St. Johns News

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus – September 14, 2019

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:2

Fix Your Eyes on Jesus


Daily Devotion – September 14, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:2

See series: Devotions

Teenage boys will do just about anything to avoid their chores. I can remember when it was my turn to sweep out the garage, I would avoid the actual sweeping by using the broom as a toy in a game called “balance the broom.” Maybe you have played this game yourself. You place the tip of the broom handle in the palm of your hand, stand the broom straight up, and then attempt to balance it as long as possible. The key to success in this game is to keep your eyes fixed on the broom. If you look at your hand or the wall or anywhere else, the broom will fall. You must keep your eyes fixed on the broom.

The Bible gives us some similar advice when it comes to our lives of faith. Except, instead of keeping our eyes fixed on a broom, we are encouraged to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus. It is not easy to do. We are easily distracted by the challenges and troubles around us. Or we find ourselves fixing our eyes on the so-called wisdom of the world. Or we stop looking at Jesus because we are too busy staring at ourselves and our sins and shortcomings.

The writer of the book of Hebrews pleads, “Fix your eyes on Jesus.” See Jesus suspended from a cross, paying the price for your sins, and looking at you with nothing but love in his eyes. See Jesus bursting from his tomb on Easter morning with the smile of victory on his face. See Jesus seated on his heavenly throne calmly controlling all things with you in mind. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus…until you see him face to face in the heavenly home he is preparing for you.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I so easily become distracted by the challenges and troubles of this life, by the sins and sorrow in my heart. Send your Holy Spirit to me this day and every day to fix my eyes on 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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Know Your Savior – September 13, 2019

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.
Ephesians 6:10-12

Know Your Savior


Daily Devotion – September 13, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 6:10-12

See series: Devotions

In his famous treatise “The Art of War,” Chinese general Sun Tsu quoted a proverb which said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Some today may apply this military strategy to other aspects of life, such as the corporate business world or competitive sports. But there is a very real way in which this applies to every one of us. The apostle Paul reminds us that we are caught up in a war being waged all around us. Not a military conflict or a political battle, but a war for our very souls.

Do you know your enemy? Scripture tells us that Satan is like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. He has been successfully deceiving souls and leading them astray since the beginning of time. And he will not give you a free pass.

Do you know yourself? By nature, we are all blind and deaf to the ways of God, selfish, self-centered, and stubborn in our thinking. Easy pickings for the wily foe.

But general Sun Tsu was unaware of the most important player on this spiritual battlefield. “For us fights the mighty one, whom God himself elected,” wrote Martin Luther in his famous hymn. Jesus Christ has come to defeat our spiritual enemies, and he has already won the victory through his death and resurrection. Now God’s promise of forgiveness means that Satan’s accusations cannot keep us from heaven.

When doubts and temptations come your way, don’t be surprised. The enemy is still fighting on, even after his defeat. But don’t be unprepared either. Know your enemy, know yourself, but most importantly, know your Savior. Put on the armor of faith in God’s Word. You will find the strength to stand firm in the promises of his love for you in Jesus Christ. His almighty power will keep you safe until the end.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, protect me from the evil one and shield me with your loving care. 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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Undivided Attention – September 12, 2019

Let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1,2

Undivided Attention


Daily Devotion – September 12, 2019

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:1,2

See series: Devotions

A growing amount of research shows that humans are not nearly as good at multitasking as we think we are. By attempting to work on more than one thing at a time, we often perform much more poorly than if we had concentrated on a single task. This might negatively affect our productivity at work, but it can have far more disastrous consequences too—for example, when we try to text and drive at the same time.

Spiritually speaking, you and I were heading for worse than a car wreck. We were allowing ourselves to be pulled in every wrong direction: slaves of sinful behavior, afraid of death, and under the influence of the devil. Fortunately for us, our Savior Jesus gave us his undivided attention when he came to rescue us. He rejected the people’s offer to crown him as an earthly king. He didn’t listen to Satan’s temptations to take a shortcut and avoid the shame of the cross. Instead, he endured the pain and offered up his life. And with that self-sacrifice, the Son of God paid for the sins of all mankind. His one goal was accomplished: you have been reconciled to God and forgiveness of sins is now yours through faith in Christ Jesus.

