Hand Off

Posted on January 5, 2009 by admin

Read This Passage: 1 Corinthians 15:20-28
Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. —1 Corinthians 15:24

I was never good at relay races. Whether I was -handing the baton to the guy ahead of me or reaching for it, the team lost time if I was involved in the hand-off. But that mental picture of a relay race hand-off is important. It’s a very real picture of one person giving another person complete control over something.
That’s what today’s key verse is talking about. When Jesus returns, He’ll claim His people and hand His conquest over to God the Father.

According to Paul, there are some basic laws of Christianity. In other words, it all adds up. Once Adam sinned, death entered the human race. Christ conquered death, so we can conquer death and spend eternity with God. In the end, Christ will gain control of everything. When that happens, all will be as it should be.
Since Christ was resurrected, we know that the grave is not the end. Death is not the final word. Because of Christ’s resurrection, Christians have hope. Christianity is more than a do-good religion; it is the answer to life and death. It has eternal implications.

When Jesus returns, there won’t be any miscues. He’ll win the war; He’ll hand the kingdom over to His Father. Rest assured that God has everything under control, even the future. Don’t live in fear of the end of the world. You have hope.

Real Choices
Today’s devotion stressed that God has everything under control, even the future. Does that give you a sense of confidence and peace? Why or why not?

Digging Deeper
Read Hebrews 9:26-28. What do these verses teach you about Jesus’ return? How do these verses show you that God has everything under control?

Heavenly Father, I pray that I will be ready for the resurrection, and I look forward to the day everything is placed at Your feet.

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Taking a Stand

Posted on December 22, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Ephesians 6:10-17
This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. —Ephesians 6:13

I’ve gone to London a few times. Every time I go, I visit the Tower of London. It’s a fascinating place full of history and stories. It houses the crown -jewels and is known for the “beefeaters” who guard it every day of the year.

The Tower also houses an incredible armor display that dates back over a thousand years. The museum is full of armor for horses and warriors. I am always fascinated that those warriors (and horses!) were even able to walk around wearing that much armor, much less fight on the battlefield.

Wearing that armor must have been constraining, but those warriors knew the armor was designed to protect them from their enemies. Failure to wear every piece could leave them vulnerable to attack. The armor gave the warrior confidence to stand strong against his enemy.

All this armor talk has a purpose; today’s key verse commands believers to put on the full armor of God. Paul wasn’t talking about the kind of armor that’s on display at the Tower of London. He was talking about spiritual armor, designed specifically for us to wear every day as we walk into the battles life throws at us. It is an armor that God Himself designed so that we could stand strong against the Devil.

The point is God has given us the tools to deal with the persecution and hard times that come our way. But like those warriors of old, we have to choose to put on each piece. Take a stand for Christ today, but dress yourself with the armor He’s already supplied. Don’t go it alone!

Real Choices
How is fighting the battle going for you? God has given you resources to face persecution and rough times. Are you choosing to use those resources? Why or why not?

Digging Deeper
Look in a concordance for the word armor and battle. Read through Scripture to see just how important the armor is and what battles people faced. How did their armor protect them each time? How could God’s armor protect you in similar situations?

Ask God to give you the ability to wear His armor every day and to be able to stand strong against the attacks of the Devil.

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Posted on December 15, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: John 15:18-22
“If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will also keep yours.”
—John 15:20b

People today are always making predictions about what’s going to happen in the future. They try to predict which way the stock market and the housing market will go. Meteorologists try to predict what weather patterns will emerge. Pundits make predictions about who will win political races, commentators try to pick the winners in the biggest sporting events, and entertainment reporters spend a lot of time trying to predict the year’s best movie, actor, and song. At camp, many of you try to make predictions about what the SockWar theme will be, or what activity you will play that evening.

But predictions aren’t really new. Today’s key verse involves a prediction Jesus made to His followers about the future. Unlike our present-day -predictions about movies, sports, weather, and markets, Jesus’ prediction had to do with how the world would treat those who chose to follow Him wholeheartedly.
Jesus knew that really living out our faith wasn’t going to be easy. He knew that people would take notice when they saw real live faith, and many of them wouldn’t like it. And the truth is, there are people all around the world facing persecution because they are choosing to follow Christ. The Bible says that we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens because, after all, they persecuted Jesus. Is there any reason to believe that we will have it better than the Son of God?

