The Loudest Voice

Posted on September 16, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think back on your life and see if there’s ever been a time when you allowed people to distract you from doing God’s will. Ask God to help you stand strong against anything that distracts you from following Him. List a few things that might distract you from hearing God’s voice or seeking His will.

Now, read Luke 23:1-24 in your Bible.

“But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out.” —Luke 23:23

Reflect on the following:
• Underline each statement in this passage that declared Jesus’ innocence.
• Why did the officials send Jesus back and forth (vv. 14-15)?
• Whom did Pilate listen to in the end? Why?
• Who appeared to have the most power in this situation? Herod, Pilate, or the people?
• Who actually held the power? (See John 19:11.) Circle the one you choose in your bible. Why is that important?

RESPOND

Jesus was innocent, yet He was sentenced to die because the Jews angrily and incessantly insisted He was a criminal of the highest order. Just like Pilate and Herod Antipas, sometimes we hear others’ voices louder than God’s. When we focus on others’ opinions and words more than God’s will and His Word, it’s easy to obey the wrong voice.

• In what ways are you tempted to follow others’ opinions rather than God’s truth? Pray, honestly confessing any struggles to God. Ask Him to give you the strength to overcome the struggles in your life.
• List three specific things you will do this week to help you focus on obeying God, instead of living to please others.

BEHIND THE STORY

According to the legal system, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent (v. 4) as did Herod (vv. 14-15), evidenced by his sending Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate attempted to sway the Jews, offering to scourge and release Jesus. The Jews refused to be pleased by anything less than Jesus’ death. Still, the inability of all of these people to find any fault with Jesus points to Jesus as the perfect, unblemished, Sacrificial Lamb.

THE POINT

Though Jesus was innocent, Pilate and Herod sentenced Him to death to appease the Jews. They feared men more than God. Believers should fear and obey God above all else.

MEMORY VERSE

Recite Matthew 26:39. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you seek His will above your own desires.


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An Honest Prayer

Posted on September 9, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a time when God asked you to endure a difficult situation. Take a minute to look back on that time, specifically examining how God worked in your life. Thank Him for opening your eyes to His loving guidance.

Read Matthew 26:36-46 in your Bible.

“Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” —Matthew 26:39

Answer these questions:
• List the emotions Jesus experienced in this passage.
• What traits did Jesus model for believers in this passage?
• In your own words, describe what Jesus asked of God.
• Jesus humbly submitted to God’s will (v. 39, 42). What was God’s will in
this situation?
• How might Jesus’ response to God in this situation encourage believers who are struggling?

RESPOND

• Is there a situation have you repeatedly asked God to take away from you? What happened as a result? Journal about that experience.
• In what way is God currently asking you to submit to His will? Are you excited? Scared? Angry? Unsure? Be honest with God, admit how you feel, and then ask Him to help you submit to His perfect will.
• In Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him—He instructed them to do so for their own strength. Who can you ask to pray with you in tough situations? List a few names in your journal.
• For a different side of this story, read John 17.

BEHIND THE STORY

The “cup” Jesus mentioned referred to Jesus’ own suffering and death. Jesus would take humanity’s sin as well as God’s wrath upon Himself. This instance was the only time in all eternity Jesus would be separated from God. Just as He did many other times in the Gospels, Jesus demonstrated an accurate understanding of what lay ahead. He even warned His disciples to be in prayer, though they failed to comprehend the urgency of the occasion.

MEMORY VERSE

This week, memorize Matthew 26:39. Break the verse up into smaller phrases. Memorize them in order, building on each phrase until you have the whole verse memorized.

THE POINT

Jesus prayed for another way, yet humbly submitted to the will of His Father. Even when God asks us to do tough things, we can be obedient.


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In My Place

Posted on September 3, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Gather your Bible, a pen, and your journal. Silence your phone and find a quiet place. Sit down, take a deep breath, and ask God to help you focus on what you read in His Word today.

“But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last.” —Mark 15:37

Read Mark 15:21-37 in your Bible. Consider this:
• List the details (who carried the cross, where was He crucified, etc.) Mark recorded about Jesus’ crucifixion.
• According to verse 27, describe the types of people typically sentenced to death by crucifixion.
• Look closely at verses 26, 29-30. What’s so ironic about the “crime” Jesus was charged with? What about the people’s mocking and questioning why Jesus couldn’t save Himself?
• Reread verses 30-32. Underline the phrase “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!” Consider the statement in light of what you know about Jesus. Did Jesus have the power to save Himself? Why do you think He remained on the cross? Explain your answer.

