The Supreme One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Prepare your heart for today’s devotion by listening to “Christ is Enough” by Hillsong (Glorious Ruins, 2013). Ask God to give you deeper insight into His sufficiency as you study His Word today.

Define the term reconcile in your own words.

“For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven.” —Colossians 1:19-20

Read Colossians 1:15-20 in your Bible and consider these questions.
• List all the characteristics of Jesus that Paul mentioned in these verses. These descriptions of Jesus indicate that there is nothing and no one greater than Him. He is the image of God, Creator of everything, and sovereign over all.
• Rewrite verse 19 in your own words. Pay special attention to the words “fullness” and “dwell.”
• Look at verse 20. What does Jesus’ sovereignty make Him completely qualified to do?

We were created to have a relationship with God, but sin fractured our bond. Only Jesus has the power to restore our relationship with God, to reconcile us.
• Explain in your own words how Jesus heals that relationship (v. 20).

RESPOND

Jesus is uniquely qualified to bring about reconciliation between God and people and the entire universe. The reconciliation He offers is 100 percent complete; you only have to trust Him as Savior, He already finished the work on the cross.
• On a sticky note write the following truths: I am completely forgivencompletely loved, and eternally secure in Jesus Christ. Place the note on the back of your door or your mirror so you can see it every day.
• Journal a prayer of thanks to God for sending Jesus to reconcile your relationship with Him.
• For further study on reconciliation with God, read Romans 5:10.

BEHIND THE STORY

In today’s passage, Paul was addressing the false teachers in the church at Colossae. These people claimed Jesus wasn’t as great as the Colossians thought. Although they didn’t disapprove of Him, they indicated there were others of equal standing with Jesus. Paul refuted this by reminding the Colossians of Christ’s supremacy. Jesus is enough to save and reconcile anyone back to God; there is no need to place your faith in anything or anyone else.

THE POINT

Jesus offered reconciliation through His death on the cross.


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Perfect High Priest

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

As you prepare for today’s devotion, picture Jesus on the cross and then the empty tomb. Thank God for your salvation that comes only through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

“For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself.” (Hebrews 7:26-27)

Read Hebrews 7:23-28 in your Bible. Think through the following:
• Record the differences between Jesus and the Levitical high priests listed in today’s Scripture. Make two columns in your journal and list the differences in each.
In order for the high priest to permanently intercede for the people, he had to be holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
• Why was this impossible for the high priests but completely possible for Jesus?
• In summary, what does Jesus offer that the high priests of the Old Testament could never offer?

RESPOND

Jesus is supreme—a new kind of priest—perfect and flawless in every way. He established the new covenant with His blood and acts as our High Priest, continually going before God on our behalf. His priesthood is permanent because He is alive forever.
• Explore this idea: Jesus’ sacrifice paid for all my sins, even the ones I haven’t committed yet. His sacrifice was enough to cover my mistakes forever. How does this help you handle your mistakes? Journal your thoughts.
• For further study on the supremacy of Jesus’ sacrifice, read Hebrews 8–9.

BEHIND THE STORY

When a Levitical priest died, another replaced him. The law of heredity required one of Aaron’s descendants to take over the role, even though he might not have the right qualifications to intercede for the people. However, this was not true with Jesus. He was the only one able to permanently fill the role of High Priest. Though He died, He rose again, defeated death, and will be alive to intercede for His people forever.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus is forever our High Priest. He offered Himself as the final perfect, unblemished sacrifice and is able to save anyone.

(1)Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary: Hebrews and James, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under “Hebrews 7 – Safe in Jesus’ Praying Hands.”


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The Image Restorer

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Before you dig into God’s Word today, listen to Jesus Culture’s song “Here is My Heart” (Your Love Never Fails, 2008).

Read Genesis 1:27-28 and Psalm 8:3-5 in your Bible.
• Rewrite Genesis 1:27 in your own words. What does this tell you about God’s plan for people? His love for us?
• Focus on Psalm 8:5. What do you think it means that God crowned us with glory and honor? Explain.

