St. Johns News

Justice – January 7, 2018

“Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him and he will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth. In his law the islands will put their hope.” This is what God the Lord says—he who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it: “I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness.”
Isaiah 42:1-7

Justice


Daily Devotion – January 7, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 42:1-7

See series: Devotions

React to this statement: “The Lord will bring justice to the nations; he will establish justice on earth.”

If you are focused on all the evil and atrocities in the world and society, you are probably cheering, “Finally, the wicked will receive their ‘just deserts.’ Finally, some fairness.”

I get your applause. I can’t stand the evil either. But be careful of sounding and acting like a Pharisee. Because, if you are focused on the real evil and atrocities in life, you’d search your own heart. With an honest search, I don’t imagine you are as excited about justice coming. Justice strikes grave fear because we know the evil of our heart deserves the grave. Justice coming to others is one thing. But justice coming to us is the scariest thing.

But when you read about “justice” in Isaiah 42:1-7, do you read anything about destruction? Do you read anything about fire and brimstone? Do you read anything about hell? No. Rather you read about a Servant, chosen by God, to bring a different justice than you would expect.

This servant doesn’t bully you into a corner, start yelling at you, and beat you up, like you might expect. He doesn’t make you feel worse than you already feel. If you are broken because of your sin, he doesn’t break you more. If you feel like your faith is dying out, he doesn’t extinguish it for you. Instead he treats you with gentleness and care.

  • He opens your eyes to his sacrificing love on a cross where he received your “just deserts.”
  • He frees you from your prison sentence of hell by having been sentenced himself.
  • He brightens your life with the promise of paradise.

This servant has a name. His name is Jesus. His name is his message to you: “The Lord saves.” That’s his promise.

Prayer:
Dear Lord God, thank you for choosing Jesus to be my Savior. 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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Follow the Signs – January 6, 2018

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”
Matthew 2:1-2

Follow the Signs


Daily Devotion – January 6, 2018

Devotion based on Matthew 2:1-2

See series: Devotions

“Lord, give me a sign!” Often this request accompanies my prayers. Give me a sign that you’re listening. Give me a sign that you care about me. Give me a sign which inspires my trust in you. There is only one minor complication. Even if the Lord does provide a sign, I may not always understand it or pay attention to it.

Take the Magi who came from the east. They saw the star. They investigated what it meant. Still, when they arrived in Jerusalem, they had to ask the question, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” Their experience led them to realize a sign can only take one so far.

This is why the Lord has provided his Word of Truth. Not only does it offer much needed signs, it also provides the direction which says, “Look here!” This is what eventually brought the Magi to Bethlehem to see the Savior God had provided for all people. It also led them to worship him as their Lord and Savior.

I need to learn from their experience. While it would be nice to request and receive a sign, the Lord gives me something even more reliable. In his Word I have his unbroken promise of a Savior. In his Word I have the faithful fulfillment of that promise in the birth of the Savior. In the same Word I have the comfort and peace of sins forgiven through the death and resurrection of that Savior.

Still the Lord doesn’t leave me without signs which reveal Jesus is that Savior. He leads me to the stable and the manger to see the birth of Jesus. He leads me through the hills and valleys of Judea, Galilee, and Samaria to witness the miraculous ministry of Jesus. He even leads me to the cross on Calvary and the empty tomb to view the undeserved love secured by Jesus.

How blessed I am to have God’s precious Word which tells me about Jesus. How blessed I am to have the clear signs which direct me to Jesus. This is why I pray: Lord, focus my eyes to see the great things you have done; open my ears to hear the truth you have recorded; fill my heart with faith to follow every sign you have provided.

