Transformed – teen devotion – April 11, 2021

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
Isaiah 53:5

Scars that heal

Every scar has a story.

The scar on the athlete’s knee tells of the torn ligament and the lost season. The scar on the child’s chin tells of the hard fall when learning to ride a bike. Do you remember the stories behind your scars?

Over 700 years before Jesus was born, the prophet Isaiah wrote about the scars the suffering Savior would receive. We cringe as the nails drew innocent blood from Jesus’ hands and feet on a cross. We sigh as the spear pierced his lifeless body. Do you remember the story behind Jesus’ scars?

Jesus’ scars tell the seriousness of sin. Our holy God demands that sin be punished, and the punishment deserved for our sin is death. But Jesus’ scars also tell the seriousness of God’s peace. Jesus willingly and lovingly took the punishment in our place. He got what we deserved. In exchange, he gives us what we didn’t deserve—his forgiveness and peace.

Every scar has a story.

But not all scars are visible. Thomas, one of Jesus’ disciples, was scarred with doubt. He wouldn’t believe Jesus had risen unless he saw the scars and touched them. Jesus appeared and removed all doubt. Jesus’ scars brought Thomas what Isaiah had prophesied long ago—healing peace. They still do!

Do you have any “invisible scars?” Are you scarred by grief? Have you been hurt by a friend or bullied by an enemy? Do you have deep pains inside from some heavy burden? Then, remember Isaiah’s words. Look upon Jesus’ scars. Find healing and peace in Jesus!

Prayer: Jesus, heal my wounds physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Help me to find healing and peace in your wounds and your great love for me. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – April 4, 2021

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.
Genesis 3:15

The plan the whole time

The dog’s owners noticed his leg was bleeding. Something had agitated the dog causing him to run over to where their child was playing. The dog barked fiercely and limped away with a wound.

The veterinarian’s examination discovered the marks from a snake bite. The story became clear. The dog saw the threat and put himself in harm’s way between the snake and the child. The dog took the wound to save the child. This is amazing love from a faithful friend!

But that true story pales in comparison to the true story God’s faithful love and his plan to save!

God saw the danger and damage the devil caused. The devil, who took on the form of a snake, slithered into God’s perfect world to tempt and destroy. He succeeded in enticing the first people to consume his lies and then consume the forbidden fruit.

The results were instant! Sin entered the world. Shame, fear, blame, and death quickly followed. Not a moment goes by where we aren’t reminded of sin’s devastating impact.

But God responded with an incredible plan to save. He promised a serpent-crusher, a sin-bearer, a death-destroyer! With each added promise, the story became clearer and clearer. A Savior would come!

And he did! Jesus put himself in harm’s way—receiving wounds and taking sin’s punishment to save us. Jesus put himself in harm’s way—taking on and taking down the devil. Jesus put himself in harm’s way—entering death and then rising from it. All for you!

This is everlasting love from our greatest friend!

Prayer: Jesus, thank you for your amazing and everlasting love. When sin, fear, or death close in on me, come quickly to comfort me with your promises of salvation, forgiveness, and life. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – March 28, 2021

At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
Matthew 27:51

Torn

Torn is not a word we often associate with anything good.

Things that are torn, like paper or clothes, usually get thrown in the trash.

A torn ACL can end a season for a basketball player.

A torn relationship causes hurt feelings, awkwardness, and embarrassment.

A torn relationship, unfortunately, is exactly what we have with God because of our sins. Our sin alienates us from God and makes us his enemies.

Throughout the Old Testament, this torn relationship was pictured quite vividly by the curtain that separated the Most Holy Place from the Holy Place in the temple. The Most Holy Place was where God dwelled. Because of sin, no one was ever allowed to enter there, apart from one person, the high priest. And he entered only once a year in order to make atonement for the sins of God’s people.

But all of that changed when Jesus died on the cross. Jesus willingly but undeservedly allowed himself to be punished on the cross for our sins, and his relationship with his Father was torn for our sake.

At the moment of Jesus’ death, the curtain of the temple was torn in two. The symbol of the torn relationship between God and people was removed. Because of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, God’s relationship with all people was restored forever.

Because of Jesus you now have full access to God. You can go to him with anything. He is always near you. Your relationship with him is no longer torn, but eternally secure.

And now, with Jesus’ love and forgiveness, you also have the power and the tools to restore torn relationships with others!

Prayer: Lamb of God, thank you for restoring the torn relationship between us and your Father through the shedding of your holy and precious blood. May your redemptive love work in and through us bless the relationships in our lives. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – March 21, 2021

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
Matthew 27:45-46

Forsaken

As a child, did you ever get left somewhere accidentally? It’s a sickening feeling, “Did my parents forget about me?”

Some children experience something more serious than that. They were given up for adoption when they were young and may wonder, “Did my parents not want me anymore? Why did they give me up?”

One of our greatest human needs is to feel loved and accepted. The thought of being abandoned or rejected by our parents can shatter that sense of feeling loved and accepted. Rejection by loved ones, or even by friends can leave us feeling unloved, unaccepted, and forsaken.

Have you ever felt rejected? Maybe you’re experiencing those feelings today. If you are, God your Heavenly Father wants you to hear something, something very important. He has NOT forsaken you, and he never will.

How do we know? Because Jesus was forsaken for us.

While all of us at times have been or felt rejected or forsaken by others (perhaps some of us quite seriously), no human being will ever fully understand or appreciate the depth of rejection and abandonment that Jesus experienced in our place. From eternity, Jesus enjoyed the perfect love of his father. While hanging on the cross however, Jesus endured the full brunt of his father’s abandonment, rejection, and condemnation as payment for our sins. That is why he cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

All of us deserve to be abandoned and forsaken by God for our sins, but in an act of amazing unconditional love, God abandoned his Son Jesus in our place. Jesus experienced that hell so that we never would.

Therefore, we can rest secure in God’s love for us. Even if we feel abandoned or rejected in our human relationships, we will never be abandoned or rejected by him. That gives us peace, hope, and joy.

Prayer: Dearest Jesus, how can I ever thank you for being forsaken by your Father so that I never will? Your love for me never ceases to amaze me. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – March 14, 2021

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
James 4:9-10 ESV

Season of resistance

Ben and Lauren had another fight. It was their third one in a week, and Ben was exhausted. He was tired of all the problems in their relationship. In desperation, he turned to God in prayer. A thought struck him, “Maybe my biggest problem is not the external fights I’m having with Lauren, but the internal fight inside of me.”

Ben’s prayerful thought echoes James chapter 4. In verse 1 of this chapter James says, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you?”

Our biggest problem is the fight that goes on inside of each of us, each and every day—the fight between the sinful, selfish nature that hates God’s will and the new nature, born again by God’s Spirit to live for him. If we’re going to resolve the other problems in life, this problem must first be resolved.

All of us sense the battle between these two natures when we struggle to do what is loving and right towards God or others.

James’ words lead us to humbly confess to God all of the times we let that old selfish nature win—when we fall to the devil’s temptations, hurt others, and want to blame others for all of our problems. When we confess, God reminds us that he graciously forgives us because of Jesus, who never fell to the devil’s temptations and won the battle with the devil through his death on the cross and resurrection.

James’ words also lead us to stay in the fight—to never give up! Staying in the fight means humbly submitting to God, resisting the devil, and drawing near to God.

