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” God keeps his promise to be with us always. He never leaves us or forsake us. He has our times in his hands, and he has plans for our future.

We can’t thank God enough for his everlasting love and blessings that he graciously showers over our lives. Our blessings abound, yes in our earthly lives, but most importantly in the promise of an eternal life with him in heaven. Undeservedly, we have inherited the blessing of heaven. Praise God!

Put your thanksgiving to the Lord on repeat. Let it never be something that wanes in the background of your life. “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever” Psalm 118:29.

Written by Jennifer Mueller

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Autumn’s Reminder

Autumn’s Reminder – Women’s Devotion

If you live in a climate where the leaves are turning, you know how beautiful the season of autumn can be. Lush green landscapes transform into brilliant layers of red, orange, yellow, and gold. Breezes carry the whisper of impending change as those leaves hang on, summer’s swan song, portraying God’s beautiful creation with colorful splendor.

Yes, creation has a way of preaching beautiful truths about our Creator God. “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). The autumn leaves can prompt us to think about our Creator God who is also our Savior God. Those lovely leaves are about to let go and fall to the ground, their work complete. And that’s a beautiful picture of what Jesus did for us.

The whole story—the words those lovely leaves cannot speak—is found on the pages of Scripture. In God’s Word we learn that true loveliness is more than meets the eye. “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). When Jesus’ work was fully complete, he let go of his life. His brilliant, perfect season on earth inspired and amazed many people, and it had to come to an end in order to usher in a new season—one in which the world’s sins are paid in full.

Fallen leaves have no life in them. They wither and are trampled and buried. Likewise, our sinful selves died with Christ. That old version was crucified and buried with him, as the apostle Paul describes in Romans 6. But God did not leave us to blow in the wind or wither on the ground. Paul continues: “Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). That’s a promise of eternal life, and it’s also a promise for this life: Each day we repentant sinners are empowered to lead more love-filled and lovely lives because we are alive in Christ.

The falling leaves serve as a reminder to repent regularly—to let go of the previous season and confidently arise to a new and glorious season in Christ. “If anyone is in Christ… The old has gone, the new is here!” (Ephesians 5:17).

Written by Angie Molkentin

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The Light of Christ in the Family

The Light of Christ in the Family – Women’s Devotion

Light changes things. The discovery of a light switch brings relief to fingers fumbling along a dark wall and makes the space visible. A steady beam from a flashlight makes a dark path take shape during a late-night walk on a camping trip. Light makes the invisible visible and the dangerous more secure. As Christians, we too are changed by the Light. As Saul walked along the path to Damascus on his way to arrest believers, a Light stopped him in his tracks. Jesus called Saul from that blinding light and converted him from a life of sin to a life of service. Now, Saul changed to Paul, but not in name alone. He was changed from an enemy of Christ and a persecutor of the Way to one of the greatest missionaries of all time proclaiming the grace of Jesus to the ends of the Roman Empire.

We too have been changed by the Light. The details of our conversion are different, but in the same way Jesus, the Light of the world, called us to himself and made us his children when we were baptized. Through the work of the Holy Spirit and the Word, we were changed from sinner to saint, from enemy to dear child and from dead to alive. That Light shifted our trajectory from a life of self service to one of Christ service. The apostle Paul reiterated that point in his letter to the Ephesians, “For you were once darkness but now you are light in the Lord.” (5:8) What we once were, we can no longer remain.

The light of Jesus not only changes who we are, but it changes how we live. Because of the grace of Jesus, we want to serve him in every facet of our life and reflect his love and light into the lives of others. Paul’s instructions to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21) become our mantra as we work to serve others in humility out of love for our Savior Jesus. As we reflect the light of Christ in our homes, we pray that the Lord would use that light. We pray that in a sinful world characterized by strife and brokenness, our Christian homes might become a beacon of light in the darkness. A light that draws others to learn of the peace of forgiveness of sins and eternal life that is found in Christ Jesus alone.

Written by Katie Martin

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Impress Them

Impress Them – Women’s Devotion

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.
Deuteronomy 6:6-9

That first day. I’ve dropped off our sons at kindergarten, taken them to college. I’ve sat by the phone waiting to hear how my grandchild’s first day went. Exciting days and if we’re honest, days that have a little bit of anxiousness.

We adults can experience some anxiousness as the new school year begins whether our child is starting kindergarten or college. As a mom, grandmother, aunt, or dear friend of a child, you may be wondering about this year for the child you care for so much. “Have I done enough to get him ready? Now that she is in school, what is my role, my job in preparing her for life in this world?”

What a gift and what a responsibility it is when the Lord blesses us with a child in our lives. We teach them about crossing the street, kindness toward others, and even how to drive a car. In Deuteronomy, the Lord reminds us of the most important lessons we share with our children—telling them about him. These verses provide a great picture of how and when we do this.

“Impress them.” These are not light words. When you teach a child to cross the street, you are emphatic about their safety. How much more so when we teach our children about their Savior. “This is a big deal—the most important thing to know!” you remind them.

“Talk about them when you…” We aren’t to limit our talk about faith to reading a Bible story, mealtime prayers, family devotions. It’s woven into everything we do. Through our conversations and modeling, we are impressing on our children God’s love, forgiveness and mercy.

So, what does this look like? First, pray for and pray with your child every day. Consider a simple prayer or blessing as they leave the house each morning. Recommit to daily family devotions. Encourage your child to lead a prayer in their own words. Ask them to share one blessing and one challenge they had and how God could guide them. Remind them often how they were lovingly and uniquely created by God with their own characteristics and gifts. Tell them again and again about Jesus who loves them, forgives them, and is with them at all times.

