WELS Daily Devotions

Devotion - August 22, 2014

Fri, Aug 22, 2014

When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down, but even in death the righteous have a refuge.

Proverbs 14:32


Indeed, there’s a lot of wickedness in our world. News broadcasts keep reporting the bad things that happen all around us. From murder, to terrorism, to war—the news is there, recording the calamity.

It is a fact of life that wicked people often come to a fateful demise. People who do bad things for a living, often have bad things happen to them. The banker who steals from the innocent ends up getting caught and spending time in jail. The violent drug dealer who roughs people up for missing a payment might find himself roughed up at the hands of the next guy up the line. The terrorist who lives his life causing death and destruction often ends up having his life taken in the same manner. “What goes around comes around” is the way that many say it. Solomon said it this way: “When calamity comes, the wicked are brought down.”

Though we are not probably violent people, yet we are right there in the category of “the wicked.” We deserve to be brought down for our wickedness; truly we deserve to go down to hell for our sin, our rebellion against God. But we have a Savior who loved us too much to see us brought down, so he came down instead. He came down from heaven to our world. He humbled himself, so that you and I could be lifted up. He endured the pain and suffering and death that our sin-filled lives deserve. He lived a perfect life, yet he now calls us righteous. Though death was ours to pay, he laid down his own life for us. And then he took it up again on the third day. And now, trusting in Jesus, his resurrection is our guarantee of God’s favor on us and eternal life with him in heaven.

Now, nothing can separate us from the love of Christ…not danger, disaster or devils, not calamity or catastrophe, not even death can take away God’s promise of life. For the righteous in Christ know that death is but the gateway to life eternal. “Even in death the righteous have a refuge.” Jesus Christ is our refuge. In him and with him, we will live safely forever.

Prayer: 

Dear Jesus, forgive me for the wickedness I allow and invite into my life. Thank you for your willing payment of the debt that I owe. Help me to thank you with a life of obedience lived to your glory. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 22, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 21, 2014

Thu, Aug 21, 2014

Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.

Proverbs 14:13

The Tears of a Clown

Smokey Robinson sang about the “tears of a clown when there’s no one around.” Why the hidden, sad and lonely crying? Smokey admits he’s smiling on the outside. It’s his insides that are hurting. She’s gone, and now he’s “sadder than sad.” The woman that once brought him happiness now was gone. She had Smokey “sad and hurting.”

Have you ever experienced the same thing? You experienced happiness. You thought there was nothing that could make you happier than your new job, your new relationship, your newest tech toy. But then, the job became painstaking work. The relationship that seemed so easy and happy suddenly or slowly soured. A newer gadget hit the market. And, the happiness that once seemed boundless and unending was gone. Something that started out making you happy, eventually brought you to tears.

We may find many reasons for this phenomenon. The job lost its initial focus. The relationship soured because we changed and grew apart. Technology keeps speeding along. We coin phrases to make us feel better about it: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” “There’s many more fish in the sea.” We try to avoid the pain of lost happiness by incessantly hopping to something new–a new job, a new relationship, new stuff.

We can do all of the above, but we’re just avoiding a harsh reality. Happiness disappears because of sin. Sin brings “thorns and thistles” to work. Sin destroys or erodes relationships. Sin makes us discontent. Our wise words for the day say it like this: “Even in laughter the heart may ache, and joy may end in grief.” (Proverbs 14:13)

The apostle Peter wrote that we “are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy” (I Peter 1:8). Peter makes it clear that if we’re going to find and be filled with “an inexpressible and glorious joy,” it will need to come from God. God-given joy is based on things that do not change. Peter lists things like Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and our inheritance as God’s children–heaven.

How do these blessings of God give us joy? On your best day, Jesus died for your sins and rose in victory over sin and death. On your worst day, Jesus died for your sins and rose in victory over sin and death. Your joy is based on the unchanging fact of Jesus’ death and resurrection. On your best day and your worst day, Jesus has promised that he will take those who believe in him to the heavenly room he has prepared for them. Your joy is based on Jesus’ unchanging promise.

God lets us enjoy work, relationships and stuff. But, do not be surprised when your happiness starts disappearing about a job, a relationship or the newest stuff you’ve bought. We may shed a tear or two with Smokey, but we have enduring joy even when we’re crying. God gives us true and lasting joy in things that do not and will not change. No one can shut Jesus back in his tomb. Jesus is risen. Your heavenly room is being prepared for you. Jesus will come again.

