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The Essentials. It’s easy to fly over the essentials of our faith without really considering them at a deeper level. Imagine a construction crew not understanding the foundation before building on it. In the same way, shouldn’t we, as believers, explore the essentials of our faith? Essentials is a launchpad for students who want to dig deeper into their faith and ignite their walk with Jesus.






About this devotional

The Essentials. It’s easy to fly over the essentials of our faith without really considering them at a deeper level. Imagine a construction crew not understanding the foundation before building on it. In the same way, shouldn’t we, as believers, explore the essentials of our faith? Essentials is a launchpad for students who want to dig deeper into their faith and ignite their walk with Jesus.

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All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness
2 Timothy 3:16

He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”

Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.
Luke 24:44-45

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12


Trees are some of the most incredible plants on the Earth.

Even just calling a tree a plant is already strange. When you think of a tree, you probably are not thinking about a plant — instead, you are most likely thinking of the massive, immovable, and lush wooden formation that is its exterior. Trees are certainly sights to behold, but the real wonder lies past the bark. If you were to slice through a tree, you would see these special circles.  These circles are commonly known as the rings of the tree.

Many people who know about the rings of a tree know that they typically display how old the tree is, but there is so much more to see than just the tree’s age. You can tell from these rings if there have been seasons of drought or good weather. You can see if there has been pressure on the tree’s trunk at some point. You can even see scars from a previous fire. The proof of the tree’s existence is within its trunk. In this sense, we can see a lot of similarities between trees and the Bible.

We may struggle with the Bible when we hear people talk about it. Some say it is outdated. Some say it contradicts itself. But rarely do we sit down and try to read it for ourselves to see the proof of its life. Even more so, rarely do we take time to see the evidence of its capability to work in our lives.

The Bible is a collection of 66 books divided into two sections: the Old Testament and New Testament.

There were 40 authors, and it was written in three languages. The Bible has some amazing literature in it. There are plenty of poems and beautiful stories, but most of all, it is one story: the Story of God bringing us back into a relationship with Himself.

The connection between the Old Testament and the New Testament is incredible. Many prophets in the Old Testament told of the things to come — namely, Jesus and the work of God through Him. Reading the Bible will directly prove itself and its uniqueness when we see things that were prophesied and then come to fruition many books later.

Scripture, or sacred writing, is the most reliable piece of literature in existence. 

Ancient writings were copied by scribes and called manuscripts. The New Testament alone has over 5,700 manuscripts. This amount of evidence surpasses any other historical work of literature. The earliest manuscript we have found is of the Gospel account of John. Historians estimate that John wrote his Gospel account between A.D. 40 to 100. The earliest manuscript that has been discovered is dated at A.D. 130. That is insane compared to all the other ancient writings. For example: Caesar’s Gallic War happened between 58-50 B.C. The earliest manuscript of this historical event is A.D. 900.

Still, Scripture is more than a historical piece or cool collection of stories. Scripture is God’s breath on a page. While there were 40 authors, the authors were set apart and inspired by the Holy Spirit. We see the heart of God in the words of the Bible. We learn not only what He has done for us, but we also learn who He is and who we are in Him. When we read His words, we gain a deeper understanding of His story and the role we get to play in it. Our purpose and our hope lie within these pages.

We find a tree’s life and story in its inner trunk. In the same way, we find God’s story, and our story united in the Bible.

We can hold the word of God in our hands with full confidence that it is historically relevant and valid. The proof of the Bible is found both outside of and within its pages. We can read Scripture with joy, knowing that it is all about God coming after us in love. It guides us and provides us with clarity and truth. We get the chance to see one beautiful story of redemption within the pages of the Bible — the story of God coming after His broken people.

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it. She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.
Genesis 3:6

but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
James 1:14-15

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.
Romans 8:7-8


Have you ever broken a bone? It can be one of the worst situations ever. The treatment plan is long, and the pain is ridiculous. Have you ever considered how difficult it would be to fix a broken bone if you didn’t know where the injury was? This is where the importance of getting an X-ray comes in. The x-ray helps the doctors, nurses, technicians, and the rest of the medical team know the problem. While knowing the problem can be difficult, the same applies with sin.

