WHO IS YOUR ROLE MODEL? Is there a person in your life whom you greatly admire or respect? Think about those people you would put at the top of your list of people you look up to. Perhaps it’s your counselor or another staff person. Why do you value them so highly? What qualities or characteristics do they possess that propel them to the top of your list?
Read Isaiah 66:1-2 and focus on verse 2b.
According to this passage, what belongs to God?
Who did God say made “all these things?”
Why is it important to recognize God as the Creator in control of this world?
What are some ways you recognize God as Creator? What are some things in your life you need to let Him have control over?
According to verse 2, what does God value in a person?
Think about your life. Would you make God’s list of people He looks favorably on based on these criteria? Why or why not?
What does it mean to be humble and submissive?
Do these words describe you? Explain.
Remember that list of people you look up to that you made earlier? Think about the characteristics and qualities you said you valued in those people. Now, understand from today’s Scripture passage that God also has qualities and characteristics He wants people to possess. And when we possess those characteristics, His Word says He looks upon us favorably. But what He values in us isn’t anything we can achieve through wealth, success, or popularity. God wants humility and submissiveness. God simply values a humble and broken spirit, a believer who isn’t proud but rather understands his or her limitations and allows God to work. God calls us to surrender to Him—to allow Him into our lives, give Him control, trust Him, and yield to Him, letting Him work in and through our lives. Are you the kind of person God desires you to be?
EVERY GOOD WESTERN MOVIE ends with a showdown. A showdown is when the hero of the story confronts his or her opponent to settle a serious conflict. In the movies, the hero always comes out victorious over his enemy and defeats evil.
We all have conflict in our lives. It’s called sin. Some people try to hide or run away from their troubles. Is that you? It’s time to stop running. It’s time for a showdown.
Read 1 Corinthians 15:2-28. What do verses 21 and 22 mean to you?
How did sin and death enter the world?
Who saves us from sin and death?
What can you learn about Jesus in these verses?
Why is Jesus’ resurrection so important to us? To you personally?
Have you asked Jesus to save you from the sin in your life? Explain.
What sins are you battling today?
What conflicts are in your life?
Paul wanted the Corinthian believers to understand how important Jesus’ resurrection was to their faith. Without it, he said their faith was worthless. Christianity is pointless if Jesus isn’t alive and at the right hand of God. It is His death and His resurrection that give us victory over sin.
Because Jesus was victorious over sin and death, you can be, too. You can have the freedom not to be restrained, bound, or trapped by your sin. Will you choose to follow Jesus who gave His life and rose again to give you life, or will you follow a world full of sin and death?
It’s up to you. It’s high noon. What is your choice?
Fortunately for us, the story of Jesus doesn’t end with His death. He died to save us from our sins, but then He rose again, showing He has power and victory over sin and death!
Read Mark 16:1-8. Read verse 6 aloud.
Jesus had been dead for three days when a few close friends came to the tomb to anoint His body. What were the ladies’ concerns before going to the tomb?
What did the women discover once they got to the tomb?
Whom did the ladies meet at the tomb?
What was the angel’s message? What were they commanded to do?
What are you commanded to do with the message of the resurrected Savior?
The women got quite a big surprise that day at the tomb. They had all watched Jesus die. They saw Him buried. And they saw a big stone rolled in front of Jesus’ tomb. They were shocked when they found the heavy stone had been rolled away; they were even more astonished when the angel told them that Jesus was not dead, but alive. So what does Jesus being alive have to do with you personally?
When Jesus died, He took the world’s sin (including yours) as His own; however, sin did not defeat Him. He conquered sin with His death and resurrection. You can have victory over the bondage of sin only with the truth and power of Christ. The angel commanded the woman to tell others about Jesus’ resurrection because it’s a message of hope. Whom do you need to tell?
THINK ABOUT A TIME when God changed your life. Maybe it was the moment you accepted Jesus. Maybe it was an experience from Camp this past summer. Or maybe it was something that someone did for you or said that opened your eyes to the truth.
Read Mark 15:33-39. Would you have responded like the soldier in verse 39?
