Full of Life

Posted on October 14, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Close your eyes and think of things people often use to fill their lives, other than Jesus. Ask Him to help you see how to fill your life with Him as you study Scripture today.

What comes to mind when you hear the word thief? Think of famous thieves from movies, TV shows, or books and jot down some of their characteristics in your journal.

Now, read John 10:9-11 in your Bible.

“A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” —John 10:10

Ask yourself:
• How do believers “enter” (v. 9) through Jesus?
• What did Jesus mean by “life … in abundance” (v. 10)? Explain.

When we repent and believe, Christ gives us a new life, an abundant life. Therefore, every genuine Christian believer has been redeemed from an empty existence to a full life in Christ. Jesus didn’t just call us to this kind of life—He lived out an example through His perfect fellowship with God. We have to remember that having life in abundance doesn’t mean we will have everything that we want—it means we have everything we need in Christ Himself.
• In plain terms, explain what Jesus said in verse 11.

RESPOND

Jesus’ blood sacrifice for our lives has supreme value. Our lives should be lived in testimony to that—He is far more precious than earthly wealth.
• In the margin, list a few things you tend to value above Jesus. Confess those struggles to the Lord, and ask Him to help you recognize His value and give Him the highest place of honor in your life.
• Consider “The Point” for today’s devotion. Ask yourself: What do the words empty way of life mean to me personally? Journal your thoughts.
• For further study on the value of Jesus’ sacrifice, read John 15:13; Ephesians 2:13; Hebrews 10:10; and 1 Peter 1:19.

BEHIND THE STORY

The Greek word zoe translates as life. The word for life was used at least 36 times in the Gospel of John, which accounts for over 25 percent of references to life in the New Testament. Bible scholars even suggest that life summarizes John’s main theme— Jesus provided physical, spiritual, and eternal life. Only He can give us new life.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus is the unblemished Lamb who redeems us away from an empty way of life.

(1)Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary –John, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), under “John 1 — the Lamb of God” and “John 10 — the Good Shepherd.”


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Once And For All

Posted on October 8, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Imagine what it would be like if you had to take one animal to church every year to be sacrificed for your sin. Take a moment to thank Jesus for fulfilling the law.

“According to the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” —Hebrews 9:22

Read Hebrews 9:11-28 in your Bible and thoughtfully answer these questions.

• Reread verses 12-13. Describe the process used by priests in the Old Testament to atone for the people’s sins and the ways Jesus replaced the need for those sacrifices.
• In verse 14, highlight the phrase “how much more.” Reread the entire verse and describe the main idea in your own words.
• What had to take place (v. 15) for redemption and the establishment of the new covenant? Why?
• Review today’s passage. Explain the concept of salvation.

RESPOND

Christ’s death on the cross was God’s plan all along—Jesus shedding His blood to cover our sins fulfilled the Old Testament law to the fullest extent. Jesus was not a victim of the Roman government; instead His death was the perfect sacrifice and exactly what we needed to be forgiven.

• Take a few minutes and journal a prayer of thanks to Jesus. Here are some things you may consider thanking Him for:
»»living a perfect life
»» enduring such tremendous pain physically and spiritually as He hung on the cross
»» shedding His blood so you could be forgiven
»» conquering death and sin for those who place their faith in Him
• For further study on the sacrificial system, read Leviticus 16:6-22.

BEHIND THE STORY

Christ was unblemished by sin. The importance of His sinless life can’t be overstated. Sin would have disqualified Him as our Savior because of the requirement of a sacrifice without defect. Only Christ’s perfect obedience was able to accomplish redemption for those who choose to follow Him. Christ is our unblemished lamb without defect (1 Pet. 1:19).

THE POINT

Christ was our unblemished Lamb; the once and for all sacrifice for sin. His death and resurrection nullified the rituals set forth in Old Testament law.

MEMORY VERSE

Grab an index card and jot down 1 Peter 1:18-19. Keep the card with you and glance at it throughout the day to help you remember the verses.


