Daily Devotions
Today's Devotion
» Devotion - September 23, 2014

Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy … Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:1-2


Little hands shape Play-Doh into so many things: hot dogs, stars, and colorful creatures. And when they finish they make something else.

How much like Play-Doh we are! What’s molding our hearts, minds, and character? Either the world is shaping us to conform to its standards or the Lord is changing us inside and out.

The world works hand-in-hand with our inborn, sinful nature. An advertisement leaves us dissatisfied with what God has given. A movie scene or Internet picture stirs lustful desires. Another person’s harsh words kindle our resentment.

Even potentially good virtues like hard work, family values, and self-reliance become ungodly in the world’s hands. Work or family can become more important than our Savior. Self-reliance can fail to fully rely on God, and it can foster indifference towards the needs of others.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” But how? How can we resist the power of this world? Look at what the apostle writes: “In view of God’s mercy.”

The preceding chapters of Romans laid out the wonders of God’s mercy. The opening verses proclaimed the gospel of God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. What mercy! Our own sin made us worthless. Yet even though all have sinned, God has freely justified all, because Jesus paid the ransom by sacrificing himself in our place. God justifies the wicked. He gives us a clean record. Faith believes the good news of this verdict. Only by faith in Christ, and not by works, we have access to God and rejoice in the hope of glory. “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Romans 9:16).

In view of God’s mercy, why wouldn’t we daily resist the world’s efforts to mold us like Play-Doh? Rather, take God’s word to heart to transform your mind, making you new each day.

Prayer: 

(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal - 70:4):
Jesus, be with me and direct me;
Jesus, my plans and hopes inspire;
Jesus, from tempting thoughts protect me;
Jesus, be all my heart’s desire;
Jesus, be in my thoughts all day
And never let me fall away.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

Creative Commons License 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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.

--Daily Devotion

» Devotion - September 22, 2014

From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:21-26

Following Jesus is Worth Whatever it Takes

Human beings put a value on everything. How much we value someone or something affects the decisions we make. If we value a certain piece of meat enough to pay thirteen dollars a pound for it, we buy it. If we value our pet enough to pay a thousand dollars for the surgery she needs, we tell the vet to schedule the surgery. If we value winning a marathon enough, we get up early every morning to train for it. If we value losing weight enough, we avoid certain foods.

Jesus values you more than anyone has ever valued anything. He wants to spend his eternity with you. He knew that the only way he could do this was to go to the cross and spill his blood as a payment for your sins. It would be painful beyond words. It would be difficult beyond description. As Jesus said, he would have to “suffer many things.” But, for Jesus it was a simple equation. Lose his life or lose you. He chose to lose his life.

And now, because of what Jesus did, all his followers will live eternally with him. Those who do not follow him will suffer separation from him forever. So, what are you willing to suffer in order to follow him? It is a simple equation. Lose him and you lose everything. Or, to put it positively, follow him at all costs. Carry whatever burden you must. Put up with whatever ridicule you must. Pass by whatever temporary pleasure you must in order to follow him. Because when Jesus leads you to the glory of heaven you will exclaim, “Wow!  It was worth it!”

Prayer: 

Lord Jesus, I thank you that you valued me enough to suffer so much to save me. My relationship with you is worth more than anything else. Send your Holy Spirit to strengthen me in this conviction so that every decision I make this day will reflect how much I value you. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

Creative Commons License 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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.

--Daily Devotion

» Devotion - September 19, 2014

Hymn of the Week

O Lord, let this your little flock,
Your name alone confessing,
Continue in your loving care,
True unity possessing.
Your sacraments, O Lord,
And your saving Word
To us e’er pure retain.
Grant that they may remain
Our only strength and comfort.
(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 536, verses 2)

Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head

God’s Church has always been his “little flock.” Her smallness is due to the fact that she confesses God’s name. God’s name is more than just his titles. God’s name is everything the Holy Spirit revealed about himself in the Bible.

The vast number of unbelievers can accept a wide variety of worldviews, but they cannot tolerate God’s saving wisdom. In fact, they are so violently opposed to the truth of God’s grace in Jesus Christ, that, if they could, they would storm the gates of heaven and topple God from his throne. But since this is not possible, they feel obligated to rid the world of all who believe in him.

Cain killed his brother for no other reason than that Abel offered a sacrifice with faith in the coming Savior. Noah’s family-of-eight was harassed because, unlike the rest of mankind, it embraced the righteousness that would come through the promised Messiah. King David and his tiny band of men hid from the army of King Saul simply because David’s words and life reflected his Spirit-given faith in his Savior.

We know well the happy outcome of their faith and way of life. Like a bride waiting to walk down the aisle, they paid no attention to those who disparaged them. The bride of Christ only has eyes for her Groom. And he graciously took her to himself–forever!

Until he takes us to heaven, he promises, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Where does Jesus’ quaking little flock find forgiveness of sins, life and eternal salvation? In his Word. In the Bible we learn that the full punishment for our sins was paid with the blood of Jesus. His Word commands us to apply water in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the same breath it promises to “make disciples of all nations” in that unusual way (Matthew 28:18-20). Our Savior’s Word commands us to take and eat bread and wine. In these same words Jesus promises that, with the bread and wine, we received his true body and blood, given and poured out for us for the forgiveness of sins (Matthew 26; Mark 14; Luke 22; 1 Corinthians 11). Such comfort is as foolish to unconverted reason as Jesus’ death on a cross. But like the cross, we recognize it as the wisdom of God for the salvation of all who believe.