God is calling each of us to humbly resist sin and wage war against it in our own hearts and lives. When we do, we have the promise of God to empower our new nature with his Spirit and to lift us up with his grace when we fall.

Prayer: Victorious Jesus, oh how I struggle in the fight against temptation. Thank you for forgiving me for the times when I fall. Give me your Spirit to stay in the fight and resist sin. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – March 7, 2021

Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!
Psalm 139:23-24 ESV

Season of searching

If you’re like most people, you don’t exactly love going to the doctor. There’s something scary about letting another person do a thorough examination of your body looking for something wrong. What if they find something? What if it’s serious? Maybe it’s just easier to deal with it on your own? Maybe it will just go away?

We do this spiritually too. There’s something a little scary about going to a holy God, knowing that he can do a thorough examination of your heart. And oh yes, he will find something wrong, something serious. It’s called sin, and it’s uncomfortable to have your deep, dark sins exposed! Maybe it’s just easier to deal with it on your own? Maybe it will just go away?

King David fell into this way of thinking. After he committed adultery with a married woman and then plotted the murder of her husband, he didn’t want his sin exposed. He tried to deal with his dangerous spiritual condition on his own. Fortunately, God graciously sent the prophet Nathan to speak to David and conduct a spiritual examination on his heart, leading David to finally confess his sins.

In Psalm 139, a spiritually restored David now shows us the only way to deal with our sinful condition. Here it is: ask God to perform a thorough examination of our heart and look for any spiritual afflictions. Confess our sins to God who knows our heart completely. God is the expert on our spiritual health and dealing with sin. He knows just how sinfully broken and corrupt we are and how desperately we need fixing. In his incredible mercy, he gives us the fix—his Son Jesus! Jesus took the fatal disease of sinful humanity on himself and died with it on the cross so that we might be cured.

This Lenten season, don’t shy away from the spiritual examinations God desires for your heart. Instead, like David, go to God in repentance. Ask him to search your heart and to lead you in the way everlasting.

Prayer: O Great Physician of the soul, search my heart. Expose the sin and corruption that lie there. Have mercy on me and assure me of your forgiveness. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – February 28, 2021

Then Nathan said to David, “You are the man!”
2 Samuel 12:7

Conflict avoidance

The Question: I’ve decided not to talk with my friends to avoid conflict. It is better for everyone, right?

Not talking to your friends when there is conflict between you is definitely the easier option, but is it really the better option? Is it what God wants you to do?

Nathan was a prophet while David was king of Israel. David created conflict with God, and it was up to Nathan as the prophet of God to resolve it. David wanted another man’s wife. He had sex with her. He lied and tried to cover it up. When he was in danger of being discovered, he had her husband murdered. In the end, David looked like the good guy because he took the mourning widow into his own home as his wife. God told Nathan to confront David about his sin.

Then the Lord sent Nathan to David. Put yourself in Nathan’s shoes! Nathan was to confront the king with what he had done, though David could easily have him killed. David had already shown that he was willing to murder to cover up his sin. Would Nathan be next? It would have made sense for Nathan to avoid the conflict, but he didn’t. He went to David and said, “David, you are the man. You are the sinner, the murderer, the liar.” Nathan addressed the conflict head on. Why?

Nathan loved David so much he confronted him with the truth. God’s people are sometimes called not just to do what is safe and easy. They do what is best for others. David’s eternal life was at stake due to dangerous, unresolved, and unrepentant sin. Nathan put David before himself and confronted him.

That is what God wants you to do in your conflicts. Avoiding conflicts may at the moment be the easy way out, but it doesn’t make them go away. Confront conflict! Love your friend. Put them first just like Nathan did his king, like Jesus did for you.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, I experience many moments of being weak and afraid. Comfort me with the assurance that you still love and will always forgive me. Reach down and take hold of my hand and lift me to a higher level of strength. Give me courage to speak when I should, and to know when best to be silent. Give me wisdom so that your will, not mine, be done. Use me to accomplish your purpose in Christ. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – February 21, 2021

Then the king [David] said to Zadok, “Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favor in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling place again. But if he says, ‘I am not pleased with you,’ then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.”
2 Samuel 15:25-26

Squad problems: Drama queens

The Question: Some of my friends do things for attention all of the time. It’s really annoying. How should I deal with them?

Remember David? He was that famous king of Israel who killed Goliath with a stone and slingshot. God blessed King David with many long years of prosperity and peace.

There was someone in David’s life who wanted all the attention—David’s son, Absalom. Absalom would sit at the gate of the city, listen to people’s problems and say, “If I were king, things would be different.” Absalom wanted the attention. He wanted to be loved by everyone. He wanted to be king. And it worked! Absalom was able to turn the country against David.

David, his whole family, and the people who were faithful to David had to pack their things and run for their lives. Some priests brought the ark of God with David. They knew that where the ark is, God is. So, if the ark was with David, God would be with David and will bless him. But what did David say? “Take the ark back.”

What’s the lesson for us? David knew and trusted that God is fully in control of everything that is happening. If God wanted Absalom to be king, he would be king. If God wanted David to be king, David would be king.

Yes, our friends can grab the spotlight, and that can be frustrating especially if it comes at our expense. Take a deep breath. God knows what is happening. If God allows your friend to have that attention, it is for a reason. If God wants you to have more attention, you’ll get it. There is no need to stress over something that God is in complete control of. This truth also comes with a promise. God works out all things for the good just like he did for David.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, too often I stress over things that are beyond my ability to control. Sometimes my heart gets so heavy, and I feel insignificant and invisible. O Savior, tell me that isn’t so! Come close to me, my Lord. Whisper again into my heart your warm words of forgiveness, love, and promise. Only you can truly fill my inner emptiness. Help me not to seek the spotlight. Instead, I will trust you to lift me. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – February 14, 2021

Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.
1 Kings 21:1-4,16

Squad problems: Jealousy

The Question: My boyfriend/girlfriend is jealous and says things that make me sad and angry. I really care. It will get better, right?

I get why you don’t like jealousy in your life. Sinful jealousy is so destructive. It can destroy friendships, relationships, and overall happiness. Look at the dark path that jealousy led King Ahab down.

Depression, anger, hate, and eventually murder all came from jealousy in Ahab’s heart. I am not saying jealousy will lead to murder, but it clearly leads to nothing good. Jealousy is definitely something you don’t want in your relationships and life.

So here are some godly tips to help suppress jealousy, specifically in relationships.

  1. Check yourself. Jealousy is wanting something that you do not have. If your boyfriend/girlfriend is getting jealous, it may be a warning that they want something they are not getting from you. If you are giving someone else special attention that should be going to your boyfriend/girlfriend and it is making them jealous, stop it. Dating is practice for marriage. Practice being emotionally faithful (give special attention) to your future spouse by being emotionally faithful to your boyfriend/girlfriend.
  2. Communicate with each other. If there is jealousy in the relationship, talk to each other. Identify what your boyfriend/girlfriend feels like they are not getting. Take each other’s words and actions in the kindest possible way (Eighth Commandment) and build trust.
  3. Trust in God. God provides everything you need in a relationship. It’s why he gave his only Son who treats us as if we are his bride! He will provide everything you need—including the right words to say, direction in your life, and peace knowing that he’s got you.

Prayer: My Father in heaven, you are a welcome refuge when I become the victim of my own insecure feelings. Help me to be humble, grateful, and at peace. Make me more like you. Give me grace to smile when I want to cry and to forgive when I want to fight back. As you showed me love in Jesus, help me to live in his love. Amen.


