CATEGORY ARCHIVES: Devotions

The Vine

Posted on December 12, 2017 by Karah

PAUSE

Briefly read back over each of the ‘I Am’ statements from the last two weeks’ devotions, as you prepare your heart for today’s reading.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” —John 15:5

Read John 15:1-8. Answer the following questions:

• A vine sustains—fruit will not grow unless connected to the vine. What does it mean that Jesus is the vine? Explain.

• In verse 4, Jesus said a branch cannot produce fruit on its own. Look back at the first part of the verse. How does a branch produce fruit? How does this relate to a Christian’s relationship with Jesus?

• In verses 3-4, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. Why was it important for them to remain in Him? How does this apply to you? Explain.

• Throughout His ministry, Jesus focused on bringing glory to God. Look at verse 8. What does this tell you about the importance of producing fruit as a follower of Jesus?

• How could remaining connected to Jesus and producing fruit help others recognize their need for Him?

RESPOND

If you want to truly live out your faith, you must remain connected to Jesus. When you remain in Jesus, your life will bear fruit of your relationship with Him. Put simply: if you truly love and follow Jesus, others will be able to see Him working through you.

• Jesus said to remain in Him five times throughout verses 1-8. Does this describe your relationship with Jesus? Why or why not? How are you growing in your faith? Journal your response.

• For further study on bearing fruit read Galatians 5:22-23.

BEHIND THE STORY

In the Old Testament, Israel was often depicted as the vine and God as the vineyard keeper. Usually, Israel was shown as dried up or ready to be burned (Ps. 80:8–9; Isa. 27:2–6). But in the New Testament, Jesus declared He was the vine. Jesus became the mediator between God and Christ followers. In today’s passage, Jesus revealed that people must remain in Him to live in a way that pleases God.

THE POINT

Jesus is the center of our lives. When we remain focused on Him and continue to grow in relationship with Him, our lives will bear fruit that others will see.


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The Way, the Truth, the Life

Posted on December 5, 2017 by Karah

PAUSE

Quickly list of all the thoughts or things cluttering your mind right now. Review and set aside your list. Ask God to help you clear your mind to focus on His Word.

“Jesus told him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” —John 14:6

Read John 14:1-11. Ask yourself:
• What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (v. 6)? It is only through Jesus that you can be reconciled to God, know the truth about how to live, and experience new life.

• According to the last part of verse 6, what is the way to be reconciled to God? How did Jesus make this possible? Explain.

• Many people believe that there is more than one way to get to heaven. Circle the words “except through me.” How do Jesus’ words go against that view?

• Reflect on verse 7. Jesus said if the disciples knew Him, they would know the Father. In verse 9, Jesus repeated Himself, once again declaring that He and God are one. How does knowing this affect your view of Jesus’ authority? His promises to you?

RESPOND

Journal a prayer, thanking God for providing a way for you to be reconciled with Him through Jesus. Do you struggle to believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life? Confess your struggle
to God. If you have questions, ask your camp counselor or a pastor at your church.

Ask God to help you to stand firm in your beliefs. Pray that He will give you wisdom as you talk to people who have different beliefs. Look at the definition of the word reconciled below. Examine your heart. Are you reconciled to the Father?

reconciled (v.) = to restore harmony to a relationship

BEHIND THE STORY

In John 14:1-6, Jesus told His disciples that He would soon depart from them to go to the Father. He said He would go away to prepare a place for them, and then return to take them with Him. In
verse five, Thomas asked how they would know the way to the place Jesus prepared for them. Today’s Scripture gives the answer.

THE POINT

Jesus is the only way to be saved. We must share this news with others


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The Resurrection and the Life

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Check out “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher (Saints and Sinners, 2015). Think about the things Jesus has done for you. Praise God for His gift of salvation.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?’” —John 11:25-26

Read John 11:17-27. Consider the following questions:

• Read verses 22 and 24. Highlight the phrase I know. What do these words indicate about Martha’s faith? Do you think she trusted Jesus? Why or why not?

• Martha believed and had faith in Jesus, but she did not understand the scope of His power. Even though Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, Jesus had the power to give Him life physically as well as spiritually. Why is this concept so important?

Jesus asserted His power over death, stating that He was the source of resurrection power and eternal life. Only He has the power to give us real, meaningful, and abundant life.

