St. Johns News

No Confusion – July 13, 2024

“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Mark 6:3

No Confusion

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Daily Devotion – July 13, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 6:3


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Many people today are confused about Jesus. Was he only a great man or really God? Did he have a family? Can we know anything about him for sure, with so many legends floating around?

If you’re confused, you have good company. The neighbors who watched Jesus grow up and the kids who played with him were confused. Was Jesus really a miracle worker? How could he be? He was just an ordinary man. Where did he get off claiming miracles? They were confused and offended by his claims.

Jesus wasn’t confused about who he was. He was the son of Mary. He was also the Son of God—not in a metaphysical or allegorical sense, but in a real, true sense. Jesus was man and God. The Bible makes this very clear.

Jesus wasn’t confused about what he came to do. He came specifically to live in our place and die in our place. He came to provide forgiveness of sins for all people—whether they accepted him or not, whether they recognized their sins or not. He had come to save the human race.

He included you in his plans. He is your God. He became a human being to live and die for you. God accepts you because of Jesus. One day, you will get to meet Jesus face-to-face. There won’t be any confusion. You’ll be looking at your God, who gave his life for you!

Prayer:
Jesus, don’t let me fall for any untruths that try to make me believe you’re only a human being or that your life is just a myth. While your free forgiveness sounds too good to be true, strengthen my faith to know it is reality until I can see you with my own eyes! 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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Willing to Endure – July 12, 2024

Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
2 Timothy 2:10

Willing to Endure

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Daily Devotion – July 12, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:10


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What would you be willing to endure if you knew, without a doubt, that you could change one person’s eternal fate? What comforts would you give up? What sacrifices would you make in order to make sure that person’s soul ends up in heaven with God?

God knows who the elect are. In other words, he knows those who will have faith in him and be in heaven one day. We can’t see people’s hearts. We’re not in charge of the results of what happens when we proclaim God’s Word to people. The Holy Spirit is in charge of those results. But we can be active and faithful in pointing people to God’s Word and the message of Christ.

Like Paul, we might face adversity or pushback to our message. It might not be comfortable to speak about our faith. We likely won’t get thrown in prison. But we may find that this world is still just as hostile to the Word of God as it was in Paul’s day. We may have to endure some hardships if we’re going to be disciples of Jesus.

Yet, Paul was willing to endure it all. If reaching someone with the salvation that is in Christ Jesus meant having to go through pain and discomfort in his own life, he considered that worth it. The other person’s eternal gain outweighed his temporary personal pain. Paul’s rock he could lean on to endure the hardships was knowing that he’d already obtained the eternal glory that is in Christ. No matter what happened to him, he was already a victor. He’d already won his race before actually crossing the finish line.

As a believer, you also already know the end of your story. Your eternal fate is sealed with the blood of Jesus shed for you on the cross. His empty tomb will become yours. So, let’s endure whatever we need to in order to make that end of the story a reality for others, too. Let’s run across the finish line into heaven with as many others as possible!

Prayer:
Dear gracious Lord, help me endure suffering and hardship on behalf of you and your gospel. Use me to bring your saving word to all. 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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God’s Word Unchained – July 11, 2024

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.
2 Timothy 2:8,9

God’s Word Unchained

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Daily Devotion – July 11, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:8,9


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Joseph. Samson. Jeremiah. John the Baptist. Peter and John. Paul and Silas. What do all these figures from the Bible have in common?

Answer: they were all imprisoned at some point. This seems to be a recurring theme in the Bible. God’s people keep ending up behind bars, chained up. By the time the apostle Paul wrote this letter, he’d been in prison numerous times. But Paul isn’t worried about his chains. Yes, the gospel message of Jesus’ resurrection had put him in chains. But the gospel freedom he had in Christ was greater than his chains. Paul knew that even though he was chained up, God’s Word was not chained. And it never would be.

Followers of Christ can be imprisoned and chained up. But God’s gracious promises can’t be snuffed out or chained up. His Word will never pass away. In fact, God’s Word has always tended to spread even faster when his followers were persecuted.

Imprisonment of God’s people may be a recurring theme in the Bible but so is the theme of freeing the captives. Jesus spoke these words from Isaiah chapter 61 in Nazareth, “the Lord has anointed me…to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.” Freeing prisoners and breaking chains are the Savior’s specialty. It’s what he came for. The world will never be able to chain up his Word of the gospel.

So, no matter what you’re facing right now or what situations leave you feeling imprisoned by sin or despair; remember that God’s Word is not chained. And the gospel of Jesus has the power to break you free of your chains too.

Prayer:
Chain-breaking Lord, I thank for proclaiming freedom for me and releasing me from the dungeon of darkness and sin by your Word of grace. 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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A Pastor’s Death Row Wish – July 10, 2024

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal.
2 Timothy 2:8,9

A Pastor’s Death Row Wish

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Daily Devotion – July 10, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:8,9


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If your pastor knew he could only say one more thing to you from his deathbed, what do you think he would say?