Let’s take a minute and think about what your life would look like without sin. Seriously, think about it. Is it even possible to consider such a beautiful thing?

Sin is such a hard thing to wrap our minds around. It is ingrained in us and separates us from God. But what exactly is sin, how did it get here, and why am I separated from God because of it?

Sin is oftentimes considered the same as doing “something bad” or “wrong,” but sin is not that. It’s worse. Sin, by common definition, is a transgression against divine law. We can take this definition a step further and say that sin is actually rebellion against God. When we sin, we are indirectly saying, “I am going to do this my way.” Look no further than the third chapter of Genesis to see this clearly. Eve is deceived by the serpent and sees that “the tree is desired to make one wise…” just as God is wise. Eve wanted to make her own decisions for herself and without God.

Adam soon follows, and the rest is history. Our decision to sin is a reflection of our flesh going our own way.

God is holy. He is set apart, pure, and perfect. When God created the world, he brought order and structure to all things.

This resulted in harmony, peace, and flourishing. He created man in his own image, which means we are to be representatives of Him on this earth. He created us with purpose and a calling. Unfortunately, we come from the lineage of Adam and Eve and have the deep-rooted desire to “make ourselves wise” in the worst way: we think we have no need for a Savior. This is ultimately the result of being in a broken world with selfishness, pain, and suffering.

God couldn’t stand the thought of us leading ourselves astray in our brokenness and impurity, so again He brings order and structure to the chaos in the form of one man: Jesus. Jesus came, lived the perfect life, died on the cross, and rose again which provided a way for us to be restored to our original relationship with God the Father again. When Jesus went to the cross, we see in Isaiah that He took on all of our sin and was crushed because of it. He was innocent but became guilty for every single one of us.

It is easy for us to rush past the realization that we are broken because we hate thinking about our wrongdoings.

But like an x-ray, we can’t know if something needs fixing unless we take a long and clear look at it. Take time today to examine yourself and know that we cannot do enough good or work our way to God. We cannot make ourselves better to get back to Him, but instead, something needs to take place. Specifically, someone needed to take our place.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Romans 5:8

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.
Ephesians 2:4-7


A well-known pop singer accepts an award for a song that was wildly popular.

During their acceptance speech, all they kept saying was, “I don’t deserve this.” As they point to the nominees, they keep saying, “You all should have this. I want you all to have this.” A rock artist. A hip-hop artist. A country artist. All of them. “You all should have this. I want you all to have this.” This is a wild thought! This artist worked so incredibly hard on this particular song, and millions of people have bought and streamed it! The song slaps! Yet, the pop singer thought the other artists deserved the award.

Now think about this: what if the other nominees were not artists at all?

What if they were terrible people? What if instead of making music, the nominee hurt people? What if instead of a hip-hop artist, the nominee was a liar? What if instead of a country artist, the nominee was a person who ignored the hungry and helpless? Do you think the award-winning artist would still feel as though they all should have the award? Would they still say to all the nominees, “You all should have this. I want you all to have this”?

We see in Scripture that Jesus was the display of God’s grace to us.

Grace can be defined as free, unearned, and undeserved favor of God toward you. Have you ever meditated on the thought that God favors you? God, the One who created everything, favors and loves you. But why? Why does God favor us and love us? Do we do enough to earn it? Is it something that we attain?

Jesus’ work on the cross is the clear answer that God favors you and loves you.

And, what’s more, we learn in Scripture that it is a gift from God. Grace was extended to each and every one of us because of God’s kindness. The answer is not that we did enough to earn it because we simply cannot do enough to earn it. The answer is not that we can impress God or accrue enough good stuff to attain grace because it is not something that can be attained. It is a costly gift, freely given to us through faith in what Jesus did for us. Jesus knew our sin well — like the doctor viewing the x-ray. Only He didn’t just leave us there. He came and saved us by taking on all of our sin and dying the death we deserved. And when Jesus rose from his grave on the third day, He was actually putting the nail in the coffin of death. Our sin crushed His earthly body, but the power of God raised Jesus back to life to crush sin and death forever.