Prayer:
O gracious Lord, give me the faith I need to trust your holy Word. There not only do I see my Savior and the great things he has done for me, I also see the great signs and wonders which lead me to put my trust in him. 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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January 7, 2018 Bulletin- Reformation 500-Faith Alone

St. John’s & Emmanuel

Evangelical Lutheran Churches

Montello & Mecan, WI

C:\Users\secretary\Downloads\Faith--bulletin cover.jpg

Reformation 500-Faith Alone

January 7, 2018


WELCOME TO OUR CHURCH We extend a warm welcome to everyone today, especially our visitors. In the bulletin you’ll find an outline of today’s service, a calendar of events and other bits of information. In the red hymn book you’ll find the songs we sing and the order of service that we follow. If you would like a large print hymnal or bulletin please ask one of our ushers and they will gladly assist you. Restrooms and nursery area are located the parish hall at Emmanuel and in the lower level and “link-way” at St. John’s. It’s nice to have you visit today. May God bless our worship together!

+ GATHERING +

OPENING PRAYER “We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight”

Printed below 756

1 We walk by faith and not by sight; No gracious words we hear

From him who spoke as none e’er spoke, But we believe him near.

2 We may not touch his hands and side Nor follow where he trod,

But in his promise we rejoice And cry, “My Lord and God!”

3 Help then, O Lord, our unbelief, And may our faith abound

To call on you when you are near And seek where you are found.

4 For you, O resurrected Lord, Are found in means divine:

Beneath the water and the Word, Beneath the bread and wine.

5 Lord, when our life of faith is done, In realms of clearer light,

We may behold you as you are With full and endless sight.

Text: Henry Alford, 1810–1871, alt.

PLEASE STAND

INVOCATION Matthew 28:19

M: In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen.

CONFESSION

M: Dear friends, let us approach God with a true heart and confess our sins, asking him in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to forgive us.

C: Lord of life, I confess that I am by nature dead in sin. For faithless worrying and selfish pride, for sins of habit and sins of choice, for the evil I have done and the good I have failed to do, you should cast me away from your presence forever. O Lord, I am sorry for my sins. Forgive me, for Jesus’ sake.

M: Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ will come again. In his great mercy, God made us alive in Christ even when we were dead in our sins. Hear the word of Christ through his called servant: I forgive you all your sins in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

C: Amen.

EXHORTATION

M: Now let us give thanks to the Lord our God, who by his nativity freed us from the devil’s power. Therefore it is right that we forever sing with the angels: “Glory to God in the highest!”

GLORY BE TO GOD Printed on insert

With tune of Christian Worship 21, 38

PRAYER (spoken together)

ALL: O Holy Spirit, by the power of the gospel you created faith in our hearts–faith in Jesus as our only Savior and faith to live as his disciples. Never let us doubt that you have the power to do what you have promised. Instead strengthen our faith as we grow in your Word. And finally, lead us by faith to the eternal Promised Land. Amen.

BE SEATED

+ THE WORD +

OLD TESTAMENT LESSON Genesis 15:1-6

God had made promises to Abram that sounded impossible, including the birth of a son to this senior citizen and his infertile wife. At this point Abram and Sarai had no son. But Abram believed the Lord, and the Lord credited his faith to him as righteousness. By faith in Jesus we have his righteousness credited to us, and so we are also saved by faith.

After this, the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”

Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him 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.”

Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.

M: The Word of the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.

PSALM OF THE DAY Psalm 27

Christian Worship page 75

NEW TESTAMENT LESSON Romans 4:13-25

 

Abraham believed in the God who calls things that are not as though they were, the God who has power to do what he has promised. The righteousness that was credited to Abraham by faith is credited to us who believe in God, who raised Jesus from the dead.

It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he 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. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had 1/7/2018: Faith power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

M: The Word of the Lord.

C: Thanks be to God.

 

PLEASE STAND

GOSPEL Matthew 16:13-19

As Peter followed Jesus, he became more and more convinced that Jesus is the Son of God and the Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah, who was to come into the world. Jesus told Peter that his faith in the person and work of Jesus was revealed to him by God the Father. In this text Peter clearly confesses his faith in who Jesus is and in the saving work Jesus came to do.

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

GOSPEL RESPONSE

M: The Gospel of the Lord.

C: Praise be to you, O Christ!

PLEASE BE SEATED

At Emmanuel, all children ages 2-6 are invited to Nursery Sunday School in the parish hall.

