It Is the Gift of God:

Celebrate Reformation Sunday 500 Years After the Diet at Worms

October 30, 2021

4:30 p.m. St. John’s

October 31, 2021

8 a.m. Emmanuel

10 a.m. St. John’s

Pastor Peter Zietlow

Pastor’s Greeting:  On April 18, 1521, Martin Luther stood to answer the questions put to him by the Roman church inquisitor Johann Eck, the secretary to the Archbishop of Trier.  He had received the papal decree earlier that demanded he recant his teaching or be excommunicated.  He had refused and Pope Leo declared him a heretic.  He was officially excommunicated ten days before the Diet, which was a formal assembly of churchmen, began.  After Luther’s opening statement, Eck told him all matters had long been settled by church councils; he was only to answer the question:  do you recant or not?  Luther’s answer: “Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason (for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often erred and contradicted themselves), I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted, and my conscience is captive to the Word of God.  I cannot, and I will not retract anything since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience.  Here I stand; I cannot do otherwise; God help me!  Amen”

Congregation Hymn sung to the tune of CW 477 “What Is the World to Me”; 3 verses with new lyrics by Arden W. Mead interspersed with liturgy from Psalm 103 spoken responsively by Pastor and congregation:

By grace we have been saved, by God’s abundant favor.It is the gift of God through faith in Christ, our Savior.
  No merit may we claim, no effort of our own;
             It is the gift of God through faith in Christ alone. 

P With all my heart I praise the Lord, and with all that I am I praise his holy name!

C With all my heart I praise the Lord! I will never forget how kind he has been.

P The Lord forgives our sins, heals us when we are sick, and protects us from death.

C His kindness and love are a crown on our heads.

P Each day that we live, he provides for our needs.

C He gives us the strength of a young eagle.

P How great is God’s love for all who worship him?

C Greater than the distance between heaven and earth!

P How far has the Lord taken our sins from us?

C Farther than the distance from east to west!

When we were dead in sin, God sent his Son to save us.
  It is the gift of God that life eternal gave us.
             By God’s abundant grace we with the Lord are raised.
   It is the gift of God, whose name fore’er be praised.

P The Lord is always kind to those who worship him,

C and he keeps his promises to their descendants who faithfully obey him.

P God has set up his kingdom in heaven, and he rules the whole creation.

C Let all of God’s creation and all that he rules come and praise the Lord.

P With all my heart I praise the Lord.

We are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus.
          It is the gift of God that thus his mercy frees us
                   To live in holiness the life that God desires.
                      It is the gift of God that such good works inspires.

Prayer of the Day 

Your Word tells us, Lord, that it is by grace we are saved, not by works, and that it is a gift from God, lest anyone should boast. Let us bask in the blessing of this true gift from you of our salvation from sin, death and the devil, not because of anything we have done but because of what your Son did for us on the cross by dying in our stead for our transgressions and rising to life three days later that we might live a new life in heaven with you. May this miraculous message, uncovered again during the Reformation, which we celebrate this day, be our guiding light and our bold claim in how we live our lives for you. Amen.

Choir:  This Is My Word Text based on Isaiah 55:10-12; words and music by Pepper Choplin

The First Lesson  Isaiah 55:1-11

 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples. Surely you will summon nations you know not, and nations you do not know will come running to you, because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has endowed you with splendor.  Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near.  Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.  ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.  ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.  As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,  so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.’”

Psalm 46  The Reformation Psalm is sung by the congregation to the tune of CW 441 “O God, Our Help in Ages Past” with words as follows:

God is our Refuge and our Strength, our Helper ever near.
 The Lord of hosts is on our side to shelter us from fear.

Though mountains fall and storms arise and fearful tempests blow,
Our God is with us, and he leads where peaceful waters flow.

God’s steadfast help will surely come as certain as the dawn.
The Lord of hosts is on our side, so let all fear be gone!

