CATEGORY ARCHIVES: Devotions

Jesus is Sovereign

Posted on September 12, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

A few minutes before you begin today’s study, find a relaxing place to sit. Take a deep breath and ask God to help you focus on being with Him.

“They were astonished at His teaching because His message had authority. … Amazement came over them all, and they kept saying to one another, ‘What is this message? For He commands the unclean spirits with authority and power, and they come out!’” —Luke 4:32,36

Read Luke 4:31-37 in your Bible.

• Highlight the word “authority” throughout the passage. What does it mean that Jesus’ message had authority? Explain.

Circle the name “Holy One of God.” In the Old Testament, God was often called the Holy One. In this passage, the demons’ referring to Jesus as the Holy One of God shows their recognition of Him as the Son of God. The demons asked Jesus if He had come to destroy them; even they recognized His authority over evil and were terrified. Biblical scholars suggest that the demons weren’t just afraid of Jesus’ preaching and purpose, but that they feared His presence.

• Why do you think the demons feared Jesus’ presence? Why is this important?

RESPOND

• What does Jesus’ power over evil mean for you? Jot down a list of prayer requests about your future, your community, and the world that appeal to Jesus’ sovereignty. Pray for those requests each day this week.

• Examine your heart. Do you recognize Jesus’ sovereignty? Have you fully surrendered your life to Him? Journal your thoughts.

• If you have not trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to your parents or one of your camp counselors about what it means to be a Christian

BEHIND THE STORY

The demon in today’s passage testified about belief in God. James 2:19 says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. The demons also believe— and they shudder.” James also said that faith without works is useless (v. 20). Although demons believe in God, their total disobedience and rebellion against Him has separated them from Him forever. Redemption is about reconciliation—it’s not just about knowing that God exists, but about accepting His salvation through faith and living a life surrendered in obedience to Him.

THE POINT

As the Son of God, Jesus is sovereign over everything.


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The Power to Speak

Posted on September 4, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of one of the names of God (Shepherd, King, Rock of Our Salvation) and dwell on what that means to you.

Now, read Isaiah 35:5-6. The prophet Isaiah told of Jesus’ healings in the Old Testament. Throughout the Book of Isaiah, physical illness was often a metaphor for a spiritual issue. The complete healing indicated in theses passages parallels new life in Christ.

“Just as they were going out, a demon-possessed man who was unable to speak was brought to Him. When the demon had been driven out, the man spoke. And the crowds were amazed, saying, ‘Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel!’ But the Pharisees said, ‘He drives out demons by the ruler of the demons!’”—Matthew 9:32-34

Read Matthew 9:32-24 and complete the following.

• Circle each variation of the word “speak” or “say.” Underline the word “demon” each time it appears.

• Look back at the Scripture in Isaiah. Why is it important that the man spoke? Explain.

• The Pharisees thought Jesus’ authority came from the ruler of demons (v. 34). Read Luke 11:17-19. What was wrong with their theory? Explain.

RESPOND

The Pharisees sought every excuse to believe that Jesus was not from God. He had turned their world upside down by interpreting the Scriptures with authority and performing great signs. Instead of seeking God, they sought to prove they were right.

• When God turns your world upside down, do you struggle to trust Him? Do you have faith that no matter the circumstances He has your best interests in mind? Why or why not? Journal your thoughts.

• List two ways you can trust God’s ultimate authority in your life.

• For further study about God’s purpose and plans for you, read Romans 8.

BEHIND THE STORY

In John 1:1, Jesus was called the Word. He created the universe by speaking, and in many gospel accounts, He drove out demons with a rebuke. In today’s passage, Jesus restored a man’s ability to speak by casting out the oppressive evil spirit that kept him in silent. Jesus’ authority over all creation allows Him to banish evil and fully restore human beings to the image of God.

THE POINT

Because He is God, Jesus has sole authority over evil.


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Authority Affirmed

Posted on August 28, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Gather your Bible, journal, and pen. Find a quiet place and relax, preparing your heart and mind to spend time in God’s Word.

