WELS Daily Devotions

Unlimited Forgiveness – September 27, 2020

5 hours 26 mi

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
Matthew 18:21,22

Unlimited Forgiveness
Daily Devotion – September 27, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:21,22
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200927dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

“How can I forgive you?” Perhaps you’ve said that to someone. The person really hurt you. And this isn’t the first time. The person has wronged you before. Now it’s very hard to find the inner strength or motivation to forgive and forgive again.

The apostle Peter raised a significant question when he asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me?” Peter’s question is direct and to the point. How often should he be willing to forgive someone who sins against him repeatedly—perhaps with the very same sin? Is there a limit to the times that he should forgive others? At what point is he to say, “That’s enough; I can forgive you no more!”

Relationships between sinful people are often marred by sinful words and actions—some recurring over and over again. In every marriage, in every family, in every friendship, there is the continuing need to forgive those who repeatedly sin against us. However, we, too, may wonder with Peter whether our forgiveness toward others has limits. Since we identify with Peter in this question, Jesus’ answer also applies to us: “I tell you (to forgive), not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

How is this possible? How do we find the love and strength to forgive those who sin against us? We remember how much God has been willing to forgive us. In spite of our many sins—in fact, because of our many sins—God sent his Son, Jesus, to this world. His perfect life and innocent death earned forgiveness for us. What a patient and forgiving God we have!

Remember this the next time it is your turn to forgive those who have sinned against you, whether it is the seventh or the seventy-seventh time.

Prayer:
Jesus, in the peace of forgiveness that I have through you, give me the ability to forgive others. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

I Forgive You – September 26, 2020

Sat, Sep 26, 2020

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; . . . Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.”
Psalm 51:1,2,7

I Forgive You
Daily Devotion – September 26, 2020

Devotion based on Psalm 51:1,2,7
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200926dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Mitchell shuffles over to his crying sister. “I’m sorry I hit you.”

“That’s okay,” his sister sniffles.

How many times have we responded to an apology with those very words? Of course, we can understand it in the right way, but isn’t it a bit inaccurate? Was the sister really saying it was okay that Mitchell slugged her? Being wronged is never fine and okay.

So let’s listen again, but notice the difference:

Mitchell shuffles over to his crying sister. “I’m sorry I hit you.”

“I forgive you,” his sister smiles.

What an impact those three words make: “I forgive you!” Forgiveness acknowledges the wrong, yet, offers something more substantial than a cliched “That’s okay” response.

God deals with us in the same way. When we pray, “Lord, I’m sorry I’ve sinned,” God would never respond, “That’s okay.” Sin is never okay. Instead, God responds with something better for those who trust in his Son, Jesus. God says, “I forgive you because of Jesus.” It’s a response with substance!

That’s why, with faith in Jesus and anticipation of God’s forgiveness, we can confidently pray:

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, “Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love. . . . Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow” Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Restoration – September 25, 2020

Fri, Sep 25, 2020

[Jesus said] “Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Matthew 18:18

Restoration
Daily Devotion – September 25, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:18
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200925dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Dr. Robert Morin transforms lives. There simply are no two ways about it.

Dr. Morin specializes in reconstructive surgery. Every year, he gathers a medical team and travels to a poverty-stricken part of the world. There, he and the team offer to restore the faces of children—children whose faces have been broken for a wide variety of reasons.

The waiting lines are long to see Dr. Morin’s team. The work is exhausting. It’s not uncommon for the staff to labor from sunup to sundown for six days straight. Family after family. Face after face. Heartbreaking story after heartbreaking story. Procedure after procedure. After each one, however, there are tears—tears of gratitude from the families; tears of joy from the medical team. The tears come easily. After all, everyone there knows that such a restoration will transform that child’s life.

Imagine you are part of Dr. Morin’s team. Imagine how it must feel to have in your hands the means to change a life. According to Jesus, we do.

In love, Jesus saw our lives in all of its brokenness—lives broken by our own sin. He knew we were helpless to put the pieces back together. And so he came to us. He became one of us. In our place, he lived a perfect life—sinless and holy. On our behalf, he carried the entire sorry mess of our wrongs to the cross, blotting them out in his blood. Then he rose from death. Now he comes to each of us through his living Word. He calls us to repentance. And in his gospel message of forgiveness, he brings us healing. He brings us restoration. In himself, he puts the pieces of our lives back together.

