WEEK 1

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matthew 22:36-39 NIV).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • FOR and GREATEST go hand in hand. None of us are FOR things or people that we feel like are against us.
  • We've all had those times when we've wondered, "Is God FOR or AGAINST me?"
  • According to Jesus, the most important thing about us is what we're for, not what we're against.
  • Jesus rarely responded with what He was against. Most of Jesus' controversy revolved around the people He loved and was for.
  • Action: Repsond to Jesus' greatest message by doing two small things:
    • Memorize this verse: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ (Matthew 22:37-39)
    • Pay attention to who you're FOR and AGAINST
  • Bottom Line: God is FOR you.

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

PRAY // In the face of life’s circumstances, sometimes it can be hard to remember that God is near. When we face crises, setbacks, or unexpected difficulties, we can easily lose sight of God’s love for us. But in these moments, it’s most important for us to remember just how close He actually is. Not only is He with us, He also helps us push through anything we face by giving us His strength. Today, ask God to remind you that He is close—even when your circumstances try to convince you He’s far away.

DAY 2

LIVE // What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Would you climb Mount Everest, ask that special someone on a date, or even set out to solve world hunger? The reality is, we miss a lot of opportunities because we fear the potential outcomes. In other words, we fear we might fail. So here’s a new question: What would you do if you knew that God would never leave you? Would you live with more courage regardless of the potential outcomes? Talk to more people about Jesus? Live with more boldness in your faith? Today, choose to live with courage because you can be confident that God is with you—always.

DAY 3

HEAR // Have you ever felt like the whole world was against you? Like you try to make good decisions, but it seems like there are a million things trying to tempt you or trip you up? Sometimes it feels like everything around us is against us. Well according to the apostle Paul, if God is FOR us nothing can stand against us. Paul’s question in this verse is actually more of a statement—a statement that tells us the truth about our circumstances. And the truth is, no one and no circumstance can stand against you if God is FOR you. Today, let this truth encourage you. No matter what comes at you today, God is for you and nothing is too big for Him to handle.

DAY 4

PRAY // Sometimes it feels like God is distant from us. In those moments though, we need to remember that 2,000 years ago He actually walked among us here on Earth. When Jesus (God in human form) decided to live amongst His creation, it communicated His love for us and His connection to us in a way the world had never experienced. We might be tempted to think of God as some distant and disconnected power. That’s why it’s important to remember that He became just like us. One of the best ways to remember this is to thank Him for what He did and the life He lived 2,000 years ago. Today, take a few minutes to thank God for what He did for you. Your gratitude toward Him can remind you of just how far He went to show His love for you.

DAY 5

HEAR // What life decision are you least proud of? It’s not fun to think about, but it can help us understand God’s love for us. See, when we were at our worst, in that very moment, Jesus still decided to give everything for us. The apostle Paul, who wrote this verse, says that while we were sinners Jesus died for us. God chose to give us His best (forgiveness and eternal life) when we were at our worst. Why? To show us His love. Let this really sink in. Let it remind you of the love God has for you. And let it inspire you to give Him your love in return.

WEEK 2

Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus replied, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip and yet you still don’t know who I am? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! (John 14:8-9a NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • There are a couple things that contribute to us not getting God at all...
    • We know nothing about Him.
    • We feel nothing.
    • We see messed up people and messed up churches
  • People have always had a hard time understanding what God is like.
  • Basic question: What IS God like?
  • If the people who had spent years with Jesus - day in and day out - still felt some confusion over God, then we can feel okay with the fact that He seems like a mystery to us, too. 
  • Action: When we feel like we have a ton of mystery surrounding what God is like, we can do three things:
    • Think: Pay attention to what He's like.
    • Move: Live and love like He did. 
    • Experience: What if people saw our relationship with God and were inspired to have their own relationship with Him because of it?
  • Bottom Line: If you want to know God, get to know Jesus.

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

HEAR // The fact that God is invisible can create tension for many of us. Don’t you just wish you could see Him, high-five Him, or hear His voice? Well, 2,000 years ago, people actually had those opportunities. Jesus was the visible, tangible, and audible image of God. And while we may not be able to tangibly or audibly experience Jesus, we can still learn what God is like by experiencing Jesus more. We get a visible example of the invisible God through the Gospels in Scripture. This week, take some time to read more of Jesus’ story from the book of John. As you’re reading, write down the new characteristics of God you discover by reading about Jesus.

