Chosen – November 20, 2019

But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
2 Thessalonians 2:13

Chosen


Daily Devotion – November 20, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 2:13

See series: Devotions

Weddings are beautiful events. Hours go into planning even the simplest wedding. So many choices need to be made. Which dress will the bride wear? What music will be played? What food will be served? Who will be in the wedding party and who will be invited to attend?

Probably the biggest decision gets made before any of the other planning happens—the bride and groom choose each other. Big wedding or small, it is this choice that makes weddings such a beautiful event. Two people choose each other and from that choice, a beautiful life is built together.

Every believer in Jesus can know that they have been chosen by God to be his own. But, unlike a bride and groom, it wasn’t that both God and the Christian chose each other. No, this was God’s choice and his alone. Even before the creation of the world, he wrote every Christian’s name in the book of life. God looked through all eternity and decided he wanted to be with that person forever. He sent his Son to be born into this world to live perfectly in their place and to pay with his life for the wages of their sin. He has caused them to be born into a place and time and arranged a way for his Word to be heard and believed by them. God did all of this because he chose them to be saved.

It is no wonder Saint Paul gave God thanks for choosing the early Christians to be saved. And, it is no wonder Christians thank God for choosing them. Because he has, they know that they will have a beautiful, eternal life with him.

Prayer:
Lord, I marvel that you would choose sinners to become saints through faith in your Son. Thank you for choosing to do such a thing. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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God of the Living – November 19, 2019

[Jesus said] “But in the account of the burning bush, even Moses showed that the dead rise, for he calls the Lord ‘the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Luke 20:37,38

God of the Living


Daily Devotion – November 19, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 20:37,38

See series: Devotions

It was an exceptionally cold day in the late Fall as we drove to the cemetery. Even though it was midafternoon the sun made long shadows. The hearse led our procession of cars slowly out of town, and even though our vehicle was full the conversations were muted.

I couldn’t help think about how everything would change now. The house would always be a little quieter. Holidays would seem a little emptier. Pictures that used to bring only happy memories would always have a twinge of sadness.

It was then that my brother spoke up and said with more hope than sadness, “I am so thankful for the resurrection.” With this thought, suddenly there was hope even in my crying eyes.

As sad as we are when we are separated from our loved ones by death, as much as it might change our lives here and now, as Christians we know that our God is the God of the living, not the dead. The moment a Christian closes his eyes in death he opens them to see Jesus. The final step a believer takes here on earth is simply the step before they walk with Christ forever. For the one who trusts Jesus the last day here is just the beginning of an eternity with our Lord.

While saying good-bye to a loved one is always difficult, we find certain hope in a God who promises that we will live forever with him. Nothing can change that.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, give me the sure hope and comfort that you are the God of the living and that all who believe will live, even though they die. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Cursed No Longer – November 18, 2019

No longer will there be any curse.
Revelation 22:3

Cursed No Longer


Daily Devotion – November 18, 2019

Devotion based on Revelation 22:3

See series: Devotions

It happened to my neighbors while they were on vacation. It started as just a small drip in some old plumbing. Pretty soon, the water had made a large hole for itself and soon there was a steady stream of water flowing under an upstairs sink. When my neighbors finally returned home, they found six inches of water in their basement. Floors, walls, and furniture on the upstairs level, main level, and basement would all need to be thrown out and replaced.

Like the leak in my neighbors’ plumbing, sin started out small. In a moment, Adam and Eve thought they knew better than God. So, they disobeyed him. They did their own thing. Pretty soon the effects of sin had spread. Adam and Eve felt shame and wanted to run from God. Things that were once enjoyable were now filled with pain. And, eventually, their lives ended in death. The curse of sin caused so much damage.

It took a little longer than expected, but eventually, my neighbor got his house repaired better than new. All the big problems caused by the small leak were finally fixed and things were as they should be.

God promises that he will put things back the way they should be. We are not told how long it will be but we are promised that God will do it. He will do it because he has already taken care of sin when his Son was sacrificed on a cross two thousand years ago. He will do it by creating a new heaven and a new earth where the effects of sin will be entirely taken away and everything will be as God designed it to be. No longer will we be chased by guilt and shame. Temptation and sin will be a thing of the past. There will be no more pain and suffering. Even death will be a forgotten memory.

At long last, the curse will be gone for all of those who relied on Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and trusted his promise to remove the curse sin caused. No longer will there be any curse!

Prayer:
Gracious God, here and now I struggle under the curse of sin. When those struggles seem to overwhelm me, turn my eyes toward the sacrifice of your Son and toward the day when you will remove sin’s curse forever. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Plan Ahead – November 17, 2019

[Jesus said] “He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”
Luke 20:38

Plan Ahead


Daily Devotion – November 17, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 20:38

See series: Devotions

From the time we are young, we are told to “plan ahead.” It was part of the knowledge given to us by our parents. It was drummed into us in school. It was something we learned by experience, usually when we did not do it.

