The Truth Hurts – February 7, 2019

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me, ‘Physician, heal yourself! Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”… All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff.
Luke 4:23,28-29

The Truth Hurts


Daily Devotion – February 7, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 4:23,28-29

See series: Devotions

“You need to hear this.” When Phil heard these words, he didn’t know what to think. He could sense it wasn’t going to be pleasant. Still, he figured he needed to hear what his friend had to say. But was it going to be a gentle correction, a needed criticism, or a stern rebuke? In any event, he prepared himself because he knew the truth would hurt.

The truth was what Jesus shared with the people in Nazareth, and there was an honesty which was hard to accept. The truth hurt. Because of the painful truth Jesus revealed, many rejected him. They were also ready to silence him. The account provides a much-needed caution for me.

While I prefer to hear about God’s goodness and love, I desperately need to hear when he speaks honestly with me. I have to hear the whole truth, and, the truth hurts. I am a sinner. I am rebellious and hostile to God. By nature I don’t want to do what God desires, nor am I inclined to even think about obeying him.

As Jesus opened the eyes of the crowd, so he opens mine. He confronts me with the truth of my rebellion. He also confronts me with the truth of my condemnation. The truth hurts. It is when I feel the sting of this harsh reality and am broken under its pressing burden, that I long to hear what Jesus has done for me.

He accepted the punishment I should have endured. He experienced the condemnation I should have received. He rescued me from the painful sentence I should have borne. This precious truth brings relief. It also renews me through faith, so I can delight in doing what he desires.

By faith, Jesus has set me free from the painful reality which confronted me and replaced it with the peace only the whole truth can provide. In this truth I now live and rejoice.

Prayer:
O blessed Savior, my Lord Jesus Christ, I thank you for the precious truth you provide. This alone reveals the burden of my sin, and leads me to you, the one who has released me from that burden. 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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I Knew You – February 6, 2019

The word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”
Jeremiah 1:4-5

I Knew You


Daily Devotion – February 6, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 1:4-5

See series: Devotions

“I knew you.” You might hear those words from someone who thinks you’ve changed. They knew you at one point in your life, but now you’ve apparently changed. You might hear them from someone you’ve drifted apart from. At one time you were close, but then one of you moved—off to school, off to a new job, off to a new you.

The perspective is one of looking back on who you once were. Time and distance have changed you. What they knew about you no longer seems to be true.

The Lord spoke to Jeremiah and told him: “I knew you.” But the Lord isn’t surprised at Jeremiah—who he is, how he’s changed, or what he’s up to now. No, the Lord’s perspective was different. Before Jeremiah even existed, the Lord knew him and what he would do.

From our perspective, life can feel like a chaotic tornado or a giant game of Plinko (a “Price Is Right” reference for those of you who don’t know game shows). When we feel that way, we all too easily give in to temptations. When it feels like no one is in control, we decide to take the reins. We start making all the decisions ourselves, regardless of what God says. When it feels like our lives are stuck in a dangerous swamp of question marks, we worry about everything, even though worrying has never worked. The list could go on, but the point is simple: when we think no one knows or cares, we sin.

The Lord is here to tell us differently. He knows. He cares. The Lord has plans for you. The Lord’s plans started before you were even born. He planned for you before this world was created. His plans included a cradle where his Son, your Savior, was born. He planned for the cross where Jesus’ punishment brought you peace. In your life, God brought you his Word and Jesus. And, Jesus is planning and preparing a room for you in heaven.

The Lord, who has known and planned those HUGE details for you, knows every little detail, too. The Lord knows. He knows you. He loves you.

Prayer:
Lord, you know me better than I know myself. Forgive me for not trusting your loving care. Give me confidence always that you know me, you love me and your plans for me culminate with my happy home in heaven 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Life is Short – February 5, 2019

What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short.
1 Corinthians 7:29

Life is Short


Daily Devotion – February 5, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 7:29

See series: Devotions

In the history of TV ad campaigns, few have been more successful than the series of commercials that ran for Chevy Trucks. The slogan was, “Like a Rock,” and if you’ve ever seen one of the ads, chances are that you’ve never forgotten the sound of the strong, gravelly voice that sang those three words. Thanks to that voice, the “Like a Rock” series of TV spots lasted for years.

