Devotion for Monday, December 21, 2020

“envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).

What are you practicing?  What guides you in this life?  Do you take to heart and practice what is good in the sight of the Lord, or practice what the world teaches?  One does not need a lesson in these things, for they are all around us.  Instead, we are to put into practice that which we know is right, good and salutary.  Begin with the Ten Commandments, not in terms of obligation, but as instruction in righteousness.

Lord, I often forget the life to which You have called me through grace.  Guide me. O Lord, that I may look to You, the author and finisher of my faith, and be guided as You will lead.  Let me not look to the world, nor live as the world, but instead look to You, the One who has already overcome the world.  You know all that is needed that I may be with You where you are.

Lord Jesus, lead me in the way of everlasting life.  I am tempted to live as the world lives.  I am tempted to abandon the way You have set before me and then excuse my behavior with cheap grace.  Guide me, O Lord, in the way that fights through all temptation and lives the kind of life that is pleasing to the Father.  Lord Jesus, You have saved me.  Please teach me how to live.  Amen.

Devotion for Sunday, December 20, 2020

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions” (Galatians 5:19-20)

By the way, the Greek word for sorcery is pharma, or, drugs.  The modern culture dabbles a lot in drugs.  But it is not just that.  Those things which are physical and simulate feeling are what are at the core of the deeds of the flesh.  Contrast this with the control of the mind and you see the battle.  Who controls your soul?  You?  Sin?  The Lord?  You have been given a great gift in the offer of salvation.  What will you do with it?

Lord, teach me to know the difference between right and wrong, more than just a head nod of agreement. Help me to live what is right and flee from what is wrong.  Guide me in Your goodness to live into the life You have given me that I may now and always abide in the truth of Your love and practice life as it is meant to be lived.  Help me learn self-control and how to overcome the deeds of the flesh.

Lord Jesus, You know the struggles of this age.  You know the difficulty of abiding in true life.  Lead me, O Lord, in the way of daily living such that I keep my balance and hold fast to righteous and godly living.  Lord, let me not pursue what builds me up, but instead what reveals the truth of Your kingdom.  Help me to always abide in You as You abide in me.  Amen.

Devotion for Saturday, December 19, 2020

“For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law” (Galatians 5:17-18).

You and I know that we are unable to fulfill the whole of the law.  We also know that if we break even one part of the law, it is as if we broke the whole of the law.  Why would you depend upon that which you know will fail when you are called to depend upon the One who never fails?  Come then and live in the freedom which is yours in Christ knowing that He who is in you is more than able to do all He has promised.

Lord, I am in this situation where I want what I cannot have and do not listen to words of wisdom that speak truth.  Lead me, O Lord, that I may now and always listen to You and walk in Your ways.  Guide me, knowing that I have this struggle, and help me to overcome it each time I face the temptation to walk by the flesh and not by the Spirit.  I need to be delivered from evil by You, O Lord.

Holy Spirit, breath of God, come and stir up my heart that I may walk in the newness of life that You give.  Help me to understand each day the temptations that are before me.  Lead me in the way of everlasting life that I may practice that which shall ever and always be lived.  Lift me out of the perpetual conundrum of sin to live life as it is meant to be lived here, now, and forever.  Amen.

Devotion for Friday, December 18, 2020

“But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.  But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Galatians 5:15-16).

Jesus sent the Holy Spirit that we would not trade one sin life for another sin life.  We are to walk with the Holy Spirit who is within us.  We are to care for one another as the Lord cares for us.  Do not be deceived.  The Lord will lead those who trust in Him.  Those who go their own way will walk in the way of destruction.  Come and walk in and by the power of the Spirit.

Lord, You are always speaking to me and Your voice is always present.  Help me to know that only in You is there hope and a future.  Only by Your guidance can I avoid those places where I will fall into the traps of this age.  Lead me, O Lord, that I may walk always in the goodness of Your grace and mercy and know the life that You have come to give.  Let me not be deceived, nor be led astray.