The first time the disciples obeyed Jesus and caught an abundance of fish was at the beginning of His earthly ministry. Today’s story is similar, but occurred after Jesus’ resurrection.

“’Cast the net on the right side of the boat,’ He told them, ‘and you’ll find some.’ So they did, and they were unable to haul it in because of the large number of fish. —John 21:6

Read John 21:1-14 in your Bible. Consider these questions:

• How does this story connect to the miracle in Luke 5:1-11? Jot down a few ideas in your journal.

Luke 5:1-11                                                        John 21:1-14

Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples for a third time through this miracle, which was similar to the one He performed when He called Peter and John to be His disciples.

• Notice John and Peter’s reactions in verse seven. Why is this important? Explain.

• When they arrived on shore and sat down to eat breakfast with Jesus, the disciples didn’t have any doubts about who He was. Would you respond the same way? Why or why not?

RESPOND

Each of Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances proved the truth of His resurrection, showed that He defeated death, and taught the disciples their mission and emboldened them to do as He commanded. It is also important to note the significance of these events for us today—He is still alive and we have the opportunity to have a personal relationship with Him.

• Think about the first time you heard that Jesus died for your sins. Do you still look at His sacrifice the same way? Why or why not? Record your response in your journal.

• Take a minute and meditate on Jesus’ patience with us and His desire to use us as a part of His plan. How do you see His patience? How do you know He wants you to be a part of His plan? Journal your thoughts.

• For further study on Jesus’ authority, read Ephesians 1:18-23.

BEHIND THE STORY

Today’s Scripture explains the disciples’ third encounter with their risen Lord. Jesus called to His disciples using the word paidia, which the HCSB translates as “men” (v. 5), but is most commonly used as a term of endearment, which indicates the same type of intimacy as between a parent and child.¹

THE POINT

Jesus proved that even death did not diminish His authority.

 

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


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Step Out of the Boat

Posted on August 14, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

When Jesus calls you to come, do you immediately think of your fears and doubts? Pray that you would have the courage and faith to respond in obedience when He calls.

“’Lord, if it’s You,’ Peter answered Him, ‘command me to come to You on the water.’ ‘Come!’ He said. And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus.” —Matthew 14:28-29

Read Matthew 14:22-33 in your Bible and consider these questions.

• List the two commands Jesus gave in verses 27 and 29.

• Why do you think it’s important that Jesus told the disciples to have courage? Explain.

• What did Peter do that caused him to sink? Explain.

Peter is often criticized for taking his eyes off Jesus, but notice that Peter did step out of the boat. Jesus’ power and Peter’s faith allowed him to do something that seemed impossible.

• Examine Jesus’ statement in verse 31. How does He indicate the outcome could have been different if Peter would have kept faith?

RESPOND

• Is Jesus calling you to step out in faith? Draw a simple boat in your journal and label it with the area of comfort or safety that applies to you (popularity, laziness, self-centeredness, unbelief). What is holding you back from meeting Jesus where He called you?

• For further study on confident faith in Jesus, read Joel Ortberg’s book If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat (Zondervan, 2014).

BEHIND THE STORY

The phrase “around three in the morning” (v. 25), is translated to “during the fourth watch of the night.”¹ The Romans divided the night into four watches and the fourth hour fell between 3:00 and 6:00 a.m. Matthew’s use of the word ghost emphasizes the fact that the disciples didn’t know exactly what they were seeing—it was late, probably dark, and they were far enough away from
the shore that they couldn’t tell who was standing there.

THE POINT

The life of a Christ follower should be characterized by confident faith in Jesus.

 

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


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Ordinary and Extraordinary

Posted on May 22, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

What needs do you have right now? Acknowledge those needs before God and trust that He will provide for you.

