Transformed – teen devotion – October 3, 2022

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

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

Lord, Increase Our Faith that Delights in Duty

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Lasting contentment comes from Christ, our heavenly treasure.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

The Found Are Left; the Lost are Found

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Put down What You Love; Pick Up What You Loathe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 28, 2022

Where you sit makes all the difference – and thanks to Jesus, we’re sitting at his table.

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to eat in the house of a prominent Pharisee, he was being carefully watched.

When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Then Jesus said to his host, “When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors; if you do, they may invite you back and so you will be repaid. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
Luke 14:1, 7-14

The Humble Will Be Exalted; The Exalted Will Be Humbled

Where you sit makes all the difference. That’s definitely the case when you’re on a 16-hour international flight. Flying coach on a flight that long is brutal. Good luck trying to get comfortable. Those airbuses pack you on like sardines. You can’t really recline your seat. Your knees are constantly digging into the row in front of you. If you don’t get an aisle seat, good luck trying to get up and stretch or go to the bathroom. Even if you do get an aisle seat, good luck trying to sleep, because it seems like everyone on that plane is going to step on your foot walking up and down that aisle. Flying coach on a 16-hour international flight is brutal. Flying business class is a completely different story.

I was at the Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee gearing up for one of those 16-hour flights. I had a layover in Chicago first. While we waited to board, I got to talking with a guy named Bill—who, turned out, was also a Christian. We pretty much talked all the way to Chicago. But before we parted ways, he asked for the flight number on my 16-hour trip. Then he made a phone call and upgraded my flight from economy to business! Can you believe it? A complementary glass of champagne as soon as you sit down and cake and ice cream for dessert. But what really makes business class awesome is the upgraded seat: a seat that completely reclines, a seat with padded armrests, a seat with all the legroom in the world. On a 16-hour flight, where you sit makes all the difference.

You get that impression—where you sit makes all the difference—in our story for today as we see and hear those guests selfishly fight over those coveted seats of honor at that Sabbath dinner party. And while we may not be fighting over chairs at parties, that same “me first” attitude beats in our hearts, too. It vies for the spotlight whenever it can. A “me first” attitude never listens—just demands that others listen. “Me first” motivation doesn’t serve those who can’t return the favor. The “me first” attitude redefines people as props and accessories for our own selfish wants. We look down on those who don’t have their lives together. We might even convince ourselves that God is lucky to have us on his team. We might even convince ourselves that somehow, we deserve to have the best seat of honor not just in worldly banquets, but also at God’s. Such pride blinds us of the fact that the key currency in God’s economy is his unconditional love. We forget about the great equalizer that puts us all in the same category, that earned us all not the seats of honor in heaven, but the hot seat of hell: sin. Because of sin, you and I were entitled to far less than the lowest seat at God’s table: we were entitled to no seat at all.

Jesus knew that, too. And yet when he had every right to say “Me first” he didn’t. Instead, the King of creation lovingly made himself nothing—and took on the very nature of a servant. He served the sick, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, both Jew and Gentile, and even those who were his enemies. He submitted to sinful authorities. He was put on trial by the proud and arrogant, and then sentenced to a shameful death. The irony of all that is—Jesus became the curse of sin so that you would be free from it. Jesus greatest act of humility is also his greatest act of compassion! Jesus, suspended on a cross among criminals, rejected by God the Father, suffered a death of dishonor and shame for you and me, so that you and I would have a seat of honor at his table! Jesus humbled himself so we would be exalted!

Where you sit makes all the difference—and thanks to Jesus, we’re sitting at his table! But don’t forget why you’re sitting there. I didn’t earn that business class upgrade on my flight; neither did we earn a seat at God’s table. We couldn’t. So, Jesus did. Jesus has conquered sin, death, and hell. The risen Savior now sits enthroned in glory, honor, and praise, and awaits the day that you will sit at his side as his friend at the wedding feast of heaven. In Jesus blood, we see our sins of “Me first” forgiven and find the strength to say “You first” to others. In our relationships with friends, family, strangers, even our enemies, may the selfless, saving love of Jesus be our model and our motivation. We don’t need to worry about where we’re going to sit. In Christ, we’ve already got the best seat in the house.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, out of your amazing love for us, you were totally humbled so we would be exalted. Forgive us for our pride. Move us to reflect your humility and model your servant heart to all you put in our lives. In your name we pray. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 21, 2022

When our spiritual narcissism entitled us only to be cast out from God’s presence forever, Jesus would be cast out so we would be brought in.

Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”

He said to them, “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, ‘Sir, open the door for us.’

“But he will answer, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from.’

“Then you will say, ‘We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’

“But he will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!’

“There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out. People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God. Indeed there are those who are last who will be first, and first who will be last.”
Luke 13:22-30

The First Will Be Last; The Last Will Be First

Steve is the owner of an incredibly popular Italian restaurant—a restaurant so popular you need to make reservations in July to get a table in December. On the days when his restaurant is incredibly busy, you won’t find Steve hiding in the back office; you’ll find him busing tables, mopping floors, and filling in wherever help is needed. One night—when Steve was greeting customers at the door—a group of six women walked in and demanded to be seated. Steve asked for the name on their reservation. The leader of this group says, “Oh, we didn’t make a reservation—but it’s okay. The owner is a personal friend of mine—and he said he always has one or two tables open for special guests like me.” She clearly didn’t know the owner. And Steve didn’t know her, either. What he did know was that this woman was trying to get into his restaurant on her terms—not his. She was trying to illegitimately bypass her need for a reservation and get in however she wanted. She, by virtue of who she was, felt entitled to a seat.

We see that same attitude of entitlement in our story today. Some within Jesus’ audience felt entitled to God’s love because of how good a person they thought they were; others felt entitled to God’s heaven by virtue of their Jewish ancestry. But if it’s by virtue of who I am that gets me right with God, that inherently paves a broad highway to heaven. And so, with one sentence, Jesus demolishes that idea entirely. “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door.” That narrow door is Jesus.

But entitlement seeks to engineer other doors into heaven. Entitlement points to our track record and says “See God? I’m such a good person, I deserve to go to heaven!” Entitlement points to our background or upbringing, and says, “Because I’m this kind of person, I deserve to be loved by God.” The Pharisees listening to Jesus certainly felt that way. They prided themselves on their Jewish lineage and they vigorous devotion to their man-made traditions. They didn’t feel they needed the kind of Savior Jesus came to be. So, you can imagine how offended they got when Jesus said they would stand outside the heavenly banquet pleading to be let in—while the outcasts of society—the foreigners, tax collectors, and prostitutes who clung to Christ in faith—were not only entering the kingdom of God ahead of the Pharisees but were given a seat “at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

How this world determines who’s first and last isn’t how it’s done in the kingdom of God. God’s economy of grace defies our economies of entitlement—and the world isn’t the only one scandalized by the upside-down nature of God’s kingdom: we are, too. “Why wouldn’t I be first?” we say. “I try to go to church and read my Bible regularly. I volunteer. I work hard. I try to be a good person. Shouldn’t that count for something? I mean, sure, sin is bad. But there are people around me who are much worse. Why wouldn’t God love me for who I am?” But if you and I try to appeal to entitlement and point to who we are as our confidence to stand before God, then God would be entitled to respond just like Steve did to that woman trying to get in his restaurant on her terms. “I don’t know you.”