Come, Holy Spirit, and minister to me this day.  Help me to know Your voice amidst all the noise of this world.  Lead me in the goodness of all the Good News, taking only that freedom which is mine and no more.  Let me not fall into the trap of replacing one sin for another.  Teach me all I need to know and begin with today by teaching me those things that I will only learn from You.  Amen.

Devotion for Thursday, December 17, 2020

“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.  For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Galatians 5:13-14).

We may think we are modern people, but what Paul is describing is what has happened in our culture.  The Gospel is rejected in order that we may gratify the flesh.  What good does it do to satisfy momentary feelings at the expense of life?  Do not reject what Christ has done, nor truth over your freedom for another form of slavery.  If Christ sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Lord, teach me not only what true love is, but also what it really means to be free.  Let me not follow the well-worn pattern of replacing one slavery for another.  Guide me in the way of eternal life that I would practice that which I shall always be doing with You in eternity.  Keep me in the narrow way that I not fall into the snares and traps of the wicked one, but live with and for You.

Lord Jesus, You have come that we may have life and have it abundantly.  Guide me, O Lord, in the way of everlasting life that I would walk humbly with You.  Lift me out of the mire of this world and its traps that would ensnare me.  Teach me those things I need to know and guide me in Your goodness.  Shepherd me to seek after those things which are righteous, good, and loving.  Amen.

Devotion for Wednesday, December 16, 2020

“But I, brethren, if I still preach circumcision, why am I still persecuted? Then the stumbling block of the cross has been abolished.  I wish that those who are troubling you would even mutilate themselves” (Galatians 5:11-12).

Why do people stumble over the cross?  In part, it is because they do not want to submit to Christ.  The words may be there, but the struggle is to always be in control.  All authority and power belong to Christ.  Apart from Him is nothing.  Come then and be one who submits to the Lord of all.  Fighting against Him, as those of this age do, is futile.  Following Him is the way of everlasting life.

Lord, help me to see how simple in many ways all of this is. The game continues generation after generation and there are those who feed it all.  Let me not be caught up in the game but live in the life You have promised.  Help me to know that in You is all hope and a future.  Let me not listen to those who would lead me astray but follow You in all things and learn from You.

Lord Jesus, You went to the cross because it was what was needed.  Help me to understand more fully that You call for me to pick up my cross and follow You.  Guide me, O Lord, in the way of truth that I would forever be led by You, the truth, and walk in the way in which You direct me.  Help me to know that in You alone is all hope and the only future anyone could want.  Amen.



I can imagine Mary, about to give birth, between contractions, forcing back the tears and saying, “It was not supposed to be this way!  I was not supposed to have to give birth in a barn.”

We sing, “Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright . . . Sleep in heavenly peace.”

And yet it was not a silent night, it was not all calm and bright, and it was not all heavenly peace.  Rather it was disappointing and depressing and hard.  We all know that life can be disappointing and depressing and hard.  This past year – for everyone – life has been disappointing and depressing and hard.

Our Savior’s birth came through and during a situation that must have been disappointing and depressing and hard.  He was born not in a hospital, not in an inn, and not even in the guest room of Joseph’s family’s house.  Rather He was born in a cave where animals were kept.  A feeding trough was His first bed. 

But in the middle of all the disappointments and hardships that Mary and Joseph had to endure, in the middle of all the ways in which it was not happening as Mary and Joseph had hoped, God was at work to redeem the world.  What do we see here?  God is able to use every circumstance of life – even the oppressive decree of a pagan emperor – to serve His saving purposes.

The trip to Bethlehem was not a journey that Mary had wanted to take.  The circumstances of Jesus’ birth were not the way she had imagined it and had wanted it to be.  But this was not the last unwanted journey that Mary was going to have to take.  Shortly after Jesus’ birth, Herod tried to kill the child.  So she and Joseph had to take baby Jesus and go on another unwanted journey.  They had to flee to Egypt and live there as refugees.  Thirty-three years later she had to take another unwanted journey down the Via Dolorsa as she followed her Son to Calvary. 

