Enjoy the Blessings of the Spirit – November 10, 2017

Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.
Romans 8:5-8

Enjoy the Blessings of the Spirit


Daily Devotion – November 10, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:5-8

See series: Devotions

Some people are openly disobedient. They seem to delight in daring the authorities by finding ways to break the rules aggressively and defiantly. They do whatever they want, whenever they want.

Other people are quietly, subversively disobedient. They are so sneaky that they are not usually caught. They know that no one suspects them, and they get away with a lot.

Both groups of people do not please God. He wants people to follow his laws happily and obediently, even the laws that are counter-cultural or counter-intuitive. God is not even pleased by good people who follow his laws but for the wrong reasons. God looks for perfect integrity.

Instead, everywhere he looks God sees disobedience and hostility. People resent his high standards. But God has a surprising solution to that problem.

Rather than punishing people, God sends his Spirit into their hearts. The Spirit comes by hearing God’s message from the Bible and the Spirit changes things.

The Spirit causes people to believe that Jesus was punished for their sins even though he had done nothing wrong. People are grateful when they hear that they are forgiven and that they are going to have eternal life in heaven through faith in Jesus. People like to know that they are at peace with God and that he is not going to punish them because he has already punished Jesus in their place.

Because the Spirit gives people joy and peace, they set their minds on what the Spirit desires, which is faith in Jesus and from that faith flows love and kindness. Hang around those people and enjoy the blessings of the Spirit.

Prayer:
Martin Luther, whose birthday is celebrated today, often prayed: Heavenly Father, keep me this day from sin and every evil, that all my doings and life may please you. 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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Eternal Innocence in Jesus Alone – November 9, 2017

There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Romans 8:1

Eternal Innocence in Jesus Alone


Daily Devotion – November 9, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 8:1

See series: Devotions

Can there be anything as sweet as God uttering that I am innocent in his eyes? Nothing refreshes the weary sinner more than the pardoning proclamation of my Lord whose love for me is limitless.

His utterance of my innocence astounds me for I know that this is the opposite of what I deserve. God’s holy law unleashes the unsettling truth that I stand convicted of my many sins in his righteous courtroom. So too, my conscience constantly reminds me of my corrupt nature that makes me an enemy of the just Judge of all. I can only conclude with the apostle Paul that I am a “wretched man” bound for the eternal ruin of hell (Romans 7:24).

Instead of proclaiming my ruin, God promises my rescue! The Lord provided the perfect rescuer—his innocent Son, Jesus Christ. In unspeakable love, he carried all my guilt to Calvary’s cross and suffered the wrath of God for every one of my wretched offenses. He was condemned in my place to pay the complete price for my sins.

Christ is my everlasting comfort. He is my only refuge in which I am able to withstand every accusation of the devil and all the consternation of my conscience. God does not promise me an earthly life of ease and freedom from all misfortune. What he does promise is far greater than any treasure the world can provide. He grants me the marvelous gift of faith to grasp the glorious promise of pardon and peace that are mine in Jesus alone.

If ever I begin to doubt the fact that I am freely and fully forgiven, the gracious hand of God points me again to the unfailing words of his glorious gospel. There he declares with eternal certainty, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” The Lord’s infinite love for me deserves my endless thanks and praise.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, your eternal gospel wondrously declares my innocence in Jesus. Grant me a firm faith to always believe and reflect that truth in the freedom of my new life in Christ. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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Don’t Fear the Lions – November 8, 2017

At the first light of dawn, the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. When he came near the den, he called to Daniel in an anguished voice, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to rescue you from the lions?” Daniel answered, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, O king.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Daniel 6:19-23

Don’t Fear the Lions


Daily Devotion – November 8, 2017

Devotion based on Daniel 6:19-23

See series: Devotions

What would you have done if you had been Daniel? The king has just issued a decree that for an entire month no one can pray to anyone except him. If anyone does pray to someone other than the king, that person will be thrown into a pit to be torn apart by hungry lions. You, however, worship the true God. And everyone knows that you pray to him in your room three times each day. Your enemies, who want you dead, are watching you to see if you will continue praying to your God in spite of the king’s decree. So, what will you do? Will you keep praying to God as you always have been and risk being thrown to the lions? Will you perhaps change your routine and pray privately rather than where people can see you? Will you even stop praying for a month so that you can stay alive?

It didn’t take long for Daniel to decide what he was going to do. Right after Daniel heard about the king’s decree, he went home and kept on praying to God just as he always had done. He didn’t change his routine. And he certainly didn’t stop praying to the true God. Even if it meant that he would have to deal with hungry lions, Daniel was determined to remain faithful to the true God. He was confident that God was able to protect him even from the jaws of lions.