The trembling nations hear his voice, their awesome Sov’reign own:
“Be still, and know that I am God, and I will reign alone!”

Come and behold what God has done: as adversaries yield,
He breaks the bow and snaps the spear and burns with fire the shield.

O God our Refuge, God our Strength, accept the praise we bring
For mercy shown by grace alone through Christ, our Savior-King!

The Second Lesson, Ephesians 2:1-10  (Sermon Text)

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.  All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

The Alleluia verse is sung by the congregation to the tune of CW 322, “On What Has Now Been Sown”:

It is God’s gift alone that we to Christ belong,
                             Who claims us as his own and will our whole life long.
 Alleluia! By faith alone God’s gift we own. Alleluia!

Rise for The Gospel, John 17:1-10 

 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you.  For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.  Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.  I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.  And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.  I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word.  Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you.  For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me.  I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours.  All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them.

Congregational Hymn, CW Supplement 756, “We Walk by Faith and Not by Sight,”  5 verses

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.

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!”

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.

For you, O resurrected Lord,                                               Are found in means divine:                                           Beneath the water and the Word,                                    Beneath the bread and wine.

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.

The Sermon:  Ephesians 2:1-10  “By Grace You Are Saved” Grace that’s 1.Needed (vv 1-3)  2.Offered (vv 4-7)  3.Reflected (vv 8-10)

Rise for the Creedal Hymn sung by the congregation to the tune of CW 256, “How Great Thou Art”

We all believe in God, almighty Father
who shattered chaos, said, “Let there be light!”
Sun, moon and stars show forth his praise together,
All things on earth his wisdom and his might.
God loved the world so much he freely gave his only Son the lost to save.
God loves each child; by faith we understand it is God’s gift—a Father’s hand.

We all believe in God’s true Son, Christ Jesus,
Born of a virgin, for us crucified.
His holy death and resurrection frees us
To rise from sin, and in his grace abide.
Ascended to his throne in heav’n on high with saving love he still is nigh.
He will return as Shepherd, Judge and King. He is God’s gift—his praise we sing!

And we give thanks for God the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son,
By whose blest inspiration we inherit the benefits of all that Christ has done.
The holy Church is gathered ’round the Word where God’s good news in faith is heard.
Forgiven and forgiving, we shall rise to claim God’s gift of Paradise.

Piano Interlude  Keira Breiwa playing “Lord Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word” and Molly Utke playing “A Mighty Fortress is Our God”

Prayers based on Martin Luther’s Small Catechism Creed spoken responsively by Pastor and congregation:

P O God the Father Almighty, we offer our thanks for richly and daily providing us with all that we need to support the bodies you have given us and the lives we are privileged to live. 

C Make us truly grateful for your gifts of goods and clothing, house and home, spouse and children, property, and all that we call ours—that we may regard them as your blessings and dedicate them to your service.

P O Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from eternity, for us and for our salvation you became true man. 

C It is your gift alone that purchased and won us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil—not with gold or silver, but with your holy, precious blood and your innocent suffering and death. Keep us firm in that saving faith.            

P O Holy Spirit, we acknowledge all the gifts of God today only because you have called us by the Gospel, enlightened us with your gifts, sanctified and kept us in the true faith.  Continue to inspire us in all these ways, we pray, that the things we do may show forth your glory.

C By your Word and sacraments, you have united us with the whole Christian Church on earth. Continue to call, gather, enlighten, and sanctify more believers, and keep them with Jesus Christ in the one true faith.    Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Benediction  It is the gift of God that he has blessed us and keeps us.  The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious unto you.  The Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  Amen.

The Closing Hymn, CW 201, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” 4 verses

A mighty fortress is our God, A trusty shield and weapon;

He helps us free from ev’ry need That has us now o’ertaken.

The old evil foe Now means deadly woe;

Deep guile and great might Are his dread arms in fight;

On earth is not his equal.