But as he does, he also entrusts us with something extraordinary. He entrusts us with that same message of restoration. He says that because he has paid for the sins of the whole world, we have the right to announce forgiveness to repentant sinners–to restore their relationship with God.

And the beauty of this restoration is that it does not simply last a lifetime. It lasts forever.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for your gospel message of restoration. Move me to bring your healing to a broken soul. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Awkward – September 24, 2020

Thu, Sep 24, 2020

If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over.
Matthew 18:15

Awkward
Daily Devotion – September 24, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 18:15
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200924dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Essayist Leah Hickman has spoken to what she sees as a growing fear in our society. It’s the fear of the awkward moment—the fear of experiencing what follows in the presence of someone else when you need to raise a difficult subject or when you have to deal with a difficult situation. No one ever enjoys awkward moments, of course. But Hickman makes the case that, somewhere along the line, uncomfortableness has grown into outright fear.

It can be fun recounting awkward moments. They’re part of life. On the other hand, a fearful impulse to avoid the awkward at any cost is nothing to smile about. Hickman cites an older gentleman who’s observed, “It seems as if fear of awkwardness has become a barrier to doing the right thing.”

All of which brings us to Jesus, and his unapologetic love for every soul. When the Lord puts me in a position to speak in loving concern to someone about a specific sin—a specific sin that threatens to create spiritual harm in all kinds of ways—such a moment is tailor-made to be awkward. In all candor, you and I must confess to our Lord that there have been all kinds of times when we have retreated from speaking the truth in love—often from a simple fear of the awkward.

When fear of the awkward has been our motivation, however, you and I must also confess that we have been guilty of placing our own precious comfort zones ahead of a precious soul for whom Jesus died. I am placing my convenience ahead of someone else’s need. And that is a profound wrong.

But that’s when I remember that Jesus’ blood not only washes away the sins of the whole world. He washes away my sins too—including my sin of neglecting a precious soul.

And so let’s take a walk to the cross. Be washed in the blood of God’s Son. And as we see what he was willing to suffer to save us, may it make us willing to move out of our comfort zones, when necessary, to warn others about the sins that endanger their souls.

Prayer:
Lord, my fear of awkward moments has often overpowered me. Forgive me and renew my zeal to love others enough to warn them about sins that separate them from you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Continuing Debt – September 23, 2020

Wed, Sep 23, 2020

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another.
Romans 13:8

Continuing Debt
Daily Devotion – September 23, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 13:8
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200923dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

It’s World War II. It’s nighttime. A paratrooper is about to jump out of a plane. Just before he does, he looks down from the plane’s open door. He sees that he is about to jump into an air space that is alive with explosions, bullets, and flak. “Lord,” he prays, “if you get me through this night, I’ll never have a bad day again.”

The Lord got him through that night. And, as the old veteran loved to say for the rest of his life, “I’ve never had a bad day again.”

Think about that. So profound was the man’s gratitude for the Lord’s deliverance from death, that for the rest of his life he happily obligated himself to look upon the remainder of his days as all good days—every single one.

It’s the same kind of grateful spirit that the good news of Jesus works within Christians. In Romans chapter 13, Paul speaks of what he calls, “the continuing debt to love one another.”

This turn of phrase describes something unique. This is not a debt in the sense that I need to pay something off to God before I get something good in return. Jesus has already paid the debt of my sin in full. On my behalf, he has already lived a life of perfect love. In my place, he has already carried away the guilt of my every sin at the cross. And now, through faith in my risen Savior, I live. I stand forgiven. I am at peace. Heaven awaits.

In light of all this, something wonderful happens. The more this good news sinks in, the greater the gratitude grows. As it does, the Christian soul searches for some way, any way, to show thankfulness to Jesus. And one immediate way to do it is to demonstrate love toward others.