Prayer: 

Dear Jesus, fix my eyes on you. Let me always see that your perfect life, death and resurrection give me forgiveness, peace with God and heaven as my home. Fill my heart and life with joy. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 21, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 20, 2014

Wed, Aug 20, 2014

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” Solomon answered, … “Give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…” The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.

1 Kings 3:5-6, 9-12


We’ve seen it depicted in so many different ways. A man finds a lamp or a bottle. He rubs the bottle and out pops a genie. “I’ll grant you one wish, whatever you want.” How many times haven’t we thought, “I’d wish for more wishes!”

King Solomon was presented with a similar situation, only it wasn’t a genie in a bottle offering to grant a wish, it was God himself. Imagine being in Solomon’s place! “Whatever you want…” God said. How would you have answered?

We’d all like to think we would have answered honorably. Truthfully, though, we likely would have answered the way that God describes in verse 11. Our sinful nature would have asked for unlimited wealth or a long life or that someone who has hurt us gets hurt just as badly. Yet, all of those things are selfish. They only seek to serve us and not serve God.

Solomon realized the great responsibility placed before him as the king God chose for his people. So he asked God for the wisdom to choose between right and wrong. Solomon knew that he would choose poorly if left to himself. So he asked for God’s blessing to choose wisely. And God was pleased.

Each and every day we face a battle. We battle between choosing what God wants and what our sinful nature wants. If left to ourselves, our sinful nature would always win. But we are not left to ourselves. Because of Jesus’ saving work, we have been given the Holy Spirit. He works in us through his Word to help us choose what God wants, to discern between right and wrong. He strengthens us by the power of the gospel so that we can show our thankfulness to God for all that he’s done for us. And there’s nothing better we could ask for!

Prayer: 

Gracious Savior, thank you for giving us your Spirit that we might distinguish between right and wrong and in so doing, serve you in thankfulness. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 20, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 19, 2014

Tue, Aug 19, 2014

We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Romans 8:28-30

You can be an Optimist

Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass half full or half empty? Are you the kind of person who can find a rainbow hiding behind every stormy cloud? It seems that most people tend to lean in one direction or the other. But is there really any basis for optimism? How do we know that everything is going to work out, or that things will get better, or that everything we experience is really for our good?

Without faith in Jesus there really is no basis. Things could just as well turn out for the worse. There really is no reason that they should get better or be for our good. But Jesus changes everything. That’s why the apostle Paul confidently wrote, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

How do we know this? We know this because God backs his wonderful promise up with an unbreakable chain of proof. In eternity God chose us to be his very own. Before we were even born God knew us and planned in advance to conform us to the likeness of his Son. His love in Christ began even before he created the universe when he decided to send Jesus to take up the sin of the world and pay for it, so that as God’s dear children together with Jesus we can share in the boundless blessings of eternal life.

God works for the good of those who love him and the proof extends from eternity into the here and now when God called us through the gospel. Through the good news of a Savior from sin God creates faith in people’s hearts. It is through this faith that he justifies us by declaring us not guilty of sin. This is how he glorifies believers right now and will one day glorify them forever in heaven.

“We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” You can be sure of it. Because of Jesus you can be sure of it, even when you suffer all kinds of pain and disappointment in this life. You can be sure of it, even when your friends disappoint and relationships dissolve. You can be sure of it, even when your body begins to wear out and your energy fades. You can be sure because God has done everything to make you sure. Because of God’s great love for us, we can be optimists.

Prayer: 

Dear heavenly Father, when things in life get me down and I struggle to find hope, point me to your promises in Jesus Christ and assure me of your constant love and compassion. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 19, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 18, 2014

Mon, Aug 18, 2014

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.”

Matthew 13:44-46


Eureka! Perhaps you heard about the husband and wife who found $10 million in rare gold coins buried on their property in Northern California. Don’t people dream of finding great treasure? Jesus apparently thought so as he taught: “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure…”

He tells about someone who fortunately finds buried treasure. In ancient times, rich people were known to divide their wealth into three parts: one for doing business, another converted to precious stones with which to flee if necessary, a third part to be buried in a safe place. So it could happen that when a rich man died, his buried wealth would remain to be found by some fortunate individual.

In the second brief story, Jesus speaks of a pearl merchant whose life’s mission was to seek out exceptional pearls and obtain them.

Some tirelessly seek to get treasure and others just fortunately find it.  But the most valuable treasure is that which Jesus has for us. This treasure Jesus tells us is the “kingdom of heaven.” The kingdom is Jesus’ rule in our hearts by faith. When Jesus rules our hearts, when our faith is in him, then we have the treasure of the forgiveness of sins, of spiritual life and eternal salvation—we will enjoy the glories of heaven forever.