With might of ours can naught be done; Soon were our loss effected. But for us fights the valiant one Whom God himself elected.  You ask, “Who is this?” Jesus Christ it is,

The almighty Lord. And there’s no other God;

He holds the field forever.

Though devils all the world should fill, All eager to devour us,

We tremble not, we fear no ill; They shall not overpow’r us.

This world’s prince may still Scowl fierce as he will,

He can harm us none. He’s judged; the deed is done!

One little word can fell him.

The Word they still shall let remain, Nor any thanks have for it;

He’s by our side upon the plain With his good gifts and Spirit.

And do what they will—Hate, steal, hurt, or kill—

Though all may be gone, Our victory is won;

The kingdom’s ours forever!

Text: Martin Luther, 1483–1546; tr. composite.


October 31 — November 6

Sun.8:00a.m.Emmanuel Worship 
8:30a.m.Sunday School at St. John’s
9:00a.m.Adult Bible Study at St. John’s
10:00a.m.St. John’s Worship 
Mon.3:30p.m.A Team Basketball starts in Princeton
3:30p.m.Cheerleading practice starts in Montello
3:30p.m.Hand In Prayer meeting at St. John’s
6:30p.m.Joint Choir at St. John’s
7:30p.m.Adult Bible Study at St. John’s
Tues.8:00a.m.School Chapel
9:00a.m.Joint Elders meeting at St. John’s
3:30p.m.C Team Basketball practice starts in Princeton
6:30p.m.Joint Worship meeting at St. John’s
Wed.10:30a.m.Adult Bible Study
1:45p.m.Early School Release
2:15p.m.Public Teen Confirmation Class at St. John’s
2:30p.m.St. John’s Faculty Bible Study
6:30p.m.Evangelism meeting at St. John’s
Thurs.8:00a,m.St. John’s Teen Confirmation class
12:00p.m.Ladies Aid  dessert & meeting
3:30p.m.A Team Basketball practice in Princeton
3:30p.m.C Team Basketball practice in Montello
6:00p.m.Griefshare at St. John’s
Sat.4:30p.m.St. John’s Worship 
Next week’s theme: November 7, 2021End Times 2: Last Judgement
Day Light Savings Time
8:00 a.m.Emmanuel Worship 
8:30a.m.Sunday School at St. John’s
9:00a.m.Adult Bible Study at St. John’s
9:00a.m.Emmanuel Council meeting
10:00a.m.St. John’s Worship 



– For the sick and distressed: Caryl Bassett, Mike Brown, Ed Buchholz, Darlene Burrough (Judy Fandrey’s niece), Sharon Crook, Jan Dahlke, Don Ebert, Reinold Eckelberg, Ken & Sally Elmer, Mike Farrell, Donna Gatzke, Kelleen Grucza (Judy Fandrey’s daughter), Carol Hamberger, Marian Heller, Louise Hillmer, Roger Hillmer, Jerry & Darlene Hunter (Bonnie Chapman’s parents), Xzander Jahr, Ellie Kendall, Bob Klapper, Arden Klimke, Robert Lederer (Jackie & Jeanne Buchholz’ father), Thomas Marcelain (Dawn’s son), Phil Nelson (Melanie Zuehls’ step-father), Karen Radke, Wanda Sellnow (Principal Larry Sellnow’s mother), Doris Smith, Mary Smith, Tom Stempniak (Carol’s husband), Dennis & Ramona Wacholtz, Kathy Weinfurter (Ken Pabelick’s mother-in-law) (added this week: )

– For the family of our St. John’s member Elsa Russell, called to her Savior’s side in heaven on Thursday 10/28

– Election Day (11/2)

SAVE THE DATE Our next Ladies Aid meeting is Thursday, Nov. 4 at 12:45p.m. This will be a dessert only (no lunch) meeting. See you there!

SAVE THE DATE Sunday, Nov. 14 at 11a.m. St. John’s Teacher Call Voters meeting. 