HYMN OF THE DAY “My Faith Looks Up to Thee”

Christian Worship 402

SERMON TEXT Hebrews 11:1,2,8-12

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God. And by faith even Sarah, who was past childbearing age, was enabled to bear children because she considered him faithful who had made the promise. And so from this one man, and he as good as dead, came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sand on the seashore.

SERMON “Believing Is Seeing”

  1. That God uses his power for me
  2. That God has prepared a better home for me

PLEASE STAND

APOSTLES’ CREED (sung together, see insert)

PLEASE BE SEATED

OFFERING

We gather an offering to support the Lord’s work that we do here and around the world. This is very important to us. If you are visiting us today, please do not feel that you must participate in the offering. You are our guest!

PLEASE STAND

INTERCESSORY PRAYERS (read by pastor)
– For those hospitalized, ill, shut-in and others facing trials: George Alexander, Bill Aumann, Chuck Boetcher, Alexandria Buehrens (Bob & Carolyn’s great granddaughter), Bob & Carolyn Buehrens, Sharon Crook, Harley & Liola Crown, Agnes Dassow, Elaine Emond (Mark’s mother), Mike Farrell, Donna Gatzke, Lori Gerth (Marvis Wegner’s sister), Millie Henke, Laurana Hoffman (Tim’s daughter), LuAnn Hoffman-Reber, Drake Hunter (Bill & Cally’s grandson), Mary Isberner, Geri Kerl (Sue Brown’s mother), Bob Klapper (Sandy’s husband), Anna Madigan, Linda Malsack, Sherry Miller (Candace Sonnenberg’s sister), Marion Neuman (Marjorie Fabian’s sister), Marolyn Riemer, Wilma Rudolph, Bob Schrank, Becky Schulz (Kristen Cragin’s sister), Jordan Scott (Debbie Parrish’s grandson), Roger Stellick (Doug’s uncle), Jennifer Strauss, Linda Lou Wacholtz, Bob Wegner – (added this week: )
– For our communicants at Emmanuel
– For today’s Divine Call meeting at St. John’s

PRAYERS

M: Let us pray to the Lord for the Christian church on earth and for all people everywhere.

M: For all who gather here today and for our entire congregation, that through the gospel the Lord would give us growth in faith and increase our love:

C: We ask you to bless us, O Lord.

M: For the spreading of the gospel throughout the world; for all pastors, missionaries, and their families, that they may boldly proclaim Christ to the nations:

C: We ask you to hear us, O Lord.

M: For the promises you have made to us and the trust you seek from us; for the faith you have given your people to believe in the saving work of our Savior Jesus; and for the Spirit’s power to be faithful in the ministry you have given us to do, knowing that our labor in the Lord is not in vain:

C: We magnify your name, O Lord.

M: For the people of our country; for the Lord’s blessings on our work; for those seeking employment; for good health; and for good weather:

C: We beg for your mercy, O Lord.

M: For all who are sick in body or mind; for the hungry and the homeless; for those who are in prison; for those who are dying and those who are mourning:

C: We ask you to help them according to your will, O Lord.

M: Hear us, Lord, as we bring you our private petitions.

Silent prayer.

M: All this we ask, O Father, through your Son, Jesus Christ, who has taught us to pray:

THE LORD’S PRAYER (read together)

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy name,

thy kingdom come,

thy will be done

on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread;

and forgive us our trespasses,

as we forgive those

who trespass against us;

and lead us not into temptation,

but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom

and the power and the glory

forever and ever. Amen.

PLEASE BE SEATED

Note: At Emmanuel…

HOLY COMMUNION Liturgy page 33 (sung & read responsively)

DISTRIBUTION HYMN “O Living Bread from Heaven”

Christian Worship 314

At Emmanuel & St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Churches we believe that participation in the Lord’s Supper is both a confession of faith and an expression of our unity in that faith. When you commune with us you are saying that you agree with our teachings about the Lord’s Supper and all the other teachings of the Bible. If you have never communed with us before, we ask that you speak with our pastor to learn how you can establish a communing fellowship with us. We are eager to enjoy that fellowship with you!

