Your Real King – November 25, 2018

Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand and knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 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 27:27-31

Your Real King


Daily Devotion – November 25, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 27:27-31

See series: Devotions

Children raised on fast food sit in front of a home-cooked meal. They stare at the chicken breast and baked potato and ask: “What is it?” The only potatoes they’ve known are cut and deep-fried. And, as far as they know, chicken only comes in the form of patties, nuggets and fingers.

Sometimes we get such a strong and wrong picture of what something should be that we don’t even recognize the REAL THING when it’s sitting right in front of our face.

What does a king look like? The people of Jesus’ day “knew” that a king looked like the rulers of their day. They figured a king must always appear rich, powerful and honored. When they saw Jesus, they did not see a wealthy or powerful or respected man. They reacted wrongly and sinfully heaped abuse on Jesus with their cruel words and angry fists.

We dishonor Jesus, our King, too, but with quite different tactics. We call Jesus our King (you may be singing that in a Christmas song or two soon.) But how often have we let our lives or circumstances mock the rich grace and unlimited power of our King? When it comes to following our King, do we choose our whims and worries instead of our King’s commands and promises? We choose lust instead of purity; cursing instead of prayer and blessing; coveting instead of contentment. We choose worry instead of trust; fear instead of faith; hate instead of love.

Thank God that Jesus chose to be our King by his love and work on our behalf. In today’s section from God’s Word, Matthew tells us that Jesus did what only our REAL King could do. He allowed himself to be dishonored because our sin dishonored God. Jesus allowed himself to be mocked, beaten, and doomed to death because that’s what we deserved. Only our real King could step in and do this perfectly in our place. Only his death could lift the death penalty that hung over our heads. This is what our REAL King looks like.

You know your real King. Don’t let any imposters sit on the throne of your heart. No matter the temptations, the hardships, the uncertainties, and the suffering you face, they are not your king. They are imposters. You have a king–the Real King–Jesus!

When temptations and suffering flood into your life, Jesus may seem distant, weak, or uncaring. But remember, you’ve seen this before. When Jesus stood on trial, he did not look like the REAL King. Even as Jesus suffered and died, he was our all-powerful, gracious God. Jesus’ death and resurrection give us forgiveness, eternal life and peace. Your King promises you power for living for him, and his constant care and presence in your life now. Only your Real King could give such great gifts. When you see Jesus, you see your REAL KING.

Prayer:
Jesus, you are my King. In love for me, you did what no king should have to do–you suffered and died for a rebellious servant like me. Thank you for your forgiveness and care. Fill me with your love and faithfulness so that I always serve and honor you. 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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Jesus is Our Shepherd – November 24, 2018

“‘For 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 pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. … 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 34:11-16, 23-24

Jesus is Our Shepherd


Daily Devotion – November 24, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24

See series: Devotions

Would you trust someone who was totally incompetent to work for you or with you? Would you give them total control? Probably not. The worldly proverb says, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!” While we aren’t here to debate if such a statement is in line with Christian humility, there is at least this truth in the proverb: “If I do something myself, it will be done to my standards!”

When God observed his people in Ezekiel’s time, he saw leaders, shepherds, who weren’t cutting it. He had entrusted to them the care of his chosen, dearly loved people. He had entrusted their spiritual lives to them, and they were failing their people and failing God. They refused to lead in the way that God wanted them to, but rather they led the people to follow after their own desires and to seek their own definition of happiness.

Too often we act like sheep without a shepherd. Though God places shepherds all around us, though he shepherds us with his Word, too often we follow our own noses and chase after our own desires. Like those shepherds of old, we deserve to be shoved aside. We deserve to lose our place in God’s flock and our place in this world. We deserve to suffer and to die for our sins.

But God doesn’t treat us the way our wanderings deserve. God says: “I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak.” In fact, in these eight verses, he says I (or my) 16 times. “I will do it. I will fix it. I will make it right!” says the Lord. God wanted it done right, so he did it himself.

“I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them.” God sends a Shepherd King. He sends David. David was a great king, but he was dead for 400 years when these words were written. The Shepherd King that God would send was a descendant of David. This is Jesus, God’s Own Shepherd.

Jesus shepherded us as he laid down his life to protect his sheep from sin and death. He died so that we could live. And even now he rules and reigns, guards and guides, in this life and even through the valley of the shadow of death. Safe in his care he leads us, from this world into the green pastures of everlasting life in heaven.

