Transformed – teen devotion – February 17, 2109

Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
1 Corinthians 7:8-9

Satisfied with God

When I was in college studying to be a pastor, I met with one of my advisors and he asked me, “Are you married?” I said, “No.” He then asked, “Are you dating?” Again, I said, “No.” Then he spoke of how important it was that I find a wife before I became a pastor, otherwise my ministry, not to my mention my personal life, would suffer tremendously.

I was 19 or 20 at the time and I took that conversation seriously. Every date I went on became an interview for marriage, which didn’t bode well for a second date. The ladies could sense the desperation radiating from me, and they wanted nothing to do with it.

Eventually I ended up at the seminary learning how to be a pastor. I met with another advisor who asked me the same questions, “Are you married? Are you dating anyone?” Again, the answer was, “No.” To my surprise, his response was completely different than the first. He said, “Good for you. I didn’t get married until I was in my 30’s. Enjoy your single life for a while.”

Both of my advisors gave me advice based on their personal experiences. I wish they had opened the Bible to 1 Corinthians chapter 7 and told me what God says about whether you are single or living the married life. If you haven’t read that chapter before, read it. It’s makes a lot of sense.

In short, God wants you to be content whether you’re single or married, because there are spiritual advantages to both. Single people can spend more time serving the Lord without having the responsibilities a family brings. Married people get to reenact God’s love story every single day with their spouse.

Whatever your situation, ask Jesus to give you a content heart that’s willing to serve him and a believing heart that trusts him to lead your future.

Prayer: Jesus, you and the apostle Paul were single and used your time to minister to others. Help me to find true contentment in my present state of singleness so that I can be fully devoted to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 10, 2109

Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a person commits are outside the body, but whoever sins sexually, sins against their own body. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.
1 Corinthians 6:18-20

My body, God’s temple

Do you have a pet? If you do, that animal belongs to you. You paid for it, so you get to name it. You get to tell it what to do and where to go. It has to obey you. But your pet doesn’t just obey you because you have a receipt proving that you bought it. It obeys you because you love it and take care of it.

Just like we are our pets’ masters because they belong to us, we like to think that we’re our own masters and that we can do anything we want with our bodies because they belong to us. So why shouldn’t we be able to eat what we want, drink what we want, or engage in sexual activity if we want?

But, “You are not your own.” Your body doesn’t belong to you. It belongs to God Almighty. He bought you at a very high price. He paid for you with the life of his one and only Son, Jesus. Since you are God’s child, the Holy Spirit has set up his throne room in your heart. Your body is now the temple of the Holy Spirit.

God is your heavenly master who didn’t just pay a high price for you, but loves you and cares for you by giving you food to eat, a place to sleep, video games to play, friends to hang out with, sports to enjoy, and most importantly a spot in his family.

God deeply loves you. He lives in you. Therefore, honor God with your body. Looking at pornography and touching yourself inappropriately isn’t honoring God. Having sex of any kind with someone who is not your husband or wife does not honor God. It’s sinning against your body; the body that God gave you. It’s also sinning against your God, who lives in you.

So, if you struggle in any of these areas, ask God your heavenly master to help you honor him. He will do both. He will forgive you and will help you honor him with your body.

Prayer: God, my body is your temple. Forgive me for the times that I’ve trashed it with sexual thoughts or actions that were inappropriate. Help me to honor you with my body. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – February 3, 2109

Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Timothy 2:22

Pursue the right thing

God created you to be a sexual being. Of course, you already know that because you’re a teenager. You’re at a time in life when you’re hyper aware of what’s going on with your body and everybody else’s. You no longer see your friends of the opposite sex just as friends but as potential mates. It’s normal. It’s all part of God’s design.

But there’s a problem. That design got messed up when the first male and female, Adam and Eve, decided to go rogue and disobey God. Ever since then, that natural process has been perverted, and humans have taken sexuality out of its original context.

Sex was always meant for the enjoyment of one man and one woman who have made a life-long commitment to each other in marriage. Society doesn’t want you to believe that anymore. Social media, television, and blockbuster movies tell you that sex is for anyone who feels like having it with whomever they feel like having it.

What they don’t tell you about are the dangers of having sex outside of marriage: a guilty conscience toward God, a sexually transmitted disease, an unplanned pregnancy, a broken relationship, and a lot of other unforeseen consequences.

That’s why God says to “flee the evil desires of youth.” That means to run away from anything that would cause you to pursue sex outside of marriage, like watching movies with sex scenes and looking at pornographic images. It means having a conversation with your boyfriend or girlfriend to let them know you are saving yourself for marriage.

But notice that God doesn’t just tell you to flee from these evil desires. He says instead to “pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

God isn’t trying to keep you from having fun with this command. He’s trying to keep you safe. That’s why Jesus Christ lived his life pure and holy. He went the way of the cross because he wanted you for himself. He loves you so much! You will find the model for a committed relationship by reading of his love in your Bible and spending time with Christians in your local church, because that’s where you will find this righteousness, faith, love, and peace.

Prayer: Jesus, I want to flee from my evil desires. Give me the strength to do that and replace those desires with your righteousness, faith, love, and peace. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 27, 2109

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:1-2

Fresh start – #4 Be Transformed

There can be a ton of pressure to change and improve your life in a new year. There is pressure to improve your skills on the court or in the classroom. There is the constant challenge to maintain healthy, happy relationships with your parents or your friends. There may even be pressure to change your appearance or health.

