Message Sent

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Glance over the past month’s devotions. Think about all you’ve learned about Jesus. Thank God for teaching you and changing your life through His Word.

The moment you trusted Jesus as Savior you were fully forgiven and your relationship with God was restored. Your restoration did not happen because of anything you did, but because of what Christ did for you. Now, read Colossians 1:20 in your Bible.
• According to this verse, what is the only way people can find true peace Now, read 2 Corinthians 5:15-21 in your Bible.

“Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” —2 Corinthians 5:20

Answer the following:
• Verses 17 and 21 are like bookends, reminding us of what God did for us through Christ. Summarize these verses in your own words.
• According to Paul, after Jesus reconciled believers to God, what ministry did God give to us (vv. 18-20)?
• Highlight the word “plead” (v. 20). What does this word indicate about the urgency of sharing God’s message of reconciliation?
• Explain what reconciliation means. What is Paul’s challenge to people who have experienced reconciliation?

RESPOND

We can be ambassadors of reconciliation through our interactions with others—how we treat them and what we say to them.
• Are you pleading on Christ’s behalf for your friends and family to be reconciled to God? In the margin, jot down the names of those you know who need to know Jesus as their Savior. Pray for each person on your list and look for ways to show His love to them.
• Ask yourself this question: Am I acting as an ambassador for Jesus by pursuing reconciliation with those around me? Journal your response.
• Think of people you may need to reconcile with. Ask God for the strength and wisdom to reach out to them.
• For further study on what Christ’s reconciliation has done for you, read Ephesians 1.

BEHIND THE STORY

In order to satisfy God’s wrath against sin, someone had to be punished for the sins of all people. Jesus’ death paid the price for our sins, which should encourage believers to turn from loving self to loving God above all. This intense love for God calls believers to carry God’s good news to people who do not know Him.

THE POINT

We are not only reconciled to God through the blood of Christ, but also to one another. We can work together to take His message of reconciliation to all people.


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Live Humbly

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

To prepare your heart for today’s devotion, ask yourself this question: In what ways am I becoming more like Jesus in my attitude and actions?

“For it is God who is working in you, enabling you both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” —Philippians 2:13

Read Philippians 2:1-13 in your Bible and explore the following.
• In verses 1-2, Paul reminded the Philippians that they were one in Christ. List the ways Paul said believers could be encouraged in that oneness.
• According to verses 3-5, how do people treat each other when they live humbly?
• The world tells us to live for ourselves. However, Jesus’ teaching was counter cultural and He perfectly modeled a humble life. Using verses 5-11, describe Christ’s humility.
• Living in full obedience to God isn’t easy. In fact, without Jesus’ presence in our lives, there is no way we can follow His example for living. In what way does verse 13 encourage believers?

When you become a Christian, God gives you new life, changes the way you think and act, and gives you the power to live out all He commanded you to do.
• How should these verses challenge believers?

RESPOND

• Ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you examine your heart. Typically, what is your attitude toward serving God? Do you live in constant obedience to Him? Journal your thoughts.
• Do you live in full obedience to God? Talk honestly with Him, confess any disobedience in your life and ask Him to help you obey His commands no matter what.
• Journal some ideas of different ways you can show Jesus’ love to others. Under your list of ideas, name a few people who need to know His love. Using both lists, choose a way to show Jesus’ love to one of those people this week.
• For further study on how Christians should love, read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.

BEHIND THE STORY

In verse 12, the phrase “work out your own salvation” does not imply that works save people. This phrase instructs people to bear the fruit of their faith. (See Gal. 5:22-23.) Put simply: Paul encouraged the Philippians to live out their faith in their daily lives. As James also said, “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). Faith and works combined demonstrate the saving grace of Jesus Christ in our lives.

THE POINT

Jesus lived in humility and obeyed God. We should also obey God and model Christ’s attitude toward serving Him.


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Live Transformed

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment and examine this quote by J. I. Packer, “The truth is that, though we were justified by faith alone, the faith that justifies is never alone (it always produces fruit, ‘good works, … a transformed life).”

Review last week’s devotion before digging into today’s Scripture. At the moment of your salvation, the resurrection of Christ reconciled you back to God. Read 1 Peter 1:22-25 in your Bible.

“Since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God.”
—1 Peter 1:23

Ask yourself:
• How should believers live out the change brought about by Christ’s presence in our lives?
• According to these verses, how should believers treat one another? Now, read Isaiah 40:6-8 in your Bible.

“The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the word of our God remains forever.” —Isaiah 40:8

Consider the following:
• In these verses, humanity is described in terms of the temporary and insignificant. List the two things the Book of Isaiah compared to humanity in verse 6.
• According to verse 8, what quality does God’s Word possess? Explain.

RESPOND

Christ’s resurrection changed everything, so when Christ redeems us, everything about our lives should change as well. His resurrection leads to us living a new life.

