MONTHLY ARCHIVES: January 2019

Message of Hope

Posted on January 29, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Grab a your Bible, journal, and a pen. Find a quiet, comfy place where you won’t be disturbed. Pray, asking God to help you understand what you study in His Word today.

Over the next few weeks, you will read about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Quickly read through the complete story in John 11:1-44.

“When Jesus heard it, He said, ‘This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.’” —John 11:4

Now, read John 11:1-6 in your Bible. Ask yourself:
• Jesus had a strong bond with Lazarus. As you focus your attention on verses 1-6, underline any words or phrases that help you better understand their relationship.

Despite Jesus’ relationship with Lazarus and his sisters, He waited to go to them. Jesus knew that God would demonstrate His power and authority by raising Lazarus from the dead. He even told His disciples that the outcome of Lazarus sickness would not be death, yet Lazarus was in the tomb when Jesus arrived.
• In your own words, explain Jesus’ statement in verse 4.
• Jesus timing assured that there would be no mistaking that Lazarus was dead when He arrived. How did Jesus’ timing bring glory to God? Explain.
• List a few ways Jesus showed His authority and power by waiting until Lazarus was dead to perform a miracle.

RESPOND

Before the story completely unfolded, Jesus told His disciples the outcome-Lazarus wouldn’t stay in the tomb. While we have access to the end of this story, Jesus’ disciples questioned His choice to remain where He was because they knew He could heal Lazarus. Jesus doesn’t always work in ways that we understand or provide healing when we think He should, but He has the power to do more than we can imagine.

• When have you questioned something God allowed in your life? Maybe a loved one died, but you prayed for healing. Talk honestly with God about any doubts or fears you had. Ask Him to help you see how He worked things for good in that situation.
• For further study on Jesus’ power and authority, read Colossians 1:17.

BEHIND THE STORY

The first two verses of John 11 indicate that Jesus knew Mary, Martha, and Lazarus well. Verse five also shows a strong bond between them saying, “Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus.” Despite Jesus’ bond with this family, He stayed for two more days across the Jordan where John was baptizing. By the time Jesus reached Lazarus, he had been in the grave four days (v. 17).

THE POINT

Jesus displayed His authority and power by raising Lazarus from the dead.


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Obstacles to Opportunities

Posted on January 22, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Find a quiet place to be alone with no distractions. Take some time to pray, asking God to reveal Himself to you.

Review last week’s devotion before you read today’s Scripture. As you continue reading about Jairus’ encounter with Jesus, consider how Jesus used a seemingly hopeless situation to show more of His power. Think of a time when Jesus gave you hope in a situation that seemed impossibly grim. Journal about that experience.

Now, read Matthew 9:23-26.

“When Jesus came to the leader’s house, He saw the flute players and a crowd lamenting loudly. ‘Leave,’ He said, ‘because the girl isn’t dead, but sleeping.’ And they started laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been put outside, He went in and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. And this news spread throughout that whole area.” —Matthew 9:23-26

Read Mark 5:35-43 in your Bible. Answer these questions:
• In verses 35-36, Jairus received news that His daughter had died. How did Jesus respond? Why is this important?
• Jesus’ words “only believe” (v. 36) were meant to encourage Jairus’ to keep believing that Jesus could still save his daughter. What does this teach you about your own belief when circumstances seem beyond hope? Explain.
• Jesus used the word “sleeping” to describe the girl’s condition and the people in Jairus’ house laughed at Him. Why do you think they responded this way? How would you respond?

RESPOND

We don’t have the benefit of seeing the bigger picture, but God does. We sometimes find ourselves feeling completely hopeless, filled with anxiety and sadness, and wanting to give up the belief that God can change our situation. Today’s passage teaches us nothing and no one is beyond God’s power.
• What circumstances in your life seem hopeless right now? Journal a prayer to God, placing your fears and hope in His hands. Confess your need for His help and thank Him for using difficult circumstances to draw you into a deeper relationship with Him.
• Jesus brings hope even when life is tough. Think of a few people who need encouragement and hope in the midst of a difficult time. List their names in the margin.
• Ask God to show you how you help those people find hope in Jesus this week.

BEHIND THE STORY

The people in Jairus’ house laughed at Jesus when He said the girl was only sleeping. In 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14, Paul explained this concept further. Paul used the word “asleep” (v. 13) to describe the state of believers when they die. Just as people typically wake up from sleep in the morning, believers who have died will one day rise up to eternal life with Christ. When Jesus used the words “sleep” and “sleeping” in this passage, He was talking about a temporary condition.

THE POINT

Jesus brings hope and life, even when we believe our circumstances are beyond help.


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Faith That Gives Life

Posted on January 15, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

List all the ways God has shown His power in your life, then praise Him for being a mighty and powerful God.

Read Matthew 9:18-19 in your Bible. Many Jewish leaders didn’t follow Jesus because His teachings were radically different. Today’s reading focuses on one Jewish leader, Jairus, who came to Jesus for help when his daughter was sick.
• Read Jairus’ statement at the end of verse 18. What does this tell you about his faith?