Daniel’s confidence in God was not disappointed. After spending the night with the lions, Daniel was still alive. God had sent an angel to close the lions’ mouths. And the lions hadn’t harmed Daniel at all.

It’s a great blessing to live in a country where we don’t have to face the exact dilemma that Daniel faced. But that doesn’t mean we don’t face similar challenges to our faith. Daily we face pressure to hide our faith. Daily people tell us, perhaps not in so many words, that it would be better for us not to be so public about believing the Bible. Our culture makes it very clear that those who do show their love for Jesus in the way they live will face, not literal lions, but metaphorical lions of disdain, hatred, and ridicule.

But none of this gives us any reason to back down or hide our faith. Like Daniel, we can keep on living our faith and sharing it with others without any fear of the “lions” that threaten us. We know that God is more than capable of overcoming any “lion”. In fact, he has already overcome of the most dangerous “lion” of all, Satan himself, through the work of his Son Jesus. If Satan cannot harm us, then neither can anyone else. And we can boldly live our faith, confident that the God whom we serve can—and will—rescue us from any “lion” that we may face.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, shut the mouths of the “lions” that threaten me and strengthen me to boldly live the faith that you have given 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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Two Unspoken Words – November 7, 2017

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1

Two Unspoken Words


Daily Devotion – November 7, 2017

Devotion based on Galatians 5:1

See series: Devotions

In the 1930’s, a group of Americans took on an extraordinary project. They armed themselves with audio-recording equipment, and with that equipment they made it their goal to capture the voices of men and women who had once lived under slavery.

We still have those recordings today. If you search around a bit online, you will find them. Some of the sound quality is so poor that it’s difficult to understand everything. Nevertheless, the impact of these recordings is powerful: Actual voices of men and women who know what it is to live under slavery.

In addition to the recordings, there are transcriptions and written notes. Meet a man by the name of Charlie Aarons. Charlie says he grew up with a father and mother, a sister and a brother. But when Charlie was about 10 years old, his master put him up for sale. Charlie says he remembers the extreme anxiety he felt as he stood on the block and various people bid for the right to take him home.

A Mr. Jason Harris purchased Charlie that day. And Charlie never saw his family again.

Slaves worked hard on the Harris plantation, Charlie says. They were in the fields from 6 in the morning until 6 at night. When asked if he had ever had a chance to escape, Charlie says that the dogs would capture you soon enough, and then you would get a beating. And when asked if his master ever taught him to read or write, Charlie smiles and says, “No, Madam, only to work.”

Two unspoken words permeate the voices of these ex-slaves. The words are, “Never again.”

Through faith in Jesus Christ, you and I are free. We are free from the guilt of sin. We are free from the power of sin. We are free from fear, free from isolation, free from the darkness and despair that sin can bring. But as you and I bask in God’s forgiveness, and the peace and joy we now have, there are also two unspoken words that live and thrive within our Christian faith. Those words are, “Never again.”

For the agents of the old slavery of sin are always on the prowl. The temptations to sin are always on the watch.

Thank God that for every time the claws of sin try to drag us into slavery, Jesus is here. He is here to call us to repentance. He is here to cleanse us in his blood. He is here to refresh us in the freedom he purchased for us at the cross.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in you I am free. By your Spirit, keep me free. Stay by my side. 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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Trust Me – November 6, 2017

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Matthew 10:22

Trust Me


Daily Devotion – November 6, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 10:22

See series: Devotions

Jesus knew what his disciples were going to endure. This is why he urged them, “Trust me.” He wanted his followers to understand that the world was going to hate them just as it hated him. Jesus’ words which invited their trust were not empty. The disciples did experience the same rejection, animosity and hatred Jesus did.

Jesus pleads with me too: “Trust me, the world will hate you because of me.” My experience testifies to the truth of Jesus’ warning about the world. Daily, people ridicule the way I live. Daily, people attack what I believe. Daily, people seek to silence my witness about Jesus. Why should I be surprised by this kind of treatment? My life as a faithful disciple of Jesus will always be challenging. At the same time, my Savior also reminds me of the rescue he has prepared.

Jesus assures me of my salvation. My Lord and my Savior does not want me to become disheartened, discouraged, or fall way. The words he offers are full of love and encouragement: “He who stands firm to the end will be saved.”

Certainly, I recognize my weakness and my readiness to give up, but Jesus directs me away from myself and leads me to trust him, to stand firm on what he has done for me. And amazing is the only way to describe what he has done.

Jesus became my Savior with an amazing act of love. He humbled himself and became obedient to death on the cross. With his humiliation and crucifixion, he secured the victory and confidence I need. The burden of sin is removed. The power of the devil is defeated. Even my fear of the world is overcome.

