Redemption – Day 8 PM

Everyone loves a good redemption story. We love watching movies where the bad guy has a change of heart and joins the good guys, or where the underdog overcomes adversity and becomes the hero. There’s just something incredible about seeing a doomed situation suddenly turn into a beautiful circumstance.

Redemption resonates with our souls because it’s something we all long for. And truth be told, “redemption” is at the heart of God

Redemption — The action of clearing a debt; to buy out; to be saved.

The original use of the word “redeem” was used specifically in reference to the purchase of a slave’s freedom. A slave would be stuck in bondage with no hope of escape, but someone would come to buy the slave’s freedom, and they would then be “redeemed.” The slave would be a slave no more.

And the truth is, that’s our story too.

You want to know what’s not popular in our culture? Admitting that we are born sinful. But that’s exactly what Ephesians 2 tells us — we are sinful “by nature.” Then in John 8:34, Jesus tells his onlookers that, “Everyone who commits sin is the slave to sin.” And in case we needed to hear more dreadful news, Romans 6 tells us that the reward of our sin is eternal death.

Are you getting the picture? All of us are born as slaves — slaves to sin. We are stuck in the bondage of sin without any way to resist it or escape it through our own e orts. Each of us deserving of eternal death.

But we’re not without hope, because redemption is at the heart of God.

You see, Ephesians 2 starts o with the bad news—we are sinful and deserving of eternal death. But luckily, it ends with Good News:

4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love for which He loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved...
Ephesians 2:4-5

It’s true that everyone loves a good redemption story. But THIS redemption story is the greatest of all time — and it’s OUR story. Because of Jesus, we’re no longer slaves to sin. We’re no longer stuck in our bondage. We’re no longer deserving of eternal death and punishment.

We are free. We are redeemed.
And when you actually feel and understand the weight of that redemption, suddenly all of your hope and attention shifts to the Redeemer — Jesus.

And when Jesus has our attention, we’re not so distracted anymore.

WRITTEN BY: BRADEN COLLUM



SCRIPTURES

34 Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever, the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed."

JOHN 8:34-36

5 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 7:23

1 And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our sin, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved...

EPHESIANS 2:1-5


Response Questions

  1. Why is Ephesians 2 important when understanding our need for redemption through Jesus?
     
  2. How does the picture of “purchasing a slave’s freedom” help you understand what Jesus did for you?
     
  3. What areas of your life could you more fully live out the truth?
     
  4. In a distracted world, why is it necessary that you focus on Jesus and His redeeming work in your life?

Wisdom – Day 8 AM

One of my very favorite things to do is “google” any questions I have - Questions about proper grammar, how to convert different measurements, pictures of cute hairstyles, how to fold a fitted sheet, and to my dismay, the symptoms I have when I feel like I’m getting sick. (This particular google search NEVER turns out well!)

While technology can be a great source for information, that does not make it the BEST source.

Certain situations in life require more than just “googling” and should be taken up with people who are qualified to answer your questions or give sound advice. It is natural in times of trouble to reach out to friends for advice or people you know are going to tell you what you want to hear… but that isn’t always what you need. 

Wisdom — the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment; the quality of being wise.

Most of our peers don’t have the experiences necessary to really speak into our lives with complete wisdom. Wisdom is something that is typically acquired with age. Job 12:12 tells us that “wisdom belongs to the aged, and understanding to the old.” Therefore, when seeking true wisdom and knowledge, we often have to seek out another source of wisdom instead of just turning to Google or social media for feedback. 

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and he will give it to you.
James 1:5

When we need wisdom to navigate a situation we’re in, our first place to go to is the very source of wisdom — God. In your life, you will face challenging times and situations that will require you to make a decision. And instead of turning to a twitter poll, ask God for wisdom and discernment to help you navigate your circumstance.

And luckily, God gives us another source of wisdom — Godly people. For me, that person is my grandma. She is who I trust the most, not just because she’s my grandma and she’s awesome but because she has such a strong relationship with the Lord. I know that she seeks wisdom and understanding from Him, which then makes her wise. Whenever I have doubts, questions or concerns, I call her instead of asking my friends for advice.