The world we live in seems to say that souls vary in importance. God’s Word disagrees—all of humanity was created in His image. Every life has value and worth because it bears the image of God, the glory of God. However, sin marred that image and only Jesus’ death could restore it.

“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” —2 Corinthians 3:18

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Colossians 3:9-10 in your Bible and answer the following.
• In 2 Corinthians 3:18, did Paul describe this change as immediate or gradual? Explain.
• Reread the previous question. In your Bible, underline any key words that helped you determine your answer.
• Summarize Colossians 3:9-10 in your journal. Underneath, list some differences between the old and new self by making a column titled Old and one titled New. (See Eph. 4:22-24 for guidance.)
• According to Colossians 3:10, explain how we are renewed.

RESPOND

Glorifying God isn’t just about what you do, but who you are as His image bearer. The more time you spend with God, the more you will reflect Him in the way you live.
• In your journal, jot down some specific ways you notice God’s transformation in your own life.
• For further study on how God transforms lives, read Psalm 139:23-24 and Romans 12:1-2.

BEHIND THE STORY

God’s Word doesn’t specifically mention what imago Dei, or the image of God, refers to in relation to specific characteristics of people such as spirit, soul, and body. Therefore, Bible scholars suggest that the concept of the image of God must be considered as a whole. In other words, “The entire man, as a human being, images God.”(1)

THE POINT

Christ’s death on the cross restores our image and likeness of Him.

(1)Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 806-807.


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A Tribute to Johnnie Armstrong

Posted by Ashley Genoble

               Once upon a time in a magnificent yet hidden corner of the world, scores of wide-eyed girls from across the South were taught in utmost serious and dramatic fashion by word and deed that the most lady-like action in a specific situation is to fire the .22 and blow the rattlesnake up at the head.  I can’t imagine anyone who killed more venomous snakes with a gun than Miss Johnnie Armstrong.  It seemed to be at least two per summer, possibly more if Western North Carolina was experiencing “drought conditions.” So many have a Johnnie snake story or at least we all well remember “Johnnie’s snake talk.” Thanks to her emphatic coaching, we knew like we knew our own names what to do if we had a run-in with this frightening predator.  We were okay because all we had to do was stop or freeze- a deliberate action in complete contradiction to our natural tendency in that situation but necessary since snakes react to movement.  Then, we were to yell our lungs out and somehow word always miraculously traveled to wherever she happened to be.  In no time flat, no matter what she was doing, Johnnie would be there with her rifle and the copperhead or rattlesnake would inevitably suffer a terrible defeat.  After this brief but impassioned interruption, we would resume our normal activities of singing, laughing, and playing in what to many of us was the closest place to paradise, Camp Crestridge for Girls.  But more importantly, our leader and Director taught us with all the same intensity if we were to ever have a fighting chance in this world against the real snake, the accuser, deceiver, and enemy of our souls, the weapon we would need is God’s Word hidden in our hearts.  While fearless in life, Johnnie taught us “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10) and “a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” from Proverbs 31 which she encouraged us to read everyday no matter our age.

Johnnie challenged us to spend twenty minutes alone with God at the beginning of each day in silence: praying and reading His Word.  It was called Quiet Time.  It was revolutionary to our young minds then and it is even more revolutionary now.  We had the rest of the day to talk to everyone else which as girls we most certainly did do this and like our first mother this was our usual means for getting ourselves into trouble.  But in Johnnie we had a different example.  She exhorted us to be proactive, to go ahead and set aside that time first thing for Him.  Twenty minutes of quiet sure felt like an eternity but she wanted us to know that one day we would come to treasure this time and long for more.  While we were laughing with our cabins during Cook-Out, she was alone fasting and praying for each of us.  We were challenged to hear God’s Word, memorize and recite God’s Word, sing His praises, and remain silent in Chapel or Campfire and meditate on what had been said and what changes we needed to make to live in accordance with Scripture.  Or we

simply learned to listen for the bullfrog in the lake, the crackling fire, the tall tulip poplars rustling in the wind, the soft melody of the creek making its way over rocks and under a cathedral of rhododendron, the symphony of katydids.  It is an ache we haven’t ever gotten over.  No one was more fun than Johnnie but no one could hush a group of giggling girls with simply a mere look quite like Johnnie either.  “Will you make Jesus Christ the center of your life?” she would say as she lit the white candle during Council of Progress.  With the same piercing eyes that could take aim for an elusive snake dead-on, she took aim at our squirming hearts.  It’s a question to last a lifetime.