It is because of Jesus’ complete and overwhelming victory I know I will stand firm. Absolutely nothing will separate me from his love, or the heaven he has prepared for me. Safe in Jesus’ loving arms and protected by his all-surpassing strength I can do exactly what he says, “Trust me!”

Prayer:
O loving and faithful Savior, I rejoice that you have called me to be your disciple. I recognize your great strength to support me. I also rely on your invitation to put my trust in you. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
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Freedom from the Truth – November 5, 2017

To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
John 8:31-32

Freedom from the Truth


Daily Devotion – November 5, 2017

Devotion based on John 8:31-32

See series: Devotions

The English language can be confusing. Take the words: freedom from the truth. They can be understood in two completely different ways. One is the freedom which presumably comes because absolute truths are rejected. The other understanding is the freedom which comes because truths are accepted. Today, many people have adopted the first understanding. They feel they are free because their lives are not limited by someone else’s idea of the truth.

When I examine what Jesus said to those who were gathered to listen to him, I begin to see what is really true. When I reject the truth, I am no longer free. In fact, I have enslaved myself to lies, half-truths and deceptions. This is why Jesus’ words are so precious: “If you hold to my teaching, you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jesus couldn’t make it any clearer. Knowing the truth he offers and putting one’s complete confidence in it is liberating.

What Jesus offers is freedom from the devil’s domination and deception. He also offers freedom from the guilt and shame which accompany my sinful disobedience. He even offers freedom from death and the grave with his promise of life in heaven.

What makes Jesus’ truth reliable is his ministry dedicated to validating this truth. His life, his death, his resurrection all provide the guarantee I need to be certain his truth is valid. It is also liberating. Because of what Jesus has done, I am free to live knowing I am at peace with God. I am also free to live knowing what love and joy are mine through faith.

Today, it is easy to be confused by the appeal of a truth of one’s own making. Where will it lead? What confidence can it offer? The only result of this kind of truth is disappointment and despair when I stand before the Judgment Throne of God. This is why I need to hold on to the truth Jesus went to great lengths to establish and offer me through faith. It is also why I want to make every effort to know and experience the freedom which comes from believing Jesus’ truth.

Prayer:
O blessed Savior, I thank you for establishing the truth which sets me free. Through your Holy Spirit help me grow in my knowledge of that truth, and my confidence in it. In the end, let me enjoy the true and lasting freedom you alone can offer in this life and in the life to come. 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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God’s Unconditional Love – November 4, 2017

“The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant … I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
Jeremiah 31:31,34

God’s Unconditional Love


Daily Devotion – November 4, 2017

Devotion based on Jeremiah 31:31,34

See series: Devotions

Apple, Samsung, Nokia—someone is continually advertising their newest smart phone, tablet, or another device. Do we really need the newest? It may have a few more features, but the changes are only incremental.

What about the Lord’s new covenant? Do we really need it?

Consider our situation without it. How would we gain life with God? Our conscience tells us that we must obey his law. That’s the condition. What does his law say? If you do not murder or steal, you will live. Doesn’t sound too hard. But the conditions don’t stop there.

If you never dream of revenge, if you never feel lust except toward your spouse, if you never feel greed, never gossip, never covet, then you will live. Does it still sound possible? But there’s more.

If you always love your neighbors, helping them in need and speaking well of them, and if you always give the proper respect and honor to those in authority, then you will live. But the law’s not done yet.

If you love God above all, cherishing him more than your stuff, your family, your pride, if you trust him above all, if you hold his commands in highest regard, if you never misuse his name but continually call on him in prayer, if you never slight his word but always gladly hear and learn it.

Need I go on? How miserably we fail! How much we need something new!

Is the new covenant an incremental improvement, modifying the conditions? Not at all! We’d still fail. The new covenant is not incremental, but revolutionary. It has no conditions. That’s right, no conditions at all! Rather the Lord God declares: “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” Do you see any “ifs,” any conditions?

The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, put this new covenant into effect. His resurrection is God’s signature. You are forgiven. God remembers your sins no more. Jesus erased your record of wrongs.

This unconditional Good News makes our hearts new, so that we believe this promise and desire to do what God commands.

Prayer:
How great my sin! How much greater your forgiveness, O my Lord! 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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Funerals Simplify Things – November 3, 2017

The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23

Funerals Simplify Things


Daily Devotion – November 3, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 6:23

See series: Devotions

I always appreciate funerals. I have been at the funerals of poor people and well-to-do people, of old people and young people, of people I knew well and people I never met. And they all helped me. How?

Every funeral helps me, because funerals simplify things. When I stand at a funeral, I am reminded that I am a mortal human being, and the reason I am mortal is because I am a sinful human being. “The wages of sin is death.”