As our oldest son drove off for the first time, a dear friend reminded me that the Lord loves him more than I can imagine and will be with him. God loves your child dearly. As you start your day, head off to work, shuttle your children here and there, know that God is with you and with them, with his grace and mercy each and every day. May the Lord bless you and them as you grow in faith in Jesus.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I am so grateful for your love for this child that is so dear to me. Be with them, Lord. Protect them and remind them of your grace for them. Help me to be an encourager for them as they grow in faith in you. In your name I pray. Amen.

Written by Cindi Holman

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Gospel Gems of Ephesians

Gospel Gems of Ephesians – Women’s Devotion

When you were younger, you may have been told to open the card or read the tag before you unwrapped a gift. You know gifts are wonderful—but knowing who gave you the gift and recognizing the love and kindness that has been expressed is truly priceless.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).

God’s gift of grace brings forgiveness, love, gifts, and a purpose for this life. But it also brings you into relationships with other believers because the single message of faith in Christ binds us together.

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation (Ephesians 1:13).

God joins us in Christ for his glory and strengthens us to share his love and spread his gospel. He guides believers, fills them with his Spirit, and leads them in righteousness.

In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord (Ephesians 2:21).

But even as this holy temple rises with truth and holiness, it will face struggles. It will grieve in hardship and long for Scripture’s wisdom when it faces division.

Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).

God equips us for every struggle. His Spirit, sacraments, and Word give believers everything they need to follow his will and obey his commands. His armor provides our greatest defense against the devil, the world, and our flesh. His weaponry is the Spirit-filled truth of Scripture and its glorious Savior, Jesus Christ.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes (Ephesians 6:10-11).

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have chosen us to be your daughters, washed us clean, and given us a holy purpose. We pray that in this life we would be vessels of truth and witnesses of your love. Bind us together in faith as we strive to love one another and work as one body. Keep us united in your Word and encourage us as we stand side by side in your name. Strengthen us with every perfect truth of Scripture as we live in your victory and righteousness. Amen.

Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Rev. Donn Dobberstein

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Citizens of God’s Holy Nation

Citizens of God’s Holy Nation – Women’s Devotion

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”
1 Peter 2:9

Before God gave me the blessing of being a stay-at-home mom, he provided for me through a career working with immigrants. Many had escaped oppressive and corrupt governments. They eagerly anticipated the day they would become naturalized citizens of the United States. This lengthy process includes waiting a required number of years, learning English and civics, passing a citizenship test, and, finally, pledging loyalty to the United States in an emotional naturalization ceremony.

Those of us who were born in the United States became citizens automatically. We did not need to go through a naturalization process. Yet, spiritually, all of us who follow Jesus Christ are naturalized citizens of God’s holy nation.

We did not automatically become citizens of God’s nation by our births. The reality is that we were born into a kingdom darker and more evil than even the worst earthly government. We were born under a ruler more cruel and tyrannical than even the most terrible earthly despot. What is more, we had no hope of ever being able to escape that dark kingdom and live as free men and women. The Bible tells us that we were slaves to sin (Romans 6:6), living under Satan’s control (1 John 5:19), and powerless to do anything about it (Romans 5:6).

We needed someone to break the devil’s power and rescue us from sin. We needed a way to escape from Satan’s evil kingdom and gain entrance into God’s holy nation. For that reason, God sent Jesus to earth. He came to destroy the devil’s work (1 John 3:8) and set the oppressed free (Luke 4:18). He accomplished his mission by living a perfect, sinless life in our place, and dying to pay the penalty for our sins. His resurrection from the dead then proved that he had crushed Satan’s power. The Holy Spirit has called each of us personally out of slavery in Satan’s kingdom of darkness. In our baptisms, God has given us a new status as full-fledged citizens of his own kingdom of perfect light.

This holy nation is comprised of you and me and all other believers from every corner of the globe. We are all holy because Jesus’ blood has cleansed us of sin, and the perfection of his life of obedience has been credited to us. We are all holy because God has set us apart from the rest of the world to serve him alone.

The naturalized U.S. citizens I came to know through my work simply bubbled over with gratitude. They were eager to tell me what this country had given them and why it was the greatest nation on earth. Their love for the U.S. shone not only in their words, but also in their work, their friendships, in short, in every aspect of their lives.

Our new lives as citizens of God’s holy nation are filled with opportunities to declare his praises. The Greek word translated “praises” in 1 Peter 2:9 literally means “excellent virtues” or “excellent works.” Witnessing with our words is one important way that we declare God’s excellent works and virtues. But we also declare his praises in everything we do. First Corinthians 10:31 says that our eating, our drinking, and whatever we do may be done to God’s glory. We declare his praises when we “tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD,” (Psalm 78:4) by having home devotions or by inviting neighborhood families to Vacation Bible School. We declare his praises when we show patience with our cranky children. We declare his praises when we show respect for a difficult boss. Every circumstance becomes an opportunity to give evidence of God’s excellent virtues and works.

Naturalized citizens of the United States know that a great privilege has been conferred upon them. We as naturalized citizens of a much greater nation recognize the tremendous gift that God has conferred upon us. He rescued us from slavery in Satan’s evil kingdom. He cleansed us of sin through Jesus’ blood. He made us full-fledged citizens of his holy nation. He gives us opportunities to serve him, not as slaves, but as free women and men. In every role, every relationship, and every situation, let us declare the praises of our amazing God.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I thank you for the wonderful privilege and honor of belonging to your holy nation of believers. Forgive me for the times I have failed to appreciate this gift. Enable me to take full advantage of all the opportunities you give me to declare your praises. In the name of my Savior, Jesus, Amen.

Written by Mollie Schairer
Reviewed by Professor Lyle Lange

Thanking God for Dads – Women’s Devotion

Thanking God for Dads – Women’s Devotion

Dads, we thank God for you. We celebrate your godly leadership. We acknowledge the weighty responsibility you carry. We bring our petitions to the Lord on your behalf. We support you, we respect you, and we cherish you.