HANDS IN PRAYER The Hands In Prayer Group from Emmanuel and St. John’s church members want to invite anyone that would like to join us at our next meeting. At this meeting you will learn a little more about what we enjoy doing for our two churches and the community. We would love to have you join our Christian group.  This meeting will be held on November 1st at 3:30 PM in the church basement of St. John’s.  No crafting skills are needed.  Our meetings are based on Hebrews 10:24 & 25 – “Let’s us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let encourage one another – all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

JOINT REFORMATION SERVICE After a year’s hiatus, The WLA Association Joint Reformation Service will be on TODAY, October 31st, at 3:00 p.m., at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 1600 South Main Street, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.   The WLA Traveling Choir will be bringing God’s Word to us in song under the direction of Mr. Dale Witte, who will also serve as organist.  Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary’s Dean of Chapel, Rev. Aaron Christie, will be our guest preacher.  The presiding minister will be St. Peter’s new pastor, Rev. Luke Boehringer.  We pray you will come and praise God for allowing our congregations to build on the three pillars of the Lutheran Reformation—that we are saved:  Sola Gratia (by Grace Alone),  Sola Fide (by Faith Alone), and Sola Scriptura (by Scripture Alone).

WLA CAPITAL CAMPAIGN  Thank you from Winnebago Lutheran Academy for having us visit your church services recently.  It was a privilege to share with you some WLA Association news along with our plans to build a new high school campus.  Please contact Kevin Ehlke with any questions you may have at 920-539-4041 or kehlke@wlavikings.org. If you would like to give in support of our current capital campaign, please use the brochures provided at your church or go to our website forward.wlavikings.org/donate.  Gifts can be mailed to WLA or given online at our website.  Thank you for your continued support of WLA!

MISSION FESTIVAL COMING TO EMMANUEL & ST. JOHN’S on Sunday, November 21.  Guest speaker during worship services will be Mr. Shannon Bohme, coordinator of WELS Mission Journeys, which provides an opportunity for all WELS members to walk together in the Great Commission. Through church- or school-based volunteer trips to WELS mission fields at home and abroad, members have the opportunity to engage in Christian service.  Pre-trip training led by a team leader equips volunteers to have significant impact during their trip, which are self-funded by the team. While volunteering, the learning and sharing of outreach ideas will allow teams to explore how they can use their God-given abilities to engage in outreach activities in their home congregation upon their return home. With the Lord’s blessing, these trips will inspire a lifelong journey of service and outreach for all who volunteer.

   Following the 10 a.m. service at St. John’s, all are invited to a lunch (Freewill Offering will be taken) in the lower level.  Please plan to stay for a short afternoon presentation by Mr. Bohme. He will highlight what is happening in home missions and discuss where we want to go as a synod with 100 new church plants in 10 years starting in 2023!  That’s exciting mission work!

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY:  COLLECTING BOOKS FOR TOTS  FINAL CALL!! During October congregational members are invited to donate new or gently used storybooks for ages 1-5 for Smart Start Day Care, Inc. in Montello.  Board books would be especially welcome.  St. John’s Sunday School children are sponsoring this community service project.  They are learning to “shine for Jesus in their community.”  Will you help us?  A collection box is located in the linkway.

GIFTS FOR SPECIAL PROJECTS Please consider making a gift towards the following church or school projects.  Your gift, to the project of your choice, will be recorded under your member account in our Shepherd’s Staff program unless you specifically request it be recorded as anonymous.  Donor names and gift amounts are not published.  Your gift can be placed in the offering plate, the locked drop box by the office, or mailed.  Please contact the church/school secretary, Ciara Neuhauser, if you have any questions.  

