Ordinary and Extraordinary

Posted on May 22, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPOND

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

Ordinary                                                                                Extraordinary

 

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

THE POINT

Sometimes Jesus provides for our everyday needs in extraordinary ways.

 

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


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A Few Loaves and a Willing Heart

Posted on May 15, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

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

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

Philip                                                                                             Andrew

 

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

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

RESPOND

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

THE POINT

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


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Power and Peace

Posted on May 8, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPOND

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

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

THE POINT

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


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The First Miracle

Posted on May 1, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RESPOND

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

Magnificent                                     Renown                                        Honor

 

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

THE POINT

Jesus’ works displayed His glory.

 

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


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Fully Forgiven

Posted on April 24, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

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

Read John 8:1-11 in your Bible

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

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

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

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

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

RESPOND

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

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

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

THE POINT

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


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Good News Travels

Posted on April 17, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

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

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

Read John 4:39-42.

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

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

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

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

RESPOND

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

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

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

BEHIND THE STORY

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

THE POINT

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


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Living Water

Posted on April 10, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Contemplate what it feels like to be hungry or thirsty. Ask God to help you understand how He satisfies your spiritual hunger and thirst.

“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life.’” —John 4:13-14

Read John 4:1-26 in your Bible. Use the questions below to help you study.

• Jesus called Himself “the gift of God” (v. 10). How does this reveal God’s character? His love for you?

• Highlight the phrase “living water” in verse 10. What does this mean? Explain the concept in your own words.

• What does it mean to thirst for Jesus? How does He quench this thirst? Jesus’ ministry was characterized by meeting physical needs in order to illustrate spiritual truths. This encounter was no different.

• What does Jesus’ conversation with this woman teach you about salvation? About eternal life?

RESPOND

Just as Jesus offered this woman living water, He offers us the same gift.

• Whom or what do you look to for satisfaction? Do you look to Jesus? Confess your answer to God and ask Him to help you be fully satisfied in Him.

• Think of a few ways Jesus specifically satisfied your spiritual needs. Thank Him for providing for you.

BEHIND THE STORY

When Jesus spoke to this woman, He shattered three cultural barriers at once. First, devout Jews would have avoided even passing through this region due to the intense racism between Jews
and Samaritans. Second, Jewish men did not speak to women casually. Third, this immoral woman was clearly accustomed to being an outcast, as she drew her water in the heat of the day, rather than in the cooler times with the other women.

THE POINT

Only Jesus can satisfy our deepest needs.


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Religion or Response?

Posted on April 3, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment before you begin today and thank God for the amazing gift of salvation.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” —John 3:16-17

Read John 3:1-21.

A Pharisee Nicodemus approached Jesus by night and called him “Rabbi,” which can also mean Master. He was respectful of Jesus, but his questions revealed his uncertainty of Jesus’ claims. Jesus immediately directed the conversation to the fact that religious knowledge doesn’t earn salvation.

• What does Nicodemus’ conversation with Jesus reveal about his understanding of who Jesus was?

• Think about how Jesus’ gospel contradicted the legalistic beliefs of the Pharisees. What are the main differences between religion and a saving faith in Christ?

Religion                                                                                                               Jesus

 

 

• What does this passage reveal about the personal nature of the gospel? Eternal life? God’s love for you? Explain.

RESPOND

• Salvation isn’t free—God sent His own Son to pay the price for your reconciliation. As you go through the rest of the week, meditate on God’s gift to you.

• How would you personally explain what it takes to be saved? Journal the story of when you trusted Jesus as Savior. Then, pray and ask God to help you know how to tell someone else about Him. If you have not placed your faith in Jesus, talk with someone that you trust, like your parent or one of your camp counselors, about the Gospel.

• For further study on the difference between religious knowledge and salvation, read Jesus > Religion by Jefferson Bethke (Thomas Nelson, 2013).