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Redeeming Sacrifice

Posted on September 30, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Hillsong Chapel’s song “A Beautiful Exchange” (Forever Reign Live, 2012). Meditate on what it means that Christ carried the blame for your sins.

“For you know that you were redeemed
from your empty way of life inherited
from the fathers, not with perishable
things like silver or gold, but with the
precious blood of Christ, like that of a
lamb without defect or blemish.”
—1 Peter 1:18-19

Redemption requires one person paying a price to ensure another’s freedom or release. Redemption breaks bonds of oppression and slavery to sin. In this verse, we see that we were purchased or released from slavery to sin into a living hope in salvation through Jesus Christ.

Read 1 Peter 1:18-19 in your Bible and consider the following:

• Reflect on the definition of redemption italicized above. Explain the term in your own words. The Jews would recognize the concept of redemption in God’s deliverance of His people out of Egypt. For us, it is the picture of a person who was enslaved to sin and set free by Christ’s death on the cross.
• Why is it so important to realize that we were enslaved to sin and in need of being set free? Explain.
• Peter described life without Christ as “empty” (v. 18). List some things people often try to fill that emptiness with.

RESPOND

We can only experience redemption because of the blood of Christ. He was the perfect sacrifice because He lived His whole life without sin. The gospel—the way Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection unfolded—was always God’s plan for bringing redemption to us.

• In your journal, jot down the story of how you came to know Jesus. Practice sharing your story with a parent or friend. If you have not yet trusted Jesus as Savior, talk to your parents, a trusted member of your church, or your Trailstones leader for more information.
• In your journal, list two people you know who need to hear the gospel message. Commit to sharing your story with them.
• For further study on Christ’s redemption, read Romans 5:6-11.

BEHIND THE STORY

During the time of Peter’s writing, Christians faced fierce persecution. It was much easier to renounce Christ and live in relative safety than to remain faithful to Him and risk everything. Peter reminded the believers that this world would be a temporary residence and heaven would be their eternal home. He urged them to remain faithful in the face of difficult circumstances because Christ claimed the victory and redeemed them through His death on the cross.

THE POINT

God offers permanent redemption for His people through Jesus’ sacrifice.


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Passover Lamb

Posted on September 23, 2019 by Karah

Take a moment to thank Jesus for dying on the cross to offer you forgiveness for your sins.

Our world is full of symbols. Road signs use symbols to warn us of potential danger. We use emojis to communicate to our friends. We identify things through symbols and understand their intended meaning. In today’s passage, Jesus changed the disciples’ understanding of the Passover when He used the elements of the meal to symbolize His death on the cross. From that point on, every element of the Passover meal would remind those who participated about Jesus’ sacrifice and atonement for sins.

Read Matthew 26:26-29 in your Bible.

“As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, ‘Take and eat it; this is My body.’” —Matthew 26:26

Answer these questions:
• In the Old Testament, the bread represented God’s provision for His people in the desert. In using the bread (v. 26) and cup as symbols (v. 27), how did Jesus reinterpret their message?
• Why was it necessary for Jesus to become the sacrifice for sin? Explain.
• Read Jeremiah 31:31-34. In verse 33, underline the phrase “I will put My teaching within them and write it on their hearts.” Then, look closely at the end of verse 34. In your own words, explain the difference between the old and new covenants.

RESPOND

• Meditate on Jesus as the Passover Lamb—what that means for you, those you love, and those you don’t know.
• Journal a prayer of thanks to God for sacrificing His only Son to pay for your sins.
• List four ways you can show your thankfulness for Christ’s sacrifice.
• For further study about the Passover, read Exodus 12:1-28.

BEHIND THE STORY

The Passover was the Israelites’ celebration of God’s deliverance from Egypt. Before Pharaoh released God’s people from Egypt, God instructed them to sacrifice a perfect lamb and spread the blood on the doorposts. The blood on the doorposts identified those who feared the Lord—His people. That evening when God passed through the city, He passed over their houses; however, in the houses with no blood on the doors, God killed the firstborn. These circumstances led to Israel’s freedom and became known as the Passover. God instructed His people to celebrate the Passover as a memorial.