DAY 2

HEAR // In ancient Israel, Jesus’ words would have made a lot more sense. People would have understood that shepherds take great care of their sheep. Yet, when He said that He’d “sacrifice his life” for the sheep, He was taking it to another level. You see, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for us. He laid down His life so that by believing in Him, we could live. Jesus died because, just like a shepherd cares for his sheep, God cares for us. Today, think about this question: What does it mean to you that Jesus actually laid down His life for you?

DAY 3

TALK // Okay, so the word “liar” seems harsh, doesn’t it? Well, all it means is that it’s impossible for us to truly get to know God and completely ignore how He teaches us to live. But if we follow Jesus and really get to know Him, then we’ll see that obeying Him is what’s best for us. Basically, our walk backs up our talk. As we follow Jesus, our lives should begin to look like His. Today, talk to someone you trust and ask them if your walk backs up your talk. Remember, no one is perfect, but we should always be growing and learning to keep God’s commands.

DAY 4

LIVE // Do you know what happens when you get to know Jesus? According to one of Jesus’ best friends, Peter, we get more grace and peace in our own lives. The more time we spend getting to know Jesus through things like prayer, Scripture reading, and being a part of a church, the more peace we’ll feel about life. Who wouldn’t want more peace in life and more grace for others? This week, be intentional about taking time to get to know Jesus—maybe a few minutes in the morning or a few minutes before you go to bed. In the end, the time you spend will be worth the grace and peace you get in return.

DAY 5

PRAY // According to Jesus, the way we get the life He created us for is by getting to know Him. Now, eternal life is more than just getting into Heaven. When Jesus talked about it, He was referring to a life that is thriving todayand forever. Sometimes though, if we’re really being honest, following Jesus doesn’t seem like the best (or most fun) way to live. BUT, He promises that getting to know Him leads us to a better life. Today, ask God to give you the perspective you need to follow Him—even in the moments when something better seems to cross your path.

WEEK 3

Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus.. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” Then Jesus told them this parable:“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shouldersand goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:1-7 NIV)

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • The value of something- how much it's worth to us- changes really quickly
  • Your value goes up or down based on every move you make.
  • We all experience anxiety about what we do, how we do it, and who's watching. 
  • The value of the sheep had nothing to do with whether it stayed close or wandered off. That sheep mattered because it belonged to the Shepherd.
  • Your value doesn't change, because your value doesn't come from what you do. Your value won't change, because your value never came from earthy things in the first place.
  • When you know that the Shepherd thinks you're worth it, it frees you up to stop managing your own value and start loving your neighbor as yourself.
  • Action: If you knew your worth didn't change, how much better would you talk about and treat people?
  • Bottom Line: Loving your life comes from knowing your worth.

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

PRAY // A lot of the time we focus on what it means for us to know Jesus, but have you ever stopped to consider that Jesus knows you? He knows your interests, thoughts, and dreams. He’s been there for your biggest successes and biggest failures in life. He knows you better than you even know yourself. Today, take a few minutes to talk to God about yourself. Ask Him to help you value yourself and see yourself like He does. The truth is, God knows you AND He still loves you just like you are. That’s good news for all of us!

DAY 2

TALK // Sometimes our insecurities get the best of us. Now, it’s normal to have quirks in our personality or even physical features that we wish were different. But the reality is that God made you to be exactly who you are. He took great care and used amazing creativity to craft your physical appearance and the unique aspects of your personality. You were made by a Creator who doesn’t make mistakes. Today, talk to someone you trust about your insecurities. Ask for their help staying focused on the fact that God made you to be YOU!

DAY 3

PRAY // You are worth everything to Jesus. In fact, He gave up His life just so we would know how much He loves us. This is reallove. This is the kind of love that we can’t find in other people, pleasures, or possessions. This is the greatest love we can ever know. This is where we find our value. When we experience God’s love, we’re reminded of just how much we’re worth. Today, ask God to remind you of how much you’re worth to Him. Allow His love to be what validates and proves your value.