Why would you want to be any less focused on your own eternal welfare than Jesus was? The doors of heaven now stand wide open for you through the death of Jesus. Why would you jeopardize your salvation by giving it anything less than your full, undivided attention?

Get rid of the self-destructive patterns that distract you from your relationship with Jesus. Learn to find the same joy in service that Jesus had. Turn your thoughts toward him in prayer and Scripture reading. Jesus started you on this path toward heaven, and he will keep you on that path until you reach your eternal reward.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, keep my eyes fixed on you, just as you have watched over me. 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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Power of the Word of God – September 11, 2019

“Is not my word like fire,” declares the LORD, “and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?”
Jeremiah 23:29

Power of the Word of God


Daily Devotion – September 11, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:29

See series: Devotions

As a child, the only concept I had of dynamite was from Saturday morning cartoons. But many years earlier my great-grandfather had a reputation for his expertise with the explosive material. He was often hired by fellow farmers to blast tree stumps and boulders from their fields. Cartoon coyotes are not the only ones to learn the hard way of TNT’s destructive power. But through precaution and precision, my great-grandfather was able to use that force to clear farmland so that more crops could be harvested for years to come.

In today’s Bible verse, God tells us that his word has a similar power and purpose. Listen to what he said at the installation of his prophet Jeremiah: “I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” Most of Jeremiah’s message was a preaching of the law, condemning the nation of Israel for turning away from the Lord. He could not spare their feelings or sensibilities. They needed the powerful blasting of the law to bring them to understand and admit the seriousness of their sin. Only then would the prophet be able to build them up again—with God’s promises of a Messiah who would take their sins away forever.

God comes to you today with his fire and hammer, carefully positioned to blast away at your stony heart. For you too have sinned against God. You have failed to show perfect love to him and your neighbor. You have allowed selfishness and sinful desires to dominate too much of your thinking, acting, and speaking. For this and more, you (and everyone on earth!) deserve to be separated from God forever in the punishment of hell.

Oh, but God still loves you! He let the hammer of the law drive the nails into his Son’s hands. Jesus was crucified for your sin, and your debt has been paid in full. God now offers you a new and meaningful life. Through the Word of Christ, he promises to turn your repentant heart into fruitful soil.

Prayer:
Father, break down my stubborn heart so there is room there for 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 Danger of Spiritual Misinformation – September 10, 2019

“I have heard what the prophets say who prophesy lies in my name. They say, ‘I had a dream! I had a dream!’ How long will this continue in the hearts of these lying prophets, who prophesy the delusions of their own minds? . . . Let the prophet who has a dream recount the dream, but let the one who has my word speak it faithfully.”
Jeremiah 23:25,26,28a

The Danger of Spiritual Misinformation


Daily Devotion – September 10, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:25,26,28a

See series: Devotions

In recent years, the growing amount of misinformation on the internet has caused people to become less well-informed than they were before. Fake news is everywhere. But our human hearts tend to believe anything that agrees with our already-held opinions. We want to believe the worst about our enemies. We want to believe the best about ourselves.

In the days of Jeremiah the prophet, there was a great deal of “fake news” leading the people astray. False prophets were telling them that they could live as they pleased, and all would be well. But this was not the case. God sent Jeremiah to call the people to repent of their immorality and idolatry and that if they did not turn from their sin, God would allow them to be carried off as captives to a foreign land. The people preferred the “fake news” of the false prophets. They refused to repent, and eventually suffered the consequences, just as God had said through his prophet.

Today there are many who preach a vision similar to the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day. “Don’t worry,” they say, “Imagine a world where there is no heaven or hell. God loves everyone just as they are. You can do or be anything your heart desires!” And our hearts desperately want this message to be true.

But you need to know that this is “fake news,” spiritual misinformation. The truth—God’s eternal, unchanging truth—still calls us to repent today. He calls us to turn from our sin and ask for his forgiveness. But his Word also promises that he will give that forgiveness fully and freely through faith in his Son Jesus Christ. Find for yourself a church and a pastor who faithfully proclaim the truth of Holy Scripture about the salvation which is found in Christ alone.

