Innocent – November 30, 2017

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
Romans 8:33-34

Innocent


Daily Devotion – November 30, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:33-34

See series: Devotions

Every so often a big trial comes up and grabs our attention. Whether the person on trial is famous or the circumstances of the crime are unique, we all tune in. The evening news shows the day’s highlights and our news feeds fill up with the latest information. Of course, when there aren’t highlights or new information, there is the commentary. Then around the water coolers and dinner tables we discuss it all, sometimes for long after the trial is over.

The funny thing about all that commentary and discussion is that none of it matters for the trial. It doesn’t matter if we think the defense or the prosecution made a better argument. It doesn’t matter if after the trial we think the judge or jury got it right. The only thing that really counts is the verdict. If the verdict is innocent, this is all that matters.

The same is true in God’s courtroom. The devil loves to give his commentary. He tells you that you are not worthy to be God’s child, that you have done too many wrong things to ever have God forgive you. Your conscience joins in to whisper how God could never love a person like you and that everything God says in his Word is a lie. While the devil and your conscience love to talk, remember that none of it matters for the verdict. The only thing that matters is what the Judge says.

In God’s courtroom, Jesus Christ sits at God’s right hand and is interceding for you. He is your defense. His death on the cross as full payment for your sins and his being raised to life is enough for the defense to rest its case. God declares you innocent of every sin and wrong you have ever done. His is the only decision that matters and his voice is the only one that counts.

Let other voices say what they will. It doesn’t matter. The truth is that through Christ Jesus God has declared you innocent.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in Christ Jesus I am declared not guilty of all my sin. Remind me daily that Christ Jesus still intercedes for me. Assure me that for his sake no one can condemn me. Amen.

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Jesus is Your Shepherd – November 29, 2017

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land….I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.”
Ezekiel 34:11-13,23-24

Jesus is Your Shepherd


Daily Devotion – November 29, 2017

Devotion based on Ezekiel 34:11-13,23-24

See series: Devotions

We have seen some major storms this year. With frightening clouds, damaging winds and darkness, hurricanes unleashed their destruction. Millions had to evacuate and those that stayed had to seek cover.

In today’s Bible reading, the LORD speaks about sheep that were scattered and harmed by a violent storm.

Those sheep were God’s people. The storm clouds and darkness described the sin and destruction that scattered God’s Old Testament people among the heathen nations, where they were insecure, helpless, hurt, and facing a dismal end.

The LORD promised to send one shepherd to gather his sheep from every land, perfectly care for their needs and grant them his salvation. That shepherd was called “David.” King David had been God’s chosen shepherd of his people centuries before, but this “David” would be his greater descendant, Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

In the greatest storm ever, on a cross, that “David” would suffer the punishment for all of the rebellion and wrongs of his people and win forgiveness for their sins. That Savior would gather all of his chosen ones safely into the perfect pasture of his kingdom.

Do you have storms in your life? Do you have wrongs against God that have sent you running, hurt and perishing? Jesus is your shepherd, who graciously gathers you safely into his flock, is caring for your every need, and will continue to do so perfectly forever!

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for shepherding me safely into your fold. Continue to tend me this day and always with your grace in Christ Jesus, my Savior. Amen.

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A Review of What Death is Like – November 28, 2017

Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:20-26

A Review of What Death is Like


Daily Devotion – November 28, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 15:20-26

See series: Devotions

Whenever I’m going to visit a new place, I check out trip reviews. No, I don’t believe the worst ones, and yes, I am suspicious of glowing endorsements that don’t seem grounded. But I get a lot of good tips from the well-written reviews and they make my experience better when I can make it to the new place.

I expect to die someday and no matter when or where that happens, I won’t be able to check reviews to see what it is like. What I really need is someone who has gone through death, someone who will be honest about what it is like and what happens afterwards. I need a well-written review to make my experience better.

By the grace of God, I know a person who has gone through death and who has come back from the dead to tell what it is like. Christ actually died. His body and soul were separated for a time. Then they came back together, and he rose from the dead.

The news even gets better. Christ says he is like the first fruit harvested in the growing season. When the great harvest comes at the end of the world, the rest of us will also have our bodies and souls put back together, just as it happened to him. Those who believe in Jesus will have glorified bodies, never to die again. Death will be permanently defeated.

In the meantime, Christ has given a well-written review of what death and resurrection are like in 1 Corinthians chapter 15. It’s a review worth reading.