God’s grace extended towards us is a similar response to the pop singer’s award acceptance speech — only better.

Jesus said, “I don’t deserve this, but I want to do this for them.” Even though He fully knew that every person has sin in them and even though He knew people would be completely against Him. He looked at everyone with everlasting life in His eyes and said, “You all should have this. I want you all to have this.” But the most important part is that His grace is not and will never be dependent on your actions. You never have to perform good deeds to earn it, and you can never do enough bad deeds to be excluded from it. God’s grace to you through your faith in Jesus is His free and absolute best gift to you. And what’s more, it’s not an award for a great song. It’s eternal life in Him with true freedom, peace, and joy.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Hebrews 11:1-3

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Romans 10:9


What is the craziest thing you’ve ever done? Scuba-diving? Bungee jumping? Maybe skydiving? If you look at this list long enough, you’ll probably see a common thread — they’re all pretty risky.

The most exciting things in life usually contain an element of high risk. If you seriously sat down and thought about the crazy, insane risk factor in each of these exciting things, do you think you’d still actually go through with them? A few thoughts you might come across: I am immersing myself into a completely different environment, where I physically cannot breathe, with creatures that I am unfamiliar with. I am going to jump off this ledge with a harness and rubber stretchy cord attached to my ankles, grasping the fate of my life. I am going to get into a plane, fly up several thousand feet, and jump out into a complete free fall in hopes that, at the right moment, this fabric canopy will catch the air and reduce my speed so that I don’t slam into Earth.

The reason these very fun activities are plagued with extreme risk is because you simply don’t know the outcome.

There is no guarantee that the oxygen tank will work perfectly or that a shark won’t be hungry. There is no guarantee that the cord or harness won’t snap. There is no guarantee that the parachute will open.

The concept of faith can be seen in a similar light.

There is a sense of risk in putting your trust in something you cannot physically see. There is a sense of risk in believing in a man who lived here on Earth thousands of years ago and trusting that he really did die and was brought back to life. But faith is more than just wishful thinking. Faith is the hopeful expectation in what is true. We normally think of hope as a thing without a confirmed finish line, but Scripture clearly shows us that the hope we have through our faith is something we can have full assurance of. We can actually have confidence in what Jesus did for us. With faith, we can ultimately know the outcome and trust it wholeheartedly. Unlike the feeling of uncertainty while being surrounded by water and constantly checking your pressure gauge, you can be confident that God knows your current situation well. Unlike the anxiety of looking up at your ankles praying that the cord is the correct length, you can look at the cross and know with certainty that what took place was real. Unlike the white-knuckle grip onto the parachute handles of the cords above, you can firmly plant your feet on the foundation of your faith with confidence. You can actually be sure that Jesus saved you from being separated from God the Father and that you have an eternal future in Him. What a beautiful thing.

Take a minute and pray to God.

Pray that you would wholeheartedly trust in Jesus. Pray that the Holy Spirit in you will help realign your heart to hope in God with confidence. Pray that your faith will be re-established and that you will find the peaceful assurance of Jesus’ love for you — that Jesus did what you couldn’t so that you can have life to the fullest.

I will tell of the kindnesses of the Lord,
    the deeds for which he is to be praised,
    according to all the Lord has done for us—
yes, the many good things
    he has done for Israel,
    according to his compassion and many kindnesses.
He said, “Surely they are my people,
    children who will be true to me”;
    and so he became their Savior.
In all their distress he too was distressed,
    and the angel of his presence saved them.
In his love and mercy he redeemed them;
    he lifted them up and carried them
    all the days of old.
Yet they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
    and he himself fought against them.

Then his people recalled the days of old,
    the days of Moses and his people—
where is he who brought them through the sea,
    with the shepherd of his flock?
Where is he who set
    his Holy Spirit among them,
who sent his glorious arm of power
    to be at Moses’ right hand,
who divided the waters before them,
    to gain for himself everlasting renown,
who led them through the depths?
Like a horse in open country,
    they did not stumble;
like cattle that go down to the plain,
    they were given rest by the Spirit of the Lord.
This is how you guided your people
    to make for yourself a glorious name.

