Upward Basketball Devotions 2011

Week 1: Devotion#2: What does God do?  
Zephaniah 3:17 -“The Lord your God is with you . . . he will take great delight in you.” (NIV)
Main Point: We want young people to understand that God loves them and that he rejoices over them (Zephaniah 3:17). This is foundational in order for them to be open to a relationship with God in later weeks. This may be a good time to dispel myths or faulty theology that may show up in the following ways

Week 2: Devotion #4: Who is God?
John 14:26a - -“The Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things.”
Main Point: We want the kids to know that God is their helper and counselor. We want them to gain awareness that God is there to take the burdens off of them- not to add more burdens. 

Week 3: Devotion #6: Why did God send Jesus? 
John 14:6 - Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one comes to the Father but through me."
Main Point: (the answer in the book is “To Show me the way”. This can be a somewhat misleading answer as one could easily conclude that we just need to simply follow the example Jesus set and we will be saved). We want to make sure that kids understand that he didn’t just come to show us the way- He IS the way. He came to die as our substitute as payment for our sins. At some point in week 2 or 3, it is necessary to discuss sin and that is why we need a savior. Verses like Romans 3:23 and Romans 6:23 clearly explain sin and thereby make sense out of the concept that Jesus is our substitute. If we are good people who just need to follow the way that Jesus showed us, then we do not need a substitute or a savior. 

Week 4: Devotion #7: Gospel Presentation: 
John 3:16 - For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (NKJ)
Go over John 3:16 and also the 4 points on page 108. Be sure to explain what “saving faith” is- trusting is Jesus Christ as YOUR personal savior. It is not just believing that He existed or that he was God. It is receiving Him as one’s own personal savior (John 1:12). 

Week 5: Devotion #9: How do I become better? 
II Corinthians 5:17 - Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come.
Be sure to explain that sanctification is not just by trying hard. A common myth is that Jesus did His part and died on the cross for us and now as believers it is totally up to us to do our part on our own effort. We are not on our own- the Holy Spirit is the one who empowers us to live as a new creation. John 16 would be a good scripture to incorporate here. We become a new person by surrender to the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. 

Week 6: Devotion #11: Whose bucket can I fill? 
Acts 20:35b - It is more blessed to give than to receive.
Main concept is that as a believer the main point of our life is not us. This may be a good time to bring up the Great Commission – that God is building His Kingdom and that He is using us to build it. We do it by letting Christ shine through us in the simply small ways- i.e. filling others buckets with a kind word or a simple act of kindness or a listening ear. The kids do not have to preach to their friends all day long, just let Christ affect their lives and love others. We want them to understand their place in building the Kingdom of God but not be overwhelmed by it.