Today’s devotion is based on Proverbs 30:5, “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”
Perhaps you are in a moment of your life when you feel as though there are swords, spears, arrows, and projectiles coming at you from every direction. Such a feeling, of course, is nothing new. Ever since humanity severed its relationship with God in the Garden of Eden, we have been experiencing the consequences of our sinful brokenness. One of those consequences is to feel as though we are, at times, in a chaotic, noisy battle.
God saw this. God saw us. He saw the madness, brokenness, and frantic despair. And so God sent his Son. On our behalf, Jesus fought the perfect fight against every sinful temptation. In our place, Jesus gave his life on the cross for our every sinful failure. Then, according to his promise, he rose from death, ascended into heaven, and filled the whole universe.
And because he has, you and I now stand forgiven through faith in him. Heaven is ours. He surrounds us in his presence. He guides all things for our good. All of this means that, as you and I encounter the battles of life in this old world, we have a shield. We have a personal refuge. His name is Jesus.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Lord Jesus, help me through your Word that you are my shield when my battles of life come. In Your almighty name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Romans 7:18, For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out.”
Our sinful nature is our great misfortune in life. As a Christian, I want to do good, but as Saint Paul writes, “I find that I have another urge, one that is odds with the Law that I profess as good.”
My sinful nature keeps me from doing what I know God wants me to do. I can’t be what I want to be, a happy and good child of God. The more I try to free myself from this condition to precisely follow the Law of God, the more I find myself, like Saint Paul, opposing it, making excuses, and such for not obeying the Law.
On my own, there is no freedom from this bondage. My freedom and happiness have to come from outside of myself. That is where Jesus comes in. He alone frees us from the bondage of sin, allowing us to live a happy life in Christ. Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Please join me in praying today’s prayer: Lord, thank you for the wonderful thing you did when you sent your Son, Jesus, who freed me from the bondage of sin. Thank you for allowing me to be your child through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on God’s question to Job as recorded for us in Job 38:1,2: “Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: “Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge?”
God made it very clear to Job that Job was out of his depth when challenging God and his wisdom. Job was beginning to lose sight of who his Savior-God is.
Do you perceive him as distant, uncaring—perhaps even a bit irrelevant to the frantic urgencies of your life? Stop. Listen. Listen to the Word of the Lord. Listen to the voice of your Savior-God as he calls you to repentance. Listen as he goes on to embrace you, all over again, in the forgiveness purchased by his Son on Calvary’s cross. That is the God who loves you. That is the God who guides everything—everything—for your good.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, creator, and sustainer of all things, seen and unseen; please forgive my words without knowledge. Forgive me for the sake of your Son. Refresh me in the greatness of who you truly are so that I can live my life in peace, knowing you are in control. Amen.
Off with the old, on with the new
Today’s devotion is based on 2 Corinthians 5:17, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new here!”
I remember the first time I bought a new suit, power tie, and shirt complete with shoes to wear at work. With my new duds, I was confident that I looked like the manager of the store.
If a new outfit can have that kind of an impact, what would it be like to be a completely new person? Those who know Jesus and trust in him as their only Savior from sin and death don’t have to wonder. The Bible tells us, “If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come; the old has gone, the new here!”
Those who are in Christ—who believe that his blood washed away their sin—have been made new. You can walk around confident that you look good to God. He sees you as his holy and perfect child, washed in the blood of his Son and made new. Through faith in Jesus, you are a new creation!
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Jesus, my Savior, thank you for removing the old and making me new. Please help me to live as the new creation you have made me. In your name, I pray. Amen.
Full and free forgiveness
Today’s devotion is based on Jonah 3:10, “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.”
The ancient city of Nineveh was known for its violence. As the capital of the Assyrian empire, Nineveh dominated the region. Assyrian armies laid waste to almost everything in their path, subjugating and enslaving many people and cruelly torturing those who dared to resist. As a result, they earned God’s anger, and he sent his prophet Jonah with the message: “In forty days, Nineveh will be destroyed.”
The people listened to Jonas’ message and repented of their wicked ways. They understood from the forty-day warning that the holy God of Israel was willing to relent and show them mercy. And that is what happened.
Grace is God’s unmerited love for those who deserve his anger instead. Grace is found only in Jesus Christ, who took our many offenses against God upon himself and accepted the punishment we all deserve. Repenting of our sins and renouncing our selfishness, we find that we have complete and free forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, I know that I have failed to obey inwardly and outwardly your commandments and thus deserve your punishment. But I call out to you for mercy, and I cling to your gracious promises of forgiveness in and through Jesus. In his name, I pray. Amen.