• In your journal, quickly list anything in your life that comes to mind when you see the words temporary or insignificant. Pray, asking God to help you focus on meaningful things.
• Prayerfully examine your life and your heart. What does it mean to live a transformed life? In what ways does your life need to change as you live out your faith? Journal your response.
• For further study on what a transformed life looks like, read Colossians 3.

BEHIND THE STORY

Peter quoted Isaiah 40:6-8 to make a point of contrast between the temporary nature of human flesh and the eternal nature of God’s Word. As His people, believers will live with Him eternally though our lives on earth are “like smoke” (James 4:14)—we’re here for only a short time. Life may be tough at times on earth, but Peter encouraged believers in the future hope we have because of our redemption in Christ.

THE POINT

Christ’s resurrection enables us to live the Christian faith in the most transformative and meaningful ways.


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Completely Justified

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Take a moment to remember that you are completely forgiven. Thank God for providing this forgiveness through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

Mentally list changes that happen over time, for example, the erosion of a mountain. Now, think of changes that occur instantly, like flipping a switch to fill a dark room with light. List a few more instant and slow changes in your journal.

Trusting Jesus as Savior results in instant change. The moment you placed your faith in Him, you were declared righteous.

Now, read Romans 4:25 in your Bible.

“He was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” —Romans 4:25

Explore the following:
• What does it mean that Jesus was “delivered up” for our sins? Explain.

Justification means to be declared righteous by God because of Christ’s death and resurrection on our behalf. The payment for our sin was accomplished in His death, and the promise of eternal life was cemented in His resurrection.
• Believers were once guilty because of our sin, but because of _____through faith in Jesus, we are saved. (See Eph. 2:8-9.)
• Christ’s death and resurrection, not our actions, bring us into right standing with God. List some ways people often try to justify themselves.

RESPOND

Simply put: sin declared us guilty before God, but Jesus’ death and resurrection declared believers as not guilty.
• All believers are justified. Do you sometimes feel unholy, unrighteous, and less than perfect because of your struggle with sin? Journal your thoughts.
• Is there any unconfessed sin in your life? Be honest with God about your struggle and ask Him to help you stand firm against temptation.
• If you have not trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to your parents, Trailstones leader, or trusted person from your church about what it means to follow Jesus.
• For further study on justification, read Romans 5.

BEHIND THE STORY

God’s entire redemptive plan was summarized in today’s Scripture. Evangelism, or the spreading of the gospel, centers on the resurrection. Without Jesus’ death on the cross, there would be no adequate payment for sin. Without the resurrection, there would be no hope and no gospel message. This is why the apostles focused their preaching on the importance of the resurrection. Our lives, our words, and our interactions must center on complete belief in the resurrection and our justification.

THE POINT

Christ’s death and resurrection brought justification to believers.


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The Saving One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Before you begin today’s devotion, ask God to help you understand more about who Jesus is and what He did for you on the cross.

People stood as enemies against God because of their sinful actions. Jesus’ death provided a way for all people to become friends of God through trusting Him as Savior.

“Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him.” —Colossians 1:21-22

Now, read Ephesians 2:12-13 and Colossians 1:21-23 in your Bible. Consider the following:
• In your journal, list characteristics of people’s lives before and after reconciliation.
• Explain in your own words what Paul meant by “you who were far away” (Eph. 2:13).

Our sin separated us from God and the only way to be free from sin was through the blood of Jesus sacrificed for us. Those who don’t accept His gift of grace will spend eternity paying for their sins by being separated from God.
• What did it take for you to be presented to God “holy, faultless, and blameless” (Col. 1:22)?

RESPOND

Redemption is at the heart of what Jesus did for us. At the moment you trusted Him as Savior, you became a friend of God and all of your sin was completely forgiven.
• Do you ever struggle to believe you’re completely forgiven? In your journal, write out Colossians 1:22 and replace you with me. Read it aloud several times and ask God to help you believe the truth of His words.
• For further study on what God did for us through Jesus, read Colossians 1:13.

BEHIND THE STORY

Paul’s ministry focused first on the Jews, then on the Gentiles (Rom. 1:16). The Jews were God’s covenant people. Paul mentioned the plight of the Gentiles previous to Jesus’ death on the cross—they were not a part of God’s covenant people. However, the blood of Christ allowed Gentiles access to the blessings afforded by the new covenant: salvation and relationship with God.

THE POINT

We had no hope of being reconciled to God on our own. Jesus paid the price for our sins and provided us access to a true relationship with God.


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The Supreme One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Prepare your heart for today’s devotion by listening to “Christ is Enough” by Hillsong (Glorious Ruins, 2013). Ask God to give you deeper insight into His sufficiency as you study His Word today.

Define the term reconcile in your own words.