We thank God that you keep fighting. You realize that this is not peacetime, and the battle is fierce. In a world that seeks to destroy not only godly fatherhood, but even the very concept of manhood, you stand up as the man God made you to be. You strive to fulfill your calling as head of the household. Daily you resist the pressures of our culture and the temptations of the Devil. Rather than chase after every “opportunity” for yourself and your children, you spend time in God’s Word and with fellow believers. Rather than use God’s loaned resources on earthly treasures, you store up heavenly riches for your family. Rather than conform to society’s norms, you teach your children God’s code of conduct, and guide them in following it no matter the consequences. You do battle each day, under the leadership and protection of your own Head, the ultimate Warrior, Jesus Christ.

We thank God that you keep loving. You understand the need to show mercy and to sacrifice yourself. You convey your love through the words you speak to your children, and the time you spend with them. You communicate to your family, “You are valuable to me.” Your children know tenderness. They know what it means to be forgiven. As you live out your calling, you remember the mercy that God has shown you. Your self-sacrifice is modeled after Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice of a life lived perfectly in your place, and laid down at the cross for you. His sacrifice frees you from a guilty conscience over failures as a father. Your Heavenly Father has no memory of them, and He treats you accordingly. You embrace as your example His merciful love toward you, as you teach your family that they, too, have received mercy through Jesus.

Dads, we rejoice that God has called you to fatherhood. We praise God that you are carrying out this calling by His power. Whether you are our own fathers, our godly grandpas, our sons now raising the next generation, or brothers not by blood but by the Holy Spirit, we thank God for you.

Written by Mollie Schweppe

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When Mother’s Day Hurts – Women’s Devotion

When Mother’s Day Hurts – Women’s Devotion

For many Christian women, Mother’s Day is wonderful. It sparkles with expressions of love and appreciation; it highlights Scripture’s praise of motherhood. There is thankfulness and joy, food, and celebrations. And we rejoice with those who rejoice.

But we also mourn with those who mourn, because for many women, Mother’s Day is not wonderful. There are empty wombs, empty cribs, and empty arms. The hearts of some are not just empty but shattered. Scripture describes the days and nights of one in sorrow: a couch drenched in tears and a bed flooded with weeping. There is silencing grief over the loss of a child or an indescribable aching over that which has not been given. The depth of these pains cannot be expressed with words.

Your sisters in Christ ache with you. We love you and pray for you, longing to comfort you with the hope of Christ. We point you to the Psalms where God himself promises to heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds. He says he is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

God’s comfort and hope is Christ. He comes to you this day as always and stands by your side, so you are never alone. He understands everything you are going through because he knows everything about you and he loves you. He loves you.

Rest in the palm of his hand and find your refuge in His mighty fortress. Trust him in the stillness of your soul and pour out your heart to him. You are loved dear sister, and we entrust you to the arms of your Savior.

Scripture referenced above: Psalm 6:6, Psalm 147:3, Psalm 34:18, Hebrews 4:15, Psalm 139, Jeremiah 31:3, Isaiah 49:16, Psalm 46:1, Psalm 62:5-6, Psalm 46:10, Psalm 62:8.

Written by Naomi Schmidt

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Make It Last – Women’s Devotion

Make It Last – Women’s Devotion

Have you ever noticed that the Gospels share the story of the resurrection in just four chapters? While the epistles often reference the significance of the resurrection, the resurrection story itself is told in just over 100 verses. It’s over so quickly!

And in those accounts women are hurrying, disciples are running, guards are reporting, and chief priests are devising. There’s just so much busyness.

In some ways, the same could be said about Easter celebrations. You get up early to greet others with, “He is risen! Indeed!” But all too quickly the sun is setting. A new week begins. And you have to wait an entire year to celebrate the best thing that ever happened to you.

So, in a fast-paced, over-too-quickly, busyness-filled world this week after Easter, it’s appropriate to pause, ponder, and consider Easter’s meaning for your today.

After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me” (Matthew 28-1-10).

These women were the first to meet the risen Lord. Their encounter simply and beautifully shows how Jesus makes what happened the first Easter last longer than a one-day celebration.

Jesus Comes to You

Just as the women were met and greeted by Jesus, he will always come to you. You don’t have to find him, prove yourself, get cleaned up, figure it out, or have all the answers for Jesus to meet you right where you are. And there, his Word greets you daily with love, forgiveness, encouragement, and direction.

That’s Jesus. He meets you on the way to whatever you are intent on to give you himself. Jesus comes to you!

Jesus Comforts You

The Bible says the women were “afraid yet filled with joy” while at the same time hurrying and running. Today we’d call that “a mess.” Can you imagine?

Better question: Can you relate?

If most days feel like an emotional, mental, and physical discombobulation, Jesus’ words are spoken to you as well. “Do not be afraid!”

He knows what you’re dealing with, how you’re not coping, and why you don’t understand. But more importantly, He knows that he lived your life, died your death, and came alive on Easter so you will too. And because of that, your mess no longer matters. Instead, with his Word, Jesus comforts you!

Jesus Commissions You

Of all the people in Jerusalem, the fearful, confused, and grieving disciples needed to see Jesus the most. And so, Jesus told the women to, “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

Do you know someone like that? Grieving, fearful, confused, hiding away? Jesus knows them too. As he did with the women, Jesus asks you to go to them. To share the good news that comforts you found in his Word. And to tell them they will see Jesus there. Jesus commissions you!

Though the Easter celebration ends too quickly, the events of that day continue into eternity. Through the Word, Jesus still comes to you, comforts you, and commissions you to share the Easter message with those who need it most.

Easter Blessings!