What events surrounded Jesus’ death?
Were these natural occurrences?
Reread verse 39. What was the centurion’s reaction to the events that took place that day?
When did you first say to yourself, “This Man really was God’s Son!”?
How did that realization change your life? Or perhaps you still haven’t had that realization.
What do these verses teach you about Jesus’ love for you?
What does this passage teach you about your access to God?
The importance of Jesus’ death didn’t escape the centurion’s notice. He had watched Jesus die, and His death convinced him that Jesus was the Christ. The centurion suddenly knew that Jesus wasn’t just a common criminal; He was the very Son of God.
Jesus died to free us from sin. He followed the Father’s will to the cross. He broke the barrier of sin and made a way for us to have a relationship with God. That’s what the torn curtain in the temple represents. If you’re a Christian, you’ve recognized that Jesus fixed our Sin problem and you have decided to follow him. And you have a story the world needs to hear!
THINK ABOUT A TIME when you had to stand up for what you knew was right. Maybe it was at a movie theater with some friends or at the lunch table in the school cafeteria or even a time at camp when your counselor wasn’t around. Did it cost you anything? Were you embarrassed? Was it difficult?
Today, you’ll read Mark’s account of Jesus’ crucifixion. Put yourself there in the crowd of bystanders. Listen to the insults; feel the humiliation. Seek to understand just how much you mean to Christ and what He went through to save you.
Read Mark 15:27-32, concentrating on verse 32.
What insults were being thrown at Jesus?
Who was taunting Him?
What were the people asking Jesus to do?
Why do you think Jesus did not come down from the cross even though He could have?
On the day of His crucifixion, Jesus was being made fun of by everyone—passers-by, the chief priests, scribes, and the other men being crucified. It was humiliating. Understand that this is Jesus, God in the flesh, on a cross being mocked and taunted. And remember that Jesus could have gotten down off the cross at any time if he had wanted to, but he chose to stay there. He was punished even though He was innocent.
Why did He have to die, and what does His death mean to you today? Christ died because He loves us. He took on our sin and our punishment so we didn’t have to. He put all things aside and died for you because He loves you. When you think about the cross, understand that it is proof of how much God loves you.
Jesus was obedient to His Father even though the world didn’t understand and treated him poorly. You’re called to follow His example, even when it’s difficult.
HAVE YOU EVER BEEN ACCUSED of something you didn’t do? Perhaps it was a sibling trying to put blame on you for something he or she did. Or maybe a teacher punished you for something that wasn’t your fault. How did you feel knowing the truth when other people around you didn’t? How did you respond in that situation?
Read Mark 15:6-15 and focus on verses 9 and 10 to see when Jesus was falsely accused.
Who was accusing Jesus?
Concentrating on verses 9 and 10, why was Jesus being accused?
What emotion did the accusers let get in the way of doing the right thing?
What was Jesus’ punishment?
Did He deserve this punishment?
Jesus had done nothing wrong and yet the people were shouting for His death. Notice that the crowds accusing Jesus were being egged on by the chief priests, the religious leaders of that day! These men knew the Scriptures by heart and were devoted by all outward appearances, yet they were shouting for an innocent man to be put to death.
It’s easy for us to judge those people. But put yourself on the side of the accusers. Has there ever been a time when you put your thoughts and feelings first, even to the extent of hurting someone else? Sometimes it’s easy to be led by your emotions instead of reason. With all the competing voices, beliefs, and emotions we face, it’s easy to be swayed from what we know is right. That’s when we should strive to hold onto the truth, no matter what.
Is there a part of the Bible that you know to be true but are ignoring? It’s time to face off with the truth.
What about in your everyday life? As a believer, what does victory have to do with your day-to-day life?
Read Romans 8:31-39. Memorize verse 37.
What does this passage teach you about God and His love for you?
Of all the things in verses 35-39 that we think can separate us from God’s love, which ones do you deal with the most?
What steps will you take to let God’s love wash over you in those situations?
What do these verses teach you about how you should live your life? Do you have to be trapped by fear, sin, or persecution?