The strong, gravelly voice that convinced us that Chevy Trucks are “Like a Rock” belongs to a singer/songwriter by the name of Bob Seger. And here’s the twist. If you google the song and listen to the lyrics, you soon learn that Bob Seger is not celebrating toughness or power. Instead, he is a man mourning the passage of time. As a young man, Seger sings, he was “Like a Rock.” But then the years came and went. The strength of his youth disappeared. And it all happened so quickly that Seger finds himself sitting at night in front of his fireplace bewildered, stunned, wondering where those years have gone.

The message of his song is devastating and clear: Life is short. Whether you live to be 24 or 94, the years will pass through your fingers with startling speed. And when they do, your moment on this earth is done.

Which brings us to Jesus Christ.

Without Jesus Christ, it doesn’t matter how strong you are in your youth; it doesn’t matter how successful you are in your prime; it doesn’t matter how golden life is in your golden years. Without Jesus Christ, this moment on the earth is the best you will ever have.

On the other hand, when you walk by faith in the Savior who has washed away your sins and covered you in his holiness—when you live in him, everything in your short life changes. Regardless of circumstances, your life has eternal purpose. Regardless of difficulties, your life has eternal joy. And regardless of the pleasures or pains you experience here, you know that the best is yet to come.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, my life here is short. But you are eternal. Empower me by your gospel to live my life 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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Love and Forgiveness – February 4, 2019

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. “The time has come, “he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me, “Jesus said, “and I will make you fishers of men.” At once they left their nets and followed him.
Mark 1:14-18

Love and Forgiveness


Daily Devotion – February 4, 2019

Devotion based on Mark 1:14-18

See series: Devotions

There are many people who want to describe Jesus’ ministry in their own terms. Some focus on his love and use it to condone just about anything. Others focus on his forgiveness and rely on it to excuse every indiscretion and act of disobedience. But, how do I describe Jesus’ ministry? Actually, a better question might be, how should I describe Jesus’ ministry?

Mark provides a valuable description when he records a portion of Jesus’ early ministry in Galilee. Three words stand out: repent, believe, and follow.

Repentance is turning away from sin and returning to the Lord. Certainly I can be sorry, but repentance takes on a greater sense of urgency. I must realize that I have sinned against God and humbly confess my disobedience. Jesus’ ministry calls me to repent daily and sincerely.

Jesus also invited people to believe the good news, the good news that by his life, death and resurrection he rescued sinners from their guilt and punishment. When I turn from sin in repentance, my first and only, response is to turn to him. I am filled with peace and joy to hear that good news of forgiveness which Jesus not only secured, but which he also freely offers through faith.

As I receive his undeserved love through faith, I also receive the invitation to follow him. Jesus didn’t forgive me so that I could go on with my life as I please. He provided me with his mercy, so I could follow him and serve him in love and obedience. Jesus’ ministry is, and always will be about the change he works in me. He gives me life when I was dead. He gives me sight when I was blind. He gives me faithfulness when I was rebellious.

Certainly love and forgiveness would be two proper ways to describe Jesus’ ministry, but it would leave much to my personal interpretation. A better description is repent, believe and follow. In these I experience his undeserved love and forgiveness. Through these I acknowledge he is my Lord and my Savior.

Prayer:
O dearest Jesus, I thank you for coming into the world to be my Savior. At your invitation lead me to repent of my sins, hear the good news of my forgiveness, and follow you—faithfully, willingly and joyfully. 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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Day by Day – February 3, 2019

“No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.”
Matthew 6:24

Day by Day


Daily Devotion – February 3, 2019

Devotion based on Matthew 6:24

See series: Devotions

Many people pray that the Lord would allow them to win the lottery. It seems like such a good solution to life’s problems! People imagine that if they had all of that money, their needs would be met and their cares would disappear.

Lottery winners generally tell a different story. Their needs seem never-ending, and their cares multiply. How can that be?

In today’s Bible verse, Jesus explains that money is really a master. If you serve it, you depend on it as the answer to everything, and you spend all of your time trying to accumulate more of it. You trust it to give you everything you need, and when you realize that you still are not happy, you figure that you just need more. When that does not work, you are tempted to despair, to hate and despise God, because he has not blessed you with everything you desire.