The world will have to forgive us if as girls during that time we could not comprehend the tragedy of mass shootings that would later dominate news cycles.  We only knew the loud bang of a rifle echoing through the mountains and across the lake was a comforting noise.  It was the sound of a beautiful, extraordinary, one-of-a-kind lady with a competitive spirit like no one else, a towering joyful presence, and an excellent shot protecting girls from a very real and ancient enemy.  When we heard that sound, we never doubted: Johnnie won, somewhere a snake is dead.  If a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised, then a woman who trains other women to fear the Lord and not the world is due double honor.  Dear Johnnie, although we are scattered, your many children arise to call you blessed.  Thank you for your remarkable faithfulness to Christ.  You’ve spent your one shining season always running the race to win.  You valued each of us enough to want us to win as well.  We hope to empower those who follow behind us with the priceless, eternal weapon of God’s Word and God’s Love you have so magnificently shared with us.  And when we hear a rifle, see a snake, or are somehow unpleasantly reminded that no matter how wonderful life is at times, we are still in the cross-fires of a fallen world, we can remember that because Jesus fixed His eyes to Jerusalem, shed His blood on the cross for our sins, and rose again our ultimate enemy has been conquered. When we, who were once little girls and who are now big girls, find ourselves hysterical and tangled up with this foe, we only need to stop or freeze, cry out to Jesus, and like Johnnie, He is right there to take care of us.  Jesus has won: death, darkness, and evil are defeated.

Written by Parish Hardy


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The Perfect One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

As you begin your quiet time, consider this quote from Charles Spurgeon,

“I thought I could have leaped from earth to heaven at one spring when I first saw my sins drowned in the Redeemer’s blood.”

Earlier this Fall, you learned that redeemed means to pay the ransom or price for somebody—like paying for someone to be released from slavery. Keep this definition in mind as you read today’s devotion.

“He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” —1 Peter 1:20-21

Read 1 Peter 1:18-25 in your Bible and explore the following.
Sin enslaved all people and in order to be free from our sins, we would have to be perfect. In a world ruled by sin, we couldn’t save ourselves. We needed a substitute because God needed a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was the only one able to die for our sins, a “lamb without defect or blemish” (v. 19).
• Why was it so important for the sacrifice to be perfect?
• According to verses 18-21, what was God’s plan for redemption?
• Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Why do people need a Savior?
Jesus’ perfect life redeemed us from an empty, sinful life and eternal separation from God. He redeemed us for a relationship with God.

RESPOND

• In your journal, list any sins you struggle with. Now, draw a cross over the list. Let this be a reminder to you that these sins do not control you anymore—Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross and set you free from their hold on your life.
• Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for sending Jesus to set you free from your sins and redeem you from your empty way of life. Ask God to help you live in His freedom.
• For further study on how meaningless life is without God, read Ecclesiastes.

BEHIND THE STORY

God’s plan for Jesus was not haphazardly constructed—He knew what our redemption would require of Him, of His Son. As John Piper said, “Jesus was always God’s plan A.” God planned for Jesus to come to earth to live a perfect life and die for our sins well before sending Him to us. Note Peter’s use of the words “for you” (v. 20) and “so that your faith and hope are in God” (v. 21). God didn’t initiate His plan from a distance, but made it personal. Think of it this way: Jesus didn’t just die to give all people the chance to know Him; He died knowing that I was one of those people. Jesus died for me.

THE POINT

God raised Jesus from the dead and we can have redemption through His perfect life.


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