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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 7, 2021

Samson went down to Timnah and saw there a young Philistine woman. When he returned, he said to his father and mother, “I have seen a Philistine woman in Timnah; now get her for me as my wife.” His father and mother replied, “Isn’t there an acceptable woman among your relatives or among all our people? Must you go to the uncircumcised Philistines to get a wife?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me. She’s the right one for me.”
Judges 14:1-3

Squad problems: Self-destructive

The Question: What should I do when my friend is involved in self-destructive behavior?

The struggle is, “How much does God expect me to do?” Samson’s father gives us some answers.

First of all, God wants us to be a good influence. You can encourage your friend with words and remind them what is God pleasing. You can also influence them by letting your good behavior rub off on them. BE CAREFUL! Don’t let their bad behavior influence you.

Second, know that you are not responsible for your friend’s behavior. God wants you to influence, warn, and love, but at the end of the day, your friend is responsible for their own actions.

Finally, pray and give thanks. Pray that God would lead your friend to change their ways. Pray that God would give you the right words to say and make you a good influence. Pray that God would use this situation for your friend’s good. And give thanks that Jesus has died on the cross for your and your friend’s sins.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I pray for friends of mine who are caught up in self-destructive behavior. Thank you for your promise never to leave or forsake them and to work this moment of life for their future good. Assured of your love for them, guide my words and behavior to reflect my love for them and the power of Christ to assist and save them. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – January 31, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
Psalm 34:8-10

Refuge

I will be fine in life as long as I have _______. Fill in the blank.

Really think about it. What is so important to you that you’d put it in the blank? Family? A girlfriend or boyfriend? Money? My phone? Approval of others? My health?

This past year showed us that things we take for granted can be gone in a flash.

But through all of the craziness of 2020, God never left. He didn’t leave you. You are part of his people.

If anything, this past year has taught us that God is the only one strong enough to fill in the blank. He alone has the ability to satisfy all of your needs and calm all of your fears. He alone hears all of your prayers and knows all of your thoughts. He alone knows every fault about you and loves you in spite of them.

So, “taste and see” that he is good. Experience what life is like when you run to God on a daily basis and let him be your refuge instead of those other things you might use to fill in the blank.

Jesus said “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” You can have a full life, even with Covid-19 in the world, as you depend on Jesus and his Word for Every. Single. Thing. In. Life.

Even people as strong and powerful as lions will come to ruin eventually if they rely on themselves. But those who seek the Lord and rely on him lack nothing.

Prayer: Lord, I need you. Oh, how I need you. Every hour I need you. You’re my one defense. My righteousness. Oh God, how I need you! Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – January 24, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Romans 12:18

Make peace, not war

How do you feel about Donald Trump, the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” and wearing a mask?

More importantly, how do you interact with someone who views each of these topics differently than you?

This might seem strange, but do you have four minutes right now?

If you want to do something that will change your day for the better (and maybe change your year), read all of Romans 12 right now. It takes about two minutes to read.

Read it a second time. This time ask yourself, “What if every Christian I know lived this way?” What would be different in our world? Now ask yourself, “Do I live this way?”

No doubt, you’d want to be around a person like Paul describes in the chapter: self-sacrificing, humble, uses their talents for others, sincere, devoted, joyful, patient, faithful, sharing, hospitable, peaceful, forgiving, trusting the Lord for vengeance.

When you read this list, you might start to feel guilt. That’s because you don’t live like that all the time.

That’s why it’s so important to know that Paul starts off the chapter with this—“In view of God’s mercy…”

We won’t become people of peace unless we fully take in the fact that Jesus fought our spiritual war in our place—and won. We already have ultimate peace that no one can take from us.

You won’t become a person of peace unless you view those you disagree with as the same as you—souls whom Jesus suffered and won peace for.

Who do you disagree with? What’s one thing you can do today to be a person of peace with that individual?

Prayer: Lord, let me take in your mercy for me. I so often put myself first. Thank you for not acting like me. You put me and all people first by sending Jesus to fight for me and give me peace. Help me put others first and be a person of peace. Amen.


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Transformed – teen devotion – January 17, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
John 13:34-35

Assisted living

We learned a new term this past year: social distancing. We did it to keep people physically safe. But social distancing has revealed just how much we need each other.

As human beings, we need connection with each other. God did not design us to go through life alone. This year we saw feelings of loneliness and isolation skyrocket.

At the same time, we saw people make connections with others in creative ways. Some wrote messages on the sidewalk. Others talked to their elderly parents through the window at a nursing home. Zoom became a household name for virtual connection. It’s clear that human beings crave love from others.

Jesus tells us that as his disciples we not only need connection and love from other people, we are designed to give love and connection to other people.

The way we are to love others is very specific. It’s the way he loved us.

Soak in the type of love Jesus has for you. It’s self-sacrificing (willingly dying on the cross is the best proof of his love). It’s patient. Kind. It does not envy. It does not boast. It is not proud. It takes no pleasure in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always trusts. Always hopes. Always perseveres. Jesus’ kind of love never fails.

Jesus knew that we would be a light in a dark world if we loved other people this way. The world says “treat others as they treat you.” Believers in Christ shock everyone and say, “I will treat you as Jesus treats me.”

God made us to be rivers, not reservoirs. A reservoir stores things up. A river passes things on. Jesus gives us his amazing love so that we can be rivers and pass it on to others.

Do you need to be around a love-giving Christian today so they can pass on Jesus’ love to you? Who can you then pass that love onto? Call or text that person today. Or, visit them face to face if you can!

Prayer: Jesus, you love me with the best kind of love imaginable. You gave your all for me. Let me be a river and pass that love onto others in my life. Amen.


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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 10, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Time well spent

How many things were canceled during 2020 for you?

Maybe you laughed out loud just now (or maybe you groaned) because TONS of things were canceled.

We learned this past year to expect things to change at a moment’s notice and that plans are not permanent.

It’s actually good we experienced this. Why? Because our lives can be canceled at a moment’s notice. We don’t know how long God plans for each of us to live on this planet.

Thankfully, we don’t have to wrestle with fear about this, because we know that for believers in Jesus, death is a tool God uses to bring us into heaven.

So, the question is, how do we use the time that we have?

Well, the verse for today is a prayer from Moses—the faithful leader who God used to bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. He knew a lot about how things do not always go as you planned.

He is asking God to remind us to have a good sense of urgency in our lives since we don’t know when they’ll end. When we sense that our earthly lives are urgent and won’t go on forever, suddenly our priorities change. We become wiser in how we spend our time.

Hopefully 2020 taught you about the things that matter most: Your connection to Jesus. Your connection to other believers. Growing in your faith. Worshiping God through everything you do. Using your talents and time to serve others. And, sharing Jesus with those who don’t know him.

Which of the things mentioned above do you want to spend more doing in 2021? What’s one small step you can take right now to make that happen?

Prayer: Lord, you are the only thing that has lasted and will last forever. You are eternal. My life on earth is not. Teach me each day to live with a good sense of urgency so that I might focus on the things that matter most to you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – January 3, 2021

2020 was a tough year. As we look into the new year, what are some of the lessons we learn by looking back?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4

No pain, no gain

Wow. This past year has been difficult—even horrible—for us as individuals, as a country and as the human race. It’s okay, and even healthy, to admit this. It’s reality.

Maybe you wish 2020 was just a bad dream and that you’ll wake up to find out it never even happened. But the reality is that it did happen.

