The Bread of Life

Posted on October 31, 2017 by Karah

Pause

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respond

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

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

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

Behind the Story

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

The Point

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


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Boldness

Posted on October 24, 2017 by Karah

Pause

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

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

Read Revelation 21:1-8. Ask yourself:

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

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

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

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

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

Respond

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

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

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

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

Behind the Story

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

The Point

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


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Free from Fear

Posted on October 10, 2017 by Karah

Pause

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

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

—Matthew 10:28-31 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Respond

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

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

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

Behind the Story

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

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

The Point

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


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Pure Life

Posted on October 3, 2017 by Karah

Pause

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

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

—Matthew 18:8-9

Read Matthew 18:8-9.

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

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

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

 

         Righteous                                          Sinful

 

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

Respond

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

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

Behind the Story

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

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

The Point

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


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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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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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