But when our sins of spiritual narcissism entitled us only cast from God’s presence forever, Jesus stepped in. More accurately, Jesus would be cast out so we would be brought in. Jesus was headed to Jerusalem to endure hell on a cross. Not because he was ‘entitled’ to that kind of death—but because we were. His love would move him to be rejected by God so we would be accepted. Jesus endured what we were entitled to in order to win us what we weren’t. Because of Christ and Christ alone, you and I are forgiven before God and restored to him; we, in Christ, are made members of God’s family and have heaven as our home. Jesus would become last to put us first.

We can’t engineer other doorways into heaven. But we don’t have to. The only door is already wide open for the world! Through faith in Jesus alone—clothed with his righteousness, we will stand in joy beside him at the heavenly banquet! Rest assured that you have a seat at God’s table—because his blood has bought your seat. Your reservation is under the name of ‘Jesus’.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for becoming last to put us first. Thank you for becoming a servant to save us. Thank you for winning us a spot in your heaven and a seat at your table. In your name we pray. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 14, 2022

When the rigor of our race tempts us to give up and lose heart, we look to Jesus—whose pain was our gain.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.
Hebrews 12:1-3

We Want Peace, But the Truth Divides

It was the 1992 summer Olympics. Great Britain’s Derek Redmond readies himself to run the 400-meter semifinal race. As millions watched, many expected Derek to win the gold. The starter pistol fires, and Derek explodes out of the starting blocks and begins his lightning sprint for the finish line.

You and I are running a race, too. But the race we’re running is no 400-meter dash; it’s a lifelong marathon. And while there’s a guaranteed prize at the end of the race we call the Christian life, our Savior guarantees the race won’t be easy. It will be a struggle.

The Hebrew Christians knew the feeling. Persecuted by secular powers and rejected even by their families, these Hebrews must have felt like exiles all over again. Some started to slide back into the familiar rhythms of living under the weight of those ceremonial laws. Others were tempted to run down paths that looked easier—but were filled with sins that ensnared them and obstructed their Christian race. These Hebrew Christians were growing weary and losing heart. Giving up was looking good.

And maybe you know the feeling, too. Unlike the Olympics, the race we’re running isn’t in competition with anyone. But the race the Christian runs is definitely a different race than the rest of the world. In fact, it’s much harder. After all, we’re running behind Jesus—the same Jesus who said, “I have not come to bring peace, but division.” Don’t get me wrong: Jesus—the Prince of Peace—came to win us peace with God. But when the Son of God spoke, people were and still are divided.

Our world loves the Jesus who lovingly made time for the sexually scandalous—but not the Jesus who scandalizes us with his “outdated” views on sexuality, gender, and marriage. Our peers are quick to compliment a Jesus who calls out self-righteous hypocrisy—but quick to condemn a Jesus who would dare say the sin of hatred, in God’s eyes, is tantamount to murder. Our post-modern world, as one pastor put it, “believes the [only] thing we need salvation from is the idea that we need salvation.” It’s no surprise then when we, like the Hebrew Christians, are forced out of friend circles or kicked from our communities for putting stock in a story about the Son of God entering this broken, messed up, dying world for the very purpose of saving it. We strive, as Christians, to run the race marked out for us; but when we are divided from our communities, we’re tempted to give up and lose heart.

But before you do listen again to the author’s encouragement: “Look to Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith.” Your God and Savior Jesus ran the perfect race for you. His eyes were on your prize. His pain was your gain. Jesus perfectly fulfilled every single one of God’s commandments for you. He ran the gauntlet—even to the point of shedding of blood—because you were his prize. He didn’t run away from the pain. He didn’t run around it, either. He ran headlong into it—because you were on the other side. He ran to Calvary with the weight of your guilt. His race would have him endure our hell on the cross—all to win us the prize of heaven. His dying cry of victory says it all: “It is finished!”

About halfway through Derek Redmond’s race, he tore his hamstring and fell to the ground in pain. He tried to limp through the agony to the finish line. And that’s when his dad ran out onto the track to carry his son to the finish line. Your Heavenly Father is committed to doing the same for you.

That struggles enter our lives isn’t evidence that God doesn’t love us: in fact, quite the opposite. God sends or allows it to disciple us. Just like Derek Redmond had to lean into his father to limp to the finish line, our God wants us to solely depend on him, too. After all, the prize of heaven isn’t contingent on how well we run our race, but on how Jesus ran his race. He, who began that good work of faith in you, will bring that good work to completion. Jesus is the founder and finisher of your faith—and he’s going to see you through to the end. His love and grace will carry you through all the suffering and the heartache until the day you cross the finish line and fall into his loving arms.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you know exactly what we’re going through when we struggle to run our race. In those moments, lead us to lean on you and look to you. We know you will carry us to the finish line. In your name we pray. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – August 7, 2022

Focused living helps us to value heavenly treasures above all other things.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 11:1-2, 13-16

Focused Living Properly Values Heavenly Treasure

Have you traveled to a different country before? It can be so exciting to visit new places—new sights and sounds, new food, new culture, and so much more! It’s often very eye-opening and a wonderful learning experience to explore another country.

As fun as this can be, often when you travel—especially to places far away—you quickly realize that you don’t belong there. You don’t look or act like those people. The food is not what you prefer. The sleeping arrangements may be uncomfortable. Everything about this “other” place builds up over time to the point that you just want to scream, “I just want to be home!”

Funny example: Once I went on a mission trip to Africa with eight American teens. It was the trip of a lifetime and we had been looking forward to it for weeks. But after many hours of exhausting travel, arriving to accommodations that were not usual for Americans, and seeing a rather large wall spider, one young lady screamed, “I want to leave! I want to go home! Now!” We hadn’t even been there 10 hours. These are the times we remember just how special “home” truly is.

Sometimes we get a little too used to the things of this world. We fall in love with the possessions, experiences, and desires of this world. But while there are many blessings of God to enjoy in this life, we have to realize that we don’t belong here. This isn’t really our home. When we forget this, sometimes God allows reminders in our lives. Suffering, sickness, problems, and persecution will quickly remind us that we need God and we need something better, or rather, some place better that doesn’t have any of these problems.

Thanks be to God that he has given us just that. We have a different home, a citizenship in a better country. Jesus’ life and death for us gives us full and free citizenship in God’s city. We have the sure and certain hope of living in an eternal home with God in heaven.

In Hebrews 11, the great Heroes of Faith chapter of the Bible, we are reminded of how many believers of the past had the proper focus. Instead of worrying about all the troubles and problems of life in this world, “they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one.” That home with their Savior was their ultimate goal. It’s not that nothing else mattered, it just didn’t matter as much as being with God in heaven.

So too for us. Enjoy your journey through this life. There is much to see, do, and experience! There are many blessings of God to enjoy, and it is a good gift of God to enjoy them. Yet all the while, remember what the famous hymn says, “I’m but a stranger here, heaven is my home!”

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have prepared a place for us with you forever in heaven. Keep us focused on our heavenly home that we may have proper perspective on what you give us in this life and on what is coming in the next. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 31, 2022

Focused living helps us put worldly wealth into the proper perspective.

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.”

Jesus replied, “Man, who appointed me a judge or an arbiter between you?” Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.”

And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’

“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

“This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Luke 12:13-21

Focused Living Properly Values Earthly Wealth

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” Every young kid hears that question endless times, and most respond with the biggest dreams for wildly successful lives—“An astronaut . . . an Olympic gymnast . . . a doctor . . . a NFL star and famous rapper . . . a magic unicorn trainer!” Oh the dreams of young children!

The question becomes much more real, and more difficult, as a teenager, doesn’t it? “What are you going to do after high school?”

Ouch! That one is tough! Some have clear visions for where they want to go and what they want to do. Others not so much. But whatever it is that you want to do or be in the future, whether that’s college, trade, military, or just working, how much is your decision going to be influenced by money?