Rejoice! It’s a good thing to have Jesus as our Shepherd and King!

Prayer:
Thank you, Lord God, for making Jesus our Shepherd King. We praise you for securing our salvation and shepherding us in this world and for promising us the green pastures of heavenly peace. In the name of our Shepherd King we pray, 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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Give Thanks – November 23, 2018

Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

Give Thanks


Daily Devotion – November 23, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 100:4-5

See series: Devotions

Be thankful. It’s good for us. There are many secular studies that show that gratitude is an emotionally and physically beneficial thing for us. Daily journaling reasons to be thankful is a good thing.

People can be thankful for things. But thankfulness isn’t “complete” until we’re also thankful to someone—the one responsible for giving us those good things.

In Psalm 100, the grateful writer is thankful and praises God. Why? The LORD is good. The LORD’S love and faithfulness continue forever.

Christians are grateful to God. We are thankful because God is good to us. Thankfulness to God is honest and appropriate. Who ultimately is responsible for every good gift in our lives? Every good spiritual, physical, and emotional blessing we have ultimately comes from God.

What’s on your thankfulness list? Perhaps a start to a thankfulness list could look something like this: God blesses me with life, health, food, clothes, shelter, family, friends, and work. Jesus lived, died, and rose for me and my salvation. I’m redeemed and forgiven. The Holy Spirit works through his Word to create and strengthen faith, grow me in faith, and increase his peace in my heart. What else could you add to your thankfulness list?

How do you plan to regularly thank God? You can thank God in your daily prayers after meditating on God’s Word. Perhaps it’ll be in morning conversations with family and friends. You can thank God in a journal (digital or paper), or by following a book (like 364 Days of Thanksgiving), or in your prayers before you fall asleep at night.

Thank you, LORD. You are good. Your love and faithfulness endure forever.

Prayer:
Lord, you are faithfully and forever good and loving to me. Forgive my ingratitude. Open my eyes and heart to see all the ways you love and bless me. Fill me with gratitude for your goodness to 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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His Love Endures Forever – November 22, 2018

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1

His Love Endures Forever


Daily Devotion – November 22, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 136:1

See series: Devotions

It’s been said that we could thank the Lord for something different every day of our lives without ever running out of things to give thanks for. It’s true, the Lord has blessed each of us in too many ways to count. Today’s verse helps us remember the all-embracing source for all those blessings: The Lord loves us.

Focus on this: The Lord loves you. When Jesus the Savior died on the cross, he died for you. When he rose from the dead on the third day, he rose for you. Everything Jesus did he did for you, and all of it counts for you. And if the Lord has given up his Son for you, won’t he also give you everything else you need in life and more?

It’s easy to forget how much the Lord loves us. We might be feeling the guilt of a sin we’ve committed; it might be hard to imagine that the Lord loves us after that. We might be going through troubles and hardships that make it hard to see the Lord’s love in a given moment. On the other hand, when things are going well, it’s easy to forget the source of our happiness.

It’s true that your sins do indeed offend God, and you do indeed deserve punishment from him. But Jesus has paid for your sins. Even as you confess your sins and ask for God’s mercy, keep your eye on the cross of Jesus, and remember: The Lord loves you.

What’s more, there are no strings attached to the Lord’s love. Some may think that if we aren’t thankful enough, the Lord will take his love away from us again. But the Lord’s love doesn’t depend on our thankfulness. The words of today’s verse are clear: his love endures forever. How can we help but give thanks for love such as this?

Happy Thanksgiving Day. God loves you!

Prayer:
Dear Lord, today and every day, help me remember your unchanging love, and give me a thankful heart. In Jesus’ name I pray. 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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Give Thanks to the Lord – November 21, 2018

At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered. Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.
Daniel 12:1-3

Give Thanks to the Lord


Daily Devotion – November 21, 2018

Devotion based on Daniel 12:1-3

See series: Devotions

When we give thanks to the Lord, we think of things like family and friends, food and clothing, shelter and possessions. Today’s Bible reading reminds us that we have even more blessings in view of the coming judgment day.

We have Michael and many other angels watching out for us. They keep watch over us and our loved ones, and they guard us in all our ways. With calamities going on all over the world, they watch and guard God’s people, eventually taking them safely home to heaven.

