Freedom Isn't Free

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Seventh Day Slumber’s song “Nothing But the Blood” (Take Everything, 2009) and focus on what Jesus’ blood has accomplished.

Look at the definition of sacrifice below. What does sacrifice look like to you? What does it look like to God? Journal your thoughts.

“How much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” —Hebrews 9:14

Read Hebrews 9:12-14 in your Bible and think through these questions:
• What did the sacrifice of bulls and goats purify (v. 13)? Do you notice anything these sacrifices failed to cover?
• Old Testament law required that sacrificial animals be without blemish
(Lev. 1:3; 3:1). In what way was Christ a sacrificial lamb?
• What did Christ’s sacrifice cleanse (v. 14)?
• Compare and contrast the Old Testament animal sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice.

SACRIFICE (n.) = Giving up something of value for something considered more important.

RESPOND

• In the your journal, list specific words that describe the freedom you experience because of Christ’s sacrifice. Thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you.
• Do you know people who don’t know that Jesus gave His own life to offer them freedom from sin? List a few names in your journal and commit to pray for those people this week.

BEHIND THE STORY

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament anticipated the ultimate price Christ would pay in sacrificing Himself for our sins on the cross. Although the Old Testament system was incomplete, it introduced the concept of God’s law, humanity’s inability to keep that law, and the need for a perfect sacrifice. The word translated “redemption” in verse 12 refers to the price paid to liberate a slave. Christ’s sacrifice liberates people from slavery to sin and the ultimate punishment—death and eternal separation from God.(1)

THE POINT

God’s plan, from the beginning of time, paved the way for Christ as the ultimate sacrifice and final blow to death.

(1)Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary — Hebrews & James, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), p. 174.


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The Dark Before the Dawn

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Find a quiet place and silence your cell phone. Sit quietly, relax, and prepare your heart to see what God has to say in His Word.

Good and evil are constantly locked in a spiritual battle, but in today’s passage Satan directly challenged God by entering Judas. Although we can’t ignore the fact that Judas was still responsible for choosing to plot against Jesus, we have to acknowledge that Judas gave in to temptation, particularly in regards to His desire for wealth.

“While He was still speaking, suddenly a mob was there, and one of the Twelve named Judas was leading them. He came near Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
—Luke 22:47-48

Read Luke 22:1-6,47-53 in your Bible and answer the following.
• What caused Judas to agree to betray Jesus to the priests and religious
leaders? Explain.
• The soldiers and religious leaders likely expected Jesus to fight back. Instead, He went with them peacefully and willingly. What does this tell you about His character and the importance of God’s plan? Jesus referred to Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest as “the dominion of darkness” (v. 53). The events that followed Jesus’ arrest probably caused the disciples to feel hopeless, but God was victorious—He raised Jesus from the dead.

RESPOND

• List a few areas you’re currently struggling with giving over to God. Then, ask Him to help you trust Him no matter what you face.
• How can you focus on the victory we already have in Jesus as you face difficult situations? Record some ideas in your journal.
• For further study on Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest, read Matthew 26:1-5, 47-49; Mark 14:1-2; and John 11:47-57.

BEHIND THE STORY

In Luke 4, Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days without success. Jesus fought temptation with God’s Word and God’s power. By Luke 22, Satan changed strategies and instead tempted Judas. Trent Butler says, “Satan could not lure Jesus with his tempting, but he did prevail over Judas. This was more than yielding to temptation. Satan actually entered Judas, controlling him as if he were possessed by demons.”(1)

THE POINT

It may seem like evil overcomes for a time, but God has already won the ultimate victory through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

(1)Trent C. Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary — Luke, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), Under “Luke 22 — Opposing the Glory.” Accessed via mywsb.com


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True Devotion

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Reflect on all that God has forgiven you for and thank Him for giving you the opportunity to be in relationship with Him.

“Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” —Luke 7:47-48

Read Luke 7:36-50 in your Bible. Consider the following:
• Look at verses 37-38 and 43-46. Compare and contrast the woman’s actions to those of the Pharisee.

• The Pharisees considered this woman an outcast—she was labeled as a sinner. But she approached Jesus and anointed His feet with an expensive perfume. How does her gift demonstrate her thankfulness for Jesus’ forgiveness? Her faith?
• Though the woman’s gift may seem extraordinary, the greatest gift in this story is Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman’s sins. Even before His death on the cross, Jesus had the authority to forgive. What is significant about the phrases “your sins are forgiven” (v. 48) and “your faith has saved you” (v. 50)? Explain.