Don’t get me wrong, friends can be a great source of support and encouragement, but seeking advice from God or people who have a strong relationship with God is much better.

In a world full of distractions, surround yourself with wise people who have a strong faith and will speak wisdom into your life and give sound advice.

WRITTEN BY: COURTNEY HALL



scriptures

13 Blessed is the one who finds wisdom, and the one who gets understanding.

PROVERBS 3:13

5 If you need wisdom, ask our generous God and he will give it to you.

JAMES 1:5

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

1 CORINTHIANS 10:23


Response Questions

  1. To whom or what do you usually turn for advice?
     
  2. What are some situations in your life right now that might require you to seek out wisdom?
     
  3. Read 1 Corinthians 10:23. What are some examples of things that may be not be considered “bad,” but are definitely not “helpful” in your life and your relationship with God?
     
  4. In what ways does using social media, being online, or even hanging out with friends require wisdom?

 

Spend a few moments thinking about some of the situations in your life that you could use advice and wisdom for. Now ask God to reveal 2 things:

1. His wisdom for the specific situation(s)
2. Someone you can talk to who can give you Godly wisdom

Surrender & Identity – Day 7 PM

No one likes to surrender. Surrendering means there’s someone else with more power or a stronger position. Surrender looks like giving up and giving in. But we don’t surrender to an enemy that hates us, but a Father who loves us. It’s a love that takes what we could never deserve and gives us more than we could ever earn.

God’s love for you is not based on what you do, but on who you are. You are valuable to God regardless of your performance. He doesn’t want your perfection; He wants your heart.

A person whose identity is in Jesus lives in total surrender to Jesus.

That means everything we do—and everything about us—is tied to Jesus. In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus tells us that it’s in surrendering our lives completely to Him that we find what it means to really live.

Here is what you can bank on about your identity in Christ:

You are loved. You are loved by God more than you could possibly imagine. You are deeply, deeply loved by God.

You are accepted. Even if you feel like you never really fit in with your in-laws, you aren’t part of the inner circle at work, you have a hard time connecting at church—God accepts you. With all of your peculiarities and quirks, you’re in with the one who made the universe. You are His beloved child.

You are a conqueror. You are a conqueror, and nothing—NOTHING—can separate you from God’s love (Romans 8:37–39).

How much differently would we approach life if we saw ourselves as God sees us? What would happen if we set aside our insecurities and surrendered to the reality of who we are in Christ: loved, accepted, victorious?

Knowing who we are in Christ allows us to humble ourselves and to serve people as our Master did. As you navigate your day, look for opportunities to serve. In your home or workplace, when someone needs to do the grunt work, why not you? After all, you have nothing to prove—you’re proven. You don’t have to fret over what others think or waste energy wondering about your worth—you are wholly, deeply, completely loved and accepted.

You’re not defined by your feelings. You’re not defined by the opinions of others or by your circumstances. You’re not defined by your successes or failures. You’re not defined by the car you drive, the money you make, or the house you say you own when the bank really does.

You are now identified with Christ and have the power of the Holy Spirit within you. You are God’s precious child, and he created you in a way that pleases him.

WRITTEN BY: AIMEE BOYLE



scriptures

24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25 For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

MATTHEW 16:24-25

20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

GALATIANS 2:20

37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

ROMANS 8:37-39


Response Questions

  1. What does our culture tell you about your identity? What does Scripture say instead?
     
  2. What are the first one or two things that come to your mind when you think about surrendering every part of your life to Jesus?
     
  3. What is one way you can allow your identity in Jesus to influence how you live?
     
  4. Which of these areas of your identity in Christ—loved, accepted, conqueror—do you need to believe more fully?

Self-Control & Purity – Day 7 AM

Nike says “Just do it,” and Sprite ads say, “Obey your thirst.” You can’t watch a commercial, movie, or TV show that doesn’t have some kind of hint of sex in it. Food, drink, toys, entertainment, movies and even sex are just a touch of a button away. We can microwave food in seconds, watch entire series of TV shows without commercials, and access pornography with just a few clicks or taps of a button. 