And so there it is. Just as a grateful survivor of war happily obligated himself never to have a bad day again, Jesus’ free gift of forgiveness empowers you and me to obligate ourselves in love to others. We do it not to get something, but to thank God for what we already have.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you. Give me opportunities to thank you more every day. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Way Home – September 22, 2020

Tue, Sep 22, 2020

“As surely as I live,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn!”
Ezekiel 33:11

The Way Home
Daily Devotion – September 22, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:11
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200922dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

There’s only one road into Wabush. It also happens to be the only road out.

Wabush is a remote town in the middle of the Canadian wilderness with a population of about two thousand people. You’ll find friendly people there. You’ll find all the basic amenities, along with a post office, bank, barbershop, bowling alley, gymnasium, swimming pool, library, and hotel.

But if you find yourself in Wabush because you took a wrong turn, you cannot simply drive through it and keep going. Remember, Wabush is the end of the road. If you’re lost, and you want to get back to where you need to be, you’re just going to have to turn around. In Wabush, it’s that simple.

Left to ourselves, you and I are lost. We are lost in a wilderness of our own making. Our sinfulness makes us naturals at isolating ourselves from each other and isolating ourselves from the God who made us.

And so God marched into our wilderness to rescue us. He did so in the Person of Jesus Christ. Through the sinless life, he lived on our behalf, and through the death, he died on the cross to wash us clean, Jesus is the way out. Jesus is the way home.

Where do you find yourself in your life right now? Could it be that, for some time, you have been making a series of turns—reckless turns, distracted turns, rebellious turns, selfish turns—a series of turns where you now find yourself isolated, alone, despairing?

God does not want you to despair. As we heard him say in our Bible reading for today, he wants you to turn from your sins and live. He loves you. He proved this when he sent his Son to save you from those sins. So, don’t delay! Turn to him and live!

Prayer:
Many times, Lord Jesus, I’ve gotten so lost. Thank you for coming to find me. Remind me of your love and forgiveness and empower me to turn from my sins to you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Watchman – September 21, 2020

Mon, Sep 21, 2020

I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel.
Ezekiel 33:7

Watchman
Daily Devotion – September 21, 2020

Devotion based on Ezekiel 33:7
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200921dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

In 2019, Israeli soldiers made a discovery. On a remote part of their army base, the soldiers uncovered what turned out to be an ancient Israelite watchtower. The watchtower is massive, its boulders weighing up to eight tons. It is twelve feet wide and rises to seventeen feet. It stands on a hill. Even today, you can see why the watchtower is there. From that hill, you have a commanding view of the ancient city of Ashkelon. In the days of the Israelites, Ashkelon was a hostile city, an enemy of God’s people.

Go back three thousand years. You’re in Israelite soldier. It’s nighttime. It’s your turn to stand watch in the tower. You climb to the top, relieve the watchman on duty, and begin. The length of your watch will be four hours. During that time, you will exert all the powers of your perception—your sight, your hearing, your sense of smell, your trained instinct—to protect your loved ones from forces that wish them harm. As the watchman, you do not sleep, you do not daydream, you allow no distractions. You are the watchman, and you are on the front lines. You are the watchman. People’s lives are depending upon you.

In the Old Testament book of Ezekiel, the Lord told Ezekiel, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel. He was a watchman, however, not in the sense that he stood in a physical watchtower to keep an eye out for physical threats. Rather, Ezekiel was a spiritual watchman. His role was to keep an eye out for spiritual threats—anything that could invade or displace his people’s relationship with their Savior-God.

Which brings us to one of the great blessings of belonging to a Christian congregational family. The Lord, through congregations, calls leaders to help serve as a spiritual watchman. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps distractions to my faith at bay. It’s a vital way by which the Lord keeps my focus on Jesus, the One who lived a perfect life in my place, suffered and died for my every sin, and who now lives for me.

If you are a member of a Christian congregation, thank the Lord for your pastor who keeps watch over you. If you do not have a church home, find one that faithfully teaches the Bible so that you, too, can be blessed by the gift of having a spiritual watchman.