There is just as much pressure to change and to improve in your spiritual life. There is pressure to grow in your relationship with God. There is pressure to get rid of certain sins and live a God-pleasing life.

Notice two words Paul uses in our reading that relieve the pressure—be transformed. Paul doesn’t say, “Transform yourself,” like Bumblebee when he morphs from car to robot in the “Transformers” movie. Rather than saying, “Change yourself,” Paul says in the strongest possible way, “Be transformed.”

The pressure of making a change is no longer on us. The power for making a change is no longer on us either. It is God who changes our wants. Driving this radical change is God’s divine mercy and pity for our pitiful state of being. He does it through Holy Spirit when you spend time in his Word. It is God who will change your actions. Again, he does this by his Spirit and his Word. God will transform and change you.

The pressure is officially off to change yourself. It was transferred to the cross. It was placed upon Jesus Christ. He earned our salvation and gives it to us as a gift. He transforms us so that our priorities and habits, even our lives, change for his glory.

Today, empowered by God’s mercy, we CAN have a new attitude, created and shaped by God! We CAN make right decisions and be certain what God’s will is, what is good, pleasing, and perfect (verse 2b). Live today in him! Live life for him!

Prayer: Lord God, change me by your Spirit and your Word so that my life is good and pleasing in your sight. Transform me to desire what you want and to think of your will. I ask this according to your mercy Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 20, 2109

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: 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

Fresh start – #3 Goals

Goals can be powerful motivators. They give us something to work toward achieving. If our goal is to be healthier, we may incorporate exercise and healthier eating into our life.

When we add action steps toward those goals, they give us some clear direction for our life. For example, to get healthier, we are going to exercise three times a week and eliminate the late-night snacking. With these action steps, we now have some clear things to work on to get healthier.

As we seek our one priority, Paul sets the goal for us in his own example. His goal isn’t to be smarter in the faith. His goal isn’t to live a holier life. He certainly wants those things, but those things aren’t his goal. His goal was to get the prize of heaven.

Paul knew that a life in pursuit of heaven includes certain things. As you pursue heaven, these are things you need in your life too.

  • You need to be people of prayer (Look up 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). Let your heart and your mind continually be turned to the Lord in prayer.
  • You need to be people of the Word and of worship (Look up Psalm 1; Colossians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:14-17). Let God’s Word live in your richly and deeply as you live your life for him.
  • You need to be in community with other Christians (Look up Hebrews 10:21-25). God has given you the community of believers to support you in your walk of faith as you pursue heaven.

Christ made you and your eternal life with him his top priority. His goal is for your life to be lived with him every day. That’s why he encourages your daily life to include time in prayer, God’s Word, and with God’s people (your faith community). Make a plan. Pray about it. Then, with God at your side, press on!

Prayer: Lord God, I need you, your Word, and your people in my life. Give me the self-discipline I need to incorporate these things into my life. Give me Christian friends who will encourage me in my walk of faith. Lord Jesus, forgive me when I fail and help me as I pursue heaven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 13, 2109

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Matthew 6:33

Fresh start – #2 Priorities

Have you ever noticed that life always seems to be busy? There is a reason that it is called a rat-race. We’re constantly on the run, constantly chasing from one thing to the next. But for what? The things that keep us busy are often really good things. But what is the meaning of it all?

Someone that I know dearly had a near-death experience. He thought that he was going to die within the next 15 minutes. In those moments that might have been his last, he didn’t think about his calendar. He didn’t think about his job. He didn’t think about his friends. He mainly thought about his faith and his Savior. That’s the only thing that mattered to him in that moment.

This is true for us also. The only thing that matters in this life is your Savior and your faith.

The things of this life are only temporary. Your clothes will fade and wear out. Sporting opportunities will be here for a short while, but then go away. Work will come and go. Friends also come and go.

There is nothing wrong with any of these things. They are good. They are God’s gifts to enjoy while you have them. But don’t chase them. Don’t make your life so full that you can’t pursue and seek the one thing that matters. Don’t get so busy with the many good things that you forget about the one best thing—Jesus.

Seek your Savior and his kingdom. Follow him with your whole life.

Now is the time to start. Start every day seeking him first!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you have filled my life with many good things. Keep me from filling up my life with so many good things that I forget about the best thing—you! Help me to make you and your kingdom my priority this year. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 6, 2109

Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.
Ephesians 5:15-16

Fresh start – #1 Evaluate

A new year is a great time to think about our lives and where we’re headed. A new year means a fresh start. We can start brand new in 2019. We can start brand new in Jesus, because he has forgiven all of our sins. This month, our devotions will look at what God says to us about our new year and our life in Christ.

First, we need to evaluate our time. God gives each one of us the gift of twenty-four-hour days. Each one of us has been given the gift of life and breath today from the same God. Each one of us has been forgiven all of our sins by the same Savior. It’s a brand-new gift that our God gives us freely and daily.

How will we use this time? How will we use fresh set of twenty-four-hour days that our God gives us? What is the best way to use our days and to make the most of every opportunity?

It’s a time to look at how we’re using our phones. (Check out your phones and see how many hours per day or per week that you’re using your phone. My iPhone tracks my phone usage for individual tasks.)