BENEDICTION 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

M: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” Amen.

CLOSING HYMN “This Is the Threefold Truth” Christian Worship 406

Note: At St. John’s…

BENEDICTION 2 Thessalonians 2:16,17

M: “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” Amen.

CLOSING HYMN “This Is the Threefold Truth” Christian Worship 406


 

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Theme for next Sunday (1/14):

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany: The Lord Calls Us to Serve

Note: Please give your completed friendship register page to an usher or pastor as you leave today’s service.

ACTIVITIES FOR THE WEEK JANUARY 7-JANUARY 13
Sun. 8:00 A.M. Emmanuel Worship with communion
8:20 A.M. Emmanuel Nursery Sunday School
8:30 A.M. St. John’s Sunday School
9:00 A.M. E/SJ Adult Bible Study begins “James-Concrete Christianity”
10:00 A.M. St. John’s Worship
11:15 A.M. Call meeting at St. John’s
Mon. 6:00 P.M. Hands in Prayer meeting at St. John’s
6:30 P.M. Senior Choir at St. John’s
7:30 P.M. Adult Bible Study begins at St. John’s “Your Questions, Scriptures Answers”
Tues. 8:30 A.M. St. John’s Elders meeting
7:00 P.M. Lutheran School meeting at St. John’s- Princeton
Wed. SJS/LL NO EARLY DISMISSAL
10:00 A.M. Adult Bible Study at St. John’s begins “Your Questions, Scriptures Answers”
2:15 P.M. NO Public School Teen Confirmation class at St. John’s
6:30 P.M. St. John’s Worship
7:30 P.M. Bible Information Class at St. John’s
Thurs. 10:00 A.M. Montello Care Center Devotion
6:00 P.M. St. John’s School Board meeting
Fri. SJS/LL NO SCHOOL
Sat.
SCHEDULE FOR NEXT SUNDAY, JANUARY 14, 2018

The Second Sunday after the Epiphany: The Lord Calls Us to Serve

8:00 A.M. Emmanuel Worship
8:20 A.M. Emmanuel Nursery Sunday School
8:30 A.M. St. John’s Sunday School
9:00 A.M. Emmanuel/St. John’s Adult Bible Study
10:00 A.M. St. John’s Worship with communion

MEMORIAL Donald Witt gave a $200 donation to Emmanuel General Fund, in memory of his parents, Rose and Arden Witt.  Thank You!

THANK YOU for lifting us up in prayer. All your prayers have carried us through Robert’s surgery and recovery. “Oh, give thanks to the Lord! Call upon His name; make known His deeds among the peoples!” Chronicles 16:8 -Robert & Bernice Wegner

LITTLE LAMBS DIRECTOR CALL MEETING Our current Little Lambs director, Sandy Hemling, has asked to step down from her position as Little Lambs director.  The school board has requested from our WELS Northern Wisconsin District President, Pastor Joel Zank, a list of candidates to be reviewed at a Call meeting scheduled for Sunday 1/7/18 at 11:30 a.m.  We thank Sandy Hemling for her faithful service and willingness to continue serving part-time in coming months until her position as Little Lambs director is filled.

ST. JOHN’S OFFERING STATEMENT SIGN-UP The signup sheet is located in the church link way. Please sign up if you wish to have a copy of your 2017 offering statement.

ST. JOHN’S OFFERING ENVELOPES 2018 are located in the link way of church. Please pick yours up if you haven’t yet! If you do not have a box, feel free to contact pastor or the office and we will get one to you!

WELCOME NEW MEMBERS at Emmanuel & St. John’s since December 14, 2015!  You will be guests at a Welcome Dinner on Sunday, January 21, beginning at approximately 11:15 a.m. following the St. John’s worship service.  Your hosts will be the members & families of the St. John’s Accessibility Task Force, St. John’s Shepherd Team, Emmanuel Council & Leaders, and Pastor & Mrs. Zietlow.  New members, you should have received personal invitations in the mail.  Your RSVP is kindly requested, by Sunday, January 14, to help us with food preparation.  Please call Elsa Russell 608-297-2731 or James & Linda Wachholz 608-297-7109 or 608-369-2635.

