Doing vs. Being

Posted on March 20, 2018 by Karah


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.


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.


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.


As believers, seeking Jesus should be our top priority.

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Like a Child

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Karah


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?


• 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.


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.


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


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



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



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.


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.


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

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Pleasing Faith

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Karah


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?


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.


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.


Sincere and persistent faith is what pleases God.

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Two Commands

Posted on February 13, 2018 by Karah


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.


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



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.


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

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What Really Matters

Posted on February 6, 2018 by Karah


Ask the Lord to help you put aside distractions and wholeheartedly focus on what He has to teach you today.

“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You pay a tenth of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law —justice, mercy, and faith. These things should have been done without neglecting the others. Blind guides! You strain out a gnat, yet gulp down a camel!” —Matthew 23:23-24

Read Matthew 23:23-24 again. Ask yourself:

• These Pharisees tediously counted out a 10 percent tithe of everything they owned—even garden herbs. List the three things they neglected.

The act of tithing was not bad, God actually commanded us to tithe in Leviticus 27:30. The Pharisee’s issue was that they focused intently on the outward aspects of this command while missing out on important things God’s law revealed.

• How do you see this in the church today? Give a specific example in your journal.

Jesus continually pointed out that the Pharisees followed rules, but did not allow God to transform their hearts. They misjudged what was important to God. You can easily place your entire focus on doing things and fail to recognize the heart behind your actions.

• What are “gnats” in your life that hog your focus? What are the “camels” in your life? Explain.


Evaluate your own life and answer these questions in your journal.

• How can you remain focused on what is truly important to God?

• How can you be a person of justice, mercy and faithfulness to those around you?

For further study on what’s important to God read Micah 6:8.


Some Pharisees would strain their drinks through cloth to make sure they didn’t swallow a gnat, the smallest unclean animal. The camel is the largest unclean animal.


We must never lose site of the things that matter most to God.

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From the Inside Out

Posted on January 30, 2018 by Karah


Ask God to reveal to you any unconfessed sin in your life. Then, repent and ask Him to help you pursue a life of holiness.

“In the same way, on the outside you seem righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” —Matthew 23:28

Read Matthew 23:25-28 and answer the following questions:

• Underline the word hypocrites each time it appears, and look at the definition below. Define the term in your own words.

• Jesus pointed out that the Pharisees were living a life of hypocrisy—they didn’t live for the God they proclaimed to love. Why is this so damaging to the name of God even today?

• When have you heard someone claim to love Jesus, but act in ways that failed to match up with those words? What did you learn from that experience? The Pharisees were overly concerned with their outward appearance and gave little attention to their inner purity. Scripture however tells us that righteousness flows from the inside out and results in Christ-likeness.

• How does knowing Jesus encourage you to pay attention to your inner purity?

• Look at verse 26. How does a person walk in righteousness? Describe this process in your own words.

Hypocrite (n) = a person who claims to obey God, but outwardly shows signs of disobedience


• Evaluate your own life and ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart. Are you guilty of acting one way at church or camp and another way around your friends at school?

• What changes do you need to make in your life today to get rid of sin and truly live in a way that honors Jesus? In your journal, list the steps you will take to make these changes.

• For further study on purity of heart, read Psalm 51:10; Psalm 119:9; Matthew 5:8; Philippians 4:6-8; and Titus 2:11-14.


The reference to cleaning only the outside of the cup and being like whitewashed tombs emphasized the Pharisees’ obsession with ritual cleanliness. However, they disregarded cleanliness of the heart. The Pharisees outward practices masked the internal state of their hearts.


Hypocrisy has no place in the lives of true followers of Christ. We must pursuing inner purity.

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False Security

Posted on January 23, 2018 by Karah


Think about the moment you realized you needed to trust Jesus as your Savior. Journal about your experience.

“They do everything to be observed by others . . . They love the place of honor at banquets, the front seats in the synagogues, greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.”

—Matthew 23:5a,6-7

Read Matthew 23:1-15. Answer these questions:

Jesus identified the Pharisees as hypocrites who burdened people with strict rules and regulations; they claimed that abiding by these rules would help people find favor with God. They loved the structure of religion, but they didn’t know God.

• Ponder verse 12. What does it mean to be humble? Why is this important? Explain.

The Pharisees had a false understanding of salvation and were setting others up for hardship and heartache by teaching that salvation came from following rules.

• When you talk about your faith with someone, should you focus more on the rules you follow or what Jesus did for you? Why?

• Why is it important to recognize that your relationship with Jesus is not a checklist or long list of rules?


Without a relationship with Jesus, you can’t experience salvation or true reconciliation with God. You can know about God and even talk about God without knowing Him personally.

• Explore your own thoughts about your relationship with Jesus. Do you believe your salvation is based on how well you follow the rules or solely on the work of Jesus? Why? Journal your answer.

• For further study on assurance of salvation read JD Greear’s book Stop Asking Jesus into Your Heart (LifeWay Christian Resources, 2013).


To “sit in Moses’ seat” was to have the highest authority to instruct people in the law. Phylacteries were leather boxes containing small scrolls and were worn on the arm or the forehead. Religious leaders often increased the size of the Phylacteries to appear more righteous.


Our standing before God is not based on outward actions, but on our relationship with Jesus.

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Rule Follower

Posted on January 9, 2018 by Karah


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?


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.


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.


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


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.


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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