The events of this past year make it clear that you can’t avoid pain in life. In a sinful world, pain will find you.

Again, it’s okay, and even healthy, to admit this. But eventually, you have to go further than just acknowledging the pain. You have to have a strategy to deal with the pain in a healthy way.

James tells us that we first have to address how we think about pain.

It’s a lie that pain is only bad—a lie we believe. That’s why we’re shocked when James says, “consider it pure joy…whenever you face trials.” How can something that hurts bring joy?

He’s telling us we can have joy because there’s actually purpose in pain. He’s telling us that pain, in this life, is actually necessary for our spiritual growth.

It hurts when you lift weights and your muscles become sore. But that’s the only way your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

It’s the same for our faith. God uses the pain in our lives as an opportunity for us to rely less and less on our own power and more and more on his love and power—making our faith bigger and stronger. As you walk through life with God’s promises, you will see him give you a deep sense of confidence, maturity and peace—even while you’re in pain.

And, an even more comforting truth is that Jesus looked at the pain he was about to suffer on the cross with joy. He knew through his pain he would gain salvation for the entire world and ensure we would live with him forever in heaven—pain free.

It was worth it. You were worth it.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for all I’ve gained through your pain. Change the way I view pain in my life. Let me realize that you have a purpose to my pain, even if I don’t always see it. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 27, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
from ancient times.”
And he will be our peace.
Micah 5:2,5

The place

Were you born in a special place? I was born in a doctor’s office. My mother didn’t even make it to the hospital. It was some small town in Arizona that no one’s ever heard of. You have to really zoom in to find it on a map app.

If you were to choose the place where the Savior of the world was going to be born, do you think it would be some small place? Some town that’s hard to find on a map? Yet, that’s exactly what God did!

About 500 years before Jesus was born, God promised to bring the Savior from the town of Bethlehem, a small, insignificant dot on the map. What does that tell us about our God? It tells us that he can bring great blessings from the most unlikely of places. God likes to use the poor, the simple, and the weak things in life in order to show his power.

The Savior of the world would not be born in a great and powerful city, but in a small town. Insignificant shepherds would be the first to hear of God’s love born in the Christ child. It doesn’t matter who you are and where you come from, you see a Savior who relates to and loves you.

If you go to church because you feel at peace with God, but lose it once you leave, you forgot to take something home with you … Jesus! This Christmas, Bethlehem is the most peaceful place on earth to be because the babe of Bethlehem will be our peace. He’s your PEACE!

Prayer: Gracious Savior, you came from nothing to save us from the insignificance of this world. Your love and sacrifice prove that your greatest gifts—forgiveness and eternal peace—come from an unlikely place, a Savior born and laid in Bethlehem’s manger. All this for me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 20, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

The name

Do you know what your name means? In some cultures, the meaning of a person’s name is the most important factor. It seems like more parents are giving their kids names that are unique, edgy, or trendy. Do you think names matter?

Before God sent his Son into the world, he gave hints as to what this child would be like. We call these promises, or even prophecies. The people who lived before Christ had limited knowledge. They didn’t know all the details of Christmas and Jesus’ life and death as we do. But God didn’t hold back when he shared the names of Jesus, because these names would say a lot about who he is and what he would do.

He is Wonderful, filling our minds and hearts with awe over his love Not only will people think he is a wonderful person, but his work is wonderful as well.

He is the ultimate Counselor who hears our cries and knows our pain. Though a child, he has no need for counselors. He already has a plan for our salvation.

He is Mighty God with unparalleled power and unmatched strength. The point is clear: When you struggle, God will comfort you with all his might.

He is Everlasting Father who provides and protects us beyond this life and into eternity. Not only does he possess the eternal gene, but as a faithful and wise father, he will share eternity with his children. God sent his Son to work out the plan for our eternal good.

He is the Prince of Peace. That’s not just a name. “He himself is our peace” (Ephesians 2:14). He removes anything that has robbed us of peace. He calms our fears about sin, death, and where we stand with God because he is our Savior.

What’s in a name? With Jesus . . . everything!

Prayer: Dear Savior, draw me in to every detail of your names so that I find your grace for me. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 13, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.
Isaiah 40:3-4

The voice

He visits with several teenagers each week. They walk into his counseling office to talk through the issues they are facing and the struggles they are having. Topics range from addiction to suicide to depression to anger and more. This counselor spends hours each week listening to what’s eating away at all of these teenagers.

It’s complex. But among the many commonalities, one stuck out. He said, “There are so many voices vying for their attention and affection. The hard part is to realize the seldom few that are actually trying to help them.”

Social media, school, friends, family, the news, marketing—can you hear and even see all the voices that want something from you? In a world that cares mostly about getting and taking, can you see that so much of what we hear isn’t trying to help us? Especially as we get closer to Christmas, countless voices want our time, our attention, our money, our allegiance, our clicks, our love. And what can the world give in return? Short-lived pleasure or happiness at best?

That’s why God, through his Word, gives us noise-canceling headphones which tune into a clear voice that promises and provides. Long before Jesus ever came, God spoke through the prophet Isaiah about a voice in the wilderness. He would point people to the One who would give the life we cannot find in this world. John the Baptist would point people to the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, not because God wants to take our money, time, and energy like this world. Rather, God wants to give. In Jesus, we have a smooth pathway to life with God. He perfectly lived through all the highs and lows of his life, and even died on the cross to give us eternal peace so that we would know that his voice is the one that promises everything and actually delivers.

Prayer: Gracious Savior, tune my ears to listen to all of your eternal promises. Help me cancel out the noise as I trust in you. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – December 6, 2020

“B.C.” is the title of this month’s devotions. Each one highlights a prophecy indicating Christmas would happen long before that night Jesus was born dividing time itself into B.C. and A.D.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman and between your offspring and hers, he [the woman’s offspring] will crush your head and you will strike his heel.”
Genesis 3:15

The promise

Fill in the blank: “2020 has been _________.”

I bet you didn’t think of anything positive. It’s hard when we see all that’s gone wrong this year. But isn’t that the world we live in? If you’re anything like me you wonder, “Why? Where did all this come from?”

Go to the beginning. All was good—perfect in fact! Not just to our standards, but to God’s. Then our great ancestors broke it all for at least one reason—they believed that God was holding out on them. They believed the lie that their knowledge would be bigger and life would be better. Only the opposite became true. Fill in the blank: “Human life has been ____________.” With just a glance we see a world that is broken, lives that are hurting, and souls that have so much missing.

As it turns out, the devil is still whispering those lies today. “Life would be better if I had the next phone, if I had a bigger following, if I had better looks, or if I had greater popularity.” However, this world is not only broken, it tries to pull us farther in. The more we cling to the world the more we are broken by it.

This world will never truly fix us. It can’t even fix itself. Think of all the hostility, disease, pain, depression, stress, pollution, calamity, etc. (And that’s a big “etc.”!) Sin has ruined this world, and it permeates every aspect of our lives.

Yet it is directly into the mess and the face of the liar that God spoke his first promise. Isn’t that interesting? God wants you to overhear the way that he speaks to Satan. “Your head will be crushed!” He lets us lean in and listen to how he feels about all that is broken. He’s already thinking about the Savior being struck with the punishment for sin and death, which would happen on the cross. From Jesus’ first breath in the manger to his final breath on the cross, Jesus paid for every sin and delivered us from a broken world. Sin? Defeated! Death? Destroyed! Satan? Crushed! And you? Loved and saved, now and forever. That’s the sure promise of Christmas.