Written by Dawn Schulz

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When Being Right Rots the Relationship – Women’s Devotion

When Being Right Rots the Relationship – Women’s Devotion

I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The LORD is my portion: therefore I will wait for him.
Lamentations 3:19-24

I collapsed onto the couch thinking, “What just happened?” Yesterday my husband and I were laughing together, our relationship light and fun. But tonight had spiraled into an ugly tennis match, with one petty exchange after another lobbed across the nets of driving skills, work schedules, and housekeeping responsibilities. How had we gone from snuggling on the sofa one day to hunkering in opposite corners of the house the next? After 32 years of marriage shouldn’t we have figured this out? Yet we still fall into our sinful, reflexive responses. And each time the pain is fresh, raw, and dividing.

And I begin to ruminate. I turn comments over in my mind, re-think verbal exchanges, and over-analyze situations. I lay blame and nurse my wounds, stubbornly crafting a convincing mental list of why I’m right . . . and why he’s wrong.

Jeremiah, the traditional author of Lamentations, understood pain, separation, and relational discord. His calls for repentance were roundly ignored. He was mocked, beaten, imprisoned, and rejected by neighbors and family for prophesying Jerusalem’s destruction. If anybody had the right to compile a list of why he was right and others were seriously wrong, it was Jeremiah!

Yet Jeremiah knew he had a choice. When he chose to remember his “affliction and [his] wandering, the bitterness and the gall,” his soul became “downcast within [him].” Focusing on his troubles didn’t bring him peace. Ruminating injustice became a weight dragging his soul into depression.

“Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope . . . . I say to myself . . . . ”

Did you catch it? Jeremiah shows us there’s a way to break the cycle of negative thinking, this cycle that pulls us down and away from love, restoration and hope. The first thing to do any time there’s trouble in a relationship is to “call to mind” God and remember his goodness: “The LORD is my portion: therefore I will wait for him.” List out the ways God loves you, from the unfathomable gift of forgiveness in Jesus right down to the extra pairs of underwear in your dresser drawer!

By doing that you’ll stop the cycle of negative rumination. Then it’s time to turn your thoughts to God’s goodness in your marriage. “Call to mind” what’s strong in your spouse instead of what’s wrong. Is he a faithful provider? Does he play with the kids? Is he handy around the house? Can he change a diaper? Does he help the neighbors? Has he made you laugh? Does he worship with you? Focusing on your husband’s strengths can help soften a defensive heart.

Initially, I sat on the couch that evening choosing to “remember” aspects of my husband’s character that I thought needed rehabbing . . . a choice that pulled me farther from him and his love. Worse still, it led me away from God’s love and his will for my marriage. But the Holy Spirit nudged me to a better choice. He turned my heart upward in prayer, peeling my fingers from my selfish need to be right, and focusing instead on how blessed I am by my husband.

We sat down the next day, apologizing and working through the issues of the night before. It won’t be the last time we mess up and have to do this dance again. But God is working in our hearts and our marriage, helping us remember his blessings, call to mind his compassion, and move us to sacrificially offer that compassion to each other . . . new every morning.

Prayer: Gracious God, you desire marriage to be a mirror of our relationship with you. Help me see you when I look at my husband, to remember he also has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. You desire us to care for others as you care for us. Help me focus on what’s strong instead of what’s wrong in all my relationships, living out the sacrificial love of my Savior with everyone in my life. Your faithfulness is great. I trust you to crush my selfish heart and renew my mind. In Christ’s saving name I pray. Amen.

To Do: Right now, make a list of the qualities you love about your spouse. Why did I marry him? How does he support me? What is he good at? How does he serve others? Ask yourself regularly, “Do I want to be right, or do I want to be in a relationship with my husband?”

Pay Attention: What triggers your emotional responses? Take time to write out what is on your heart, praying God will reveal the backstory to your gut reactions. Ask the Holy Spirit for his peace and insight. Seek counsel from a trusted friend, your pastor, or a professional therapist. STOP the cycle of reaction, retreat, rumination, and retaliation.

Pray: Set a reminder on your phone to pray regularly for your husband. Consider using the WELS Women’s Ministry resource “Prayers to Bless Your Husband”. Ask a trusted friend to pray for you and your spouse. Seek Christian marriage counseling if needed.

Written by Gina Grove
Reviewed by Pastor David Valleskey

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Change – Women’s Devotion

Change – Women’s Devotion

Change is hard. For all of us, at any age.

This past year, we transitioned our two-year-old from her crib in the nursery to a toddler bed in the room she now shares with her older sister. Our five-month-old had outgrown the bassinette in Mom and Dad’s room, and she really needed the crib. Time for my two-year-old to upgrade to a “big girl bed.”

Only she didn’t see it as an upgrade.

I’ll never forget that first night. She was absolutely beside herself—confused, frightened, frustrated, angry. Her torrent of sobs wrenched my heart. I sat by her bed, trying to soothe her, rubbing her little back, waiting out the storm.

Change. It stirs up quite a storm in us big people too. And changes involving our church can be some of the hardest.

We look to our church as a refuge from a stressful and scary world. We take comfort in our Sunday morning routine, in familiar ways of worship, in a church calendar that stays the same from year to year. We love the familiarity of our pastor and longtime staff. We breathe a sigh of relief walking through church doors, finding security in our church building itself.

When change hits, we feel that our security has been ripped away. Then we may let the stormy waves of fear or anger overtake us.

We may even try to stop the change, or make it unsuccessful, with sinful actions or sinful inaction. We may hurt our leaders, and our body of believers as a whole, with sinful words or sinful silence. We may question why God allowed the change, and how it could be good for us or for our church.

God does not keep silent or answer us in anger, though his anger would be justified. In love, this is what he tells us:

“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9).

From my vantage point as an adult and a parent, on that difficult night I saw a much bigger picture than my distressed two-year-old could see. This change ultimately was good for her and necessary for our whole family. Always, I explain what I can. But there is much I cannot explain because she cannot comprehend it.