We all have to take unwanted journeys.  The entirety of this past year for all of us has been an unwanted journey.  One person told me that he plans to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve not to welcome the new year, but to make sure that the old year comes to an end. 

For many the journey has been made even worse because of sickness and even death within the family.  Many have suffered unemployment and/or other financial crises.  Some are struggling with major mental health issues.  Yes, life has its moments of major disappointment, overwhelming sorrow, and intense pain.  We wonder whether, how, and when it will end.

We today are able to see what Mary was not yet able to see as her contractions kept getting closer and closer together.  She could not hear the angels.  She could not yet see the shepherds, who would come running to the cave.  She did not yet know that Magi would arrive with gifts to honor the new-born King. 

And so, during this Advent and Christmas season, I urge you to believe that – just as He did for Mary – so God can take all of your adversities, disappointments, heartaches, and pain – all of your unwanted journeys, including the unwanted journey of 2020 – and use them for His purposes. 

Romans 8: 28 is just as true as ever during this year of COVID.  All things still do work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purposes.  As Mary and Joseph were on their unwanted journey, as Mary must have been thinking, “It was not supposed to be this way!” they were about to learn that God’s greatest work often comes out of and during the journeys we do not want to take.  God has a way of bringing hope out of despair, good out of bad, and great joy out of disappointment, suffering, sorrow, and pain.  That is what Mary and Joseph came to see again and again.  And that is what we can come to see as well.

And so – during this Advent and Christmas season – I urge you to look back over your life, especially back over this year of COVID.  Can you see how God has been with you, watching over you, and blessing you even when you have been on one of those journeys you did not want to take? 

Trusting God to be with us even on all of our unwanted and unexpected journeys,

Dennis D. Nelson

Executive Director of Lutheran CORE 

Devotion for Tuesday, December 15, 2020

“A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.  I have confidence in you in the Lord that you will adopt no other view; but the one who is disturbing you will bear his judgment, whoever he is” (Galatians 5:9-10).

The Lord knows those who are His.  The Lord knows who are seeking to lead His little ones astray.  We are in a battle, not between flesh and blood, but principalities and forces.  Do not be misled and do not fall into the temptation of thinking that you may behave as you wish.  The Lord has given His Word and has died for you.  These are important and serious things.

Lord, help me to see more clearly that in You and You alone is all hope.  There are those who would lead me astray to follow other paths.  Guide me, O Lord, that I would not be led away by chasing after futile things.  Instead, give me conviction of faith that I would stand firm in the truth You have revealed once for all.  Let me be able to stand before You with a clear conscience.

Lord Jesus, You know all that is needed.  You know what gets in the way of my faith.  Lead me, O Lord, away from those who would influence me in the wrong way.  Guide me according to Your goodness to follow more closely the truth You have revealed.  Help me to live more fully the way You have established and become a rock of faith as Your saints of old.  Amen.

THE PRAYERS,  2nd Sunday after Christmas, Cycle B (January 3, 2021)


2nd Sunday after Christmas, Cycle B (January 3, 2021)


With joy and gratitude for the gift of Christ our Savior, let us draw near to God the Father, praying on behalf of the Church, the world, and all who need his loving-kindness.

A brief silence

Heavenly Father, thank you for Jesus. Thank you for your love, made flesh in his flesh. Thank you for the glorious inheritance you have prepared for all who love him.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Transform your Church into a Temple worthy of your Son. Fill bishops, pastors, theologians and deacons with wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and fear of the Lord, that all may have joy in your presence. Draw many through its doors to meet Jesus their Lord.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Grant to all Christians who are persecuted a foretaste of the glorious inheritance you have stored up for them in Christ. Fill them with wisdom and faith. Let them confound and convert their tormentors. Give us grace to provide for their needs and speak in their defense.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Give the people of this congregation wisdom, faithfulness, kindness, generosity and joy. Fashion this church into a temple that is lovely with the light of Christ. Make us true sisters and brothers to our elder Brother, Jesus.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.