We have the promise of resurrection to eternal life. Through faith in Jesus, we are connected to his forgiveness and his righteousness. So when we awake from the temporary separation of soul and body that we call death, we will awake not to shame and contempt, but to everlasting life. We have that same promise for family and friends who have died in the Lord.

We have the Word of God. Those who build their lives on its foundation are wise, and they will shine in eternity like the brightness of the heavens. Those who speak the Word of God lead many to the righteousness of Jesus, the basis of our salvation, and they will shine like the stars for ever and ever.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 613:4)
Even so, Lord, quickly come
To your final harvest home;
Gather all your people in,
Free from sorrow, free from sin,
There, forever purified,
In your garner to abide.
Come with all your angels, come;
Raise the glorious harvest home. 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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BULLETIN- THANKSGIVING SERVICE – November 21 6:30 p.m. St. John’s — November 22 9 a.m. Emmanuel

Let All Creation Join to Praise

A Thanksgiving Service

C:\Users\Zieman\Pictures\Creation In-the-Beginning-1.jpg

November 21 6:30 p.m. St. John’s

November 22 9 a.m. Emmanuel

Pastor Peter Zietlow

Pastor’s Greeting

The First Day Reading: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was a formless void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep; and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light” and there was light; and God separated the light from the darkness. Evening passed and morning came—the first day.

A Hymn of Invocation is sung by the congregation to the tune of Hymn 193, “Come, Now, Almighty King.” 4 verses.

God, whose almighty word chaos and darkness heard
And took their flight; hear us, we humbly pray, and where the Gospel day
Sheds not its glorious ray, let there be light!

Lord, who once came to bring, on your redeeming wing,
Healing and sight, health to the sick in mind, sight to the inly blind;
Oh, now to humankind let there be light!

Spirit of truth and love, life-giving holy dove,
Speed forth your flight; move on the water’s face bearing the lamp of grace,
And in earth’s darkest place let there be light!

Holy and blessed three, glorious Trinity, 
Wisdom, love, might! Boundless as ocean’s tide, rolling in fullest pride.
Through the earth, far and wide, let there be light!

The Litany is spoken responsively by the pastor and the congregation:

P Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

C Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.

P Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good.

C His steadfast love endures forever!

The Prayer of the Day

P Praise and thanksgiving be to you, O faithful Creator. According to your word and promise, you take delight in prospering us. With your good gifts of sun and rain the earth brings forth its bounty; with your good gifts of health and strength, we too perform the work which you have given us to do. Make us truly grateful for each evidence of your delight, and give us grace to show our gratitude; through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.

The Second Day Reading: And God said, “Let there be an expanse to divide the water and separate water from water.” And it was so. God make an expanse, and it separated the water under it from the water above it. He named the expanse “Sky.” Evening passed and morning came—the second day.

The Old Testament Reading, portions from Isaiah 55:  “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! … Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. …Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.”

“Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

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

The Third Day Reading: And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. And God said, “Let the land produce vegetation, plants yielding seed, each according to its kind, upon the earth.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. Evening passed and morning came—the third day.

Congregation Hymn sung in place of Psalm. Hymn 609, “We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer.” 3 verses

We praise you, O God, our Redeemer, Creator!
 In grateful devotion our tribute we bring. We lay it before you; we kneel and adore you;
 We bless your holy name; glad praises we sing.

We worship you, God of our fathers; we bless you;
 Through trial and tempest our guide you have been. When perils o’ertake us, you will not forsake us,
 And with your help, O Lord, our battles we win.

With voices united our praises we offer; To you, great Jehovah, glad anthems we raise. Your strong arm will guide us; our God is besides us. To you, our great Redeemer, fore’er be praise!

The Fourth Day Reading: And God said, “Let there be lights in the sky to give light upon the earth, to serve as signs to mark seasons and days and years.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. Evening passed and morning came—the fourth day.

The New Testament Reading, from portions of 1 Corinthians 15:

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” … How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body. … There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another. The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.  So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable. … Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. … But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

The Fifth Day Reading: And God said, “Let the waters teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the heavens.” And God saw that it was good. Evening passed and morning came—the fifth day.

Congregation Hymn, Hymn 234, ”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Verses 1-2

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
 O my soul, praise him, for he is your health and salvation!
 Let all who hear now to his temple draw near,
 Joining in glad adoration!