The change with which we struggle fits into a much bigger whole. The “big picture” our Almighty Creator sees is infinitely, infinitely more than we could ever comprehend. The children’s song has it right: No matter how things look with our limited vision, he’s got the whole world, including our church, including this change, in his hands.

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

Yes, our faithful God is working all things, all things, even a difficult transition, for our good.

If he promised to send a Savior and did it; if he promised to raise Jesus from the dead and did it; if he promised to send the Holy Spirit to give us faith and power and did it; then let us trust him when he assures us all things.

He works this change for my good, personally. And he works always for the good of his church as a whole, his beloved family.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the Shadow of the Almighty. He will cover you with his feathers and under his wings you will find refuge” (Psalm 91:1,4).

God himself provides the security we crave and the protection we need. He knows that these cannot come from a building, a worship format, a routine, a schedule, or our called workers. Change can reveal that we were relying on these blessings from God for our sense of security, rather than on him. He wants to shelter us by the only means we can be protected eternally—through his Word and Sacraments. These he uses to pull us and keep us under the safety and security of his wings.

“The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

Her first night in the new toddler bed, I was right there beside my daughter. Our Heavenly Father, our perfect parent, assures us that he goes with us into those hard transitions, and never leaves our side.

As a mom, I love my children so much, and yet that love is only a dim shadow of God’s love for us. We are so precious to him that he sent his Son to pay for our sins of failing to trust in his presence and his good purpose during times of change. Jesus paid too for our sinful words, actions, and our failures to act and speak. He carried our sins of clinging to God’s blessings rather than to God alone. He was forsaken by God, so that we could become God’s children and live under the awesome assurance that our Father will never abandon us.

For us, his precious children, he employs all his wisdom and strength to work every change for our good, to make us truly secure in him, and to stay with us always. His words of truth, comfort, and love enable us to face any difficult transition with hope and even joy.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I praise you for your wisdom and power, acknowledging that these are far above my own. Forgive me for sinning against you during times of change. In humility, I thank you for working all transitions for my good, and never leaving my side. Strengthen my church, my church body, and your body of believers everywhere. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.


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Prepared to face the world – Women’s Devotion

Prepared to face the world – Women’s Devotion

As every mom knows, kids’ worlds come with helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, wrist pads and special shoes. Then we send them off with a “Be careful” warning. Why? Because we want them to be alert and safe from the many hazards that surround their young lives.

In Scripture God also gives us many “Be careful” warnings, along with some special pads and helmets to keep us safe from the hazards of our world. Every good warrior knows the ways of his enemy. Peter tells us, “Be controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (I Peter 5:8). The king of the jungle is prowling around, sly, well camouflaged, quiet, but ever so alert, relentless and focused, looking for the smallest crack where he can slip in. He’s hungry and committed, and will not give up until he finds and devours that weak, separated, unprepared or distracted prey. If you are a believer, you are the prey he is after. If you escape him this time, he doesn’t give up but keeps trying over and over.

God in his grace does not simply say “Be careful” and then leave us on our own in this jungle of life. Just as we dress our kids with their “armor”, God tells us how to be a wise soldier, well protected against our enemy and fully covered by strong armor.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God (Ephesians 6:10-17).

The belt of truth, the gospel, teaches us to recognize the lies of Satan, the king of lies. Our breastplate of righteousness is a gift given us through Christ’s death and resurrection. It is Christ’s righteousness alone that covers and protects us, making our hearts his own. As we study Scripture, the Holy Spirit uses his truth to fill our hearts to overflowing, making it harder and harder for Satan’s lies to deceive us. We lean on Christ and use him as our shield to stop the arrows that seek to find their mark in any little spot that is unprotected. Our head is protected by the helmet of his Word. As we keep Scripture at the center of our thoughts, maybe even memorizing verses so they are readily available, our minds are able to recognize and fight against Satan’s attacks with the words of God himself. Now that we have our armor on, we don’t go out and fight, but we stand ready, knowing the battle is the Lord’s. Our faith in God, constantly nourished by the means of grace, allows us to recognize Satan’s lies and tell him we belong to God.

As we continually study God’s Word we use it as our defensive armor, our pads that protect us from Satan’s arrows. Our offensive weapon is God’s Word itself as we use it to fight off Satan’s attacks. We wouldn’t think of sending our children out to play without their protection, so it would not be wise to face a day without God’s Word as our offensive and defensive weapon against our constant enemy.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I praise you for your grace and mercy. Through Jesus, your dear Son, you have defeated Satan and given us the promise of eternal life with you. You have given us your precious Word that we can be protected from Satan’s attacks. For those times when Satan does break through, we ask for your forgiveness and the strength to amend our ways. Lord, help us to constantly study your Word and take it to heart, that we do not find ourselves weak or defenseless. Amen.

Written by Marilyn Miller

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The eternal gospel will be proclaimed – Women’s Devotion

The eternal gospel will be proclaimed – Women’s Devotion

“Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth –to every nation, tribe, language, and people. He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and the springs of water.’”
Revelation 14:6-7

These words we read from one of John’s recorded visions of the end of time, the time when the Lord comes in all his glory to gather “(Those who) were purchased from among mankind and offered as firstfruits to God and to the Lamb,” (Rev. 14:4) are the words chosen to be the basis for Martin Luther’s funeral sermon. At first glance they may seem an unusual choice to share with those mourning the passing from this life to the next of this instrument of God through whom Scripture, Baptism, and Holy Communion were restored to the church as the only way to come to know who God is.

Yet looking more closely, these words also describe the Spirit given confidence in the power of the gospel message Martin Luther had in life. No matter what opposition to the eternal gospel of the love God the Father showering that love through the life, suffering, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ on all those who sit on the face of the earth, God himself promises the eternal gospel will be proclaimed. Proclaiming this eternal gospel of Jesus’ life for me which gives me eternal hope, joy, and peace mine through grace alone, by faith in Jesus alone, from the words of Scripture alone is the life to which God had called Martin Luther.