ARE YOU HIP?! HANDS IN PRAYER meeting will be held on Monday, January 8th, in the church lower level. Come see what they are all about! HIP meets once a month to enjoy Christian fellowship and to crochet, knit, quilt, or tie prayer shawls (lap blankets) for others in our congregation that might need to be uplifted, are dealing with an illness, or who just need a little encouragement and support from the church family. Craftiness is not required. We are willing to teach anyone who might be interested. If you have questions, please call Bernice Wegner at 608-297-7185.

MEMBERSHIP CLASS A new “Bible Information Class” began Wed 1/3/18 at 7:30pm in pastor’s office/conference room at St. John’s.  Alternate days/times can also be scheduled. Free study guides are available from pastor…just ask.

NEW WEEKDAY/EVE BIBLE CLASS Beginning January 2018, we’ll be starting a new weekday/eve Bible Study entitled: “Your Questions–Scriptures Answers: Adiaphora” (things that God doesn’t command or forbid in the Bible and how we are to properly use our Christian freedom).  We meet at St. John’s in the pastor’s office/conference room Monday 7:30pm (beginning 1/8) and Wednesday 10am (beginning 1/10). “Therefore let us leave the elementery teachings about Christ and go on to maturity…” (Hebrews 6:1)

USHERS

Emmanuel: January 7 (C) Lucas Stelter, Warren Buchholz, Don Stelter, communion assistant: Wayne Stelter, January 14 Wayne Stelter, Glenn Buchholz, DuWayne Sommerfeld, January 21 Darrell Buchholz, Paul Wuerch, Jim Stuempges January 28 DuWayne Sommerfeld, Paul Dahlke, Joe Heller

St. John’s: January 7 Cal Kapp; Chief, Martin Schmanke, Lee Ollendorf, Aaron Kendall, Chuck Boetcher, January 14 (C) James Wachholz; Chief, Martin Schmanke, Lee Ollendorf, Aaron Kendall, Chuck Boetcher, January 21 Dennis Wacholtz; Chief, Jim Eisermann, Corey Kaul, Jerre Duerr, Robin Smith January 28 (C) Jack Yates; Chief, Del Henke, Joe Zauner, Richard Freitag, Gerhardt Voigt

GREETERS TODAY Susan Brown & LuAnn Zieman

Attendance Emmanuel St. John’s
12-31 12-31 7pm 1-1 9am 1-3 27 20 46 95 5
SJ ALTAR COMMITTEE CONTACT JANUARY 2018 Diane Eisermann & Delores Cotte

 


 

Welcome To Our Visitors!

Please Sign Our Guest Register

Visit our website & Facebook link at: www.stjohnsmontello.org

Pastor Peter Zietlow Office (608) 297-2321

Cell & Text (608) 408-7830, E-mail: ZietlowPL6@hotmail.com

Principal Tim Hemling (608) 745-2549

Teacher Karin Stellick (920) 342-3689

Teacher Sara Borck (858) 731-7919

Teacher Sandra Hemling (608) 745-2776

Parish/School Secretary Ciara Neuhauser (608) 297-2866

Altar Ladies Elaine Kelm (920) 344-0025 &

Carolyn Rosenthal 589-5036

Mail to: 313 E Montello St, Montello, WI 53949

OR scsecretary@stjohnsmontello.org

Winnebago Lutheran Academy

Principal Mr. David Schroeder/WLA office (920) 921-4930

WLA website: www.wlavikings.org

Stay Focused – January 5, 2018

Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
1 Peter 1:13

Stay Focused


Daily Devotion – January 5, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:13

See series: Devotions

It is getting more difficult to be focused. Have you noticed this? Our modern world is filled with distractions. For example: You are in the middle of an important conversation with a friend when you hear a familiar bing from your phone. You know someone has sent you a text. Who sent it? What does it say? The curiosity is killing you. Suddenly, you are no longer listening to a thing your friend is saying. You have lost your focus.

