You are Needed – July 16, 2018

Calling the Twelve to him, [Jesus] sent them out two by two and gave them authority over evil spirits. … They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Mark 6:7,12,13

You are Needed


Daily Devotion – July 16, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 6:7,12,13

See series: Devotions

We are needy people who need to be needed. In the prime of life, we take pride in our work and service to others. But how do we feel when advanced age, sudden illness, or loss of employment prevents us from doing the work we love? Hardworking, independent people are told they can no longer live on their own. Loving parents no longer have children at home to care for. People in such situations can feel worthless, thinking they are not needed anymore.

Jesus’ twelve disciples were not the most “needed people” in the world. Some of them were working class fishermen. Others occupied a lower rung on the social ladder, such as Matthew the despised tax collector. All of them had their own sins and failings. (See Matthew 10:2-4.) But Jesus the Son of God graciously chose them to be his disciples. He chose to give these Twelve the inside knowledge of the kingdom of God. This kingdom centered around the good news of the forgiveness of sins that Jesus himself would accomplish by dying on a cross for all people. Jesus chose imperfect people to hear this message. Jesus equipped imperfect people to share this message. Jesus anointed the Twelve with his Spirit to tell people to turn from their sins and trust God who was working in the world to save them.

What human being would ever be “up to the task” of sharing such an important message with others? Jesus chose twelve who desperately needed his love and forgiveness to receive his love and forgiveness. Then he chose them to share his love and forgiveness with others. He chose to make them important and special by entrusting them with the best news the world has ever heard.

This message of repentance and forgiveness is for you as well. As you hear it and ponder what it means for you, think about what it means for someone close to you. God graciously chose to use you to serve others. He makes your life eternally significant.

Praise be to God. It feels good to be needed!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, out of thankfulness for all you have done to save me, help me to look for opportunities to love and serve others. Remind me of how valuable I am in your sight that I may work hard to be of some value to others. 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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Eager Expectation – July 15, 2018

The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed.
Romans 8:19

Eager Expectation


Daily Devotion – July 15, 2018

Devotion based on Romans 8:19

See series: Devotions

In the world of professional horse racing, there is a singular moment that all the jockeys in the sport know very well. It is the moment just before the starting gates open and the race begins. In that brief length of time, seconds can seem like centuries. In that brief length of time, the purebred horses in those starting gates are just waiting to explode with speed, their every muscle ready to uncoil their power and to rocket down the track. They are focused on one thing. They are looking for the starting gates to open.

Keep that picture in mind as you consider what God’s Word has to say about the creation you see around you. Many of you this summer are doing some kind of traveling. Perhaps you’re traveling through scenery that’s entirely new to you. Or perhaps you’re traveling through scenery that’s very familiar. Either way, God wants you to enjoy that scenery. He wants you to soak in the beauty that has come from his hand. He wants you to savor that scenery to his glory.

And he wants you to do something else. Whether you are standing before the vastness of the Grand Canyon, the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, seeing the power of the Atlantic Ocean, the lush green of farmland, or the stars in the night sky—wherever you are, God wants you to picture his creation waiting for something. Because it is. Through the apostle Paul, the Lord tells us that his creation is waiting in eager expectation for the Lord Jesus to return and to take his faithful people home. Just as a racehorse looks for the starting gate to open, so also God’s creation is waiting for our Savior and King to return.

So, enjoy your travels through God’s creation this summer. Enjoy the scenery. Enjoy its beauty. But as you do, remember to see it as God wants you to see it. Remember that it’s all waiting in eager expectation for Jesus to return. See it in light of the wonderful reality of your Savior from sin.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, you came to this earth. You died for my sin. You rose from death. You ascended into heaven. And one day you will return to take me home. In my travels this summer, keep this truth vivid in my eyes. 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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Following Jesus- July 14, 2018

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.
Isaiah 55:10-11

Following Jesus


Daily Devotion – July 14, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 55:10-11

See series: Devotions

It’s called the hydrological cycle—evaporation and precipitation. But you don’t have to know those big words or be a scientist to figure it out. The water on planet earth in its three forms, ice, liquid water, and steam are in a cycle. The water from the mountain stream eventually ends up in the ocean, then it evaporates into the clouds, which in turn causes rain to fall in the mountains, feeding the mountain streams.

But even that is more complex than you really need. Simply, God sends water and it does its job. Whether it’s to make plants grow or for people to drink or to provide a habitat for fish to survive, the water that God sends, he sends for a reason and it serves that purpose well.