Still, we don’t have to wait to enjoy this precious treasure. With faith in Jesus comes the peace of knowing we are God’s dear children right now, the hope of present certainty for a blessed future, and the joy of knowing God loves us today, tomorrow and always.

So whether you stumble upon earthly treasure or spend your life seeking after it, what really matters is that you have the treasure of Jesus. It’s worth giving up everything to make it your own.

Prayer: 

Lord, lead us to the treasure that is Jesus and help us to treasure that treasure above all things. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 18, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 15, 2014

Fri, Aug 15, 2014

There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

Proverbs 14:12


Dear Sara,

I’m worried about you.

I can hear you saying right now, “Dad, don’t worry. I’ve thought about this long and hard. I’m making a good decision. I’ll be OK.”

With all the love in my heart, Sara, I have to disagree. This is not a good decision.  And you will not be OK.

I know you’ve put a lot of thought into this. I know you’re excited about this new experience. I know it feels right to you. I know you’re convinced this is the right thing to do.

Despite your feelings, this is wrong. This isn’t me speaking, but your God has made his will pretty clear. You are deciding to sin. No matter how it feels to you, your feelings don’t change the reality of God’s will.

I know from personal experience how you can be so absolutely sure you’re doing the right thing and be wrong. Before Mom and I married, we lived together. We were young and very much in love. We didn’t want to rush getting married. Our friends look back and think everything turned out great for us.

No one but your mom and I know the full story. They don’t know the spiritual struggles and guilty consciences that affected our relationship with each other and with our God because we lived together before marriage. We almost lost our faith, and would have, if God had not remained faithful to us when we were unfaithful to him. We had been so convinced we were doing the right thing.

Just like you’re thinking right now. You think you can live in disagreement with God without it affecting your relationship with him.

Is this how you want your relationship with God to be? You contradict him. You ignore his will. You claim you know better than he does about what is good and right for you. Yet you still want his friendship and love. You still want his forgiveness. You demand he accepts you on your terms, even though he paid all the costs to make you his child. It is as if you are spitting in Jesus’ face on the cross, telling him he’s not as important to you as this decision you’re making. You expect him to make you his top priority when he is not yours.

Sara, God still loves you and so do I. Now is not the time to follow what seems right to you. Now is the time to listen to the God who made you inside your mother’s womb, who gave you life, who has richly blessed you, and most of all, who has given his life for you. Listen to his wisdom. He’s never wrong. He will never lead you down a pleasant path that leads to death. He walked the road of death for you already. Now he wants to lead you on the path of life. Listen to him. Listen to his promise of forgiveness and love. His Word will steer you down the right road as he continues to forgive you and bless you in undeserved love.

You are in my prayers and in God’s heart.

Love, Dad

Prayer: 

Father, forgive my stubborn steps down paths that seem right to me, but are wrong in your sight. Forgive my sins and lead me with your clear Word. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 15, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 14, 2014

Thu, Aug 14, 2014

He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Proverbs 13:24

Loving, Careful Discipline

Being a parent is very great privilege. Being a parent is also a very difficult job! It’s hard to strike the balance between protecting your children and letting them spread their wings in a sometimes scary world. It’s hard to strike the balance between letting your children have fun and making them abide by the rules. It’s hard to strike the balance between being your children’s friend and being their life’s teacher.  We know it is important to discipline our children, but we also want to balance that with what Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

We all need discipline because we have a sinful nature that needs to be continually trained. It is especially vital in a child’s formative years to receive discipline. Sinful habits formed in childhood will be even more difficult to break in adulthood. For their own personal benefit and for the benefit of society children should receive careful discipline so they become humble, hard-working, ethical adults who strive to serve God and serve others with their lives. While children might not appreciate the disciplinary training their parents give them, later in life they will appreciate that their parents loved them in that way.

Key words in this Bible verse are “loves” and “careful”. . .”he who loves him is careful to discipline him.”  God calls upon parents to carefully discipline their children out of love for them.  If discipline—in whatever form it is administered—is not motivated by the love and care of parents for their children, it can lead to choices that are detrimental and sinfully wrong.  The goal of discipline is to help children mature and lead more God-pleasing and productive lives, and ultimately that children are trained spiritually and spend eternity in heaven through faith in their Savior Jesus.

Parents, pray for wisdom to be able to lovingly and carefully discipline your children.

