Losing Your Life – September 23, 2021

Then [Jesus] called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Mark 8:34,35

Losing Your Life


Daily Devotion – September 23, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:34,35

See series: Devotions

On July 17, 180 A.D., twelve inhabitants of Carthage, North Africa, were executed for being Christians. There were seven men and five women. Their names were Speratus, Nartzalus, Cintinus (Cittinus), Veturius, Felix, Aquilinus, Laetantius, Januaria, Generosa, Vestia, Donata, and Secunda. Speratus was their spokesman. He claimed for himself and his companions that they had lived quiet and moral lives—paying their taxes and doing no wrong to their neighbors. But when called upon to swear by the name of the emperor, he replied, “We do not recognize the empire of this world. We serve the God whom no one has seen.” The Christians were offered a delay of thirty days to reconsider their decision, which they all refused. They were put to death by the sword.

They were not the first Christian martyrs, nor the last. Even today, there are people around the world killed for following Jesus.

Many Christians are not killed for their faith. But you will find that there are always sacrifices to be made in following Jesus. You will encounter skepticism and ridicule for putting the needs of other people ahead of your own. You will have less money and time for yourself when you use them for other people. You may lose status or the opportunity for advancement when you live a quiet and moral life.

But trusting in Jesus for your eternal salvation and living a God-pleasing life for others to say thank you to him are worthwhile. When Jesus suffered hell on the cross for your salvation, he made your much smaller sufferings bearable. You can look forward to eternal life with him!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, give me strength to take up my cross daily and follow you. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Concerns of God – September 22, 2021

Jesus then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
Mark 8:31-33

The Concerns of God


Daily Devotion – September 22, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:31-33

See series: Devotions

Admit it. You want things to look good, and you want to feel good. You want everyone to be happy, and you want things to turn out well. Those are just normal human concerns.

God has greater concerns. He wants everyone to come to a knowledge of the truth and be saved. He wants you to believe in Jesus so that you will not perish but have eternal life instead. He wants you to depend on him, and not on yourself.

Jesus shared the concerns of God the Father. That is why he did not care how he looked or felt. He knew that some people were not going to be happy about what he said or did. He taught his disciples that he would have to suffer and be rejected by the prominent people of his day and that he would be killed. He even mentioned that after three days, he would rise again.

The disciple Peter wanted things to look good. He wanted to feel good, and he certainly did not want Jesus killed. He wanted Jesus to share his human concerns.

Jesus recognized that those human concerns were a temptation from Satan. If Jesus did not suffer, Peter would not be saved. So Jesus rebuked Peter, pointing out that the devil was behind his human concerns.

Even if you do not always understand why Jesus is not acting according to your human concerns, you can trust that he knows what he is doing. He has in mind the concerns of God, and those are always in your best interest.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, relieve my human concerns by giving me insight to the concerns of God for my good. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Tell People About Him Now – September 21, 2021

Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
Mark 8:30

Tell People About Him Now


Daily Devotion – September 21, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:30

See series: Devotions

It might sound surprising, but Jesus often told his disciples not to tell anyone about him. Something dramatic would happen, proving that Jesus was the Son of God, and the disciples would be excited to talk about it. Jesus would advise them to be silent instead.

That’s because Jesus knew that the religious and political leaders of his day would hear about what he did, find him a threat, and conspire to put him to death. Jesus knew that had to happen at a certain time, and when it was too early, he did not want his disciples to precipitate those events.

At a certain point in his ministry, when he knew it was the right time, Jesus entered Jerusalem very publicly, encouraged people to talk about him, and ended up going to the cross. He gave his life—the innocent for the guilty—and won forgiveness for the whole world.

You can talk about that now. You can tell people about Jesus now. There may still be opposition, but Jesus’ work is complete, and there’s nothing the opposition can do about it.

So, at every opportunity, go ahead and tell people who Jesus really is. You don’t have to worry about Jesus’ warning not to tell anyone about him. That was then, and this is now.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for accomplishing your work in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. Give me opportunities to talk about what you have done for everyone. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Jesus Is Who He Says He Is – September 20, 2021

Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Mark 8:27-29

Jesus Is Who He Says He Is


Daily Devotion – September 20, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 8:27-29

See series: Devotions

How can you tell that people are really who they say they are? Surely you have heard of people who claim to be good and helpful but turn out to be despicable. You’ve probably also heard of people who speak very quietly and humbly but turn out to be positive contributors to someone else’s life.

People had heard of Jesus. He asked his disciples what they were saying about him. Apparently, there were people who thought Jesus was a reincarnation of someone famous in Bible history. Others thought that he was at the level of other prophets whom God had sent to the people of Israel.

But that’s not who Jesus said he was. Jesus quietly said that he was the Savior promised for thousands of years. He said that he came to win forgiveness by his innocent suffering and death. He carefully explained that he was the ultimate prophet, the one who ends the need for more prophets. He used a term that said that and more; he called himself the Messiah.

