CATEGORY ARCHIVES: Devotions

Freedom Isn’t Free

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Seventh Day Slumber’s song “Nothing But the Blood” (Take Everything, 2009) and focus on what Jesus’ blood has accomplished.

Look at the definition of sacrifice below. What does sacrifice look like to you? What does it look like to God? Journal your thoughts.

“How much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” —Hebrews 9:14

Read Hebrews 9:12-14 in your Bible and think through these questions:
• What did the sacrifice of bulls and goats purify (v. 13)? Do you notice anything these sacrifices failed to cover?
• Old Testament law required that sacrificial animals be without blemish
(Lev. 1:3; 3:1). In what way was Christ a sacrificial lamb?
• What did Christ’s sacrifice cleanse (v. 14)?
• Compare and contrast the Old Testament animal sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice.

SACRIFICE (n.) = Giving up something of value for something considered more important.

RESPOND

• In the your journal, list specific words that describe the freedom you experience because of Christ’s sacrifice. Thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you.
• Do you know people who don’t know that Jesus gave His own life to offer them freedom from sin? List a few names in your journal and commit to pray for those people this week.

BEHIND THE STORY

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament anticipated the ultimate price Christ would pay in sacrificing Himself for our sins on the cross. Although the Old Testament system was incomplete, it introduced the concept of God’s law, humanity’s inability to keep that law, and the need for a perfect sacrifice. The word translated “redemption” in verse 12 refers to the price paid to liberate a slave. Christ’s sacrifice liberates people from slavery to sin and the ultimate punishment—death and eternal separation from God.(1)

THE POINT

God’s plan, from the beginning of time, paved the way for Christ as the ultimate sacrifice and final blow to death.

(1)Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary — Hebrews & James, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), p. 174.


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The Dark Before the Dawn

Posted on May 14, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Find a quiet place and silence your cell phone. Sit quietly, relax, and prepare your heart to see what God has to say in His Word.

Good and evil are constantly locked in a spiritual battle, but in today’s passage Satan directly challenged God by entering Judas. Although we can’t ignore the fact that Judas was still responsible for choosing to plot against Jesus, we have to acknowledge that Judas gave in to temptation, particularly in regards to His desire for wealth.

“While He was still speaking, suddenly a mob was there, and one of the Twelve named Judas was leading them. He came near Jesus to kiss Him, but Jesus said to him, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?”
—Luke 22:47-48

Read Luke 22:1-6,47-53 in your Bible and answer the following.
• What caused Judas to agree to betray Jesus to the priests and religious
leaders? Explain.
• The soldiers and religious leaders likely expected Jesus to fight back. Instead, He went with them peacefully and willingly. What does this tell you about His character and the importance of God’s plan? Jesus referred to Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest as “the dominion of darkness” (v. 53). The events that followed Jesus’ arrest probably caused the disciples to feel hopeless, but God was victorious—He raised Jesus from the dead.

RESPOND

• List a few areas you’re currently struggling with giving over to God. Then, ask Him to help you trust Him no matter what you face.
• How can you focus on the victory we already have in Jesus as you face difficult situations? Record some ideas in your journal.
• For further study on Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest, read Matthew 26:1-5, 47-49; Mark 14:1-2; and John 11:47-57.

BEHIND THE STORY

In Luke 4, Satan tempted Jesus for 40 days without success. Jesus fought temptation with God’s Word and God’s power. By Luke 22, Satan changed strategies and instead tempted Judas. Trent Butler says, “Satan could not lure Jesus with his tempting, but he did prevail over Judas. This was more than yielding to temptation. Satan actually entered Judas, controlling him as if he were possessed by demons.”(1)

THE POINT

It may seem like evil overcomes for a time, but God has already won the ultimate victory through the death and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.

(1)Trent C. Butler, Holman New Testament Commentary — Luke, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), Under “Luke 22 — Opposing the Glory.” Accessed via mywsb.com


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True Devotion

Posted on May 7, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Reflect on all that God has forgiven you for and thank Him for giving you the opportunity to be in relationship with Him.

“Therefore I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven; that’s why she loved much. But the one who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” —Luke 7:47-48

Read Luke 7:36-50 in your Bible. Consider the following:
• Look at verses 37-38 and 43-46. Compare and contrast the woman’s actions to those of the Pharisee.

• The Pharisees considered this woman an outcast—she was labeled as a sinner. But she approached Jesus and anointed His feet with an expensive perfume. How does her gift demonstrate her thankfulness for Jesus’ forgiveness? Her faith?
• Though the woman’s gift may seem extraordinary, the greatest gift in this story is Jesus’ forgiveness of the woman’s sins. Even before His death on the cross, Jesus had the authority to forgive. What is significant about the phrases “your sins are forgiven” (v. 48) and “your faith has saved you” (v. 50)? Explain.