When you lose your focus during a conversation with your friend, it can be embarrassing and frustrating for your friend. When you lose your focus spiritually, it is more than embarrassing. It is dangerous.

The devil knows this. It is why he works so doggedly to distract us. He wants us to take our eyes off the prize. He wants us to forget what is most important. And it doesn’t matter to him what he uses to distract us. If he can get us to lose our focus, he may eventually be able to get us to lose our faith. And then he will have us forever.

Do not let this happen! Do not lose your focus! That is what the apostle Peter seems to shout when he writes, “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.” In other words, stay focused! Remember what is important! In the end, only your relationship with Jesus matters. Do not let yourself be distracted!

Take Peter’s encouragement into this new year. Make Jesus your priority. And no matter what the devil uses to distract you…stay focused!

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, I know that nothing is more important than my relationship with you. But I also know how easily I am distracted. Grant me the strength and focus to keep this from happening this year, and every year, until you take me home to 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 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.

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A Prayer to Begin a New Year – January 4, 2018

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

A Prayer to Begin a New Year


Daily Devotion – January 4, 2018

Devotion based on Psalm 90:12

See series: Devotions

I remember my grandpa telling me, “The older you get, the faster the years pass by.” As a ten-year-old this was just one of those puzzling things that older people said that really didn’t make much sense. How could time go faster or slower? How could years speed up and slow down?

We’ve just entered a new year. Whether this is the 98th time you’ve changed calendars or just the 27th, you are one day closer to the end of your life here on earth. A couple of verses earlier, the writer of this psalm wrote, “The length of our days is seventy years—or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away (Psalm 90:10). Whether they knew it or not, the 70’s progressive rock band, Kansas, was simply summarizing a truth taught throughout Scripture when they sang, “All we are is dust in the wind.” We are here one moment and blown away with the breeze the next.

So, what does this mean for us? Is the point to simply make the most of every moment recognizing that our time is short? Should we just eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die? Or should we just despair over the ever-shortening length of time we have left? No, none of these are real solutions. Instead we can pray, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Numbering our days means acknowledging that our time is short. It means not pretending that we are immortal, and will somehow escape death. But God doesn’t encourage us to number our days, just so we are aware of how little time we have. He wants us to do this so that “we may gain a heart of wisdom.” He wants us to look away from ourselves to his compassion and mercy, because it is there we will find true wisdom. It is there we will find wisdom born in a manger in Bethlehem. In Jesus we find forgiveness, salvation, and new life. In him our lives are charged with meaning and purpose, no matter how short they may seem right now. This is a prayer to begin the New Year:

Prayer:
Dear Jesus, “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”—Psalm 90:12

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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Beware Easy Idols – January 3, 2018

“Gather together and come; assemble, you fugitives from the nations. Ignorant are those who carry about idols of wood, who pray to gods that cannot save. Declare what is to be, present it—let them take counsel together. Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the distant past? Was it not I, the LORD? And there is no God apart from me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none but me. Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”
Isaiah 45:20-22

Beware Easy Idols


Daily Devotion – January 3, 2018

Devotion based on Isaiah 45:20-22

See series: Devotions

Writing a devotion, the week before Christmas, on the topic of idols seems almost too easy. For weeks, ads of all kinds pushed our “idol buttons.” I succumbed early on to a larger TV, reasoning there was no need to wait to get what I wanted to use now. That is the danger of the materialism idol. You can pick up that idol right now. You don’t even have to leave your home to get it. “One-click shopping” and it is on its way.

In many ways, all idolatry is easy. Easy on the part of the idol, that is. The idol answers no prayers and saves no lives. The idol being nothing does nothing but head toward inevitable decay. It is “wood” as God’s Word declares.

By contrast, the true God does all the hard work for us. In idolatry, you give to your idol and your idol gives back nothing of lasting value. In Christianity, God gives to you and what he gives is hard, but lasts forever.

