The Third Son – October 16, 2017

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered. Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him.”
Matthew 21:28-32

The Third Son


Daily Devotion – October 16, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 21:28-32

See series: Devotions

“What do you think?” Strange, right? Jesus, the Son of God, asks mere human beings what they think. I think that this story called the parable of the two sons, is best understood if we see it as a story of three sons.

The parable features two sons whose attitudes and actions cannot be pleasing to the father. We are like those two sons. Sometimes we think we will just skip Sunday worship for no good reason, but when we awake Sunday morning we change our mind and we get up and go. Other times we wake up, fully intending to “remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” but a bright sunny morning calls us to the great outdoors.

The same disconnect between attitude and action can apply to all areas of Christian faith and life. I might strive to be completely honest at all times or to work hard and cheerfully each day, but find myself fudging on the truth and slacking in the workplace. Because I sin and fall short, I need to know the third son in the story.

The third son, Jesus, the Son of God, not only tells the story but is the story. Jesus told the people, “John came to you to show you the way of righteousness…” Jesus is the way of righteousness. Conceived by the Holy Spirit, he entered the world without sin and living as true God in human flesh, he committed no sin. Jesus is the Son whose attitudes and actions are perfectly pleasing to God the Father.

Those who see in Jesus the righteousness of God, as did tax collectors and prostitutes, and believe in him as they did, have his righteousness credited to their account. The significance is that Jesus secures our place in heaven not only by his death on the cross where he removed our sin, but also through the crediting of his righteousness to our account.

Let us not forget that Jesus lived righteously for us and then died sacrificially. His life and death compel us to change our mind about less than God-pleasing attitudes and actions.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, we thank you for the third son, your Son, our Savior. Lead us to turn from sin to faith in him. 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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Unimaginable Humility – October 17, 2017

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Philippians 2:1-11

Unimaginable Humility


Daily Devotion – October 17, 2017

Devotion based on Philippians 2:1-11

See series: Devotions

A homeless man sits next to the exhaust vent at the local dry cleaners. It’s a good spot, one of the best in town for staying warm through a brisk fall night. As a local lawyer arrives to pick up his suits from the previous week, he reaches into his pocket and hands the homeless man a $20 bill. A couple of hours later, an investment banker comes by and invites the man to lunch. He spends a good hour talking to the man, and of course, picks up the tab. Later in the day a woman pulls up in her Mercedes and sees the man taking a nap. She gently nudges him on the shoulder and asks him his name. She then gives him the keys to her Mercedes and tells the man that the garage door opener is on the visor and her purse with all her cash, credit cards, and account numbers is on the passenger’s seat. He can have it all, if only she can have his cardboard seat cushion and spot next to the exhaust fan.

The first two scenarios are believable. The last one is unimaginable. Yet, Jesus Christ, God himself, did something even more inconceivable than giving up his luxury car, home, and savings. He left God’s side in the heavenly realms to be born into our world as a human being. He made himself nothing so that we could be something. He took on our nature, carried our sins, and suffered on the cross, so that we could be with him forever. Jesus did this not only to be the greatest example of humility, but to offer his life for sinners—to give his righteousness for our unrighteousness.

Jesus did all of this, even though we had done nothing to earn or deserve it. In fact, he did all of this, because we couldn’t do anything to earn or deserve it. However, because of his perfect humility and selfless death on the cross, God exalted him to the highest place imaginable. He is the world’s Savior and King.

Jesus has done it all. Now those who live in his kingdom of grace and mercy are called to imitate his humility in their lives. How might you do that today?

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts and comfort us with your love, so that we can imitate your humility in our everyday lives. 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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Quality of Life – October 15, 2017

Godliness with contentment is great gain.
1 Timothy 6:6

Quality of Life


Daily Devotion – October 15, 2017

Devotion based on 1 Timothy 6:6

See series: Devotions

It’s said that, around 40 years ago, a diplomat from the old Soviet Union was visiting the United States. Part of his tour of the country included a visit to a typical American grocery store. The moment he entered the store, the diplomat was astounded. He was astounded because he was looking at something he had never seen before. In that grocery store he was feasting his eyes on food of such quality and quantity and variety that he simply could not believe that what he was seeing really was a typical American grocery store. In fact, it’s said that he convinced himself that his American hosts had arranged to have all the food brought there just to impress him.

At that time the typical American grocery store carried 9,000 items. Today the typical American grocery store carries 39,000.

It’s an astounding thing, isn’t it? Over the past 4 decades, our food choices alone have more than quadrupled. But as marvelous as that is, experience has also taught us that having more and better things does not, in and of itself, guarantee a greater quality of life. In fact, some would make the case that the one has very little to do with the other.

And that’s where the Apostle Paul comes in. Do you want to see your quality of life make a significant jump? Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” Imagine a life lived in the full forgiveness earned by Jesus Christ. Imagine a life basking in gratitude and joy for that forgiveness. Imagine a life focused on serving Jesus by serving others. And imagine a life that’s content and pleased with what the Lord provides regardless of changing circumstances. In Paul’s mind, such a life is “great gain.” Such a life is robust and rich and sweet.