If you truly lived like a victorious Christian, how would it change your life?
Over what areas of your life do you need to allow God to have victory?
Life is hard. Tough times will come, sometimes because of what you believe. But you don’t have to be afraid. Your life should be defined by an overwhelming sense of victory because of what Christ has already done. If you’re a believer, you don’t have to be afraid of death, persecution, or anguish. Jesus has already defeated all of these things through His life, death, and resurrection. You can be strong and faithful in the middle of it all because your faith is built on Christ, the Victor.
SHE WAS BEAUTIFUL, popular, and recently engaged. And she was dying. Yet she still smiled, peace radiating from her. Ashley had been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when she was 17, and last October, her battled ended. She was 23, and those of us in her church family still miss her smiling face now, a year later. If you knew Ashley, that smile is what you would remember. Ashley praised God despite the circumstances. Ashley knew it was God who gave her strength, ordered her steps, and held her hand.
Read Habakkuk 3:16-19. Pore over verse 19. What does it mean to you?
What was Habakkuk’s response to the greatness of God?
How do Habakkuk’s words reflect an acknowledgment that God is in control and trustworthy?
From where does Habakkuk’s confidence come?
Habakkuk listed hard things in his life. What are the hard things in your life? What steps will you take to rejoice in the Lord despite these things?
What does it mean that God can make your steps sure, like those of a deer?
Do you really believe God has the power to do that in your life? Explain.
Hard times come. Ashley knew it, and so do you. This life isn’t fair. Distress, disaster, stress, and terrible times can easily overwhelm us and leave us questioning our ability to stand firm in the faith. Like Habakkuk, we need to recognize that our strength comes from God alone. Only He can make us strong and steadfast, guide our steps, and write a testimony of His power in the story of our lives. Part of standing strong in the faith is realizing you can’t do it on your own. You must trust Him and borrow His strength.
WHEN HAVE YOU WANTED TO GIVE IN? When was the last time it seemed easier to give in rather than stand firm? In class? With a friend? While you were surfing the Internet or flipping through the TV channels?
Think about a time when standing up for what was right would have cost you something. Did you stand firm? What did you learn from the experience?
Read Mark 14:43-50. Ponder verse 50.
What happened in these verses?
Who is Judas, and what had he done?
What was Jesus’ response to the mob? How did it shame them for their actions? Why is it important that this moment fulfills the Scriptures?
What was the disciples’ response to the arrest?
What would your response have been in this situation?
When have you been given a chance to stand firm for Christ and run away instead? Explain. When have you stood strong? What did you learn in both situations?
What are some areas of your life in which you need to stand strong for Christ?
What steps will you take to turn these things over to Him?
Moments before, Jesus had been praying in the quiet garden. Then, a mob with clubs and swords and led by His own disciple, Judas, arrived. In the chaos of Jesus’ arrest, the disciples who’d promised that they would never leave Him ran away.
As followers of Jesus, we’re called to stand firm in the faith when it’s easy and when it’s not. And Jesus’ own life tells us there will be times when it is not easy, when deserting Him seems like the best option. Just remember that He stood strong in His commitment to save us. He has never deserted us.
I told her that I didn’t know why she had to go through all of that, but that I did know one thing: God was with her in the middle of it.
Her response floored me: He is? No one ever told me that!
Read Psalm 46:1-3. Focus on verse 1.
What does it mean to call God a refuge?
How has God been your strength?
What does it mean that God can always be found during our times of trouble?
How have you seen that truth play out in your life?
When everything seems to be falling apart, why is it hard to trust God?
What do these verses teach you about God’s attitude toward the tough times in your life?
When you’re facing troubling times, from where do you get your strength? Is it God? Why or why not?
In today’s passage, everything seemed to be falling apart. But he didn’t freak out; he praised God, calling Him a refuge, his source of strength, and the One who can always help in times of trouble.
We don’t get a pass on tough times just because we have a relationship with Jesus. Trouble, opposition, persecution—all will come to believers. The power to overcome these things comes in knowing that God is your strength. He is the One who carries you through. Jesus is with you—in the middle of it all.