Best Surprise Ever 2: Surprising Courage

SurprisingCourage.pngVerse to Remember: No one takes my life from me. I give it up willingly! – John 10:18 (CEV)

Big Idea: Jesus is courageous and can help me to be courageous too.
What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?  Maybe you stood up to a bully or stayed in your bed even though you were scared of the dark.  It could be the time you told the truth even though you knew you would get in trouble.  Or the day you chose to do the right thing when everyone around you was doing what was wrong.

Being courageous isn’t easy.  Sometimes it means doing hard things or scary things even when we don’t want to.

Jesus had to decide once if He was going to be courageous.  His Father had sent Him to earth to save the world, but there was only one way to do it.  He would have to die in our place.  See, everyone on earth had done wrong things, and those wrong things kept us from being friends with God.

The only way to save us was for someone to take the punishment for the bad things we’ve done, someone who had never done anything bad himself.  Jesus was the only person qualified to do the job.  He was the only sinless human ever, and he is the Son of God.

Jesus knew if he went through with God’s plan, he would be beaten, nailed to a cross and, worst of all, be separated from his Father for the first time ever.

Jesus had a big decision to make.  He went to a garden to pray and talk to his Father about it.  He said, “My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. But let what you want be done, not what I want” (Matthew 26:39 NIrV).

That was a courageous prayer.  Jesus asked God three times if there was another way to save the world, and three times he told his Father that he would do whatever God wanted him to do.

There was no other way, so Jesus did the courageous thing.  He obeyed his Father and carried out his plan.  He died on the cross for you and me.  He took the punishment for every wrong thing we would ever do so that we can be forgiven and be friends with God forever.

Jesus’ courageous choice saved the world.
 

Prayer
God, thank you for sending Jesus.  Thank you that he made the courageous choice to die for me.  Please help me to have the courage to do hard things too.  Amen.

 
Talk About It
1. How do you think Jesus felt when he was praying in the garden?
2. When has it been hard for you to do the right thing?
3. How can we follow Jesus’ example when we have a tough choice to make?

 

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Best Surprise Ever 1: Jesus Is Alive

BSEBANNER1Verse to Remember: And what is eternal life? It is knowing you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. – John 17:3 (NIrV)

Big Idea: Getting to know Jesus will change your life.

 
Life is full of surprises, isn’t it? Can you remember the last time you were surprised? Was it a good surprise like a cookie in your lunchbox or was it a bad surprise, like a surprise test at school?

Some surprises are bigger than others. A friends stopping by your house to play might be fun, but a friend inviting you go to Disney with them would be absolutely amazing.

In the history of surprises, however, there is one surprise that is the biggest and best surprise of all time. It is the reason we celebrate Easter and the reason we can celebrate every day of the year.

That surprise is that Jesus is alive. He was alive on that first Easter morning 2,000 years ago, and He is still alive today.

Jesus showed us once and for all that He is the Son of God. He showed us that He is stronger than evil, more powerful than death and bigger than anything we could ever fear.

Best of all, Jesus made a way for us to be alive too. Forever. And that wonderful life with God begins here and now.

Over the next seven weeks we are going to look at the best surprise ever and discover many other surprising things about Jesus along the way. Get ready, because when you take a good look at Jesus, it will change your life.
 

Prayer
Jesus, thank you for the best surprise ever. Please help me to get to know you better over the next several weeks and get me ready to celebrate Easter with you. Amen.

 
Talk About It

1. When was the last time you had a fun surprise?
2. What’s the best surprise you can remember?
3. How do you think Jesus’ friends felt when they found out he was alive?
4. How do you get to know your friends better?  How could you get to know Jesus better?

Don’t miss the next devotion in the Best Surprise Ever series.  Subscribe here.

New Year Plans

NewYear

This time of year most of us are thinking about the future.  We’re setting goals, dreaming dreams and planning all of the ways next year is going to be different than the last. Except for my family.  Over the New Year’s holiday we are generally recovering from a natural disaster.  

I don’t believe that any days are inherently unlucky, but if I did, I would say New Year’s Eve is our Friday the 13th.  It’s like magnet for catastrophe.  

In the past six years we have had a house fire, a water leak that ruined our living room floor and a gruesome emergency room trip when my wife lost a fight with an immersion blender.  I will spare you the details.  

As you can imagine, these curveballs played havoc with our New Year plans.  The year I thought we’d be hosting a New Year’s Day party, I found myself ripping up laminate flooring.  The year we were supposed to do Christmas with my mom, we spent hours getting my wife’s finger stitched up instead.  And the year we had the fire, it took weeks of dealing with insurance and home restoration people to get the house back to normal.  

The good news, though, is that these nasty surprises have taught me a valuable lesson about life that sets the tone for the new year.  Make all of the plans you want, but hold on loosely because you never know what the future holds.    

James 4:15-16 says “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, ‘If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that’” (NLT).

In other words it’s better to hold on to God than whatever plans we’re making for our lives.  Our circumstances are unpredictable, but God’s faithfulness isn’t.  It’s great to have to goals and dreams, but far to better to have a God who will walk with you whatever life throws your way.