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things is wondrously reigning
 And, as on wings of an eagle, uplifting, sustaining.
 Have you not seen all that is needful has been
 Sent by his gracious ordaining?

Rise for the Gospel Reading, Matthew 6:25-34.

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.

Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?

So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’

For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Congregation Hymn, Hymn 234, ”Praise to the Lord, the Almighty.” Verses 4-5

Praise to the Lord, who will prosper your work and defend you;
Surely his goodness and mercy shall daily attend you.
 Ponder anew what the Almighty can do
 As with his love he befriends you.

Praise to the Lord! Oh, let all that is in me adore him!
 All that has life and breath, come now with praises before him!
Let the amen sound from his people again.
 Gladly forever adore him!

The Sixth Day Reading: And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God saw that it was good. Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness, and let them have dominion over all the earth.” So God created human beings in his own image. He made them male and female and blessed them. And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. Evening passed and morning came—the sixth day.

Sermon Theme and Text Matthew 6:25-34

“Thank You Jesus” for your 1. promise, 2. plan, 3. plea.

Congregation Hymn, Hymn 610, 3 verses

Now thank we all our God with hearts and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things has done, in whom his world rejoices.
Who, from our mothers’ arms, has blest us on our way
 With countless gifts of love, and still is ours today.

Oh, may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us,
 And keep us in his grace, and guide us when perplexed.
 And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

All praise and thanks to God the Father now be given,
 The Son, and him who reigns with them in highest heaven,
The one eternal God, whom earth and heav’n adore;
 For thus it was, is now, and shall be evermore.

The Seventh Day Reading: Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. And on the seventh day God finished his work which he had done, and rested from all his work, blessing the day and making it holy.

The Offering. (During the offering, greet one another and sign the friendship register.) There is a solo at St. John’s during the offering. The words are printed below:

We plough the fields, and scatter the good seed on the land, but it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand; he sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain, the breezes, and the sunshine, and soft, refreshing rain.

Refrain: All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above; then, thank the Lord, O thank the Lord, for all his love.

He only is the maker of all things near and far: he paints the wayside flower, he lights the evening star; the winds and waves obey him, by him the birds are fed; much more to us, his children, he gives our daily bread. [Refrain]

We thank thee then, O Father, for all things bright and good, the seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food. Accept the gifts we offer for all thy love imparts, and, what thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts. [Refrain]

Rise for Prayer: To you, O God, do we give thanks: for your great mercy toward us; for our creation, preservation, and redemption; for the pardon of sin; for the numerous gifts of your love; and for the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Savior. These are your great mercies, but as we rejoice in them we would not forget that you have given us even more. In the ripening of the grain, in the coming to maturity of the fruit, in the abundance which the land so freely yields, we see your hand and we give you our thanks. Enlarge our spirit of thankfulness, that we may with full willingness and in your spirit of giving share our abundance with all who are in need, that they too may praise you, through Jesus Christ. Amen

The Lord’s Prayer, a hymn version sung to the tune of Hymn 618, “Before the Lord We Bow.” 3 verses

Our heav’nly Father, hear your faithful children’s prayer:
Your name, divine and dear, be hallowed ev’rywhere!
Your kingdom come! Your heav’nly will
Among us, still, on earth be done!

The bread for which we yearn each day, O Father, give.
Forgive us, as in turn our debtors we forgive.
Your people lead in trial’s hour.
From Satan’s pow’r let us be freed!

For you, O Lord, are King; all pow’r is yours, we own;
Your glory now we sing, the glory yours alone.
So shall it be; your kingdom, might,
And glory bright, eternally!

The Benediction

As you, O God, have blessed our coming in, now bless our going forth; and grant that when we leave your house we may not leave your presence, but be ever near us and keep us near to you.

God bless you and keep you. God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you. God look upon you with love and give you peace.

And they all said

C Amen

The Closing Hymn, Hymn 334 “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow.”

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow; Praise him all creatures here below; Praise him above, ye heav’nly host; Praise Father, son, and Holy Ghost!