RESPOND

True gratitude leads to action. Jesus died to forgive the sins of all people for all time. Those who choose to receive His forgiveness and trust in Him as Savior will spend eternity with Him.
• In what ways have you responded to Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins? Journal a prayer thanking Jesus for His forgiveness.
• How will you show gratitude to Jesus this week? In the way you prioritize your time and resources? Serve God and others? Worship? List a few ideas on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Glance at the card throughout the week to remind you to show gratitude to Jesus in all you do.
• For further study on forgiveness, read Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:18-19; Colossians 1:13-14; and 1 John 1:9.

BEHIND THE STORY

Both the alabaster jar and the fragrant perfume were expensive items in Jesus’ time. Luke didn’t say why the woman cried, but he did tell that her tears mixed with the perfume as she anointed Jesus’ feet. Bible scholars suggest that it’s possible the woman’s actions—wiping His feet with her hair and kissing His feet—demonstrated strong emotions such as gratitude and reverence.

THE POINT

Jesus died to forgive our sins. We should love Him above all else, serve Him, and worship Him.


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Worship the King

Posted on April 23, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a few words that describe how God is worthy of our worship (ex: holy, eternal, magnificent) and praise Him using those words.

“Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: The King who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!” —Luke 19:37-38

Read Luke 19:28-44 in your Bible and complete the following.
• In your journal, sketch a picture of the scene described in verses 37-38. Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem on a donkey, but was greeted by a royal procession worthy of a king. His triumphal entry moved His people to praise.
• These people recognized that Jesus came in God’s name. Why is that significant?
• The Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples for calling Him “the blessed One” and “King.” Examine Jesus’ response and write it in your own words.
• Read through the passage again and note how the crowd worshiped Jesus. Note in your journal the attitudes and actions of the crowd.

RESPOND

• Look at what you noted about attitudes and actions in the above question. Examine your heart. Do these words describe the way you worship God?
• List attitudes and actions in your own life that need to change to enhance the way you worship God.
• For further study on worshiping God, read Psalm 118:26; Psalm 150; and Romans 12:1-2.

BEHIND THE STORY

Jesus was not the king that most Jews expected. Some expected a political leader who would free them from Roman rule through diplomacy; others looked for a military leader who would overthrow the Roman government. They didn’t expect a king who would free people from their sins.

THE POINT

Jesus is our King— worthy of honor and glory. We should worship Him.


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Purified

Posted on April 16, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment to clear away any distractions so you can fully focus on God as you study His word today.

“Then He began to teach them: ‘Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!’” —Mark 11:17

Read Mark 11:15-19 in your Bible. Ask yourself:
• How was Jesus portrayed in this story? How does this relate to the character of God in regards to purity?
• Why did Jesus overturn tables and throw out the people who were buying and selling in the temple complex? Explain.
• Compare and contrast “house of prayer” and “den of thieves” in your journal (v. 17). 

Jesus cleared out the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice. They defiled the temple, which was designed as a place of prayer and worship. These business people set up their tables in the court of the Gentiles—a space intended to allow non-Jews to worship. The people lost sight of the temple’s purpose.
• Can you think of an example of this today? When have you lost sight of your main purpose as you follow Jesus?

RESPOND

The Bible says that our bodies are sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
Impurity comes in many different forms and affects different people in different ways.
• Do you struggle to keep your mind pure? Your body? Your heart? Journal your response, confessing your need for Jesus to help you stand strong in the face of temptation.
• List three ways you can guard your heart against impurity.
• For further study on keeping God’s temple pure, read Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11; Matthew 21:12-13; and Luke 19:45-46.

BEHIND THE STORY

In Jesus’ day, Jews had to pay a temple tax and often needed to buy sacrifices for the altar. The type of money used varied in each city and region. The money changers set up shop to help people convert their currency in order to pay the temple tax. Some money changers made extra profit by loaning their own money along with investor money and charging interest rates of up to 300 percent each year.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple pointed the people back to the true purpose of the temple—worshiping and glorifying God.

(1)Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, eds. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003),Under “Money Changers.” Accessed via mywsb.com.


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