So it is with the Word of God. When he sends it, it accomplishes something. It doesn’t come back to God without doing something. Will that something always be conversion to faith in Christ? No, sadly not always. Sometimes that Word of God causes people to realize that following Jesus is an all or nothing proposition. “Jesus died on the cross to pay for my sins!” I can’t sort-of believe that, and when the Word is preached it leads some to faith in Jesus or results in people hardening their hearts in unbelief.

So we should proclaim that Word. Loudly and confidently we should announce the gospel of Christ. We shouldn’t be quiet about it, for it’s the living and active and powerful Word of God! It’s not a waste of time to proclaim Jesus. The proclamation of the Bible’s message won’t return to God empty but will accomplish his purpose.

The Word won’t return to God empty and neither does it leave us empty. We are filled with the joy and peace and hope that only forgiveness can bring. Knowing that we are saved, and heaven is our home, we can tell others that same message that they too might be saved and that their empty hearts might be filled with joy and peace and hope, just like ours.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for filling me with your love and sending your gospel into my heart. Help me to send your Word out in my life, that more people might be won for you and your glory. In Jesus’ name. 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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Will I ever relapse? – July 13, 2018

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Psalm 51:10

Will I ever relapse?


Daily Devotion – July 13, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 51:10

See series: Devotions

When someone leaves inpatient alcohol treatment, they wonder: “Will I relapse?

But it’s not only addicts who live with this fear. When we look back at words and deeds that haunt us, we can stress over falling back into those sins of the past.

That was the case for King David. At one time he was a model believer. He had a courageous faith against Goliath. He had a gentle spirit towards his persecutor Saul. He was even called, “a man after God’s own heart.” Yet, in a moment of selfishness, he stole the wife of Uriah, one of his bravest soldiers. Then before his evil could go public, he orchestrated a vile cover up. King David had innocent Uriah killed.

Confronted with his grievous sins, David called out to God in a sincere prayer of repentance and faith: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” David asked God to cleanse him from the inside out, to help him live faithfully and not relapse into the sins of his past.

We ask God to do the same in our lives. We call upon our God who died for people like David, for people like us, and we ask him to change us from the inside out. We ask that he take away the past guilt that haunts us, and lead us to live faithfully in honor to him.

God answered David’s prayer. God forgave his sins and filled David with the Holy Spirit who equipped him for a renewed life of faithfulness to God’s Word.

Don’t be burdened by sins in your past. Make this prayer your own. God will purify your heart, forgiving all your sins through Jesus. He will cleanse you from the inside out and lead you to live a new life in faithfulness to him.

Prayer:
Lord God, forgive me for the sins of my past in Jesus’ name. Fill me with your Holy Spirit so that I may live faithfully according to your Word. 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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Jesus Bought You Back – July 12, 2018

[Jesus Christ] gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:14

Jesus Bought You Back


Daily Devotion – July 12, 2018

Devotion based on Titus 2:14

See series: Devotions

Have you heard the phrase, “You’re perfect just the way you are”? No one wants to be told they are not. No one wants to be told they are wrong. No one wants to be told they are bad. But if you take an honest look at yourself, does it match the phrase “You’re perfect just the way you are”? Of course not. You have done things that are wrong. You have felt the pangs of guilt. The Bible doesn’t just say that these are kind of bad. The Bible calls them wicked sins.

Sin separates you from God. Like a kidnapper, sin rips you away from having the close relationship to God that he created you to have. It holds you hostage; it’s only goal is to drag you down to death and hell.

A ransom had to be paid, but no amount of money would do. Blood had to be shed to free you from that certain eternal death. Jesus Christ made that ransom payment. He became true man, but unlike the rest of mankind, he was able to reject all the temptations of sin. He lived perfectly in your place, and then he took your place on the cross as he died for all your sins. He redeemed you, that is, he bought you back from the captivity of sin. By his work, he has removed that guilt and sin and purified you.

Out of love, Jesus not only set you free, but he gave you an identity. He made you into a people of his very own. This makes you pure before God. This change also affects what God’s people want to do. Set free from the captivity of sin, God’s people desire to do what is good out of thankfulness for what God has done for them. This is not a burden, but a joyous desire. Be eager to do good, because Christ has bought you back from death to life.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for giving your life for mine and freeing me from the captivity of sin. Work in me the desire to do what is good out of thankfulness to 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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What Sinners Need to Hear – July 11, 2018

[The LORD] said to me, “Son of man, stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me. He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day. The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious house—they will know that a prophet has been among them.”
Ezekiel 2:1-5

What Sinners Need to Hear


Daily Devotion – July 11, 2018

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:1-5

See series: Devotions

Someone has said, “It’s hard to correct nations … and relatives. Nations are so distant, and relatives are so close.” When he called Ezekiel, the LORD added, “The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn.” Would they listen? It was uncertain, even doubtful. God said, “They … have been in revolt against me to this very day.”