While most predictions don’t change the way we choose to live, this prediction helps us gain the necessary strength to keep pressing on. The real question is, what will you do as a result of Jesus’ prediction? What do you think your counselor would do? Would they stand up for Jesus? Will you choose to quit following Christ or will you choose to draw even closer to Him? Follow Christ and draw closer to Him every day.

Real Choices
Write down the ways you believe you have been persecuted for following Christ. Think back to those times and ask yourself if you walked away stronger or more defeated in your faith because of the way you handled the situation.

Digging Deeper
Check out or to gain a better understanding of how Christians are being persecuted. What can you do to help minister to those who are suffering today?

Praise God today for the times you face persecution. Thank Him for the opportunity to grow stronger in your faith. Pray for those around the globe that are facing persecution today.

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Posted on December 8, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: 2 Timothy 3:1-5
“But know this: difficult times will come in the last days.” —2 Timothy 3:1

Think about all the warning signs you see every day. There are signs that warn you about railroad crossings, deer crossings, merging traffic, hazardous cargo, and poisonous products. Warnings go off if your house is on fire, if there’s a gas leak, or if large amounts of carbon monoxide are in your house.
There are also warnings on products we consume every day, like meat, canned foods, beverages, vitamins, and a host of other products that if not consumed or prepared correctly could be hazardous to our health.
So why all the warnings? Do we really take time to read all the warning signs that we come across every day? Chances are pretty good that you don’t read them or pay that much attention to them until there’s a crisis at hand. We seem to just skip over and ignore the warnings that could ultimately save our lives.

Today’s Scripture passage outlines a pretty harsh warning to believers about how people will act in the last days. It’s clear that they’ll live pretty much as they want to, with no form of godliness at all in their lives. Everything will be focused on themselves and fulfilling their own needs and desires at all costs. The characteristics of God won’t be all that apparent in many peoples’ lives.

Many already believe that these events are currently taking place, while still others believe the worst is yet to come. In either case, Scripture gives us the warning for a reason. God wants us to know what is going to happen so it won’t be a surprise, and we can hold fast to the truth we know. Warnings can save our lives, but only if we listen and adhere to them. What will you choose to do about this warning?

Real Choices
Today’s key verse says that difficult times will come for believers, meaning living out our faith won’t always be easy. Take a look at your life this week. When has it been difficult to live out your faith in your life? Why?

Digging Deeper
Take some time to read Galatians 5:22-23 and discover the characteristics that God desires us to live out daily in our lives. If you don’t have these verses memorized, take time to memorize it them week.

God, help me to live my life according to Your characteristics. Help me to notice the warning signs and avoid the danger that lies ahead.

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We Are the Champions

Posted on December 1, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Romans 8:36-39
“No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us.” —Romans 8:37

Imagine yourself as a soldier. Not in Ridgecrest Sockwar from last summer, but in the middle east, in the middle of a war. The enemy lines are quickly approaching as you await your commander’s order from the depths of the trenches. Your heart races; your palms grow clammy; sweat begins to pour from your forehead. A fierce battle seems imminent. As the advancing army begins to get louder, you look toward your commander, still waiting on his lead. Just when you think they can’t get any closer, your commander stands above the trench, aims his rifle, and fires. You jump to your feet, but when you peek above the trench, what you see is astonishing. With just one shot, your commander has overtaken an entire army. The enemy lines have fallen.

As Scripture says, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31b). You see, this passage clearly shows us that we are on the winning team—we are more than victorious because of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection! We are the champions.

Nothing can separate us from the love of God. Nothing today or tomorrow, no difficulty, no sin, no terrorism, no natural disaster, no circumstance, no amount of money, not even death itself can separate us from our Father’s love. When God sent His only Son to die for you and me, He proved His immeasurable love for us.

Life is hard and often unfair. It’s pretty easy to watch the evening news or read the latest headlines and get depressed. You may not feel like a champion, even though you belong to Christ, when everything seems to be falling apart.

