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Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod - Christ's Love, Our Calling.
Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod - Christ's Love, Our Calling.

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He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.
Proverbs 13:24

Loving, Careful Discipline
Being a parent is very great privilege. Being a parent is also a very difficult job! It’s hard to strike the balance between protecting your children and letting them spread their wings in a sometimes scary world. It’s hard to strike the balance between letting your children have fun and making them abide by the rules. It’s hard to strike the balance between being your children’s friend and being their life’s teacher. We know it is important to discipline our children, but we also want to balance that with what Colossians 3:21 says, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”
We all need discipline because we have a sinful nature that needs to be continually trained. It is especially vital in a child’s formative years to receive discipline. Sinful habits formed in childhood will be even more difficult to break in adulthood. For their own personal benefit and for the benefit of society children should receive careful discipline so they become humble, hard-working, ethical adults who strive to serve God and serve others with their lives. While children might not appreciate the disciplinary training their parents give them, later in life they will appreciate that their parents loved them in that way.
Key words in this Bible verse are “loves” and “careful”. . .”he who loves him is careful to discipline him.” God calls upon parents to carefully discipline their children out of love for them. If discipline—in whatever form it is administered—is not motivated by the love and care of parents for their children, it can lead to choices that are detrimental and sinfully wrong. The goal of discipline is to help children mature and lead more God-pleasing and productive lives, and ultimately that children are trained spiritually and spend eternity in heaven through faith in their Savior Jesus.
Parents, pray for wisdom to be able to lovingly and carefully discipline your children.

Heavenly Father, help parents to love their children to carefully discipline them for their earthly and eternal benefit. Amen.

#wels #devotion #parenting

An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.
Proverbs 12:25

A father paces in the waiting room of a hospital. His ten-year-old daughter was just taken into surgery for an appendectomy. The doctors assured him it is a routine procedure, but like any parent he is anxious. “What if something goes wrong? What if they find a much bigger problem?”
A single mother sits at her small kitchen table. In front of her is a stack of bills. Her face is buried in her hands. “How am I going to pay these?” she wonders as her kids play in the living room. “Will I have enough money to continue to send my children to daycare as I work 3 different jobs? Will I be able to put food on the table?”
A college freshman just watched his parents drive away after dropping him off at the beginning of the school year. A thousand things are racing through his mind. “Will I be able to make friends here? What if I can’t keep up with my school work? What am I going to do with my life after this?”
We have a word for such feelings: anxiety. It’s a feeling born out of fear of the unknown. It causes stress. It keeps us up at night and makes us think about the worst-case scenario. Solomon wrote, “An anxious heart weighs a man down.” Anxiety makes daily life a chore. It may be brought on by all different kinds of difficulties, but at its root, anxiety is caused by forgetfulness. We become anxious when we forget about God’s promises to us.
In his God-given wisdom, Solomon reveals a solution for this anxiety. He writes, “…but a kind (or good) word cheers him up.” When we are anxious and forget God’s promises, we need to be reminded of them. Often those reminders come from other Christians. That father pacing in the waiting room of the hospital finds a cure for his anxiety from a fellow believer who points him to John 10 where Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd…my sheep listen to my voice…I give them eternal life and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” That anxious mother sitting at her table surrounded by bills finds a cure for her anxiety in Jesus’ words from Matthew 6 where he told the people that our heavenly Father knows all of our needs and will provide for each of them. That anxious college freshman finds a cure for his anxiety in God’s promise from Joshua 1, “…the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” The Bible tells us that if God loves us so much that he sent Jesus to die on a cross and save us, then we can rest assured that he will care for our every need.
So if you are anxious, go to God’s Word. Be reminded of his promises to you and you will find two things: a cure for your anxiety and a reason to rejoice. If you know someone who is anxious, take any and every opportunity you have to remind that person of God’s promises to them.

Heavenly Father, no matter my station in life, no matter what challenge or difficulty I face, your gracious promises give me the strength to endure. When I forget them, remind me of them. Help me also to speak them to others that the comfort we have as your children through our Savior, Jesus, will never be forgotten. Amen.