RESPOND

True gratitude leads to action. Jesus died to forgive the sins of all people for all time. Those who choose to receive His forgiveness and trust in Him as Savior will spend eternity with Him.
• In what ways have you responded to Jesus’ sacrifice for your sins? Journal a prayer thanking Jesus for His forgiveness.
• How will you show gratitude to Jesus this week? In the way you prioritize your time and resources? Serve God and others? Worship? List a few ideas on an index card and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Glance at the card throughout the week to remind you to show gratitude to Jesus in all you do.
• For further study on forgiveness, read Isaiah 43:25; Micah 7:18-19; Colossians 1:13-14; and 1 John 1:9.

BEHIND THE STORY

Both the alabaster jar and the fragrant perfume were expensive items in Jesus’ time. Luke didn’t say why the woman cried, but he did tell that her tears mixed with the perfume as she anointed Jesus’ feet. Bible scholars suggest that it’s possible the woman’s actions—wiping His feet with her hair and kissing His feet—demonstrated strong emotions such as gratitude and reverence.

THE POINT

Jesus died to forgive our sins. We should love Him above all else, serve Him, and worship Him.


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Worship the King

Posted on April 23, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a few words that describe how God is worthy of our worship (ex: holy, eternal, magnificent) and praise Him using those words.

“Now He came near the path down the Mount of Olives, and the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles they had seen: The King who comes in the name of the Lord is the blessed One. Peace in heaven and glory in the highest heaven!” —Luke 19:37-38

Read Luke 19:28-44 in your Bible and complete the following.
• In your journal, sketch a picture of the scene described in verses 37-38. Jesus humbly entered Jerusalem on a donkey, but was greeted by a royal procession worthy of a king. His triumphal entry moved His people to praise.
• These people recognized that Jesus came in God’s name. Why is that significant?
• The Pharisees asked Jesus to rebuke His disciples for calling Him “the blessed One” and “King.” Examine Jesus’ response and write it in your own words.
• Read through the passage again and note how the crowd worshiped Jesus. Note in your journal the attitudes and actions of the crowd.

RESPOND

• Look at what you noted about attitudes and actions in the above question. Examine your heart. Do these words describe the way you worship God?
• List attitudes and actions in your own life that need to change to enhance the way you worship God.
• For further study on worshiping God, read Psalm 118:26; Psalm 150; and Romans 12:1-2.

BEHIND THE STORY

Jesus was not the king that most Jews expected. Some expected a political leader who would free them from Roman rule through diplomacy; others looked for a military leader who would overthrow the Roman government. They didn’t expect a king who would free people from their sins.

THE POINT

Jesus is our King— worthy of honor and glory. We should worship Him.


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Purified

Posted on April 16, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment to clear away any distractions so you can fully focus on God as you study His word today.

“Then He began to teach them: ‘Is it not written, My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations? But you have made it a den of thieves!’” —Mark 11:17

Read Mark 11:15-19 in your Bible. Ask yourself:
• How was Jesus portrayed in this story? How does this relate to the character of God in regards to purity?
• Why did Jesus overturn tables and throw out the people who were buying and selling in the temple complex? Explain.
• Compare and contrast “house of prayer” and “den of thieves” in your journal (v. 17). 

Jesus cleared out the money changers and those selling animals for sacrifice. They defiled the temple, which was designed as a place of prayer and worship. These business people set up their tables in the court of the Gentiles—a space intended to allow non-Jews to worship. The people lost sight of the temple’s purpose.
• Can you think of an example of this today? When have you lost sight of your main purpose as you follow Jesus?

RESPOND

The Bible says that our bodies are sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 6:19).
Impurity comes in many different forms and affects different people in different ways.
• Do you struggle to keep your mind pure? Your body? Your heart? Journal your response, confessing your need for Jesus to help you stand strong in the face of temptation.
• List three ways you can guard your heart against impurity.
• For further study on keeping God’s temple pure, read Isaiah 56:7; Jeremiah 7:11; Matthew 21:12-13; and Luke 19:45-46.

BEHIND THE STORY

In Jesus’ day, Jews had to pay a temple tax and often needed to buy sacrifices for the altar. The type of money used varied in each city and region. The money changers set up shop to help people convert their currency in order to pay the temple tax. Some money changers made extra profit by loaning their own money along with investor money and charging interest rates of up to 300 percent each year.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple pointed the people back to the true purpose of the temple—worshiping and glorifying God.

(1)Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, eds. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003),Under “Money Changers.” Accessed via mywsb.com.


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In Remembrance of Me

Posted on April 9, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Matt Maher’s song “Remembrance (Communion Song)” (Alive Again, 2009) to prepare your heart for today’s devotion.