Know this: God loves you more than you will ever fully comprehend. Life is hard, but you don’t have to live in doubt with Him as your Commander.

Real Choices
All too often, we allow circumstances to alter our view of our relationship with God. Write out Romans 8:37-39 and place it where you will regularly see it this week. Make it your goal to memorize it to help you remember its truth even in difficult times.

Digging Deeper
Check out 1 John 2:12-14. What do these verses teach you about the victory you have in Christ?

Ask God to calm your heart and mind. Thank Him that we are more than conquerors because of His great love for us. Ask Him to help you rest under His command and let Him lead.

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Posted on November 24, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Colossians 3:12-17
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. —Colossians 3:17

As Christians, we should be the most thankful people in the world. After all, we personally know the Creator of the universe and have received all of the benefits that come with knowing Christ. We have received forgiveness. Every sin that we have ever committed has been entirely forgiven. We should have an attitude of gratitude considering all God has done for us.

Unfortunately, most of us do not. I must confess that, far too often, I find myself complaining rather than expressing thanksgiving. Even when I’m here at camp, I find myself looking at the problems to fix, rather than the incredible life Jesus has given me… I mean after all, I basically live at camp!

Today’s Scripture passage shows three elements of our Christian walk: the peace of Christ, the words of Christ, and the name of Christ. Applying the truth about these three will result in a thankful heart.
First, the Lord’s peace guides us. The presence of His peace indicates that we are moving in the right direction. When we want to know His will, we wait for His peace.

Second, the Word of God must transform the way we act and think. Having a Bible beside your bed does not mean that you have any of it in your heart or mind. God’s Word should dwell in us and saturate every part of our lives. It becomes a part of who you are!

Third, the way we live our lives—what we “do, in word or in deed”—should point others to God. God’s call on our lives as Christians is all-encompassing. It isn’t just going to church or being active in a youth group, or coming to camp in the summer. It’s living out our faith every day, when it’s easy and when it’s not. We are called to do all things in the “name of the Lord,” even in the very grit of life. You belong to God. Live like it!

Real Choices
How has today’s devotion challenged your ideas about what it means to be a person of faith? Does your faith make any difference in your daily life? Why or why not?

Digging Deeper
Read Colossians 3:1-11, the prelude to the passage you just studied. Carefully observe the differences between living to please yourself versus living to please the Spirit.

Ask the Lord to help you avoid living a mediocre life. Pray that in everything you do and say, in every part of your life, you might honor His name.

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Posted on November 17, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Colossians 1:15-20
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

From Genesis 3 onward, sin stands as a barrier between us and God. Sin enslaves us and devastates our relationship with God. Sin is deadly. It is the power of sin that we must grasp in order to fully value what Christ has done for us.

God took a look at this hopeless situation and created a plan through Jesus Christ. In Colossians 1, Paul said that God “was pleased” to reconcile all things to Himself with the work of the cross. That extraordinary act of God at Calvary was His deliberate choice because of His great love for us. It was His decision to start a process of reconciliation that would remove that barrier of sin and restore our relationships with Him.
In other words, because of Christ’s death and resurrection, sin can no longer stand as a fence between us and God. He’s taken care of our sin, once and for all.

But that’s not all. God has not only pardoned our sins; He wants us to live in relationship with Him. In our sin, we were helpless to restore our relationship with the Creator. God chose to reconcile that relationship through Christ’s blood. Jesus took on our sin and died so that we might live each day in relationship with His Father.

We don’t often like to recognize that we had any role in Christ’s death, but we did because of sin. God deliberately set up a plan to bring us back into full relationship with Him through Christ. Don’t miss that!

Real Choices
If God is convicting you of areas of sin in your life, find a quiet place to get alone with Him. Search the Scriptures for relevant verses and spend uninterrupted time in prayer. Humbly admit your sin to the Lord and watch as He once again reconciles you to Himself.

Digging Deeper
The English word reconciliation is from the Latin reconciliare: re means “again” and conciliare means “to bring together, to unite.” For further study on reconciliation, check out Ephesians 1:7-8.

Thank God for His deep love for us. Thank Jesus for His willingness to give His life for yours. Ask the Lord to reveal your sin. Confess it as He reveals it.