The way of a fool seems right to him, but a wise man listens to advice.
Proverbs 12:15

The nine-year-old boy was pitching for his little league team. It wasn’t going well, as he was walking batter after batter. When the team finally got back to the dugout, his dad said, “Pitch from the stretch.” Well, the boy didn’t know what the “stretch” was, and he was way too busy with his friends to take time to listen to his dad’s explanation, and so he continued to pitch from the wind-up. Not surprisingly, the rest of the game was a mess. The boy was foolish to refuse to listen to his dad.
How much more foolish if we refuse to listen to our heavenly Father! And yet, how often don’t we do just that? God says to forgive; we cling to grudges. God says to be kind and compassionate; we lash out in anger or deal selfishly with others. God says to seek his kingdom first; we focus on all sorts of other things, allowing God’s kingdom to go to the back-burner in our priorities. How foolish we are to refuse to listen to God, just as the little league pitcher was foolish for not listening to his dad’s advice.
But Dad was amazingly gracious. When they got home, he explained to his son what “the stretch” was.
Your God is oh-so-much more gracious! God continues to come to “foolish people” like you and me, and he keeps on teaching us. He keeps on assuring you and me that Jesus paid for our sins. He keeps on assuring us that he loves us. He keeps on assuring us that he is with us, guiding and directing us. He keeps on giving us wonderful advice about living this life so we keep a focus on eternal life.
Those who are wise listen to advice!

O heavenly Father, continue to teach me your wisdom. Amen.

#WELS #devotion

The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
Exodus 33:14

The LORD had rescued his people from slavery in Egypt. The people had fashioned a calf-shaped idol out of gold, Egyptian style, and worshiped it. The LORD had punished them. Now what? The road to the Promised Land was forty years long, and they would have to travel through desert wilderness the whole way.
Maybe you, too, have paid a heavy price for something you’ve done. Maybe you still feel the effects. Where do you turn when the burden of your sin weighs heavily upon you? We may think that if we stay busy, we will forget the burden we carry. We may turn to recreation and entertainment to anesthetize our pain. These are only band-aids for wounds that run soul-deep.
Listen to what the LORD says to his Old Testament people in today’s reading. He says, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” The LORD is present with you, just as he was present with them. The LORD has rest for you, just as he had rest for them. God’s Son Jesus knows exactly what your burden of sin feels like. He carried it all the way to the cross, together with the sin of everyone who has ever lived, and that’s where he left it. This is no band-aid. This is the Lord of all lifting a ton of weight off of your soul; this is your Savior dealing with guilt-burdened hearts at the source of all guilt. Jesus became sin for you. In him, you have rest for your soul.
The road through your wilderness may be long, but you aren’t traveling alone. Jesus is here for you in God’s Word every step of the way. He’s here for you with his soul-saving message of forgiveness, of rest. Jesus will also be there for you at the end of the road, to welcome you into the Promised Land.

Dear Savior, refresh me in the forgiveness you won for me and all people. Give me strength for the journey ahead. Amen.

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!
Romans 7:24-25

The stories of prisoners of war who survived are fascinating. The accounts of the brutal and inhumane treatment by the enemy are horrific. The extreme emotions felt by the prisoners are breath-taking: the terror of being completely controlled by the enemy, the hopelessness of recognizing that escape is impossible, and the desperation of knowing that if not rescued or released soon death is right around the corner.
Fortunately, stories of those prisoners of war don’t end there. They include rescue or release and the emotions that go along with it. The relief, joy, and gratitude that are described by these former prisoners make their stories enjoyable.
The apostle Paul shared his prisoner-of-war story. It’s a story that is fascinating not just because it has a happy ending, but also because it is a story that each believer in Jesus shares.
We are all held prisoner by our sinful flesh. We know that the sins we commit deserve eternal death, and yet we keep sinning. That’s all that our sinful flesh can do. If our story ended there, we would be filled with fear, hopelessness, and eternal despair.
The story does not end there. We have a Savior who rescues us. Jesus frees us from the bonds of sin. Jesus takes the condemnation to hell we deserve and sets us free. “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
Our prisoner of war story is certainly a heart-warming one. Our freedom has been guaranteed by Jesus. Praise to our Savior because of the freedom he has won for us…for you!