He gives righteousness and salvation. That is hard work. For example, try to be righteous for a day. Magnify that. Take on the task Jesus did. Thirty-three years of daily righteousness, lived out in a real world of temptation and sin, yet he was without sin, so that his righteousness could be credited to our account.

He also gives salvation, which is rescue from sin. Salvation required a sacrifice for sin, and this, too, Jesus did on our behalf. The depictions of Jesus’ death on the cross are devastating from the physical perspective. What we cannot fully comprehend is the spiritual anguish of separation from his Father.

There is no idol who will live and die for you as Jesus did. There are too many who live and die for their idols. Do not be among the ignorant. Instead heed the words of God: “Turn to me and be saved, all you ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other.”

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, in this New Year turn me repeatedly to you, to the righteousness and salvation of Jesus my Lord. Keep me from false idols and wasted worship. In Jesus’ name, I 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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Impartial – January 2, 2018

Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear.
1 Peter 1:17

Impartial


Daily Devotion – January 2, 2018

Devotion based on 1 Peter 1:17

See series: Devotions

Are you a “Christian-By-Association”? In other words, do you consider yourself a Christian because you can point to your familiarity with the trappings of Christianity? Perhaps you can rattle off happy memories of going to Sunday School or a Christian Day School. Perhaps you can recall what it was like to be in a children’s Christmas program on Christmas Eve. Perhaps your parents and grandparents were active in church life and you’ve inherited some family connections with various pastors and teachers.

If that’s all you’ve gotten out of your exposure to Christianity, however, you’ve got nothing.

God is impartial. It does not matter to God how active your parents or grandparents were at church. It does not matter to God how many songs you sang in Christmas Eve services of your childhood. It does not matter to God how many Christian pastors and teachers you know by name. If you or I think God will accept us because we’re familiar with some trappings of Christianity, then we are not hearing him. And a moment is coming when we’ll be in for a real shock.

What matters to God is our relationship with Jesus. What matters to God is our trust in Christ as our Savior from sin. What matters to God is the forgiveness we possess through faith in Jesus’ perfect life and death in our place. What matters to God is that my personal eyes of faith are fixed upon his Son.

No more pretending. Only Jesus. He alone makes all the difference in the world. Your world too.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, forgive me for all the times I have not focused on your Son. Wash me in his blood. Renew my zeal for the good news of salvation through 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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A Miracle in the Making – January 1, 2018

On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
Luke 2:25

A Miracle in the Making


Daily Devotion – January 1, 2018

Devotion based on Luke 2:25

See series: Devotions

It’s easy to assume a miracle must be something big. It has to be dramatic and out of the ordinary. So, it’s not surprising that Jesus’ circumcision could be easily overlooked. However, when I take a closer look at what Luke was recording, I see a miracle in the making.

In order to understand the miraculous nature of this simple account, I need to see how it fits in with the whole context of the Scriptures. Here I learn, “When the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).

When Jesus was circumcised, God set in motion the miracle which would result in my rescue. I was trapped under the curse of God’s law. No matter what I would do, I could not change the just condemnation I deserved. Yet, in his undeserved love God sent his Son into the world to undertake the dramatic work needed to change my status before God.

It was a miracle that Jesus, who is true God, was conceived and born of Mary. It was a miracle that Jesus was circumcised and placed under the obligation of God’s law. It was a miracle that Jesus received the name which declared, “he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). This miracle assures me I am innocent of all charges against me. This miracle declares I am child of God. This miracle proclaims I am an heir of eternal life and heaven.

While many may look for miracles to be something out of the ordinary, by faith I see God doesn’t always work that way. Often, he uses the simple, and even the ordinary, to accomplish his will. This is the wonder of Jesus’ circumcision. Certainly, it could be easily overlooked. Nonetheless, through faith, I see a miracle in the making—a miracle which results in my rescue.