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Stop Working So Hard – November 20, 2018

Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. Since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool, because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this: . . . “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, there is no longer any sacrifice for sin.
Hebrews 10:11-15,17-18

Stop Working So Hard


Daily Devotion – November 20, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 10:11-15,17-18

See series: Devotions

There are some tasks that never seem to be done. No matter how often we brush our teeth, we always have to brush them again. No matter how many times we clean the house, the dust keeps reappearing. No matter how much time we spend working on the cars and lawnmowers, there’s something that will need to be fixed, tweaked, improved, or replaced before too much time goes by. Day after day, task after task, our work is seemingly never done. “When,” you might ask, “have I ever done enough to feel perfectly satisfied that my work is done?” With many tasks, the answer may simply be—never.

Do you ever ask the same question about your life? When do you have the right to feel perfectly satisfied with yourself? Have you done enough to love your spouse? Have you taught your children enough about God and his Word? Are you faithful enough at work? Have you dedicated enough time to serving others? Have you walked away from that temptation enough times to feel good about where you are in life? Day after day, task after task, in every area and relationship of life, there is seemingly more work that must always be done.

This was true also for the priests in the Old Testament. Their work was never done. Day after day, again and again, they offered sacrifices.

When we evaluate our lives according to how closely they model God’s will revealed in his Word, there is always more that must be done. That truth might compel us, then, to work harder and to sacrifice more of our time and energy to do better.

But that’s not what Scripture tells us to do. We are told, rather, to stop looking at the quality of our work and of our life and look instead at the quality of the work and life of Jesus. “By [his] one sacrifice, he has made [us] perfect forever.” The sacrifice of his perfect life was enough to cover over every sin and, therefore, enough to compel God to declare that “Their sins . . . I will remember no more.”

And if God does not remember your sins; if God already feels perfectly satisfied with who you are in Christ, then you can as well. You can stop working so hard to find what has already been given to you in Christ.

Prayer:
Dear Father in heaven, let us forever find rest in the sacrifice of Christ, so that we will be free to use our time and energy to sacrifice for those around us. Amen.

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All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Life-Giving Voice – November 19, 2018

John 5:25,28,29
“…the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live…all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out.”
John 5:25,28,29

The Life-Giving Voice


Daily Devotion – November 19, 2018

Devotion based on John 5:25,28,29

See series: Devotions

Various voices vie for our attention every day. Yet there is one voice among them all that offers everlasting refuge and relief. From the immutable message of the Bible I hear the comforting voice of Christ Jesus.

Jesus’ voice stands in sharp contrast to the enticing voice of the world. Daily, the sinful world seeks to deceive me with its empty promise of pleasure and its vain pledge of treasure. In the midst of the earthly temptations which allure me, the voice of my conscience is speaking too. It convicts me of my guilt and sin. Furthermore, the holy voice of God thunders with the verdict of death upon me for my sin.

Jesus’ voice cuts through the hopeless clamor of despair. He comes with his good news of life! His message reaches the ears and changes the heart. His word provides the answer to the curse of sin. The curse of my sin was placed upon him as he offered his life upon the cross. From Calvary Jesus cried, “It is finished.” In death, his voice was the voice of victory for a dying world of sinners. Through the gospel Jesus freely gives pardon for all my sins. While I live on earth, his word is my life. His message provides heavenly hope that revives me and divine peace that comforts me.

The gospel message will also comfort me as death draws ever nearer. One day my voice will be silenced by the grave. Yet even in the sleep of death, I will hear that victorious voice of the risen Savior. From the dust and ashes of death, Jesus will call me to come forth from the grave. By his grace, he will give me eternal life.

When I rise to live with Jesus in heaven, I rejoice to know that all of the voices that plague me in this life will be silenced. No longer will the voice of the world tempt me; no longer will the voice of Satan accuse me; no longer will the voice of fear disquiet me; no longer will the voice of death shake me! My living Savior will bring me to that home of endless life and boundless joy.

Amidst all the voices vying for your attention, one voice stands out. Trust the voice of Jesus. He gives life now and promises eternal life to come!

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, continually renew my life through your word. Calm my troubled heart with the promise of your love. Inspire me with the sure hope of eternal life to come. 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 Circle of Life – November 18, 2018

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

The Circle of Life


Daily Devotion – November 18, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

See series: Devotions

I miss my dad.

He died when I was ten-years-old. Automobile accident. I remember the ache in my heart in the following months as our family adjusted to life without him.

Death stinks! It rips a huge hole in the heart of loved ones left behind. It tears them apart. It leaves them wishing for a few more joyful days with the person who passed.