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, help parents to love their children to carefully discipline them for their earthly and eternal benefit. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 14, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 13, 2014

Wed, Aug 13, 2014

Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and moon will be darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The LORD will roar from Zion and thunder from Jerusalem; the earth and the sky will tremble. But the LORD will be a refuge for his people, a stronghold for the people of Israel.

Joel 3:14-16


Its hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico. We think of the powerful storms which have hit in the past—Andrew, Katrina, and others.  Wow! The power is amazing! How much people need to find a place of refuge when the storms hit!

How much more do we sinners need to find a place of refuge when God comes to judge the nations! I can't imagine how fearful, how ashamed I'd be to stand before the holy God, with my eternal life on the line. His demand to enter heaven is that I be holy; I've been anything but. I've been lustful, angry, bitter, selfish, fearful, doubt-filled, and more. And I have to stand before the holy God?! And he will judge me?! Oh, I need a refuge!

God’s Word says, "The LORD will be a refuge for his people." The very same God before whom we'll stand will be our refuge, our place of safety. For, the very same God who will judge us is the God who saved us, the God who died to pay for your sins, and who rose from the dead as proof that God pronounced you innocent. Yes, your God is your refuge! He will be so on that judgment day! And, he'll give you refuge every day until then.

Prayer: 

O almighty, faithful LORD, be my refuge and strength now and forevermore. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 13, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 12, 2014

Tue, Aug 12, 2014

The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.

Romans 8:26

When the Words Don’t Come

Give some careful thought to the following statement: The times we find it hardest to talk to God in prayer are often the times we need to talk to him the most. Here it is again. The times we find it hardest to talk to God in prayer are often the times we need to talk to him the most.

If you have lived more than a few years in this difficult place, you know how true that statement is. What words do you speak to God, exactly, when you walk out the doctor’s office with the news that your spouse has stage 4 cancer? What words do you speak to God when your finances are on the verge of collapse? What words do you speak to God when you can no longer process how stressful your place of work has become? What words do you speak to God when it feels as though a member of your family has run a sword through your soul? What words do you speak to God when your marriage begins to implode? And what words do you speak to God when all the regrets from your past begin to smother you like a heavy shroud?

These are the times when the words don’t come. These are the times when coherent thought disappears. These are the moments when you and I cannot even articulate a simple cry to the Lord for help.

Enter the Holy Spirit. He knows. He knows very well how the wreckage of this sinful world can overwhelm us, paralyze us to the point of stunned silence. In those moments he comes to us. He intercedes for us. On our behalf he speaks to our heavenly Father “with groans that words cannot express.” And to such groans God listens and responds.

You are a forgiven child of God through faith in Jesus Christ. That means you possess the exclusive privilege of talking to the Lord in prayer. But when you set aside time for him and the words do not come, take heart. The Holy Spirit knows exactly what you need. What he says on your behalf will go beyond human words. And God will listen. And he will answer.

Prayer: 

Holy Spirit, there are times when the words just do not come. Speak on my behalf with groans that words cannot express. And fill me with the peace that is mine in Jesus. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 12, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 11, 2014

Mon, Aug 11, 2014

Jesus told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, the weeds also appeared" . . . The servants asked him, 'Do you want us to go and pull them up?' "'No,' he answered, 'because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest.'"

Matthew 13:24-26, 28-30

In Due Time

It is easy to wonder why the Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side. Wouldn't the world be a better place, if the Lord would uproot everything evil and allow only good to exist?

This might be an easy assumption to make since I consider myself to be "good." Unfortunately, I tend to forget the Lord's standard of good is different than mine. This is why I need to understand why the Lord does allow both to exist.

One reason is fairly obvious. If the Lord would rid the world of everything evil, where would that put me? As I look at my life according to his standard, I am resigned to accept what the Lord declares: "There is no one who does good, not even one" (Psalm 53:3).

The Lord allows good and evil to exist side by side as a result of his undeserved love for me. Instead of dealing with me immediately and justly, he provides a time of grace through which I can come to know Jesus and his gift of forgiveness, and then enjoy living in the peace of his forgiving love.

Another reason why the Lord allows good and evil to exist is his gracious will for all people. "He wants all to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Timothy 2:4). The same time of grace he gives me, he offers to all. He wants no one to perish. This is why he sent his Son Jesus to be the Savior of all.

