St. Johns News

A Wrong Relationship Made Right – August 17, 2019

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
Colossians 1:21-22

A Wrong Relationship Made Right


Daily Devotion – August 17, 2019

Devotion based on Colossians 1:21-22

See series: Devotions

How would you rate your relationship with God on a scale of 1 through 10? How would God rate it? Many people never bother to ask God what he has to say about his relationship with them. They think it is their prerogative to determine whether their relationship with God is good, bad, or ugly. Some think everything is okay between them and God. Others think God is out to get them and wants nothing good for them.

What does God have to say? First, he tells us that our evil behavior alienated us from him. God cannot and will not abide sin. We have sinned. Our evil behavior made us God’s enemies. We don’t want to hear this, but whether we want to hear it or not is irrelevant. God has declared it to be true.

But God doesn’t want to be our enemy. He loves us. So he sent his Son, Jesus, to suffer and die for our sins. All of our evil behavior was washed away by Jesus’ blood on the cross. Now God sees us as holy, sinless, perfect people. We are no longer God’s enemies. We have been reconciled to him.

Now, how would you rate your relationship with God on a scale of 1 through 10? Thank God that through Jesus, he has taken you from a 0 to a 10!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I know that without your help I would be alienated from God because of my sins. I can never thank you enough for reconciling me to my Maker. Give me peace and joy this day knowing that I am no longer God’s enemy but his beloved and forgiven child. 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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Just Sing – August 16, 2019

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
Colossians 3:16

Just Sing


Daily Devotion – August 16, 2019

Devotion based on Colossians 3:16

See series: Devotions

When God speaks, it is appropriate to repeat those words and teach one another. God speaks to you in the words of the Bible, and those words are always useful for teaching. You can learn from every word of the Scriptures. Those words are also useful for admonishment, for rebuking and correcting. Every word of the Bible is true, so you can trust its standards and judgments. Its message about the saving work of Christ is the center of what God says, and when those words are impressed on your heart, you respond with gratitude.

Christians throughout the centuries have noticed that when the Holy Spirit fills their lives with the Word of God, many times they break out in song! Old Testament believers sang 150 different psalms. New Testament believers still sing those psalms, and they have added a rich number of hymns and songs to be sung when a Christian is feeling grateful to the Lord for all that he has done.

If you have ever had a Christian song running through your head, you know that you hardly have to be prompted to sing. It’s something that seems to come from deep within the soul, prompted by the Holy Spirit. Don’t fight it. Sing an old song, sing a new song, and keep singing to God, praising him and proclaiming what he has done for you. When God speaks, sometimes it’s the first response, and that shouldn’t bother you a bit. Just sing!

Prayer:
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit give us lips to sing thy glory, tongues thy mercy to proclaim, throats to shout the hope that fills us, mouths to speak thy holy 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, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Laugh with Joy – August 15, 2019

Then one of them said, “I will surely return to you about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.” Now Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent, which was behind him. Abraham and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing. So Sarah laughed to herself as she thought, “After I am worn out and my lord is old, will I now have this pleasure?” Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”
Genesis 18:10-14

Laugh with Joy


Daily Devotion – August 15, 2019

Devotion based on Genesis 18:10-14

See series: Devotions

Sometimes you just gotta laugh—the situation is so absurd that the only appropriate response is laughter. When Sarah, who was past childbearing age, heard the prediction that she would have a child within a year, she laughed. It was not really laughter with joy. It was more like the laughter of disbelief.

What Sarah didn’t take into account is that it was God talking. He was carrying out his plan of salvation, and when God tells you what he is doing for your salvation, a laugh of disbelief is an inappropriate response. Instead, when God speaks, you are encouraged to laugh with joy.

Even when you were still a sinner, Christ died for you. You just gotta laugh, because such mercy and grace are so unexpected. Don’t make it a laugh of disbelief. Laugh with joy.

Your sins are forgiven through faith in Christ. Even when you don’t feel forgiven, even when accusations are still there to try to make you feel guilty, God speaks the word of forgiveness, and you are genuinely and completely forgiven. You just gotta laugh with the joy that comes from a clean conscience.

No matter how bad it gets here on earth, God says that heaven is your home. No more sorrow or tears there—just rest and peace. Laugh with joy!

Prayer: (Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 79)
Oh, joy to know that you, my Friend, are Lord, beginning without end, the First and Last, eternal! And you at length—O glorious grace—will take me to that holy place, the home of joys supernal. 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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Promises – August 14, 2019

Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Colossians 1:21-23

Promises


Daily Devotion – August 14, 2019

Devotion based on Colossians 1:21-23

See series: Devotions

The Bible is filled with gorgeous promises for us. Even though we have thought and done evil things that have made us enemies of God, Jesus took the punishment for them on the cross. He had lived a perfect life and did not deserve to die, but he suffered hell and died anyway so that we would get the credit for his holiness. Because of his work, we appear without blemish and are free from accusation in the eyes of God, whose eyes are the only ones that count when it comes to eternal salvation.