“For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven.” —Colossians 1:19-20

Read Colossians 1:15-20 in your Bible and consider these questions.
• List all the characteristics of Jesus that Paul mentioned in these verses. These descriptions of Jesus indicate that there is nothing and no one greater than Him. He is the image of God, Creator of everything, and sovereign over all.
• Rewrite verse 19 in your own words. Pay special attention to the words “fullness” and “dwell.”
• Look at verse 20. What does Jesus’ sovereignty make Him completely qualified to do?

We were created to have a relationship with God, but sin fractured our bond. Only Jesus has the power to restore our relationship with God, to reconcile us.
• Explain in your own words how Jesus heals that relationship (v. 20).

RESPOND

Jesus is uniquely qualified to bring about reconciliation between God and people and the entire universe. The reconciliation He offers is 100 percent complete; you only have to trust Him as Savior, He already finished the work on the cross.
• On a sticky note write the following truths: I am completely forgivencompletely loved, and eternally secure in Jesus Christ. Place the note on the back of your door or your mirror so you can see it every day.
• Journal a prayer of thanks to God for sending Jesus to reconcile your relationship with Him.
• For further study on reconciliation with God, read Romans 5:10.

BEHIND THE STORY

In today’s passage, Paul was addressing the false teachers in the church at Colossae. These people claimed Jesus wasn’t as great as the Colossians thought. Although they didn’t disapprove of Him, they indicated there were others of equal standing with Jesus. Paul refuted this by reminding the Colossians of Christ’s supremacy. Jesus is enough to save and reconcile anyone back to God; there is no need to place your faith in anything or anyone else.

THE POINT

Jesus offered reconciliation through His death on the cross.


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Perfect High Priest

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

As you prepare for today’s devotion, picture Jesus on the cross and then the empty tomb. Thank God for your salvation that comes only through Jesus’ death and resurrection.

“For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself.” (Hebrews 7:26-27)

Read Hebrews 7:23-28 in your Bible. Think through the following:
• Record the differences between Jesus and the Levitical high priests listed in today’s Scripture. Make two columns in your journal and list the differences in each.
In order for the high priest to permanently intercede for the people, he had to be holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.
• Why was this impossible for the high priests but completely possible for Jesus?
• In summary, what does Jesus offer that the high priests of the Old Testament could never offer?

RESPOND

Jesus is supreme—a new kind of priest—perfect and flawless in every way. He established the new covenant with His blood and acts as our High Priest, continually going before God on our behalf. His priesthood is permanent because He is alive forever.
• Explore this idea: Jesus’ sacrifice paid for all my sins, even the ones I haven’t committed yet. His sacrifice was enough to cover my mistakes forever. How does this help you handle your mistakes? Journal your thoughts.
• For further study on the supremacy of Jesus’ sacrifice, read Hebrews 8–9.

BEHIND THE STORY

When a Levitical priest died, another replaced him. The law of heredity required one of Aaron’s descendants to take over the role, even though he might not have the right qualifications to intercede for the people. However, this was not true with Jesus. He was the only one able to permanently fill the role of High Priest. Though He died, He rose again, defeated death, and will be alive to intercede for His people forever.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus is forever our High Priest. He offered Himself as the final perfect, unblemished sacrifice and is able to save anyone.

(1)Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary: Hebrews and James, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under “Hebrews 7 – Safe in Jesus’ Praying Hands.”


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The Image Restorer

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Before you dig into God’s Word today, listen to Jesus Culture’s song “Here is My Heart” (Your Love Never Fails, 2008).

Read Genesis 1:27-28 and Psalm 8:3-5 in your Bible.
• Rewrite Genesis 1:27 in your own words. What does this tell you about God’s plan for people? His love for us?
• Focus on Psalm 8:5. What do you think it means that God crowned us with glory and honor? Explain.

The world we live in seems to say that souls vary in importance. God’s Word disagrees—all of humanity was created in His image. Every life has value and worth because it bears the image of God, the glory of God. However, sin marred that image and only Jesus’ death could restore it.

“We all, with unveiled faces, are looking as in a mirror at the glory of the Lord and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory; this is from the Lord who is the Spirit.” —2 Corinthians 3:18

Read 2 Corinthians 3:18 and Colossians 3:9-10 in your Bible and answer the following.
• In 2 Corinthians 3:18, did Paul describe this change as immediate or gradual? Explain.
• Reread the previous question. In your Bible, underline any key words that helped you determine your answer.
• Summarize Colossians 3:9-10 in your journal. Underneath, list some differences between the old and new self by making a column titled Old and one titled New. (See Eph. 4:22-24 for guidance.)
• According to Colossians 3:10, explain how we are renewed.

RESPOND

Glorifying God isn’t just about what you do, but who you are as His image bearer. The more time you spend with God, the more you will reflect Him in the way you live.
• In your journal, jot down some specific ways you notice God’s transformation in your own life.
• For further study on how God transforms lives, read Psalm 139:23-24 and Romans 12:1-2.