Prayer:
Lord, bless those who serve as a spiritual watchman. Keep them faithful to your Word so that your people are protected from the lies that might harm them. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Pain of Loneliness – September 20, 2020

Sun, Sep 20, 2020

None of us lives for ourselves alone and none of us dies for ourselves alone . . . whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.
Romans 14:7,8

The Pain of Loneliness
Daily Devotion – September 20, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 14:7,8
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200920dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

A couple of years ago, the magazine Psychology Today had a fascinating article about the function of the human brain. Our diagnostic equipment is now so good that we can actually map the human brain. As we do, we can see what area of the brain becomes active when a person is facing a certain situation. For instance, one area of the brain becomes active when a person is facing danger. Another area of the brain becomes active when the person sits down to a favorite meal.

Researchers decided to try an experiment. They placed someone in a situation where the person had to face loneliness. Their diagnostic equipment lit up. What it told them was a bit jarring. It told them that the area of the brain that becomes active when facing loneliness is the same area of the brain that becomes active when facing physical pain.

Think about that for a moment. According to this experiment, our emotional makeup is such that we process loneliness the same way we process physical pain.

Then again, maybe we don’t need researchers to tell us what we already know. Loneliness hurts. Loneliness brings real pain.

Jesus knows this. He knows this from his own turn at living in this fallen world. More than anyone else, he knows what agony it is to feel isolated, abandoned, alone.

But Jesus doesn’t just feel our pain. He’s done something about it. At the cross, his blood washed our sins away. He removed the wall of our sin between himself and us. That means those who follow him will never be alone again.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in those moments when I hurt from loneliness, heal my hurt with your presence. Remind me that, in you, I am never alone. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Restored by God to Serve God – September 19, 2020

Sat, Sep 19, 2020

The LORD says: “If you repent, I will restore you that you may serve me . . . I will make you a wall to this people, a fortified wall of bronze; they will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you to rescue and save you . . . from the hands of the wicked and redeem you from the grasp of the cruel.”
Jeremiah 15:19-21

Restored by God to Serve God
Daily Devotion – September 19, 2020

Devotion based on Jeremiah 15:19-21
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200919dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Jeremiah had a difficult ministry. For fifty years, he preached a message of repentance to the Jewish people, but his message mostly fell on deaf ears. He was shunned, beaten, and imprisoned. He had few friends. No one sympathized with him.

Can we blame Jeremiah for getting frustrated with God? He had done everything God had asked of him. He was a faithful witness to God’s word. In return, he had received nothing but pain and loneliness. Didn’t he deserve a better life than that? Where was God’s mercy for Jeremiah? Where was God’s deliverance?

Such frustration is understandable but hardly excusable. Jeremiah expected God to change, to give him a break. Instead, God changed Jeremiah. He led the prophet to repent and believe God’s promises about his ministry. God still had work for Jeremiah to do.

When we suffer through difficult times, we also may question God’s faithfulness and demand that he set us free.

However, let’s not forget what God has already done for us. He has been faithful to us. Jesus suffered and died for our sins, and God raised him from the dead as proof that he has dropped all charges of guilt against us. Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you are free indeed.

In this world, we will have trouble, but we can rejoice because Jesus has overcome the world. Persecution will always be a part of the Christian’s life. However, God will make us strong enough to stand up under it. God has work for us to do. Like Jeremiah, we are here to bring God’s Word to the world, even if we suffer for it.

Prayer:
Lord, your words are a delight to me and the joy of my heart. If I must suffer for them, give me your strength to be faithful to you so that I may receive the crown of life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Boasting In Christ- September 18, 2020

Fri, Sep 18, 2020

May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14

Boasting In Christ
Daily Devotion – September 18, 2020

Devotion based on Galatians 6:14
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200918dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

The apostle Paul’s letter to the Galatians draws a stark line of contrast between two opposing approaches to salvation—one by grace, the other by works. He wrote the letter as a response to false teachers who were insisting that what Jesus did was not enough to make us right before God. We must also do our part, by obeying the law in every detail. This is a tempting thought. We naturally feel proud of our accomplishments and want recognition when we’ve done something good. Why shouldn’t I get credit for the times I have helped others? Surely I should be rewarded for the sacrifices I have made! This is the thinking of most people in the world.