Respond

Have you accepted Jesus’ invitation to spend eternity with Him? Thank Him for His gift of salvation. If you haven’t trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to a parent, friend, or your camp counselor about what it means to follow Jesus.

Jesus sees the bigger picture (v. 4). Have you experienced a time when God seemed to delay a response, but later revealed His “big picture” to you? Journal what stands out to you most about that time.

If you know people who are grieving, pray for them. Ask God to help you show His love to those who are hurting.

Behind the Story

In John 11:1-16, Lazarus became sick. Martha and Mary informed Jesus of His friend’s sickness, but
Jesus didn’t go to them immediately. Before Jesus began His journey to Bethany, Lazarus died. Even though Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He knew that Lazarus’ death would glorify God (v. 4) and encourage people to believe in Him.

The Point

Jesus is sovereign over death and He is the source of eternal life. Only He gives our lives true meaning
and purpose.


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The Good Shepherd

Posted on November 21, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Read Psalm 23 in your Bible. Allow these verses to prepare your heart for today’s devotion about Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

Reread John 10:1-5 from last week’s devotion.

The shepherd in this passage knew his sheep, called them, and lead them. Notice that the shepherd didn’t just call his sheep with a command to follow, but he called them by name—pointing to the intimacy of the relationship between shepherd and sheep. Biblical scholars suggest this metaphor demonstrates the relationship between Jesus and His people.

“I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me, as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.”

—John 10:14-15

Now, read John 10:11-21 and ask yourself these questions:

Read verses 11-15 again. List some characteristics of a good shepherd in your journal.

 

Jesus called Himself the Good Shepherd and believers are referred to as His sheep. Look at the characteristics you listed above. How would you describe Jesus’ relationship with us? Explain.

 

Read verse 11 again. Underline the words “I lay down my life for the sheep.” How does this show Jesus’ love for you? How does it point to Jesus’ death on the cross?

 

Respond

Jesus wants a personal relationship with you—He wants to know you. You are so important to Jesus that He died for you to have the chance to know Him. He invites you to an intimate relationship built on love and trust.

Relationships provide you with many good things, but usually require things of you as well. In your journal, draw a line down the middle of a clean page. At the top of the page, write the headings Given and Required. Under the appropriate heading, jot down some things God provides for us and some things He requires of us.

Jesus loves us enough to die for us. He takes care of us. Is there someone in your life today who needs to hear this? Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you discern how to share the truth with them.

For further study on Jesus’ sacrifice, read Hebrews 9:12; 1 John 2:2; and 1 John 3:16.

Behind the Story

The Jewish belief system rests on the Mosaic law, given by God through Moses in the Old Testament. The Jews already knew God as the “Shepherd of Israel” (Ezek. 34; Isa. 40:11). When Jesus claimed the title, He was identifying Himself as one with God in a way they would specifically understand.

The Point

Jesus laid down His life for us because He loves us. By trusting Him as Savior, we can know God personally.


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The Door

Posted on November 14, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Take a minute and talk to God about what’s on your mind-—the good, the bad, and everything in between. Ask God to prepare your heart to study His Word.

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” —John 10:9

Read John 10:1-10.

In Jesus’ day, people would have understood that the gate to the sheepfold was a shepherd or watchman lying across the opening in the wall. As you will study more next week, Jesus was also known as the Good Shepherd. Put simply: Jesus is the leader and protector of His people.

Think through these questions and write the answer in your journal:

Circle the phrase “the door” throughout the passage. What does Jesus’ identity as the door tell you about the way to eternal life? About your salvation? Explain.

Jesus is the only way to enter eternal life. He provides salvation to all who place their trust in Him. When you trust Jesus as Savior, you become His. Your salvation and your place with Him in eternity is secure.

-In verse 9, Jesus promises three things to those who enter through Him. List them in the margin of your Bible.

-Read verse 10 again. What did Jesus promise here? Write His promise in your own words.

-What does Jesus’ promise in verse 10 reveal about His character?

Respond

Jesus didn’t only promise life after we die. He also promised abundant life while we’re here on the earth. How has He provided abundant life to you? Journal a prayer of thanks to God for all He has done for you.

Doors let things in and keep things out. For further study on the function of doors in Scripture, read Genesis 4:7; Psalm 141:3; Colossians 4:2-3; and Revelation 3:20.