Project Name & Brief Description                                 Amount Needed   

Church & School Computer Server Upgrade                              $7,851.64

(costs for replacing server)                                                

House Demolition               $9,500.00

(costs related to tear down of old Little Lambs house)                                                   

Church Piano                                                                               $6,000.00

Church A/V Upgrades                                                                    $2,996.29

School Athletic Fund   $1,000.00

(jerseys, equipment, tournament fees)               

Ministerial Tuition Assistance                       –                     No limit in place

(assistance for members pursuing the ministry)                     

Outreach Activities                                                              No limit in place

(church and/or school outreach supplies, fees)                                                         

St. John’s School Tuition Assistance 

(assistance for parents of students)                     No limit in place

School Technology Fund                                                    No limit in place

(maintain teacher and student computers, smartboards)                     A picture containing text

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TRUNK OR TREAT Thank you to everyone who attended this year’s Trunk or Treat. What a great turn out it was! Be sure to check out our school Facebook page for pictures. A big thank you to everyone who volunteered their time to make this event happen. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13 We hope this can continue to grow so we can continue to support those around us with God’s word and some fall fun…so spread the word for next year! 

BASKETBALL & CHEERLEADING Starts this week! A Team practice is Monday, Nov. 1 at 3:30pm in Princeton gym and Cheer practice is at 3:30pm in Montello gym. Player families: please refer to our Facebook groups for more information. Go Jaguars!

AttendanceEmmanuelSt. John’s
St. John’s Altar Committee for October 2021:Kathy North & Lucy Laun
St. John's Evangelical

Do it for Love – October 31, 2021

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
Galatians 5:6

Do it for Love

Daily Devotion – October 31, 2021

Devotion based on Galatians 5:6

See series: Devotions

Lutheran Christians celebrate a Reformation that happened over 500 years ago. Today is the 504th anniversary of the Reformation. Lutheran Christians remembered how God used a man named Martin Luther to reform the Church.

Perhaps you are wondering, “Why celebrate something that took place so long ago?” Good question.

The Reformation answers this big question, “How do I become right with a holy God?”

We can’t do it on our own. You and I inherited the sinful condition of our parents. Each day, we sin against God and fall miserably short of living the perfect life that God demands of us. Because we are sinners, we deserve to spend our eternity apart from God and his blessings. And nothing can change that! I can try to be a better Christian. I can try to be more loving and kind to my family and other people. But doing many good things won’t help anyone’s relationship with God.

God’s Son, Jesus, is the answer. God sent Jesus to save us. Jesus lived the perfect life that we failed to live. He died on the cross to fully pay for everyone’s sins. And he rose from the dead on Easter so that we can be sure that we have a right relationship with God.

The only thing that counts is Jesus and embracing him by faith. Through the good news about our Savior, the Holy Spirit works saving faith in our hearts. And faith will show itself! Faith is alive and active in the Christian’s heart.

A mother asked her seven-year-old daughter to wash the dishes after supper. The mother gave Samantha a dollar bill when the job was finished. Later that evening, the mother found the bill, along with a note, on the dresser in the bedroom. Samantha’s note read, “Dear Mommy, I did it for love.”

Why do we do good works? Not to get something from God. God has given us everything in Jesus. No, like Samantha, we “do it for love” too!

Thank you, Jesus, for doing everything necessary to save me from my sin. Use that good news to motivate me to serve you and the people you bring into my life. Amen.

Daily Devotions are brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com.
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. ™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
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The Struggle – October 30, 2021

[Jesus said] “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out. . . . And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life crippled than to have two feet and be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.”
Mark 9:43,45-47

The Struggle

Daily Devotion – October 30, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 9:43,45-47

See series: Devotions

Does today’s Bible passage seem like strange words from Jesus’ lips and make you raise your eyebrows a bit? Am I really supposed to mutilate my body so I don’t end up in hell?

No. Jesus hasn’t lost his mind. And no, you are not to start cutting off body parts.

But Jesus does want you to understand that there is a part of you that would like nothing more than to spend forever apart from him, suffering in a place of pain, loneliness, and death. This ugly part of you is called your sinful nature. You were born with it. You received it from your parents. It’s the part of you that is bad to the bone—totally selfish, utterly hateful, and completely opposed to God’s will for you.