THE POINT

Jesus was the ultimate and final fulfillment of the Passover. His death established a new covenant between God and His people.


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The Loudest Voice

Posted on September 16, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think back on your life and see if there’s ever been a time when you allowed people to distract you from doing God’s will. Ask God to help you stand strong against anything that distracts you from following Him. List a few things that might distract you from hearing God’s voice or seeking His will.

Now, read Luke 23:1-24 in your Bible.

“But they kept up the pressure, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And their voices won out.” —Luke 23:23

Reflect on the following:
• Underline each statement in this passage that declared Jesus’ innocence.
• Why did the officials send Jesus back and forth (vv. 14-15)?
• Whom did Pilate listen to in the end? Why?
• Who appeared to have the most power in this situation? Herod, Pilate, or the people?
• Who actually held the power? (See John 19:11.) Circle the one you choose in your bible. Why is that important?

RESPOND

Jesus was innocent, yet He was sentenced to die because the Jews angrily and incessantly insisted He was a criminal of the highest order. Just like Pilate and Herod Antipas, sometimes we hear others’ voices louder than God’s. When we focus on others’ opinions and words more than God’s will and His Word, it’s easy to obey the wrong voice.

• In what ways are you tempted to follow others’ opinions rather than God’s truth? Pray, honestly confessing any struggles to God. Ask Him to give you the strength to overcome the struggles in your life.
• List three specific things you will do this week to help you focus on obeying God, instead of living to please others.

BEHIND THE STORY

According to the legal system, Pilate knew Jesus was innocent (v. 4) as did Herod (vv. 14-15), evidenced by his sending Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate attempted to sway the Jews, offering to scourge and release Jesus. The Jews refused to be pleased by anything less than Jesus’ death. Still, the inability of all of these people to find any fault with Jesus points to Jesus as the perfect, unblemished, Sacrificial Lamb.

THE POINT

Though Jesus was innocent, Pilate and Herod sentenced Him to death to appease the Jews. They feared men more than God. Believers should fear and obey God above all else.

MEMORY VERSE

Recite Matthew 26:39. Pray that the Holy Spirit would help you seek His will above your own desires.


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An Honest Prayer

Posted on September 9, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a time when God asked you to endure a difficult situation. Take a minute to look back on that time, specifically examining how God worked in your life. Thank Him for opening your eyes to His loving guidance.

Read Matthew 26:36-46 in your Bible.

“Going a little farther, He fell facedown and prayed, ‘My Father! If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me. Yet not as I will, but as You will.’” —Matthew 26:39

Answer these questions:
• List the emotions Jesus experienced in this passage.
• What traits did Jesus model for believers in this passage?
• In your own words, describe what Jesus asked of God.
• Jesus humbly submitted to God’s will (v. 39, 42). What was God’s will in
this situation?
• How might Jesus’ response to God in this situation encourage believers who are struggling?

RESPOND

• Is there a situation have you repeatedly asked God to take away from you? What happened as a result? Journal about that experience.
• In what way is God currently asking you to submit to His will? Are you excited? Scared? Angry? Unsure? Be honest with God, admit how you feel, and then ask Him to help you submit to His perfect will.
• In Gethsemane, Jesus asked His disciples to pray with Him—He instructed them to do so for their own strength. Who can you ask to pray with you in tough situations? List a few names in your journal.
• For a different side of this story, read John 17.

BEHIND THE STORY

The “cup” Jesus mentioned referred to Jesus’ own suffering and death. Jesus would take humanity’s sin as well as God’s wrath upon Himself. This instance was the only time in all eternity Jesus would be separated from God. Just as He did many other times in the Gospels, Jesus demonstrated an accurate understanding of what lay ahead. He even warned His disciples to be in prayer, though they failed to comprehend the urgency of the occasion.

MEMORY VERSE

This week, memorize Matthew 26:39. Break the verse up into smaller phrases. Memorize them in order, building on each phrase until you have the whole verse memorized.