Prayer:
Lord God, lead me to listen to your eternal Word rather than my own deceitful heart. 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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Hide Yourself in Christ – September 9, 2019

“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the LORD, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the LORD. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah 23:23,24

Hide Yourself in Christ


Daily Devotion – September 9, 2019

Devotion based on Jeremiah 23:23,24

See series: Devotions

In the ancient world, gods were often worshiped as local deities. Their attention was said to be focused only on a certain place or people. The power and presence of these so-called gods were understood to be limited. But throughout the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob showed himself to be different. The one true God, who created all of us, is not limited in any way.

The Lord was with Abraham as he left his home and traveled to the Promised Land. He was with Joseph in Egypt—in both the king’s prison and the king’s palace. Daniel discovered the Lord was with him in the lions’ den of Babylon. And Jonah finally understood he couldn’t hide from God when he was rescued from a certain death at sea.

But what if you want to hide from him? What if the thought of God seeing everything leaves you uncomfortable? Perhaps your conscience is reminding you even now that an encounter with the Lord might be more than a little embarrassing for you. Good! We must never become comfortable with sin, trying to somehow disguise it from our Creator. He will one day judge all people, and nothing is hidden from his sight. It does no good to try to drown out your conscience through worldly distractions or to silence God’s Word by staying away from church. That’s as ineffective as Adam and Eve trying to hide from God by crouching behind some leaves in the Garden of Eden.

But trust me, you want him to find you. Because this is the God who moved heaven and earth so that you could be with him. He sent his own Son to be our Substitute and Savior, removing our sins through his own sacrifice. And now you are invited to hide yourself in Jesus, taking refuge in his love. Repent of your attempts to run from him and find comfort in his promises of forgiveness to all who believe.

Prayer:
Lord God, I have foolishly tried to hide my sin from you. Forgive me for the sake of Jesus, your Son. 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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Knit Together – September 8, 2019

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Psalm 139:13-16

Knit Together


Daily Devotion – September 8, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 139:13-16

See series: Devotions

My mom likes to crochet. Each night she sits in her rocking chair with a sewing bag by her side and crochet hook in hand to work on her latest creation. Curiosity often leads a family member to ask, “Mom, what are you making?” She then shares her plans for a baby cap, a new pair of mittens, or a blanket to help keep out the cold of winter. When mom crochets, she always has a purpose and a plan to make something both beautiful and useful.

The Bible uses this same picture to show the care and concern God took in creating each of us. He knit you together, it says. And if you ever need to be reminded of the wonder of God’s creating ability, just look at a newborn baby. Marvel over the little fingers and toes. Celebrate God’s goodness and the wonder of how someone so small can be so precious.

God also made each of us with a plan. Our lives are like books with each day fulfilling the purpose God gave it. Some lives are like short stories that seem to end too soon. Others are like novels with many chapters unfolding over decades.

But just like every book has a conflict, every life has one as well. Each of us is conflicted with sin that affects our relationship with God and those around us. Thank God that he sent Jesus to be the Savior of the world and the hero in the story of our lives. Through faith in him, the Lord forgives the wrong we have done and restores our relationship with him and with others.

With his mighty hand, the Lord created you, and in his love, through Jesus, he made you his child. Take time to thank him and continue to discover his purpose for your life.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for making me your unique child with a purpose for my life. Help me to live every day that you have given me to your glory. 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 Only Helper – September 7, 2019

We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.
Psalm 33:20

The Only Helper


Daily Devotion – September 7, 2019

Devotion based on Psalm 33:20

See series: Devotions

Caring for aging parents can be a lot of work. The washing, the feeding, the moving from place to place—it can be exhausting.

As a caregiver, you have to keep your eyes open all of the time. If your aging parents are easily tricked by scam telephone calls or e-mails, you have to be ready to swoop in and shield them from the people trying to take advantage of them.

If you are reliable, your parents have learned to trust you, and they expect you to be there when you said you would be. If you are unreliable, your parents can develop a lot of anxiety. They might even become more susceptible to pranks and scams as they reach out for support beyond you.