Very often, money influences teen thinking so much when it comes to future plans. Which career makes the most money? Which job will give me the best and easiest life? What’s the best or most affordable path to get that job? How many scholarship dollars can I get? And so on and so forth.

Money can be good. Success can be good. Receiving blessings from God can be good. The problem is when the blessings of money and possessions become the main focus of our lives. And how quickly that can happen!

Just look at the verses for this devotion. First, we hear of two brothers who were arguing about their inheritance and tried to get Jesus to settle their financial dispute. Of all the things they could have cried out to Jesus for help with when the Lord was standing right in front of them (like mercy, forgiveness, stronger faith, and all that good stuff) they decided instead to selfishly fight over who gets more of daddy’s dollars.

Then Jesus tells a story about a man who was greatly blessed with earthly success and got caught up in thinking about the good life. He died that night and ended up enjoying none of his blessings. “This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God,” Jesus warns the crowd.

Graciously God forgives our greed and worldly focus. Jesus set aside his riches and glory to come to this world and become poor—a humble servant who would suffer and die for sinners. Because he did, we receive true riches through Jesus—forgiveness, life, and salvation.

Don’t be burdened by the chase after worldly things, especially money! Ask yourself bigger and better questions about the future like, “How will I serve God when I grow up? What career can I choose that lets my gifts from God flourish? How can I help others with my talents and treasures? What can I do to make sure I’m focused on the Lord and spiritual things?”

A few verses after this story Jesus says, “Seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well.” Focus on the true riches of God first, and all the other things will fall into place. How rich you will then be!

Prayer: Gracious God, you give so many earthly blessings to me. I have more than most people in the world. And beyond these things, you gave us your one and only Son! How can I ever thank you enough? Help me to set my heart on your heavenly riches, so that I can thank and serve you properly with my worldly riches. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 24, 2022

One truth shared: Focused prayer goes to God with things that are according to his will and for the good of his kingdom.

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”
Genesis 18:27,28

Focused Prayer Claims What God Wants for Us, Not What We Want from Him

If you were Aladdin, what would you ask for? It’s a question people have been asking since the original Disney movie came out in 1992. To be honest, it’s kind of a fun game to play and sure to spark a good (though shallow) debate with friends.

“I’d ask for infinity wishes,” (says every young person who thinks they are smarter than everyone else).

“You can’t do that,” is always the reply.

Well, what would you ask for? Fame? Fortune? Money? Maybe you’re slightly more clever, and you would ask for some amazing career or secret investment that keeps the money flowing without end. Or maybe you’re slightly less selfish and would ask for grandma to be cured of cancer or for the HOCO date you dumped to find true happiness with someone else.

I wonder how often we treat God like this, as if we are Aladdin and he’s some magic genie in a bottle. Take a moment and think about your prayer life. How often are you going to God with something that you really, really want? Better grades . . . to pass a test . . . a fixed friendship . . . a happier home life . . . success in your future . . . a “Yes” to your prom-posal.

While we certainly can ask God for all kinds of things, the Bible reminds us what truly focused prayer is like. Prayer that is properly focused goes to God with things that are according to his will. Proper prayer is a mixture of confessing sin, praising God, thanking God, and then also bringing our requests to him. But those requests are not just for iPhones, PS5s, and Porsches. Instead, focused prayer goes to God with things that line up with his will—for strength, wisdom, perseverance, peace, comfort, help and healing for others, etc. Because we are God’s dearly loved children, we know that we can bring such focused prayers to our Father with confidence, just like Abraham did.

God revealed to Abraham his plan of bringing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their rebellious sin and rejection. But Abraham boldly pleaded with God to change his plans. In fact, he was so bold that he seemingly bargained with God to see how low he would go. Six times he went to God in prayer on behalf of those people and his nephew Lot’s family living there! But again, Abraham knew that God is a gracious Father, he was his dearly loved child, and this prayer was something that would be in line with God’s will (being merciful to people).

So young friends, pray away! Let it rip! Go to God boldly and confidently in prayer. But do so not with genie-in-a-bottle wishes. Go to God with bold requests trusting his love and that his will is always done.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, how gracious you are to invite us to communicate with you in prayer! Give me bold confidence to come before you with all my prayers. Help me also to pray not only for my wants and needs, but also for things that are according to your will and good purpose. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 17, 2022

One truth shared: Focused worship understands what God does for us in worship and his Word and sacraments—he serves us with his grace.

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Focused Worship Seeks Service from Jesus More Than Service for Jesus

“Sydney, you wanna sleep over tonight? It’s been a minute since we’ve pulled an all-nighter and binge-watched shows!”

“Let’s do it! . . . Although, I feel kinda bad. I also haven’t been to church in a minute either. I probably should show my face there sometime soon.”

“It’ll be OK, Syd. God knows you love him, and he wants you to enjoy your friends, too. You can, ‘Remember the Sabbath Day’ next week for him. This week is for me, girl!”

It happens so quickly, doesn’t it? One thing comes up, then another. Good things. Fun things. Even blessings-from-God things. But quickly those good things become “god things” and push the true God to the background. And when God is pushed to second place (or even much further down the list), it’s amazing how our view of worship and the Word quickly changes, too.

Did you catch it in Sydney’s conversation with her friend? To them going to church was just a chore or an obligation, as if it’s putting in time to earn brownie points with God. It’s like worship was a service they would do for God to make him happy.

It was much the same in the story of Mary and Martha. Martha was very focused on a good thing. She and her sister were hosting Jesus and Martha was working hard to serve him. How important it was to make Jesus happy with a clean house and a great meal! Yet that good thing became a “god thing” to Martha, so Jesus had to correct her. It was Mary who chose the one thing that was better—being served by Jesus.

This story really helps us to flip upside down our view of church, Bible studies, devotions, and personal Bible study time. We don’t do these things to put in our time for God. “Well I guess I should do this to serve the Lord and show him I love him.” Rather, the miracle of God’s grace is that when we go to worship or the Word, it is Jesus who is actually serving us! Jesus gives us his grace, his forgiveness, his comfort, his peace. Jesus assures us that our sins our forgiven because his life, death, and resurrection are credited to us. Jesus teaches us about the hope that we have in an eternal life with him in heaven.

When we understand what God gives us and does for us—how he serves us—in worship and his Word, how could it not be a priority? What else could be more important? Where else would we want to be other than joining with Mary and sitting at Jesus’ feet?

Know how Jesus serves you, and you too will choose the one thing needed, the one thing that is better and that will last.

Prayer: Dear Lord, help me to prioritize my life properly. You give so many good things to me, and I have many obligations and responsibilities with those good things. But help me to put time with you in worship and your Word first, so that you can serve me with the goodness of your grace. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – July 10, 2022

One truth shared: Focused love leads us to find neighbors to love like Christ has loved us—no matter who that neighbor may be.

“And who is my neighbor?” . . . “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:29,37

Focused Love Finds a Neighbor Rather Than Avoiding One

“Look at that guy,” Andre thought, “No way I’m sitting by that dude!” Andre glanced to the other side of the cafeteria and saw a table full of strangely dressed girls, each with brightly poppin’ hair colors. “Ummm . . . No.”

After lunch Andre was on his way to 6th period and saw a freshman trip up the stairs and dump his books and papers everywhere. “Stinks to be that guy!” Andre laughed to his friend.

Later that night Andre lay alone in the dark in his room, mindlessly scrolling through social media. What followed was 30 minutes of absolutely trolling his peers with every snarky, sarcastic, or downright mean comment he could think of.