Nevertheless, Ezekiel’s assignment was, “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ And whether they listen or fail to listen … they will know that a prophet has been among them.”

“Wait a minute. I’m not a prophet! If I try to talk to my daughter about living with that man (fine fellow though he otherwise seems to be) without the benefit of marriage, she won’t listen. Or will he? I’m not a prophet!”

Was the man, Ezekiel, God’s point? Was the prophetic office God’s point, or was it the message? “Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’” What sinners need to hear is “what the Sovereign LORD says.” It’s what you and I need to hear day after day.

It’s not just grandparents’ old-fashioned point of view. It is what the Sovereign LORD says. It is what the Bible says! True, the Bible says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). But now it’s not just one sinner talking to another sinner expressing his or her opinion. Sin is sin. This is what the Sovereign LORD says. Yet, the Sovereign LORD also says that when sinners repent of their sins, trusting in the saving merits of Jesus, his Son, “he will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Spirit-worked faith moves sinners to listen and strive to serve the Savior. But … “whether they listen or fail to listen,” they must know, “This is what the Sovereign LORD says.”

Prayer:
Dear Holy Spirit, grant your blessing that day by day I learn and listen to your law and gospel with a believing heart and am willing, lovingly but firmly, to say to family, relatives, acquaintances, and neighbors (even to nations), “This is what the Sovereign LORD says.” 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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Humblebrag – July 10, 2018

I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9

Humblebrag


Daily Devotion – July 10, 2018

Devotion based on 2 Corinthians 12:9

See series: Devotions

It’s a term that a comedian officially coined in 2010. The term is humblebrag. To humblebrag is to brag about yourself behind a false show of humility or behind a false complaint.

An example of humblebrag might be this: At a neighborhood party a man says, “I don’t know how my kids grew up to be so grounded and successful considering what kind of dad they have.” Or this: In the office lunchroom a woman complains, “I wish I could just concentrate on my own work, but everyone keeps coming to me for advice.” Or this: On a first date, the young man says, “You should probably know about my character flaws. For one, I’m too conscientious. For another, I tend to care too much about other people.”

Enough examples? No doubt you get the idea.

As it turns out, recent studies have shown that humblebragging does not work very well. An article in a recent edition of Time magazine cites a study in which people actually dislike a humblebrag more than a straightforward brag. In fact, they dislike a humblebrag even more than a straightforward complaint. The reason for this appears to be that people smell a whiff of dishonesty in the humblebrag, whereas the straightforward brag and the straightforward complaint are, at least, sincere.

Which brings us to the apostle Paul. In his second letter to the Christians in Corinth, Paul did a bit of bragging. And his bragging was humble. It was not, however, humblebrag.

On the contrary, Paul found himself in a moment of profound truth. You see, for a long time Paul had been painfully aware of his own weaknesses. He’d been painfully aware of his own failures. He’d been painfully aware of his own inadequacies, struggles, and imperfections. But when Paul fervently asked the Lord several times to take away some of his weakness, the Lord told Paul that it was those very weaknesses that helped Paul keep his eyes focused on God’s grace, God’s undeserved love in Jesus Christ.

And so, take inventory of your weaknesses. Take inventory of your difficulties. Take inventory of your inadequacies and struggles. See how the Lord has used them to keep your field of vision filled with God’s forgiveness of your every sin through faith in Jesus as your Savior. Give thanks for them. Rejoice in them. Parade them as precious evidence of the Lord’s love for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for using my weaknesses to display your constant grace in my life. I rejoice in them. And I rejoice in 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 Problem with Unbelief – July 9, 2018

[Jesus] was amazed at their lack of faith.
Mark 6:6

The Problem with Unbelief


Daily Devotion – July 9, 2018

Devotion based on Mark 6:6

See series: Devotions

There were many in Nazareth who could not fathom that Jesus was more than Mary and Joseph’s son. Certainly, they were amazed at his teaching. They were inspired by his wisdom. They were astonished at his miracles. Yet, they were offended. They could not accept what the evidence revealed. Because the people of his hometown rejected Jesus, they also rejected the blessings he came to bring. This is the problem with unbelief, and it is a problem concerning which I need to be on my guard.