What a wretched man I am. Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thank you, Jesus, for being my rescuer, my eternal Savior. Thank you for setting me free from sin and death and giving me an eternal future with you. Give me strength in my daily struggle against my sinful nature that I may live for your glory in everything I do. In your name I ask it, dear Jesus. Amen.

#WELS #Devotion

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"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

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Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. If we have been united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Romans 6:1b-11

#wels #devotion

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Matthew 10:37-39

Whom do you love?
These words of Jesus may be a bit difficult to comprehend, especially if you’ve ever held your own child in your arms. The love which parents, especially new parents, have for their child is something that can hardly be described. It’s overwhelming. It’s profound. Some find the greatest joy in these moments.
Something more…perhaps you’ve been there as your mother or father or sibling is passing away. You’re filled with another kind of profound love and care for them. It’s overwhelming and profound to a different degree, and yet it is still love.
Now, as you consider the words of Jesus once again, you have to ask yourself, “Is my love for my child, parent, sibling…greater than my love for Jesus?” If so, Jesus’ words cut deeply. In truth, we are breaking the very First Commandment, “You shall have no other gods,” if we are loving people more than we love Jesus. The results of this are eternally damning.
Let’s consider this from heaven’s eternal viewpoint. Everything we have is a gift from God–a gift that is best viewed “on loan.” Our parents are his. Our children are his. The material things we have are his, on loan to us for a time. If we love the gifts and not the giver of the gifts, we are idol worshippers and will lose our life.
Jesus had it all, and yet he gave it all up. He is the eternal Son of God who gave up the glory of heaven to come to this world where he died destitute–all because he loved God above all else. He truly is the only one who has earned the title “worthy.” Yet, by grace alone, through faith alone, he forgives our sins and calls us worthy! Whoever loves him and believes in him HAS eternal life.
What astonishing love Jesus has for us! What an amazing gift he has given to us! In love he gives us eternal life—a gift that far surpasses all material gifts. May his love lead us to love him above all else–always.

Dear Lord, help me to love you more and more each day. Thank you for all the gifts you have given me. Amen.

#WELS #Devotion

Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death.
Proverbs 11:4

If you’ve ever discovered a rabbit’s nest in the middle of your lawn, maybe you’ve wondered: why did that rabbit choose this spot? Even apart from an animal’s lack of reasoning power, you would think that her instincts would lead her to a safer place. Didn’t she consider how vulnerable she and her babies would be to predators? Didn’t she notice the humans living nearby?
We all need a place to go where we feel secure and at peace. We need a nest. So we work hard, like a rabbit digging a hole. We make money. We buy the things that our hearts desire. And we burrow in, thinking that all will be well. But when we stop and look around, we find that we are not in the safe and peaceful place we thought we would be. Wealth comes and goes. So does the happiness that it brings.
We all do it. We try to dig a permanent nest in a place where we will never find peace. This is worse than foolish. We are guilty of the sin of greed. This is serious because greed is idolatry. It is the worship of a false god called wealth. How easily we forget that a day is coming when we will meet our Maker!
Left to ourselves, we would never know where to find security and peace. So God dug a nest for us, where nothing can ever harm us. Jesus was righteous for us. His righteousness counts for us. His righteousness covers our greed and every other sin. In Jesus, we are safe. In Jesus, we have peace. No enemy can take that away from us. Not even death can harm us now.
All that digging….all that striving...all that chasing…what joy it is to know that Jesus has already given us all we need!

Dear Lord Jesus, your righteousness covers my sin. In you, I am safe and at peace. I am home. Thank you! Amen.

#wels #devotion #proverb
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