Jesus’ words in verse 34 expressed His humanity and revealed what He knew to be true—in the end God would triumph over evil. By choosing to save you and me, Jesus chose not to save Himself. His choice to remain on the cross provided all people the only means to live free from sin if they trust Him as Savior.

RESPOND

Jesus endured separation from God for a time, as He became sin, in order to offer us freedom from and forgiveness for our sins.

• When did the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross make a difference in your life? Journal about your experience.
• If you haven’t accepted Christ’s forgiveness, talk to your parents, your camp counselor, or your Trailstones leader. If you have already trusted Jesus as Savior, thank Him for staying on the cross and dying to pay for your sins.
• For further study on the Jesus’ final words, read Psalm 22.

BEHIND THE STORY

Jesus’ death took place during Passover. At the first Passover, three days of darkness preceded the death of all firstborn in Egypt whose door frames were not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb (Ex. 10:20-23; 12). When Jesus died, darkness once again covered the land. This time, the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb was shed for all who would receive His gift as payment for their sin.

THE POINT

Jesus’ death secured forgiveness from sin for any who choose to receive His gift of salvation.


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Obediently Follow

Posted on August 20, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a time when you felt like your life was completely out of control. Now, remember how God brought you through that time. Thank Him for His faithfulness.

Read Matthew 26:52-56 in your Bible.

“’But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.” —Matthew 26:56

Ask yourself:
• Why didn’t Jesus try to stop the events leading toward His death (v. 53-54) Explain.
• Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him and didn’t fight the arrest. What does this indicate about Jesus’ understanding of the Father’s plan? His trust in His Father? His love for you and me?

Read John 18:1-11 in your Bible. Think through the following:
• In what ways did Jesus immediately take control of the situation?
• What was “the cup” Jesus referred to in verse 11? Explain.
• Compare the two passages from today’s devotion. List Jesus’ words and actions that indicate His willingness to fulfill His Father’s plan.

RESPOND

• As you go through your day, consider this: Jesus knew He would be arrested as part of His Father’s plan, yet He didn’t fight it. Would I be willing to be arrested for living out my faith?
• Jesus followed His Father’s plan completely and willingly. Examine your own life and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you check your heart. Do you obey God no matter the cost? Honestly talk with God about any struggles you may have when it comes to following His plan.
• In what way are you like Peter, fighting against God’s difficult and painful plan? Ask God for strength to help you respond to difficult situations in a way that honors Him.

BEHIND THE STORY

Throughout Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest, Jesus displayed an understanding of the coming events—what would happen if He allowed them to arrest Him. Jesus didn’t hide from the soldiers and religious leaders; instead they found Him in a place He frequented. Jesus also foreshadowed His sacrifice by stepping in front of His disciples and ensuring they were released. Some Bible scholars suggest that this action was a picture of His sacrificial death to pay the penalty for their sin and ours.

THE POINT

Despite the torment ahead of Him, Jesus obediently followed through with His Father’s plan.


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Fulfilled

Posted on August 13, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

What kinds of things make you feel out of control? Thank God that He is in complete control.

“For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted among the outlaws. Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.” —Luke 22:37

Read Luke 22:37 and John 19:31-37 in your Bible and reflect on these questions.
• Beside each Old Testament reference, record the prophecy made about Jesus. Beside each New Testament passage, note the way Jesus’ trial and crucifixion fulfilled that prophecy.

Old Testament New Testament
Psalm 34:20 John 19:36
Isaiah 53:12 Luke 22:37
Zechariah 12:10 John 19:37

• The Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in these verses were written hundreds of years before Christ was born. What does that tell you about God’s knowledge of the future? His omnipotence?

The day of preparation mentioned in verse 31 was the day before the Sabbath of Passover week. This was a significant day for the Jews— it was the day the lambs would be sacrificed for the people’s sins. When the high priest sacrificed the lambs for the sins of the Jewish people, Jesus sacrificed Himself as payment for the sins of all people.

RESPOND

• The Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ remind us that His sacrificial death was God’s plan all along. Journal a prayer of thanks to Him for planning so far in advance to rescue you from the slavery of sin.
• For further study on prophecies Jesus fulfilled, read 100 Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus (Rose Publishing, 2001).

BEHIND THE STORY

During the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, over 20 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. In order for Jesus to be counted among the outlaws, it was necessary for the legal system to declare Him guilty and treat Him like a criminal. The number of prophecies fulfilled through this event solidly points to God’s foreknowledge and perfect plan.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

(1)Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary — John,(Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), 361.


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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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