We receive all of those blessings through faith in Jesus Christ. God makes those promises and then gives us faith to trust them. Without faith, all of those blessings and promises go unused, and we go to hell. However, through faith, we receive all of the blessings of the gospel, which include forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.

If a friend of yours makes many promises and then breaks them, you learn not to trust that friend. If someone else makes many promises and always keeps them, you learn to trust that person. God speaks to us in the words of the Bible and makes many promises. He has always kept them, and he always will. When God speaks, believe him, and you will never go wrong.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus Christ, my God and Lord, forsake me not! I trust your Word. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Drop Everything – August 13, 2019

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42

Drop Everything


Daily Devotion – August 13, 2019

Devotion based on Luke 10:38-42

See series: Devotions

Every culture has social rules that are to be observed when a visitor arrives. Some people greet visitors with a handshake, others with a hug. Some people offer a drink, while others prepare a whole meal.

Martha knew that when an important visitor like Jesus arrived, a bedroom had to be prepared and an appropriate meal had to be on the table at a decent hour. She wanted everything to be just right for her special guest.

What Martha didn’t realize was that Jesus, as the Son of God, was visiting to speak for her benefit. And when God speaks, the social rules change. Many cultural niceties can be observed, but the most important thing when God speaks is to drop everything and listen to what he says. Martha’s sister, Mary, was doing just that, and she was commended.

That’s because there’s nothing more important than the Word of God. When we get down to the most important things in life, that’s really all we need. Food keeps our bodies alive, but the Word of God nourishes our souls. Everyone needs water to live, but the Word of God is a spring of water welling up to eternal life. People need a place to rest, but the Word of God gives rest to everyone who is weary or burdened.

When God speaks, the most appropriate reaction is to drop everything and treasure what he says, because it all points to Jesus, our Savior.

Prayer:
One thing’s needful. Lord, this treasure teach me highly to regard. 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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Listen – August 12, 2019

Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3:8b-10

Listen


Daily Devotion – August 12, 2019

Devotion based on 1 Samuel 3:8b-10

See series: Devotions

The boy named Samuel was hearing a voice speaking to him during the night. He did not know what to do. The priest named Eli, who was his caretaker, told him what to do. Realizing that it was the Lord speaking, Eli told Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Children need that kind of instruction. Today the Lord does not call out to them during the night. Instead, the Lord speaks to them in the Bible. Children need to know how to respond to the words of the Bible. Caretakers of children would do well to teach them to respond, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

We do not outgrow that advice. The Lord speaks to people of every age with the words of the Bible. He shows people their sin, calls them to repentance and promises to forgive them. He comforts them no matter what troubles they have in life, and he provides what they need to know to go to heaven. He uses the words of the Bible to bring people to faith in Jesus, and he uses the words of the Bible to keep them in that faith.

When the words of the Bible do not match our sensibilities or desires, we are tempted not to listen. But the advice of Samuel’s caretaker is still true each day of our lives. The best thing we can do to thank God for everything he has done is to listen to his Word. Let this be our response to every Bible passage: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

Prayer:
Speak, O Savior. I am listening as a servant to his lord. Let me show respect and honor to your holy, precious Word. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Groaning – August 11, 2019

For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.
Romans 8:20-23

Groaning


Daily Devotion – August 11, 2019

Devotion based on Romans 8:20-23

See series: Devotions

The season of summer—with its longer daylight hours and warmer temperatures—provides many opportunities for us to enjoy the outdoors and behold the beauty of God’s wonderful creation. As we do, however, the apostle Paul wants us to see and hear the creation through the perspective of God’s Word.

When we do this, we hear the creation groaning. We recognize that the creation around us is straining under the burden of sin that mankind brought into the world. Hurricanes, fires, tornadoes, floods, droughts—all of them bear the sights and sounds of a creation laboring under the consequences of our sinfulness.

But not only does the creation groan, but we also do too. We groan under the burdens of work, stress, finances, sadness, uncertainty, and loneliness—for sin has infected every aspect of our lives. However, in the groans of creation and of Christians there is anticipation of eagerly looking forward to that day when all the things that hurt and harm will go away forever.

And they will go away! For the day will come when the Lord Jesus will command it. At just the right time that he has determined, the Lord will arrive to liberate his creation from the presence and effects of sin. And for us who groan inwardly awaiting to be free from living in this sinful world, Jesus will take us to the glorious, perfect life that he has prepared for us in his new creation. Just as his blood has washed away our every sin, so also, he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain.