But those who want to be rewarded according to their obedience to the moral law will be judged by that same law. And that law quickly exposes our secret sins and reveals the darkness in our hearts that we try to hide from others. We need God’s grace, which was poured out on us when his Son, Jesus Christ, died to pay our debt and rose from the dead to give us life.

At the end of his letter, Paul made it clear which side he was on. He was ready to not get credit for any of the good works he had done in his lifetime, but rather to put his trust entirely on what Jesus had done for him. And Paul understood that taking his stand on Christ alone would separate him from others. “The world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” A person killed on a cross was not only permanently separated from the community, but he was also publicly shamed and humiliated in the process. Those who stand by faith on the works of Christ alone and those who put their trust in their own self-righteousness are worlds apart from each other.

But the blood of Jesus was spilled for every person on earth. God’s promises of forgiveness are meant for all nations. So boast and brag to everyone you know about the love of God for us sinners!

Prayer:
Jesus, you are my dearest treasure. I will praise your name always. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Gifted by Grace – September 17, 2020

Thu, Sep 17, 2020

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.
Romans 12:3-5

Gifted by Grace
Daily Devotion – September 17, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:3-5
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200917dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

It was Stewardship Week at St. James Lutheran Church, and Ginny was looking at a sign-up sheet on a table in the church lobby. It said that volunteers were wanted to host small-group Bible studies in their homes. A kindly-looking, older couple approached her—Ginny knew them only as Mr. and Mrs. Kleibert. Gesturing towards the sign-up sheet, Mr. Kleibert held out a pen and said, “You won’t regret it!”

“Oh, I don’t think that’s for me,” Ginny said. “I haven’t been a member here for very long.”

“Where does it say you have to have tenure in the congregation to host one of these groups?” Mr. Kleibert pretended to search the paper for what he knew wasn’t there.

“Besides,” Mrs. Kleibert added, “We’ve noticed how active you’ve been in Sunday morning Bible class. You ask lots of great questions.”

Ginny looked at the two of them. “You’ve noticed?” she asked.

Mr. Kleibert assured her, “I’m one of the elders here at St. James and my wife Janet leads the Altar Guild. We’re always on the lookout for ways to involve new members into the life of the congregation, find ways for them to feel at home, and use the gifts that God has given them. The Holy Spirit makes sure that every Christian has something to offer to the rest of us.”

Ginny was still hesitant. “You’re sure it’s a good idea?”

Mrs. Kleibert said, “My dear husband here will be the one leading the study, and I’ll be there too. You’ll be just fine. Now quick sign your name so I can introduce you to the gals on the Altar Guild too.”

Prayer:
Father, by grace you have united me with Christ and called me into your family. Help me to value the gifts of my fellow believers and encourage them to use those gifts for your glory. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Pleasing God – September 16, 2020

Wed, Sep 16, 2020

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

Pleasing God
Daily Devotion – September 16, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:2
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200916dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Ginny looked up from her chai tea and smiled when she saw Nancy approach her at their usual table. The two of them had been meeting Wednesday mornings outside a local coffee shop for conversation and encouragement.

“Hey, friend! How’s your day going?” Nancy asked as she sat down across the table from Ginny.

“Well, I keep thinking about our discussion at the end of Sunday morning Bible class,” Ginny answered. “Pastor explained to us that the ‘true and proper worship’ of Romans 12:1—or ‘spiritual worship’ of some Bible translations—means that we want to please God in everything we do because of his mercy for us. I get that, and I want to do that. I still can’t get over how patient God has been with me, despite all of my wrong turns in life. How Jesus was willing to give his life for me. But I still struggle. There are so many times I just don’t know what the right and ‘God-pleasing’ thing to do is. Remember, I’ve only been coming to church for a little over a year now.”

Nancy sipped her latte and thought for a moment. “Pretty heavy thoughts for a Wednesday morning!” she finally said. “But I know how you feel. Every Christian struggles that way. Even the apostle Paul described his own inner fight between right and wrong in Romans chapter 7.”

“That’s true,” said Ginny.