Now, there’s nothing wrong with food, entertainment or technology. God doesn’t want us to live boring, dry, dull lives. He created all good things (James 1:17). In fact, He created sex to be enjoyed by a man and woman in marriage. (Check out Song of Solomon in the Bible!)

But God wants us to control our desires, not be controlled by them.

Have you ever planned on just watching one episode on Netflix, and then when it ends, you start watching one more? Or have you ever started scrolling through Instagram, and all of a sudden you realize you’ve been scrolling for an hour?

Have you ever gone to a party where you knew there was going to be alcohol and said to yourself you wouldn’t drink but then somehow, you ended up drinking?

It’s easy to lose our self-control. And society isn’t going to tell you to stop. Your parents probably don’t know about your struggle, so they’re not going to tell you to stop. Your friends aren’t going to tell you to stop. Only the still, small voice of God is whispering to you now, telling you He wants you to live in purity. 

Purity — The condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.; freedom from guilt or evil; innocence.

God does not want us to be pure just so we can be perfect little goody-two-shoes people running around telling others what not to do. He wants us to be pure because He created us for more than what the world says we need to be happy. He has abundant riches and pleasures (John 10:10) in store for us, but how can we enjoy them when we’re too busy trying to get pleasure from food, drinks, movies or pornography? 

I want to be very clear about sexual purity: Sex is hard to say “no” to, which is why the Bible says to “RUN!” (1 Cor. 6:18, 2 Tim. 2:22, Gen. 39:12). Out of all the things we struggle with, sexual sin is the one thing that God tells us to RUN away from. If you are struggling with sexual purity, especially on social media, this week can be a chance for you to run away from that sin, maybe for the first time. 

Maybe you don’t struggle with sex, but maybe some other pleasure is threatening to control you. As you give up social media this week, take some time to ask God where you might need to have more self-control. Pray for God to show you the insurmountable pleasures of dwelling in His presence. 

WRITTEN BY: HALEY REMENAR



scriptures

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is ... 23 self-control...

GALATIANS 5:22-23

28 A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.

PROVERBS 25:28

12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

1 TIMOTHY 4:12

3 Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.

PSALM 24:3-4


Response Questions

  1. Read Galatians 5:22-23. Why is self-control such an unpopular idea in our culture today? How is self-control possible?
     
  2. Read Proverbs 25:28. Why do you think the lack of self-control is compared to “a city broken into and left without walls”? Have you ever felt this way?
     
  3. Read 1 Timothy 4:12 and Psalm 23:3-4. Why is it important to live a pure life? What does it look like in your life to “set an example in purity”?
     
  4. What things in your life do you have issues of self-control with?
     

Ask God to show you some sins in your life that should be confessed. If we keep things secret, it’s really easy for those things to control us. Confessing to a brother or sister in Christ can be the first step to having self-control and staying pure.

If you have been struggling with self-control or purity, talk to another believer or your Lifegroup leader and ask them to pray that you will have self-control in this area. Ask them to hold you accountable so that you won’t keep your struggles secret anymore.

Faithfulness & Gentleness – Day 6 PM

It seems kind of obvious that as Christians, Christ followers, church goers, or whatever label you want, we are supposed to stay faithful to God, but in my personal walk, I have found that doing this isn’t that easy. How do I stay faithful when I don’t make the soccer team, when a close friend dies, or my family moves away from all my friends? Satan and the trials of life are constantly pulling that faithfulness between God and I apart.

So how does that faith stay in place? 

A constant focus on Christ and God’s love is necessary. One of the best changes I ever made in my daily quiet time with God was to reflect on the past 24 hours and write down how God showed up in my life. Amazingly, even 24 hours after some of the worst days of my life in which I failed tests and quizzes, my friends were too busy to hang out with me, my parents were mad at me, and even when the sky was cloudy I have found that God is present through the struggle. Looking back, I have actually found that I can create a longer list of how God showed up on those days than on days that seem relatively positive. I think this is because of God’s faithfulness, and because of His faithfulness, my faith in Him is strengthened.

Hebrews 10:23 says to hold on to our hope because God is faithful. I have found that this is true because when I look to God and see where he is faithful in my life, it makes it much easier for me to believe that he will do it again.