The Bible tells us that God is the perfect planner. Before he even created this world, God knew that the perfection of mankind would be lost because of sin. The perfect fellowship between God and his creation would be destroyed. It was not the condition that God wanted for us.

So, God planned. He planned a way to win us back from our separation from him. In time, he carried out his plan by sending Jesus to take our place in two ways. Jesus lived a perfect life in our place. Then he was punished, yes killed, even though innocent as payment for our sins. Then Jesus rose to show that he had conquered the death we deserved. He took our sinfulness on himself and totally paid for it. Now, we have the fellowship with God that he always intended. We are not dead in sins, but alive!

Prayer:
Dear Father, thank you for your plan, the gift of Jesus who took my sins on himself and brought me back into fellowship with 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Purpose of Christianity – November 16, 2019

[Those who reject Christ] will be . . . shut out from the presence of the Lord . . . on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people.
2 Thessalonians 1:9,10

The Purpose of Christianity


Daily Devotion – November 16, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10

See series: Devotions

Christian writer Michael Horton recounts the time he agreed to be a part of a discussion panel composed of people of various religious faiths. The topic of discussion was: “What is the greatest spiritual need you believe your religion fills in your life?” Others on the panel believed the main purpose of religion was to help individuals become better people.

Horton’s answer was different. In fact, his answer made virtually everyone else on the panel feel uncomfortable. In answer to the question, “What is the greatest spiritual need you believe your religion fills in your life?” Horton said: “An immediate relief from the guilt and tyranny of my sin, and peace with God.” The other panelists felt uncomfortable for good reason. Horton was refusing to agree that the purpose of Christianity was to help individuals become better people. Instead, he was saying that the main purpose of Christianity was to rescue lost souls from the curse of sin through faith alone in Jesus Christ. The other panelists also understood Horton’s implication. He was saying that Christ was the only way to escape the judgment of a just God; that apart from Jesus, your soul is lost.

It is easy for us to forget that, isn’t it? It is easy to slide into thinking that we go to church because it’s “good for us,” or we send our kids to Sunday School because we want them to learn good morals, or we attend a worship service because it gives us a good feeling that we’re doing the right thing?

Christianity is not a self-help plan for becoming a nicer person. Each time you and I flirt with that notion, we are flirting with the very fires of hell.

Thank God for what Christianity truly is. It’s the Good News. It’s the announcement that God has purchased forgiveness of sins for the entire world; that this forgiveness of sins comes through faith in Jesus’ perfect life and innocent death on our behalf. It’s the promise that, in Jesus, all is well.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my focus on you sometimes wanders. Forgive me. Renew me by your Spirit. Refresh me with the beauty of what Christianity is. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Riding on His Coattails – November 15, 2019

[Jesus] will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.
2 Thessalonians 1:8-10

Riding on His Coattails


Daily Devotion – November 15, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:8-10

See series: Devotions

“No fair!” That’s a pretty typical response from those who believe they’re receiving the short end of the stick. “No fair!” will be the go-to response for unbelievers on the day Jesus returns in judgment. They won’t like what Jesus has to say to them. They’ll fight it, but their arguments won’t win the day. Jesus’ judgment is always fair and always right. His justice is perfect.

This is why we might be surprised at who faces his judgment on that epic day. Jesus once said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23) Jesus isn’t fooled by outward good deeds. Those can be faked. He searches people’s hearts and looks for a humble faith that trusts in what he has done to save them, not in what they have done to save themselves. His perfect life and sacrificial death are what make people right with God and what will allow them to spend their eternity with him. No truer words have been spoken than these: believers will enjoy eternal life in heaven because they are riding on Jesus’ coattails.

But here’s the thing: Jesus hasn’t just won salvation for a select few. He is everyone’s Savior. He is your Savior. Take a ride on his coattails.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me put my trust in you alone. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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No Turning Back – November 14, 2019

[F]rom the glory of his might on the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.
2 Thessalonians 1:9,10

No Turning Back


Daily Devotion – November 14, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:9,10

See series: Devotions

Second thoughts. We’ve all had them. If we have them soon enough, we still have a chance to change our minds, to go in a different direction, to make a better choice.

But sometimes there’s no turning back. Like when you decide to take your first-ever trip on a roller coaster, and you reach the pinnacle of the steepest drop. You can’t raise your hand at that point and ask the ride operator to hit the reverse button. You’ve made your choice. There’s no turning back. Second thoughts are of no help.

Second thoughts won’t help on the day Jesus returns either. When he appears in all his glory and majesty, no stubborn denier of his saving Word and work will have the chance to add, “On second thought …” It will be too late. There will be no turning back. “They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might.”

But that day of judgment is still in the future. Which means what? It means we all have the opportunity now to take a different posture toward Jesus and his life-giving Word. Rather than showing disregard for his saving Word, we can regard it as holy and gladly hear and learn it. Instead of running from his strong arms of salvation, we can jump into them without hesitation.

Jesus has graciously thrown us an eternal lifeline. No second thoughts; grab it!