Prayer:
Thanks be to God! You give us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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My Humble Heavenly King – November 27, 2017

[The soldiers] stripped [Jesus] and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. … After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.
Matthew 27:28,31

My Humble Heavenly King


Daily Devotion – November 27, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 27:28,31

See series: Devotions

Who is Jesus? He is my humble King who freely submitted to the scorn of the soldiers who surrounded him. Christ is the King of kings and Master of all creation. Yet he emptied himself of his heavenly glory and power as he faced the ridicule of the Roman soldiers. Although he committed no crime, he bore the cruelty of a criminal and wore a thorny crown unbefitting his holy brow. My King willingly suffered for me.

In absolute humility, King Jesus willingly walked to the cross, bearing a greater pain than the pounding of the nails that pierced his blameless body. The Sinless One bore the guilt and shame of all my sins. Jesus is the perfect substitute who fully satisfied the just wrath of God as the guiltless God-man. His sacrifice paid the full price to win my forgiveness! My King selflessly died for me.

Jesus is also my heavenly King, who now wears a crown of glory. He arose triumphantly from the grave. His glorious resurrection assures me that all the work of my salvation is complete. After the mockery that led to his death came the victory that brings life to all people. I am ever-confident that Christ the King will return on the last day and raise me from the dead. Then I will rejoice as he brings me to his everlasting heavenly kingdom. My King will mercifully come for me!

Until the day of his triumphant return, my Savior-King lovingly calls me through the gospel to be devoted to his service. He strengthens me to bear the crosses I endure in this life. Why would I not long to serve him each day with the life he has freely won for me? For Christ compels me with a gracious promise—he offers me a glorious crown too! He said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). My King surely cares for me!

Prayer:
Jesus, my Savior-King, when you suffered and died, you did it all for me. By your death I now have life and forgiveness. Strengthen me each day to be faithful to you as I await your triumphant return. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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The Lord Honors You – November 26, 2017

There was a written notice above [Jesus], which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”
Luke 23:38-43

The Lord Honors You


Daily Devotion – November 26, 2017

Devotion based on Luke 23:38-43

See series: Devotions

Most of us have learned to spot junk mail. If a piece of mail is addressed not to our name but to Current Resident, that’s a good tip-off. Advertisers are hoping that we will open the mail they send us, but we can usually sort through junk mail quickly and toss what we don’t think we need.

Jesus claimed to be just what people needed, but he looked more like junk mail to them. They arrested him. When he was on trial, nobody came to his defense. Then nailed to a cross, it appeared to many people that Jesus was a pretender, not a king. The enemies of Jesus treated him like the loser they thought he was.

We too have treated Jesus like something far less than our King. We’ve swept our sins under the rug, thinking he wouldn’t notice. How little we must think of him! We go running for all the things that excite us, but we come to his word like a beast of burden being driven by a whip. Where’s the honor he deserves from us?

In too many ways and at too many times to count, we have all dishonored our King.

Yet we hear words of honor for Jesus coming from a very unlikely place. The dying thief next to Jesus said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

Listen to what King Jesus said to him, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.” Jesus was covered in shame. His enemies were mocking him. The devil taunted him. The world was saying to him: “What are you doing up there? If you are such a great and glorious king, what are you doing hanging on a cross?” But Jesus chose to stay there to pay for the sins of his enemies. He opened the door to heaven for condemned sinners, for you.

Jesus’ words are for you, today. Even though you have dishonored him time and again, he has chosen to honor you with his love. By his death Jesus has forgiven you. Therefore, on the day of your death, his promise will shine as brightly for you as it did for the criminal who died in faith that day: “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, you are the King of love, and you have forgiven all my sins. Give me a humble and a glad heart that seeks to serve you faithfully all my days. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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Christ is Your Glue – November 25, 2017

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
Colossians 1:13-20

Christ is Your Glue


Daily Devotion – November 25, 2017

Devotion based on Colossians 1:13-20

See series: Devotions

Your body is made up of 100 trillion microscopic things called “cells.” Cells are the basic unit of life, the foundation of every living thing. And the glue that literally holds those 100 trillion cells together is called laminin. Laminins are cell adhesion molecules. They are what holds one cell of your body to the next cell. Without laminins, you would literally fall apart. The coolest thing about laminins is what they look like. The glue that holds you together, the foundation upon which your body is built, comes in the shape of a cross.

In speaking about Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul had this to say: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Cross-shaped laminins literally hold your body together, and the eternal life that Jesus Christ purchased for you when he died on the cross in your place is the foundation of your faith, the glue that holds your entire life together. No longer do you need to worry about where you will spend eternity—Jesus has made things peaceful between you and God now and forever. Jesus has freed you from being a slave to sin and now empowers you to say “no” to its temptations. And when we fail to say “no” to sin, Jesus is ready with his forgiveness to lift us back up and empower us to live as his children.