By contrast, when you serve God, you realize that money is a gift to be used to his glory. You take care of your obligations and your family. You figure out how to use your money to promote the gospel, which promises you forgiveness of sins and peace through Jesus Christ. You come to hate and despise the love of money as “a root of all kinds of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10). You gain a perspective on life that can only come through service to God.

Christians pray, “Give us this day our daily bread,” and they trust that God will take care of their monetary and other physical needs, day by day.

Prayer: (Christian Worship Supplement: 765)
Day by day, your mercies, Lord, attend me, bringing me comfort to my anxious soul. Savior, lead me to the home I treasure, where at last I’ll find eternal rest. 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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A Risky Proposition – February 2, 2019

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
James 4:10

A Risky Proposition


Daily Devotion – February 2, 2019

Devotion based on James 4:10

See series: Devotions

You wonder if James was thinking about his brother, Jesus, when he wrote these words. Certainly, there was never anyone humbler. Perhaps, James had heard of how Jesus took little children in his arms, spent time with the outcasts, and stooped down to wash his disciples’ dusty feet. Then in his greatest act, Jesus humbled himself by submitting to the Lord’s plan and allowing himself to be crucified like the worst of criminals. But the Lord lifted him up. On the third day he raised Jesus from the dead proving that his death for sinners was accepted. Jesus’ humility was for you and for me.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord.” Humility is not something that comes easy to us. Maybe that’s because it seems kind of risky. If I don’t draw attention to the good things that I do at work, then who will notice? Or if I don’t stand up and speak out for my own interests, then who will take care of them? Humility can be a difficult thing to put into practice in our everyday lives, and especially as we consider our relationship with the Lord. Human reason tells us that if we openly and freely admit that we deserve nothing, that is exactly what we will get.

But notice that these words are not just a command, but a promise. James writes, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” When you come before the Lord, you don’t have to pretend that you are better than you are. The Lord knows your sinful thoughts, words, and actions, better than you do. But nevertheless, because of your humble Savior, the Lord will lift you up. He will not and he cannot turn away those who come to him with nothing but the cry, “Lord, have mercy on me!”

It might seem risky to practice humility in your life, but God promises blessing. He promises to bless you in your relationships with others, and most importantly, when you come before him trusting in your Savior alone.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, your Son humbled himself for all. Help me to trust in you and to practice true humility as I approach you and as I interact with others in life today. 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 Great Light – February 1, 2019

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
Isaiah 9:2

The Great Light


Daily Devotion – February 1, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 9:2

See series: Devotions

Are you afraid of the dark? If so, you are not alone. Whether we like to admit a true fear or not, there are things that are scary about the dark: we can’t see where we are going, and we can’t identify hazards that might be surrounding us. Darkness that is so enveloping keeps us from knowing what is going on around us and sometimes puts us in danger.

How comforting, then, that in today’s Bible verse, God describes his Son, our Savior, as a great light in the darkness. Jesus is the light that came to illuminate the way for those who couldn’t see where they were going. That’s us. We were all living in the darkness of sin, unable to see our way out, unable to find the path to eternal life, unable to even see the dangers that are all around us. This verse tells us we were not just living in physical darkness and ignorance, but we were living in the land of the shadow of death. In other words, we were on the path to hell. This is much more serious than feeling a little lost in a dark house, or worrying about imaginary monsters hiding under our bed.

When Jesus came into this world to live a perfect life, suffer and die for the sins of the world, and rise again, he secured our salvation and revealed it to us. That’s why Jesus is called the Light. He made a way out of our darkness, and he guides us on the way to heaven. We no longer have to wander around in the darkness and guilt of our sin. Thank God for caring enough about us that he sent the Light to save us from the darkness.

Prayer:
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for rescuing us from the darkness of sin and for leading us on the path that leads to heaven. Help us always trust you to guide us. In Jesus, our Light’s name we 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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Sure Hope – January 31, 2019

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
1 Peter 1:3

Sure Hope


Daily Devotion – January 31, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:3

See series: Devotions

Can you imagine how horrible Peter must have felt on Good Friday evening and Saturday? He’d blown it, blown it, blown it! He couldn’t have failed more miserably! Just as Jesus had told him, he had denied his Savior three times! How horrible those days must have been for Peter!

Peter of course is not the only one who’s blown it. As I consider my life, I see my failures over and over again. I’ve failed to fight temptation, failed to show love, failed to be faithful. I’ve failed! And sometimes I’ve failed spectacularly. I can relate to Peter and how disappointed he was in himself. Perhaps like him I even weep bitterly.