THE POINT

Jesus prayed for another way, yet humbly submitted to the will of His Father. Even when God asks us to do tough things, we can be obedient.


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In My Place

Posted on September 3, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Gather your Bible, a pen, and your journal. Silence your phone and find a quiet place. Sit down, take a deep breath, and ask God to help you focus on what you read in His Word today.

“But Jesus let out a loud cry and breathed His last.” —Mark 15:37

Read Mark 15:21-37 in your Bible. Consider this:
• List the details (who carried the cross, where was He crucified, etc.) Mark recorded about Jesus’ crucifixion.
• According to verse 27, describe the types of people typically sentenced to death by crucifixion.
• Look closely at verses 26, 29-30. What’s so ironic about the “crime” Jesus was charged with? What about the people’s mocking and questioning why Jesus couldn’t save Himself?
• Reread verses 30-32. Underline the phrase “He saved others; He cannot save Himself!” Consider the statement in light of what you know about Jesus. Did Jesus have the power to save Himself? Why do you think He remained on the cross? Explain your answer.

Jesus’ words in verse 34 expressed His humanity and revealed what He knew to be true—in the end God would triumph over evil. By choosing to save you and me, Jesus chose not to save Himself. His choice to remain on the cross provided all people the only means to live free from sin if they trust Him as Savior.

RESPOND

Jesus endured separation from God for a time, as He became sin, in order to offer us freedom from and forgiveness for our sins.

• When did the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross make a difference in your life? Journal about your experience.
• If you haven’t accepted Christ’s forgiveness, talk to your parents, your camp counselor, or your Trailstones leader. If you have already trusted Jesus as Savior, thank Him for staying on the cross and dying to pay for your sins.
• For further study on the Jesus’ final words, read Psalm 22.

BEHIND THE STORY

Jesus’ death took place during Passover. At the first Passover, three days of darkness preceded the death of all firstborn in Egypt whose door frames were not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb (Ex. 10:20-23; 12). When Jesus died, darkness once again covered the land. This time, the blood of the Sacrificial Lamb was shed for all who would receive His gift as payment for their sin.

THE POINT

Jesus’ death secured forgiveness from sin for any who choose to receive His gift of salvation.


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Obediently Follow

Posted on August 20, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Think of a time when you felt like your life was completely out of control. Now, remember how God brought you through that time. Thank Him for His faithfulness.

Read Matthew 26:52-56 in your Bible.

“’But all this has happened so that the prophetic Scriptures would be fulfilled.’ Then all the disciples deserted Him and ran away.” —Matthew 26:56

Ask yourself:
• Why didn’t Jesus try to stop the events leading toward His death (v. 53-54) Explain.
• Jesus knew what was about to happen to Him and didn’t fight the arrest. What does this indicate about Jesus’ understanding of the Father’s plan? His trust in His Father? His love for you and me?

Read John 18:1-11 in your Bible. Think through the following:
• In what ways did Jesus immediately take control of the situation?
• What was “the cup” Jesus referred to in verse 11? Explain.
• Compare the two passages from today’s devotion. List Jesus’ words and actions that indicate His willingness to fulfill His Father’s plan.

RESPOND

• As you go through your day, consider this: Jesus knew He would be arrested as part of His Father’s plan, yet He didn’t fight it. Would I be willing to be arrested for living out my faith?
• Jesus followed His Father’s plan completely and willingly. Examine your own life and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you as you check your heart. Do you obey God no matter the cost? Honestly talk with God about any struggles you may have when it comes to following His plan.
• In what way are you like Peter, fighting against God’s difficult and painful plan? Ask God for strength to help you respond to difficult situations in a way that honors Him.

BEHIND THE STORY

Throughout Judas’ betrayal and Jesus’ arrest, Jesus displayed an understanding of the coming events—what would happen if He allowed them to arrest Him. Jesus didn’t hide from the soldiers and religious leaders; instead they found Him in a place He frequented. Jesus also foreshadowed His sacrifice by stepping in front of His disciples and ensuring they were released. Some Bible scholars suggest that this action was a picture of His sacrificial death to pay the penalty for their sin and ours.