There is no need to worry about your life now or ever because Jesus, both true God and true man, is not only your Savior, but also your King. He is in control of your life. He is going to hold you together in every way.

Prayer:
Christ my King, I know you will never let me down. You will hold my life together in every way. When I forget about that, forgive me. And then lead me through the precious promises of your Word to trust that with you holding me together I can handle anything now and forever. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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All Things – November 24, 2017

If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?
Romans 8:31-32

All Things


Daily Devotion – November 24, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:31-32

See series: Devotions

We’re not greedy. We don’t want everything. We would just like a few things. Like just a little more money, or the nagging cold to go away, some peace, fulfillment and happiness. Is that too much to ask for?

The apostle Paul wrote that God “graciously gives us all things.” With eyes fixated on the here and now, we hear God’s promise and wonder why life isn’t better. Has God forgotten to give me my “all things”? Where is the health I desire? Where is that new gadget, nicer car, bigger home and nicer vacation? Why aren’t my relationships better and my life more rewarding? We figure that we’re not asking for all things, like God promises. We just want a few things.

Whether or not we’re asking for those things or something completely different, we expect far too little. God gives you and me a huge promise. The list of good things from God doesn’t start with our health, wealth and happiness. If you read the sentences Paul wrote right before this, you’d see the much bigger and more valuable things God gives you.

God gives gifts that he knows will have lasting value and bring you enduring joy. He chose you to be his child and to be shaped into his image. God worked through his word to call you to faith and declared you not guilty of all your sins. God promises to give you a real and enduring home with him, and will free you from all sorrow and pain. God promises that even now he works all things for your spiritual and eternal good.

At times, you will wish for good things you don’t currently have. You’ll experience hurt and loss. Don’t worry. Trust God’s promise. Your sins are forgiven. Your home is heaven. Even the worst that life throws your way will be worked for your spiritual and eternal good. God will give you all things.

How do you know all this is true? God gave his Son. God gave his Son for you. You can be confident that God is always for you.

Prayer:
Gracious God, forgive me for worrying and grumbling about what I do not have. Thank you for giving your Son for me. I know you love me and that you keep all your promises. Give me patience in hardship. Bless me with faith that trusts that at all times and in all things you are for me, loving me and will give me all things. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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Yet Another Reason to Give Thanks – November 23, 2017

I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. … 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 7:18-19,24-25

Yet Another Reason to Give Thanks


Daily Devotion – November 23, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 7:18-19,24-25

See series: Devotions

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. If you live in the United States, you probably will spend time today cataloging the things you are thankful for. I doubt you’ll have any difficulty compiling your list. In fact, if you are able to gather with family and friends today, around a table loaded with food, you’ll have all kinds of things to be thankful for.

In our Bible passage today, the apostle Paul gives us yet another reason to give thanks—a reason that perhaps we don’t often think about.

Paul candidly talks about a struggle that he—and every Christian—must deal with every day of his life. It’s the struggle between the old self that he is by nature and the new self that he is through faith in Jesus. The old self only wants to sin. It only wants to separate itself from God. What God loves, it hates. What God hates, it loves. The new self, on the other hand, only wants to please God and draw closer to him. What God loves, it loves. What God hates, it hates. These two selves lived inside of Paul—and they live inside of us. Every day they fight against each other in constant battle.

This constant battle frustrated Paul and it frustrates us. Paul hated to see himself doing the things that he knew he shouldn’t do. He also hated to see himself not do the things that he knew he should do. Finally, Paul throws up his hands and cries out, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” The answer is: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!”

The solution to the constant battle between Paul’s old self and new self was Jesus. In Jesus, Paul was washed clean of his sins and made into a new person. In Jesus, he was holy in God’s sight and given the strength to live as the new self that he was through faith in Jesus. In Jesus, Paul had reason to give thanks. He knew that in Jesus, he had the ultimate victory in this war between his old and new selves.

We have the same reason to give thanks. Yes, we daily are frustrated when we see ourselves doing what we know we shouldn’t do. We are equally frustrated when we see ourselves not doing the things that we know we should do. Yet, when we feel as if all is lost and are tempted to give up, Paul reminds us that in Jesus, we have been washed clean and made into a new person. In Jesus, we are holy in God’s sight and given the strength to live as the new selves that we are through faith in Jesus. In Jesus, we have the ultimate victory in this war between our old and new selves. That truly is yet another reason to give thanks!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, today I give you thanks for all the blessings you so richly pour out on me, including the victory you have given me over my old self. Help me always to live as the new self you have made me. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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Saints Triumphant – November 22, 2017

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city.
Isaiah 52:1

Saints Triumphant


Daily Devotion – November 22, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1

See series: Devotions

As we near the end of the Church Year, we focus this week on the Saints Triumphant. Properly we think first of heaven, where believers live in triumph! But believers are triumphant now too!