“But, so we won’t offend them, go to the sea, cast in a fishhook, and take the first fish that you catch. When you open its mouth you’ll find a coin. Take it and give it to them for Me and you.”
—Matthew 17:27

Read Matthew 17:24-27 in your Bible. Think through the following:

Jesus indicated that He didn’t have to pay the tax because He was God’s Son, and that His followers didn’t have to pay the tax because the king doesn’t tax his sons. This emphasizes the voluntary nature of giving to God, consistently highlighted in the New Testament. This particular tax was collected by the temple; however, we must remember that Jesus also instructed us to obey the laws of the land.

• What is so extraordinary about the way Jesus provided the coin? Explain.

• Would Jesus and Peter experience difficulty paying the tax? Why or why not?

• Peter had to trust Jesus to provide for them, and trust that the first fish he caught would have the coin for the temple tax. If you were in Peter’s position, what would you do? Explain.

RESPOND

• In what ways have you seen God provide for your needs, or the needs of your friends and family? Has He ever provided for you in a way that seemed extraordinary? Using the headings below, list a few ways God has provided for you.

Ordinary                                                                                Extraordinary

 

• Invite God to meet your needs in whatever ways He sees fit, and pray that He gives you the faith to see His care for you no matter what method He uses.

• For further study on God’s provision, read Jeremiah 29:11; Matthew 6:26; and Philippians 4:19.

BEHIND THE STORY

The coin found in the mouth of the fish would have been a stater, which equaled the value of four drachmas—enough to cover the two-drachma tax for both Jesus and Peter. The Jews paid a required tax of one-half-shekel for the upkeep of the temple (Ex. 30:13-14). This was equal to approximately two days’ wages.¹

THE POINT

Sometimes Jesus provides for our everyday needs in extraordinary ways.

 

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


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A Few Loaves and a Willing Heart

Posted on May 15, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Chris Tomlin’s song “Enough” (Not to Us, 2002) speaks to the all-sufficient nature of Jesus. Thank God that we can be eternally satisfied in him.

“Then Jesus took the loaves, and after giving thanks He distributed them to those who were seated—so also with the fish, as much as they wanted.” —John 6:11

Read John 6:1-13 in your Bible. Consider the following:

Although Jesus asked the disciples to come up with a solution for feeding a multitude of people (v.5), verse six indicates Jesus already had a solution in mind.
• Read Philip’s reply in verse seven and Andrew’s reply in verses 8-9. Restate each response in your own words.

Philip                                                                                             Andrew

 

Notice both disciples were focused on how impossible the task seemed—they doubted they could find enough food for such a large group of people.
• How would you respond if Jesus asked you for a solution? Explain.

Verse 11 tells us that Jesus gave the people as much bread and fish as they wanted, and verse 13 says the disciples collected 12 baskets of leftovers. They had more than enough to feed the people. The disciples tried to solve the problem with logic, but Jesus has the power to do more than we can imagine.

RESPOND

The young boy offered five loaves and two fish to feed a crowd of about five thousand, but the disciples didn’t see how such a small gift would help their predicament. We all have something to offer to the kingdom of God: time, talents, money, or even a social media platform. Maybe those gifts seem small, but no matter how insignificant you believe they are, God can use them for His kingdom.

• List two gifts you can use for the kingdom of God.
• Look at the list you created. Pray for the faith to give your gifts completely to the Lord and expect Him to multiply them for His glory.
• For further study on God supplying plenty out of a little, read 2 Kings 4:42-44.

BEHIND THE STORY

This particular sign was considered as a link between God’s provision of manna to Israel in the wilderness and Jesus’ provision in the New Testament. In Numbers 11:13, Moses asked God where he could get enough meat to feed the people of Israel. In today’s passage, Jesus asked His disciples where they could buy bread for so many people. In both instances, God provided an overabundance of food for the crowd (John 6:7-9,11-13; Num. 11:22,31-32).

THE POINT

Jesus has the power to do great things through us with what we have to offer, but we must have willing hearts.


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Power and Peace

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to “Praise You In This Storm” by Casting Crowns (Lifesong, 2005). Thank Jesus that He faithfully helps us in times of need.

