A Holy Challenge

Posted on November 5, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Find a comfy chair and sit quietly for a few minutes before you begin today’s devotion. Thank God for sending Jesus to die for your sins.

Think about your favorite sports team, the armed services, police, and nurses. These people all have one thing in common—they wear uniforms and their uniforms represent the people they serve. In the same way, when you trust Jesus as Savior, you bear His name; you represent Him. The way you live should call others to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8).

Read 1 Peter 1:22-23 in your Bible.

“By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart. —1 Peter 1:22

Answer the following questions:
• Underline the word “obedience” (v. 22). How did Peter call believers to obey God?
• What does it mean that believers are “purified” (v. 22)? Explain.
• What does the word “earnestly” indicate about the way we should love each other?
• According to Peter, how are believers empowered to love one another?

RESPOND

Our relationships with others point to our relationship with Christ. Do we truly love others from a pure heart? Do we love them as He loves us? This may sound difficult, or even impossible, but this is the life God calls us to live.

• In your journal, create three columns with the headings God’s LoveMy Love, and Love Better. Under the appropriate heading, record ways God demonstrated His love to you, how you show love to others, and the names of people you need to love better.
• Glance at the names you listed in the third column of your journal page. Ask God to help you have the courage to seek or extend forgiveness in those relationships. Pray for those people to see God’s love as well.
• For further study on loving others, read 1 John 3:16-24.

BEHIND THE STORY

Peter used two different words for love in today’s passage: phileo and agape. His call for believers to love one another indicates a love that is genuine and strong. The word deeply reiterates this and connects with the idea that Christians “love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

THE POINT

Living on mission for God requires us to love others out of a pure heart, just as God graciously chose to love us.


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Unlimited Access

Posted on October 21, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a minute to journal a few the times you recognized God’s presence in your life. Thank Him for constantly being with you.

Before Jesus’ death on the cross, people were separated from God because of their sin. Priests interceded for the people by offering yearly sin sacrifices, but the people did not have direct access to God. Read Matthew 27:50-54 in your Bible.

“Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split.”—Matthew 27:51

Explore the following and write your answers in your journal:
• List the events that occurred when Jesus died.
• The high priest was the only person allowed beyond the curtain that separated the people from God’s presence. Why is it important that the temple veil was torn? What is the significance to you today?
• In your own words, explain the guards’ exclamation in verse 54.
• Describe the guards’ reaction when all of these things occurred. Imagine you were at the cross, would your reaction be like the guards’?

RESPOND

Before Jesus’ death, people only had access to God through the priest. Now, Jesus is our High Priest—constantly interceding for us at the right hand of God in heaven.

• Meditate on today’s Scripture. Praise God for giving you direct access to Him through Jesus.
• Prayerfully consider what Jesus’ death on the cross means to you personally. Then, record your thoughts in your journal.
• Does Jesus’ death on the cross affect the way you live your life? On a scale of 1-10, how much does His sacrifice affect your daily life?
• For further study on the temple veil, read Exodus 26:31-35 and Hebrews 10:19-21.

BEHIND THE STORY

Prior to Jesus’ death, God’ presence was confined to the Most Holy place in the temple. The veil mentioned in today’s passage separated the “holy place and the most holy place” (Ex. 26:33). Only the high priest had direct access to the presence of God on one day—the Day of Atonement. The curtain splitting from top to bottom indicated that God tore it. He removed the barrier between Himself and His people— an action made possible by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

THE POINT

Jesus provided a way to reestablish the relationship between God and us.


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Full of Life

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Close your eyes and think of things people often use to fill their lives, other than Jesus. Ask Him to help you see how to fill your life with Him as you study Scripture today.

What comes to mind when you hear the word thief? Think of famous thieves from movies, TV shows, or books and jot down some of their characteristics in your journal.

Now, read John 10:9-11 in your Bible.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” —John 10:10

Ask yourself:
• How do believers “enter” (v. 9) through Jesus?
• What did Jesus mean by “life … in abundance” (v. 10)? Explain.

When we repent and believe, Christ gives us a new life, an abundant life. Therefore, every genuine Christian believer has been redeemed from an empty existence to a full life in Christ. Jesus didn’t just call us to this kind of life—He lived out an example through His perfect fellowship with God. We have to remember that having life in abundance doesn’t mean we will have everything that we want—it means we have everything we need in Christ Himself.
• In plain terms, explain what Jesus said in verse 11.

RESPOND

Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our lives has supreme value. Our lives should be lived in testimony to that—He is far more precious than earthly wealth.
• In the margin, list a few things you tend to value above Jesus. Confess those struggles to the Lord, and ask Him to help you recognize His value and give Him the highest place of honor in your life.
• Consider “The Point” for today’s devotion. Ask yourself: What do the words empty way of life mean to me personally? Journal your thoughts.
• For further study on the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, read John 15:13; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 10:10; and 1 Peter 1:19.