This was sort of Andre’s daily routine—walking through life like a social elite while trampling on the self-esteem of pretty much everyone he came across. Each day brought another round of arrogant savagery—until one Tuesday during Homecoming Week.

Andre thought his Spirit Day outfit was gonna be fire, but it totally bombed. Pretty much the whole school laughed at him all day long, and at least a dozen people posted pictures of his crazy outfit on their stories. To make things worse, a meatball squirted out of his sub at lunch and rolled down his shirt onto his pants. And then in the most epic fail, Andre tripped over a chair and fell over trying to get an extra napkin. The cafeteria erupted in laughter.

Andre felt terrible at his lunch table with his head hanging low—until another student came and sat next to him. “It’ll be alright. They’ll all forget about it by the end of the day,” the student said as he slid some napkins over. “I got you, bro.” The student happened to be the same freshman who tripped on the stairs two weeks before. “Why are you helping me and being nice to me after all I’ve done?” Andre asked.

“We’re Christians. That’s what we do. We love like Christ.” It was just one comment, but it hit Andre with a quick strike both law and gospel. He quickly remembered how sinful he had been in how he had been treating others, yet he was also reminded of how much Jesus loved even sinners like him.

The story of the Good Samaritan that Jesus tells in Luke 10 is very similar. It’s a story about a man who thought he was so much better than others, much like Andre. When Jesus told him he needed to love both God and his neighbor in order to be truly perfect, the man asked, “Who is my neighbor?”

The story Jesus told illustrates the answer. After several self-righteous Jews passed by, it was a hated and looked-down-upon Samaritan who stopped to help the man who was robbed, beaten, and left half-dead. The point is that anyone and everyone is our neighbor whom we should love, and Jesus drops the mic on the arrogant man when he says, “Go and do likewise.”

On our own, how could we be so loving? Our sinful hearts cloud our minds with so much arrogance and pride, so many biases and prejudices. Thank God that Jesus has been our Good Samaritan and beyond. He has shown perfect love that covers over us, and his loving death paid for all we have done. It’s his love alone that can fill our hearts to the point of taking the focus off ourselves and onto our neighbors. His love is what will give us both the motivation and the strength to see all our neighbors and “go and do likewise.” Look to Christ and his cross, then filled with his love, look to your neighbors and show them the same.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the pastors you have given to me. They aren’t perfect, but they are from you. Help me to honor them as I honor you. Through them, help me to lean on you. Amen.


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

One truth shared: The ministers that God sends to us are the mask by which he proclaims his Word to us. It is good for us to put ourselves under them. They are a gift from God to us.

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5

God’s Gift to You

He didn’t look like much. He wasn’t all that impressive. He was dressed in a gunny sack with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached in the wilderness. He didn’t look like much, but God sure used him. I’m talking about John the Baptist.

They didn’t look like much either. None of them had a whole lot of training, but still they had left everything to follow Jesus. They didn’t look like much, but when they went out Satan fell like lightning from heaven and demons submitted to them. Jesus used them; he spoke to people through them! I’m talking about the seventy-two disciples whom Jesus sent out as missionaries.

He doesn’t look like much. His clothes may not be trendy, and his speech might be old fashioned. He might try too hard to be cool when he’s around young people. He might make things really awkward; but really, are adults supposed to do anything less when they are with young people? He doesn’t look like much, but God sent him for you. Your pastor is God’s gift to you.

  • God gave him to you to pray with you when you are overwhelmed and stressed.
  • God gave him to you to listen to you when you are trying to make sense of your life.
  • God gave him to shepherd you, to care for you, and to lead you to Jesus.
  • God gave him as an example for you that you might learn from him and seek to imitate his faith.

He isn’t perfect, but he is forgiven. He may not be cool (let’s be honest, he probably isn’t!), but he is God’s gift to you to care for you. This is the call God has given him.

It will be good for you to hear him even if he isn’t cool. It will be good for you to confide in him. He is given by God to you to walk with you in faith and in life until you reach your eternal good.

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for the pastors you have given to me. They aren’t perfect, but they are from you. Help me to honor them as I honor you. Through them, help me to lean on you. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 26, 2022

One truth shared: Following Jesus is not just words, but action. It’s not a duty, but it’s a direction. It’s not when I feel like it, but my life—my all.

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.”

He said to another man, “Follow me.” But he replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.”
Luke 9: 57-62

What it means to follow Jesus

In Luke chapter 9, Jesus meets three men who are eager and willing to follow him. The first man enthusiastically says, “I will follow you wherever you go!” How surprised he must have been when Jesus replied, “Animals have a home and enjoy its comforts, but I don’t. If I lack good things in life or endure a tough time occasionally, my followers can expect the same. Are you willing to follow me if it means suffering? If it means losing someone or something?”

Jesus said, “Follow me!” And the next two men answer, “We will! But first….” The second man says, “First… let me go and bury my father.” The third man says, “First… Let me go back and say good-bye to my family.” In both cases they said, “Lord, first, let me do this.” In both his responses, Jesus makes clear what it means to follow him. There can’t be any other first. He says, “Either I’m your first priority or I’m not.”

What does it mean to follow Jesus? Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23).

  • The call to follow Jesus is to deny your precious self. Peter once denied Jesus and said, “I don’t know him!” To deny yourself is to say to yourself, “I don’t you. I don’t want to know your desires.”
  • The call to follow Jesus comes with a cross. Since he carried one, Jesus promised you will too. No cross? No Christian.
  • The call to follow Jesus is not a choice you get to either opt in or opt out. It is daily following, daily cross carrying, and daily denying of yourself.

Does that sound impossible? Exhausting? Do you hate the thought of having to carry a cross? That’s the discipleship challenge. When you struggle in your commitment, or beat yourself up and wonder why your attitude, behavior, and habits of life seem to display a skin-deep faith, Jesus says, “Stop trying to save yourself through your commitment.” Then he makes clear his commitment to seek, save, and give his life as a ransom for you.

The call to follow is embedded in Christ who says: “I want my disciples to know they’re saved by grace. Jesus doesn’t say, “If you follow me, I’ll go to the cross for you.” He says, “I went to the cross for you, so follow me.” You’re not saved because you’re a disciple who often struggles and fails. You are a disciple because of your baptism. That means the only thing that matters today is that your name is written in the book of life. May the power of the Word work to show you that! Now… follow him!

Prayer: Dear Lord, your call is simple, but following is often my great struggle. I carry burdens too heavy to bear and fight inner desires too strong to overcome. Thank you for your promise to help carry my crosses, take my burdens, and fight for me. With you by my side, I follow you today! In Jesus name. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 19, 2022

One truth shared: The moment you can’t see or understand God’s direction for your life may be the very one God knows we need to grow in faith.

Soon afterward, Jesus went to a town called Nain, and his disciples and a large crowd went along with him. As he approached the town gate, a dead person was being carried out—the only son of his mother, and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the town was with her. When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry.”

Then he went up and touched the coffin they were carrying him on, and the bearers stood still. He said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” The dead man sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.
Luke 7:11-15

“Young man, I say to you, GET UP!”

There’s an old German word for certain feelings and the times you feel those feelings: Anfechtungen (take your time to say it—an-fech-tung-en). There are moments when you can clearly see God’s divine direction for your life, but other times you can’t find him. It’s as if God is playing hide ‘n seek so well that he’s successfully hidden himself from you. That’s Anfechtungen. Something rocked your world and assaulted everything you thought you were certain about. There’s a little inner voice echoing, “Is God compassionate or cruel? At the moment, I don’t know.”

Hear out what you are about to read next: The next time you feel Anfechtungen, embrace it.

