MONTHLY ARCHIVES: May 2016

The Only Way

Posted on May 24, 2016 by Karah

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Take a minute before starting your devotion and sit quietly in God’s presence. Ask Him to speak clearly as you study His Word today.

Read John 1:43-51 in your Bible. Answer the questions that follow.

“Jesus responded to him, ‘Do you believe only because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.’ Then He said, ‘I assure you: You will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.’” —John 1:50-51

How did Jesus’ brief interaction with Nathanael show that Jesus knew Nathanael well? Explain.

The Gospel of John wasn’t written as a blow-by-blow account of Jesus’ activities; instead, this Gospel is focused on helping people understand the importance of discovering the kind of faith that would transform their lives.

How does Jesus’ interaction with Nathanael display that focus? Explain.

Now, concentrate on Jesus’ comments in verses 50-51. Turn back to Genesis 28:10-22 and skim over the details of Jacob’s dream at Bethel.

How does John 1:51 relate to Jacob’s dream? Be specific.

What was Jesus declaring about Himself in that statement to Nathanael? Explain.

Respond

Jesus declared that He was the only way to know the Father. Jesus’ entire discussion with Nathanael was a personal invitation to join Him. If Nathanael followed Jesus, he would have a relationship with God through Jesus, and he would be a part of God’s mission and work on earth. Jesus is still inviting people to know Him today.

Have you personally trusted in Jesus as the only way to know the Father? If you have, thank God for bringing you into relationship with Him. Praise Him for the way He personally called you. Record your prayer of thanks in your journal.

Jesus invited Nathanael to “greater things” for the kingdom. Ask God to reveal ways He is calling you to build His kingdom on earth. Thank Him for His leadership.

For further study, read Genesis 28:10-17 and John 14:1-6.

Behind the Story

Jesus’ comparison of Nathanael and the Jewish patriarch Jacob didn’t just begin in John 1:50. Jesus’ comment in verse 47, that Nathanael was a “true Israelite” with no deceit in him, also pointed to Jacob. Known as a usurper, Jacob had deceived his father and cheated his brother out of the birthright, not to mention his questionable dealings with Laban, his father-in-law. After an encounter with God in Genesis 32, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, a reference to Jacob’s change in relationship with Him.

The Point

Jesus is the only way to have a relationship with the Father.


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A Community Begins

Posted on May 17, 2016 by Karah

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Set aside anything that could distract you from God and His Word today. Pray Psalm 119:18: “Open my eyes so that I may contemplate wonderful things from Your instruction.”

Read Mark 3:13-19 in your Bible.

“Then He went up the mountain and summoned those He wanted, and they came to Him. He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach. . .” —Mark 3:13-14

List the apostles mentioned in this passage. Next to their names, jot down any facts you may know about them.

Think through these questions:

Reread verse 14 and underline the things the disciples were being called out to do. Why is spending time with Jesus an important part of being a disciple? Explain your answer.

The disciples were also called to proclaim God’s message of redemption to the world. What does that teach you about the importance of sharing the gospel for modern-day disciples?

Notice that Jesus called together a core group of men to be His apostles. How does that underscore the importance of community in believers’ lives?

Respond

Jesus has called you into community just as He did with His apostles.

How much time do you spend with Jesus? What gets in the way of you doing so? What steps will you take this week to simply spend time with Jesus? Record two action points below or in your journal.

Commit to taking a step of deeper commitment to your church community, such as becoming more consistent in attendance, finding a ministry in which you can serve, or meeting with an accountability partner.

For further study of what Christian community looks like, read Acts 4:32-36; Romans 12:3-8; 1 Corinthians 12; and Ephesians 4.

Behind the Story

There are three other lists of apostles in the New Testament. They’re found in Matthew 10:2-4; Luke 6:14-16; and Acts 1:13. The names and order are different in the various lists, but Peter is always listed first. The passage in Mark is the only place that mentions the nickname “Sons of Thunder” for James and John.1

1Holman Christian Standard® Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2010). Accessed via mystudybible.com.

The Point

Jesus called together His core group of followers to take His message to the world. He’s calling believers to do the same today.


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Unlikely Followers

Posted on May 10, 2016 by Karah

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What kind of person do you think would make the ideal disciple? List a few descriptions or characteristics below.

Jesus replied to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” —Luke 5:31-32

Now, read Luke 5:27-32 in your Bible. At the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, tax collectors were among the most despised people in society. They collected taxes for the Romans, and their profit depended upon how much money they collected, which led them to overcharge. To put it simply, tax collectors were the last people you’d expect Jesus to call to follow Him.

Read through the passage once more and think through these questions:

Is your concept of the ideal disciple the same as the people Jesus actually called? Why or why not?

Examine Jesus’ response in verses 31-32. How would you write it in your own words?

Why is it important to understand that Jesus’ salvation isn’t about what we deserve or what we can earn? Explain.

Respond

We are all unlikely followers, yet Jesus has called us to follow Him.

Reflect on how Jesus has saved you and made you whole. Spend some time in prayer thanking God for the way He reached out to you when you didn’t deserve it.

Because they kept all the religious rules and regulation, the Pharisees and scribes thought they were better than the “sinners.” Sometimes, as believers, this attitude can creep into our lives, too. Ask God to reveal any areas in which you’ve allowed it to. In the margin, list two actions you will take to prevent your heart from becoming like the Pharisees’ hearts.

For further study of God’s grace toward us in Jesus, read Romans 5:6-11 and Ephesians 2:1-10.

Behind the Story

In a parallel account of this event in the Gospel of Matthew, the tax collector’s name is given as Matthew (Matt. 9:9). “Matthew the tax collector” is also mentioned in Matthew 10:3. Scholars generally accept Matthew and Levi as the same person. It was common for men of that day to have two names: one in Hebrew or Aramaic; the other Latin or Greek. In this case, Matthew is a Greek name while Levi is a Hebrew name.

The Point

Jesus came for sinners, not just for those who have it all together or seem to deserve Him.


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