Death stinks because of sin. Death became part of the “circle of life” when the human race chose to rebel against God. Our sin separates us from God, the source of all life. Without him, every sinner dies. We can do nothing to change this reality.

But God could and did.

His Son Jesus volunteered to die for us. The Father and Son worked out a plan that Jesus would die under God’s curse. God redirected his curse away from us and blasted Jesus with eternal death. Jesus suffered horribly, but he did it willingly to take the stink and sting out of death.

Death still hurts really badly because we miss people who have died. But we know that if they died in Jesus, we’ll see them again in heaven. (Dying in Jesus means dying with the trust that God will take you to heaven all because of Jesus.) When a Christian dies, we mourn, we cry, we hurt, but we also hope. We hope our loved one is in heaven because of Jesus. We hope we will be in heaven too, because of Jesus.

Unlike hoping for good weather tomorrow, our hope of heaven is guaranteed, rock solid, unchangeable, undeniable. Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead himself. He floods our hurting hearts at the side of a casket with the hope of eternal life. We can and do depend on this hope.

So, while I miss my dad, I know I will see him again. I will get to know him man to man. I’ll hear his laugh again and experience that big heart of his. Most importantly, we’ll both enjoy spending time with our Savior and our God. Because we’ll be with the Lord forever.

How can I be sure? Jesus died for him. Jesus died for me. And Jesus died for you.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for dying to take away our sins. Thank you for promising to give us heaven. By your love, take us home when the time comes so we can be with you and our loved ones 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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Just Wait – November 17, 2018

Awake, awake, O Zion, clothe yourself with strength. Put on your garments of splendor, O Jerusalem, the holy city. The uncircumcised and defiled will not enter you again. Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned, O Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion. For this is what the LORD says: “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” … Therefore my people will know my name; therefore in that day they will know that it is I who foretold it. Yes, it is I.”
Isaiah 52:1-3,6

Just Wait


Daily Devotion – November 17, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 52:1-3,6

See series: Devotions

How many times have you had to say “Just Wait” in the last week? When kids get a little antsy about what they want from a parent, when co-workers are a little overbearing about a favor that they need, yes even when a spouse makes the same request one too many times, the response comes out so easily: “Just Wait!”

God told his people “Just Wait!” In fact that could be a theme of the whole Old Testament, “Just Wait!” God promised Adam and Eve that he would make one of their offspring the Savior, and then he told them to wait! God told Abraham he would give him a son and then made him wait for 25 years for Isaac to be born.

Isaiah wrote to people who were waiting. If they listened to Isaiah’s message, they were waiting for judgment. Like a mother that tells a disobedient child, “Just wait until your father gets home!” that was Isaiah’s message to his people. “You’ve been impatient; you’ve turned to other gods; you’ve rejected the true God. Now you just wait!”

And we’ve been there, too. We want God’s promises fulfilled today! We want health restored, relationships reconciled, comfort granted. We want what we want and we want it now! And when God doesn’t grant it, when he tells us “Just wait,” we grow angry with God and turn elsewhere, to other gods really, for comfort and happiness and hope.

For that, we deserve the judgment that Israel received. We deserve worse than captivity at the hands of a foreign army, we deserve eternal slavery in hell.

But wait! Isaiah’s “Just Wait!” message was not only about judgment, it was about forgiveness as well. God said, “You were sold for nothing, and without money you will be redeemed.” God would bring his people back from slavery and restore them to the land that he gave them. Without money God has redeemed us as well. It cost far more than money, but God paid it nonetheless. In love he gave us his Son. Jesus offered his body and his blood as our redemption price. On the cross he won us back from our impatience, our lack of trust, and all our sins. As he walked from the tomb, he destroyed death’s power and bought us the promise of our own resurrection. The promise of peace that Isaiah gave is ours now in part through Jesus, and it will be ours in full when we become Saints Triumphant in heaven everlasting.

Now we live here on earth, and though it might be hard, we can “Just Wait” for his return. And while we wait and watch, we can serve him and others with our lives. We can tell others that Jesus has come and that he will come again. We can tell the world what we know to be true, that Jesus and his heaven are worth the wait!

Prayer:
Strengthen me, Lord Jesus, while I wait for you to return. Make me to be strong in your Word and to trust in your promises. Help me to wait on your timing for the things in this world and for you to extend to me the riches of your glory. 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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