When the apostle Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy, he knew he would soon be put to death. Paul longed to see Timothy one more time. But he wrote as if he knew his time was too short for that to happen. Of all the final advice and encouragement Paul gave to Timothy, perhaps none of it is simpler and more important than this one phrase: “Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David.” He was saying, “Timothy, always remember what Jesus has done for you and who he is.”

This was the message that had put Paul in chains. But he wouldn’t have traded that gospel message for the world. Paul’s death-row wish for Timothy was that he would always remember Jesus, the Son of David, risen from the dead for him, too. This was the one thing that mattered most. If Timothy held to faith in the risen Christ, then he and Paul would certainly meet again in heaven.

I’ll bet your pastor would like to say the same thing to you if he only had one sentence left to give you. “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descended from David.” Your Savior’s identity as the chosen Messiah and his work of rising from the dead for you has set you free from sin and death. Because of that, one day, you’ll be able to say it with the same confidence as Paul, “I have finished the race…Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness.”

Prayer:
Dear risen Savior, Son of David, go with me as I run my race and take me to life everlasting with 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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Be a Fellow Suffering Soldier – July 9, 2024

Join with me in suffering, like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:3

Be a Fellow Suffering Soldier

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Daily Devotion – July 9, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:3


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“Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before.” That’s the first line of a hymn written in the 1800s. In that hymn, God’s Church on earth is compared with an army. Not an army bent on conquest and destruction, but an army bent on breaking down the gates of hell and freeing souls with the message of Jesus’ cross. God’s Church has a mission to advance with the gospel to every corner of the earth.

The apostle Paul also briefly takes on the imagery of an army and soldiers in today’s Bible reading from the book of 2 Timothy. He urges Timothy to join him as a fellow suffering soldier for Christ. Soldiers follow orders. Soldiers leave their quiet lives as a citizens behind to go on a mission. Soldiers on active duty may have to go hungry and sleepless as they engage the enemy.

This reminds us that our time as God’s people on earth isn’t a cakewalk. As followers of Christ, we take on this calling to be suffering soldiers for Christ. It’s not supposed to be easy if we’re following behind our commander, Jesus. He’s going to bring us into the places that are hardest hit by sin and despair. He puts us on the front lines in our communities, planting us among people who need hope and forgiveness. Taking on the ministry of God’s Church in the world will take a toll on us. It will likely leave us feeling like a discouraged soldier pinned down under enemy fire at times.

But God doesn’t leave us to be suffering soldiers alone. We have a commander who has gotten down into the front lines with his troops. God, in Jesus, made himself a fellow suffering soldier in our war against sin, death, and Satan. Jesus, God-in-the-flesh, fought on the front lines, led the charge, and took all the enemy fire away from us by going to the cross in our place.

The next line in that old hymn says, “Christ, the royal master, leads against the foe; forward into battle, see his banners go!” So now we can join in as suffering soldiers in God’s army along with Paul and Timothy and our leader, Jesus.

Prayer:
Dear Lord, help me bear up under suffering as I follow your mission to bring good news to the world. 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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Be Strong in Grace – July 8, 2024

You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.
2 Timothy 2:1

Be Strong in Grace

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Daily Devotion – July 8, 2024

Devotion based on 2 Timothy 2:1


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Be strong in your faith. Be strong in your convictions. Be strong in times of hardship. Those are phrases you’d expect to hear if someone were trying to offer you life encouragement. But the apostle Paul had an even better phrase to share with his young friend and fellow pastor, Timothy. He said to Timothy, “Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.”

Paul wrote the book of 2 Timothy near the end of his life. These words were Paul’s last will and testament for Timothy. You’d expect Paul to tell Timothy to be strong in holding to the truth and strong and bold in his proclamation of the gospel. Paul does tell Timothy to be strong in those ways, but more importantly, he tells Timothy, “Be strong in the grace of Jesus.”

Strength is usually gained by going to the gym and working out. Strength is gained by doing something, like training and putting in hard work. But here, Paul was telling Timothy to find spiritual strength by simply resting in the strength of Christ. The undeserved love and grace that Jesus had given to Timothy would give him the ability to be strong in all the other ways. Because Timothy was wrapped up in the grace of Christ’s saving work for him, he would also have the strength to hold to his conviction and proclaim the gospel despite rejection and hardship.

These words of life encouragement aren’t just for Timothy. They are for you, too. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Simply rest in the strength and work of your Savior.