Does this mean we can’t go to a grocery store with 39,000 items? Of course not. Go there and enjoy that store. Enjoy it to the glory of God. Just remember where our quality of life really resides. Our quality of life is in Jesus Christ.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, help me to re-examine my quality of life. Remind me that a life that is truly robust and rich and sweet lies in you alone. 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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A Warning—do you like them or hate them? – October 14, 2017

Woe to you who are complacent in Zion, and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria, you notable men of the foremost nation, to whom the people of Israel come! Go to Calneh and look at it; go from there to great Hamath, and then go down to Gath in Philistia. Are they better off than your two kingdoms? Is their land larger than yours? You put off the evil day and bring near a reign of terror. You lie on beds inlaid with ivory and lounge on your couches. You dine on choice lambs and fattened calves. You strum away on your harps like David and improvise on musical instruments. You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions, but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph. Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile; your feasting and lounging will end.
Amos 6:1-7

A Warning—do you like them or hate them?


Daily Devotion – October 14, 2017

Devotion based on Amos 6:1-7

See series: Devotions

It’s a dreadful feeling. You’re cruising down the freeway, enjoying the countryside; up one hill and down the next…and then in your rearview mirror coming down the ramp with red and blue lights flashing—a police officer! Your heart sinks as your foot hits the brakes. Your eyes scan the speedometer to see that you were 14 over. As the officer pulls in behind you and you come to a stop, you’re hoping that you’ll just get a warning.

When it comes to warnings, there are some we like and some we don’t. When the officer graciously gives a warning, we’re relieved—mainly because we won’t have to pay a fine, or worry about points on our record, or have to appear in court. Yet that warning hopefully serves its main purpose: to get us to slow down and obey the laws of the land, for our safety and the safety of others.

Through the Prophet Amos, God gave a spiritual warning to his Old Testament people. They weren’t speeding; they were actually too slow, too lethargic, too complacent, too satisfied in the status quo of their faith-life. In the warning, Amos points out that these people were more concerned about their own lives, their own comfy couches, having fine meals and tasty wine to drink. “All is well,” they thought, but nothing could have been further from the truth. They—the descendants of Joseph—were in spiritual ruin and they would be exiled. What a strong warning and call to repent!

Amos’ words of warning must not fall on deaf ears today. We must take a close look at our lives. Are we feasting on the creature comforts of this world? Are we investing in things that only rot and decay, while the preaching and teaching ministry of God’s Word struggles? If we fail to heed the warning of the way sin and selfish living permeates our lives, we’re heading for much worse than a speeding ticket or traffic court. We desperately need to hear God’s warning and call to repent.

Do you see how we can be thankful for God’s warnings? These spiritual warnings come from our God who is merciful and doesn’t want anyone to perish. He wants all to repent and live. What is more, our God gives us a promise, that whoever believes in Jesus, his Son, as their Savior from sin will not perish but will have eternal life. May we heed God’s warning this day, and trust in his Son always!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for warning me about my sin and its terrible consequences. I repent of my sin and I trust in Jesus. Help me to turn from sin and follow your holy, precious Word each day. In Jesus my Savior’s name I pray. Amen.

This devotion was selected from the Daily Devotion archive.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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Little Words are Important – October 13, 2017

But now a righteousness from God, apart from the law, has been made known…through faith in Jesus Christ…justified freely by his grace…redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:21-24

Little Words are Important


Daily Devotion – October 13, 2017

Devotion based on Romans 3:21-24

See series: Devotions

Text messages are really convenient and helpful…until they’re not. Sometimes they are sent in the heat of the moment to hurt and wound. Sometimes autocorrect takes over and produces a sentence that is confusing, funny, or potentially harmful. But maybe the most frustrating and maddening are those texts sent in haste where a little, but very important word is accidentally left out.

Husband and wife have been feuding and giving each other the silent treatment. When the tension has reached its climax, she writes, “You said some hurtful things…I am mad at you!!!” But what if she meant to write: “You said some hurtful things…but I am not mad at you!!!” Those two missing words are really important. They change the meaning of the text entirely.

Small words in the Bible can be very important too. In the middle of chapter 3 of his letter to Roman Christians, the apostle Paul writes these two very little, but very important words: “But now…” He has just used much ink laying out the situation in which all human beings find themselves when it comes to their standing before God. God sees blatant godlessness and bold wickedness in some cases. In others, it is hypocritical judging. In many “religious” hearts he views prideful, but blind and worthless self-righteousness. He witnesses people who concur with his law, written in every human heart at birth, yet go against conscience. He sees others who know his law by heart and sin anyway. The final conclusion? No one is righteous before God. Everyone is accountable before God, but all they have to show is a ledger full of sin and disobedience.

What shall we do? How can we fix it? The truth is we can’t do anything. “But now…” God himself enters to fix it for us. Where we are unable to produce the righteousness he expects, he brings it to us and gives it to us. Where we fail at keeping the law through our own strength, he tells us that this gift comes through faith…in Jesus Christ. Where we have failed, he has emerged victorious. He has joined humanity, putting himself under God’s law and keeping it…perfectly in every way. He has given his innocent life in our place that we might be justified, declared “not guilty” in the Judge’s courtroom. He has paid the price that sets us free and makes us whole, forgiving our sins and freeing us from the chains of sin and death. Two small words that change everything. Hang on to them!

Prayer:
Lord God, we thank you for your Word. We thank you for bringing it to us and pointing out the little words that make such a big, eternal difference for us. Help us to hold on to these words and trust them for our comfort and confidence. In Jesus’ name. 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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