In due time, however, when his time of grace comes to an end, he will separate the good from the evil, namely believers from unbelievers. This promise of divine and eternal separation exhorts me to daily repent of my sin and focus on Jesus to strengthen my trust in him as my Savior. It is this life of faith which gives me the confidence to know, that also in due time, the Lord will gather me to himself and bring me into his heavenly kingdom.

Prayer: 

O gracious Lord, how can I ever thank you enough for your compassion and mercy. Give me the strength of faith I need to trust what you say, to look to Jesus for forgiveness, and to be prepared for the day when you will bring your harvest in. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 11, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 8, 2014

Fri, Aug 08, 2014

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.

Proverbs 12:25


A father paces in the waiting room of a hospital. His ten-year-old daughter was just taken into surgery for an appendectomy. The doctors assured him it is a routine procedure, but like any parent he is anxious. “What if something goes wrong? What if they find a much bigger problem?”

A single mother sits at her small kitchen table. In front of her is a stack of bills. Her face is buried in her hands. “How am I going to pay these?” she wonders as her kids play in the living room. “Will I have enough money to continue to send my children to daycare as I work 3 different jobs? Will I be able to put food on the table?”

A college freshman just watched his parents drive away after dropping him off at the beginning of the school year. A thousand things are racing through his mind. “Will I be able to make friends here? What if I can’t keep up with my school work? What am I going to do with my life after this?”

We have a word for such feelings: anxiety. It’s a feeling born out of fear of the unknown. It causes stress. It keeps us up at night and makes us think about the worst-case scenario. Solomon wrote, “An anxious heart weighs a man down.” Anxiety makes daily life a chore. It may be brought on by all different kinds of difficulties, but at its root, anxiety is caused by forgetfulness. We become anxious when we forget about God’s promises to us.

In his God-given wisdom, Solomon reveals a solution for this anxiety. He writes, “…but a kind (or good) word cheers him up.” When we are anxious and forget God’s promises, we need to be reminded of them. Often those reminders come from other Christians. That father pacing in the waiting room of the hospital finds a cure for his anxiety from a fellow believer who points him to John 10 where Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd…my sheep listen to my voice…I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” That anxious mother sitting at her table surrounded by bills finds a cure for her anxiety in Jesus’ words from Matthew 6 where he told the people that our heavenly Father knows all of our needs and will provide for each of them. That anxious college freshman finds a cure for his anxiety in God’s promise from Joshua 1, “…the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” The Bible tells us that if God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on a cross and save us, then we can rest assured that he will care for our every need.

So if you are anxious, go to God’s Word. Be reminded of his promises to you and you will find two things: a cure for your anxiety and a reason to rejoice. If you know someone who is anxious, take any and every opportunity you have to remind that person of God’s promises to them.

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, no matter my station in life, no matter what challenge or difficulty I face, your gracious promises give me the strength to endure. When I forget them, remind me of them. Help me also to speak them to others that the comfort we have as your children through our Savior, Jesus, will never be forgotten. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 8, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 7, 2014

Thu, Aug 07, 2014

The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.

Proverbs 12:22

Important Characteristic of a Christian

Our God teaches that qualities he wants his followers to strive for are honesty and truthfulness. God wants us to give him glory by being truthful people. God also wants us to be people of truth because that will benefit us and others around us.

Sometimes we are hesitant to tell the truth because the truth will bring someone under discipline. God wants us to tell the truth, even if it leads to others getting punished. This is good for society and also serves to help correct the person guilty of wrongdoing. The Bible says, “God disciplines us for our good,that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:10b-11).

Sometimes we are hesitant to speak the truth to others concerning God’s Word and their relationship with God. We fear being labeled as hypocritical or judgmental.  But God wants us to always speak the truth of his Word, showing care and concern for people’s souls and where they will spend eternity. God tells us, “Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).

Sometimes we are too eager to share the truth because we enjoy seeing others get in trouble or it makes us feel better to beat up someone else’s reputation. God says, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29). God doesn’t want us to lie, but he also wants us to check the motive behind our truthfulness. The truth shared with wrong motives is just as sinful as lying lips.

A truth that God reveals in the Bible is that everyone is deserving of hell because of their lies and their sinful life; no one is deserving of heaven. Yet Jesus never told any lies; he was never guilty of any sin. Jesus experienced the full wrath of God’s punishment for our lies and all sins when he died on the cross. The truth is that through Jesus God declares us perfect people deserving of heaven. Jesus’ complete life of truthfulness is counted as ours, as if we never spoke one lie or were guilty of one sin, but always spoke and lived the truth.

The truth is we don’t deserve God’s favor, but by faith in Christ that is the truth we enjoy every day and will for eternity.