But oh how things changed for Peter on Easter Sunday, as Jesus came popping into the room and showed the disciples his hands and side! He was risen! He had conquered! Sin was forgiven! The proof was in those nail-scarred—but risen—hands of Jesus! In fact, even Peter’s sin was forgiven!

And so are yours! Your sins are fully forgiven, because Jesus died and rose! And so you have a new birth into a hope which is living and ongoing! Trusting in Jesus, you ARE going to heaven! That is true today, will be true tomorrow, and someday you’ll enjoy the full blessings of it! It’s proven true by Jesus’ rising from the dead!

And so you have real hope, sure hope. No matter if your life is going great or poorly, if you’re old or young, if you’re successful or struggling, you have real, sure hope! You ARE going to heaven! Jesus’ resurrection proves it!

Prayer:
O risen Savior, remind me of your resurrection, that I might live my life in hope, every day. 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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Mission Accomplished – January 30, 2019

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.
Isaiah 61:1-3

Mission Accomplished


Daily Devotion – January 30, 2019

Devotion based on Isaiah 61:1-3

See series: Devotions

There was no spark left in his eyes, not even a flicker of joy in his heart. Life had become a mere existence that he didn’t even want to hold on to anymore. He had lost track of the number of sleepless nights he had spent on the hard “mattress,” if you could call it that. The days spent in darkness had long since begun to run together. Thoughts of escape no longer occupied his mind. He had lost hope.

It’s the kind of situation they make movies about, but few of us have ever experienced. Being held prisoner in the worst of conditions by an enemy who has no intention of releasing us is something that few have experienced–physically that is.

Spiritually… that’s a different matter. Each one of us was born into this world under those conditions. Our enemy, the devil, had full control and no intention of releasing his prize. With the shackles of sin and guilt fastened securely and the very real terror of inevitable death there was no hope. Escape was out of the question.

Then our Savior came. His mission was to rescue prisoners, and that is exactly what he did. He broke your shackles by sacrificing his life as payment for your sin and guilt. He scattered the darkness of death by rising from the grave. He now proclaims to you the good news that the perfect life led has been given to you. You are no longer a prisoner, but a perfect, and perfectly free, child of God.

The darkness of death that haunts the dreams of all people no longer haunts you. You have been set free from that fear because through faith in Jesus you will rise to life just as he did.

Jesus came into our world on a rescue mission, and he now proclaims, “Mission accomplished.” You have been set free. Now you can live in peace and hope. Now you can live forever with your Savior.

Prayer:
Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to make it your mission to rescue me. Thank you for being my Savior. Give me the strength to live in the freedom you have won for me. In your name I ask it. 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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All the Right Parts – January 29, 2019

The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
1 Corinthians 12:12-21,26,27

All the Right Parts


Daily Devotion – January 29, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 12:12-21,26,27

See series: Devotions

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is!

I am one of the least musically inclined pastors you can find in our church body, but I have yet to serve in a congregation that did not more than make up for my shortcomings: a keyboard player with her baby in a playpen behind her; a quartet in a small congregation that rivaled any vocal musicians anywhere; an organist who soaked her arthritic hands in hot wax to loosen them up for the morning service; a man who could play and lead others to play just about any instrument; a computer program called HymnSoft and a solid, sound system to play it.

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is!

I enjoy yard work and tried to make it my practice to always attend work days at church and pitch in with the mowing, trimming, weeding, etc. that needed to be done. Nevertheless, I couldn’t always be there, and church maintenance was not my strongest gift, but I have yet to serve in a congregation that did not have those men and women who said; “Pastor, would it be OK if I planted flowers around the church?” or those who were always, without being asked, changing light bulbs, trimming hedges, and picking up trash.

Many parts…one body. What a great mystery and marvel the Christian church is! We were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. This mystery and this marvel is the work of the Holy Spirit, so today, this “mouth” says, “I need you, hands and feet. Thank you for your service. You are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”

Prayer:
Holy Spirit of God, thank you for so richly supplying the needs of our individual congregations and, on a much grander scale, equipping the entire Christian church for service to Jesus our head. Bless the hands and feet, the eyes and ears, as they serve Jesus, our Head, 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 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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