THE POINT

Despite the torment ahead of Him, Jesus obediently followed through with His Father’s plan.


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Fulfilled

Posted on August 13, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

What kinds of things make you feel out of control? Thank God that He is in complete control.

“For I tell you, what is written must be fulfilled in Me: And He was counted among the outlaws. Yes, what is written about Me is coming to its fulfillment.” —Luke 22:37

Read Luke 22:37 and John 19:31-37 in your Bible and reflect on these questions.
• Beside each Old Testament reference, record the prophecy made about Jesus. Beside each New Testament passage, note the way Jesus’ trial and crucifixion fulfilled that prophecy.

Old Testament New Testament
Psalm 34:20 John 19:36
Isaiah 53:12 Luke 22:37
Zechariah 12:10 John 19:37

• The Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in these verses were written hundreds of years before Christ was born. What does that tell you about God’s knowledge of the future? His omnipotence?

The day of preparation mentioned in verse 31 was the day before the Sabbath of Passover week. This was a significant day for the Jews— it was the day the lambs would be sacrificed for the people’s sins. When the high priest sacrificed the lambs for the sins of the Jewish people, Jesus sacrificed Himself as payment for the sins of all people.

RESPOND

• The Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ remind us that His sacrificial death was God’s plan all along. Journal a prayer of thanks to Him for planning so far in advance to rescue you from the slavery of sin.
• For further study on prophecies Jesus fulfilled, read 100 Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus (Rose Publishing, 2001).

BEHIND THE STORY

During the trial and crucifixion of Jesus, over 20 Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled. In order for Jesus to be counted among the outlaws, it was necessary for the legal system to declare Him guilty and treat Him like a criminal. The number of prophecies fulfilled through this event solidly points to God’s foreknowledge and perfect plan.(1)

THE POINT

Jesus’ death on the cross fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.

(1)Kenneth Gangel, Holman New Testament Commentary — John,(Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), 361.


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Freedom Isn’t Free

Posted on May 20, 2019 by Karah

PAUSE

Listen to Seventh Day Slumber’s song “Nothing But the Blood” (Take Everything, 2009) and focus on what Jesus’ blood has accomplished.

Look at the definition of sacrifice below. What does sacrifice look like to you? What does it look like to God? Journal your thoughts.

“How much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?” —Hebrews 9:14

Read Hebrews 9:12-14 in your Bible and think through these questions:
• What did the sacrifice of bulls and goats purify (v. 13)? Do you notice anything these sacrifices failed to cover?
• Old Testament law required that sacrificial animals be without blemish
(Lev. 1:3; 3:1). In what way was Christ a sacrificial lamb?
• What did Christ’s sacrifice cleanse (v. 14)?
• Compare and contrast the Old Testament animal sacrifices and Christ’s sacrifice.

SACRIFICE (n.) = Giving up something of value for something considered more important.

RESPOND

• In the your journal, list specific words that describe the freedom you experience because of Christ’s sacrifice. Thank Him for the sacrifice He made for you.
• Do you know people who don’t know that Jesus gave His own life to offer them freedom from sin? List a few names in your journal and commit to pray for those people this week.

BEHIND THE STORY

The sacrificial system of the Old Testament anticipated the ultimate price Christ would pay in sacrificing Himself for our sins on the cross. Although the Old Testament system was incomplete, it introduced the concept of God’s law, humanity’s inability to keep that law, and the need for a perfect sacrifice. The word translated “redemption” in verse 12 refers to the price paid to liberate a slave. Christ’s sacrifice liberates people from slavery to sin and the ultimate punishment—death and eternal separation from God.(1)

THE POINT

God’s plan, from the beginning of time, paved the way for Christ as the ultimate sacrifice and final blow to death.

(1)Thomas D. Lea, Holman New Testament Commentary — Hebrews & James, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 1999), p. 174.


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