It’s a time to consider how we’re using our time with family and friends. Do we live for ourselves or in service to others?

It’s a time to consider how we’re using our time to grow in our faith. Do we set aside time for God to speak to us in His Word?

It’s a time to consider how we can make the most of every moment in every day to seek God and to share him with the people in our lives. Do we know someone who really needs God’s gift of forgiveness?

So, take a look at your calendar. May your use of time reflect your appreciation for this gift as you joyfully serve him and others.

Prayer: Dear Lord, you have given me each moment of my day. Each moment is a gift from you. Help me to use every moment for you and for your glory. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 30, 2018

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Still the same

So much changes so quickly. Just a look at the news or out the window reveals how much is changing around us. In this world, change is inevitable.

Look at me. I’m not the same person with the same likes and dislikes that I was a few years ago. I don’t live in the same place. I don’t work the same job. I don’t have the same friends in my life.

I would like to say change is always for the better, but remember the times when it wasn’t? We changed. Remember the moments of discontentment with change in life? Remember that commitment to get closer to God and his Word? Did you feel guilty? Or didn’t it bother you? In both ways, Satan worked hard on us.

It’s time to change! Whenever we feel burned out or irritated in life, it’s time to go to God and let him speak through his Word. We need to be reminded of how bad we are and how good the Gospel is. God’s Word and Spirit work a godly change is us!

Through all the changes in our lives and in this world, we can be confident that the God who created us will not change. He remains the same throughout our life. He will not stop loving us or change his standards. Jesus who came to save us will remain by our side to continue to transform us by his Spirit. The promises God gives to us in his Word will not change or be revoked. We can sure that all God has said and all that God is will remain true and constant into the new year.

With all the change in the world, thank God there is one who is still the same—Jesus!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, with all the change that happens in me, in my life, and in this world, I am often left feeling unsettled and unsure. Grant me a solid footing in this world with the assurance that you never change. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 23, 2018

Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
John 1:16-18

Grace upon grace

I’ve been wondering about something for a while. What’s the downside to following Jesus? What’s the downside to holding on to the faith and walking in it?

It is pretty easy to figure out a downside to just about everything else. For every medicine that helps me get better, there is often a nasty side-effect. Just read the warning label sometime. Exercise is good for me; but at the same time, it breaks my body down so that some body parts may wear out more quickly. I think you get the idea.

Everything else in my life has an upside and a downside. But not Jesus. Jesus came to live with us, and there is no downside to that. There is an upside. John explains it the verses in front of us today.

First, Jesus is full of grace and truth. We don’t always like to hear the truth, especially when the truth is painful and uncovers sin. (I know that I don’t!) But it is good. What if your doctor never told you that you had terminal cancer? Would that be good for you? Of course, not! It would hurt when he told you, but how else would you know about your sickness and need for treatment? It’s the same when Jesus comes with truth!

We also see that Jesus isn’t stingy with grace. In fact, he gives grace in place of grace already given. It’s like he gives us grace; and then he gives us grace again. And again. And again! He loves you and longs to forgive you over and over again. He deeply desires for you to know how good and gracious he really is.

Finally, he shows us God! If you really want to know who God is, get to know Jesus as he comes and walks on this earth. To know what God is like, get to know Jesus! He is the one who makes the Father known. He is the one came to reveal God to us.

This Christmas, see how good Jesus is for you. Instead of gift upon gift, he gives something eternally better—grace upon grace!

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are the one thing I really need. Tell me the truth about my sin so that I can come to you for forgiveness and healing. Give me grace upon grace. I need your grace more and more every day. Keep showing me God. Thank you for coming to be that one thing I really need. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 16, 2018

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Emmanuel

There is no other time of the year like this. I really enjoy the season of Advent and the many Christmas services. Most people do. It is a special time of year.

It wasn’t quite so special for the shepherds, at least not at first. Suddenly the night sky was lit up with angels. The shepherds were scared. They should have been. God had come. God’s glory was all around them. They were exposed.

That’s what light does—it exposes. It uncovers all ugliness and sin. That’s the part that we hate. The glory of God and the light of his Word shines in the deepest corner of your heart to expose the dark thoughts of your heart. The light of his Word exposes the sins that have owned and controlled you this past year. You know what he’ll find, and it’s dark.

God does not withhold the truth. In fact, Jesus is full of truth. He tells us things just the way they are. He tells us he sees all the sins hidden in our hearts. God doesn’t hide the truth or cover it up.

Instead of covering up the truth of our sinfulness, God covered himself up.. To save us and to spare us from his blazing glory, God covered or clothed himself in flesh. That’s what John is saying: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” God clothed himself. How does the hymn go? “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity… pleased is God with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel.”

God clothed himself in flesh. He hid himself in the flesh of baby Jesus wrapped in swaddling clothes and placed in a manger. He hid himself behind the frailty and weakness of a human being. Yet, right there, in the flesh of Jesus, all the fullness of the Deity lived in bodily form.

God comes at Christmas, but not to consume us with his anger. That’s why the angels spoke up quickly when the shepherds were so scared. The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! I have good news for you! A Savior has been born for you, he is Christ the Lord.” God had come to help his people. God clothed himself in flesh to cover you with blood. Don’t be afraid! His name is Emmanuel, which means God with us. God is with us to save us!

