MONTHLY ARCHIVES: July 2017

Signs

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Think about your favorite signs that summer is coming. How do you prepare? Ask God to help you see the signs that point to His return and to be prepared.

Read Matthew 24:3-36 in your Bible.

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near—at the door!”
Matthew 24:32-33

The word near doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus will return today or even 10 years from now; near simply means Jesus has completed what was necessary for people to have access to God through Him and could return at any time.

Reread verses 32-36 carefully and think through these questions:

No one knows the specific time of Jesus’ return. List things in the passage Jesus listed as signs of His return.

Though no one knows exactly when Jesus will return, you can watch for changes in the world around you. Write the promises about these changes in verses 34 and 35.

Respond

Many people have tried to predict the day of Jesus’ return. Jesus said not even He or the angels know the hour, only the Father (v. 36). Always carefully compare anything you hear (or read) about Jesus’ return to the truth of God’s Word.

How would your life change this week if you lived like you really believed Jesus’ return was near? List at least three things you want to do differently and pray for God to give you an expectant heart as you wait for His coming.

For further study on Jesus’ return, read 2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 1:1-3.

Behind the Story

The events described in verses 15-22 likely describe the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70. First-century historian Josephus identified “the abomination that causes desolation” as the shedding of priestly blood in the sanctuary several years before the destruction of the temple. Matthew, though, closely associated these events with Jesus’ second coming (v. 29-30). This implies these events closely parallel things that will occur immediately before Jesus’ return.[1]

The Point

Jesus will return, but we do not know exactly when. Believers must remain obedient and ready.

 

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


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The Truth About Jesus

Posted on July 18, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Listen to your favorite worship song. Ask God to open your heart to His truth today.

“But He looked at them and said, ‘Then what is the meaning of this Scripture: The stone that the builders rejected—this has become the cornerstone? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and if it falls on anyone, it will grind him to powder!’”
—Luke 20:17-18

Read Luke 20:9-19 in your Bible. Most biblical scholars believe the vineyard owner in this parable represents God, while the owner’s son represents Jesus.

• Match the story elements with what or whom they represent.

Vineyard
Tenant farmers
slaves
Owner
Owner’s son
Others (v. 16)

Israel’s leaders
Jesus
Old Testament prophets
Gentiles
God
God’s gift and promises to
Israel

• In what way do you see God’s judgment in this parable? His grace? Explain.

• Read Psalm 118:22, the verse Jesus quoted in today’s Scripture. Write your definition of a cornerstone. What does this help you understand about Jesus? Explain.

• Verse 18 upset the religious leaders because they knew Jesus “had told this parable against them.” What was their reaction? What stopped them from carrying out their plan? Explain.

Respond

• Evaluate your life. Is Jesus the cornerstone, the foundation, and strength of your life? Why or why not?
• Whom or what are you trying to make the focus of you life other than Jesus? Confess these things today. Ask God to help you focus your life on Jesus.

For further study, read Psalm 118, Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, and 1 Peter 2:4-10.

Behind the Story

At its core, the parable reflects an issue of authority. Israel’s leaders rejected God’s authority through those He sent to them throughout history, the prophets, and even rejected Jesus’ authority. Though confronted by God’s Word (v. 17), the authority they claimed to revere, nothing changed. They wanted to hold onto their authority and power over the people.

Cornerstone (n.) = The cornerstone was placed between the corner of two walls as a connecting point. The cornerstone also symbolized strength.

The Point

God sent Jesus to proclaim redemption, but those who reject Him will suffer devastating consequences.


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You Don’t Have Forever

Posted on July 11, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Take a few minutes to thank God for the gift of today. Consider this: What would be left undone if yesterday were the last day of your life?

“And He told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree that was planted in his vineyard. He came looking for fruit on it and found none. He told the vineyard worker, ‘Listen, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it even waste the soil?’ But he replied to him, ‘Sir, leave it this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. Perhaps it will bear fruit next year, but if not, you can cut it down.’”—Luke 13:6-9

 

Read Luke 13:1-9 in your Bible.