Then there will be no more groaning.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, when I groan under the burdens of life, remind me by your Spirit that, in Jesus, I can eagerly look forward to the perfect joy of heaven. 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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Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness – August 10, 2019

[God the Father] has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Colossians 1:13,14

Praise the One Who Breaks the Darkness


Daily Devotion – August 10, 2019

Devotion based on Colossians 1:13,14

See series: Devotions

When I was about nine years old, I almost drowned. I was not an inexperienced swimmer. The problem was, I was over-confident in my experience and ignorant of my limitations. As I was doing laps, my brain said, “Keep going!” But my body said, “I’m done.” As I sank into the murky waters, a hand grabbed for me, and then an arm embraced me and pulled me safely to the pool’s edge. My father had risked his life to rescue me.

Over-confidence in our abilities and ignorance of our limitations is a universal problem. We think we can navigate life just fine on our own. But it doesn’t matter how good we are. It doesn’t matter if we are better than others. We are drowning in a cesspool of sin. And as if nothing is wrong, our fallen nature says, “Keep going!”

Not until God hits us with the realization of the hopelessness of our efforts does our law-stricken heart scream, “I’m done for!”

God has heard our cry for help. Seeing us sinking down, Christ climbed down from his throne in heaven and jumped into this sin-filled world in order to save us. To do so, he had to more than risk his life. He gave his life in exchange for ours. He suffered the death we deserved so that we might live. But he does even more than that. Through baptism, God washes the moral filth from us and dresses us in the clean robe of Jesus’ sinless virtue. In him, you and I have complete deliverance.

Even so, sometimes we still feel that we are swimming through dark times. The more we focus on that darkness, the more we drown in our doubts and fears. But when we focus on Jesus, the Light of the world, and trust his saving power, he gives us new life. Praise the one who breaks the darkness!

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, thank you for delivering me from the hopelessness and despair of this dark world. Your love and forgiveness fill me with joy. Enable me to live as a child of light. 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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Change Your Clothes – August 9, 2019

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24

Change Your Clothes


Daily Devotion – August 9, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:22-24

See series: Devotions

I’ve never liked changing my clothes. Ever since I was a boy, changing clothes seemed like such a bother. I was too busy to change my clothes. I had places to go and things to do. My mother thought differently. When my brothers and I would come home after a long summer day of playing in the dirt and mud, our mom would tell us in no uncertain terms, “Change out of those filthy clothes before you come into this house!” She would not have her well-kept house fouled by our filthy clothes.

Spiritually speaking, we are all filthy. We were born with a self-serving, self-seeking, sinful attitude. That sinful attitude has shown itself in what we have said and done against other people and against the God who made us. There is no way God will allow anyone into his holy home called heaven unless they are spiritually clean. Fortunately, that is precisely what Jesus did for us. He lived a sinless life. Through faith in Jesus, we are robed with his righteousness. In God’s eyes, we are cleaned up and he promises us entrance into his home of heaven.

While we are living here, though, we are still stained with sin. We are constantly changing our spiritual clothes—that is taking off our old sinful self and putting on the new self, Jesus has created us to be. It is not easy. You will not always feel like changing. But, keep doing it! Toss aside your old sinful self like a pair of dirty jeans. In its place put on the new self—the holy self, Jesus has made you to be.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for earning a new set of spiritual clothes for me. Empower me to throw off my sinful self today to put on your holiness in its place. 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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Scams for Your Soul – August 8, 2019

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.
Ephesians 4:14

Scams for Your Soul


Daily Devotion – August 8, 2019

Devotion based on Ephesians 4:14

See series: Devotions

The next time you’re in a bookstore, take a quick look through the crime section. You might come across a book entitled, How to Become a Professional Con Artist. The book is written by a retired police officer who spent his career pursuing individuals who deceived people for a living. In his book, the author describes some of the classic scams used by con artists, and why those scams work so well. The book arms you with a good understanding of what is legitimate and what is a fraud. That kind of understanding is necessary so that you are not so vulnerable to every scam out there.

The Apostle Paul makes the same point about any Christian living in this sinful world. There are all kinds of spiritual scams vying for our souls. These scams can come from the world itself, from the devil, or even from our own sinful heads. The difference with these scams is that while other scams are simply out for our money or valuables, scams for our souls are far worse. After all, scams for our souls can be permanent and deadly.

Of all the spiritual scams, perhaps the most dangerous one is this: The notion that even if it’s been years since you’ve studied God’s Word in any serious way, that you’re just too strong of a Christian ever to be deceived.

If that’s what you think, then the Lord warns you that you are being deceived by a very old and dangerous scam.

The solution? The solution is Jesus. Come to him in repentance. Be refreshed in his forgiveness purchased at Calvary’s cross. And then arm yourself in his Word with a renewed sense of seriousness and purpose. For when you do, you will give all the spiritual scam artists in the world a very bad day.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, in this world of confusion and lies, you are the Way and the Truth. Empower me by your Spirit to arm myself in your Word. Amen.

DailyCreative Commons License Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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