“He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Silence! Be still!’ The wind ceased, and there was a great calm. Then He said to them, ‘Why are you fearful? Do you still have no faith?’” —Mark 4:39-40

Read Mark 4:35-41 in your Bible and consider these questions.

• Imagine yourself in the disciples’ predicament: you’re in a boat, the wind starts whipping, the waves are crashing into the boat, the boat is starting to sink, and the One who can save you is asleep. How would you react?

Mark’s gospel account of Jesus calming the storm mentioned Jesus was in the boat, “sleeping on the cushion” (v. 38). Although the disciples had not seen the storm coming, nothing about their situation caught Jesus off guard. He had confidence in His Father’s power and was able to sleep.

• Highlight the question “Don’t You care…?” (v. 38). Consider Jesus’ response in verses 39-40. How does His response indicate His concern for His disciples? How did this situation strengthen their faith? Explain.

Jesus commanding the wind and waves demonstrated His ability to handle anything; even bringing peace to anxious hearts. We have to believe in God’s incredible power and ability to take care of us— there’s nothing He can’t handle. However, we also have to remember that faith in God requires more than simply believing He exists; it requires trusting in Him completely.

RESPOND

• Close your eyes for a minute and think about your life. What tough things are you facing at school or at home, with your friends and your family? List a few in your journal.

• Much like He calmed the storm recounted in Mark’s gospel, Jesus has the power to bring calm and peace to your life. He knows what you’re going through now and what you’ll face ahead. How can you trust Him to be with you during difficult times? What are some ways He’s proven faithful in the past? Journal your thoughts.

• For another perspective on this story, check out Luke 8:22-25.

BEHIND THE STORY

The sea of Galilee has always been prone to sudden, violent storms; it’s waters are shallow and surrounded by mountains. In that day, many of the fishing vessels had low sides, so waves such as
the ones mentioned in this passage could easily fill the boat with water as indicated by Mark’s use of the phrase “the boat was already being swamped” (v. 37).

THE POINT

By calming the wind and the waves, Jesus demonstrated that He controls all things, including nature.


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The First Miracle

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Pray that you would see God’s glory displayed in the miracles we study this week and His works in your own life.

“Jesus performed this first sign in Cana of Galilee. He displayed His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.” —John 2:11

Read John 2:1-11 in your Bible. Ask yourself:

• Highlight the phrase “do whatever He tells you” (v.5). How does this show Mary’s faith in Jesus? How does this instruction apply to you today?

• Each jar contained _____ to _____ gallons, and there were ____ jars. These jars were “filled…to the brim” (v. 7). In sum, the amount of water Jesus turned to wine was at least 120 gallons; it wasn’t like Jesus turned a few small pitchers of water to wine. Jesus demonstrated His authority over nature by doing something that seemed impossible—changing water into wine. Biblical scholars suggest that the sign could also be considered a manifestation of His glory.

• Knowing this, what was the point of Jesus turning water into wine at the Cana wedding?

• What was the result of Jesus’ displaying His glory (v. 11)? How does reading this account help you to see His glory? Explain.

RESPOND

• The general definition of glory includes words like magnificentrenown, and honor. In your own words, describe actions that display these characteristics today.

Magnificent                                     Renown                                        Honor

 

• When have you seen God’s glory through something He accomplished in your life? Journal about that experience.

• For further study on the glory of God revealed through Jesus, read Philippians 2:9-11.

BEHIND THE STORY

The word for “glory” in John 1:14 is doxa, from the Old Testament word kabod, “which implies the mighty power of God evidenced in epiphanies or perceived manifestations of that power.”¹ Jesus’ display of glory in turning water into wine demonstrates His deity and the truth that God acted through Him in the New Testament.

THE POINT

Jesus’ works displayed His glory.

 

¹Gerald L. Borchet, New American Commentary – Volume 25A: John, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1996), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, p. 157-158.