Prayer: Lord God, you clothed yourself in the flesh and came to this earth not to condemn, but to save the world. Help me to marvel at the majesty clothed in flesh; you are Emmanuel! Help me to rejoice that you have clothed me with your blood; I am forgiven. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 9, 2018

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
John 1:9-13

Rejection

Rejection is a natural part of our lives. You are rejected when you don’t make the team or get a call back for a second audition. You get rejected while dating and in so many other situations in life. Everyone experiences rejection in their life.

There is someone who knows what rejection feels like—Jesus. From the very start of his life and ministry, he faced rejection and ridicule. People saw the miracles he performed and expected him to be their earthly king. When Jesus made it clear that he wasn’t an earthly king, they left him. Even his own family rejected him. Some of his brothers didn’t believe he was the Son of God.

Jesus was rejected throughout his entire life. Out of love for you and me, he chose to take our place and to take our sin on himself in order to suffer the death we deserved to give us the life he earned. That’s why Jesus came. He came to be rejected by men, so that we would be accepted by God. He came to be condemned by God for our sins, so that we would be forgiven. He even came to be rejected by God, so that we would be accepted by God. Because of Jesus and his rejection, God receives us as children of God. We will not be turned away or rejected by him.

Dear friend, receive the Word of God this Christmas: Jesus loves you! He has come to give you new life and to bring you into the family of God. Rejoice! You are an accepted child of God!

Prayer: Father, we confess that we often have rejected and rebelled against your Word. Forgive us. Thank you for restoring us daily as your children. We rejoice that in Christ our Savior, you accept us as children of God! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 2, 2018

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5

Light has come

I was sitting in a strange car in the middle of Buenos Aires when I heard these very words from St. John. A friendly man was driving me to the airport. After some roundabout Spanish small talk, he told me that he too was a Bible-believing Christian! He plugged a flash drive into his car’s stereo and together we listened to these words, “En el principio ya existía el Verbo.” Translated, it is the opening of John 1:1: “In the beginning was the Word.”

Studying Spanish in a foreign country helped me understand the power of words. My words could communicate to a waiter that I’d like to order the pizza with extra cheese or help me navigate my way through the city in a taxi. But when I consider that Jesus, God the Father, and the Holy Spirit created the world with a word from their mouth, my words seem like nothing. I can use words to tell people what I want, but God used the words “Let there be,” to create the world from nothing! And he saw that it was good; yes, it was very good.

God was happy with his perfect creation, but that perfection didn’t last long. The first sin plunged the world into spiritual darkness. But God doesn’t settle for mediocrity, he demands perfection! I can’t do anything perfectly. I snap at my siblings, throwing insults at them. I gossip. I blame. I complain. God hears every terrible word I say, he even knows each sinful thought I think. Do you struggle controlling your words and thoughts too?

Our future would be bleak if God didn’t say anything after the first sin, but he did. God spoke to Adam and Eve and promised them a Savior to bring light into the darkness. What gracious words!

Flash forward to Good Friday. The sky is dark as night in the middle of the afternoon. Jesus suffers on the cross while the sin of all people of all times hangs on his shoulders. This gruesome death in the pitch dark brought us life. There in the dark, Jesus, true God, spoke, “It is finished.” What powerful words!

After three days Jesus rose from the dead! He burst out of the tomb after conquering the darkness. Death has lost its power. Death doesn’t lead to eternal darkness and terror. Jesus promises us victory over death and eternal life in heaven. He is the light! He is the life! Yes, he is our light and our life.

Prayer: Dear God, your words are powerful. Your words created this world. The Word made flesh, Jesus, saved me from sin and death. The Word came to scatter the darkness. You have brought us light! Now, help us be lights to others so that they can also be with us in heaven! Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 25, 2018

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

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
James 1:17

Changing shapes

Have you ever looked in a mirror that distorts your body? Some of the mirrors make you look tall and skinny, and others make you seem short and fat. I was at the mall the other day and watched as a boy in a wheelchair came up to the mirrors. He sat there and rolled back and forth between the two mirrors. He seemed to be having such a great time. Even though he was not able to fully enjoy the effects of it, you could see the happiness in his eyes.

How could that boy be thankful for having to sit in a wheelchair for the rest of his life? Have you gone through times in life and sometimes found it hard to be thankful? When things don’t go our way, we tend to start blaming God for not providing. We may go as far as disowning God for a short time. When we do not know the outcome of our future, doubt starts to creep in and causes us to take matters into our own hands. The truth is that we do not deserve a God who gives us perfect gifts. We are lost and hopeless sinners.

Jesus never promised that being a Christian would mean freedom from problems. Our verses remind us to be thankful in all circumstances. We don’t know the plan God has for us in the future. We may even be in pain while going through a bad time in life, unable to see light at the end. We may even feel completely lost and feel abandoned by everyone, and God still tells us to give thanks! We have a reason to be glad because we have a way to handle problems. James tells us our God does not change like shifting shadows. Shadows come and go. Our God is forever. He promised to be with us forever whether walking or in a wheelchair. He knows your burdens. He will help you carry your burdens.

Stop and take a moment to thank God because you woke up this morning. Thank God for life. For each other. For friends. For parents. For house and home. For Christ and salvation. He is the satisfaction for my soul.