Prayer: 

Dear Lord, I thank you for being truthful with me about my sin and for using the truth of your Word to bring me to faith in my Savior Jesus. Just as the truth about my sin and my Savior changed my eternal future, use that truth to help me strive to be a more honest and truthful Christian each day. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 7, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 6, 2014

Wed, Aug 06, 2014

As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Isaiah 55:10-11


It’s called the hydrological cycle—evaporation and precipitation. But you don’t have to know those big words or be a scientist to figure it out. The water on planet earth in its three forms, ice, liquid water, and steam are in a cycle. The water from the mountain stream eventually ends up in the ocean, then it evaporates into the clouds, which in turn causes rain to fall in the mountains, feeding the mountain streams.

But even that is more complex than you really need. Simply, God sends water and it does its job. Whether it’s to make plants grow or for people to drink or to provide a habitat for fish to survive, the water that God sends, he sends for a reason and it serves that purpose well.

So it is with the Word of God. When he sends it, it accomplishes something. It doesn’t come back to God without doing something. Will that something always be conversion to faith in Christ? No, sadly not always. Sometimes that Word of God causes people to realize that following Jesus is an all or nothing proposition. “Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins!” I can’t sort-of believe that, and when the Word is preached it leads some to faith in Jesus or results in people hardening their hearts in unbelief.

So we should proclaim that Word. Loudly and confidently we should announce the gospel of Christ.  We shouldn’t be quiet about it, for it’s the living and active and powerful Word of God! It’s not a waste of time to proclaim Jesus. The proclamation of the Bible’s message won’t return to God empty, but will accomplish his purpose.

The Word won’t return to God empty and neither does it leave us empty. We are filled with the joy and peace and hope that only forgiveness can bring. Knowing that we are saved and heaven is our home, we can tell others that same message that they too might be saved and that their empty hearts might be filled with joy and peace and hope, just like ours.

Prayer: 

Lord God, thank you for filling me with your love and sending your gospel into my heart. Help me to send your Word out in my life, that more people might be won for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 6, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 5, 2014

Tue, Aug 05, 2014

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.

Romans 8:19

Eager Expectation

In the world of professional horse racing, there is a singular moment that all the jockeys in the sport know very well. It is the moment just before the starting gates open and the race begins. In that brief length of time, seconds can seem like centuries. In that brief length of time, the purebred horses in those starting gates are just waiting to explode with speed, their every muscle ready to uncoil their power and to rocket down the track. They are focused on one thing. They are looking for the starting gates to open.

Keep that picture in mind as you consider what God’s Word has to say about the creation you see around you. Many of you this summer are doing some kind of traveling. Perhaps you’re traveling through scenery that’s entirely new to you. Or perhaps you’re traveling through scenery that’s very familiar. Either way, God wants you to enjoy that scenery. He wants you to soak in the beauty that has come from his hand. He wants you to savor that scenery to his glory.

And he wants you to do something else. Whether you are standing before the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, seeing the power of the Atlantic Ocean, the lush green of farmland or the stars in the night sky—wherever you are, God wants you to picture his creation waiting for something. Because it is. Through the apostle Paul, the Lord tells us that his creation is waiting in eager expectation for the Lord Jesus to return and to take his faithful people home. Just as a racehorse looks for the starting gate to open, so also God’s creation is waiting for our Savior and King to return.

So enjoy your travels through God’s creation this summer. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy its beauty. But as you do, remember to see it as God wants you to see it. Remember that it’s all waiting in eager expectation for Jesus to return. See it in light of the wonderful reality of your Savior from sin.

Prayer: 

Lord Jesus Christ, you came to this earth. You died for my sin. You rose from death. You ascended into heaven. And one day you will return to take me home. In my travels this summer, keep this truth vivid in my eyes. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 5, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 4, 2014

Mon, Aug 04, 2014

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: "A farmer went out to sow his seed."

Matthew 13:1-3

A Warning and an Encouragement

Jesus often used parables to teach. These were usually everyday pictures to which he attached a spiritual lesson. The parable of the sower and the seed was one of those pictures, and Jesus used this parable to offer a warning and an encouragement to those who listened to him. And, both still apply to my attitude toward the Word of God.

There are several ways I can respond to its teaching. I can choose to reject it, because I cannot understand its lessons. It makes no sense, and I am unwilling to invest more time to dig deeper into its truths. I can be deceived by the troubles and persecutions which may threaten my life in the Word. I turn away from its truth because I cannot accept how a loving God would allow these hardships to happen. I can also be drawn away from the Word because of the obstacles and challenges of daily life. The stress and worry about making ends meet and the desire to attain always greater wealth cloud my judgment and crowd the Word from my life.