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Fully Forgiven

Posted on April 24, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Find a quiet place—go outside if the weather is nice. Read “The Point” of today’s devotion and meditate on this truth before you begin reading.

As you have seen through your devotions this month, the Pharisees often tried to trap Jesus into blaspheming God. This Scripture is yet another account of the Pharisees asking questions related to the law in hopes of finding a way to accuse Jesus of breaking God’s law.

“When Jesus stood up, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ ‘No one, Lord,’ she answered. ‘Neither do I condemn you,’ said Jesus. ‘Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.’” —John 8:10-11

Read John 8:1-11 in your Bible

This encounter confirms two things about the Gospel. First, no sinner is beyond Jesus’ power to forgive. Second, Jesus wants us to remember our own need for His mercy when we are tempted to judge those who have not yet trusted Him.

• How does Jesus’ response disarm the woman’s accusers?

• Have you ever seen a Christian show love to someone most people would rather not associate with? What happened? How did that experience affect you? Explain.

• Read Romans 3:10-12, 23. How does Jesus’ treatment of this woman demonstrate the truths in these verses? How should you treat those who don’t know Jesus and live differently?

The woman was caught in sin and she deserved the punishment outlined in the law. Jesus is the only One who can claim true perfection, yet He extended grace and forgiveness to the woman while urging her to stop her sinful behaviors. He does the same for us today.

RESPOND

No one is beyond Jesus’ power to redeem and forgive. As Christ-followers, knowing that we are repentant, forgiven sinners we must reach out with compassion and mercy to those living in sin.

• How do you respond to people living sinful lifestyles? Do you tend to lean toward grace or judgment? Talk to God about it honestly and ask Him to help you to view others the way He intended.

• For further study on forgiveness, read Romans 3:9-24.

BEHIND THE STORY

According to Leviticus 20:10 and Deuteronomy 22:22-24, anyone who committed adultery was condemned to death by stoning. In their attempts to trap Jesus, the Sanhedrin made a spectacle of this woman in public with what they believed was an air-tight case. They were intentionally trying to catch Jesus publicly denouncing Mosaic Law.

BLASPHEMY (n) = any irreverent speech or action directed toward God.

THE POINT

No one is too sinful to experience Jesus’ forgiveness. Instead of standing in judgment, we should respond with grace and mercy to those who don’t know Him.


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Good News Travels

Posted on April 17, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Ask God to help you evaluate your response to what He has done in your life. Review last week’s devotion before you read today’s Scripture.

“They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.’” —John 4:42

Read John 4:39-42.

This woman wouldn’t even draw water at the same time as the other women in her town. Her shame kept her isolated. After encountering Jesus, she entered town and shared her testimony with anyone who would listen.

• In today’s Scripture, we see a drastic change in the woman’s life. What was the reason for her change? How does this show the way people should respond to God’s gift of salvation? Explain.

• What was the town’s reaction to the woman’s testimony? Why is it important that they believed her?

• What did the town’s people do when they heard her testimony? Do people respond this way today when they hear of Jesus changing someone’s life? Why or why not?

RESPOND

• If you are a Christian, imagine how your life would be different if you never trusted Jesus. How has your encounter with Jesus given you confidence to face your culture? Journal your response.

• Remember only God can save people— we can’t. Still, people can come to know who He is by your testimony. Find time this week to share with someone the story of Jesus and how you came to know Him. Trust the results to God.

• For further study, see Isaiah 55:11; Acts 1:6-8; and Hebrews 4:12.

BEHIND THE STORY

The Samaritan woman couldn’t contain the good news Jesus gave her. The cultural climate surrounding Jesus’ earthly ministry was hostile toward Christianity. This only intensified shortly after His resurrection. Yet, even in the face of extreme danger, those who encountered the truth of Christ were compelled to spread the Word. In John 16:33, Jesus warned that His followers would face
trials and pain, but He also gave hope by saying, “Take heart! I have overcome the world.”

THE POINT

When Jesus changes our lives, we must be faithful to tell others about Him.


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