Crown of righteousness
Today’s devotion is based on 2 Timothy 4:7,8; “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing.”
As Saint Paul neared the end of his life, he used a couple of Olympic metaphors. He had fought the good fight drawing to mind the picture of a boxer lasting all the rounds in the ring. He had finished the race comparing himself to a runner. And what was in store for him? The crown of righteousness. Ancient Olympic crowns of leaves would spoil and fade, but not this crown of righteousness.
God credited that righteousness to Paul not because of anything he had done but because of the faith Paul had kept in Jesus as his Savior from sin. Paul already had that righteousness, but when he died, he would be crowned in it, no longer weighed down by his sin but made perfect in Jesus. This crown of righteousness is for all who believe in Jesus as their Savior from sin.
Please pray with me: Lord God, thank you for giving me your righteousness through the merits of Jesus Christ. Help me to run the race with my eyes fixed on you as I keep my faith in Jesus. Amen.
The importance of sound doctrine
Today’s devotion is based on 2 Timothy 4:3,4, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
We are promised all sorts of cures for worthless products. People believe their claims are spending their money because it looked and sounded so good. In the same way, we are tempted to jeopardize our spiritual health when we turn from sound doctrines that have stood up over time to new teachings that look and sound good to us.
Whatever it might be, if it turns us away from the truth of sound doctrine, then it is dangerous to our souls. Here is the sound doctrine that we need to hear again and again. I am a sinner for whom Jesus died. My relationship with God is repaired through Jesus, and I can do nothing to acquire this grace apart from receiving it freely as a gift from Jesus. This is the sound doctrine we must hold to be saved from God’s righteous judgment.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, forgive me the times I’ve tried itching my ears with anything other than your truth. Keep me in your truth. Amen.
The sweet fragrance of good deeds
Today’s devotion is based on John 12:3. “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Mary poured the perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. In this act of love in service to her Lord Jesus, the fragrance of the expensive perfume filled the house. Can you imagine it? If you were there, would you always remember the words of Jesus encouraging her?
It is easy to fall into safe ways of being a Christian – going to church, reading your Bible, and praying. These are all good and correct things to do, but God didn’t create us to only live Jesus for ourselves but for others, too, and be a blessing to them in all we do and say. You see, many people may never go to hear a sermon in church or even read the Bible. The only sermon some people in the world might ever hear is the one you preach by how you live your life as you show love in service towards each other.
As you serve others, you will be blessed, for you are doing the very work of God. What a joy it is that we can love each other because Jesus first loved us. We can serve each other because Jesus came as a servant to serve us because he cares.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, may I have a heart to serve you, and know that lives are changing as I share your love with others. Let me be bold to serve those I struggle with, love those the world tells me are unlovable, and be a sweet fragrance to all I meet today. Amen.
Standing up for the Lord.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 10:21,22, [Jesus said] “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
The Lutheran reformers faced terrible persecution yet stood firm in doctrine. Just as the Lutheran reformers faced persecution for their faith, we may encounter similar challenges. Our commitment to Christ may result in tension or even separation within our families. However, we can find strength and encouragement in knowing we are not alone. The same God who sustained the reformers is with us today, guiding us and granting us the necessary endurance.
Please pray with me: Dear Lord, thank You for the example of endurance displayed by the Lutheran reformers and their commitment to the gospel. Help me to remain steadfast in my faith, even in the face of opposition or betrayal. Grant me the strength to prioritize our allegiance to you above all else and to endure in my journey with you. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 10:29,31, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows”
Have you ever felt that you don’t have any value in life? Maybe you are going through a rough patch. Or perhaps you are going well but feel like some people take you for granted. Have you stopped recently to ask yourself what you are worth?
The world and its people can make you feel that you are only worth what you can give them. Yet, we are told in God’s Word that we are made in the image of God. You are loved by the God who created the universe and created you. Not loved from a distance but loved through the suffering and death of God’s only Son, Jesus. Jesus died so you might have life and have it to the full. Not in the prosperity sense but a life filled with God’s love, grace, and mercy – a life that fills you with joy and hope, a new full life.