Anfechtungen was hanging in the air and in the hearts of today’s Bible reading. It was a funeral procession. On the shoulders of six men is the reason for their grief: a cold body on a wicker stretcher. Cradled in the casket is the corpse of a young man. Such a sad sight. But even more heart-wrenching was the look on the face of the young man’s mother heading the procession just behind the coffin. She recently walked the same road when she buried the body of her husband. Then, her son walked beside her. Now she walks alone. She’s the one who’ll have to go home later that night and sleep in an empty house. She’s the one who’ll sit at a table alone after making dinner for one and conversation with none. Death stole her family. Might she be saying to herself “What did I do to deserve this? Does God have it in for me?”

Then, she meets Jesus. When Jesus saw the mother, his heart broke for her. How shocked she must have been to hear him say, “Don’t cry.” Don’t cry? Who would say that at a funeral?!

Only God can. Jesus said, “Young man, I say to you, get up!” People gasped as the dead stirred back to life. Cold, wooden fingers flexed. Gray-pale cheeks turned rosy again. The dead man sat up and began to talk. “What’s going on here? Why am I here? What’s this crowd about? Why am I all wrapped up in a bedsheet?”

Here we see what kind of God we have. We have a God who is so touched by our sorrow and our needs, he feels our hurt and is full of compassion. Like the young man we’re all destined to die. Like the dead young man, we can do nothing to seek the Lord. The procession of life led by Jesus must find us and stop the procession of death. Jesus glared at the angel of death that hovered over the body of the boy. “Not this time. This boy is mine.” Jesus has given us life. He rained on death’s parade by pouring over us the waters of baptism and declared, “Not this time. This child is mine.” Jesus has given us life.

This is what it means to have Jesus in your moments of Anfechtungen. Even as you experience a spiritual assault so vicious it is robbing you of comfort and personal peace, you still have Jesus. To have Jesus means to depend on him with all your heart no matter how you presently feel. Jesus really cares for you. His care is perfect and wise and always for eternal good.

When you don’t know where else to go, may the mercy and power of God lead you to the one who now says, “I say to you, GET UP!”

Prayer: Dear Jesus, there is so much going on around me that brings me down. In those moments when I feel down and question your goodness, remind me how you stared down the power of death for me. In my down moments, may I trust in your power and be encouraged by your command to get up and live by your grace! Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – June 12, 2022

One truth shared: Facial expressions and attention from those we love communicate powerfully to us. God communicates something to us when he turns his face toward us.

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them: “‘“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’
Numbers 6:22-26

Blessed by a Look

You never forget how it feels. It is something that you just can’t forget. You are so excited to see someone near and dear to you, so you run into the room, ready to be received with open arms and a bright smile, ready to be greeted with joy and gladness. You are so excited to see them, but as soon as you walk into the room, they look the other way and walk out. Suddenly you feel alienated and alone. It’s like a death sentence.

As you retreat to your corner, you wonder why they treated you that way. Was it something you said? Was it something you did? Why would they turn their back on you and give you such a cold shoulder?

We forget how powerful a look is until such a look is given to us. You might remember that from your younger days. You might even still experience that. A sideways glance from a peer. A glare from a mother. A shaking head from your father. These looks speak volumes to you about your standing with them. A look communicates something to us.

But it’s not just the negative looks. Smiles and attention speak to our hearts too. A warm glance. A bright smile. All the attention in your direction says something to us too. It says we’re loved. It says we’re welcomed. Such a look says, “You belong and I’m glad you’re here.”

The truth is God should look away. We’re too gross to look at. The stench of our sin and the ugliness of our rebellion should turn his face away from us. He should look away. And by that he would say to us, “You don’t belong here. Away from me!” That’s what kings in the days of the Old Testament were saying when they refused to turn their gaze toward someone who came into their throne room.

But instead of looking away, God does something else. He turns his face toward us. He looks at you. You! His attention, his energy, his care, and his love all beaming in your direction. With his look he welcomes you to come close. With this look he tells you that you belong. With this look he tells you that all your life is under his care and direction, for your eternal blessing.

Prayer: Dear Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, you should look away. But instead, you turn your face toward me and give your full attention to my care and my salvation. Thank you. Help me to live each day knowing that your face beams on me and is attentive to me. Amen.


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

One truth shared: The Holy Spirit works both in us and through us according to God’s Holy Word.

Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.

“All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Advocate, 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. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”
John 14:23-27

The Spirit Marches Victorious Through the Word

Shortly before his suffering and death, Jesus encouraged his disciples saying, “My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (John 14:2-3). He did suffer. He did die. He did come back to life. And—forty days later—he ascended into heaven.

That’s not the end of the story, however. A week and a half after ascending, we see God send his Holy Spirit on Christ’s followers, equipping them for the work that lay ahead for them.

That truth is what we celebrate on the Day of Pentecost. While living at a different time and place, this same Holy Spirit equips us for the work our gracious God has given us to carry out. It was not just to the Twelve, but also the massive crowds of all who call on the name of Jesus as Savior that he said, “But the Advocate, 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.”

The Holy Spirit does indeed work both in us and through us according to God’s holy Word. His means of grace—the Gospel found in Scripture and the Sacraments—are the tools that have been given us to both come and see the goodness of God and then to go and tell of this goodness to others.

Doing all that can be hard work. Sharing Christ with others can present challenges and pitfalls. In the midst of all of these things, we hear Jesus say to us, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (vs. 27).

What a promise these words bring! What assurance! As we close out this series titled “Victorious,” we realize that this is exactly who we are and what we have in Christ Jesus. We need look no further to find this truth than in God’s holy Word, which the Holy Spirit uses to march victorious each and every day of life and for all eternity.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Come into my heart and guide me through my life. Fill me with your holy Word and strengthen me to take on the challenges of this world with the good news of Jesus, my Savior. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 29, 2022

God’s people celebrate diversity and strive for unity.

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one—I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
John 17:20-23

Unity Marches Victorious in Diversity

When the question “What’s your favorite food?” is asked to a large group of people, there are many answers—cheeseburgers; pizza; spaghetti; maybe even a few people would answer Brussel sprouts or green beans.

People are different that way. Not just when it comes to food, though. But also in our fashion sense, our musical genres, our choice of entertainment and more.

“Different” is a good thing. Our God loves variety. He created a vibrant different world exploding with plenty of different colors, shapes, and sizes.

“Different” is a good thing. But only so far as being “different” doesn’t harm the unity our God wants us to have in worship and praise of his holy name.

In our reading today, Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. He will shortly be betrayed, arrested, beaten, and then nailed to a piece of wood. All of what awaited him is what causes us amazement as he spends this precious time before his suffering and death praying about… others.

Listen again as the Son of Man prays, “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” In a world of diversity, unity in Christ Jesus marches victorious.

And why? Because wherever you come from, no matter what your abilities are, no matter your favorite food or musical genre, Jesus Christ died for you. His victory is your victory. His resurrection from the dead is proof that your every sin is forgiven and that heaven is your home.

You may never eat a Brussel sprout—unless it’s wrapped in bacon. You may not be a fan of certain kinds of music, and romantic comedies may just put you to sleep. You might be different… and that’s okay. “Different” is good, as long as we are united in Christ Jesus—together praising him and proclaiming his holy name for all to hear.

Prayer: Be with me today, Lord Jesus, as I live in a world not unified to serve you alone. By your Word and sacrament, fill me with your Holy Spirit that I may live to glorify you and proclaim your holy name. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 22, 2022

Easter joy reigns supreme over our present circumstances in life.

The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.

I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Revelation 21:21-27

Joy Marches Victorious Over Circumstance

Have you ever tried to picture heaven? If you can color or draw or paint, do you know how you would depict it?