Prayer: Help me see your saving promise from the manger to the cross. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 29, 2020

This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4

The gospel comes first

Was your preferred candidate elected as president earlier this month? Is your political party of choice in control in our country? Do you think our country is doing fine, or do you think there is massive need for change and improvement? Do you want to be active in political thought and discussion? Do you want to be an advocate for change? Or are just not interested and want to go back to your latest TikTok marathon session?!

What is a Christian to think or do with politics and government today? What should be my greatest concern?

This whole month we’ve had devotions that have refocused our hearts and minds to be in line with what God says in his Word regarding these topics. However, as we work with God’s strength to honor and respect those whom God has established as our leaders, there is much freedom that we have in our political choices and beliefs. Thanks be to God that we can have differing viewpoints and philosophies and still be brothers and sisters in Christ! That said, there is a non-negotiable for life in this world and under any government. That would be this—the gospel always takes priority.

The joy of our Christian faith is that the gospel—the good news of Jesus Christ—is what took priority in the heart of our God. In his grace and goodness, he revealed his own good news to us—that he does in fact want all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. What amazing love, that God would desire first and foremost that sinners be forgiven, saved, and join him in life everlasting!

In the same, the love of Christ compels us to make the gospel a priority as well. You may think this or that about Republicans or Democrats, you may desire this or that as a reform in our country, and you may want him or her to be the next leader of your community or our country. Yet while we may lovingly and respectfully disagree on some of these points, we can all be in complete unity in our desire for other people to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ. Governments and leaders come and go, but the soul is an eternal matter. How important it is for us to urgently seek the salvation of souls through faith in Jesus Christ!

Dear Christian, watch your life, your heart, and your words carefully. Satan would divide us by frustration, anger, and hatred. And if he can divide us from each other in our country enough, he hopes to perhaps divide and separate us also from our God. Don’t let the things of this life and our country distract you from the greatest goal and good—the salvation of souls. As Christ has put us first when he came to save us, so we can put our neighbor first. In our lives, our hearts, and our words, let’s look for ways to let the gospel ring out clearly so that others may be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, as we live under a government which you have established, help us to make it a priority to share the salvation which you have won. Give us hearts that earnestly seek to share gospel with others, that they too may be saved and join us in life everlasting. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 22, 2020

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Romans 13: 6,7

Christian citizens

“Why would I support the government when it allows ________ to happen in our country? . . . I’m not paying taxes until the government proves it knows how to use my money! . . . How could I ever respect a president/governor/mayor who acts like that? Who could honor someone so dishonorable?”

Our sinful nature just eats this stuff up. Satan preys on my heart when it is not happy with our government or governmental leaders. Is it wrong to be dissatisfied with leaders? No. Is it wrong to want justice, moral laws, and peace? No. Is it wrong to personally feel a different leader could do a better job? Not at all. But the problem is how I react when Satan leads me to twist those thoughts in my heart into doing as I see fit. It’s almost as if Satan convinces us that if anyone in government sins or fails us, then we are justified in sinning back with disobedience, disrespect, or dishonor.

First of all, that’s not how Jesus lived. Our perfect Savior showed perfect respect and honor for those in authority. Perhaps you remember the time he told the Jewish leaders to, “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.” A fascinating statement of humble respect from our true God considering that Caesar claimed to be a god himself! We also consider how humble and respectful Jesus was to the weak-willed yet hard-hearted Pontius Pilate who sent him off to his crucifixion. How thankful we can be for Jesus, our perfect Savior, who lived a perfect life of humble respect in our place and then died to pay for our selfish sins.

In thanks for our Savior’s forgiveness, we too can live such a life of humble love and respect—yes, even when we disagree with or disapprove of our leaders. Thus, the apostle Paul teaches us that we can pay taxes to those who ask us to, even if we aren’t quite sure how well that money is being spent. And we can give respect and honor to those who lead us—yes, even if they have acted disrespectful and dishonorable themselves. Though we don’t condone the sins of leaders, we also understand that only Jesus is perfect. All other worldly leaders will fall into sin. Thus, we need to ask God to give them strength for the difficult task of leadership. For that alone—the challenge of their position and task—there is in fact a certain level of respect and honor due.

How challenging! God give us the strength and the wisdom to respond to Jesus’ incredible love with our lives of humble love and respect for all—including our government and its leaders.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, forgive my heart that so often strays in selfish anger, disrespect, and dishonor toward others, especially our government and its leaders. Move my heart to live in your love and to show respect and honor to all for whom it is due. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – November 15, 2020

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
1 Timothy 2:1-2

Pray for and live in peace

“Ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.” These are the famous words of JFK (John. F. Kennedy) from his presidential Inaugural Address on January 1, 1961. Wise words! Rather than seeking to be served by others or by your country, seek to serve your country and others. Certainly, a country filled with such humble servants and attitudes would be blessed with peace, unity, and strength.

Such wise thoughts don’t belong only to worldly leaders of the past though. Our God desires the same thing. As we live under a government that he has established for our good, God wants us in turn to serve our government. But not to worry! This doesn’t mean you have mandatory community service, military training, or political campaigns in your future! (Though, feel free to do so if the Lord moves your heart in such a way.) Rather, God wants us to serve our communities and our government in simple, humble ways.

The verses for our consideration this week help us to understand some of these ways we can show love and serve others. So what can I do for our country? Pray! Paul told the young pastor Timothy that he (and now we) can offer petitions, or requests to God, on behalf of the government. For example, we might pray for God to strengthen and support those who have difficult and challenging jobs. We can also pray fervently for God to give wisdom and diligence to those who lead. Other prayers we can offer include prayers of thanksgiving for those who lead. Yes, you heard me right—thanksgiving. Even if we disagree with those who lead and their laws or policies at times, we can still be thankful that we have leaders whom God has allowed into positions that serve our good.

When we have attitudes that are eager to serve our country through our humble living and fervent prayers, we will in fact accomplish much. We will do the very thing that Paul wrote at the end of verse two—we will contribute “peaceful and quiet lives” that let the light of Christ shine through us in all we can do. What a profound joy, then, that as we serve Christ in love, so also we serve our neighbor and our country. God bless us in such service!

Prayer: Lord of all, in this coming week of national thanksgiving, give to me a humble heart of thankfulness that is eager to pray for and serve others, including those who serve me in our government. Amen.


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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 8, 2020

For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
Romans 13:4

Government over me

Wouldn’t it be nice if we had no government? Then we wouldn’t have to argue so much about politics! Then we wouldn’t have to worry so much about following so many rules! Then we could drive as fast as we wanted on the freeway (at least legally this time)!

Not so fast on your wishful thinking! Though it might sound good on paper if we didn’t have government interfering with our personal business, in real life it would turn out to be one chaotic mess! If there was no local government, who would prevent anyone from committing a crime—be it small or large? If there was no state or federal government, who would protect us? If there was no government, who would keep the peace? The list could go on for all the problems that would quickly arise without government.

Surely, this last year we have seen again that no government is perfect. That means sinful people in government can sometimes abuse their power and citizens will not always feel safe or even be safe. But just because there has been political and civil unrest, protests, riots, and lots of fighting (verbally and physically), that doesn’t mean that government is useless.

As Christians, we recalled last week that God is in ultimate control and he has established all authorities in all places. This week we can pause to remember that God uses the government—yes even ours—as his servant for our good.