It would be foolish to simply dismiss Jesus as a fake or a fraud. While I would think twice about rejecting Jesus in this way, there are other ways unbelief can affect me.

When I pray, do I always have complete confidence in Jesus’ ability to answer for my good? When I study the Bible, do I always accept this is the truth and the certain guide for my life? When I feel the burden of a guilty conscience, do I look to the cross and the peace Jesus offers there? I may say I believe, but there is always a part of me that remains hesitant to put my full trust in Jesus.

Because I have these doubts I need to look at the evidence Jesus provides to support my faith. From the Scriptures, I learn he is faithful to all of his promises—not one has ever been broken. From his obedient life, I see him as my substitute and Savior—he has completed every righteous requirement for my rescue from eternal condemnation. From his death and resurrection, I rejoice to know he is wholly committed to my welfare—I am his for this life and for eternity.

When I rely on what Jesus has said and done, he helps me overcome the problem with unbelief. I will also rejoice to know the blessings he has secured are mine.

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 405)
Oh, for a faith that will not shrink though pressed by many a foe,
That will not tremble on the brink of poverty or woe.

Lord, gives us such a faith as this, and then, whate’er may come,
We’ll taste e’en now the hallowed bliss of an eternal home.

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’ Invitation – July 8, 2018

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus’ Invitation


Daily Devotion – July 8, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 11:28-30

See series: Devotions

The people to whom Jesus first spoke these words were very much like you and me. People who were looking. People who were searching. People who were tired. Jesus was calling all those who were weary from trying to work out their own salvation, from trying to make themselves right with God, from trying to find their own way to heaven. He was inviting all those who were weighed down by the burden of vainly, fruitlessly striving for peace, contentment, and happiness in ways that didn’t work and in places where it could not be found.

All these people could come to Jesus. He didn’t put up any walls. He didn’t play favorites. He didn’t cater to people who acted a certain way, or dressed a certain way, or talked a certain way. There was no “in crowd” when it came to Jesus’ invitation.

So Jesus’ invitation is extended to us. It is extended to all of us, regardless of our age or upbringing, regardless of our background or past. Regardless of who we have been or where we have been, regardless of who we are or where we are, Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

“Learn from me,” Jesus says. One thing we learn is that God can’t accept us as we are by nature. His holiness and justice won’t allow it. Our sins separate us from God. And the wages of sin is death—physical, spiritual and eternal death.

Another thing we learn is that God did everything necessary to make us acceptable to him. Because he is gentle and humble in heart, he gave himself for us, that we might have rest for our souls.

That means an end to the weariness of trying to work out our own salvation, of trying to make ourselves right with God, of trying to find our own way to heaven. It means an end to the burden of vainly, fruitlessly striving for peace, contentment, and happiness in ways that don’t work and in places where it cannot be found. It means knowing you are a redeemed and forgiven child of God and an heir of eternal life. It means looking forward to perfect rest with Jesus in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, let me find rest in you today, and always. 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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The Promised Land – July 7, 2018

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

The Promised Land


Daily Devotion – July 7, 2018

Devotion based on Exodus 33:14

See series: Devotions

The Lord had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. The people had fashioned a calf-shaped idol out of gold, Egyptian style, and worshiped it. The Lord had punished them. Now what? The road to the Promised Land was forty years long, and they would have to travel through desert, wilderness the whole way.

Maybe you, too, have paid a heavy price for something you’ve done. Maybe you still feel the effects. Where do you turn when the burden of your sin weighs heavily upon you? We may think that if we stay busy, we will forget the burden we carry. We may turn to recreation and entertainment to anesthetize our pain. These are only band-aids for wounds that run soul deep.

Listen to what the Lord says to his Old Testament people in today’s reading. He says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The Lord is present with you, just as he was present with them. The Lord has rest for you, just as he had rest for them. God’s Son Jesus knows exactly what your burden of sin feels like. He carried it all the way to the cross, together with the sin of everyone who has ever lived, and that’s where he left it. This is no band-aid. This is the Lord of all lifting a ton of weight off of your soul; this is your Savior dealing with guilt-burdened hearts at the source of all guilt. Jesus became sin for you. In him, you have rest for your soul.

The road through your wilderness may be long, but you aren’t traveling alone. Jesus is here for you in God’s Word every step of the way. He’s here for you with his soul-saving message of forgiveness, of rest. Jesus will also be there for you at the end of the road, to welcome you into the Promised Land.

Prayer:
Dear Savior, refresh me in the forgiveness you won for me and all people. Give me strength for the journey ahead. 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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