BEHIND THE STORY

The Greek word zoe translates as life. The word for life was used at least 36 times in the Gospel of John, which accounts for over 25 percent of references to life in the New Testament. Bible scholars even suggest that life summarizes John’s main theme— Jesus provided physical, spiritual, and eternal life. Only He can give us new life.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus is the unblemished Lamb who redeems us away from an empty way of life.

(1)Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary –John, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), under “John 1 — the Lamb of God” and “John 10 — the Good Shepherd.”


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Once And For All

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Imagine what it would be like if you had to take one animal to church every year to be sacrificed for your sin. Take a moment to thank Jesus for fulfilling the law.

“According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” —Hebrews 9:22

Read Hebrews 9:11-28 in your Bible and thoughtfully answer these questions.

• Reread verses 12-13. Describe the process used by priests in the Old Testament to atone for the people’s sins and the ways Jesus replaced the need for those sacrifices.
• In verse 14, highlight the phrase “how much more.” Reread the entire verse and describe the main idea in your own words.
• What had to take place (v. 15) for redemption and the establishment of the new covenant? Why?
• Review today’s passage. Explain the concept of salvation.

RESPOND

Christ’s death on the cross was God’s plan all along—Jesus shedding His blood to cover our sins fulfilled the Old Testament law to the fullest extent. Jesus was not a victim of the Roman government; instead His death was the perfect sacrifice and exactly what we needed to be forgiven.

• Take a few minutes and journal a prayer of thanks to Jesus. Here are some things you may consider thanking Him for:
»»living a perfect life
»» enduring such tremendous pain physically and spiritually as He hung on the cross
»» shedding His blood so you could be forgiven
»» conquering death and sin for those who place their faith in Him
• For further study on the sacrificial system, read Leviticus 16:6-22.

BEHIND THE STORY

Christ was unblemished by sin. The importance of His sinless life can’t be overstated. Sin would have disqualified Him as our Savior because of the requirement of a sacrifice without defect. Only Christ’s perfect obedience was able to accomplish redemption for those who choose to follow Him. Christ is our unblemished lamb without defect (1 Pet. 1:19).

THE POINT

Christ was our unblemished Lamb; the once and for all sacrifice for sin. His death and resurrection nullified the rituals set forth in Old Testament law.

MEMORY VERSE

Grab an index card and jot down 1 Peter 1:18-19. Keep the card with you and glance at it throughout the day to help you remember the verses.


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Redeeming Sacrifice

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Hillsong Chapel’s song “A Beautiful Exchange” (Forever Reign Live, 2012). Meditate on what it means that Christ carried the blame for your sins.

“For you know that you were redeemed
from your empty way of life inherited
from the fathers, not with perishable
things like silver or gold, but with the
precious blood of Christ, like that of a
lamb without defect or blemish.”
—1 Peter 1:18-19

Redemption requires one person paying a price to ensure another’s freedom or release. Redemption breaks bonds of oppression and slavery to sin. In this verse, we see that we were purchased or released from slavery to sin into a living hope in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Read 1 Peter 1:18-19 in your Bible and consider the following:

• Reflect on the definition of redemption italicized above. Explain the term in your own words. The Jews would recognize the concept of redemption in God’s deliverance of His people out of Egypt. For us, it is the picture of a person who was enslaved to sin and set free by Christ’s death on the cross.
• Why is it so important to realize that we were enslaved to sin and in need of being set free? Explain.
• Peter described life without Christ as “empty” (v. 18). List some things people often try to fill that emptiness with.

RESPOND

We can only experience redemption because of the blood of Christ. He was the perfect sacrifice because He lived His whole life without sin. The gospel—the way Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection unfolded—was always God’s plan for bringing redemption to us.

• In your journal, jot down the story of how you came to know Jesus. Practice sharing your story with a parent or friend. If you have not yet trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to your parents, a trusted member of your church, or your Trailstones leader for more information.
• In your journal, list two people you know who need to hear the gospel message. Commit to sharing your story with them.
• For further study on Christ’s redemption, read Romans 5:6-11.

BEHIND THE STORY

During the time of Peter’s writing, Christians faced fierce persecution. It was much easier to renounce Christ and live in relative safety than to remain faithful to Him and risk everything. Peter reminded the believers that this world would be a temporary residence and heaven would be their eternal home. He urged them to remain faithful in the face of difficult circumstances because Christ claimed the victory and redeemed them through His death on the cross.

THE POINT

God offers permanent redemption for His people through Jesus’ sacrifice.


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