In the apostle Paul’s time, the Romans had all kinds of evils in their government—abuses of power, persecution of Christians, laws that permit great wickedness, and even an emperor who claimed to be a god himself. Yet at the same time, that government was used by God for Paul’s good. Paul traveled on Roman roads to preach the gospel. He relied on his Roman citizenship to protect him against unfair punishments and imprisonments. He benefited from Romans soldiers who protected him from persecutors, and he even appealed to the highest Roman court for a fair trial. Those are just a few blessings Paul experienced from God’s servant, the Roman government.

So also today, whether we are in love with our government, our president, current political trends or not, God will still use our government to serve us. From roads to civil services to government programs that we benefit from to college financial aid to laws that protect and keep order to the military that defends us and so much more, thank God for the many ways he uses government for his purposes to serve you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, though our government is flawed as is every other device of sinful humans, we thank you for using our government to serve us as you see fit. Bless our land and our people for Jesus’ sake. Amen.


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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 1, 2020

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
Romans 13:1

God over government

So whom do you want to be president?

“Really, bro? You’re going there? Haven’t we heard enough about the election? Really?”

Yes, really. let’s go there.

We may feel we have had more than enough election and presidential talk. We have been hearing about it for months already. However, no matter what our feelings or tolerance levels may be, we don’t live in isolation. As Christians, it’s important for us to be on high alert and in tune with God’s Word when major world events are happening around us. A presidential election, especially this particular one, certainly qualifies as such.

This week is election week. So many have deep-seated thoughts about the candidates this year. So many are hoping one person is president and that the other one is not. So many are very concerned about what direction the country will go in if one or the other is elected.

What should Christians do if Donald Trump is president again . . . or if Joe Biden is elected president? The answer is—rejoice!

That’s right. “Rejoice!” The joy we have as Christians is not rooted in a political party or a certain candidate. Our hopes do not rest in one leader or a system of government. We can rejoice in any and every situation and with any and every president because God is in control.

Today’s Bible verse in Romans 13 is from a chapter that goes into great detail regarding what God says about government. It starts with one foundational understanding—God is King of kings and Lord of lords. God is in control, and thus, every government that exists is established by God.

The newly elected president of the United States of America may or may not be your personal choice. But he is in fact the one that God has allowed according to his wisdom to be the president at this moment and at this time in our government in order to accomplish his plans and purposes. So Christian friends, take a deep breath. Relax. Rejoice. No matter what happens this week, our God is still ultimate leader in ultimate control. Praise God for that!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we pray for an extra measure of faith and trust this election week. Help us to remember that you are in control, you establish all authorities, and presidential candidates are elected only as you allow and see fit. Help us to trust that no matter the outcome of this week, you still hold all things in your hands. Amen.


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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 25, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Romans 1:14-17

Proclaiming with power

“How would you know what it is like to experience [fill in the blank]…?”

“You have no idea what it is like to be [fill in the blank]…”

“You don’t understand.”

Chances are, when you consider how diverse our backgrounds and experiences are, they’re absolutely right.

Think of all the diversity the apostle Paul encountered on his missionary travels. His three missionary journeys took him throughout the diverse cities of the Mediterranean world. He saw new and different sights and heard different sounds. He interacted with all sorts of different people. He immersed himself in different cultures. And, I’d be willing to bet he likely ate a lot of different foods, too.

But the gig wasn’t merely to be a cultural aficionado. Paul’s gig—the Christian gig—is following Christ wherever he leads us—that we would be his witnesses and proclaim the good news of Jesus to the world. “You will be my witnesses,” Jesus said, “in Jerusalem, in Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The ends of the earth? Talk about culture shock for us! Talk about a diverse audience! And our mission field today is just as diverse! While God has graciously done his church a solid and dropped the ends of the earth right in our backyard, such diverse backgrounds and experiences of those around us can leave us feeling unable to speak to those around us about Jesus. “What if they dismiss what I have to say? What if they don’t think I understand their experiences? What if I don’t know everything about their culture? What if I can’t speak their language very well?”

That all seems to be confirmed when the world to whom we witness fires back “You don’t understand.” And, chances are, they are absolutely right. We don’t.

But does that mean the validity or truthfulness of the Christian message is lost? Does our ability to talk to others as Christians boil down to whether or not we’ve experienced the exact same things as the people to whom we’re witnessing? Because if that’s the case, then we might as well hang it up.

But that’s not the case.

You don’t need to have experienced everything someone has experienced to proclaim the reality of the gospel not just with them, but for them. Who our God is and what he has graciously won and done for the world is not contingent on whether or not you—as a Christian—understand in experiential entirety what the person you’re speaking with has gone through.

There’s gentleness and respect when we bend a loving ear and listen to someone’s story. There’s power in sharing your own personal story of how Christ personally died for you, and how that same Jesus personally died for the person listening to you. There’s gospel-driven love in personally sharing the gospel uniquely to a unique person.

In spite of the fact you most certainly do not share their exact experiences, how powerful it is for you to remind them that you share the same Jesus. How powerful it is to remind them that at the other end of their catalog of all the confusion, the questions, the hurt, the heartache, and the pain in their lives, their Jesus is still there.

Never be ashamed of the message you share. It’s power rests not in who you are but in who God is. There is power in the gospel—power, even in spite of you! So listen, ask questions, and seek to understand—and find comfort knowing you don’t have to share their exact experiences to share Jesus. Your Savior is the world’s Savior.

Prayer: Gracious Lord, work in us a confidence to proclaim your word with the world. Give me eyes to see opportunities to share your saving love, and a heart of compassion to model your love to others in my life. Give me the words to say and the confidence to say it. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 18, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
Hebrews 1:1-2

God’s revelation

Is there evidence for the existence of God? Atheist British philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, argued that it is “unscientific” to conclude that a Creator caused the universe. But can science even say that? If science is the study of the natural world, how can science possibly prove there is nothing beyond the natural world? And where in nature have we ever observed something come into being from nothing? So, if the universe began to exist, it must have had a cause. And whatever caused the universe to come into existence must be something (or someone) beyond the need for space, time, and matter. It would have to be a timeless, infinite being with limitless power. That sounds an awful lot like God!

What is more, if our universe somehow were the accidental result of time + matter + energy + chance, how do we explain that our universe is finely tuned for the existence of life? Seriously, look it up! Did you know that there are universal constants that, if their numeric values were altered even to the slightest degree, no life of any kind anywhere could exist?

Let us take gravity, for example. In high school physics, you will solve problems where you will calculate the force of gravity, the equation for which is F = (G x m1 x m2)/r2. If you have never seen that equation before, then you probably have not made it to physics yet. Long story short, if the constant ‘G’ (the gravitational constant) changed by even the tiny figure of 1 in 1060 parts (that’s a 1 followed by sixty zeros), not a single one of us would be here. No life would exist anywhere.

To put that figure in perspective, your chances of winning the Mega Millions Jackpot lottery is 1 in 302,575,350. That ratio is 1 over a nine-digit number. Those are terribly improbable odds. Can you imagine how even more unlikely it is that by sheer chance our universe came into being by accident AND that the exact gravitational constant we observe that is needed to sustain any and all life in the universe is exactly as it is? The improbability of that figure would make winning the lottery look as easy as tying your shoes. Doesn’t it seem entirely more likely that a powerful Creator created our universe to be a certain, specific way… that a wise Designer designed the universe to facilitate life of all kinds?