Behind the Story

A sheepfold was a secure enclosure surrounded by a high wall or fence. The entrance was the only opening and would have been protected by a watchman or guard. The guard served as the protector of the sheep and the gate to the sheepfold. The only way to get to the sheep was to climb the wall or confront the guard. [1]

The Point

Jesus is the only way to be saved. Anyone who comes to Him in faith can know the security of His salvation.

 

 

[1] Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary – John, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “John 10 – The Good Shepherd”. Accessed July 23, 2015, LifeWay devotional outline.


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The Light of the World

Posted on November 7, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Before you dig into God’s Word today, check out “The Light in Me” by Brandon Heath (Leaving Eden, 2011). Think about what it means to have the light of the world.

Read John 1:1-5;3:19-21. Ask yourself:

Who is the Light and who sent that light to men?

Why did the people like darkness (v. 19b–20)? Are people still this way today?

According to verse 21, those who live by the truth ______________ ______    __________

“Then Jesus spoke to them again: ‘I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life’.”

—John 8:12

Read John 8:12-20.

Jesus wasn’t saying He provided light or enlightenment; He was the Light. Since God was the light that guided the Israelites through the desert, the religious leaders would have immediately understood that Jesus was also claiming divinity.

When the Jews questioned Jesus’ claim of divinity, what was His response (v. 19)? Write it in your own words.

Respond

When you need to do something well, you find a place with good lighting. The same should be true in your walk with Christ—when you want to live well, draw close to Him. Are you seeking Christ in all you do? Talk honestly about this with God and ask Him to help you draw near to Him.

For further study on walking in the light, check out John 11:10; James 4:8; and 1 John 1:7.

Behind the Story

Jesus spoke these words during the Festival of the Tabernacles, in which special golden lamps were lit to remind the people of God’s faithfulness when He led them through the desert with a pillar of fire (Lev. 23). At the end of the feast, the lights would be extinguished.

The Point

God has revealed Himself to the world in Jesus. When we place our faith in Him and follow Him, we can know God.


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The Bread of Life

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Find somewhere quiet where you can be alone with the Lord. Place your cell phone out of reach and spend the next few minutes free of distraction.

“I am the bread of life,” Jesus told them. “No one who comes to Me will ever be hungry, and no one who believes in Me will ever be thirsty again.” —John 6:35

Read John 6:22-40. Think through these questions:

In verses 26–27, notice the two different types of hunger mentioned.

-Where does “the food that lasts for eternal life” come from? Explain.

-Circle the two required responses (v. 35) to Jesus as the Bread of Life. What does this mean? Explain in your own words.

The people were amazed by the signs Jesus performed, but still refused to believe He was the Son of God (v. 36).

Read verses 39-40. Jesus mentions two things that are God’s will. Highlight those two things. What does this teach you about salvation? Eternal life?

Jot down a few things, other than Jesus, that people often look to for meaning and purpose.

Respond

Bread is necessary for survival. Just like God provided manna to satisfy the Israelites’ hunger in the wilderness, He gave Jesus to sustain us spiritually. Faith in Jesus is necessary for eternal life.

Do you think of Jesus as necessary to your everyday life? Why or why not? Journal your response.

The good news of Christ affects us in practical and spiritual ways. How can you share Christ’s love today to meet someone’s physical and spiritual needs? Jot down some ideas in the margin.

Behind the Story

After God rescued the Israelites from Egypt in the Old Testament, He provided bread for them during the forty years they wandered in the desert. This bread was called manna (Ex. 16:1-7; 16:31). Years later Jesus referred to Himself as the Bread of Life—He would not only fulfill their physical hunger, but their spiritual hunger as well.

The Point

Just as bread is necessary for sustaining physical life, Jesus is necessary for eternal life. He knows our needs and will satisfy us.


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Boldness

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Stop and take a deep breath. Clear your mind and ask God to teach you through His Word today.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.” —Revelation 21:4

Read Revelation 21:1-8. Ask yourself:

According to verse 1, what will pass away? What will no longer exist?

Verses 1–7 focus on the reality of eternity for believers. Verse 8 portrays the reality of eternity for those who never sincerely committed their hearts and lives to Jesus Christ. What is the punishment for those who reject Jesus?

Biblical scholars suggest the “One seated on the throne” (v. 5) is Jesus. He previously spoke as the judge, but in these verses He spoke as Creator.

Jesus said He would make everything new. What promises of God will be fulfilled in the new Jerusalem? Hint: Look at verses 3-4.

According to verse 8, who are the wicked, those who will burn in the lake of fire?

