St. Johns News

Hope When Facing Stress – December 6, 2018

[Jesus said] “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will close on you suddenly like a trap. For it will come on all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man.”
Luke 21:34-36

Hope When Facing Stress


Daily Devotion – December 6, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 21:34-36

See series: Devotions

Andy Williams raised Christmas expectations when he sang his Christmas classic, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” What a wonderful time of year for holiday songs and Hallmark Channel movies! We dream of a white Christmas and the perfect family gathering.

But what happens when our dreamy expectations for the perfect Christmas don’t come true? It may explain why holiday times are some of the most stressful days of the year for people. For some it’s the stress of fighting the crowds and trying to find the perfect gift. For others it’s the stress of getting everything decorated, baked, and ready on time. We stress from trying to create the wonderful Christmas we dream about and now, it’s only 19 days away! Stress is dangerous if it tempts us to cope with it in unhealthy ways—unhealthy for the body and the soul. That’s why Jesus warned: “Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness and the anxieties of life” (v. 34).

Are you feeling the holiday stress? Do you want to get rid of it? Then Jesus offers this remedy: He said “Be always on the watch, and pray” (v. 36). This time of year requires spiritual vigilance and prayer. Our hope for the perfect Christmas is connected to the One whose love led him to the cradle and then to the cross for us. Our hope for the best future possible isn’t a dream. It’s certain because it rests on him who promised to come back again to take us to be with himself forever. He’s the One who said “Be on guard! Be alert!”

We may not be able to completely insulate ourselves from all stress. But we can take what is stressing us to the Lord of all who loves us completely. Now we are ready to face our stress and to work it out in faith-filled, faith-building ways, in Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, when the holiday season or earth’s end-time season gets me stressed, help me find rest in you and help me to remain vigilant in my walk of faith 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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Hope for the Future – December 5, 2018

[Jesus] told them this parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees. When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Luke 21:29-33

Hope for the Future


Daily Devotion – December 5, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 21:29-33

See series: Devotions

Today, Jesus invites us to think of budding trees. When blossoms burst forth, the message is clear: Summer will soon be here!

I know. It’s December. In many places this time of year, the trees are bare and the temperature is cold. But did you know there are trees “blooming” this time of year? It’s Christmas tree! The message is clear: Christmas is drawing near!

So when Jesus talks about fig trees blooming, he’s really talking about having our souls ready for the advent of his kingdom, when he comes again. The Christmas tree and its decorations can help get us ready for the same:

  • The evergreen tree reminds us that Jesus is the ever-living and eternal Son of God. But he was also born into our world in human flesh so that he could die for our sins. Jesus was even nailed to a wood tree—the cross.
  • The Christmas colors of green and red represent life (green) and death (red). We have life because Jesus gave his life and shed his red blood for us.
  • The star on top of the Christmas tree reminds us of the star that led the Wise Men to find the baby Jesus.
  • All the lights on the Christmas tree remind us that Jesus is the Light in a sin-darkened world. He illuminates our hearts and minds to see God’s truth: that he really is our promised Savior!

So when you see a Christmas tree, remember its “full-bloom” message: God’s kingdom is coming! Jesus is coming! What hope the message of Christmas gives us! Jesus will return to deliver you to his eternal kingdom! That’s a message that not only gets us excited, but also ready to celebrate Christmas, but especially to meet Jesus!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, during this blessed and busy Christmas season, use the sight of the Christmas tree and its decorations to point our attention to you. Help us keep our focus on you so we will be prepared to meet you when you come again! 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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Hope in the Face of Fear – December 4, 2018

[Jesus said] “There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken. At that time they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Luke 21:25-28

Hope in the Face of Fear


Daily Devotion – December 4, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 21:25-28

See series: Devotions

You may not believe it, but some people are afraid of Christmas. There’s even a fancy-sounding name for this. It’s called: “festivalisophobia.” A fear of festivals.

You might be wondering, “Why would people be afraid of Christmas?” For some, it may be Christmas trees or flashing Christmas lights. More serious are those who are afraid of the message of Christmas. Think about it: If you don’t understand who this holiday is about and why his birth is such a big deal, Christmas and everything that accompanies it can be confusing, even scary!

If Christmas celebrates Jesus’ first coming into our world; can you imagine how afraid those same people might be at Jesus’ second coming on the Last Day? Jesus’ words are startling and scary: “Nations will be in anguish and perplexity…People will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world” (vv. 26-27).

But Jesus encourages a very different kind of reaction to the signs of his second coming: “When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads.” (v. 28). Jesus doesn’t want us cowering, but confident. He doesn’t want us afraid, but anticipating and ready! Why? “Because your redemption is drawing near” (v. 28).