And yet, there still are many who double down and insist that there is no God. Atheist biologist, Richard Dawkins, said,

“In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.”1

Really Richard? No good or evil? No right? No wrong? No meaning? No purpose? But if atheism were true, Dawkins wouldn’t be wrong. Without a divine personal Creator, not only are the inherent value and worth of human beings depreciated, but words like ‘right’, ‘wrong’, ‘good’, and ‘evil’ mean absolutely nothing. We are, as Dawkins writes, just biological accidents with delusions of grandeur: machines for passing on DNA. That’s our only reason for being. Nothing more.

How does that sit with you? Such a statement should offend everyone. Our lives do have real meaning, value, and purpose. Because we are inherently endowed with meaning, value, and purpose. But how? And why? Science can’t answer that question. And if there is such a thing as ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (and there is), than we are implying that there is a moral law by which we use to define ‘good’ and ‘evil.’ And if there is a moral law, than there must be a higher person who is the foundation of what is moral, virtuous, and good. Now, who could that be?

Suddenly, in just a few hundred words, we’ve made a pretty solid case for the existence of God. By observation of the natural world around us and by our conscience, there before us lies a compelling evidence for God’s existence, but also evidence for what kind of God our God is. We could infer from nature that God is powerful, ever-present, spaceless, timeless, and infinite. We could infer from our conscience that God is personal, righteous, blameless, perfectly just, and perfectly good. But that’s it. There is nothing more that the natural world can show me about God’s nature. There’s nothing more my conscience can reveal about God’s nature.

And if the only revelation we had was nature and conscience, we’d be left with no comfort that this God loves me and cares about me. We would be left without any assurance this God will work for my eternal good. We’d be left with fear, wondering and worrying what this God will say to me when I must stand before him. Because I know that I’m a sinner—in thought, word, and deed. And I know that he is righteous, holy, and blameless. I’d be left wondering if I need to do something to save myself. And I’d be left dreadfully terrified, wondering if I have ever done enough.

We needed God to reveal himself in another way. A better way. An unmistakable way. We needed the invisible God to reveal himself to us so we could tangibly see who our God is in all his fullness. In the past, God spoke through his prophets and revealed who he was through his Word—be it through promises made, or promises kept. But one promise stood out from the rest: the promise to redeem and ransom our fallen, broken, messed up world. How would God do that? God would dwell among us. God the Father loved us so much he would send his one and only Son, Jesus, so we could see who our God is.

Veiled in humility and masked in suffering, God, in Christ, gives dimension to his love that we might see the very shape and contours of God’s undying compassion for fallen humanity. And your God assures you that those who look to Jesus not only see who God is but see what God has done personally for them! Jesus died for you! See God’s tenderness and mercy as Jesus has compassion on the sick and helpless. See your God’s love for you as he carried your sins to Calvary to die for you. See your God’s promises fulfilled as Jesus rises from the dead. Because he lives, you also will live.

You want to know truly who your God is? Look to Jesus.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, you loved us so much that you would take on our humanity to die for us and save us. In your incarnation, you showcased your heart and love for sinners like me. By your Spirit, work in me through your Word a rock-solid confidence that trusts in you as my Savior. Amen.


1 River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life


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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 11, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Peter 1:19-21

God’s love letter to you

The spaceships were coming to take them home. That’s what Marshall Applewhite believed, the founder of the religious cult known as Heaven’s Gate. Applewhite believed that he and his partner, Bonnie Nettles, were extraterrestrial agents with “higher level minds” that had come from outer space to unlock the path to paradise. Applewhite preached that this time on earth was a season of metamorphosis, where his followers could achieve a “next level” mode of existence and eventually evolve into aliens. But this bizarre tale takes a tragic turn. Applewhite and 38 of his adherents eventually coordinated a mass suicide. They went to sleep, never to wake up. Why? Because Applewhite claimed that, by dying, their souls would be received by an incoming UFO spaceship and shuttled off to heaven. But that ship never came. A total of 39 people—21 women, and 18 men—died for a cleverly invented science fiction story, a man-made religion, a myth, a lie.

I know plenty of people who would argue that Christianity is no different—that the Bible is just a bunch of manipulative fairy tales cooked up by human imagination.

The apostle Peter knew that objection, too. He wrote in defense, “We did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Christianity is not some back-alley cult, crafted in secret. The Bible isn’t some mythological compilation of half-baked narratives and proverbial maxims like other religious texts—written in a vacuum, hidden from examination, study, and scrutiny. The events the Bible describes actually happened in real history!

Both the Old and New Testament writers ‘marry’ their text to history to a degree matched by no other religion. Christianity shamelessly joins the unfolding of salvation to real, historical events that are verified not only by archaeological evidence but also by ancient secular, non-Christian historians. Peter’s point is that, the biographies of Jesus’ life (the Four Gospels) are well corroborated accounts internally and externally.

The Bible actually is what it claims to be: the true story of the salvation of the world! The very words of God himself! For Christians today who daily wrestle with doubt, we might think, “Easy for you to say Peter. You were there! You witnessed these things with your own eyes!” And you’d be right. We weren’t eyewitnesses of these events firsthand.

But just in case we would see the Scripture as something less valuable than firsthand experience, Peter lovingly reminds us that what we have—God’s Word—is completely reliable. Because God wrote it. “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

True, human beings recorded the words of Scripture—but they were just the “pen.” God is the author who wrote with the “pen.” Why would God write the books of the Bible? So that you would know with certainty who your God is and who you are because of who your God is.

At the beating heart of every biblical promise is your Savior: Jesus. God not only points to Jesus as the central figure of Scripture—the promised Messiah who had come to save the world—but God points to the cross as the way he would do it. True, we weren’t at Calvary. But our sins were. Outside of Jerusalem the glory and majesty of God would be demonstrated not in flashes of lightning, but in darkness; not in radiance, but in the shame of the cross. Why? To ransom and rescue sinners like you and me.

So, you know that Bible you hold in your hand or scroll through on your smartphone? It might seem quiet and quaint when you page through it but make no mistake—your God is there. God gives of himself through the Bible—to strengthen and nourish your faith, to grow you in wisdom, to guide you on right paths, so that you, right now, are able to fellowship with God.

The Bible is not some man-made, cleverly cooked up story; it’s God’s undying love letter to you—one penned in the fulness of his grace, one that unfolded in real time and space, and one preserved throughout the ages so you could hold it not just in your hands, but, in faith, hold it in your heart.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, continue to work in us through your Word a trust in you and your gracious promises. Work in us a heart that delights in your Word, but a heart that rejoices in the love shown us through our Savior Jesus. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS Discipleship.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Transformed – teen devotion – October 4, 2020

In the month of October, the Transformed devotions deal with “apologetics”, that is, a defense and explanation of Christian beliefs like trustworthiness of the Bible, who is God, and why faith is counter-cultural to the world.

Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

“You are a king, then!” said Pilate.

Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

“What is truth?” retorted Pilate.

John 18:33, 36-38a

What is Truth?

“What’s 2+2?” Remember way back when questions like that were your weekly homework? And if you penciled in “5” as your answer, your teacher would lovingly get out her red pen and circle that question. Because your answer was wrong. Same thing for the more creative student who literally put ‘2’ and ‘2’ together and wrote “22.” Both answers are wrong. The answer is “4.”