Nancy continued, “But you are on the right path. You’re coming to church; you’re coming to Bible study, and you’re doing your best to put all that into practice in your life. I’ve learned to trust the Holy Spirit to transform my heart and mind through his Word and sacraments. He started it when we were baptized, and he continues to work in us whenever we’re reading or talking about his Word. Believe me, I know from experience that it’s a life-long process, full of ups and downs. That’s what makes me so grateful for his forgiveness!”

Prayer:
Dear God, you called me to be your child. Keep me from sin and teach me to know and do what is pleasing to you. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

True and Proper Worship – September 15, 2020

Tue, Sep 15, 2020

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.
Romans 12:1

True and Proper Worship
Daily Devotion – September 15, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 12:1
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200915dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

After many months, Sunday morning Bible class was finally meeting again, and Ginny couldn’t wait. Pastor Schroeder wasn’t surprised to see her hand shoot up when he asked if there were any questions.

“Pastor,” she said, though muffled by her mask, “while we were all stuck at home, I watched streamed worship services from a few other churches. It struck me how many different styles and ways of worshiping there are. But it also made me wonder if there is a right way to worship?”

Pastor Schroeder interrupted her, “Well, that might take longer to answer than we have time for this morning.”

Ginny continued anyway, “So I did what you always tell us to do. I looked in the Bible for answers. One verse I found was Romans 12:1 where the apostle Paul talks about ‘your true and proper worship.’ But what does that verse mean?”

“Great catch, Ginny!” said her pastor. “In the first eleven chapters of Paul’s letter to the Romans, he writes at length about God’s grace for sinners and how we are saved only by what Christ has done for us, not by anything we do. Then, before he gets into describing the way that Christians should live, Paul reminds them of what God has already done. ‘In view of God’s mercy…’ That motivates us to dedicate every part of our lives—body and soul—to serving him. When every moment and every choice in life flows from gratitude to God for his mercy, our bodies are like living sacrifices, made holy and acceptable through Jesus’ perfect sacrifice for us on the cross.”

Ginny’s eyebrows raised above her mask. “So, ‘true and proper worship’ means not just going through the motions—either in life or in church?”

Pastor Schroeder nodded. “Yes. It means always keeping before our eyes everything that God has done for us and then letting our words and actions flow from that.”

Prayer:
Dear God, thank you for your many blessings to me, though I haven’t deserved them. Let me never forget your love for me. Help me to live in a way that pleases you. In the name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Motivated for Action – September 14, 2020

Mon, Sep 14, 2020

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Matthew 16:21-23

Motivated for Action
Daily Devotion – September 14, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:21-23
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200914dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Do you struggle with procrastination? Is there something really important that you know you should do, but you have been putting it off? Maybe you delay doing those things that are difficult or where the outcome is uncertain.

Productivity gurus will often tell their clients that motivation is the key to getting things done. Very often the reason we procrastinate on a task is that we lose sight of the project’s purpose. When you find yourself dragging your feet and putting off an important task, a consultant might advise you to ask yourself: What do I hope to accomplish? What will the outcome be if I carry through with my assignment?

God’s Son, Jesus Christ, never needed to attend a productivity seminar. He came into this world fully aware of his priorities and was completely dedicated to accomplishing his goal. The Bible tells us that, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). That goal of our salvation was only possible by sacrificing himself. So, Jesus told his disciples that he must suffer, he must die, and he must rise to live again. There was no alternative. This was God’s plan from eternity. This is the way he would cancel the debt of your sins and win the gifts of forgiveness and eternal life for you. Nothing would distract or delay him from accomplishing that blessed goal!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for loving me so much that nothing could keep you from going to Jerusalem to save me from my sins. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Become an Imitator of God – September 13, 2020

Sun, Sep 13, 2020

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.
Ephesians 4:32–5:2

Become an Imitator of God
Daily Devotion – September 13, 2020

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:32–5:2
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200913dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

When actors need to imitate someone in a skit or movie, they spend many hours preparing for their role by watching videos of the person they are going to imitate. This ingrains the subject’s mannerisms and speech patterns into the actor’s mind. When show time comes, the actor can then imitate the subject quite naturally.

God wants us to imitate him. It is a tall order, to say the least. It is actually impossible for sinful humans like us. Fortunately, Jesus did what we cannot do. He perfectly imitated God because Jesus is God. His perfect life is why we have been forgiven by God for our sins.