Perhaps it’s because of the majesty of our eternal home or because our current circumstance is anything but “heavenly,” but sinful human beings often find it difficult to picture or describe what heaven will exactly be like.

That struggle, though, does not mean our anticipation of being united with our God isn’t the excited hope of every Christian. That’s especially true when the apostle John paints such an amazing picture of what it will be like in the last book of the Bible, Revelation.

Each person reading this devotion has different strengths and weaknesses. We have different likes and dislikes. One’s life might be filled with joy right now and another’s a day-to-day struggle just to get by. Whatever situation you find yourself in, these words written by John through inspiration of the Holy Spirit are for you.

And why is that? Because no matter what you have going on in life, your eternal home is in the heaven described here through faith in Christ. The One who suffered and died made that possible for you. The One who burst forth from the tomb proving his sacrifice was sufficient for the Father to call us his own has made this our reality by grace alone.

Easter joy reigns supreme over our present circumstances in life. Don’t take my word for it, though. Listen to Jesus, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). None of us will ever live a trouble-free life. All of us will suffer setback and sadness. Jesus says so. But he also continues, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

We live in a world of darkness, my dear friends. But this world does not define us. In fact, this world cannot even steal the joy we have Jesus. The joy we have, the purpose we live with, the confidence that drives us is not based on our current circumstance. No, it is found today and always with the certain hope that while we live on earth, our home is in heaven—for all eternity!

Prayer: Thank you, Jesus, that despite whatever I have going on in life, you are there. In good times and in bad, your love for me reigns supreme and your victory over death and the devil is mine as well. Grant me strength today and always to do your will for my life, finding my strength in you and the desire to serve you alone. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 15, 2022

One truth shared: Christ’s love for us both motivates and equips our love for him and others.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.
1 Corinthians 13:1-8

Selfless Love Marches Victorious Over Self-Glorification

“I love you” is a phrase said in a myriad of situations between many different individuals. It’s shared between spouses, family members, and friends. It’s said to express genuine affection.

“I love you” is also a phrase where the words uttered don’t match the actions carried out. In fact, love is endangered in a world that today is so dominated by anger and hate.

We have to admit that we too are guilty of this, aren’t we? “I love you” might be said over and over again with words. But what about our actions? Too often we fall far short of being motivated by love in how we interact with others.

The apostle Paul knew this. He knew that a lack of love was something that not only affects us each day of life, but also was threatening the well-being of an entire congregation near and dear to his heart—the one in Corinth.

So Paul, through inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes what has come to be known as “the great love chapter of the Bible.” He shares with his readers—then and now—exactly what love is and how it reveals itself in the lives of those who are in Christ Jesus.

We find an example of what true love really is in Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection. Notice how selfless he was in everything. Notice how he was resolute in his concern for others when things seemingly crumbled around him.

All for us. He did it all for us. And his resurrection? It’s proof that his sacrifice was more than sufficient to pay for our every unloving action and to assure us of our heavenly home built with God’s love for us.

So we learn this: Love is not all about us. It never has been. It never will be. Flee the temptation to become so caught up in self that you don’t reach out to those in need. Fight against focusing so much on “me, myself, and I” that there’s no room left to say and show “I love you” to others. All because of Jesus. All empowered by Jesus.

Prayer: Your love for me is selfless, timeless, and immense, O Lord. Thank you for everything, especially your Son, who is the personification of your love for me. Guide me in my life, heavenly Father. In this world of hatred, let me be a beacon of your love and an ambassador of your grace. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 8, 2022

One truth shared: We can trust everything that our Savior says to us in his holy Word.

Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”
John 10:22-30

Promises Kept March Victorious Over Empty Words

There are some teachers in school for whom students hang on every word spoken and it all seems to make sense. There are others for whom this is not the case.

There are some parents whose spoken word is taken to heart by their children, because their kids know they will never let them down. There are others where this is not the case.

There are some friends that always have your back and are much more part of the solution to your issues instead of the problem. There are others… Well, you get the point.

The Pharisees had enough of Jesus infringing on their popularity and purpose. While he had preached and taught openly in their midst for some time, they finally confronted him and asked, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly” (v. 24).

Jesus had already made this known. He had already pointed to himself as the One who was to come to save mankind from their sins. He had already revealed his deity and love for those he came to die for.

Jesus had not only come to talk the talk, though. He came to walk the walk. He came to preach the good news and teach a message of salvation by grace alone. But he had also come to serve as the atoning sacrifice for the sins of a world which did not receive him or deserve the gift he was about to give.

The Pharisees were all about empty words and promises. Jesus was all about doing what he set out to do and following through on what he said. That’s why we worship him. That’s why—as sheep—we recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him wherever he leads us. Listen again, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

People will let us down in life. But that is why the assurance of our salvation isn’t found in how others treat us or how good of a friend we are. Instead, we look to Jesus—the One who never lets us down and never will.

Prayer: Thank you for your Holy Word which we have for our nourishment, strength, and salvation, O Savior. Not only did you become the Word made flesh, but you share with us the very words of eternal life in your Gospel. Fill us today and always with this good news which gives us hope in this hopeless world. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – May 1, 2022

One truth shared: The truth of Easter opens our eyes, hearts, and lives to see the goodness of our God.

Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying:

“Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!”

Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”

The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
Revelation 5:11-14

Sight Marches Victorious Over Blindness

The book of Revelation is often referred to as a picture book. It is a full color kaleidoscope of awesomeness that lets us see the majesty, power, and love of our God in a different way than we’re used to.

Revelation 5 is a great example of this explosion of brilliant sights and sounds the apostle John received as a glimpse of the heavenly splendor that awaits us all in eternity.

What he sees is mind-boggling enough—countless angels surrounding Christ’s throne of grace, all in service to him who is and who was and who is to come.

It’s what he hears that builds our excitement to the tipping point, though, “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” (v. 12). Imagine seeing this happen. Imagine hearing the roaring sound of it proclaimed—all at the same time—by countless angelic hosts.

Nothing in our reading today, though, is possible without the reality of Easter. If Good Friday is just the demise of a good man or the end of the road for someone hated by his detractors, then John’s revelation is not possible. In fact, if Christ is not risen from the dead, then there’s no reason to celebrate at all. But what we see in this full color kaleidoscope of awesomeness is the result of the truth that Christ is risen. He is risen, indeed.

Look again to the picture painted for us in Revelation 5 and listen again to what is spoken by the angels, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!” (vs. 13). We who are spiritually blind by both nature and nurture can still—by our God’s grace and our Savior’ love—clearly see that Jesus alone is worthy of our love and adoration.

While we walk through this life by faith and not by sight, the majesty of what we see in God’s Word and through eyes of faith amazes us. That’s because Easter truth is our reality today. That’s because Easter truth is our reality for all eternity in the One we worship and adore.

Prayer: Lord God, we deserve nothing from you except for pain and punishment. And yet you love us. Fill us with this love today and always that we might join together to praise and worship your Son above all else. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 24, 2022

One truth shared: The reality of Easter brings victorious celebration instead of reserved restraint.

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Now Thomas (also known as Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he said to them, “Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Thomas said to him, “My Lord and my God!”

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
John 20:19,20,24-29

Witness Marches Victorious Over Restraint

“You’re not going to believe what I just saw” is a phrase that has been enthusiastically shared by many people over the course of time, said by those who have witnessed something so amazing, so incredible, that they feel compelled to share their experience with those not fortunate enough to be present.

That had to be the disciples’ mindset on that first Easter evening! Jesus, their Savior—the One they had seen arrested, beaten, and crucified—was standing before them in the flesh. He was alive! He was victorious over death! He was exactly who he had told them he was all along.

