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

Hymn of the Week

Before you, God, the Judge of all,
With grief and shame I humbly fall.
I see my sins against you, Lord,
My sins of thought and deed and word.
They press me sore; to you I flee:
O God, be merciful to me!

O Lord, my God, to you I pray:
Oh, cast me not in wrath away!
Let your good Spirit ne'er depart,
But let him draw to you my heart
That truly penitent I be:
O God, be merciful to me!

(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – 306, verses 1 and 2)

O God, be merciful to me!

When I sin, my natural tendency is to run away from God. To hide. To ignore. To pretend. So why would I, as the author of this hymn says, flee to God, the Judge of all? When I know that I violate God’s holiness so often, when I know that I sin against him in thought and deed and word every day, why would I flee to the one, the Judge of all, who should rightly cast me away in wrath?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to flee from God, like Adam and Eve hiding from God among the trees of the garden? (Genesis 3) Wouldn’t it make more sense to turn away from God, crying out like Isaiah, “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips”? (Isaiah 6) Of course that makes no sense. I can’t hide from God. Nor can anything be gained by turning away from him, or ignoring my sins, or pretending they don’t matter.

When my sins press down upon me, the only thing I can do is fall humbly before God in grief and shame. The only thing I can do is repent. The only thing I can do is plead: “O God, be merciful to me!”

This is what the hymn writer and what God himself urges you to do: plead for God’s mercy! That mercy was evident to Adam and Eve when God first extended the promise of a Savior who would crush the devil. That mercy was evident to Isaiah when God directed one of his angels to assure him, “Your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.” That mercy is evident to you throughout the Bible as God comforts you with promises like this: “Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon” (Isaiah 55:7).

Confident of his promises, Children of God are moved not to flee from God but to flee to him, not to hide from God but to fall humbly before him, not to turn away from God but to plead for his mercy.

Prayer: 

O Lord, my God, to you I pray: Oh, cast me not in wrath away! Let your good Spirit ne'er depart, but let him draw to you my heart, that truly penitent I be: O God, be merciful to me!

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 - October 22, 2014

The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel: 'The fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge’? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to me, the father as well as the son—both alike belong to me. The soul who sins is the one who will die."

Ezekiel 18:1-4


My kids used to complain, "Dad, it's not fair!" My response was, "You're right. But then, God never promised that life would be fair."

The Israelites were complaining. The gist of their complaint was that their ancestors had done sinful things, and now they were having to bear the consequences. It wasn't fair. And so they had not taken responsibility for their own sinful actions and their own spiritual failures; rather, they blamed their parents/grandparents/ancestors.

How easy it is in life to slip into similar thinking. "My parents were terrible!" "My spouse totally mistreated me!" "I don’t deserve the treatment I’m getting; I’m better than that." Then we are tempted to finish those sentences with, "It's not fair, and it's not my fault!"

God's answer is succinct: "Every living soul belongs to me." Our responsibility isn't to make excuses about our circumstances in life. Rather, we are to serve God to the best of our ability in the situation into which we have been placed. Can we do that, even if what we experience seems unfair? Yes we can because you and I belong to God! That's good news! For, whether we are fortunate or not, God loves us equally: "Every living soul belongs to me," he says.

God made you to be exactly whom he wanted you to be, for your eternal good and the eternal good of others. God guides you through life's good times and its unfairness so that you learn to rely on him more and more. Sometimes life is not easy! Sometimes it's not much fun! But through it all, God has claimed you as his own, bought at the price of Jesus' own blood.

And by the way, is that fair? Is it fair that Jesus had to die in my place and in your place? No! It wasn't fair at all! We should have died, but Jesus died for us!

God never promised that life would be fair. Instead, he promised that he would keep on loving us; that he would keep on forgiving us through Jesus.

That's fair enough for me!

Prayer: 

God, strengthen me to deal with life's unfairness. Focus my attention on your love, always reminding me that you have graciously made me to be your own. In Jesus' name I pray. 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 - October 21, 2014

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.

Philippians 2:3-5


These are words that burrow deep into the soul. Humility is not something that comes naturally to us. The three-year old who figures out how to tie his shoes runs to his mother with a pride-filled smile, directing her attention to his feet and his accomplishment. His greatest desire at that moment is to receive her praise. That desire for others to recognize our greatness and the grand things we have accomplished does not diminish with age.

Scripture does not just command humility, it gives us the ultimate example. Of all the people who have ever walked upon this planet Jesus certainly had every reason to think that he was better than everyone else. The fact is that he was. As true God and Creator of everything, the power, wisdom, glory, and authority that he had could not even be compared to that of the greatest ruler our world has ever seen.

Yet he did not pound his chest and stand on the highest mountain for all to see his greatness and praise him. His greatest goal was not for all people in the world to serve him, waiting on him hand and foot and immediately providing for his every desire. Instead we are told that Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death–even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:6-8)

Instead of looking to his own interests, Jesus was focused on yours. Setting aside his glory, he humbly entered into our world with one purpose: to sacrifice himself for you and pay the price for your sins. That meant humbling himself to the point of being publicly humiliated and executed, suffering the wrath of God for sins he never committed.