God bring good out of evil
Today’s devotion is based on Acts 2:36, “Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
Peter does not sugar-coat his message. Twice in the sermon, he tells the crowd they are responsible for crucifying and killing Jesus. He stresses that God demonstrated who Jesus was through his ‘deeds of power, wonders and signs’ (verse 22). And yet, they still killed him. He is the one through whom all things came into being and who came out of love for the world. Yet when we human beings could get our hands on him, we killed him. The murder of the innocent Son of God is an act of pure evil on the part of humanity. But through this and from this, God brought resurrection, life, forgiveness, and salvation. God brings good from evil.
The evil and suffering in the world are very real. Perhaps there are things in your life right now that make it hard to go on. God does not promise to take it all away, but he promises he is always at work to bring good from the terrible things that happen in this broken world. As a baptized child of God, your life is now incorporated into the death and resurrection of Christ Jesus. This means God is always bringing resurrection and life from the effects of sin and death.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, while we long for the ending of the evil and suffering in this world, we know that you are in control of all things. Help us by your Spirit to look in faith to our crucified and risen Lord Jesus as we face trials in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The power of the Gospel message
Today’s devotion is based on Colossians 1:6, “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.”
Whether the good news of Jesus is preached over a loudspeaker, hand-written in a letter, shared quietly around a village campfire, or sent as bytes and bits through cyberspace, it has the same power of God to transform human hearts.
All around the world, this gospel message has been bearing fruit and growing, as people of all nations come to know and believe that Jesus Christ has died for the sins of the whole world. The gospel is also for you and your family. You can read it in a book (or an emailed devotion!), listen to it live at church or a streamed broadcast, or hear it from a friend or a friendly missionary. But no matter the method, the message of forgiveness through Christ is powerful to save.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, thank you for the Gospel message in your word. Help me not to use them as an excuse to neglect my life of prayer. Lead me, by your Spirit, to pray according to your promise. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Thy kingdom come
Today’s devotion is based on Mark 4:26-29. “[Jesus] said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”
Just what is God’s kingdom? And how does it come? In his Small Catechism, Martin Luther explained it this way: “God’s kingdom comes when our heavenly Father gives his Holy Spirit so that by his grace we believe his holy Word and lead a godly life now on earth and forever in heaven.”
I know I don’t always live in a way that shows that God is the king of my heart. And while I do believe that Jesus died for me and that my sins are forgiven because of him, I don’t know that I would compare my struggling faith in him to a “kingdom.” All too often, I’ve become frustrated with not seeing enough evidence of spiritual growth—either in my life or the lives of other Christians.
But Jesus helps us to understand the way that God answers our prayer for his kingdom to come. Just as a seed grows after it has been planted, so God’s kingdom comes slowly but surely, almost imperceptibly at times. Just as God works through the laws of nature that he established to give life and maturity to a growing plant, so the Holy Spirit works faith in us through the gospel of Jesus so that over time we produce its fruits in the form of love and good deeds. So have patience with yourself and have confidence in the power of God’s word. Even at this moment, it is quietly at work within you.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dear Father, your kingdom comes even without my asking. But I pray that it comes to my loved ones and me also. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on 2 Corinthians 5:1, “For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
Paul tells us that our bodies are simply tents. As long as we are in them, we’re never really at home for they wear out. But one day, we will be. Through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, our heavenly Father forgave our sin and gave us the right to look forward to our eventual arrival at an eternal house in heaven, where we will finally rest comfortably.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Dear Father in heaven, when I am reminded of how fragile my body really is, keep my faith focused on the eternal and perfect home you have prepared for me through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Does God care?
Today’s devotion is based on Mark 4:38, “But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
In today’s reading, we find the disciples amid a chaotic, fear-inducing storm. The wind was blowing ferociously, and the waves of water were crashing into their boat. It troubles the disciples, perhaps even more than the physical elements, namely, the apparent lack of care and concern from Jesus. He’s asleep! Isn’t it true that problems we have in life are made even worse by the reality that those close to us do not seem to treat them with the same seriousness? This is even more so the case when it comes to God.
But let us never mistake the apparent inactivity of God for indifference to our plight. On the contrary, no matter what we face, our Lord Jesus promises to be ‘in the boat’ with us, and he has all authority. Trust him.
Please pray with me the prayer for today: Heavenly Father, my life sometimes feels like I’m in the midst of a storm. I fear, and I lack faith. Be near to me in your Son Jesus, and by the power of your Spirit, bring me comfort and strengthen my faith. In Jesus’ name, Amen.