In contrast to rejecting the Word, I can make it my joy and delight. I can hear it, study it, and grow in my understanding of it. The result of this attitude to the Word is a life of hope, trust, joy and peace in the Lord. I know what he will do for me every day, just as I know what he has done for me. My confidence starts at Jesus' cross. There I see the undeserved love which led him to that cross. I also see an incomparable power with which he works daily in my life. As a result, my lack of understanding, my troubles, my persecution, my doubts, my fears and my guilt are all addressed and overcome by Jesus.

This is why I listen to Jesus' warning to not turn away from the Word. It is also why I joyfully receive his encouragement to grow daily through its precious truth.

Prayer: 

O gracious Lord, I thank you that by the Holy Spirit you have planted your truth in my heart. Cause it to grow stronger and help me to grow more confident through its encouragement. Bless me also through your presence and power as you lead me through this life to heaven. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 4, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - August 1, 2014

Fri, Aug 01, 2014

Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18


Maybe you heard it from mom or dad when you were growing up: something to the effect of “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” It’s a pretty simple lesson, one that even young children can understand.

But while that lesson may be easy to understand, it’s much more difficult to put into practice, even for adults. Proverbs 12:18 says “Reckless words pierce like a sword…” Some reckless words may be spoken as gossip, talking about people when they are not present in order to make ourselves look better. Other reckless words are just that: reckless. We don’t think about what we say before we say it, and before we know it we’ve offended or hurt someone else. No matter the case, the simple fact is that our words can do quite a bit of damage to others. That’s why Solomon says that reckless words “pierce like a sword”. So we want to avoid such reckless words.

But simply not saying anything at all if we don’t have anything nice to say doesn’t cut it either. God would have us speak words to build others up. The proverb for our focus today concludes with, “but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” That means doing more than just giving out compliments. It begins with being wise. Proverbs 9:10 tells us, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.” The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy, “…from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (3:15). The good news of Christ crucified for our forgiveness is what makes us wise, and it brings healing. That God loves us so much to send Jesus to save us heals us when we hurt. Our gracious God would have us speak that good news to others to bring them healing when they face the pains of life.

God has made us wise for salvation and he has put his healing words on our lips so that we can bring his healing to others. So speak about Jesus.

Prayer: 

Thank you, gracious Father, for sending your Son Jesus to save me from sin. Help me to hear your good news more and more so that when I have the chance to speak, I can bring the healing of Jesus’ salvation to others. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - August 1, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - July 31, 2014

Thu, Jul 31, 2014

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.

Proverbs 12:15


The nine-year-old boy was pitching for his little league team. It wasn’t going well, as he was walking batter after batter. When the team finally got back to the dugout, his dad said, “Pitch from the stretch.” Well, the boy didn’t know what the “stretch” was, and he was way too busy with his friends to take time to listen to his dad’s explanation, and so he continued to pitch from the wind-up. Not surprisingly, the rest of the game was a mess. The boy was foolish to refuse to listen to his dad.

How much more foolish if we refuse to listen to our heavenly Father! And yet, how often don’t we do just that? God says to forgive; we cling to grudges. God says to be kind and compassionate; we lash out in anger or deal selfishly with others. God says to seek his kingdom first; we focus on all sorts of other things, allowing God’s kingdom to go to the back-burner in our priorities. How foolish we are to refuse to listen to God, just as the little league pitcher was foolish for not listening to his dad’s advice.

But Dad was amazingly gracious. When they got home, he explained to his son what “the stretch” was.

Your God is oh-so-much more gracious! God continues to come to “foolish people” like you and me, and he keeps on teaching us. He keeps on assuring you and me that Jesus paid for our sins. He keeps on assuring us that he loves us. He keeps on assuring us that he is with us, guiding and directing us. He keeps on giving us wonderful advice about living this life so we keep a focus on eternal life.

Those who are wise listen to advice!

Prayer: 

O heavenly Father, continue to teach me your wisdom. Amen.

“Summer with Solomon” is a special series of Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday based on readings from the book of Proverbs.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - July 31, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - July 30, 2014

Wed, Jul 30, 2014

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14


The LORD had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. The people had fashioned a calf-shaped idol out of gold, Egyptian style, and worshiped it. The LORD had punished them. Now what? The road to the Promised Land was forty years long, and they would have to travel through desert wilderness the whole way.