Dr. Martin Luther wrote words of hymns that proclaim that Spirit given confidence in the triumph of the eternal gospel message including:

Though devils all the world should fill, all eager to devour us,
We tremble not, we fear no ill; they shall not overpow’r us.
This world’s prince may still scowl fierce as he will,
He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done!
One little Word can fell him. (Christian Worship 200:3)

And that Word is Jesus!

What about us? What about you and me? How can these inspired words from Revelation give us comfort, peace, and purpose in our lives today?

We live in times not so unlike the days of Martin Luther. We see opposition to the eternal gospel in many shapes and forms. Perhaps we see it in the false teachings from many church bodies who claim to be Christian and yet finding the eternal gospel message in their activities and message is a real challenge. Perhaps we see it in the plethora of anti-Christ religions and groups. Perhaps we see it in the competition for our time and talents in the sea of keeping up with our neighbors in material possessions, prestige, or influence. Perhaps we see opposition to proclaiming the eternal gospel from our family, friends, or co-workers as we live our lives today. Wherever God has called us to serve, whichever ministry for which God has created us as individuals, we too can rely on God’s promise that the eternal gospel will be proclaimed to the ends of the earth, “to every nation, tribe, language, and people” through his chosen messengers.

500 years ago, one of those messengers was a man by the name of Martin Luther. Perhaps the faces of “every nation, tribe, language, and people” are miles away and we can be part of sending messengers to them. But for each of us those faces are also in our families; spouses and children, parents and in-laws. Or maybe those faces are our longtime neighbors or new people with strange customs moving into our circle of acquaintances. Or maybe those faces are co-workers or friends with whom we enjoy spending time. We too have been given the eternal gospel to proclaim to those around us.

And God is faithful as he keeps his promises. The day will come when all mankind will kneel before him in fear. Some will kneel in terror of the just God who will deny knowing those who denied knowing his Son. But we will kneel before him in awe at the power and grace he has in the past and continues through the ages to shower upon his own from “every nation tribe, language, and people” because of his Son.

The Word they still shall let remain, nor any thanks have for it;
He’s by our side upon the plain with his good gifts and Spirit.
And do what they will –hate, steal, hurt, or kill—
Though all may be gone, our victory is won;
The kingdom’s ours forever! (Christian Worship 200:4)

Take time now to thank God for his faithfulness to all of his promises, especially his promise to preserve the eternal gospel through all of time. Ask your heavenly Father to help you see those to whom he has called you to proclaim the eternal gospel. Pray he will send his Spirit to give you the words. Also pray he will strengthen and preserve you as to proclaim the eternal gospel in your words backed up by godly actions and attitudes. Work and rest secure knowing you are God’s own child and he will guard and keep you through life because he is the author of the eternal gospel. Come to him through Jesus because we know God promises to hear our every word when we approach him through the Word.

Written by Kathie Wendland

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Helper suitable – Women’s Devotion

Helper suitable – Women’s Devotion

“Excuse me! I need some help here!”

Help. It’s part of life.

Think of all the help you’ve received in the last several days. Our son mowed lawn when we were gone. My husband always dries the shower and makes the salad and helps clean up. The ushers and musicians were such a help keeping order and leading us in worship yesterday. What a help it was to have so many prayers! How thankful we are for just the right help that comes at just the right time.

Helper. The one who brings the help.

Think of all the helpers who brought you help. Suitable helpers. Make a list. Add to that list all those you know who have helped others. We hold them in high regard. We want to be like them. Why, then, is there a slight lowering of that regard when we consider that we, as women, have been given the calling of “suitable helper” from the beginning of creation?

Genesis 2: 18, 20, 22-23 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him” … So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.”

Hmmm…not sure about that kind of helper. Before going further, let’s ponder the fact that the concept of “helper” is even one of the ways God identifies himself. *

Psalm 54:4 Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me.

1 John 2:1 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate [helper]** with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

John 14:26 But the Advocate [Helper], the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

What a suitable helper! What a high and holy calling it is to be considered worthy of such a position. To be included in this grand company of suitable helpers is truly amazing!

Unfortunately, Genesis 2 is followed by Genesis 3 and we find the answer to the “why, then…” above. Eve listened to the snake (Genesis 3:1-5), the snake that deceitfully replaced God’s Word with a narrative vastly different in purpose, order and outcome. It’s the same snake who keeps grabbing our attention and directing our wonder and will. But why aren’t we given the headship calling? Authority is so in the past; don’t you know about equality? Who gets credit as a helper? I’ve been given gifts that go way beyond just being a helper! Why should I help him when he’s so rude and bossy?

We live in a world directed by a narrative intent on turning what God creates as a joyful blessing into something that is redefined as cruel, unfair, unloving, and even hateful. We have a sinful nature that is needy for self-promotion and filled with pride in being our own authority. Yes, God’s plan calls for authority. But unwrapping God’s authority is like opening a wonderful gift! In it we find the man God created as head to love, provide protection, live selflessly with concern for his followers, and to be focused on the ultimate goal of saving souls. Sin taints the calling of both head and helper, but we have a Savior who points us back to the original plan. Renewed in God’s grace, forgiven and set free, we join the ranks of countless sinner/saints who rejoice in the gift of our calling as “helper suitable for him.”

Prayer: Lord God, help me to honor the awesomeness of your creation and to see the calling of head and helper as a holy gift. You are the ultimate “suitable helper” in all aspects of your Godhead as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Forgive me for the times I open your gift and leave my fingerprints of sin and selfishness all over it. Sometimes circumstances are so challenging that I end up looking more like a helper to the evil one. May your Holy Spirit work in me to be a witness to the world as I live joyfully in my calling of suitable helper according to your plan and to your glory. Amen.

