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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A Real Response

Posted on September 26, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Pause for a minute and focus your thoughts on God. Thank Him for the redemption you have through Christ.

“And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” —Matthew 25:46

Read Matthew 25:31-46 in your Bible.

Look back over what you read and, using the list below as a guide, circle the loving actions the sheep carried out compared to the goats.

Loving Actions:

Gave the least something to eat

Gave the least something to drink

Took in strangers

Clothed the naked

Cared for the sick

Visited prisoners

The sheep in this passage represent the righteous, those who will spend eternity with God. The goats represent those who reject Jesus and will spend eternity separated from Him.

According to verses 37-39, how should Christ-followers serve Him? Jot down a few ideas in your journal.

Respond

Believers are called to care for others as if they are caring for Jesus.

Consider this—Are you a sheep or a goat? Why? Take a minute to examine your actions, thoughts, and words. Do they honor Christ? Confess any struggles to God and ask Him to help you live in a way that is pleasing to Him.

What can you commit to today to develop an authentic relationship with Jesus? Journal a few ideas and share them with your camp counselor or another mature Christian mentor.

Behind the Story

A common practice of Palestinian shepherds was separating sheep from goats. The flocks would oftentimes be combined, and all look alike from afar. However, a point would come when they would need to be separated. Sheep, which were distinct because of their wool, were more valuable and would be divided from the goats.

The Point

True followers of Christ will reveal their devotion through their actions.


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Coffee and Convo with Becky Haltiwanger

Posted on September 25, 2017 by Elise Moffatt

Hey all of you blog readers out there! We are here with Becky Haltiwanger. Becky is one of our interns at Camp Crestridge this year. She is a wonderful soul full of life and love. Today, we thought it would be nice for all of you to hear a little bit more about Becky. So, sit down, grab some coffee and enjoy a nice convo with the one and only, Becky Haltiwanger.

Me: So, Becky, Tell me what you love most about camp.

Becky: All of the fun kiddos that come to camp. They bring so much joy to my heart. Meeting new campers and seeing old ones is always an awesome time. I love having the chance to be goofy and have dance parties along with seeing the Lord work in their lives. Those are definitely some of the best memories I have of camp!

Me: What is your favorite campfire song?

Becky: I just want to be a sheep! It just cracks me up from all the play-on words! It’s the song I definitely get hype about.

Me: What is your favorite childhood memory?

Becky: One of my favorite times during my childhood was when me and my close friends worked on our middle school news team together.  We would be goofy and weird for all the school to see. We loved each other, which made it really fun, honestly it was such a great time. We established great memories and bonding time that we still laugh about today. Truly though.

Me: If you could be any kind of animal, what would you be and why?

Becky: Honestly… a camp dog. These dogs have the life, man. They get to be loved on and get to run around camp and just have a great time with kids. But seriously, if I wanted to be an animal, it would be Scout.

Me: What is your favorite Bible story?

Becky: The story of Joseph. This is partially due to the fact that I was in the musical in high school and the songs in it are so fun to dance to and learn from. But also because it is such an amazing story of God and His provision and forgiveness. It’s such a great reminder of how God’s plan is so much better than our plan and how He will take care of us in every situation. He knows our stories even if we don’t.

Me: If you were a new addition to a crayon box, what color crayon would you be?

Becky: Shoot… I’d probably want to be a really pretty blue or a solid green. Like a nice pine green or a pacific blue. They are colors that can be used to draw nature. Nature is just SO beautiful if you’re catchin’ my drift.

Me: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 horses the size of ducks and why?

Becky: 100 horses the size of ducks. I think they would be really cute and I’d want to be their friend. I wouldn’t want to fight them, I’d just be their friend. Then I could have a whole farm of these cute horses that people could come hangout with if they are feeling blue. I could bring them to camp and the kids could play with them during horseback skill and I’d be saving camp a lot of money. Except… we would have to buy mini saddles and lots of food so it might be too crazy.

Me: If you could only choose to play one song for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Becky: “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” By Marvin Gaye because it is such a motivational song. You can dance to it, get hype to it and it has a great message for the listeners. And you know what, there ain’t no mountain too high for our Lord. Ya feel me?

Me: If you were a box of cereal, which kind would you be?

Becky: Fruity Pebbles. They are my favorite and they should be everyones favorite cereal. If it’s not your favorite, you’re doing it wrong.

Me: If you could pick a slogan for your life, what would it be?

Becky: It would be “Let your Freak Flag Fly” or “Dance like EVERYONE is Watching” (because you probably have some cool dance moves that I want to try). I just want everyone to know how unique they are as a person and how we can all learn from each other if we just be the person Christ made us to be– each with unique gifts and skills He has equipped us to use for His kingdom work!!!

Well, that is all we have for you folks today! Stay tuned for next week for Coffee and Convo with Elise! Until then, stay blessed, stay humble and keep serving on!!


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Believe In Me

Posted on September 19, 2017 by Karah

Turn off your phone, TV, and any other electronics. Prepare a quiet environment as you concentrate on spending time with God.

Read John 14:1-6 in your Bible.