Fight against the desires of your sinful flesh every moment of every day! Say “no” to all that is sinful and “yes” to all that is pleasing to God. For spiritual strength, work out and exercise each day with God’s Word and prayer. Attend a worship service each week to “pump up” your new self (the part of you that loves God, trusts him, and wants to do his will). When you give in to your sinful nature and sin, don’t despair. Take your sin to Jesus and confess it. Stand beneath his cross and see him on it for you, wounded, bleeding, and dying to pay the full price for your sins.

Restored and forgiven by Jesus, continue with confidence the struggle that is your life. It won’t be easy on this side of heaven. But in Jesus, you will win eternally!

Jesus, help me in my daily struggle against my sinful nature. When I fail, forgive me. Give me strength to overcome temptation and live a life that pleases you. Amen.

Daily 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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Upside Down Glory – October 29, 2021

[Jesus said] “Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Mark 10:43-45

Upside Down Glory

Daily Devotion – October 29, 2021

Devotion based on Mark 10:43-45

See series: Devotions

Martin Luther King Jr. once observed, “We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction. This quest for recognition is the basic impulse of human life. Our first cry as a baby was a bid for attention. Children are a little bundle of ego. Now in adult life, we still have it, and we really never get by it.” (The Drum Major Instinct, 4 February 1968)

But Jesus tells us, “That is not the way it is to be among you.” Instead, we are to put others before ourselves—just like Jesus did.

Jesus is true God, but he didn’t hang on to living like God. He came to serve. He came to save. It took him to the depths of hell. He walked through the jaws of death. He was humbled to the point of death for one reason: he loved us. He wanted to set free all who have sinned, suffered, been separated from the love of God. And, by rising from the dead, he became the source of eternal salvation and the promise of a new world for everyone who believes in him.

You might feel like a speck of sand on the shore, a nameless face in a sea of people, vapor in the wind. You are, in fact, great to God. In Jesus, you have all the rights of sons. You have a place in his family, a piece of his future, and a purpose for your present.

You are free to serve your neighbor. You are free to love your neighbor. And there’s great glory in that. They get to see Jesus in you.

Lord Jesus, like you, help me not so much seek to be served as to serve. For it is in serving that you are glorified. Amen.

Daily 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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Something for Something – October 28, 2021

Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. . . I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel.
1 Corinthians 9:19,22,23

Something for Something

Daily Devotion – October 28, 2021

Devotion based on 1 Corinthians 9:19,22,23

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Quid pro quo.

That’s Latin for “something for something.” If I give you something, I expect you to give me something fair in return. If I work for a company, I deserve to get paid a fair wage. It’s my right.

And that’s all fine and good, as long as we remember that it goes both ways. If I put in the work, I deserve fair wages. But if I don’t put in the work, I deserve to be fired.

But God works a strange economy. He doesn’t give us what we deserve. He gives us what we don’t deserve. For our sins of crossing the line with God or not measuring up to his standards, we deserve to be punished. Instead, God, who is rich in mercy, gave us his Son.

Jesus had equal status with God because he is God. But he wasn’t so full of pride that he had to hold on to that status. No! He set aside his divine privileges and enslaved himself to his Father’s will so that he might save us. In perfect obedience to his Father, Jesus lived a selfless life and died a selfless death. And as a result, we are free from sin’s curse and Satan’s accusations.

Now, we are free to be all things to all people. For the sake of other people’s souls, I don’t have to insist on my way or my rights. I can meet people where they are at. I can listen to their point of view and try to understand. Then, I can point them to Jesus so they might share in the freedom that comes from his forgiveness.

Lord Jesus, teach me true humility, so that I help rather than hinder the cause of your Gospel. Amen.