BEHIND THE STORY

Much debate centers around how a person is saved, but the most important truth to cling to is that God is the initiator of salvation. Redemption was God’s idea, carried out by His Son. We are accountable for our response in either belief or disbelief. A cohesive reading of the Bible concludes, “It is unproductive theological speculation, therefore, to minimize either the role of God or of humanity in the salvation process. The Bible and John 3:16 recognize the roles of both.”¹

THE POINT

Jesus died for you personally. To be saved, you must respond to His gospel.

 

 

¹Gerald L. Borchert, New American Commentary – Volume 25a: John 1-11, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1996), WORDsearchCROSS e-book, 183.


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Seeking to Save

Posted on March 27, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

As you reflect on your day, ask Jesus to bring to mind one person you can share the gospel with.

The words Jesus said and the deeds He did during His ministry served to prepare people and help them understand what He would soon accomplish on the cross. As you read today’s Scripture, pay attention to how His encounter with Zacchaeus revealed the true purpose of His earthly ministry.

“’Today salvation has come to this house,’ Jesus told him, ‘because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.’” —Luke 19:9-10

Read Luke 19:1-10 in your Bible

• Read verses 3–4 again. Underline the words “running” and “climbed.” These actions were considered undignified for a grown man in that day. How do these actions reveal Zacchaeus’ desperation to see Jesus? Explain.

• Circle the word “must” (v. 5). Now, read verse 10. Why was it so important for Jesus to go to Zacchaeus’ house?

• How was Zacchaeus changed after this personal encounter with Jesus? What evidence do you see of conviction?

• How do the words of verse 9 and 10 reveal the purpose of Jesus’ ministry?

RESPOND

Jesus sought out a tax collector, a notorious sinner and went to His house. Jesus didn’t ask Zaccheus to repent before He stayed with Him. Jesus took the gospel to Zacchaeus. Today Jesus continues to pursue the lost, seeking to win their hearts with the offer of salvation.

• In your journal, draw a line down the middle of the page to create two columns. On one side, record Jesus’ actions in the passage—He sought, invited, lodged with, and brought the gospel. In the other column, list ideas for how you can do these same things to help others see how Jesus loves and pursues them.

BEHIND THE STORY

As a tax collector in Jericho, Zacchaeus would have been labeled as corrupt and a traitor. The Romans had invaded Israel and collected taxes from their new subject nation. Many collectors charged more than necessary to pad their own salaries. As a Jew, Jesus’ interaction with a tax collector would have been considered scandalous.

THE POINT

Jesus came to seek and save the lost—and He’s still doing so today.


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Doing vs. Being

Posted on March 20, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Jot down anything that may distract you from your time in the Word. Ask God to help you set aside other concerns and focus on what He has to say to you today.

“The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.’”
—Luke 10:41-42

Read Luke 10:38-42 in your Bible

• Based on the events recorded, how would you describe Mary and Martha?

Mary                                                                                                                                       Martha

 

 

• If you were Martha, would you have been upset with Mary? Why or why not?

• How did Jesus help Martha see beyond her own priorities to what was truly important? Explain.

Jesus didn’t demean Martha’s desire to serve Him, but He gently reminded her that it was more important to spend time with Him and learn from Him. Sometimes even good things can distract you from connecting with Jesus on a deeper level.

RESPOND

Serving God and doing good things in His name should never take the place of your relationship with Him.

• Think about some of the ways you serve God and jot them down in your journal.

• How might these responsibilities, or commitments become a distraction from spending time learning from Jesus?

• Examine your heart—is Jesus your top priority? Spend some time in prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you answer this question.

• Close your eyes and reflect on your day. Would people see Jesus through the way you live? How do you interact with others? React to frustrations? Consider most important? Journal your thoughts.

• For further study on godly priorities, read Exodus 20:3; Matthew 6:33; and Luke 12:34.

BEHIND THE STORY

This was likely Jesus’ first encounter with Mary and Martha. In John 11, Jesus returned to Bethany to raise their brother Lazarus from the dead. John 11:2 mentioned Jesus’ previous connection to
these women, identifying Mary as the one who anointed Jesus with oil and wiped His feet with her hair. This and the use of the phrase “the one You love” (v. 3) indicated a friendship between Jesus and their family.

THE POINT

As believers, seeking Jesus should be our top priority.


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