“I am going away to prepare a place for you . . . You know the way to where I am going.”

—John 14:2b,4

Dig deeper with these questions:

Based on what you read, fill in the blanks below.

 

We are to believe in _____, and also in _______ .

Jesus went away to prepare a place for ___________.

Jesus declared, “ I am the _______, the ________, and the ________.”

 

Where was Jesus going? What did Jesus say He would do when He left? Why was it important for Him to go? Explain your answers in your journal.

Other passages, such as Matthew 5:12 and Matthew 6:19-21, indicate that followers of Christ will receive a reward in heaven. However, today’s Scripture focuses on Jesus’ personal touch in the preparation of a place for His followers to dwell with Him for eternity.

-Jesus came to earth, died for our sins, and left to prepare an eternal place for us to dwell with Him. What does this tell you about Jesus’ claim that He was “the way”?

-Look at the end of verse 6. How did Jesus say His followers would get to the place He prepared for them?

Respond

In our culture, people have many ideas and beliefs about the way to get to heaven. Some say you only have to be a good person, and others believe there is more than one way to get to heaven.

-Meditate on the Scripture you read today. What is the true way to heaven? Are you focused on Jesus and living His way?

-Think about all Jesus experienced and did to enable you to have fellowship with God. Say a prayer of gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice and the gift of eternal life with Him.

Behind the Story

This passage is a part of Jesus’ farewell discourse. It took place after His last Passover meal and before His coming crucifixion. It was important for Jesus to give instructions to His disciples at this point because He knew He would soon leave them and return to His Father in Heaven.

Dwell (v.) = to settle or abide in a specific location

The Point

Jesus is truly the only way to a relationship with God.


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Eternal Fellowship

Posted on September 12, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Think about your dreams for the future. Now, meditate on the joy of spending eternity with God.

Read Matthew 8:8-10. The gentile soldier spoke with humility and showed greater faith than the religious leaders in Israel. Why is this important? Journal your response.

“I tell you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” —Matthew 8:11-12

Read Matthew 8:11-13 in your Bible. Answer the following questions:

-What comes to mind when you read the words recline and table? What about weeping and gnashing?

-Verse 11 gives us a glimpse of eternity with God: believers in fellowship not only with Him, but also with believers from previous generations. Knowing this, how do you envision eternity with God? Sketch a picture below.

-There is a clear difference in eternity for those who trust and those who reject the Son of God, Jesus Christ. What does this demonstrate about God’s character?

Respond

As a believer in Christ, you will always be with God and experience everlasting life. Think of how incredible eternity with God will be. In your journal, jot down a few words that describe the glory and character of God.

For further study on saving faith, read John 3:36 and Romans 10:9.

Behind the Story

In verse 12, the “sons of the kingdom” referred to the Jews who did not believe in Christ. Their disbelief would separate them from God. Regardless of their heritage, faith in Christ alone was the determining factor for how they would spend eternity.

The Point

Those who trust in Christ, enjoy eternal fellowship with God. Those who do not will endure eternal punishment and separation from God.


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Eternal View

Posted on September 6, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Take a deep breath. Pray and ask God to help you focus on what He desires for you to learn today.

Today’s passage describes the beginning of John the Baptist’s ministry. His words constantly pointed to the One who would come after him—Jesus. John humbly acknowledged the surpassing greatness of Jesus’ work and ministry.

“His winnowing shovel is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the barn. But the chaff He will burn up with fire that never goes out.”

—Matthew 3:12

Read Matthew 3:1-12 in your Bible. Think through these questions:

-In your journal, list four messages that John the Baptist proclaimed.

-What did John’s messages encourage people to do? Explain.

John the Baptist warned of Christ’s judgment and gave an illustration of grain and chaff being separated.

-Read verse 12. Underneath the headings below, record what will happen to the chaff and grain.

            Chaff                                                   Grain

This illustration indicates that no one will escape God’s judgment, and He will make no mistakes sorting the believers from the unbelievers.

How does this passage help you realize the urgency and importance of sharing Jesus with others?

Respond

Have you trusted in Christ as your personal Lord and Savior? Journal your response. If you want to place your faith in Christ now, talk to your parents, your camp counselor, or someone at your church.

For further study on John the Baptist’s ministry refer to Isaiah 40:3-6.

Behind the Story

The winnowing shovel is a tool that farmers used in Jesus’ day to separate wheat from chaff when harvest time arrived. The chaff, hollow shells that covered grain, would blow away into the wind while the grain would fall to the ground so the farmer could gather it for harvest.

The Point

Jesus is the judge. He will preserve those who trust Him, but those who do not will face eternal punishment.


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God’s Expectations

Posted on August 22, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Write one area of obedience you tend to treat as optional in your walk with Christ. Ask God to open your heart and mind to obey Him in all areas.

Read Luke 12:43. Jesus wanted His disciples to be watchful, but He also wanted to find them working. The same is true for you.

“Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.”—Luke 12:48b

Now, read Luke 12:41-48.

Underline any of Jesus’ words that remind you that the timing of His return is unknown.