Daily 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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Strive for Rest – October 27, 2021

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest.
Hebrews 4:9-11

Strive for Rest

Daily Devotion – October 27, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 4:9-11

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The soldiers, rough and run down, file out of the truck. Their clothes are ragged. Their bodies are stiff and sore. For months, they fought hard and slept little. To say that these soldiers are tired would be an understatement. They have been on the battlefront too long.

As they line up, the commanding officer reminds them why they are here. They must use this time wisely. They have only one responsibility: rest and recuperate. It will take a few days for their bodies to respond, but gradually their energy will return as they find rest.

Is your soul tired? Are you worn down by your battle against your spiritual enemies–the devil and your own sinful flesh? Are you exhausted from trying to live up to God’s standard only to realize day after day that you fail?

Let God’s promise in today’s Bible reading comfort you. It promises that it is not our efforts that make us worthy to be with God. Jesus has already done that work. He carefully carried out his Father’s orders in everything. You don’t have to sweat or strain to soften God’s anger or try to win his love. Jesus has dismissed you from that wearying and worrying work.

So, you can rest. You can rest in him.

Dear Jesus, when I am weary, help me find rest in you. Amen.

Daily 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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Arrogant Pride – October 26, 2021

After Uzziah became powerful, his pride led to his downfall. He was unfaithful to the LORD his God, and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense.
2 Chronicles 26:16

Arrogant Pride

Daily Devotion – October 26, 2021

Devotion based on 2 Chronicles 26:16

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What were you doing at the age of sixteen?

For most of us, our teenage years were typical. Our time was consumed with dating, school, sports, and getting our driver’s license. Uzziah didn’t have a typical teenage experience. By the time he was sixteen, Uzziah was ruling the nation of Judah.

Uzziah was a great king. But the legacy he left behind is that arrogant pride will result in personal ruin. His name means the Lord is my strength and early in his reign Uzziah lived up to that name. He followed God faithfully. He lived in humble obedience before the Lord. As long as he did, God gave him tremendous success. Uzziah became the greatest ruler since Solomon.

Unfortunately, greatness went to Uzziah’s head. He forgot that the Lord’s hand, not his own, had achieved these great things. In arrogant pride, Uzziah forgot his place, strutted into the temple, and took over. The priests tried to stop him. Uzziah lost his temper. God struck him with a skin disease that stuck with him. He had to live out the rest of his reign in quarantine.

Uzziah serves as a reminder for all of us: In all things, give God glory. He is the source of all our successes. His hand, not ours, accomplishes great things for us. We would have nothing if God did not give it to us.

But even when pride goes to our head, and we fall flat, God remains faithful in his goodness. He lifts our eyes so we can see Jesus, who lived in perfect humility before God, as our substitute. And although he was without sin, God inflicted him and caused him to suffer the guilt of our arrogant pride.

So, whether it is success we have in this life or our hope of eternal life in heaven, we owe it all to God. May this reality keep us thankfully humble.

Lord Jesus, make me mindful that all I have is a gift from you. Amen.

Daily 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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Our Great Redeemer – October 25, 2021

Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin . . . the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand . . . By his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many . . . Therefore I will give him a portion among the great.
Isaiah 53:10-12

Our Great Redeemer

Daily Devotion – October 25, 2021

Devotion based on Isaiah 53:10-12

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You are a hardened criminal. For as long as you can remember, you have been in trouble with the law. When the authorities finally apprehend you, they charge you with society’s worst imaginable crimes and drag you to court.

You stand with your court-appointed attorney in front of the judge. Over the next twelve hours, the prosecution presents witness after witness and produces evidence after evidence. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, you are guilty. The judge sentences you to 10 consecutive life sentences with no possibility of parole.

Just as the judge is about to close the case, your attorney speaks up. “Your honor,” he says, “I am willing to take responsibility for this person’s crimes. I will assume his guilt. I will accept the consequences. I will satisfy the sentence.”

“Very well,” the judge responds. “I will allow it. The accused is free to go.”