Did his disciples think that he really was the Messiah? Peter said so. They had been with him long enough to see that he was not faking it. He was exactly who he said he was.

Who do you say Jesus is? He wants you to know that he really is who he said he was. He is the Messiah, the one who was promised, the one who earned forgiveness for you, the one who loves you. You can count on him, and you can say with confidence that he is your Savior.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, no matter what other people say about you, help me to trust you as my Savior. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Solid Rock – September 19, 2021

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.
Matthew 7:24-29

The Solid Rock


Daily Devotion – September 19, 2021

Devotion based on Matthew 7:24-29

See series: Devotions

The kind of followers Jesus wants are those in whom the Word lives and who live by the Word. They have their life focused on Christ, their attention on his words, confidence in his protection, hope in his promises, and joy in the relationship they have with their Savior. Absolutely nothing can destroy such a spiritual building of active and saving faith. Life problems can beat against that house of faith; persecution can pelt it mercilessly; death itself will rise up against it, but it will not fall because it is based solidly on the Rock—Jesus Christ.

Quite different is the result for the one who hears God’s Word but does not put what he hears into practice. He does not recognize his sinfulness and does not trust in Jesus as his Savior. He trusts another basis for salvation, one that puts confidence in his own ability and self-worth. In his case, Jesus says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” With such an imperfect footing, his life eventually comes crashing down. Without faith in Jesus, he is lost and condemned forever!

Jesus reveals himself in his Word to give us a firm foundation for our faith and absolute confidence for our salvation. Build your life on Jesus, the solid rock.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, open my heart to believe your Word and put it into practice in my life. Keep me safe from all onslaughts against my faith, and finally bring me home with you in heaven. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Blessings – September 18, 2021

Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the LORD, my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
Psalm 103:1,2

Blessings


Daily Devotion – September 18, 2021

Devotion based on Psalm 103:1,2

See series: Devotions

“Daddy, what’s a benefit?” That’s a question one of my daughters asked me the other morning after she had recited to me these verses from Psalm 103. I answered, “A benefit is a blessing; it’s something good that we receive from God.”

The list of God’s blessings is endless. First, there are the “small” blessings in life: food, clothing, shelter, air to breath, a spouse’s love, a child’s laughter, friendship, good health. Praise the Lord for all these benefits!

Then there are the really “big” blessings that God gives us: forgiveness for our sins, angels who guard and protect us daily, the privilege of going directly to God in prayer, the sure hope of eternal life in heaven one day, confidence in the resurrection of the body at the end of time. Praise the Lord for all these blessings!

Are these blessings that we deserve? No. Have we earned them? No. Because of the sin we’ve inherited from our parents and the sins we daily commit, we deserve nothing but misery in this life and the one to come. But praise the Lord! Where our sin increased, God’s grace and blessings in Jesus increased all the more.

Praise the Lord! Praise him with your lips. Praise him with your life lived to his glory and honor.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, how great you are! You have showered upon me more benefits and blessings than I deserve. Help me say “thank you” to you by living my life in ways that bring you praise and worship. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Remember Who You Are in Christ – September 17, 2021

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
James 1:22-25

Remember Who You Are in Christ


Daily Devotion – September 17, 2021

Devotion based on James 1:22-25

See series: Devotions

In a moving scene in Disney’s The Lion King, the spirit of the departed Mufasa admonishes his son Simba with the words, “Remember who you are.” The young lion’s lifestyle choices revealed that he had forgotten who he was—the rightful king, and therefore he had forgotten his father as well.

The Bible closely connects Christian behavior with a conscious and deliberate recollection of who we are in Jesus Christ. We read in the Bible that all of us had been doomed to damnation because of our disobedience to God and his word. But through his perfect life and innocent death, Jesus set us free from the curse of the law. Connected to Christ through Baptism, we died to sin. Now we live for God as his dearly loved children and heirs of heaven. How could we return to the way of life that separated us from God in the first place?

Unfortunately, that is what happens when believers forget what the Bible reveals about who they are in Christ and what type of life that God has called them to live as Christ’s followers. All too easily, we slip into old sinful habits and self-destructive patterns. As Jesus told his disciples, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” The solution is to purposefully peer into God’s Word daily and prayerfully put into practice what we read there. In the blood of Jesus, you have been washed clean from your sin—don’t roll around in the same immoral mud anymore. Remember that you belong to Christ and live as a child of God.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let me never forget what you have done for me and what you have called me to be. I am your disciple; let me learn from you. You are my Savior; let me serve you in thanksgiving. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Communication that Values Relationships – September 16, 2021

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.
James 1:19,20

Communication that Values Relationships


Daily Devotion – September 16, 2021

Devotion based on James 1:19,20

See series: Devotions

A recent article in a business magazine highlighted the use of a “ten-second rule” for more effective communication. The author noted that taking a long breath or two before responding can defuse a heated conversation. The momentary break gives everyone in the room a chance to refocus on relationships rather than disagreement.