Respond

These verses should cause Christians to live with great hope and boldness, knowing that our eternity is sure, our Savior wins, and all will be made right. It should also challenge us to share our faith with others so that they may experience eternity with Christ rather than eternal separation and punishment.

Have you ever shared with someone about Jesus? Have you ever shared your faith with someone who trusted Jesus as Savior as a result? God desires you to be bold in sharing your faith, not passive. In your journal, jot down some ideas to help you break the ice when sharing Christ.

Are you compassionate toward people who don’t know Jesus? Do you have a burden to share His love with them? Knowing their fate in eternity, offer a prayer asking God to make you more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and to reveal to you anyone you need to share your faith with.

For further study on the new Jerusalem, read Isaiah 65:17–19 and Revelation 19:7-8.

Behind the Story

The new Jerusalem is the new earth for all believers—their final home. New Jerusalem’s description as an adorned bride connects with Revelation 19:7-8, which highlights the marriage supper of the Lamb of God.

The Point

We can boldly proclaim our faith because we are sure of eternity.


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Free from Fear

Posted on October 10, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Think of a current situation in your life that scares or intimidates you. Pray, asking God to comfort you and give you confidence in whatever you face.

“Don’t fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the soul; rather, fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Aren’t two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them falls to the ground without your Father’s consent. But even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So don’t be afraid therefore; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

—Matthew 10:28-31 

Carefully read Matthew 10:26-31. Answer these questions:

-In your Bible, highlight each phrase that commands you not to fear or be afraid. What are the reasons Jesus tells believers not to fear? Explain in your own words.

-Whom does today’s Scripture say you should fear? Why? Explain.

Fearing God is not about dreading Him, but honoring Him. When you fear God, you recognize His authority and show Him the reverence He deserves.

-What does it look like to live out a healthy fear of God? Explain.

Judgment will come one day, but believers do not need to be afraid. We can trust God to be true to His word to reward believers and punish His enemies.

Respond

Prayerfully consider your life. Do your actions, words, and heart attitude reflect one who is grateful and secure in their eternity with a Holy God? Why or why not?

Jot down the name of someone you know who doesn’t know Jesus. In your journal, record some ideas on how you can share His love with that person.

For further study on believers and judgment read 1 John 4:17-18.

Behind the Story

Jesus’s sermon in verses 16-25 offered words of wisdom to the believers of His day, but apply to believers of every generation. He knew of His impending death and resurrection, and the opposition His believers would face. Therefore, in this sermon (vv. 26-31) He strongly emphasized fearing God, not man.

fear (n.) =respectful, reverent, awe.

The Point

Believers don’t need to fear judgment because our loving Father will be our Judge.


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Pure Life

Posted on October 3, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Listen to “Lifestyle” by Isaac Carree (Reset, 2013). Think about how this song encourages believers to live in ways that please God.

“If your hand or your foot causes your downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and be thrown into hellfire!”

—Matthew 18:8-9

Read Matthew 18:8-9.

Although sin does not cause you to lose your salvation, God takes sin seriously. The vivid metaphors in this passage do not call us to harm ourselves physically, but emphasize the seriousness of sin and the importance of living in righteousness. A Christian’s ultimate goal is to respond to salvation in faith, love, and obedience to God.

Living in sin and struggling with sin are two different things. Even after you become a Christian, you won’t be perfect; however, you shouldn’t continue in sinful habits.

List a few characteristics of those who live in righteousness and those who have sinful lifestyles.

 

         Righteous                                          Sinful

 

Look at the definition of righteousness below. How can believers live lives characterized by righteousness? Explain.

Respond

Consider how God wants us to avoid sin. In your journal, list the people, places and things that tempt you to sin. How can you avoid these temptations?

Examine your heart: Do you have any unconfessed sins? Repent and ask God to help you turn from those sins and live for Him. For further study on living with a pure heart read Proverbs 4:23 and Romans 12:2.

Behind the Story

Jesus gave a sermon in Matthew 5:27-30 on lust and adultery using much of the same imagery He used in today’s Scripture. However, in Matthew 18:8-9 Jesus applied these illustrations to all types of sin.

Righteousness (adj) = Conduct characterized by Christ-likeness; not natural to human beings, but available to those who trust in Christ as Savior.

The Point

A life characterized by sin points to not knowing Christ. Believers’ lives, on the other hand, should be characterized by purity.


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