Prayer:
Jesus, grant me your Spirit that I might confidently trust your everlasting promises and live as your child now and forever. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Do Not Miss the Boat – November 13, 2019

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.
2 Thessalonians 1:8

Do Not Miss the Boat


Daily Devotion – November 13, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:8

See series: Devotions

Many Christians have heard, and perhaps have even told, the fictional story of the man who finds himself on a deserted island. He prays asking God to save him. A boat suddenly appears, and the captain invites the castaway to safety. But he refuses the offer because he’s waiting for God to save him. When a rescue helicopter and airplane pilot issue the same invitation, both times the man refuses. He’s waiting for God to save him. When the man inevitably dies, he is heard complaining that God didn’t save him, to which the Almighty replies, “What do you mean? I sent a boat, a helicopter, and an airplane. What more did you want?”

The story is a bit corny but also insightful because it teaches an important biblical truth. God saves through means.

What does that mean? It means that God doesn’t normally save people in flashy, miraculous ways. Instead, he saves us through the gospel, the good news of salvation communicated by ordinary people through his ordinary Word and simple sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion. No lightning. No thunder. Not even a boat, helicopter, or airplane! Just simple means of grace—Word, water, bread, and wine—all vehicles of his saving love. If you’re waiting for something else, don’t hold your breath. Nothing else is coming.

But what more could we want or need? In his Word, God assures us of his perfect and unconditional love and forgiveness in Jesus (John 3:16). In baptism he washes us with water and his Word, making us holy and perfect in his sight, “without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish” (Ephesians 5:27). Through the Lord’s Supper, he feeds our faith under bread and wine with the body and blood Jesus offered on the cross “for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28). These are God’s rescue vehicles, sent in abundance to ensure our salvation, now and forever.

So, don’t miss the boat—the boat of God’s Word and sacraments. They are here to save you.

Prayer:
Jesus, open my eyes to recognize the work of your everlasting salvation. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Worth the Wait – November 12, 2019

God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you and give relief to you who are troubled, and to us as well. This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.
2 Thessalonians 1:6,7

Worth the Wait


Daily Devotion – November 12, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:6,7

See series: Devotions

Most of us hate to wait. Patience is going out of style in our fast-paced world. We want it all, and we want it now.

But some things are worth the wait, aren’t they? Like that newborn baby that takes nine months to grow in mommy’s belly. A pregnant mother might have days when she wants that baby out—now! But when she finally holds her little baby in her arms, she has to admit it was worth the wait.

That’s also true of God’s salvation and his judgment, both of which will be seen in their final, perfect form on the day Jesus returns from heaven.

If you are suffering like the people to whom Saint Paul was writing, that day can’t come soon enough. They were suffering unfairly, not because of what they had done but because of who they were: simple Christians who had placed their faith in Jesus’ saving love. Nothing more. Paul promised them that someday God would “give relief to you who are troubled.” But for now, they needed to wait.

We sometimes suffer unjustly, too. We wonder where God is with his salvation and judgment. Doesn’t he see? Isn’t he just? Won’t he rescue me?

God’s reasons for waiting aren’t always clear. But this much we know, “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Did you notice who God is waiting for? He’s waiting for you and me! The good news is “he is patient with you” and with me. He doesn’t want to see anyone perish. He “wants all people to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).

But that often means we need to wait because to God’s way of thinking, saving people from sin and death forever through Jesus is worth the wait.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me patiently endure the wait for your perfect salvation and judgment, as I cling forever to your saving promises. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Full Story – November 11, 2019

All this is evidence that God’s judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.
2 Thessalonians 1:5

The Full Story


Daily Devotion – November 11, 2019

Devotion based on 2 Thessalonians 1:5

See series: Devotions

Things aren’t always what they seem. The Antiques Roadshow proves it.

If you’ve ever watched that show, you’ll know that people often bring an item that looks like junk for appraisal. I wouldn’t give them a dime for it, but the expert tells the owner, “You could expect to fetch at least $20,000 for this at auction.”

Often these appraisals are not based on the intrinsic value of the object itself. No one needs a $20,000 flower vase! Instead, the value is found in the object’s story: Where and when it was made, who owned it, etc. In order to know something’s value, you need to know the story behind it.

That’s also true when it comes to God’s judgment. People are tempted to make snap judgments about his judgment. They conclude his judgment is unfair, unloving, and unconcerned for those who stand under it. But they don’t know the full story.

Consider a comparison from everyday life. When a concerned father promises to punish his son if he does something dangerous, it has nothing to do with craving revenge. The father takes no joy in the thought of having to hand down punishment. Instead, his words proceed from a loving heart. On the outside, he may seem unfair, unloving, and unconcerned. But that’s because you don’t know the full story. The father loves his son and wants to keep him safe.

So it is with God’s judgment—even his promise of eternal punishment—springs from a heart of love and concern for sinners. He wants to get our attention because, the truth is, he also “wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He sent his Son to be “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He desires mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 9:13). In his heart of hearts, he is our loving Savior, not a cold-hearted judge. And that is the full story.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me recognize your love even in your judgment. 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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