That being said, this verse may puzzle us. Jerusalem, described as a holy city? That seems crazy. Throughout the years, Jerusalem certainly had some high points. But there are oh-so-many low points. Let’s just consider a couple of points from the ministry of Jeremiah:

  • that Jehoiakim, one of the kings of Judah, burned the scroll of Jeremiah’s book, trying to destroy the very Word of God. (Thankfully, God had him rewrite it.—Jeremiah 36.) That happened in Jerusalem.
  • that king Zedekiah tried to kill Jeremiah by throwing him into a cistern, where he sank into the mud. (Thankfully, God led Ebed-Melech to pull him out.—Jeremiah 38.) That happened in Jerusalem too.

Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you…” (Matthew. 23:37) And of course it’s in Jerusalem where Jesus himself was crucified after a horrid miscarriage of justice. The list could go on, so we look at Jerusalem and say, “Ugh!”

As we look at ourselves, we have plenty of reasons to say, “Ugh.” Oh, how often we’ve failed! Oh, how often we’ve not lived as saints, much less as the saints triumphant. We’ve been selfish and weak, angry and doubt-filled and so many other sinful things! Our “garments” are a mess, just like the “garments” of Jerusalem were a mess! Yet God urges the people of Jerusalem to clothe themselves in “your garments of splendor,” and calls them the “holy city.” Wait, Jerusalem? A “holy city, with garments of splendor?!?” That can’t be!

Ah, but it is! Because God was clothing Jerusalem as he clothed you. In Revelation 19:8, God talks about his people, and he makes the point, “Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.” What we don’t have, God loves to give. Jerusalem was a mess on its own, but God’s forgiving love covered her. You and I are a mess, but God’s forgiving love covers us! Jesus took our stains, our torn “clothes,” our mess and he put it on himself! In exchange he gave us his perfectly pure “garments!”

So, you are a saint triumphant! Just like people of Jerusalem could be “saints triumphant” because the forgiving love of God covered them. So, you are a “saint triumphant,” because the forgiving love of Jesus covers you too. Clothed in those garments of perfection, you are a saint triumphant!

Prayer:
Lord, assure me that I am—and then lead me to live—as a saint triumphant. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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Enduring Encouragement – November 21, 2017

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Enduring Encouragement


Daily Devotion – November 21, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

See series: Devotions

The holiday season is upon us. There are gifts to buy, family gatherings to attend, food to prepare, houses to clean and schedules to manage. At work there are deadlines to meet, overtime hours to put in, projects to complete and stressed out people to deal with. At school there are papers to write, assignments to finish and exams to take. If that were not enough, there is something deeper. Sure, the holidays can serve as an occasion to reconnect with family and friends, but they can also serve to remind us of the loss of loved ones. There is an empty chair at the Thanksgiving meal. There are not as many presents under the tree. That infectious laugh isn’t heard anymore. That room-brightening smile isn’t seen anymore. The warmth and love of a dear one isn’t felt anymore.

Stress and sorrow are part of living in a sinful world. They can darken our lives to such an extent that we fail to see not only the blessings God gives to us daily, but also the eternal glory he has in store for his people. We needn’t let the stress run us ragged or grieve like we have no hope. We do have hope. We have Jesus, our precious Savior, whose love is so great that he gave his life on a cross to forgive our every failure. We have Jesus, our risen Savior, who has turned death from a permanent condition to a temporary sleep. We have Jesus, our Lord, who will return, who will raise back to life those who have fallen asleep and will bring all his believers of every age to the eternal home he has prepared for them. We have Jesus. And so, we will be with the Lord forever.

So, when the stress of the season is overwhelming, when the sorrow of departed dear ones weighs heavily, take every ounce of encouragement from these beautiful words: We will be with the Lord forever. Encourage one another with these words. We will be with the Lord forever. That brilliant truth brightens the darkest day. We will be with the Lord forever.

Prayer:
O Jesus Christ, do not delay, but hasten our salvation. We often tremble on our way in fear and tribulation. Your saints are waiting patiently. Come soon, Redeemer; make us free from every evil. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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.

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