When you know who Jesus is and how his blood made amends for you sins, there is absolutely nothing to fear, and certainly not Christmas! Not even the scary-sounding events described at the end of this age! Jesus gives us hope in the face of fears!

Prayer:
Dear Lord Jesus, you came to this world to give us hope. Draw us close to you. Quiet our fears and comfort us with your coming. Remind us that you are coming back for us to take us to be with you forever in heaven! Come, Lord Jesus, come quickly! 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 Hope of Salvation – December 3, 2018

“In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: the LORD Our Righteous Savior.”
Jeremiah 33:15-16

The Hope of Salvation


Daily Devotion – December 3, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 33:15-16

See series: Devotions

Ever hear someone begin a sentence by saying, “Back in my day…” Maybe it was a parent or grandparent reminiscing about experiences in life and how different things are today compared to “back in my day.” Depending on the situation, life could either have been more difficult or better.

In some ways life has been made easier. Rapid advancements in technology have transformed how we communicate and made it possible to stay better connected with each other. At the same time, some may argue those very advancements are keeping people from talking face-to-face with each other: “Back in my day, neighbors would just drop by to say, ‘Hi.’ Back in my day, kids could play outside all day unsupervised.”

When the prophet Jeremiah looked back at his days the memory of his people’s past made him wince. They wandered from God, they were unfaithful to him. What a painful memory. Jeremiah knew their only hope of standing before a just and holy God lay not in the past but in the future. That’s why Jeremiah begins today’s passage, “In those days…” He’s looking ahead in hope to a future descendant someone who would “sprout” from ancient King David’s family tree. He would be faithful and save people from their sinful past.

Does the memory of your past make you wince? Our only hope of standing before a just and holy God is by looking ahead this Christmas to the Branch who sprouted from ancient King David’s family tree. He is Jesus! Jesus made right all our past wrongs. Jesus satisfied God’s demands. We are saved from our past and we find our eternal safety in Christ. God’s promise has come true! He packaged and delivered it in a baby in a manger.

So, in these days before Christmas, Jesus’ gives us something to look back at and be thankful. Because of Jesus, we have a future hope of salvation!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for the salvation you have secured for us through your righteousness. 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 Fulfilled Promise Brings Hope – December 2, 2018

“The days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.”
Jeremiah 33:14

A Fulfilled Promise Brings Hope


Daily Devotion – December 2, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 33:14

See series: Devotions

When a dog hears you say the words “outside” or “walk,” you better be taking that dog for a walk! Even if it’s something that only sounds like one of those words, he’s hearing you make a promise, “We’re going for a walk!”

When a child hears the hint or suggestion of doing something or going somewhere exciting, don’t they react with similar enthusiasm? What a thrill when a child’s ears hear a parent announce, “Pack a bag. We are leaving for grandma and grandpa’s house tomorrow!” Oh my, what excitement is unleashed. From a child’s perspective, they just can’t wait!

Sadly, there are times when promises made become promises broken. Someone did not keep their word. The let-down is huge. The disappointment is real. When that begins to happen too often, we question if the promise is real. We stop believing.

Not so with our Lord. “The days are coming…,” he promised. Although the wait seemed long to God’s people of the Old Testament, God’s promises remained with them. God had made and fulfilled many promises to his people.

Those fulfilled promises were preludes to a greater promise—or as Jeremiah called it in today’s passage, “the good promise.” All God’s promises gave people hope in God’s greater promise yet to be fulfilled. This promise was so good, God repeated it over and over to his people throughout history. People believed in it. Why? Because God was the promise-maker. The Lord always keeps his promises!

The season of Advent before Christmas is so exciting—Christ is coming! It means God kept his “good promise” that he made to us! God’s fulfilled promises gives us the certain hope—that when God makes a promise, he will always keep it!

Prayer:
God of fulfilled promises, make good your promise to return to us. Come quickly, Lord Jesus. 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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Hope in a Name – December 1, 2018

“‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.’”
Jeremiah 33:14-16

Hope in a Name


Daily Devotion – December 1, 2018

Devotion based on Jeremiah 33:14-16

See series: Devotions

A name is a very important thing. That’s because a name says something about a person. Researchers have found that within a culture people tend to agree on characteristics that are associated with any given name. In other words, we form similar ideas about a person, whether it be their race, social status, or even profession, just by hearing their name. For example, most people in America trust someone who is named “Lincoln,” and when they hear the name “Tiffany,” they think of someone who is wealthy.

The prophet, Jeremiah, comforted the people of Judah, who had experienced destruction at the hands of the Babylonian army, by sharing with them a name. He promised them that in the midst of their despair a righteous Branch would sprout from David’s line and bring salvation. This righteous Branch would be called “The Lord, our righteousness.”