Until the day of his return, Christ’s little flock prays:

Prayer: 

Your sacraments, O Lord, And your saving Word To us e’er pure retain.
Grant that they may remain Our only strength and comfort. Amen.

From September through December 2014, the Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday are based on the Word of God expressed in a Christian Hymn selected each week. All devotions in this series are located here.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

Creative Commons License 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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.

--Daily Devotion

» Devotion - September 18, 2014

Hymn of the Week

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Church’s head,
You are her one foundation.
In you she trusts, before you bows,
And waits for your salvation.
Built on this rock secure,
Your church shall endure
Though all the world decay
And all things pass away.
Oh, hear, oh, hear us Jesus!

(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 536, verses 1)

Lord Jesus Christ, the Church’s Head

Pastor Johann Mentzer (1658-1734) was the author of this week’s devotional hymn. He carried crosses that few can imagine.

During his ministry, his prince in Saxony, Germany, joined with Peter the Great of Russia to wage war against Sweden. The most promising young men of Pastor Mentzer’s parish were being siphoned into the war machine. The military funerals followed.

Pastor Mentzer’s first wife, Eva Maria, died while giving birth to twins. He was left, a broken-hearted single-parent, with six children to raise.

In 1704 he married Anna Magdalena. The infant mortality rate at that time was about 60%. But of the seven children Anna bore him, only one survived. Within three weeks, Pastor and Anna stood at the graveside of four of their children. “Oh, my God,” he prayed. “You allow one painful distress after another only for the high praise of your name!”

It was during this time that Pastor Mentzer wrote his most enduring hymn: “O That I had a Thousand Voices” (CW 194 and 242). Of the 40 hymns he wrote in his lifetime, almost all of them fell under the categories of “Cross and Comfort” or “Praise and Thanksgiving.”

And is it any wonder? Praise and thanksgiving can only come from the unshakable knowledge that the cross of our Savior is our only lasting comfort!

Three hundred years later, our distresses, though perhaps not as severe, are not so very different than theirs. We still stand, red-eye over a mound of freshly dug earth. We turn restlessly on our bed consumed by trouble that belongs to tomorrow. But greatest of all is our guilt before a holy God and our liability to eternal punishment.

It took nothing short of the holy, precious blood and the innocent sufferings and death of our Lord Jesus to pay the price of our freedom from death and raise us to life everlasting! Our praise for the strong medicine of Jesus’ cross is reflected in the stout, biblical imagery and humble, plaintive prayer of that first verse:

Prayer: 

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Church’s head, You are her one foundation.
In you she trusts, before you bows, And waits for your salvation.
Built on this rock secure, Your church shall endure
Though all the world decay And all things pass away.
Oh, hear, oh, hear us Jesus!

From September through December 2014, the Daily Devotions on Thursday and Friday are based on the Word of God expressed in a Christian Hymn selected each week. All devotions in this series are located here.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

Creative Commons License 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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.

--Daily Devotion

» Devotion - September 17, 2014

I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 6:6-7

Know the LORD

After God had appointed Moses to lead the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to freedom, things did not go as smoothly as Moses or the Israelites would have liked. Pharaoh refused to let them go worship the LORD in the wilderness. On top of that, he made them labor even harder. As a result, the Israelites condemned Moses, and Moses questioned God rather than trust his will.

Our natural response to suffering is often the same. We question the way God is allowing things to happen. We want to blame him for our troubles, or accuse him of not caring, or of not staying true to his promises.

God could respond harshly to such accusations. However, we see that in his dealings with his Old Testament people, rather than get angry with Moses and the Israelites, he used the opportunity to teach them about himself.

What does God graciously teach us about himself when we enter a season of suffering?
He reminds us not only of who he is, but also of his love for us.

He is LORD. He is the God who saves. By the death and resurrection of the God-man Jesus, God has delivered us from the slavery of sin, the tyranny of the devil, and the hopelessness of death. His saving work proves that God cares deeply about us. He is not unaware of what we need. He is with us and takes a personal interest in the details of our lives.

God’s faithful love for us changes the way we view hardship. Although the pain may feel unbearable, because of Jesus, ultimately it is not. Because of Jesus’ suffering, our suffering is not a meaningless interruption of our life, but God’s way of cultivating our trust in his great mercy and grace. In Christ, he has made us his own people, citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We can be sure that he will carry us through all the trials we face and bring us safely to the Promised Land of heaven.

Prayer: 

Heavenly Father, you are the God of free and faithful love. Thank you for revealing your Son to me as my Savior. Help me see life’s burdens as opportunities to remember your mighty power to save. Amen.

Today's Devotion is brought to you by WELS and www.WhatAboutJesus.com

Creative Commons License 
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

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.

--Daily Devotion

"For it is by grace that we are saved through faith, and not of ourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that noone can boast." ~ Ephesians 2:8-9