Prayer: Dear Savior, you hold me in the palm of your hand. Give me the faith to thank you even on the darkest days. Even when all hope seems lost, remind me to give thanks because you have washed us clean by the blood of your innocent Son. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 18, 2018

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Joy

Before you begin to read this, make a list of things that make you happy. You can write it down or make a mental list. Try to get as many as you can.

Did you get them all? Now continue reading … .

In an episode of VeggieTales, Madame Blueberry says she has everything she could ever need, but she is not happy with what she has. On her way home from the store, after buying pretty much everything, she passes a girl who is with her mom and dad on her birthday. The girl does not have much, but she is happy. That’s when Madame Blueberry realizes that she does not need material items to be happy.

It is easy to get caught up in material things. Go back to your list of things that make you happy. What’s on it: A TV show? A book? Your pet? Mom, Dad, Aunt Sally, and Uncle Joe? Did God, church, or the Bible make your list? When we think of what makes us happy, it’s so easy to get caught up by the things we see and touch nearest to us. As long as we live, we face the temptation to place God who brings us his salvation on the backburner.

Remember to focus on the reason for that joy:

  • God gave you “new birth” through baptism!
  • God gave you “living hope” through Jesus’ resurrection!

Our hope is alive because Jesus is alive! Now we look forward to an eternity in heaven with him! That’s something to be happy about! No more trials. No more heartache. No more temptation. We will have the honor of standing at the feet of Jesus. He wiped away our sins with his death so that we can finally know what peace feels like. Resting our hope in Jesus Christ will bring us eternal happiness, no matter what struggles we are faced with here on earth.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank you for the joy of life everlasting in your arms. Continue to work through me so that I can help others find your joy. Guide me to hold tight to your Word when I am faced with trials, and help me to find joy here on earth, knowing that I will find eternal joy it is in heaven with you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 11, 2018

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.
1 Timothy 6:6-10

Contentment

Some people think that contentment means getting everything they want as soon as they want it. If that’s contentment—a desire and want of more—it can easily lead to a negative view of life that says, “Look what I DON’T have.” It can lead us to resent what others have but we don’t.

What is the secret to happiness? God says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Being content with what you have rather than looking at what you do not will put your focus on the positive and not the negative. Contentment is the heart of a believer who believes God is our provider, who provides for our spiritual and earthly needs because we are his children. Jesus gave up his breath on the cross. There we find all debts of sin are paid. It promises peace with God. It assures of salvation. It leads to the conviction that “God works all things out for our good”.

One of the best definitions of contentment that I have heard is, “not having all you want but wanting only what you have.” Satisfied with what you have—that is being content. It means having all you need not craving for more. “But what if I do not have all I need to support my life?” Jesus answers, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26) Yes, you are valuable to Jesus! Find contentment in him!

Prayer: Dear Lord in heaven help us to be content with what we have and not to worry about what we do not. For we know that you will provide everything that we need to keep our bodily life. Thank you for sending your Son to die on the cross in our place so that we can be content in you today. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 4, 2018

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore, I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:19-27

The cause

A quick jab to the nose! A left hook to the temple! The enemy is gaining on you. His punches are coming one right after another. After another left hook to your head, he finishes you off with an uppercut that sends you to the ground. Staring at the mat beneath you, you wonder if you will ever be able to get back up again.

Have you ever felt this way? As if you are trapped in a boxing match and life is throwing punches at you, one right after the other?

What about when it comes to telling others about Jesus? Our text for today shows us how the author, the apostle Paul, tirelessly tells others about Jesus. Like Paul, our purpose here on earth is to share the gospel and win souls for heaven. This is easier said than done. We get rejected, we feel we don’t have the words to say, we don’t think we are getting through to anyone, and maybe even our own friends laugh in our faces. These are the punches that come with sharing the gospel, and the truth is…we can’t win this match on our own.

We don’t have the strength to finish the fight. We are weak and sinful human beings. Because of the sin that corrupts us to the core of our very being, we and all those we love deserve only eternal damnation. If we ourselves are destined for death in hell, how then can we expect to win the souls of our fellow damned for heaven? The dead cannot raise the dead. That friend you have that does not know Jesus, you will never be able to convert him…on your own.

Jesus Christ, our mighty substitute, steps into the ring. He fights for you and me! He came to earth, lived the perfect life we could not, died an innocent death on the cross in our place, and then raised to life so we too may rise. As if that was not enough, he also promises to be with us as we tell others about his love. It is only with his power that we, and many others, will receive the crown of eternal life in heaven.

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, I am weak. So often I do not take hold of the opportunities you give to me to proclaim your Word. Fight for me, dear Savior. Be with me as I tell others about your amazing love. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 28, 2018

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”
Mark 8:34

Rebel #4 – The Weight

Many things make it hard to follow Jesus. We’ve talked about some of them this month. There are more that we haven’t even talked about. There are the temptations the world holds out as a lure. There is the direct opposition the world brings, for we believe things the world directly opposes. The devil is constantly after us like a roaring lion. So much is stacked against us as we live for Jesus and rebel against this world and its ways.

Those struggles are hard enough, and then Jesus adds one more. “Deny yourself.” In other words, Jesus is calling us to put others ahead of ourselves. We are not first, Jesus is. We are not even second, everyone else is. Which means—we are always last! “Deny yourself.”