Gentleness comes into the picture because God’s faithfulness flows into my actions and makes it much easier to be gentle towards others. When I get in a disagreement with another person, it’s usually easy to defend myself and argue right back. However, with a constant focus on God I find it easier to be gentle and treat people the way they deserve to be treated.

With gentleness comes a sense of peacefulness. When I think of gentleness, I think of a calming presence. What better source of this for my own life than the Prince of Peace?

So let’s take a step back, look at our lives and find where we can add some more faithfulness and gentleness.

WRITTEN BY: ZACH FETTER



SCRIPTURES

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is ...faithfulness, 23 gentleness...

GALATIANS 5:22-23

23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.

HEBREWS 10:23

1 Remind them to be submissive to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show perfect courtesy toward all people.

TITUS 3:1-2


response questions

  1. How have you seen God’s faithfulness and gentleness in the last 24 hours?
     
  2. What part of your life is distracting you from being faithful to God? What areas of your life have you been more faithful to something or someone than to God?
     
  3. Why do you think gentleness is an important fruit of the spirit to demonstrate in your life?
     
  4. What things can you do this week to be more faithful and gentle?

Kindness & Goodness – Day 6 AM

We live in a broken, fallen world.

Unfortunately, what we see and what we hear about is only death, despair, pain, and the evil that pervades our world. And our society eats it up, devours it with an unprecedented ferocity. We rarely go outside for fear of the possible evil lurking around the corner. We don’t try to know our neighbors for fear of who they may be. We judge a person’s character based on a stereotype and hardly venture to seek the truth as to who they really are. We go through our day avoiding connecting with people and convince ourselves - “I have my own troubles” or  “my life is complicated enough” or “I’m just going to do me.” We smile and nod at people, asking “how are you” without pausing to hear the answer or really caring what that answer might be. We live our lives artificially - vicariously experiencing things through other people’s posts on social media. Reading the one-sided news, arguing with “friends” online over policy, politics, race or religion, believing that our opinion, when voiced strongly enough or angrily enough, will somehow change people’s minds or beliefs. Daily we fill our minds and our souls with all the crud the world offers. 

But there is one thing that can make all the difference in this world.

I know what you’re thinking - “love” - but it is much harder said than done to love people. When the kid cuts in front of you in the lunch line, when your mom yells at you for seemingly nothing, when your little brother or sister breaks something you hold dear, when your best friend turns their back on you, when your “friend” starts an argument online and says things they would never dare to say in person. You may not necessarily feel like loving them at that moment (even though you should love them), but what you can do is take a deep breath and respond with kindness and goodness.

Start up a conversation with the kid who cut in front of you, ask your mom how her day was and how you can help out, hug your little brother or sister and tell them that what they did hurt your feelings but that you love them anyway, still smile and say “Hi,” when you see your now ex-bestie in the hall, write something nice about the person, refuse to take part in the argument and talk to them (yes, with real words, and in person) about what was really going on. 

Kindness and goodness — it can tear down stereotypes, destroy boundaries, and wipe out fear.

Step out of your comfort zone. Be bold. 

Actively look for ways to be kind.

WRITTEN BY: ALLISON GORBENKO



scriptures

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is ...kindness, goodness...

GALATIANS 5:22

32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

EPHESIANS 4:32

6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

PSALM 23:6

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant..

1 CORINTHIANS 13:4


Response questions

  1. Why is Galatians 5:22 important for us as we strive to look like Jesus and live like Jesus?
     
  2. How can Ephesians 4:32 give us the strength we need as we seek to be kind and compassionate to others, even when we don’t feel like they deserve it?
     
  3. Read Psalm 23:6 — While we shouldn’t do good for the hope of receiving a pat on the back or a reward, what is the ultimate reward for spreading the kindness and goodness of Jesus?

Take a few moments to think about your daily life. Ask God to show you who you need to practice kindness with today, and how you can actually and practically show them that kindness.

Peace & Patience – Day 5 PM

Think about that one roller coaster that you absolutely love, or when you have not eaten all day and you go to your favorite restaurant. 

But imagine you get in line at your favorite ride, and find out that it will take 3 hours of waiting before you can get on. Or maybe that it will take 1 hour of waiting just to be seated at your favorite restaurant. 