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Posted on November 10, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Revelation 5:8-10
“And they sang a new song: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; because You were slaughtered, and You redeemed people for God by Your blood from every tribe and language and people and nation.’” —Revelation 5:9

Can you imagine being a fly on the wall in this worship service? John takes us into the throne room of heaven. Christ, through His humiliating death and victorious resurrection, has gone into heaven after redeeming His people from the bondage of sin. He is welcomed by a new song because of His worthiness to be our king, because of what He did on the cross. What words can more fully declare the greatness of Christ than the lyrics of this song? He literally purchased people from every people group in the world, a price tag that cost Him His own life.

It is Christ’s work on the cross that gives us victory. It is the work of the cross that gives life. He has fixed our sin problem, taking what was destroyed by sin and restoring us through His sacrifice.
Picture yourself attending this worship service. (If you are a follower of Christ, you will be there.) Christ is your Redeemer. He gives you freedom to live life to its fullest.

Be excited that Christ loved you all the way to the cross. Praise Him for the freedom His sacrifice brings to you.

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Posted on November 3, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Revelation 5:1-7
Then one of the elders said to me, “Stop crying. Look! The Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has been victorious so that He may open the scroll and its seven seals.” —Revelation 5:5

Today’s passage opens with John watching events unfold in the throne room of heaven. God is seated on His throne, holding a scroll no one seems worthy to open and read.

John’s weeping is evidence of the importance of that scroll. Notice the difference between what is announced (“The Lion from the tribe of Judah”) and what actually appears (“a slaughtered lamb”). The triumphant Lion is the slaughtered Lamb. The supreme King is the crucified Savior. One, and only one, is found worthy. No created being—not an angel, not Billy Graham, not your counselor from camp this summer – no one but Jesus is worthy.

Christ alone, because of His humility on the cross, can unveil the will of God for the world found in the scroll. Envision Jesus as both the Lion and the Lamb. If we want to see the Lion as our Savior rather than our judge, we must first find Him in the Lamb, the very substitute for our sin on the cross. As Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:18, we can’t know Christ’s saving power without knowing the humility of His crucifixion.

Read Philippians 2:5-11 as a prayer. Praise Jesus for being both the Lion and the Lamb.

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Third Day

Posted on October 27, 2008 by admin

Read This Passage: Luke 24:1-9
So the women were terrified and bowed down to the ground. “Why are you looking for the living among the dead?” asked the men. “He is not here, but He has been resurrected!” —Luke 24:5-6a

This familiar text is rich with reminders to us. Do you see the warmth and respect the women displayed to Jesus even after he was dead and buried? Can you imagine their astonishment that day? Honestly, I would have questioned the situation, too. The women went to the grave intending to find Christ in His burial rags and saw angels in shining garments instead.

When the angels spoke, they simply reminded the women of Jesus’ own words. The angels declared that Jesus had risen from the dead just as He had prophesied. The message was clear: this wasn’t news; Jesus had told them He would be resurrected.

Sometimes, we’re a lot like these women. They had been followers of Christ; they proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God and the Messiah. They had seen Him raise the dead—more than once! They had heard Him say that He must die and rise again. But sorrow overtook them when they saw the empty tomb. The angels simply reminded them to remember.

That empty grave is important. Even the grave could not hold the King! Jesus defeated death itself. There are no chains He cannot break. The empty grave means that there is nothing too difficult for the Lord to conquer—wrecked relationships, sinful patterns, broken homes, painful addictions, and yes, even reconciling us to the Father. He alone is able. Jesus rose on the third day, and we can live every day in knowledge of that victory!

Real Choices
Has there ever been a time when a particular Scripture passage jumped off the page at you, so to speak? Think back through the times when you know that the Lord has used His Word to speak directly to you. Make a list of those passages and read through them each day this week in order to “remember” what you’ve been told.

Digging Deeper
Are you living as though you’ve been set free? To learn more about Christ’s victory over death, read 1 Corinthians 15:55-58.

Spend some time confessing your doubt to the Lord. Ask Him to help you to continually remember what He has said in His Word. Thank Him for His victory in your life.

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