We pray for all theologians and instructors in the faith – especially those who teach future pastors. Give them hearts centered in Christ; minds that delight in your commands; mouths that speak faithful words of your Law and Gospel; and souls that are pure and holy as they guide and shape those whom you call to be your servants.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Make the world’s leaders desire wisdom. Equip them to seek the good of the people entrusted to their care. Teach them to fear and love you above all earthly power or riches. Bestow upon this death-shadowed a foretaste of your eternal life and peace. Grant that this New Year may bring hope, prosperity, health and concord to all.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.


We plead on behalf of all whose lives are clouded by sorrow or shadowed by suffering – especially: {List}. Bring them healing and hope. Help us to ease the burdens of those who care for loved ones day in and day out. And bless with compassion and competence all who practice the healing arts.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Dear Father, thank you for the gift of your Son, and for the salvation you give to all who call upon his Name. We entrust our beloved dead into your care. Shed the light of your love upon those who grieve. Bestow your Spirit upon all of us in this New Year. Renew us in faith, strengthen us for service, and unite us in bonds of concord and charity. Lead us, and all whom you have redeemed, into the bright courts of heaven, and into your endless day.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.


Into your hands, merciful Father, we commend all for whom we pray, trusting in your mercy; for the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE PRAYERS,  1st Sunday after Christmas, Cycle B (December 27, 2020) Or St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (add these italicized petitions)


1st Sunday after Christmas, Cycle B (December 27, 2020)

Or St. John, Apostle and Evangelist (add these italicized petitions)


O come, let us adore Christ our Lord, and kneel before him with our prayers and supplications.


A brief silence

Father, we praise you for your Word made flesh, Jesus Christ our Savior. {We thank you for St. John, the Beloved Disciple, who knew and loved him so well.} Let Jesus fill us with grace and truth, so that our joy may be complete.



Provide the Church with pastors, bishops, and theologians who teach and admonish your people in all wisdom. *17By the gift of your Spirit, let the Church’s every word and deed

be in the name of the Lord Jesus, to your glory and for the good of all whom he came to save.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are persecuted for the sake of Jesus. They are your chosen ones, holy and beloved. Adorn them with compassion, meekness, and patience. Let the peace of Christ rule their hearts, so that their tormentors repent, and flee to the Savior for forgiveness.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Make this congregation a company of the upright. Let us delight in, study, and proclaim your mighty works of salvation. 2Clothe us with love, binding us together in perfect harmony. Let our lives display your redeeming power. Help us to draw our neighbors, friends, and families to faith in your dear Son.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Bless grandparents, parents, and all who share with our children the joy of knowing you. Let them cradle little ones in your love and goodness.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Give our earthly leaders the holy fear that is the beginning of wisdom. Help them to study your works and perform your precepts. Let faithfulness and uprightness, graciousness and mercy, guide those who take counsel for the nations. Bestow upon all peoples the blessings of food, shelter, health, employment, justice, and peace.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.


Angels proclaimed peace and good will at Jesus’ birth. But many evils still trouble the world. Shield and guide all who risk their lives on behalf of others. Prosper all they do that conforms to your will. Give their loved ones hope and patience. Bring healing and comfort to the wounded, and redemption to the fallen. Establish your peace among us all, that weapons of war can be fashioned into instruments of your peace.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Be gracious and merciful to all whose lives are shadowed by suffering in this season of light, especially: {List}. Grant that they behold your salvation,31 dwell in your love, and glorify you in the company of all who love them.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.

Dear Father, you have bestowed on our beloved dead the fullness of your salvation, and we commend them into your care. While we walk the pilgrim-path of life, grant that your dear Son should dwell in us richly, filling us with peace, love, forgiveness, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. For these are the gifts of Christmas that shall last forever.

Lord, in your mercy, please hear our prayer.


Receive our prayers, dear Father, for the sake of your dear Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.