We want “me” time, to be taken care of, and to have our turn. We want what is good for us. It’s what we want. But Jesus says, “Deny yourself. I’m first. They’re next. You are always last.”

But we want what’s good for us. We want our way the way we want it and when we want it. Jesus says, “Deny yourself. What I want for you is what you should always want.”

This is the cross that Jesus gives us to carry, the cross of self-denial. Yes, this is the cross Jesus calls us to carry as we follow him.

As we step under the weight of our cross and learn to say “God your way is best, and I trust you,” then we find contentment and even joy in the life that God gives us. When we learn to say, “God, I will give up my wants for the good of the people around me,” then we find that God will provide for us in ways that we didn’t even imagine with even more than we could have thought.

The weight of the cross and the struggle against it drives us to our knees so that we rely on God and on him alone. When God is all we have, we learn that God is all we need. He gives us salvation, support, and strength. He gives us all that we need.

So, step under that cross and accept in faith whatever God gives. Step under that cross and deny yourself as you live with other people.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you call me to deny myself, take up my cross and follow you. O Jesus, it is hard and heavy. I ask you to give me strength to carry this cross. As I do, draw me closer to you, knowing you meet all my needs. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 21, 2018

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
1 Corinthians 1:18

Rebel #3 – The Bloody Fool

Jesus would never make the list of superheroes. He just wouldn’t. He doesn’t carry himself like a superhero. He doesn’t act like a superhero. The cross appeared to be his kryptonite, rendering him powerless. If you look at the man, Jesus, and his story, you’ll see that he has quite a dismal end.

When human eyes look at Jesus, they may be tempted to see only a failure. His enemies got away with his murder. He appeared to have lost everything at the grave.

Human ears hear things that don’t make sense. His enemies tell lies about him, and Jesus doesn’t defend himself. The people mock him, and Jesus silently lets them. We hear sounds of defeat and loss, and Jesus seems powerless to stop it.

This is our Savior!?! The one who loses to all his enemies? The one who is mocked and doesn’t even offer a response?

He is the one we worship. He is the one in whom we believe.

It’s no wonder that people think we are foolish. The One we call on for help and salvation couldn’t even help himself. “He couldn’t even save himself, how will he save the world,” they mock. “He was silent against all his enemies, maybe they were right,” they laugh. The One we trust seems like a failure, and we look foolish for trusting him. People think we’re crazy for believing in Jesus as we do.

But it’s not as foolish as it seems. In the weakness of Jesus, we see the power of Jesus letting people take his life so that we could have our life forever. In the death of Jesus, we see Jesus taking all the punishment that our sins deserved, so that we wouldn’t be punished for the things we had done. In the cross, we see the triumph of Jesus over and against all our enemies. There at the cross and in his death, Jesus delivered a death blow to our enemy, the devil.

There in his death, we find our life and resurrection. There in his weakest moments, we find our salvation. To the world, our Savior Jesus seems like a bloody fool. But to us, he is our Savior and our God.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for helping me to see you as you really are. You are not weak, you are mighty to save. You are not foolish, you are wise to win me for heaven. Grant me faith to believe you even when the world says I’m crazy and foolish for doing it. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 14, 2018

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he inquired. Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’” “All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?” Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Matthew 19:16-22

Rebel #2 – The Guide

People love a good “how to” guide. We want to know how to fix a phone that got dropped in the toilet. We want to know how to run a little bit faster. We want to know how to do all sorts of things. We even want to know how to get into heaven. This week we consider the guide that we have from our God, the “how to” of getting to heaven.

In Matthew 19, a man came up to Jesus to ask, “What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” He had the idea that if he did the right “good thing” he could get heaven. He was looking for a “how to” guide from Jesus. Jesus did give him a guide, but he couldn’t follow it, so he went away sad.

Take a moment to evaluate yourself and your relationship with God. How close to God are you on a scale of 1-10? Rate yourself closer to 1 if you feel like you’ve got a long way to go. Rate yourself closer to a 10 if you feel like you’re doing a good job in your relationship with God. After you’ve evaluated your relationship with God, read on.

I would be willing to guess that you didn’t rate yourself a 10. You looked at your relationship with God and felt like you weren’t quite where God wants it to be. You’re not a “10.” By doing this, you’re evaluating yourself the way this man did. You’re looking for a “how to” list from God to be good enough. If you can to do all the right things, you’d be a 10. But if you keep evaluating yourself this way, you’ll always walk away sad because you’ll never be a 10.

Jesus wanted this man to completely give up on his own ability to be good and find his goodness in Jesus. This man walked away before Jesus could tell him the only way to be good. Jesus would have told him, “I am your goodness. I am your righteousness. I am your perfection.”

We are perfect because Jesus declares us so. We are good because Jesus declares us to be good. We are righteous because Jesus makes us so. The apostle Paul says it like this: “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). So you see, you already are a “10” in God’s sight.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, I am your sin. You took on my sin and claimed it as your very own. You give me your righteousness, and by faith, I claim it as my very own. You became what you were not, to make me what I was not. By your grace, I’m a “10” in your sight. Thank you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 7, 2018

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:21-25

Rebel #1 – The Enemy

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong? Do you ever feel like you don’t fit in?