* “The Hebrew word meaning “helper” …is found 31 times in the Old Testament…16 of those times the word is used for God.” Gurgel, R. & Wendland, K. Heirs Together 4th ed. p 61.
**Paraclete or advocate is another translation of the Greek Word for helper; refers to one who is called to one’s side or pleads one’s cause before a judge. Christ is the believer’s advocate with the Father.

Written by Sally Valleskey, WELS Women’s Ministry Exec Team

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A cracked wall – Women’s Devotion

A cracked wall – Women’s Devotion

This sin will become for you like a high wall, cracked and bulging, that collapses suddenly, in an instant. It will break in pieces like pottery, shattered so mercilessly that among its pieces not a fragment will be found for taking coals from a hearth or scooping water out of a cistern.
Isaiah 30:13-14

This word picture takes my breath away.

Maybe you’ve had a high wall in your life that makes you feel safe and secure—like a good reputation, esteemed career, or financial success. Those things build high, coveted walls that others dream about. Behind those walls, you feel confident, strong, and secure. Your influence and insight drive you to be assertive and self-reliant. You believe in yourself, and it feels good. This wall stands tall and it seems strong.

The first cracks in your wall aren’t a problem. Your heart races a little as you take the first inappropriate glance or the small amount of money that no one will miss. Your sense of entitlement grows, and your walls feel impenetrable. Recreational drug use becomes more frequent, or you experience the first moment you really need a drink. But your self-control seems unquestionable. One more click, just one more picture. In the false security of your high wall, it doesn’t seem to hurt anyone. No one knows. You’re still in control.

The problem is you don’t see how deeply the cracks penetrate, or how far they reach. You don’t even notice their spidery spread. By the time you do, it feels like it’s too late. It feels like you can’t stop even though you know the wall is bulging. Changing, turning, and stopping no longer seem like options. Just stay behind the wall and indulge yourself. Deny the guilt.

The poignancy of this picture is that it captures the moment your wall collapses. Instantly. Suddenly. Broken chards spewing in every direction, farther than you could’ve ever imagined. And then comes the soul piercing words that describe your life: “shattered mercilessly.”

There are no pieces left to put back together. Not even a tiny sliver that has some small value or redeeming quality. Nothing. It is shattered. The merciless reality tightens around your chest until there is no breath, no hope, and perhaps for a moment you wish there was no life. It is an image of devastation and unimaginable suffering. The shattering cannot be undone. There is no mercy as those you love see your sin and shame, and they suffer heartache and disgrace because of you. There is no mercy as your respect and security become worthless rubble. No mercy in the guilt that is now displayed in broad daylight. The pain is unfathomable.

This is a true picture of sin.

Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. Isaiah 30:18

Yet. It says, “yet.” Despite your sin and the ugly truth of what you’ve done, he will rise up to show you compassion. Listen to these words, “the Lord longs to be gracious to you.” He has already done everything required to bring you forgiveness, and he can’t wait to share it with you. As you sit in the shattered pieces of your life, God wants to be gracious to you. Hear the richness of that word, “gracious.” He’s not just coming to your side to be supportive, he is coming to bring grace. He is Christ Jesus, your Savior from sin who suffered death and the pangs of hell for you. His blood has covered your sin and guilt. The sins which smother you in shame are forgiven; they are as far as the east is from the west. God raised Jesus from the dead to prove with his almighty power that he has accepted Christ’s payment for sin on your behalf. He longs to give you his grace because it is the precious gift he paid for with the blood of his Son.

Therefore, he will rise up. “Therefore” immediately points you back to grace. Because of his grace, he will rise up to show you compassion. God cannot overlook sin. He cannot simply come to you in your brokenness and be compassionate without a payment for sin. But because of Christ’s sacrifice, his complete and timeless payment, he will rise—he will come to you—to show you compassion. He will come. See this God who extends his mercy by coming to you as you suffer alone in your chards. He does not merely call out to you, he brings salvation and compassion to you. He rises to bring it. He is the one making the effort. This compassion comes from a Savior who has been a man and lived among us. Although he was sinless, he walked this earth in our place and took the punishment for sin in his human body. He understands what sin does and has felt the wrath of God demanding justice and extracting payment. His payment for sin means you are forgiven, fully and freely. He comes to you in his Word of Truth to be your Savior and God. He gives you freedom from your slavery to sin and makes you one who loves righteousness. His grace embraces you; it brings you into his arms, into his family. It is a washing, a cleansing; it brings a filling with the Holy Spirit and a righteousness before God. It brings the gift of faith and strength that will stay with you through all that is ahead. The commitment and hope of God are new every morning, even when you struggle. It is his commitment to you, a promise and covenant that he is your God.

He longs to give this forgiveness to you because it cost him so much. He rises to come to you. He is compassionate. He forgives you because of his love for you in Christ. He brings you grace. Full and free forgiveness in Christ—it is yours.

This is a true picture of grace.

Written by Naomi Schmidt
Reviewed by Pastor David Valleskey

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It’s a mess in here – Womens Devotion

It’s a mess in here – Women’s Devotion

Last night I dreamed that my children and I traveled a great distance to visit a dear friend. While my friend and I settled into a long conversation, the kids went off to play. Suddenly, my friend became angry and asked me to leave. Surprised by her anger, I took a moment to survey my surroundings and knew exactly what had gone wrong. In just a few short minutes, my kids had completely trashed the place. Embarrassed and in shock, I attempted to have them clean up. As I helped one child clean up, another child would create a new disaster worse than the first. Finally, after what seemed like hours of cleaning and getting nowhere, I sat bolt upright in bed, wide awake. As I made my way to the kitchen and flipped on the light, the reason for the dream became apparently clear. The mess wasn’t just a dream; it was the reality of my life at the moment.

