Rule Follower

Posted on January 9, 2018 by Karah

PAUSE

Ponder this quote by Samuel Bolton,

“The law sends us to the Gospel that we may be justified; and the Gospel sends us to the law again to inquire what is our duty as those who are justified.”

Read Matthew 15:1-20

“These people honor Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. They worship Me in vain, teaching as doctrines the commands of men.” —Matthew 15:8-9

Answer these questions:

• Jesus railed against the Pharisees for two reasons: Their love of tradition was greater than their love for God and they believed corruption came from breaking the law instead of a sinful heart. Highlight where you see evidence of the these two issues throughout the passage. Write in your journal, explain them in your own words.

• The Pharisees were so caught up living in line with the law that they failed to recognize their own sinfulness. This can also happen for believers today. List a few ways you can guard against this in your own life.

• Why is it important to recognize that we are sinful people and cannot save ourselves?

RESPOND

When has following rules been more important to you than following Jesus? Evaluate the things you say and do. Be honest with God. Pray and ask Him to help you see following Jesus as the most important thing.

People have sin in their hearts, and Jesus came to replace that sin with His righteousness. If you haven’t trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to a Christian that you trust, maybe your camp counselor or a youth director, to learn more.

BEHIND THE STORY

The Pharisees were legalists. Legalism is the act of putting law above gospel by establishing requirements for salvation beyond repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. At the time, believers were to follow the Mosaic Law. The Pharisees added to this law strict rules, passed down orally, to help others understand the Mosaic law better.

THE POINT

Our faith must be in God and not in following rules. We can’t save ourselves; we need Jesus.


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Christ Alone

Posted on January 2, 2018 by Karah

Pause

Listen to Matt Maher’s song “Lord, I Need You” (All The People Said Amen, 2013). Thank God for the fulfilling love and grace He gives.

Read through Matthew 3:1-12.

“Therefore produce fruit consistent with repentance. And don’t presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that God is able to raise up children for Abraham from these stones.” —Matthew 3:8-9

Ask yourself:

• What is John’s message in verse 2? Explain in your own words what it means to repent.

• In verses 8–9, John cautioned the religious leaders of two things. List them in your journal.

 

No background and no amount of rule following can make you right with God—only true repentance and Jesus have that power.

• The leaders trusted in their own good works and the their lineage links with Abraham to bring them into God’s covenant. Why would John’s teaching fly in the face of their beliefs?

The Pharisees knew they needed to repent, but they only partially repented. Outwardly, they did what they needed to do to show others that they were repentant; however, they continued to sin while denying their guilt.

Respond

Many people still believe they only have to be good or follow rules to get to heaven. What about you? Journal a prayer asking the Lord to show you ways you might be trusting something or someone other than Jesus for salvation.

For further study on producing fruit consistent with repentance study John 15:1-17.

Behind the Story

The Pharisees and Sadducees were both part of the ruling class of Israel. Pharisees were middle class Jews who controlled the synagogues as well as oral and written law. The Sadducees were wealthy upper class religious leaders who did not believe in the resurrection. Both groups’ leaders were threatened by Jesus because He opposed their traditionally held beliefs. They refused to recognize Jesus as the Messiah and ignored His authority.

REPENT (v.) = to confess and turn away from sin.

The Point

We cannot inherit or earn our salvation. Jesus is our only hope for salvation.


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The Vine

Posted on December 12, 2017 by Karah

PAUSE

Briefly read back over each of the ‘I Am’ statements from the last two weeks’ devotions, as you prepare your heart for today’s reading.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.” —John 15:5

Read John 15:1-8. Answer the following questions:

• A vine sustains—fruit will not grow unless connected to the vine. What does it mean that Jesus is the vine? Explain.

• In verse 4, Jesus said a branch cannot produce fruit on its own. Look back at the first part of the verse. How does a branch produce fruit? How does this relate to a Christian’s relationship with Jesus?

• In verses 3-4, Jesus was speaking to His disciples. Why was it important for them to remain in Him? How does this apply to you? Explain.

• Throughout His ministry, Jesus focused on bringing glory to God. Look at verse 8. What does this tell you about the importance of producing fruit as a follower of Jesus?

• How could remaining connected to Jesus and producing fruit help others recognize their need for Him?

RESPOND

If you want to truly live out your faith, you must remain connected to Jesus. When you remain in Jesus, your life will bear fruit of your relationship with Him. Put simply: if you truly love and follow Jesus, others will be able to see Him working through you.

• Jesus said to remain in Him five times throughout verses 1-8. Does this describe your relationship with Jesus? Why or why not? How are you growing in your faith? Journal your response.

• For further study on bearing fruit read Galatians 5:22-23.

BEHIND THE STORY

In the Old Testament, Israel was often depicted as the vine and God as the vineyard keeper. Usually, Israel was shown as dried up or ready to be burned (Ps. 80:8–9; Isa. 27:2–6). But in the New Testament, Jesus declared He was the vine. Jesus became the mediator between God and Christ followers. In today’s passage, Jesus revealed that people must remain in Him to live in a way that pleases God.

THE POINT

Jesus is the center of our lives. When we remain focused on Him and continue to grow in relationship with Him, our lives will bear fruit that others will see.


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The Resurrection and the Life

Posted on November 29, 2017 by Karah

Pause

Check out “Because He Lives (Amen)” by Matt Maher (Saints and Sinners, 2015). Think about the things Jesus has done for you. Praise God for His gift of salvation.

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die—ever. Do you believe this?’” —John 11:25-26

Read John 11:17-27. Consider the following questions:

• Read verses 22 and 24. Highlight the phrase I know. What do these words indicate about Martha’s faith? Do you think she trusted Jesus? Why or why not?

• Martha believed and had faith in Jesus, but she did not understand the scope of His power. Even though Lazarus had been in the tomb for four days, Jesus had the power to give Him life physically as well as spiritually. Why is this concept so important?

Jesus asserted His power over death, stating that He was the source of resurrection power and eternal life. Only He has the power to give us real, meaningful, and abundant life.

Respond

Have you accepted Jesus’ invitation to spend eternity with Him? Thank Him for His gift of salvation. If you haven’t trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to a parent, friend, or your camp counselor about what it means to follow Jesus.

Jesus sees the bigger picture (v. 4). Have you experienced a time when God seemed to delay a response, but later revealed His “big picture” to you? Journal what stands out to you most about that time.

If you know people who are grieving, pray for them. Ask God to help you show His love to those who are hurting.

Behind the Story

In John 11:1-16, Lazarus became sick. Martha and Mary informed Jesus of His friend’s sickness, but
Jesus didn’t go to them immediately. Before Jesus began His journey to Bethany, Lazarus died. Even though Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, He knew that Lazarus’ death would glorify God (v. 4) and encourage people to believe in Him.

The Point

Jesus is sovereign over death and He is the source of eternal life. Only He gives our lives true meaning
and purpose.


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