It’s supposed to be that way for us in this world. The Bible calls us aliens and strangers in this world. We’re supposed to be different. While our friends go one direction pursuing sin and priorities that are not God’s, we go against the stream pursuing that for which Jesus took hold of us. We don’t belong in this world. Heaven is our destiny; that is where we belong. Not only that, but we have a different God, a different guide, and we fight a different war than everyone else in this world.

This month’s devotions consider what it means and looks like to be rebels as followers of Jesus. This week we look at our enemy. Immediately, we think of the devil who like a prowling lion creeps in the tall grass looking to devour us. We also think quickly of the temptations that the world dangles in front of us.

Those are certainly our enemies, but sometimes you are your own worst enemy. Paul knew it was true: “Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.” There was a war inside of him. It made him a prisoner to sin. Previously in Romans 7, Paul expresses a deep frustration because he isn’t doing and can’t do what he knows he should.

You’ll find the same thing as you look at your heart and life. You know the good that you should be doing, but you don’t do it. Sometimes you intentionally plan to do that thing you shouldn’t do. Other times, you fall into sin and feel helpless against it.

Paul is teaching us a powerful and important truth about ourselves: We’re worse than we thought. There isn’t a spark of goodness in us. We can’t just get over our sin by trying hard and doing the right things. It’s not in us. What a bunch of wretches we are!

Our only hope is that we are more loved than we would even dare imagine. Our God has delivered us from sin and death. Our God has even rescued us from this wicked, sinful nature in us. He has drowned it to death in our baptisms. He has given us complete victory in our Savior Jesus and set us free to live for him. He does it daily for us as we confess our sins and hear his forgiveness. He does it daily in the waters of our baptisms.

The truth is you don’t belong to sin anymore; you belong to your God. He redeemed you by his Son and gives you the victory through his Son, Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, I am so frustrated by the sins I commit. I don’t want to do them. Sometimes I do them on purpose. Sometimes I do them without even thinking about it. Forgive me for them all and set me free by your blood to live for you. I belong to you. Help me to live for you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 30, 2018

Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.
Luke 22:39-43

God’s strength

This week we’re wrapping up our devotions on spiritual habits. I want you to think back to all of these devotions and notice something. We want to spend time in God’s Word, because in his Word he gives us his strength, courage, and motivation to live for him. We want to spend time talking to our God in prayer, because God promises to always answer our prayers. We want to spend time with the community of believers, because they will give us strength from the Lord.

A theme emerges from these spiritual disciplines: They turn us to our God who gives us his gifts of strength, answers, help, and courage.

We see an Jesus’ example as he cried out to his Father in anguish. He was thoroughly overwhelmed by what was about to happen. He even begged that God would take this cup of suffering away from him. Look what God did in answer to his prayer: An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.

This is what God promises to do for you as you walk through life. He promises that his Word is power for salvation; it is food and strength for you and your soul. He promises that he will always hear your prayers for help and for strength. He says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you” (Psalm 50:15). He promises that his church, his community of believers, will endure to the end. You will never be alone on this earth as you live by faith here.

God has given you the gifts of his Word and Sacraments, prayer, and his people to give you his strength and his support through life.

Prayer: Father, thank you for giving me your gifts to help me stay faithful to you until death. Thank you for giving me your strength to live for you all the days of my life. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 23, 2018

“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Matthew 26:41

The power of habit: Know your weakness

No one gets married and thinks, “In ten years, I’ll be unhappy in this marriage and go looking for love somewhere else.” No one ever says to themselves, “I think I’ll be a drug addict or an alcoholic when I grow up.” No Christian ever confessed their faith thinking, “I won’t always believe this.”

Yet it happens every day. It even happens to pastors of churches and the most dedicated students of the Bible. They fall into sin and away from Jesus. What happens?

Peter never dreamt that he would be the one to deny Jesus. He actually took an oath, because he was so sure that he would never do it. But just hours later, he swore another oath saying that he didn’t even know who Jesus was.

What happened?

Jesus identifies it for us: “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We have the heartfelt desire to remain faithful and steadfast. We have the sincere intention to stay true, faithful, and steadfast in our faith. Our spirit is certainly willing.

But our flesh is weak. Our nature has been weakened by sin and weakness. Ever since Adam and Eve, our nature has been tipped toward sin in the most despicable and vile ways. Even as Christians, our sinful nature is still a powerful force to be reckoned with.

Our spirit is willing, but our flesh is weak. Because of the weakness of our nature, we need spiritual disciplines to bolster and to hold us up. We need the power of God’s Word to correct, rebuke, encourage, and train us. We need to be people of prayer, constantly turning to our source of strength. We need close and trustworthy Christian friends around us to keep turning us back to the God of our salvation.

Because of our sinful weakness, it vital for us to keep active in God’s Word and prayer and to stay close to God’s people.

His Word, prayer, and his people are God’s gifts to keep us close to him all the days of our life and to call us back when we stumble and fall. Use them. They are God’s gifts to you.

Prayer: Lord God, I know my weakness more and more each day. Keep turning me back to you for strength and direction. You are my Savior. I need you. Please help. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 16, 2018

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:23-25

The power of habit: Christ-centered community

These are the days when we are more connected and yet more disconnected at the same time. We are more connected on our phones, more connected through social media. At the very same time, we are also quite disconnected as we live life. We’re connected thumb-to-thumb but not face-to-face and not soul-to-soul.