“One of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus he fell at His feet and kept begging Him, ‘My little daughter is at death’s door. Come and lay Your hands on her so she can get well and live.’”—Mark 5:22-23

Read Mark 5:22-24 in your Bible. Consider the following:
• As you read, underline any words that indicate Jairus’ feelings about his
daughter’s illness. What does his persistence reveal about the urgency of
his situation?
• Review both accounts of Jairus’ encounter with Jesus. List some things that revealed his faith in Jesus.
• Why is it important to believe that Jesus can overcome anything? Explain.

RESPOND

• Terminal illness and death are often difficult to address, so prayerfully think about a time in your life when you lost a loved one or knew someone with a terminal illness. How did you respond? Journal your about your experience.
• Jairus showed faith by going to Jesus with his dying daughter, believing His touch alone would heal. On a scale of 1-10, how strong is your faith during times of crisis?
• Do you believe that Jesus is strong enough today to work miracles like He did with Jairus’ daughter? Confess any doubts to God and ask Him to help you trust Him with the tough situations in your life.

BEHIND THE STORY

In each account of this healing, Jairus asked Jesus to lay His hands on his daughter. Jairus, as a synagogue leader, would have been familiar with the common practice of laying hands on someone to bestow blessing or for healing.

THE POINT

We don’t have to fear anything. Belief in Jesus overcomes all situations.


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Willing & Able

Posted on January 8, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to “I Can Only Imagine” by MercyMe (Almost There, 2001) and consider how you would react if you were suddenly face-to-face with Jesus.

“He saw Jesus, fell facedown, and begged Him: ‘Lord, if You are
willing, You can make me clean.’”—Luke 5:12b

Read Luke 5:12-16 in your Bible and think through these questions:

• In today’s passage, Jesus and the man with the skin disease both took a risk. What risk did each one take? Explain.
• Looking at verse 12, what three things did the man do?
• Consider the man’s request to Jesus. Highlight or circle the word “willing.” Why is this word important? Explain.
• In this passage, the man with the skin disease showed humility. The opposite of humility is pride. In your journal, record some characteristics of a humble person and one who is prideful.

RESPOND

We all have a reason to follow Jesus, but we must be willing to let Him cleanse us and prepare our hearts for His kingdom.
• On a sticky note, complete the following statement: Lord, if You are willing, You can…
• Stick the note on your mirror or the back of your door, where you’ll see it often. Even if Jesus doesn’t take away that circumstance, heal that sickness, or change that situation, know that it isn’t because He wasn’t able.
• For further study, read Isaiah 55:8-11. Meditate on these verses, considering the faith it takes to believe that God’s ways are better, even though we can’t always comprehend them.

BEHIND THE STORY

The man in today’s passage was likely an outcast because of His skin disease, yet He didn’t hesitate to go to Jesus and ask for healing. The man fell on his face before Jesus, showing humility and respect. The man also called Him “Lord,” signifying a person in higher authority. In respect and honor, Jewish people also used the title Lord to refer to God to avoid calling Him by His personal name, Yahweh.

THE POINT

God is able to do anything. We can trust Him, even if we don’t understand His timing.


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When Words Are Enough

Posted on January 2, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

What does it take for you to be convinced something is true? Consider whether you trust God enough to take Him at His Word.

Read John 4:46,54. This was not Jesus first miracle in Galilee. During both miracles, the people who came to Jesus for help were required to trust Him at His word that He would provide.

“’Go,’ Jesus told him, ‘your son will live.’ The man believed what Jesus said to him and departed.” —John 4:50

Ask yourself:

• Jesus answered the royal official’s plea by accusing the crowd of only looking for signs and wonders. In this case, He didn’t give them a miracle to witness. What did He do instead? Why is that important?

Examine Jesus’ promise to the official in verse 50. The word “go” here is a command. Jesus didn’t just give the official permission to leave; He told him to go and promised healing for the man’s son.

• What kind of faith did Jesus require from the official? Explain.

• Imagine what you would do if you were the official: would you leave behind your one chance at healing with a promise? Why or why not?

RESPOND

Today, people love to rely on their own wisdom for answers to tough questions, but as believers we should rely on the truth of God’s Word. It can be difficult to obey His commands without assurance that the outcome will be what we want, but we have to trust in God and in the truth of His Word, knowing that His way is best.

• Think of a time when you had to choose to obey God based only on a promise in His Word. At the time, maybe it made more sense to go against God’s Word, maybe you were afraid of how others would react, or maybe you didn’t trust God to take care of your situation. What was the most difficult thing about that situation? Do you still struggle to trust in His Word no matter what? Journal your thoughts.

• God’s Word is full of trustworthy promises. Find a verse or passage that directly speaks to a situation in your life, like Psalm 27:13-14; Isaiah 40:31; John 16:33; or 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Memorize the verse and meditate on it every time you are tempted to doubt God’s faithfulness.

BEHIND THE STORY

This healing is considered a part of the “Cana cycle,” which took place in John 2:1–4:54. This cycle consists of three signs: turning the water into wine at the wedding, the temple clearing, and Jesus’ healing the official’s son. All three occurrences were considered proofs of Jesus as the Messiah.¹

THE POINT

Christ-followers must trust His Word is true and live in obedience to it.

 

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


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