Although we will not be able to do what Jesus did, we still strive to imitate God every day as a way of thanking him for forgiving us. Just like an actor preparing for a part, we imitate God best by watching Jesus. Hour after hour, day after day, we read about Jesus in the Bible. This ingrains God’s mannerisms and ways of speaking into our minds. It leads us to be kind and compassionate, to forgive each other, and to live a life of love. Keep watching Jesus and become a better and better imitator of God.

Prayer:
Thank you Jesus, for doing what I could not do. Help me to do what you have done. Help me to imitate God today. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Most Amazing Person – September 12, 2020

Sat, Sep 12, 2020

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.
Matthew 16:15-17

The Most Amazing Person
Daily Devotion – September 12, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:15-17
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200912dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

The disciples of Jesus had lived with him for more than two years. They had seen him heal many, feed thousands, and even raise people from the dead. They knew the public opinions about Jesus: that he was a holy man, perhaps even a great prophet. But they had also been listening carefully to their Rabbi and knew who he really was. So when Jesus asked the big question, “Who do you say I am?” Peter was quick to respond with an amazing answer, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Peter was saying that Jesus was the long-promised Savior, our gracious God’s one and only Son, true God and true man who had lovingly come to rescue this world, which was totally broken, totally lost in guilt and sin and without hope. All history revolves around him. He’s the most important and most amazing person who ever walked on this earth. He brought heaven to earth and earth to heaven. God had revealed that truth to Peter. In the next year, Peter would learn much more about all this when he saw Jesus on the cross and then risen from the dead.

“Who do you say I am?” is also the biggest question we will ever face. Thank God that we have the same source of truth as Peter did in the Bible.

Thank God every day of your life if you can answer, “Jesus, you are my Savior and my hope for heaven!”

Prayer:
Thank you, Jesus, for revealing yourself to me! Thank you, Holy Spirit, for putting faith in my heart! Help me to grow in your grace so that I, too, can boldly confess with Peter that you are my Savior! Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

In Jesus We Have Everything – September 11, 2020

Fri, Sep 11, 2020

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
Matthew 16:16

In Jesus We Have Everything
Daily Devotion – September 11, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:16
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200911dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

By the grace of God, Peter saw Jesus as the promised Savior of the world—the One and only! Peter knew that Jesus is the answer to sin—the only one God will provide. Peter knew that Jesus is the central figure in God’s plan of salvation and that no one can possibly be saved without him. Peter believed that Jesus is the only one who fulfills all the world’s needs.

It is not hard to see why so many people fail to recognize the significance of Jesus. Limited, sinful human minds simply cannot grasp such an amazing miracle. Why would God send Jesus to die for a world of sinners? Why would God save me? Why would God care at all what happens to us when we die? In a word: GRACE. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s loving plan to save us from sin, death, and hell is beyond anything we could have dreamed or imagined.

It is only by faith that we can confess Christ and believe what Peter claims about him. Jesus himself says: “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven.” In a world clouded by unbelief, God had seen fit to bless Peter with faith, and Jesus wanted Peter to know what a priceless gift that is. Without Jesus, we are lost. In him, we have everything. May we confess him as clearly as Peter.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, grant me a strong faith, bold to confess you as the Savior this world needs. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

Put Your Faith in Jesus – September 10, 2020

Thu, Sep 10, 2020

“But what about you?” [Jesus] asked, “Who do you say I am?”
Matthew 16:15

Put Your Faith in Jesus
Daily Devotion – September 10, 2020

Devotion based on Matthew 16:15
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200910dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

There is no shortage of opinions on who Jesus is. Throughout history, there has been a wide range of opinions about him. But how about you? “Who do you say Jesus is?”

Before you answer the question, realize the answer is more than just words. What we say about Jesus affects the way we live our lives. If we believe the Bible when it says that Jesus is the one and only Savior of the world, then that changes everything. Let me put that another way. If Jesus is everything to us, why is it so hard for us to be in his house for worship on a regular basis? If Jesus is our greatest treasure, why do we go entire days without reading his Word or praying to him? If Jesus is the light of our world, why do we not invite everyone we know to come and see him so they can know him too?