But Thomas was not there for some reason. So what did the others do when he came back? They together exclaimed, “You’re not going to believe what we just saw!” And he didn’t. In fact, Thomas vowed not to believe it unless Jesus also appeared to him and proved that he had risen; he had risen, indeed.

Of course, Jesus did just that. He erased all doubts. He also used the appearance to Thomas to teach us a lesson on what faith truly is, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed” (v. 29).

Being present that first Easter Sunday night would have been the most incredible event of any of our lives to witness, as the perfect Son of God who just a few days before was dead was now alive in the flesh. The celebration atmosphere would have been evident. The excitement intense. Two thousand years later, it doesn’t have to be any more muted.

Christ has died, dear friends. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. We weren’t physically there at Calvary’s hill or that locked room, but the Scriptures—through the tireless efforts of the Holy Spirit—convinces us that it all happened. In fact, everything that is shared with us in God’s Word is written so that “you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (v. 31).

We believe Christ died. We believe he came back to life again. That’s what allows us with eyes of faith to look ahead to the time when he will come again to take us with him. Witnessing this truth of our salvation, we confidently move forward to share this truth with others—excited and confident to share what we know and believe!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, while we have not seen you face to face, you have revealed your triumph over the grave to us in your witness of Scripture. Fill our hearts and lives with celebration of this timeless truth and give us a spirit of confidence as we share with others the fact that because you live, we also shall live. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 17, 2022

One truth shared: Easter causes us to confidently, continually proclaim—Christ is risen! He is risen indeed.

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”

“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:51-57

Life Marches Victorious Over Death

Death had its moment in the Garden. Even though Satan tried to convince Eve “You will not surely die” if she would just take hold of the fruit and eat it, death became a reality for the world’s first couple—and every person and couple after them—because sin had entered the world.

Death had its moment for the children of Israel. God gave them a new land with everything needed to not only survive, but also thrive. But they were scared—intimidated by the people of Canaan. So God had them wander—wandering for 40 years until the desert floor God confined them to was littered with their lifeless bodies.

Death had its moment on Calvary. Christ, the Son of the Almighty, had been brutalized, beaten, and crucified—hanging there until his heart stopped beating and his lifeless body was taken down to be buried in a tomb.

Yes, death had its moment. But it didn’t last. And why? Because “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” The tomb couldn’t hold the triumphant Son of the Most High. He had paid the price. He had won the battle for our souls and the war for our salvation. Bursting forth from the tomb, we witness the Father’s stamp of approval on a mission perfectly completed.

In the resurrection, we see that life marches victorious over death. Death still has its moments, including the one you and I will eventually have with it. While it remains a reality for all who are born into this sinful world, it is not the end. It’s described by the apostle Paul as a “sleep.” People wake up from sleep. Sleep is welcomed. Sleep refreshes and prepares us for what is next.

And what is next for the believer in Jesus? An eternity with him in heaven. Paul adds, “‘Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

We are victorious because Jesus was victorious. We have heaven because Jesus suffered hell. Our sins are washed away because Jesus took them on himself to the cross. Death had its moment. But we have eternity because Christ conquered death and has given us the victory in him alone!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you conquered death that first Easter Sunday and burst forth from the tomb. Fill my heart with Easter joy, reminding me daily that because you live, I also will live eternally with you in heaven. Amen.


Teen Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – April 10, 2022

One truth shared: The apostle Paul describes the humility of Jesus and encourages us to imitate it.

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!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:5-11

Palm Sunday: His Humility, Our Hope

It has been said that humility is “thinking of yourself less, not thinking ‘less of yourself.’” Humility can be difficult to learn, and sometimes it is easier to get stuck in a line of thinking that is self-deprecating and unhealthy.

What is true humility? Why is it important? Let’s look at Jesus.

Jesus is God. He is perfect and came down to Earth and became a human. He was still 100% God, but he humbled himself to be born in human form. He did many things that most people would consider to be “below them.” He washed his disciples’ feet. He ate with prostitutes, tax collectors, and people who were looked down on in society. Verse 8 of today’s Scripture says that he humbled himself even more by taking our place on the cross.

Our value comes from his love, which he demonstrates with humility. When the world tells us we are nothing, remember Jesus, who emptied himself so that we could be glorified. When we focus on Christ, everything falls into perspective for us as Christians. No longer do we need to feel hurt if we are not acknowledged as we thought we should be. Nor do we need to feel the desire to put others down to make us feel better about ourselves. Instead of focusing on self, let’s build others up and remind them of what God thinks of them. And should we forget, if we get caught up in the day-to-day minutia that clouds our thinking and judgement, we know our record is still spotless in God’s sight because of what he has done. There is no fear or shame to come to the Lord asking for forgiveness, because has already died for those sins. It has been said that “The biggest sins we can’t forget, God cannot remember.”

Be like Christ. Be humble. Serve others. Let the love of God flow through you and around you. Be content, knowing what the Lord has in store for you. Your hope is grounded in his undying faithfulness. And if you must boast, boast in the Lord!

Prayer: Gracious and Almighty Lord, when I fall or my ego gets knocked down, forgive me and ground me in your Son. Help me to think of myself less, not less of myself. My value is found in your love and your life that was given for me. Keep me always mindful of the hope that is found in your humility that achieved my victory. Give me strength for today and every day until I see you and spend forever with you in glory. Amen.


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

One truth shared: Part of being human means facing rejection. It can be crushing. We see that is especially true for Jesus this Lenten season. The result for us is spectacular, God promises to never leave us or forsake us.

This is what the Lord says—
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!”
Isaiah 43:16,18-19

Human Rejection Is Crushed by Divine Exaltation

We’d been friends ever since high school. We saw each other every day, got coffee every morning, and went to dinner at least once a week. Sometimes I would pay, and sometimes she would pay. I thought this would be a fantastic relationship, but I knew she didn’t really know how I felt. So, I made a plan. I went out and bought tickets to a show and asked if she would go. She seemed very excited until the moment I finished the question with “as my date.” There was an eternal two second pause before she said “…no.”

In my head, I saw this whole scene going very differently.

Rejection feels awful especially when you’re on the receiving end. Can you imagine when it happens to an entire nation? Today’s Word of God was to a nation who felt rejected by God. Israel was held in captivity twice. The first time was in Egypt—through no fault of their own. The second time was in Babylon as a result of their rejection of God.

God is no stranger to rejection. Think about Jesus on the cross. He cried out, “My God, why have you forsaken me?” God turns his back on his loved Son when Jesus needed him most. As Jesus dies, we see all of God’s anger against us poured out on him. We see our best friend rejected for what we should have done.

Rejection hurts. God has a message for those who are hurting because of rejection. “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing!” Maybe that sounds “fluffy,” but it’s actually bigger than just “sorry you got rejected.” Or “God has something/someone better in store for you around the corner.” God doesn’t promise blue skies and flower-strewn pathways throughout life. He promises strength to get through your fragile moments. “He says, “I’m doing a new thing” for you. It’s a promise to never leave you or forsake you. And no matter who rejects us, he accepts us. He has chosen us. It’s iron-clad too! Just as Jesus was raised on the third day, you were raised with him through your baptism and marked as a child of God. Your identity as part of God’s family makes you incredibly valuable to him.

Jesus faced rejection in his life. So will you. Yes, it is painful, but God promises a way through it to something far better. “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13,14).

Prayer: Gracious and almighty Lord, you were rejected but became the cornerstone. Help me to build my life on you. When I face rejection, remind me of your grace and the calling you have given me. When I fall, forgive me because of your Son. Be my strength and my confidence. Amen.