Please pray with me: Heavenly Father, help me remember that you made me and rescued me from sin, death, and the devil’s power through your only Son, Jesus. Help me know that I am valuable, not because I say to the world that I am, or that the world says I am, but because you declare to the world that I am. You love me and care for me. May I always remember that you gave yourself for me so that I can be with you forever. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 69:16, 17, “Answer me, O LORD, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me. Hide not your face from your servant; for I am in distress; make haste to answer me.”
How blessed we are to be able to talk to God any time, any day, anywhere, in any language or no language. I love to pray. It’s so good to share whatever is on my heart and know that my heartaches and joys are shared – that someone cares about what is happening to me and that someone is bigger than me or anything that can happen to me.
How do we know our prayers have been answered? It’s not as if God sends an answer via a messenger angel. Sometimes, prayers are answered in an obvious manner – the cure of a disease or the easing of a situation. Sometimes, the answer comes from friends or strangers reaching out with words of comfort or wisdom. At other times, a sense of inner peace, comfort, and strength may enable us to keep going. I hope your prayers to our loving, all-powerful God provide the comfort and strength you need today and every day!
Please pray with me: Thank you for always hearing and answering our prayers. Help us be patient when things don’t turn out as we hope, plan, and trust that everything will work together for our good – no matter what happens, for you have promised that for those who believe in you as their Savior, all things will work out for the best. Amen.
Responding to God’s call
Today’s devotion is based on John 11:40, “Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?’”
The verse I chose for today is from the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Grief and loss are complicated concepts. Martha and Mary were grieving for their brother, who had died four days previously. Their grief would still have been raw. They had let Jesus know Lazarus was dying, and it must have seemed to them that Jesus had ignored them.
When Jesus’ told Martha to open the grave, she objected to his request. That is when Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God.” In other words, if Martha did not do what Jesus told her, she would impede what Jesus desired: raise Lazarus from the dead.
When Lazarus emerged from the tomb, the glory of God was made clear through Jesus’ words. If we believe in God’s promises and continue to trust, to turn our faith into action, God’s glory will also be revealed to you and me.
Please pray with me: Jesus, thank you for showing God’s glory to those gathered around the grave site that day. Please help me to hear your voice in my life in times of grief so that I, too, will see the glory of God as I respond to your call to action. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Do not judge others
Today’s devotion is based on 1 Corinthians 4:5. “Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.”
First impressions can mean a lot. It is unfortunate when people unfairly judge the motives of those around them. The apostle Paul warns us in today’s Bible reading not to judge other people’s motives; since we cannot read their hearts. In other words, be careful not to judge a book by its cover, as the old saying tells us.
But the day will come, Paul promises, when Jesus “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart.” Rather than judge the motives of others, we do well to assess the motives of our hearts. His love and forgiveness will motivate us to be generous in how we think of others and less likely to judge others.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, keep me from judging others unfairly. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on 1 Corinthians 4:3,4, “I care very little if I am judged by you or any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me.”
Judging others is easy. Jesus once pointed out how gifted people are in finding the speck in their neighbor’s eye without realizing that they’re lugging around a log in their eye. We’re all better at spotting what’s wrong with other people than identifying and correcting our mistakes. We love to play the judge. The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthian Christians that only one judge counts, especially when serving God. That judge is Jesus.
Please pray with me: Dear Jesus, please help me not look down upon and judge others for deeds I often am guilty of doing. Please help me to keep me faithful to your Word. Amen.
Today’s devotion is based on John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
As baptized children of God, we have been received into the church and become part of God’s family. It’s a permanent arrangement. Jesus claims us as his sheep and promises that no one can take us away. The Parable of the Lost Sheep highlights the importance of each of us to the Good Shepherd. No matter what we say or do, we are still precious to him – no one can snatch us out of the hand of the Good Shepherd.
Please pray with me: Good and steadfast Shepherd, thank you for never giving up on us. Thank you for the gift of baptism and of godparents and godchildren. Please help us to be faithful to the promises we made at our baptism and those of our godchildren. Amen.