The question posed by Pontius Pilate in John 18:38 isn’t all that different. “What is truth?” It’s a question people are still asking today. When it comes to questions of identity, meaning, purpose, and destiny, many people answer, “All worldviews and beliefs are true.” What’s true for one can be true for them, and what’s true for another can be true for them. After all, why can’t everyone be right? But that’s just as silly as responding to the question “What is the answer to 2+2?” with “22” or “5.”

There is no shortage of systems that strive to answer those questions: Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Atheism, and so many more it’ll make your head spin! But they cannot all be true. Such answers to life’s questions could (in theory) all be false, but they can’t all be true. The Christian apologist (and once atheist) C.S. Lewis compares it to grade school math: “As in arithmetic—there is only one right answer to a sum, and all other answers are wrong; but some of the wrong answers are much nearer being right than others.”1 To the question “What is the answer to 2+2?”, “5” is certainly closer to “4” than “22”, but they’re both wrong—no more correct than leaving the question completely blank.

But there was another question Pontius Pilate asked Jesus—a question Jesus himself asked his disciples—who is Jesus of Nazareth? Many today say Jesus was just a moral guru. Others say he was a radical, social activist. Still others insist that Jesus was just a good person, but he wasn’t God. The Jewish mob before Pilate labled Jesus a liar. Others labled him a lunatic. But who does Jesus say he is?

“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,” Jesus says. The same Jesus who stood before Pontius Pilate had claimed to be not just a bearer of truth, but the embodiment of truth itself—God in the flesh. “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.” Pilate sided with the mob, not the truth. And the Truth was hung on a cross.

“Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” is a question to which the world must provide an answer. The historic evidence for life, the ministry, the death, and (yes) the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth demands a verdict. As C.S. Lewis put it, Jesus is either 1) a liar, 2) a lunatic, 3) or he is who he said he is: the LORD. And if God has raised this Jesus from the dead, the question is answered by God for us.

When you’re asked the question “Who is Jesus of Nazareth?” don’t leave the question blank—because you know the answer. He is your God and Savior who died on a cross to save you from sin and death. When you’re asked questions about identity, say with confidence “I am a redeemed child of God.” When you wonder if your life has meaning, look to Jesus, who tells you that you were graciously set apart to be his own. When you wrestle with questions of origin, your God reminds you that you are fearfully and wonderfully made by him and for him. And when you wonder about your eternal resting place, rest your worried mind in the blood-bought promises of Jesus that your eternal resting place is heaven.

His tomb is still empty. And because his tomb is empty, you can trust your Savior speaks the truth.

Prayer: Gracious God, Heavenly Father, sanctify us by your truth. Your word is truth. Move us by your Spirit to continually cling to your Word of truth. Amen.


1 C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, page 35


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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 27, 2020

Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.
Psalm 27:14

Play your best song, Lord, to give me courage

What makes a king out of a slave? Courage. What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage. What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk? What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage. What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage. What makes the dawn come up like thunder? Courage. What makes the hottentot so hot? What puts the “ape” in ape-ricot? Whatta they got that I ain’t got? Courage. You can say that again!

– The Cowardly Lion, The Wizard of Oz

We aren’t too young for this reference, are we? (Granted, the quote is from a movie that’s now just over 80 years old, but still, it’s a classic. If you aren’t familiar with it, check out the Cowardly Lion’s performance of “Courage” on YouTube, or better yet, watch the movie on Amazon Prime for a few bucks.)

How are you doing in the courage department these days? I suppose that depends on what you’re up against. If we’re older and vulnerable, immunocompromised especially, we may lack courage in facing the Coronavirus. (Even if we are perfectly healthy, there’s always a chance it could be fatal. This demands courage from all of us!) Maybe you’re facing peer pressure to join in some things you know aren’t right. It takes courage to go against the crowd, doesn’t it? Maybe you’re facing some worries this school year with some project, some event, some challenge, some issue, and you wonder how you’ll ever make it. This too demands courage. Pause for a moment and ask yourself, “What’s my greatest fear?” Courage is required to stop running from it, stop putting it off, but to finally face it head on. Do you have courage? If so, could the strength of your courage fail and flee when you need it the most like what happened to the cowardly lion after encountering the wizard?

What alone gives you courage, courage which cannot fail? It’s always the Lord, isn’t it? This is precisely what the psalmist concluded in his song which would have helped the cowardly lion out immensely had that timid scaredy-cat learned it. The psalmist sang, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Here’s the beauty of that hymn. Are you fearful? Are you lacking courage? Is your greatest fear nothing short of sin, death, or the devil? The psalmist gives you courage. He says, “Wait for the Lord.” That implies that the Lord knows your greatest challenges, your greatest threats, your greatest worries and fears, and he’s already on the way to be your courage. You need only wait for him, and he will never let you down. He didn’t let us down on the cross, did he? Certainly not, he rose after three days. He conquered our greatest fears there, and we can be sure he’ll do it again, every time. And so the psalmist concludes, “Be strong and take heart.”

There’s your courage.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, I love the playlist of Psalms, songs which give me a voice, songs which address all my needs with the good news of your love in Christ. Keep me in tune with the sweet music of your gospel, because I know that without your strength I can only fall into fear. Bless me with the very courage of Christ and teach me to face all things with all confidence. Amen.


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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 20, 2020

Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens.
Psalm 8:1

Play the song that moves me

Glo Germ. Shortly after the days of the Corona pandemic hit us, this product became popular because it could be utilized as a tool to show how germs spread. After pouring some powder or gel on your hands and rubbing it in, it becomes undetectable to the naked eye. But under a black light, it is clearly visible.

By nature, we don’t see the handiwork of God. His fingerprints are undetectable apart from the eyes of faith, although God has given us nature and a conscience to sense God who is unseen.

In Psalm 8, the psalmist is picking up on one of the signals out there pointing to God’s awe-inspiring existence. The psalmist is looking at the earth with all its beauty and the heavens as well. Then, through eyes of faith—like a blacklight flipped on—he sees God’s fingerprints everywhere.

Do you see the handiwork of God? Are you looking through your eyes of faith regularly and taking in all that God has done? If we’re not careful, we can so easily miss it, like germs which spread unseen. In both cases, the effects are disastrous. Germs kill. So does not seeing God in faith. To live without awe for God is to live in awe of ourselves and die. So, again, do you see the majesty of God?

We all struggle to. If this is the case, I’d encourage you to not only lift your eyes to the hills and skies to take in the glory of God’s handiwork, but to look to the cross of Jesus. There is no greater work of God than that. Even the psalmist hints at this when he says, “What is mankind that you are mindful of them…? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor” (Psalm 8:4-5).

It’s only at the cross that we are God’s crown of creation. For God did not take on any form of creation but our humanity, and in our place, he took us whom God should not be mindful of because of our sin and raised us to sit at the throne of God itself in Christ. Truly, there is nothing more awe-inspiring which opens our eyes!

Live always in view of the cross. Then, you’ll live seeing the handiwork of God in all the beauties of creation with you as the crown. There’s nothing more awe-inspiring!

Prayer: Heavenly Father, when I stop to think about all your work, I am overcome with a rush of emotions of joy and amazement. Your created world is beyond what I can understand. Your work of love at the cross puts a lump in my throat. Your masterpiece that you’ve made of me in Christ fills my heart with unbelievable happiness. Help me to always think on these things. Keep this song of Psalm 8 always on repeat in my head. Amen.


TeenCreative Commons License 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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