Maybe you, too, have paid a heavy price for something you’ve done. Maybe you still feel the effects. Where do you turn when the burden of your sin weighs heavily upon you? We may think that if we stay busy, we will forget the burden we carry. We may turn to recreation and entertainment to anesthetize our pain. These are only band-aids for wounds that run soul-deep.

Listen to what the LORD says to his Old Testament people in today’s reading. He says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The LORD is present with you, just as he was present with them. The LORD has rest for you, just as he had rest for them. God’s Son Jesus knows exactly what your burden of sin feels like. He carried it all the way to the cross, together with the sin of everyone who has ever lived, and that’s where he left it. This is no band-aid. This is the Lord of all lifting a ton of weight off of your soul; this is your Savior dealing with guilt-burdened hearts at the source of all guilt. Jesus became sin for you. In him, you have rest for your soul.

The road through your wilderness may be long, but you aren’t traveling alone. Jesus is here for you in God’s Word every step of the way. He’s here for you with his soul-saving message of forgiveness, of rest. Jesus will also be there for you at the end of the road, to welcome you into the Promised Land.

Prayer: 

Dear Savior, refresh me in the forgiveness you won for me and all people. Give me strength for the journey ahead. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - July 30, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - July 30, 2014

Wed, Jul 30, 2014

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Exodus 33:14


The LORD had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. The people had fashioned a calf-shaped idol out of gold, Egyptian style, and worshiped it. The LORD had punished them. Now what? The road to the Promised Land was forty years long, and they would have to travel through desert wilderness the whole way.

Maybe you, too, have paid a heavy price for something you’ve done. Maybe you still feel the effects. Where do you turn when the burden of your sin weighs heavily upon you? We may think that if we stay busy, we will forget the burden we carry. We may turn to recreation and entertainment to anesthetize our pain. These are only band-aids for wounds that run soul-deep.

Listen to what the LORD says to his Old Testament people in today’s reading. He says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The LORD is present with you, just as he was present with them. The LORD has rest for you, just as he had rest for them. God’s Son Jesus knows exactly what your burden of sin feels like. He carried it all the way to the cross, together with the sin of everyone who has ever lived, and that’s where he left it. This is no band-aid. This is the Lord of all lifting a ton of weight off of your soul; this is your Savior dealing with guilt-burdened hearts at the source of all guilt. Jesus became sin for you. In him, you have rest for your soul.

The road through your wilderness may be long, but you aren’t traveling alone. Jesus is here for you in God’s Word every step of the way. He’s here for you with his soul-saving message of forgiveness, of rest. Jesus will also be there for you at the end of the road, to welcome you into the Promised Land.

Prayer: 

Dear Savior, refresh me in the forgiveness you won for me and all people. Give me strength for the journey ahead. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - July 30, 2014 --Daily Devotion

Devotion - July 29, 2014

Tue, Jul 29, 2014

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Romans 7:24-25


The stories of prisoners of war who survived are fascinating. The accounts of the brutal and inhumane treatment by the enemy are horrific. The extreme emotions felt by the prisoners are breath-taking: the terror of being completely controlled by the enemy, the hopelessness of recognizing that escape is impossible, and the desperation of knowing that if not rescued or released soon death is right around the corner.

Fortunately, stories of those prisoners of war don’t end there. They include rescue or release and the emotions that go along with it. The relief, joy, and gratitude that are described by these former prisoners make their stories enjoyable.

The apostle Paul shared his prisoner-of-war story. It’s a story that is fascinating not just because it has a happy ending, but also because it is a story that each believer in Jesus shares.

We are all held prisoner by our sinful flesh. We know that the sins we commit deserve eternal death, and yet we keep sinning. That’s all that our sinful flesh can do. If our story ended there, we would be filled with fear, hopelessness, and eternal despair.

The story does not end there. We have a Savior who rescues us. Jesus frees us from the bonds of sin. Jesus takes the condemnation to hell we deserve and sets us free. “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” 

Our prisoner of war story is certainly a heart-warming one. Our freedom has been guaranteed by Jesus. Praise to our Savior because of the freedom he has won for us…for you!

Prayer: 

What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death?  Thank you, Jesus, for being my rescuer, my eternal Savior. Thank you for setting me free from sin and death and giving me an eternal future with you. Give me strength in my daily struggle against my sinful nature that I may live for your glory in everything I do.  In your name I ask it, dear Jesus. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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

Devotion - July 29, 2014 --Daily Devotion