Note the different possible results for the slave in verses 43-48:

If he is working:

 

If he is living in blatant disobedience:

 

If he is unprepared:

 

If he did not know God’s will:

 

Each slave was held accountable for his knowledge and action or inaction. Knowing the Master’s will and not doing it is dangerous. Circle the three possible scenarios from the list above for anyone who knows God’s plan and purpose for their lives. What does today’s reading tell you about Christian leaders’ responsibility to the message of Jesus? Explain your answer.

Respond

You are accountable to God for completing the tasks He gives to you. No matter how significant or insignificant your task may seem, you are responsible for that task.

In what ways has God entrusted you with more? Where does God have you working right now? Journal your thoughts about being held accountable to God for those things. Ask Him to help you remain faithful to your responsibilities and to be actively involved where He is at work around you.

What steps will you take this week to be actively involved in the work of the kingdom? Write them on your mirror or on a sticky note placed on the back of your door.

For further study, read Luke 8:4-15.

Behind the Story

Jesus often told parables to the religious leaders because He said they would never see or understand. But the disciples were allowed to know “the secrets of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 13:11). Jesus’ statement of “who then” (v. 42) actually implies a rhetorical question, which Jesus indirectly answered by way of the parable found in verses 42-48. In this case, “who then” was directed toward the disciples.

The Point

It is not enough to simply wait for Jesus’ return; you must be actively involved in His work while you wait.


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What Will You Be Doing?

Posted on August 15, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Think about what you have planned for today. Ask God to show you what it would mean for you to live each day as His faithful servant.

“That slave whose master finds him working when he comes will be rewarded.”—Matthew 24:46

Read Matthew 24:45-51.

God’s timing is not like your timing (2 Pet. 3:8-9). He is not late in sending Christ to bring you back to Him, but is patient with those who have not yet repented, giving them a chance to return to Him.

Relate this parable to your life. Draw a picture or write a few words to describe what you would be doing if you were the faithful servant, working when Christ returns, and what you would be doing as the wicked servant, taking advantage of Jesus’ delay and pursuing sinful things.

 

The faithful servant                          The wicked servant

 

What does this parable teach you about what is really important? About how you should spend your life?

Respond

A faithful person is someone you can rely on. Faithful people are dependable, meaning they keep their promises. God is the perfect model of absolute faithfulness, even with extremely disobedient people.

-List the qualities of faithfulness mentioned above. Do you have some of those qualities? Pray that God would help you grow in faithfulness.

-Does this parable scare you? Challenge you? Encourage you? Take a look at your life and the qualities you listed above. God knows your heart, so be honest with Him about the areas you struggle with. Journal a prayer confessing your unfaithfulness. Ask God to show you where He wants you to be working.

-Consider where you stand before Jesus. He died on a cross for your sins and invited you to spend eternity with Him. Have you accepted that invitation?

For further study, read Matthew 7:24.

Behind the Story

The word “delayed” in verse 48, actually means “is staying away a long time.” Historically, Bible scholars related this to God’s patience in delaying Christ’s return. Like the slave who acted irresponsibly (v. 49), many people believe they have plenty of time to repent, but will likely be caught unaware and unprepared on the day Christ returns.[1]

The Point

God’s judgment is sure, and the timing of Jesus’ return is unknown. A day will come when it will be too late to repent.

 

 

[1] Craig L. Blomberg, New American Commentary – Volume 22: Matthew, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1992), WORDsearchCROSS e-book, 368.


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Signs

Posted on July 25, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Think about your favorite signs that summer is coming. How do you prepare? Ask God to help you see the signs that point to His return and to be prepared.

Read Matthew 24:3-36 in your Bible.

“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: As soon as its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near—at the door!”
Matthew 24:32-33

The word near doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus will return today or even 10 years from now; near simply means Jesus has completed what was necessary for people to have access to God through Him and could return at any time.

Reread verses 32-36 carefully and think through these questions:

No one knows the specific time of Jesus’ return. List things in the passage Jesus listed as signs of His return.

Though no one knows exactly when Jesus will return, you can watch for changes in the world around you. Write the promises about these changes in verses 34 and 35.

Respond

Many people have tried to predict the day of Jesus’ return. Jesus said not even He or the angels know the hour, only the Father (v. 36). Always carefully compare anything you hear (or read) about Jesus’ return to the truth of God’s Word.

How would your life change this week if you lived like you really believed Jesus’ return was near? List at least three things you want to do differently and pray for God to give you an expectant heart as you wait for His coming.

For further study on Jesus’ return, read 2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 1:1-3.

Behind the Story

The events described in verses 15-22 likely describe the destruction of Jerusalem that occurred in A.D. 70. First-century historian Josephus identified “the abomination that causes desolation” as the shedding of priestly blood in the sanctuary several years before the destruction of the temple. Matthew, though, closely associated these events with Jesus’ second coming (v. 29-30). This implies these events closely parallel things that will occur immediately before Jesus’ return.[1]

The Point

Jesus will return, but we do not know exactly when. Believers must remain obedient and ready.

 

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


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