Sadly, our lives do not often match our confession of who Jesus is. This is precisely why we need him so much. We need him to wash our sins away. We need him to love and save us and make us right before God. We need him to be who he says he is. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” Jesus is the answer to sin and death. He is the one who has come to live and die in our place to make sure that we could be saved and live with him forever.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your answer to that question has eternal implications. Jesus is your salvation. He is everything you need. Put your faith in him.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, help me to never forget who you are. You are my Savior, my all. Lead me to love you and serve you always. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Big Picture – September 9, 2020

Wed, Sep 09, 2020

“Who has known the mind of the Lord.”
Romans 11:34

The Big Picture
Daily Devotion – September 9, 2020

Devotion based on Romans 11:34
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200909dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

We live in a crazy, chaotic world. ‘What is God doing?’ Perhaps you have heard that question asked a few times. Maybe you are wondering: ‘If God really cared about us, wouldn’t he stop this pandemic? Wouldn’t he bring an end to all this inequality? Wouldn’t he stop the violence?’

It certainly can be difficult to understand what God is doing. The Bible often reminds us that God’s thoughts and ways are so much higher than our own. We do not always see the big picture of things. This can lead to frustration and anger when we do not understand why God allows certain things to happen. This, in turn, leads us to blame God or turn away from God.

“Who has known the mind of the Lord?” God may be tough to figure out at times, but just because we do not understand his plan does not mean that we can assume he does not love us. Quite the opposite, actually. When God sent Jesus into this world to die on the cross to pay for our sins, nobody understood that either. Even Jesus’ closest followers tried to stop it or to talk Jesus out of it. Yet, even though they could not understand what God was planning, it ended up being a huge blessing for them and the whole world. In sending Jesus to die on the cross, God made sure that there was a way for us all to be saved. Through faith in Jesus, we are forgiven, and on the way to heaven.

We cannot always understand God’s plan or know the mind of the Lord. But as we see his plan for saving us through Jesus, we can be assured of his love for us and his intent to bless us. This means we can trust him. As events around us seem to spin out of control, trust that God has a plan. He loves you and has saved you and will continue to carry out his will with you in mind.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for salvation in Jesus. While I do not always understand your plan, help me to trust you and your love for me. Help me to know that you will always take care of me. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Memorial of Love – September 8, 2020

Tue, Sep 08, 2020

“These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
Joshua 4:7

A Memorial of Love
Daily Devotion – September 8, 2020

Devotion based on Joshua 4:7
https://wels2.blob.core.windows.net/daily-devotions/20200908dev.mp3
See series: Devotions

Monuments have been the center of attention lately as a debate rages over which historical figures deserve a monument in their names. What are some reasons for having a monument in the first place? Above all else, a monument is designed to help people remember a certain person or event.

God instructed Joshua to construct a memorial on the bank of the Jordan River. The Lord had miraculously stopped the river from flowing and allowed the entire nation to cross over into the Promised Land—a land he was now going to give to them. This was truly a momentous event in the history of Israel, and the Lord wanted his people to always remember how he was there for them and had blessed them. So, Joshua instructed the people to set up a monument of stones to serve as a reminder of God’s goodness.

We have those too. As you think about your own life, what monuments to God’s goodness can you find? Perhaps you can review the clean bill of health from your doctor and rejoice in God’s goodness. Maybe you can look at the family picture on the wall and count all the children and grandchildren and thank God for the blessings that he has brought into your family. We all have different reminders of God’s blessings in our lives.

But there is one memorial we share: the cross of Jesus. The empty cross stands as a reminder that Jesus has taken our sins away and won for us the free gift of heaven. Throughout history, there will always be people who speak against the cross and tell us to take it down, but it is a visible reminder of the price Jesus paid to set us free from sin and death. It is a symbol of God’s love for all of mankind. Look to the cross today and every day and be reminded of God’s love for you.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, thank you for sending Jesus to be my Savior. In the cross, help me to see your love and forgiveness for me and the whole world. Help me to always remember that I am saved in Jesus. Amen.

Daily Devotions are 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.