DAY 4

HEAR // No matter what someone looks like, acts like, or talks like, they were created in the image of God. In other words, every person was created to reflect a little bit of who God is. Maybe you’ve never thought about it, but YOU were created in God’s image, too. Yes, we can definitely choose to ignore this, but it doesn’t change this truth. And this means that God created you exactly as you are to reflect who He is to the world. Today, let this truth remind you that you were created on purpose and for a purpose. And this week, don’t let anything try to convince you differently.

DAY 5

HEAR // The role of a parent is to care for and love their child like no one else can. Although this doesn’t always happen, this is what John had in mind when he wrote that we are God’s “children.” The truth is that God views us as His kids, and He loves and cares for us the way a good Father would. Today, remember that He has your best interests in mind and wants the best things for you. Live at peace knowing that God views you as His child and that you don’t have to try to find value anywhere else.

WEEK 4

He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food (John 4:4-8 NLT).

Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life” (John 4:13-14 NLT).

Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!” (John 4:26 NLT).

Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!” When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not just because of what you told us, but because we have heard him ourselves. Now we know that he is indeed the Savior of the world” (John
4:39-42 NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • We hang out with people who are in the same category as us, and we stay away from the people who are in the categories we're not.
  • People fit into one of two buckets:
    • We
    • They
  • Sometimes, we highlight all the ways that WE are better than THEY.
  • A woman that most people avoided is someone who Jesus...
    • Moved toward.
    • Talked to.
    • Inspired to be more than ANYONE thought she could be.
  • He moved her out of a category and into a conversation.
  • We tend to live putting people into categories instead of having conversations. We THINK we know about "them," but we don't really know any individuals in the "them" category. And because we don't know "them," we keep our distance.
  • Action: Who are some actual people you want to move from a category to a conversation? Pray about those people and the conversation you want to have.
  • Bottom Line: Move people from a category to a conversation.

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

LIVE // Today, look for an opportunity to do something good for someone you normally wouldn’tconsider reaching out to. Think of that person you would consider an “enemy” or “frienemy” and then find a way to help them, compliment them, or encourage them. Of course this won’t come naturally, but it could make a huge impact in their life—and in yours. It’s easy to love people who love us back. It’s harder to love like Jesus did. He loved people who didn’t even like Him. And now we have the opportunity to do the same by obeying His command to love everyone. . . even enemies.

DAY 2

HEAR // Many of us are naturally drawn to people who are similar to us. We walk into a room and gravitate to people who dress like us, look like us, or share similar interests. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, there’s something better that can help us connect with others. You see, ANYONE who follows Jesus becomes a part of the same community, family, and team . . . we are ONE. All different social classes, races, and personalities become one big family because of Jesus. Today, let this truth encourage you to think of one way you can connect with someone different than you from your church community.

DAY 3

LIVE // Everyone is looking for a group of people who will accept them for who they are, especially in high school. This is what Jesus does. He accepts all of us and welcomes us to be a part of His crew. If you’ve experienced acceptance from God, what would it look like for you to now extend acceptance to someone else? This week, find one person who is different than you and show them acceptance. Invite them to sit at your lunch table or even invite them to hangout with you this weekend. Imagine the positive impact you could have simply by extending acceptance.

DAY 4

LIVE // In what ways do you show other people that you value them? According to Paul’s letter to the Philippian people, we’re supposed to value others above ourselves. We should think of the needs of other people before our own. We should have the best interest of other people in mind even if it goes against our best interest. We should prioritize other people above ourselves. This is a hard truth to accept—and even harder to practice—but it’s one that will help us stay truly humble. This week go out of your way to show value to other people through your daily actions.

DAY 5

PRAY // Did you know that God doesn’t play favorites? Now, this might seem like good news or bad news depending on how your week is going. Okay, but really, the truth is that this is GOOD news for everyone. Not only does God love all people, He wants us to do the same. We’re supposed to accept, love, and value everyone—no matter how different they may be. Today, ask God to help you resist playing favorites. Ask Him to help you be open to loving and accepting people who are way different than you. Accepting all > favoring some, every time!