Prayer:
Dear mighty Father, wrap me in the strength of your love for me. Keep me always in Christ, my strong rock and refuge. 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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God, Please Talk to Me – July 7, 2024

The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’
Ezekiel 2:4

God, Please Talk to Me

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Daily Devotion – July 7, 2024

Devotion based on Ezekiel 2:4


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Wouldn’t it be wonderful to talk with God? If we could only call him on the phone and hear his voice, or send him an e-mail and get a reply from God@heaven.com. He could give us answers to our questions. He could help us to know what to do and what direction to take in our lives. By hearing his voice, we would be assured he is with us and will help us. Yes, it would be wonderful for God to talk with us.

God is not so far removed from his world that he is out of touch with us. God does talk with his people. In times past, God talked directly to some of them. Ezekiel, a prophet who lived about 580 years before Jesus was born, heard the voice of God. Over a long period of time, God gave this man important messages to speak to the people. He faithfully repeated those messages and assured his audience that, “this is what the Sovereign LORD says.”

There were other prophets and specially chosen men to whom God also spoke in times past. They, too, heard the voice of God, and as they were moved by the power of the Holy Spirit, they wrote down God’s word. Through that written word, recorded in the Bible, God still speaks to us today. As we read it, we can be confident that this is what the Sovereign LORD says.

He’s not available on the phone or accessible with the computer. But you can open up your Bible, and God will talk to you today. He has some important things for you to hear.

Prayer:
God, speak to me through your Word. Assure me that you are my Savior from sin and Lord of 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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Every Morning – July 6, 2024

Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22,23

Every Morning

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Daily Devotion – July 6, 2024

Devotion based on Lamentations 3:22,23


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What’s your morning ritual? When does the blaring of the alarm clock burst your pleasant sleep? What can you “check off” your list before leaving the house for the day? Is receiving compassion one of those things?

You might not notice it, but God has already been busy before your alarm clock stirs you to action. God tells you that his love and compassion protect and greet you every morning.

Why would you and I need God’s love and compassion every morning? God tells us that we are sinners. There are so many times we have done, said, or thought things that God hates. Not only do we commit sins, but God also tells us that we have a sinful nature that hates what God loves and loves what God hates. Because of what we do and who we are by nature, we deserve to “be consumed”—punished by God.

But God promises to treat us differently than we deserve. In love, God decided to treat his Son differently than he deserved, too. Jesus was punished in our place and for all of our sins. He suffered in our place on the cross and died. In love, God let his Son, Jesus, be consumed because of our sins.

Now, God greets you each day with his love and compassion. For the sake of Jesus, God forgives your sins. You produce new sins every day. So, God gives you love and compassion every day—new every morning.

May God bless you with sleep that leaves you feeling “new” every morning. Whether or not your physical rest brings you into the new day feeling refreshed, God faithfully greets you each morning with his love and compassion through Jesus. May God’s great love and unfailing compassion refresh you every morning and propel you through each day.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, I daily sin and deserve only your wrath and punishment. Thank you for your love and compassion—new every morning! In the peace and power of forgiveness, lead me to thank you with all that I do. 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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Trust Through the Tears – July 5, 2024

When he saw Jesus, he fell at his feet. He pleaded earnestly with him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. . . Some people came from the house . . . “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher anymore?” Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
Mark 5:22-24,35,36

Trust Through the Tears

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Daily Devotion – July 5, 2024

Devotion based on Mark 5:22-24,35,36


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He lies in the dirt, clutching Jesus’ feet. Tears stream down his cheeks. “Please, Lord. It’s my daughter. I don’t want to lose her.” Jesus takes him by the hand and helps him up. “Let’s go.” But they don’t make it in time. Some of his friends meet them along the way: “It’s too late. She didn’t make it.”

Does your heart break with his? Have you been there? Overcome with pain, desperate for help. With the pain come the questions: Why? Why do I hurt so much? Why do I have to suffer? And where is God in all this?

Notice how Jesus answers that last question here. When this desperate man comes looking for help, Jesus goes with him. There is no “I don’t have time right now.” There is no questioning to see how deserving the man might be or what he has already done to try to help his daughter. Jesus just goes.

We don’t have to wonder where God is in our pain. When we come to Jesus with tears in our eyes and pains in our hearts, he gives us his undivided attention and care every single time. He shares our pain, and he cares deeply.

Now, some might think it’s foolish to ask Jesus for help. Do we sometimes even think that? He’s too busy. It’s no use. He won’t be able to do anything about it.

That’s what the messengers from that father’s house suggest. But Jesus says, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.” Don’t fear that I can’t help. Don’t fear that I don’t care. Don’t fear that you’ve wasted your time. Trust me. Rely on me.

And Jesus goes to his house and raises his daughter from the dead. His trust was in the right place—in the only one who saves.

When life is filled with tears, trust him. You won’t be disappointed.

Prayer:
Dearest Jesus, help me to trust you in life and in death. 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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