“For this is My blood that establishes the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins.” —Matthew 26:28

Read Matthew 26:17-30 in your Bible and consider the following.

While observing the Passover with His disciples, Jesus explained the significance of the Passover meal, which we know as the Lord’s Supper, often called Communion.
• What was the significance of the first Lord’s Supper?
• What does this symbolic event help Christians to remember?

Verse 28 says that Jesus’ blood was shed for our forgiveness. Our redemption rests in Christ and was made possible through His blood. (See Eph. 1:7).
• Explain in your own words the new covenant that would be established through Jesus’ blood.
• How does the Lord’s Supper help you acknowledge God’s love for you?
• Read Romans 6:22-23. We are all slaves to sin before we trust Jesus as Savior. Describe how the Lord’s Supper demonstrates freedom from slavery to sin.

RESPOND
• Think back to the first time you took part in the Lord’s Supper. Journal about that experience.
• Develop a plan for how you will observe the Lord’s Supper differently next time. How will you prepare your heart? Include prayer points and Scriptures to meditate on.
• For further study on blood and atonement, read Leviticus 16; 17:11; Ephesians 1:7-8; and 1 Peter 2:24.

BEHIND THE STORY

There is no atonement for sins apart from blood. In the Old Testament, animal sacrifices were required to atone for the sins of the people. The Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary points out that “Jesus, the God-man, gave up His life and experienced the reality of death so that those who identify themselves with Jesus might experience His life and never taste death as He did. He died as a sin-bearer that we might live for righteousness and become healed (1 Pet. 2:24).” (1)

THE POINT

Participating in the Lord’s Supper helps us to remember that Jesus’ sacrifice freed us from the bonds of sin.

(1) Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, eds. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, and Archie England, (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003),Under “Blood.” Accessed via mywsb.com.


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The Savior We Need

Posted on April 2, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Confess any sin you may be currently holding onto. Allow yourself to trust in Jesus’ forgiveness as you spend time with Him today.

“But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.” —John 1:12-13

Read John 1:10-13 in your Bible and think through the following.
John painted a picture of Jesus as One who was fully God and yet willingly humbled Himself by taking on flesh as He came to humanity to be the Savior for those who would receive Him.

• Verse 11 says Jesus “came to His own.” The Jews were God’s chosen people. Why do you think the Jews rejected Jesus? Explain.
• Why is it important to note that Jesus created the world, but the world did not recognize Him? What hindered their recognition?
• What do you think it means to receive Jesus? Why is that important? Only God has the power to save. He sent Jesus to provide salvation and offer a way for people to be restored to God. However, people must still respond by trusting Jesus as Savior.

RESPOND

Each car has a blind spot, or place where the driver can’t see by using side or rearview mirrors. We all experience spiritual blindness in our lives. Before we know Christ, we are unable to clearly see Him for who He is. Once we trust Him as Savior, our eyes are opened and we are able to know Him.

• In your journal, list some things in your life that helped you realize your need for a Savior.
• Consider the story of how Jesus opened your eyes to who He is. How did you respond to Him? Whom can you share this story with? Journal your response.
• For further study, read the article Why We Need Jesus by Michael Horton at http:/www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2011/december/why-we-need-jesus.html.

MEMORY VERSE

Write out Matthew 26:28 on an index card, drawing symbols to replace key words. Place it somewhere where you will see it throughout the week.

BEHIND THE STORY

Humanity’s need for a Savior can be traced back to Genesis 3. In the garden, Adam and Eve enjoyed a close, intimate relationship with God. But when they disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they damaged their intimate relationship with Him. Adam and Eve’s turning away from God is often referred to as the fall, which created a lineage of sin. Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death, and resurrection restored to God those who choose to trust in Him as Savior.

THE POINT

Jesus came to show the world their separation from God and their need for a Savior.


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Eternal Jesus

Posted on March 26, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a minute to focus on who God is—the God of Abraham and God of creation is the same God you worship today.

What does it mean to say that Jesus is eternal? Describe the concept in your own words.
Read John 8:56-59 in your Bible.

“Jesus said to them, ‘I assure you: Before Abraham was, I am’.” —John 8:58

Jesus used the phrase “I am” in John 8:58 to refer to Himself. This phrase was first used in Exodus 3:14 when Moses asked God who he should say sent him to the Israelites.

• Why do you think it bothered the Jews that Jesus claimed to exist before Abraham?

Now, read Colossians 1:15-20 in your Bible.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” —Colossians 1:15

Consider this:
Jesus isn’t only like God; Jesus is God. The death of an ordinary man on a cross would have no ramifications for the rest of us—the One to die had to be perfect, spotless, without blemish. Only Jesus, fully God and fully man could take on the sins of the world and offer us the opportunity to be restored to a right relationship with God.