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

One truth shared: When the weight of our sin makes us fearful of God’s condemnation, he reveals his grace yet again.

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.

“Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.

“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father.

“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.

“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’

“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.”

Luke 15:11-24

Our Condemnation Is Crushed by God’s Grace

Luke chapter 15 is commonly called, “The Story of the Prodigal Son.” Prodigal is not a common word in our modern vocabulary. Today, we would use words such as extravagant or lavish. When this word is applied to humans, it is usually not a compliment. In the story, the younger of two sons asks his father for his inheritance. At that time and in that culture, this was like the son telling his father that he wished he was dead so he could have the only thing that mattered to him—the only thing that his father was good for to him—money. He got what he wanted and lived a lavish, extravagant life with it. Now, we might say we would never go that far, but in some ways we do. We live in a world that says, “If it feels good, it must be good,” and, “Do what makes you happy.” But what made the prodigal son happy didn’t keep him happy for long, or healthy. Neither do the sinful choices we make.

It is sadly natural to rely on one’s own intuition and reason. Just like the prodigal son, we come up with plans and focus on them to get what we desire. 1 Corinthians 1:25 says, “The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.” How often do we find our weakness is our own wisdom? We often go to great lengths to justify what we think and do. Sometimes, only in hindsight, we look back and see how we went down a path that did not trust God—but revealed a misplaced faith. Perhaps we over relied on human wisdom.

What is faith from the perspective of human wisdom? What society often calls “faith” may better be called “speculation.” The hunger for “hopeful speculation” is driven by the need to feel “okay” with ourselves and to feel we are not alone. So we start creating excuses for ourselves, for our mistakes, and for the ever-present problem of suffering that accompanies our lives. Faith is said to be “an idea that I have come up with—in which I can hope. It really doesn’t matter what the idea is; it just matters that I hope in it.” In other words, “Have faith in your faith.” What we are trying to do is justify ourselves, all the while wondering if we have ever done enough. What a travesty! It replaces Christ as the object of faith. Christ alone makes faith valuable.

But know this: we have a prodigal God. He is extravagant and lavish—particularly when it comes to his forgiveness. Led by the Holy Spirit to the cross, we confess our sins. At the cross we see the wildest act of wastefulness—an innocent man, completely without fault, no guilt, no filth, no dirt, no shame being treated like a wretched sinner. There our condemnation is crushed, and we see just how lavish, just how extravagant, just how reckless the love God has for us is—we see it through Christ. We see that salvation is not merit-based, but grace-given, something that sounds foolish to human ears.

Let this be your takeaway: while today’s story is about a prodigal son, it is really about a prodigal father and his amazing grace toward a son that didn’t deserve it. Now it’s our story. When you feel lost and beyond return, may the extravagant and lavish grace of our Lord Jesus always find and restore you!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I too easily get lost in my own thoughts and feelings. Thank you for never giving up on me. Thank you for your free and extravagant love that finds and forgives me every day. Help me to rely on you and to freely forgive others as you have forgiven me. Guide me and lead me in your ways. Keep me faithful and give me the constant assurance of your love. Amen.


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

One truth shared: Even when we lose our way because of temptation, God promises to provide a way out.

So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
1 Corinthians 10:12-13

False Security Is Crushed by Faithful Presence

It’s a commonly asked question: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Why would God allow something bad to happen to us—his followers? When trouble or hardships come into our lives, we often find it easier to question or even blame God than to trust in him. And this is not unique to us, the Israelites did it too.

When the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years, they grumbled and complained about food. God gave them food. They grumbled and complained about that food. They chose to ignore God’s way and faced severe consequences as a result. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Ask yourself, ”Why do people repeat the same mistake over and over?”

Maybe the question ought to be, “Why do I repeatedly make the same mistake over and over?” In some way and to varying degree, our lives imitate what others have gone through. People of all ages have grumbled and complained. You are not the first to face similar “pet sins” through life. They never seem to really go away. How easy to think, “I can conquer this sin, after all, didn’t God say I wouldn’t be tempted beyond what I can bear?” Later, I end up eating those words when I succumb to temptation.

Here’s the painful truth: “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind.” What an ugly mess life becomes when the agenda for our lives gets disconnected from God’s agenda. Listen to God’s warning, “If you thnk you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!”

But here’s another truth: “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” What way out is that? It’s the gospel message that Jesus was tempted in every way as we are. Where we failed, he succeeded. He made right all our wrongs.

God know the limits to your strength and power. Trust that in the moment of temptation, he will help you stand up under its weight so you don’t fall.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, there are times you allow hardships to be part of my life. Too often, I grumble or complain about them. When facing temptation, I give up too easily. Help me remember that Jesus is my way back to you. And in the moment of hardship and temptation, be faithful in your promise to help me bear it and overcome with your strength. Amen.


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

One truth shared: Jesus was determined to continue down the path he was on for us and our salvation. He did not take any shortcuts.

At that time some Pharisees came to Jesus and said to him, “Leave this place and go somewhere else. Herod wants to kill you.”

He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will keep on driving out demons and healing people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.’ In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.

Look, your house is left to you desolate. I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’”
Luke 13:31-35

Shortcuts Are Crushed by Determination

“Are we there yet?!”—Almost every TV show that has a road trip with a kid in the backseat has used this line. And honestly, we are often just as impatient on long family trips to see relatives or when going on vacation. Maybe it is because of the “fast-food culture” we live in or perhaps just impatience, but many feel the same way—they want to be at the end and to have the prize, all while skipping the boring parts and hard work. But the journey comes before the destination.

What if life were like that—if there was a shortcut or you could fast forward through the parts you don’t like? What if you could be in shape without having to exercise? Or be at the ideal weight without having to worry about what you eat? Wouldn’t that be nice? But consider this: Something gets lost if you never have to work hard for something. Maybe we need to think more about the journey and consider why God allowed us to be on this “journey” called life.

Consider the journey that Jesus lived while on earth. When the Pharisees came to Jesus, they tried to warn him that Herod wanted to kill him. It wasn’t as if Jesus hadn’t already been warned about Herod’s wicked intentions, Herod had recently cut off the head of John the Baptist at a dinner party. And it wasn’t as if the Pharisees were on Jesus’ side—ever—so why should he heed their warning? One could argue, “Because it’s true.” But if Jesus avoided what was going to happen, if he took a shortcut to avoid his coming death, he couldn’t be the promised Savior. So Jesus tells the Pharisees, “On the third day, I’m going to reach my goal.” Jesus was determined to crush any shortcut around the cross. By dying but living again the third day after, he won our salvation.

Jesus is just as determined for us to follow him in faith as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There are no shortcuts to heaven. “How often I have longed to gather your children together… and you were not willing.” Proverbs 14:12 warns, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.” Any shortcut around Jesus can be disastrous. If they think they know “a better way” or a way that is more suited “for me personally,” they are misleading themselves, this shortcut leads to death.

Because Jesus took the hard way, the long way, the way of suffering, the way of an innocent death—he has earned safe passage for those who follow behind him. When this world tells you there is a better or easier way, or when you feel you’ve lost your way, remember that Jesus already went the way before you and crushed your sin and guilt at the cross. He still loves you. He’s determined to be with you until the day he answers your question, “Are we there yet?” by welcoming you personally to eternal life with him.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have gone through so much for me. Thank you for your determination that wanted me so much that you ignored every tempting shortcut around the cross. Help me to be like you, fill me with your strength and endurance. And forgive me when I fall short. And keep me always mindful of your love for me that never fails. Amen.


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