You don’t have to be an aging parent to need help. From infancy through old age, we all need people whom God has provided to help us. We appreciate the reliable ones. We forgive the unreliable ones.

The only helper who will never disappoint us is the Lord himself. He is completely reliable. He keeps his promises again and again. He keeps our eyes on Jesus, the ultimate fulfillment of every promise. He provides us with our daily bread and more. He shields us from enemies, especially the spiritual ones: the devil, the world, and our own sinful flesh.

Even when we have difficulties and cannot figure out what to do, we wait in hope for the Lord. He is our help. He is our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.

Prayer:
May your unfailing love be with me, O Lord, even as I put my hope 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Christian Faith Saves Forever – September 6, 2019

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
Genesis 15:6

Christian Faith Saves Forever


Daily Devotion – September 6, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 15:6

See series: Devotions

Faithful Lutheran Christians say it this way: “We are not saved eternally by doing good works. We are saved by faith in Jesus alone.” That’s what the Bible teaches.

But sharp-thinking people ask, “Well, isn’t faith something that you do? No one else believes for you, so faith must be something you do. It must be a good work.” It’s easy to understand how people can draw that conclusion, but the logic is wrong.

All analogies limp. But consider this one: Suppose you fell off your cruise ship, and you were drowning in the ocean. Thankfully, one of your fellow passengers noticed your frantic splashing and quickly threw you a lifesaver. You grab hold, and he pulls you back onto the deck. Now, who gets the credit for saving your life: you or your fellow passenger? I suppose you could argue that you would’ve died had you not grabbed hold of the lifesaver, and you could pat yourself on the back for a job well done. But the truth is, all credit rightfully goes to the one who first provided the lifesaver and then pulled you on board. Your faith in the buoyancy of the lifesaver and the strength of your new-found friend saved you. It wasn’t your work; it was his.

That’s what the Old Testament believer Abram discovered about the salvation of his soul. Getting to heaven wasn’t about him or what he did. It was all about God’s promises and, most importantly, his fulfillment of those promises. Yes, Abram believed those promises, but he didn’t deserve the credit for that. God did. Amazingly, when the broken sinner Abram believed God, God declared him righteous, perfect, free from sin, and fit for heaven. It wasn’t Abram’s doing. It was God’s.

And the same is true for us. Christian faith does not save us from our sins because our faith is ever perfect. It saves us because the One in whom we are placing our trust is perfect, powerful, loving, and forgiving. We are saved by faith in Christ alone.

Prayer:
Jesus, help me see that you are the perfect one to trust 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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Christian Faith Believes the Impossible – September 5, 2019

(The LORD) took (Abram) outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Genesis 15:5

Christian Faith Believes the Impossible


Daily Devotion – September 5, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 15:5

See series: Devotions

Imagine the headline: “One-hundred-year-old man and ninety-year-old wife have baby.” No self-respecting newspaper would consider printing it. Such an outlandish story would only be fodder for the tabloids. Readers would be more likely to believe that little green men had recently arrived from Mars.

So when curious readers discover the story of Abraham and his wife Sarah in the pages of Genesis, it’s not surprising that the account is often dismissed as a myth. After all, who would honestly believe that such a thing was possible?

Christians would, and the reason is simple: because that’s the whole point of Christian faith. Why should Christians have a faith that expects them to believe things that are possible? That’s no faith at all. That’s just observation.

But Christian faith believes the impossible, like when God took that worn out, childless man, pointed out the array of heavenly stars on a cloudless night, and said, “So shall your offspring be.” In other words, “That’s how many children will be in your family!”

Abraham was no fool. He understood how impossible it was. St. Paul later commented how Abraham “faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead” (Romans 4:19).

But did those facts destroy his faith? Hardly! They hardened his faith since he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised” (Romans 4:21). Abraham and Sarah’s situation was so impossible, so desperate, that the only one who could create that child was the same powerful One who had brought the universe into being with a word. Why would Abraham want to place his trust in anyone less than the only One who can truly do the impossible?

And why would we? Believing possible things is nothing special. The Christian faith is. It believes the impossible, and our powerful Savior never disappoints.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, grant me your Holy Spirit that I might confidently believe your impossible promises and 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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