You can’t believe your ears. This is great!

As great as this news would be, the good news of what Jesus has done for us is even greater.

We fall short of God’s approval. He has his limits, and we continually cross the line. He has his demands, and we keep missing the mark. There is no such thing as a misdemeanor in God’s courtroom. If we break one law, we are guilty of breaking them all. It’s a death sentence—hell without parole.

But Jesus is our God-appointed attorney. And since he could not argue our innocence, he stepped in and assumed our guilt. When he went to the cross, he suffered our punishment. With his dying breath, Jesus satisfied God’s sentence against us. By raising Jesus from the dead, God drives away all doubt for the sake of Jesus; we are forgiven. We are free!

Isn’t Jesus great?

Dearest Jesus, thank you for being my great Redeemer, for suffering my sentence and setting me free. Amen.

Daily 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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Perfection – October 24, 2021

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house.
Hebrews 3:1,2


Daily Devotion – October 24, 2021

Devotion based on Hebrews 3:1,2

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In the 1986 fighter pilot movie “Top Gun,” the theme was the need to be perfect. The fighter pilots often heard the phrase “there are no points for second place.” That meant as a fighter pilot you needed to be perfect because anything less meant that you would likely die in an encounter with the enemy.

We live in a very competitive world. People strive to be the best they can be. But how good do we have to be for God to accept us? How can we reach the level of perfection that God demands?

The truth is that if we try to be perfect before God, we’re always going to fail. It is the hard cold reality of sin. God demands that we be perfect. Yet just one wrong deed or a single bad thought causes us to fail.

But there is hope in Jesus! “He was faithful to the one who appointed him.” God appointed his eternal Son, Jesus, to be the world’s Savior. Jesus accepted that mission and accomplished it. He left heaven and lived a perfect life here on earth. Yes, he never sinned once. That’s important because God, in his love for us, credits Jesus’ perfection to us. Jesus was also faithful to his heavenly Father by submitting himself to death. He didn’t deserve to die because he was perfect, but he died because we are not. God laid the guilt of all our imperfections—our sins—on Jesus for which he paid the penalty of death in our place.

By faith in our faithful Savior, we will stand before God with the assurance of a blessed eternity in heaven!

Thank you, Jesus, for being faithful to your Father and saving me from my sins. Keep my eyes fixed on you and the hope of eternal life you provide. Amen.

Daily 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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Peace in Our Hearts – October 23, 2021

We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Romans 5:1

Peace in Our Hearts

Daily Devotion – October 23, 2021

Devotion based on Romans 5:1

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Do you know the story of the little boy who loved the Lord Jesus with all his heart? The boy had a very serious heart problem, so serious that the surgeon found it necessary to operate on his heart. The surgeon told the boy, “Tomorrow morning, I will open up your heart….” “You will find Jesus there,” the little boy interrupted. Being a bit annoyed, the surgeon took the boy by the hand and explained, “I will cut your heart open. I have to see how much damage has been done…” “But when you open up my heart, you will find Jesus in there,” the little boy said again.

The next day following the surgery, the surgeon recorded the notes “…damaged aorta, damaged pulmonary vein, muscle degeneration. No hope for transplant or a cure.” Tears flowed from his eyes as he recalled the faith in this little boy’s heart. When he awoke from the surgery, he whispered to the surgeon, “Did you cut open my heart?” “Yes,” said the surgeon. “What did you find?” asked the boy. “I found Jesus there,” said the surgeon.

In this story a well-educated and learned surgeon learned from a child. He learned what it meant to have child-like faith and to believe in Jesus so that even in the face of death, we need not worry but be at peace and have the confident hope that we will be with him in heaven. All this is because Jesus suffered, died, and rose again to pay for all of our sins.

Lord Jesus, give me a child-like faith, a faith that does not doubt or question what God’s plans are for me, but a faith which trusts his precious promises for my physical and eternal well-being. Amen.

Daily 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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