BEHIND THE STORY

God’s Word doesn’t specifically mention what imago Dei, or the image of God, refers to in relation to specific characteristics of people such as spirit, soul, and body. Therefore, Bible scholars suggest that the concept of the image of God must be considered as a whole. In other words, “The entire man, as a human being, images God.”(1)

THE POINT

Christ’s death on the cross restores our image and likeness of Him.

(1)Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 806-807.


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The Perfect One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

As you begin your quiet time, consider this quote from Charles Spurgeon,

“I thought I could have leaped from earth to heaven at one spring when I first saw my sins drowned in the Redeemer’s blood.”

Earlier this Fall, you learned that redeemed means to pay the ransom or price for somebody—like paying for someone to be released from slavery. Keep this definition in mind as you read today’s devotion.

“He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.” —1 Peter 1:20-21

Read 1 Peter 1:18-25 in your Bible and explore the following.
Sin enslaved all people and in order to be free from our sins, we would have to be perfect. In a world ruled by sin, we couldn’t save ourselves. We needed a substitute because God needed a perfect sacrifice. Jesus was the only one able to die for our sins, a “lamb without defect or blemish” (v. 19).
• Why was it so important for the sacrifice to be perfect?
• According to verses 18-21, what was God’s plan for redemption?
• Read Ephesians 2:8-9. Why do people need a Savior?
Jesus’ perfect life redeemed us from an empty, sinful life and eternal separation from God. He redeemed us for a relationship with God.

RESPOND

• In your journal, list any sins you struggle with. Now, draw a cross over the list. Let this be a reminder to you that these sins do not control you anymore—Jesus paid the price for your sins on the cross and set you free from their hold on your life.
• Spend some time in prayer, thanking God for sending Jesus to set you free from your sins and redeem you from your empty way of life. Ask God to help you live in His freedom.
• For further study on how meaningless life is without God, read Ecclesiastes.

BEHIND THE STORY

God’s plan for Jesus was not haphazardly constructed—He knew what our redemption would require of Him, of His Son. As John Piper said, “Jesus was always God’s plan A.” God planned for Jesus to come to earth to live a perfect life and die for our sins well before sending Him to us. Note Peter’s use of the words “for you” (v. 20) and “so that your faith and hope are in God” (v. 21). God didn’t initiate His plan from a distance, but made it personal. Think of it this way: Jesus didn’t just die to give all people the chance to know Him; He died knowing that I was one of those people. Jesus died for me.

THE POINT

God raised Jesus from the dead and we can have redemption through His perfect life.


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Sovereign and Eternal One

Posted by Karah

PAUSE

Silence your phone, pause your music, and turn off the TV. Find a quiet place where you can focus as you read today’s devotion.

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” —Revelation 22:13

Read Revelation 22:12-13 in your Bible and consider the following.
• Summarize verse 12 in your own words.
• All people will experience a final judgment and Jesus will be the Judge. List the words Jesus used to describe Himself in verse 13.

The Alpha and Omega begin and end the Greek alphabet. When Jesus called Himself the Alpha and Omega, He pointed to His eternal and sovereign nature. God was first called the Alpha and Omega (Isa. 44:6; Rev. 1:8), but here Jesus made it clear that He too, is eternal and sovereign.
• Explain what Jesus claimed about His nature and His relationship with God by the titles He gave Himself in verse 13.

Put simply: Jesus has the final say. From the beginning, He was God’s plan to reconcile His people. From the beginning, Jesus knew He would return for all believers and righteously judge all people for their response to how they either received or rejected Him.
• Knowing Jesus has the final say, do you need to change your lifestyle? Why or why not?

RESPOND

Jesus is all the righteousness of God and believers are completely covered by His righteousness. So when you approach Jesus during the final judgment, you can be confident in knowing that Jesus will see His own righteousness instead of your sin.
• Meditate on Jesus as “the Alpha and the Omega” (Rev. 22:13). Praise Him for being the all-powerful, all knowing, ever-present God.
• Have you trusted in Jesus as Savior? If so, journal about the ways He changed your life and examine any areas that need to change. If not, talk to your parents, your Trailstones leader or a leader from your church to find out more.
• For further study on Jesus’ power to save, read Colossians 2:14-15.

MEMORY VERSE

Write Colossians 1:19-20 in your journal. Jot down two reasons it is important for you to memorize these verses.

BEHIND THE STORY

In verse 12, Jesus mentioned bringing a reward with Him when He returns. Revelation 1 also mentioned a reward, referring to the judgment of both the righteous and the wicked. His judgment will reward the righteous and destroy the wicked (Rev. 11:18). Again today’s passage tells us that reward and punishment both occur at judgment “to repay each person according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12).

THE POINT

Jesus is sovereign and eternal.


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