That can be a dangerous thing. Social media can lead us to be fake with other people. We easily filter the way life is really going. We can easily hide what is really going on with us. We can easily isolate ourselves from the Christ-centered community that we so desperately need. The truth is: The lone wolf gets picked off. That’s who the devil goes after because there is no one around to help when tempted.

God’s people need each other. We need other people in our lives. That is precisely why the writer wrote these words to us. He knew that we needed a Christ-centered community around us.

On the one hand, we need each other to see the blind spots in our faith and the sins that hide in the corners of our lives that we can’t see. We need other Christians to show us our sins. Even more than that, we need them to show us Jesus’ forgiveness. We need a Christ-centered community around us to keep us close to our Savior.

On the other hand, other people need us just as deeply in their lives. They need us to lovingly show them the blind spots of their faith, the sins that hide in the corners of their life. They need us to show them their sins and even more than that to tell them that Jesus has forgiven it all! They need us to spur them on with gospel encouragement!

You, dear Christian, need the family of believers, the community of Christ-followers, around you. In fact, they are God’s gift to you to keep you close to Jesus until he returns. And in the very same way, you are God’s gift to them to keep them close to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear God, thank you for blessing me with many wonderful friends. Be with my friends and me. Help us to encourage each other to grow in your Word. Keep Christ as the center of our lives and bring us closer to each other by bringing us closer to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 9, 2018

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
James 5:16-18

The power of habit: Prayer

Why we don’t pray more? I can only speak for myself, but I sometimes don’t pray more because I think I can get more done if I actually “do” it than if I pray about it first. I think that my thinking, my working, my worrying, and my planning are more powerful than actually praying about it.

When I write it down it sounds pretty foolish, doesn’t it? But our lack of prayer says just that. Our lack of praying says to God that our activity and our working is more important than asking him to act and work and do.

James inspires us to believe that prayer is a powerful thing. He tells us that our prayers are powerful and effective. Our prayers matter. Our prayers change things. Our prayers make a difference.

If you believed that something was powerful, would you do it? Of course. If you thought something would make all the difference in the world, you would make sure it happened. If you thought something mattered, you would make time for it, intentionally, purposefully, regularly. That’s what we do for things that make a difference and matter to us.

James gives an example of an effective prayer. He reminds us of the story of Elijah in 1 Kings 17 and 18. Elijah prayed that it would not rain—and it didn’t rain. God withheld rain for three and a half years because of Elijah’s prayer. Then Elijah prayed again that it would rain—and God sent rain.

Prayer works. Prayer matters. It is powerful and effective, not because of the person who is praying, but because the person praying invokes God’s powerful name and humbly relies on God’s gracious promises and saving will. The story of Elijah—and many other stories throughout the Bible—show us that this is true.

So pray. Make a habit of it. Your Father in heaven loves you. He has forgiven all your sins, and he now invites you to call on him in prayer. In his love for you, he hears your prayers and works powerfully for you and for the world.

Prayer: Lord God, you teach me that prayer is a powerful thing. In your grace, Father, you invite me to pray. Help me to understand how powerful prayer is so that I make it a part of the very fiber of my life. Yes, Lord Jesus, teach me to pray without stopping. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – September 2, 2018

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
2 Timothy 3:14-17

The power of habit: Bible reading

What if I told you that you would die tomorrow unless you took one pill? Would you miss it? Probably not. You would probably set an alarm. You would do something to make sure that you always took that pill every single day, because you know it is a matter of life and death.

There are other things like that in our life, things that aren’t a matter of life and death, but still very important to us. We have daily routines and habits that are really important—brushing your teeth, taking a shower, doing your homework, or eating meals. These things have become part of your regular life, and you wouldn’t really consider cutting them out.

This month we’re going to talk about some disciplines that are important for your spiritual health. These are things that we want to be diligent about practicing. If we don’t practice these things, we put our faith at risk. We risk falling from the faith and losing out on eternity. Jesus himself tells us to “watch and pray” so that we don’t fall into temptation.

The first habit is Bible reading. It’s something that Paul tells Timothy to continue. He urged him, “Continue in what you learned and have become convinced of.” Paul wants to Timothy to make a habit of remembering what he had been taught. He wanted Timothy to keep Scripture on the front of his mind, continuing to remember it.

Then he tells him, and us, why.

The Scriptures make us wise for salvation. There is no better or higher reason than this. God’s Word rebukes us when we are wrong. It teaches us of God’s love for us. It points us to God’s forgiveness of our sins in Christ. It equips us for a life of righteousness. It gives and strengthens our faith in Jesus.

God’s Word is good for everything else in this life too. In short, God’s Word is also a personal trainer for our daily walk as Christians. It equips and trains us to live as God’s people in this world.

Would you ever skip brushing your teeth on purpose? Of course not! It wouldn’t be healthy. The same goes for daily Bible reading. Sustain your spiritual health and grow in it by including God’s Word in your daily life.

Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, we thank you for the many opportunities you give us to make your Word a part of our daily routines. Strengthen our bond with you and help us realize the importance your Word has on our daily lives. In His name we pray, Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Commission on Youth and Family Ministry.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email