This advice is not only good modern business practice, but it also reflects ancient wisdom found in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible. When James counseled his readers to be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry,” he was echoing thoughts collected hundreds of years earlier in the book of Proverbs.

Of course, all too often, we have failed to heed such advice. Our sinful pride, selfishness, and short tempers frequently can get the best of us, and instead of putting the needs of others ahead of our own, we respond in anger. We may feel the urge to win the argument or get our own way at any cost, even at the expense of friendships and other important relationships.

How comforting to know that God does not act as we do! The Bible tells us that God is slow to anger, even though we have given him so many reasons to be angry with us. And he is quick to listen to and answer our prayers, especially when we are asking for forgiveness. His Son, Jesus, perfectly demonstrated that same attitude throughout his earthly life, patiently bearing with sinners and humbly paying the price for our sharp tongues and short tempers.

Now we strive to live in a way that reflects Christ’s love for us and our gratitude for him. That includes making sure that we value people and our relationships with them more than we value winning arguments against them. Practice good communication habits, but even more so, practice imitating Christ’s humility and patient love for others, just as he has loved and forgiven you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, forgive me for acting and speaking in anger rather than love. Help me to build up others through what I say and how I say it. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Changeless Grace – September 15, 2021

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.
James 1:17,18

Changeless Grace


Daily Devotion – September 15, 2021

Devotion based on James 1:17,18

See series: Devotions

Life can seem like a roller coaster: full of unexpected ups and downs; and sudden twists and turns. But while amusement park rides are meant for entertainment, in real life these unpredictable changes aren’t always so welcome. Even worse, for some people, life might be more accurately compared to a mechanical bull, with random spins and jerking movements purposefully designed to throw off its rider.

So is that the case? Is the designer of your life out to get you? Could it be that when everything is going wrong, and you feel like giving up, that God himself is purposefully trying to get you to stumble and fall?

Jesus’ younger brother James wrote a very down-to-earth letter to fellow believers who struggled in their life of faith. Trials and temptations threatened their trust in God. Some even wondered if God was responsible for these stumbling blocks as if he wanted them to fall. James compared those who doubted God’s unchanging grace to waves of the sea, tossed this way and that by the winds of change in their lives.

James reminded his readers that the God who created this universe and everything in it only and always gives good gifts. Shadows shift on earth as the sun glides across the sky, and the clouds may temporarily dim its light. But the sun itself and the live-sustaining heat it emits are not diminished. So also, our heavenly Father and his eternal love for us do not change just because the world casts shade on his word. God gave his only Son, Jesus Christ, to be the Light of the world, revealing the Father’s merciful heart with his sacrifice in our place. And he gives us new life, a spiritual rebirth, through the gift of faith in his Son. That love and those gifts remain constant, even in the darkest days, even through all the twists and turns of life.

Prayer:
Lord God, when I am weary from all the changes of this life, keep my eyes focused on your unchanging love for me in Jesus. Amen.

Daily 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christ Brings Change – September 14, 2021

Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert. The burning sand will become a pool, the thirsty ground bubbling springs. In the haunts where jackals once lay, grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.
Isaiah 35:5-7

Christ Brings Change


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 35:5-7

See series: Devotions

There is a joke which asks: “How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?” The answer is: “None. Lutherans don’t believe in change.” There may be a cultural kernel of truth to that joke which makes us chuckle. But in reality, Lutherans—along with all Bible-believing Christians—believe in many enormous changes because we believe in Christ.

We all come into this world spiritually blind, deaf, and lame—in other words, we are unaware of God’s goodness to us, unwilling to listen to his promises, and unable to walk according to his word. By nature, our souls are spiritual wastelands devoid of real life. But into that desert steps Jesus Christ with his life-giving, life-changing gospel. He came into our sin-darkened world not only to announce our salvation but to make it happen. By his sacrifice on the cross, our debt with God has been paid. We are fully and freely forgiven for the sake of Jesus and through faith in him.

This good news of Jesus our Savior has the power to effect incredible changes in us. It enables us to see God as the loving Father that he is. It tunes our ears to hear and believe his promises of eternal life. It makes our hearts leap with joy, which in turn empowers us and motivates us to love our neighbor and to live a life of praise and thanksgiving to the God who saved us.

Have you become frustrated with yourself, stuck in your self-serving, self-defeating ways? Look to Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God, who alone has the power to make the blind to see and the lame to walk. Rejoice in the changes he brings you now, and especially the eternal changes he will make in you on the day of resurrection.

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, let me always listen to your promises, see your grace, walk in your light, and sing your praises. Amen.

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