What do you do?
Do you get angry and leave?
Or do you wait?

We as humans have this natural tendency to want everything right aways, but sadly, we don’t always have the choice of getting everything that we want immediately. We even take this mentality into relationships with others. In relationships if we are not feeling happy, or think that the other person is not bringing enough to the relationship, then we get upset. We might even talk behind their back or build up hatred towards the other person. Or maybe it’s the opposite. Maybe someone else we counted on starts to hate us.

In these times we should be seeking out peace with others, not planning out how we can get back at them. We should be patient with the friendship and not abandon it when we think a better relationship comes along. As Christians we want others to see our good fruits.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peacepatience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness...
Galatians 5:22

Scripture tells us that we need to be patient and bring peace where ever we go so that others will know that we are servants of God.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love...
Ephesians 4:1-2

Sometimes it’s not other people we get upset with – sometimes we get upset and impatient with God. In those times, we need to remember that God’s intentions are not to make us mad with him. He is peace, he extends his peace to us. It comes down to us to decide if we want to be patient and if we want to pursue peace with God. 

Let us work towards being patient and bringing peace to those around us.

WRITTEN BY: BLAKE HERZBERGER



SCRIPTURES

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is ...peace, patience...

GALATIANS 5:22

1 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love...

EPHESIANS 4:1-2

13 May the God of hope ll you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

ROMANS 15:13


response questions

  1. Why is it so important that we as Christians are peaceful and patient?
     
  2. How can you bring peace to a relationship that has brought you frustration or anger?
     
  3. Read Romans 15:13. Why do you think “Hope” has such an important role in peace?
     
  4. What areas of your life could use more peace?

Love & Joy – Day 5 AM

Love is the very foundation that God urges us to live upon. But in an ever-changing world, it’s easy to get pulled in a hundred different directions by your earthly loves. Your grades, your money, your friends, your team, your clothes—all of it. But navigating these distractions takes a guidance that only One can provide. It takes an unconditional outpour of love from an unconditional Savior.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 calls us to live out love in the exact way that it is described—through patience, kindness, humility, and truth. In order to achieve this, we must strive to know Jesus. When we build our relationship with Him, we realize several things. 

First — Love comes from God. As we begin to know God, the powers of His love and compassion are revealed to us. 

Second — The greatest act of love is the one that saved us from our sins, the one that leads to the path of life.

Another thing we learn from knowing Jesus is that He tells us that it is not enough just to say and act like you love God, but in order to know the depths of His love, we must go out and love people with the selfless, unyielding love that He gave us.

From such love, comes a bounding joy. Knowing Jesus, learning to love like Him, and seeking to actively love others, leads to a path of life that is unlike any other. To experience God’s love and to be able to joyfully radiate this love to others is something that goes hand in hand.

You have filled my heart with greater joy.
Psalm 4:7

In our world today, I think there are many places where our love and our joy get misplaced. That is where we find emptiness that we once deemed full, happiness that really is uneasiness, and joy that is now deflated.

However, the God of Hope restores in a way that no earthly distraction can. When we live for the Lord, our lives are promised to bear the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22).

Love from the Lord is redeeming; joy from the Lord is overwhelming. Love form the Lord is moving, joy from the Lord is inspiring. In human nature we get distracted by what is going on around us, and we forget to stop to appreciate the magnitude that accompanies these two glorious gifts.

But, to me, there is no greater love and no greater joy than what is found in the fullness of Christ.

WRITTEN BY: RILEY CRUSON



SCRIPTURES

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy...

GALATIANS 5:22

4 Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant 5 or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6 it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 7 Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.

1 CORINTHIANS 13:4-8

7 You have filled my heart with greater joy.

PSALM 4:7

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atonement for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

1 JOHN 4:7-11


response questions

  1. How does our culture define joy? What does true joy from the Lord look like?
     
  2. Read Psalm 4:7 and 1 John 4:7-11 — Who is the source of “greater joy” and love? What is our responsibility towards one another (1 John 4:11)?
     
  3. How has God shown His love for you?
     
  4. How do Love and Joy go together? What ways can you show someone joyful love this week?