In my day-to-day life, I can think of all sorts of problems that I think are oh-so-important and pressing. The car needs to be repaired, or is on its last legs. The bank account isn’t where I would like it to be. My career doesn’t seem to be moving the way I want. My kids are sick. My parents are struggling. My team isn’t doing as well as I would like. I have so much work to do, and on and on. And then I stand at a funeral and I am reminded that none of those things are my biggest problem. My biggest problem is that I am a sinner, who will die, and even worse, I am a sinner who deserves to go to hell. That’s my biggest problem! And if that one problem doesn’t get solved, nothing else really matters. That’s really simple. Funerals remind me of that.

But then I am reminded of another truth, that Jesus stepped into my place, taking the punishment which I deserved. The wage which I deserved—death—he took. And what’s left for me?

What’s left for me isn’t a wage, but a gift! And oh, what a gift! God gifts to me life eternal! God gifts to me eternity in heaven with him! By forgiving my sins, God gifts to me eternal joy, eternal peace, eternal glory!

And again, life gets simplified! I have eternal life, because God has given it to me! Does that mean all my other problems go away? Not at all! But it does put them into perspective! I am going to heaven! And so I can handle … the sickness, the stress, the change, the heartache, the money issues, and on and on. Since God has given me eternal life, certainly he will guide me through these other issues, because they are just things of this earth. Simple.

And funerals help me to remember that.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, keep simplifying everything for me by focusing me on what really matters. 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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Dead and Alive – November 2, 2017

Count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness. For sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.
Romans 6:11-14

Dead and Alive


Daily Devotion – November 2, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 6:11-14

See series: Devotions

Christians are walking oxymorons. That may sound like an insult to Christians, but connected to God by his grace through faith in Jesus, this is an accurate description. An oxymoron is a figure of speech in which two terms, which seem to contradict each other, appear together. For example, “jumbo shrimp,” “civil war,” and “crash landing” are oxymorons. Yes, Christians are walking oxymorons. God’s word recorded in Romans chapter 6 tells Christians to consider themselves dead and alive at the same time. How can we be dead and alive at the same time? Either we are one or the other, not both.

The key is to what or to whom we are dead or alive. Once we were dead to God. The Bible tells that without Jesus we are “dead in our transgressions and sins.” (Ephesians 2:1) We were spiritually dead, not caring about God or his will, and doomed to hell. But Jesus changed all that. He gave his life on the cross to forgive our sins and save us from death and hell.

Once we were dead to God and living in sin, but God in his grace has turned that entirely around. By giving us faith in Jesus, he changed us. We are now dead to sin and alive to God. As such, Romans 6 urges us to have nothing to do with sin. If we are dead to sin, why let our hands or mouths be tools of wickedness? Our Savior, Jesus, who gave himself for us, is our master now. We live under his grace. Our hands and mouths can be his instruments, showing and telling his saving love in what we say and do.

So be the walking oxymoron God in his grace has made you to be. You are dead to sin, AND alive to God through faith in Jesus. Live like it!

Prayer:
Dear Savior, thank you for bringing me from death to life in your death and resurrection. Help me to use my life and all I have to live to you and for you! 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 Feast – November 1, 2017

On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine—the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever.
Isaiah 25:6-8

The Feast


Daily Devotion – November 1, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 25:6-8

See series: Devotions

Celebrations and food go hand in hand. Weddings have receptions, birthdays have cake, and the holidays always have their own unique treats.

Why is that? Why does feasting always seem to accompany celebration and joy? Because it’s a blessing that God has intended. He gives us food to help us celebrate.

In the beginning, the LORD gave Adam and Eve a home in Eden that was full of food for them to feast on. They were free to eat from any tree in the garden—except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. But they broke God’s command, and their rebellion trapped them and all their descendants in a shroud.

What is this shroud that enfolds all peoples, this sheet that covers all nations? It is death. Because of sin, life ends in death for all individuals, peoples, and nations.

Now, every birthday eventually leads to a funeral, marriages are ended by death, and the holidays are occupied by memories of departed loved ones. The shroud of death overshadows our celebrations and makes life seem pointless.

So thank God that he destroyed the shroud when he sent his Son into our death-covered world! By his death on the cross, Jesus took away every sin that separates us from God, and by his resurrection he swallowed up death forever. The shroud of death is lifted. Jesus lives, and in him, you live too.

Now God has prepared the feast for you, a banquet of life eternal. The celebrations of this world last only a moment, but the heavenly feast will never end. This is a feast of rich meats and the finest of wines—a feast like no other. This is a never-ending celebration where death has been swallowed up forever and all tears have been wiped away. Rejoice and be glad in God’s salvation!

Prayer:
LORD Almighty, thank you for swallowing up death forever and for preparing the heavenly feast for us. 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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