Prayer:
O gracious God and Lord, open my eyes to see your all-surpassing power and your undeserved love, especially in the simple testimony you offer regarding your Son, my Savior Jesus Christ. 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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God will come to Our Rescue – December 31, 2017

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the Lord has done for us—yes the many good things he has done for the house of Israel, according to his compassion and many kindnesses. He said, “Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me”; and so he became their Savior. In all their distress he too was distressed, and the angel of his presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
Isaiah 63:7-9

God will come to Our Rescue


Daily Devotion – December 31, 2017

Devotion based on Isaiah 63:7-9

See series: Devotions

There is a story you can tell of the New Year before it even unfolds. You can tell it because it will be the same story as last year. It is a story that is old and never gets old at the same time. Out of the overflow of the heart, you must tell it.

There will be sin in your New Year. And even if it is the same old story, it is anything but “ho-hum.” Just like the children of Israel when they were in slavery in Egypt or wandering in the desert of Sinai or doing their own thing during the period of the Judges, you will cry, kick, scream and complain in the New Year. You will doubt God, blame him, maybe even shake your fist at him, or worse. You will challenge God, “Why the bondage in my life? Why the aimless wandering? Why the chaos?” You know you will. You did it last year. So one day into the New Year, and you are already hanging your head in shame. Same pathetic story.

But then there is the other part of your story that never gets old. Again, you can tell it even before it unfolds in the New Year. God will see your distress, your pain, your fear, your frustration, and he will come to your rescue. Even in spite of your sin, he will do this. He will because you are his people, and he is your Savior. He will free you from your bondage with his forgiveness. He will give your life meaning with his promise of paradise. He will carry you through the chaos with his enduring love. You know he will. He did it last year. It’s the only reason you survived.

Is there a kindness or goodness or compassion that compares to your God and Lord? Not when you realize that what God continues to do for you each and every year, he did in the flesh, born in a manger, crucified on a cross, for sins the world. Yes, you have to say, “It never gets old.”

Prayer:
Dear Lord, I praise you for your compassion and kindnesses to me. In Jesus’ name. 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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Our All-knowing God – December 30, 2017

When the Magi had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.” So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”
Matthew 2:13-15

Our All-knowing God


Daily Devotion – December 30, 2017

Devotion based on Matthew 2:13-15

See series: Devotions

It’s usually not a good thing to be called a “know-it-all!” That probably means that you are a little too eager to share your wisdom. It probably means that you are coming off to others as a show-off. You might be rubbing people the wrong way. They might think you are trying to get others to notice just how smart you are!

Our God is a know-it-all! And that’s not being a “smart-aleck.” He really does know it all! He created our earth and all that is in it. He knit each person together in their mother’s womb. He knows everything about everyone. He is our all-knowing God.

But that can be a scary thought, too. God not only sees my actions, but he knows my thoughts and attitudes, too. That means that God knows the evil thought that I had about my neighbor yesterday. That means that God saw the lustful way I looked at that woman who wasn’t my wife. He heard the complaint I issued under my breath. He knows my sins, even the ones that I’ve kept secret from others. He even knows the sins that I don’t even know.

But he knows how to forgive my sins, too. He knows how to make right what I have wronged. He sent his Son Jesus to be my Savior. He sent him on every step in his life for you and for me. He sent him to Bethlehem’s manger, to a safe house in Egypt, to a cross outside Jerusalem—for us. He walked the perfect life and died an innocent death for you and for me and for the world.

And God, who knew how to keep his precious Son safe from danger, knows how to keep you, his sons and daughters through faith, safe from danger, too. He knows how to deliver us from evil. The proof is found in the baby that came with Mary and Joseph back from Egypt. So surely will God keep us safe as we journey through this life, until we reach our final destination—eternal life with Jesus in heaven. God who kept Jesus safe in life, through death, to his resurrection and ascension, promises the same for us. He will keep us safe in life, through death, to our own resurrection and ascension. There, with new and glorified bodies he will welcome us to eternal life at Jesus’ side in heaven.

Prayer:
Lord God, thank you for your wisdom and guidance in my life, thank you for sending me your Son, for keeping him safe, and for accepting his payment for my sins. Guard and guide me through this life, until I rest at your side in heaven. 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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