While I may be hesitant to admit it, my mess isn’t just limited to the house I share with a husband and four kids. It is the reality of my spiritual life as well. This week I was going to master that pet sin. Today, I was going to be patient with my overloaded schedule and my overtired kids. This week I was going to give myself to others instead of getting so overworked about my own problems. Today, I was going to be like Mary. I was going to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him. Instead, I was Martha fluttering around absorbed in distractions that really don’t matter. Daily, as I look in the mirror of God’s law, it’s evident that it’s a mess in here. Sins pile up, doubt and worries grow, and guilt threatens to bury me under its weight. Try as I might to clean things up, it just keeps getting worse and worse. Horrified that others might see the chaos, I attempt to create a facade that everything is in order. Yet, that doesn’t change my situation. It’s a mess in here and I can’t get it cleaned up.

Thankfully, that cleaning job isn’t up to me. Again and again, as I look at the clutter and disorder in my life, Jesus redirects my eyes. Right before Jesus began his public ministry, John the Baptist’s disciples thought he might be the Messiah. John redirected their gaze. “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) When the disciples were dealing with their own denial, desertion and the death of their dear friend, Jesus redirected their gaze. “Peace be with you… Why are you troubled and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and feet. It is I myself” (Luke 24:36-38).

When we get too caught up in the mess we’ve made of our lives, Jesus redirects us. Through his Word, he reminds us that it isn’t about us. He invites us to see the Lamb of God walking along the banks of the Jordan River living the perfect life we could not. He invites us to put our fingers in the nail marks and see the death he died for us. He invites us to see him alive on that first Easter morning and to fall on our knees before him, clasping his feet in worship. We too can be filled with joy knowing that our Lord and Savior has arisen and conquered death. ALL our sins have been washed clean. Because of Jesus, our sins no longer condemn us. Instead we stand in His grace. The sins, anxieties and messes of this life will be with us until we leave this world. But in the midst of all those trials, Jesus gives us peace that transcends all understanding.

Even though we are armed with this peace and joy, the devil continues to tempt us with his lies. The devil wants us to turn our eyes away from the one who does all things well and back to ourselves. He wants us to believe that we’re not worthy, that we’re nothing but failures, or that we’re just too big of a mess for anyone to handle. Instead of listening to the devil’s lies, listen to the gentle, loving voice of our Savior reminding us, “I have swept away your offenses like a cloud, your sins like the morning mist. Return to me, for I have redeemed you” (Isaiah 44:22). Even if my life looks like a catastrophe right now, this moment is part of God’s plan. Yes, this very moment that looks anything but perfect is woven into God’s perfect plan for me. Although I may see only chaos and disaster right now, I know how the plan ends. It ends in eternal perfection and joy at Jesus’ side in heaven.

Even better, I don’t have to make excuses before God. He knows how messy it is in here. I don’t have to explain why it happened or feel embarrassed about it. Jesus loves me in spite of it. I get to come before him daily in repentance confident that he’s already got the mess cleaned up. By his grace, God has washed me clean in the blood of the Lamb. Through faith in Jesus, he doesn’t even see the mess anymore. He sees me completely clean, completely forgiven, and dearly loved wearing a perfect white robe of righteousness.

Written by Katie Martin
Reviewed by Professor-emeritus David Valleskey

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Be patient – Womens Devotion

Be patient – Women’s Devotion

Be patient, bearing with one another in love.
Ephesians 4:2b

My charming, articulate and all-around lovely three year-old daughter still is not potty trained. We were making fantastic headway and had even switched over to big girl panties. Then she started going through three or four outfits a day.

Now, it can be a struggle just to get her on the toilet. Once parked there, she often asks for privacy, and I leave to stand just outside the always-propped-open door. The other day, as I was heading for my post, she called back to me: “Mom, let me know if you need me! And let me know when your patience is gone! I love you!”

Since then, she regularly inquires about my patience, and my husband’s. When I call him on his way home from work, she fires questions into the phone: “Daddy, so, how’s your drive? And how’s your day? And how’s your patience?”

How’s your patience? A great question, really. This little girl, young as she is, certainly comprehends that Mom or Dad’s patience-o-meter is critical to the whole family’s well-being.

Patience running out? Uh oh. Dark clouds ahead. Patience gone? Winter storm warning!

“Be patient, bearing with one another in love.” St. Paul’s passionate appeal to the Ephesian Christians, and again to the Colossians (3:12-13), is as relevant to my intimate family relationships in 2017 as it was to the first century Christian church.

Be patient.

Be patient with the child who “refuses” to be potty trained. Be patient with the husband who arrives home exhausted from a trying day and harried commute. Be patient with the wife who forgot (again) to pay the medical bill propped up against an old banana on the kitchen table.

We continually bear with our family members and strive to put up with their foibles and faults not because they deserve patient treatment. We know they often don’t. We practice constant “long-suffering” (see the King James Version of this verse) simply for the sake of God’s perfect patience with us.

He bore with us in love when he came to live as one of us. His whole life on earth, his every interaction with others, and his submissive death on the cross displayed the long-suffering that accomplished our salvation. He paid for all our sins of impatience. Through faith in him, Jesus’ lifestyle of humble, tireless patience is credited to us.

And even now when we stumble, his patience towards us never runs out. He is always with us, forgiving us, reassuring us, and enabling us to reflect his perfect patience to those around us, especially to those closest to us.

So, how’s your patience, sisters?

Resting secure in God’s boundless patience, we can say with confidence that, yes, we have the patience to meet the day’s frustrations and challenges. Today and every day.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you know intimately the challenges that I face in showing patience toward the people you have put in my life. I have failed so often to bear with others in love. Forgive me. Thank you, dear Savior, for paying in full the price for these failures. Thank you for your life of perfect patience, lived in my place. Give me strength today to reflect your patience to others. Amen.

Written by Mollie Schairer

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