Could you imagine being given that name? Could you imagine telling people that your name was “righteousness?” Jesus Christ could, because when he was born into this world, he lived a perfectly righteous life by following all of God’s commands. He not only did what no one else has ever done, he took our sins upon himself and give us his perfect righteousness in their place. The apostle Paul says, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Romans 4:25).

A name says something about someone. “The Lord, our righteousness” is a name that could only fit one person. Jesus Christ lived, died, and rose again to be our righteousness. Now when you trust in him you are given another name. Like the bride who takes the name of her husband, believers take the name of their Savior Jesus—”righteous.” This name gives us hope and assures us of our eternal future of peace and safety with him.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank you for being my righteousness and for taking my sin upon yourself. Help me to always find hope in your perfect life and innocent death in my place. 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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Thankful for Peace – November 30, 2018

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Colossians 3:15

Thankful for Peace


Daily Devotion – November 30, 2018

Devotion based on Colossians 3:15

See series: Devotions

Peace. It’s something everyone longs for. We’re getting close to that time of year when celebrities are asked during interviews what they want for Christmas, and many will simply utter some version of the cliché “world peace.” Yet, it is often extremely difficult to achieve.

Peace. It’s an awesome gift that Jesus gives you. However, it is a different kind of peace than the one people often seek. It is better.

What is this peace? It is certainly not the absence of trouble or conflict in life. If that is the kind of peace Jesus promises to give, then he’s not speaking the truth because there is conflict and trouble in life.

The peace that Jesus gives is not peace from trouble, it is peace in the midst of it. It is peace between you and God. It is yours no matter how unpeaceful your life and the lives of those around you might be.

This peace means that when your head hits the pillow at night and your mind begins to review the events that took place that day, you can actually sleep because you are okay with God. The things that you messed up during the day, the people you hurt, the angry words you spoke, the unkind or even hateful thoughts that erupted in your mind—Jesus shed his blood to remove them all.

That means if something were to happen while you sleep and the next time you open your eyes you find yourself face to face with the Judge of heaven and earth, he is not going to bring out a long list of sins and condemn you for them. Jesus was condemned in your place. Your sin has been removed. There is nothing standing in the way of your relationship with God—a relationship that will last eternally in heaven.

That’s the peace of Christ, and it’s yours! Be thankful!

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for shedding your blood on the cross to take away my sins and give me peace with God. That peace is so precious, especially when there is trouble and conflict all around in my life. Forgive me for the times I have not been thankful for it. Help me to treasure this precious gift. In your holy 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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A Kingdom That Lasts Forever – November 29, 2018

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.
Hebrews 12:28

A Kingdom That Lasts Forever


Daily Devotion – November 29, 2018

Devotion based on Hebrews 12:28

See series: Devotions

People who live near a fault line ought to be ready to deal with earthquakes. Far beneath them, hidden from sight in the earth’s crust, tectonic movement has the potential to cause the ground on which they stand to give way.

Today’s reading reminds us that there is another kind of fault line that runs through all of creation. There is a beneath-the-surface problem that ought to put every one of us on high alert. Hidden beneath the good qualities we see in ourselves and others is something ominous, something that rumbles to the surface from time to time in the form of selfishness, animosity, even violence. But even when no fault line is evident, the hidden problem remains. The problem is sin, and we are all guilty of it, for as Scripture says, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).

Scripture also reveals that a quake like no other is headed our way, one that is far too powerful to be measured on the Richter scale. “That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:12). It’s bad enough to be caught in one of earth’s natural disasters. Where can you go when all the heavens and the earth are shaken?

Take heart! There is a kingdom that cannot be shaken, the kingdom of Jesus Christ.

The devil tried tempting Jesus into sin. Jesus wouldn’t sin. Enemies of Jesus thought they could stop him by crucifying him, but he rose from the dead. Jesus the Son of God still rules at God’s right hand, and his kingdom will never end. Everyone who believes in Jesus is a citizen of his kingdom. Just like Jesus, their sin can’t hurt them, and their death can’t stop them. Even when everything in all of creation is destroyed on the Last Day, those in Christ’s kingdom will come through unharmed. All who believe in Jesus are standing on solid ground.

Picture someone who has made it through an earthquake unscathed. They are in awe of what just happened. They are amazed to be alive. They breathe a great sigh of relief. Fellow believer in Jesus, that’s what it will be like for you on the Last Day. In fact, that’s what your life is like right now. Give thanks to Jesus in all you do and serve him with awe and respect. Through faith in Jesus, you have received a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, my Savior and my King, thank you for rescuing me from sin and death. Be my solid ground today and always. 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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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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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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