-In verses 3 and 5, Jesus spoke the same words. What was the action Jesus told the crowd to take?

-What consequences did Jesus say they would face if they did not act? Why is this important to you today?

 

Read Galatians 5:22-23.

-Galatians 5:22-23 lists characteristics of people who have trusted Jesus as their Savior. These characteristics are called fruit of the Spirit. Verses 6, 7, and 9 also use the word fruit to describe showing godly characteristics. How does the barren tree illustrate the way many people live their lives today? Explain.

-Reread Luke 13 verses 7–9 . The vineyard owner was fed up with the tree because it didn’t produce fruit like it was supposed to. He ordered the vineyard worker to cut it down. But the vineyard worker interceded and asked the owner to give the tree another chance. In the same way, God’s judgment will also come. People must repent before it’s too late.

Respond

Luke’s writing was not only a warning to the people of Israel, but also a warning to you today.

How does this passage challenge you in the areas of your spiritual life about which you tend to think, I’ll do that when I’m older? List some of those areas.

Journal a prayer, asking God to show you specific ways you can live more for Him now.

Jot down the names of two godly older Christians who can be mentors and help you grow spiritually. They could be camp counselors, church leaders, or even older friends. Ask them to pray for you to live more like Jesus each day.

For further study, read Jeremiah 21:8 and Luke 3:8–9.

Behind the Story

The fig tree was often used as a symbol for the nation of Israel (Matt. 24:32-33; Mark 11:12-14). Fig trees are slow to develop, but three years was plenty of time for one to become mature and bear fruit. The extra year allowed in the parable likely represented one final chance, as an act of God’s mercy and grace.[1]

The Point

The gift of another day is God’s grace, not His approval. Time is short, and judgment will come one day.

 

 

 

 

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


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The Stuff that Lasts

Posted on July 4, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Look around at the stuff you have and would hate to live without. Invite God to challenge your attitude about material possessions as you study His Word today.

Do you always want more—stuff, acclaim, respect, talent—or are you content? Why or why not? Record your response in your journal.

“He then told them, ‘Watch out and be on guard against all greed because one’s life is not in the abundance of his possessions.’”—Luke 12:15

Read Luke 12:13-21.

According to verse 15, does the amount of stuff you own matter? Why or why not? Explain.

The rich man focused on his possessions and constantly getting more stuff to enjoy. Read verse 20 again. Circle the word God used to describe the man at the beginning of the verse. Did God consider the man’s decision wise? Why or why not?

Now, read verse 21. The verse says the man kept his wealth for himself and was not “rich toward God.” Simply put, the rich man didn’t handle his possessions in a way that pleased God. Looking back at verse 21, where should your treasure be? What kind of riches should you have? What does that mean? Write it in your own words.

Respond

Where do you tend to place your confidence? Circle any that apply.

Your abilities

Good deeds

Hard work

Money

Possessions

Popularity

Jesus

By your thoughts and actions this past week, where would you say you’re investing the most—the world or eternity? How do you know?

Why does what you invest in matter? Journal some ways you can choose to invest in God’s kingdom.

For further study, read Psalm 39:6 and Matthew 6:19-20.

Behind the Story

Jesus was recognized as a rabbi. In Jewish society, rabbis normally handled disputes over family inheritance. Traditionally, the older brother received twice the inheritance. It is possible the man asking for Jesus’ help (v.13) was a younger brother. Jesus called out greed as the internal motivation and suggested being “rich toward God” (v. 21), meaning using what you have on earth to glorify God and make an eternal difference.[1]

Greed (n.) = A selfish and excessive desire for more of something (like money) than is needed.

The Point

In light of death, judgment, and eternity, placing your faith in Jesus and living for Him is more important than what you have.

 

 

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


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