• Through Jesus, we are able to see the invisible attributes of God and witness His character. In the space below, list some of Jesus’ characteristics that help you understand more about who God is.

RESPOND

The reason Jesus came to earth in human form was to restore our relationship with God and to help us know Him on a deeper level.

• Think of some people who need to experience restoration in their relationship with God. List their names in your journal and commit to pray for them this week.
• In your journal, record some steps you can take to share Jesus with the people you listed above.

BEHIND THE STORY

Jesus is fully God, fully man, in whose Person is effected the reconciliation between God and man. Everything unravels without Christ’s divinity—it is essential to the Christian faith. Jesus’ deity is what allows us to be able to be in relationship with God.(1)

THE POINT

God revealed Himself to us through His Son so that we could know Him and be restored to a right relationship with Him.

(1)“The Baptist Faith and Message,” The Southern Baptist Convention, 2000. Accessed via http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.


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Ultimate Victory

Posted on March 19, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Look over last week’s study. Praise God for all that He’s done for you and thank Him for teaching you about His love for you.

First century believers were often persecuted for their faith in Christ, so there was little earthly gain for their choice to follow Jesus.

“For if the dead are not raised, Christ has not been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Therefore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished. If we have put our hope in Christ for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone.” —1 Corinthians 15:16-19

Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-19. Ask yourself:
• What was being preached that didn’t line up with the gospel? Why didn’t this teaching make sense in light of God’s plan for Jesus and believers?
• If Jesus’ resurrection had never happened, according to Paul, what would that mean for the Christian faith? Explain.
• Focus on verses 16-19 for a moment. Think about why Paul said believers “should be pitied more than anyone” (v. 19). Are believers today “pitied” for belief in Christ? Why or why not? Explain.
• How does your faith hinge on the resurrection? Explain.

RESPOND

• Jesus still has the power to bring the dead to life today. Do you know people who need the power of Jesus to break the chains of sin in their lives Commit to pray for these people, asking God to use you as a light for Him.
• Living life with an eternal perspective means you live life focused on your future with Jesus and helping other people know how to spend eternity with Him, too. In your journal, explain eternal perspective in your own words.
• Because of Jesus’ power over death, you will spend eternity with Him if you trust Him as your Savior. How can you live with an eternal perspective this week? Jot down a few ideas in the margin.
• For further study on Jesus’ victory over death, read Romans 8:38-39; 1 Corinthians 15:55-56; and Hebrews 2:14-15.

BEHIND THE STORY

Over the last month you’ve studied about Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, and the widow’s son being raised from the dead. Each of these people would physically die again, but Jesus performed these miracles so people would believe in His power that defeated death and made it possible to live with Him eternally.

THE POINT

The crowning moment over death was Jesus’ resurrection—making it possible for people to be in a right relationship with God.


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Death is Defeated

Posted on March 12, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Imagine yourself at the scene of Jesus’ resurrection—what you would see, hear, and think. Keep this in mind as you read today’s devotion.

“But the angel told the women, ‘Don’t be afraid, because I know you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay. Then go quickly and tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead. In fact, He is going ahead of you to Galilee; you will see Him there.’ Listen, I have told you.’” —Matthew 28:5-7

Read Matthew 28:1-7 in your Bible. Consider these questions:
• What did the women find when the reached the tomb? Why is that important?
• Describe the women’s initial reactions to the angel. How would your reaction be similar? How would it differ?
• In verse six, the phrase “just as He said” referred to Jesus’ prophecy of His coming death and resurrection. Why is it important that the angel confirmed Jesus’ words? Explain.
• The angel gave the women three commands in verses 5-7. What were they and why is that significant?
• What did the angel’s final command reveal about Jesus’ love for His disciples? Explain.

RESPOND

Jesus had the power to take on sin and overcome the grave, but His resurrection also showed God’s love and that He keeps His promises. Consider how deeply Jesus loves you—so much that He died for you!

• Have you ever felt overwhelmed by Jesus’ love for you? Journal about that experience. 
• Praise God for sending Jesus to die on the cross for you. Praise God for His love. If you don’t know where to begin, try praying Psalm 103.
• For further study on Jesus’ death and resurrection, read Acts 2:22-28, 32-36 and Revelation 1:18.

BEHIND THE STORY

Matthew included the women as the first eyewitnesses, even though women were not viewed as trustworthy during that time. This shows he was faithful to record actual events as they happened, no matter society’s rules or perceptions.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus defeated sin and death for all eternity—then He appeared to His followers so they could see the truth of His words.

(1)Holman Christian Standard Study Bible (Nashville: Holman Bible Publishers, 2010), 1671.


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