Thank God that Jesus showed such humility! In doing so, he not only provides us with an example, he saves us from our sinful lack of humility.

Prayer: 

Lord Jesus, I struggle with humility. I long for the praise of others. I would rather have others serve me than give my life in service to others. Forgive me. Thank you for your love and humility. Thank you for your willingness to place the needs of others, my needs, above your own. Thank you for dying that I may live. 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 - October 20, 2014

“What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.

Matthew 21:28-31a


Jesus’ question was not hard to answer. Could it have been any simpler? Although the first son answered his father harshly and rudely, in the end he did what was asked. Although the words of the second son sounded sweet and polite, in the end he only paid lip service to his father.

It was meant to be an easy question with an obvious answer. But then Jesus transitioned to his true intent. The deeper spiritual point was meant to be just as clear to his hearers. That audience was made up of upstanding people, including the religious leaders of the day: Jesus said to them, “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you to show you the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes did. And even after you saw this, you did not repent and believe him” (Matthew 21:31b-32).

The first son represented the openly sinful. They had turned away from God and his will. They had lived a life that was obviously contrary to the commands of God. But then John the Baptist came. He called out to sinners to turn from their sinful ways. He urged them to place their trust for forgiveness in a coming Savior. Many heard the message, believed it and lived!

The second son represented the outwardly righteous. They boasted about their relationship with God. They believed they had earned that relationship by who they were and the good they had done. But then John came. When he pointed out that they too were sinners who needed a Savior, they rejected his message and the Messiah (Jesus) who followed.

God the Father comes with this message today: “Go and work in the vineyard.” Jesus himself tells us that “the work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29). Jesus was sent into this world as Savior of all. He lived, suffered, died and rose again to redeem you and me and everyone else from the punishment of God that our sins had earned. Now, he calls on us to place our trust in his Son, Jesus Christ.

Have you lived an openly sinful life? Turn to Jesus and his promised forgiveness…and live! Do you place your confidence of a good relationship with God on the goodness that others can see in you? Listen to Jesus’ call today, and turn from that misguided idea. Place your trust in the righteousness Jesus alone can give…and live!

Prayer: 

Lord Jesus Christ, help me always to see my need for your grace and forgiveness. Help me always to turn to you in humble faith for the forgiveness of sins, righteousness and life that you alone can give. 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 - October 17, 2014

Hymn of the Week

What God does in his law demand And none to him can render,
Brings wrath and woe on ev’ry hand For man, the vile offender.
Our flesh has not those pure desires The spirit of the law requires,
And lost is our condition.

(Christian Worship: A Lutheran Hymnal – Hymn 390, verses 2, 4, 6)

Salvation unto Us Has Come

Paul Speratus was a Roman Catholic priest serving in the Bavarian town of Dinkelsbühl in 1518. A devout man, Speratus lived in relentless uncertainty with the understanding that the righteousness of God was God’s active standard by which he judged unrighteous sinners. Since “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), Speratus reasoned that the sinner could only hope to appease God with good works.

It was at this time that he began to read some of the writings of an audacious monk named Martin Luther. Luther was brazenly questioning the practices and doctrines of the church, proclaiming that the righteousness of God has been fulfilled by Christ and is gifted to the sinner through faith, by grace.

Yet as the law must be fulfilled Or we must die despairing,
Christ came and has God’s anger stilled, Our human nature sharing.
He has for us the law obeyed And thus the Father’s vengeance stayed
Which over us impended.

Emboldened by Luther, Speratus began to proclaim the message of the gospel unfettered by the shackles of work-righteousness. But his evangelical preaching caused his removal from several churches, and ultimately he was branded a heretic.

Fleeing for his life, he arrived in Iglau, Moravia, where he found sympathetic ears and hearts eager for reform. Yet here again Speratus was targeted, this time imprisoned and sentenced to burn at the stake. It was only through the influence of the King of Prussia and Queen of Hungary that he was later released and ordered to never return to Bohemia or Moravia.

He joined Luther in Wittenberg in 1523 and later helped to assemble the first “Lutheran” hymnal, contributing this hymn and two others. He was later influential on liturgical worship in Prussia and rose to become the Lutheran Bishop of Pomerania, where he died in August of 1551.

But it was his imprisonment and death sentence that had the greatest influence on his ministry, steeling his resolve and sharpening his spiritual sight. It was at this time that he wrote Salvation unto Us Has Come. His self-titled “Hymn of Law and Faith” bears witness and praise to “The God who saved us by his grace.”

Prayer: 

All blessing, honor, thanks, and praise To Father, Son, and Spirit,
The God who saved us by his grace—All glory to his merit!
O Triune God in heav’n above, You have revealed your saving love;
Your blessed name be hallowed!

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

"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