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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Like a Child

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Think back on your childhood. Try to remember How people took care of you and provided for you. Ask God to help you see how He provides for you also.

“When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, ‘Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I assure you: Whoever does not welcome the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” —Mark 10:14-15

Read Mark 10:13-16 in your Bible.

Childlike frailty and dependence can be seen as a burden or weakness. Jesus saw this group of children as worthy recipients of His time, as well as a perfect illustration for the disciples. They still hadn’t grasped that the only way to share in His blessings would be to confess total weakness and dependence upon Him.

• How would you compare your faith in Christ to the dependence of a child?

• What would it take for you to have childlike faith, remaining completely dependent on Him?

• Why is it important that Christians realize that redemption isn’t dependent upon them keeping rules or being good, instead they must totally rely on Jesus?

RESPOND

• Do you remember when you first realized your need for Jesus? Journal about your experience.

• In your journal, list a few areas of your life you struggle to give over to Jesus. Pray and ask God to show you how to live completely dependent upon Him.

• For further study on dependence on God read Proverbs 3:5; Jeremiah 17:7-8; and Philippians 4:19.

BEHIND THE STORY

In Jesus’ time, parents often took their children to see the Rabbi so he could lay his hands on the children and bless them. However, children were often seen as insignificant, so it is possible
that the disciples were trying to protect Jesus’ time when they turned the children away.

THE POINT

We must come to Christ like children, knowing we are utterly dependent upon Him for salvation.


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Faithfully Follow

Posted on February 27, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Stop and think about your schedule for this week. What do you want to prioritize? Keep your priorities in mind as you study today’s passage.

“’I have kept all these,’ the young man told Him. ‘What do I still lack?’ ‘If you want to be perfect,’ Jesus said to him, ‘go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow Me.’” —Matthew 19:20-21

Read Matthew 19:16-22.

The young man seemed to know he lacked something. He assumed he could do more to earn salvation, but salvation can’t be earned.

• Jesus told the young man, “there is only One who is good”(v. 17). What did He mean?

• Jesus said the young man had to keep the commandments to enter eternal life—but Jesus was the only one able to do that perfectly. Why did Jesus direct the man to examine his obedience to the ten commandments?

This ruler thought he was doing all the right things, but Jesus proved otherwise. Still, Jesus gave the ruler a chance to reveal his heart and follow Him. When faced with his own insincere motives, the man walked away from this encounter disappointed.

• Read verse 21 and Matthew 6:19-21. Using the chart below, list some things you treasure under the correct heading.
Worldly Treasures                                                 Treasures in Heaven

 

RESPOND

The man allowed his earthly wealth to get in the way of knowing Jesus. Sometimes we do the same.

• What things in your life do you choose to prioritize over spending time with Jesus? What evidence in your life reveals your priorities? Journal your response.

• Using the headlines below, list obstacles to your relationship with Jesus and ways to overcome them.
Obstacles                                                                       Solutions

 

BEHIND THE STORY

Many passages in Scripture focus on the fact that salvation is obtained by grace through faith, yet many Jewish people in Jesus’ day could not let go of their legalistic traditions. Keeping the law had become a prideful pursuit that separated “good” Jews from “bad” Jews. They completely missed the point: God desires hearts dedicated to Him, not sinful hearts dedicated to following rules.

MEMORY VERSE

Spend time this week memorizing Matthew 6:19-21. Write it somewhere that you can see it every day, like a mirror in your room.

THE POINT

Nothing should stand in the way of our relationship with Jesus.


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Pleasing Faith

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment in prayer and ask God to help you clearly see His message in today’s passage.

“Then He told her, ‘Because of this reply, you may go. The demon has gone out of your daughter.’” —Mark 7:29

Read Mark 7:24-30. Don’t skim this passage lightly. Look carefully at what this conversation revealed about the motives of both Jesus and the woman.

Think through these questions:

• In verse 26, highlight the word “kept.” The Gentile woman absolutely believed Jesus could do something about the demons possessing her daughter. How did that display the woman’s faith in Jesus?

• Why is it important that the woman recognized Jesus could do something about the evil spirits that possessed her daughter?

It may seem at first that Jesus was callous to this woman’s cry for help, but this exchange actually sheds light on the gospel in a historical context. Jesus came first for the Jews, but ultimately salvation would be available for all.

Jesus told the woman that it was not yet her turn for salvation (v. 27). Her response showed that she understood Jesus’ power had no boundaries (v.28). In this way, her faith surpassed many of the Jews’. Not only did this Gentile woman acknowledge Jesus as her Lord, but she was content with just a crumb of His mercy.

• How did Jesus honor her undaunted trust in Him?

RESPOND

You can’t be a Christ-follower without faith. Salvation can’t be earned and we can’t be saved from sin if we don’t have faith in the God who saves.

• This woman had faith that Jesus could heal her daughter from the demons that possessed her. Think about how you approach Jesus. Would you describe your faith as absolute? Why or why not?

• Can you think of someone who shows this kind of faith? In your journal, list some people who seem to have unshakable faith and the characteristics they have.

• For further study on absolute faith read Hebrews 11:6.

BEHIND THE STORY

One of the most dramatic ways Jesus upset the culture in His day was through interaction with Gentiles. From the beginning, the promised Messiah was believed to be deliverance for the Jews, yet on several occasions Jesus ministered to “outsiders”. In a time of great racism, it was both a religious and a cultural problem for Jesus to even speak with this woman, much less grant her request for healing.

THE POINT

Sincere and persistent faith is what pleases God.


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Two Commands

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Reflect on your time with Jesus this week. Thank Him for what He has shown you and ask Him to continue to help you learn more about Him today.

“He said to him, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and most important command. The second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.’” —Matthew 22:37-39

Now, read Matthew 22:34-40.

• In verse 36, underline the word “greatest.” Phrase the expert’s question in your own words and write it in your journal.

• Verses 37-40 contain Jesus’ response. List the two commands Jesus indicated.

• What does it mean to love the Lord with all your heart, soul, and mind? Why is this the most important command?

When you love God with all our heart, you are compelled to love others. By loving others like this, you show them the love of God.

In today’s Scripture, Jesus addressed the heart of the issue with the Pharisees. The attitude of your heart matters. If we do not have love for God, we become legalistic like the Pharisees—focusing on the laws instead of the God who gave them.

RESPOND

Journal your response to the following questions.

• Is your life characterized by His love?

• List some ways you can live out these commands this week.

• How does living placing importance on loving God and others affect those around you? Think especially about people who don’t know Jesus.

• List some ways you can obey these two commands:

LOVE GOD                                                          LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR

 

BEHIND THE STORY

Leading up to this passage in Matthew 22:1-33 the Pharisees had tried to trap Jesus into answering their questions in a way that would incriminate Him.

THE POINT

Our love for God should cause us to love all others.


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