Look down from heaven and see,
    from your lofty throne, holy and glorious.
Where are your zeal and your might?
    Your tenderness and compassion are withheld from us.
But you are our Father,
    though Abraham does not know us
    or Israel acknowledge us;
you, Lord, are our Father,
    our Redeemer from of old is your name.
Isaiah 63:7-16


Intention is a funny thing.

Sometimes, we do things with the most sincere heart, but the outcome is not what we expected. Have you ever done something for someone else hoping that it would make them happy, but instead, it did the opposite? Have you ever said something and in your head, it made sense, but after you said it, it was way off the mark?

Sometimes, we unknowingly do this in prayer. Think for a moment about how you pray. Have you ever thought about who you are praying to? Have you considered who you are asking to change your circumstances, help you, or be present in your life? Our relationship with God is worth us taking some time to really consider who God is. After all, we base everything on Him — our gatherings, our relationships, our actions, even our very lives!

The first book of the Bible mentions “God” many times. We see “the Spirit of God” often. Then, a shift happens in Genesis 1:26. God says, “let us make…” Us? Plural? What does that mean? 

Let’s clear the air: God is three persons and one essence. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

God the Father is the divine source of life and all of creation.

As Louie Giglio puts it, God the Father is the perfection of our earthly father. He is the ultimate judge over all wrong and right, but is also full of grace and mercy. He is holy and set apart from all things. The Father is God.

[Genesis 1-3; Acts 17:24-29; Rev 4:11; Ephesians 1:3-6; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; 2 Peter 3:9-10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19; Romans 8:14-16]

We know Jesus.

We talk about Jesus all the time. In Scripture, He is the son of God and the son of man. He is the miracle of God in human form. He is the Savior of the world. Jesus Christ is God. [Acts 16:36, Acts 20:28, Romans 9:5, 1 Corinthians 4:6-8, Colossians 1:16-19; Colossians 2:9]

The Holy Spirit is the wonder-working power we receive when we put our faith in Jesus.

He is our counselor and advocate. The Holy Spirit is our personal presence of God and He gives us the yearning to live a life worthy of our calling. The Holy Spirit is God.

[John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26; Acts 15:28; Isaiah 40:13; 1 Corinthians 12:11; Romans 8:26; 2 Corinthians 3:17-18; John 3:5-7; 1 John 3:9]

All three make up God.

They are not each their own gods, but they are God in three persons. Jesus died for us, and he is now sitting at the right hand of the Father, who is on the eternal throne. The Holy Spirit guides and councils us.

When we consider and pray to God for Him to do wonders in our lives, our intentions are in the right place. Why? Because He is the only one that can do the wonders in our lives! Take time to consider the Trinity today. Our God is perfect, and He has done marvelous things for us!

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one.’
Matthew 6:5-13


Prayer is a wild concept.

Sometimes, we can get caught up in nervousness when public prayer comes up. If you’ve ever been asked to pray, are you the type that shakes your head “no” violently because you are terrified to pray out loud? Are you the type to jump in enthusiastically and start rambling on, sharing with God and everyone present all the crazy things happening in your life and maybe even in someone else’s life without their permission? Maybe you’re the one to just silently sit with the Lord and wait for Him to speak. Or maybe you are unsure of how to pray yourself. Maybe you are asking, “do I have to bow my head? Do I close my eyes? Do I put my hands together, or in the air? When do I get on my knees?”

All of these questions and worries are valid. We have seen and experienced a lot of different ideas and traditions on the concept of prayer, so clarity is certainly needed. If you believe in Jesus, you have a relationship with God by the Holy Spirit. And if you have a relationship with Him, then of course you and God talk to each other! So how can we do that?

Scripture tells us what prayer is, and it shows us how to pray.

At its core, prayer is the constant awareness of God. This means that we are aware of who He is and what He is able to do. We don’t have to do specific things to access God because He is always with us. Prayer is simply about focusing on Him and conversing with Him. We pray to acknowledge His constant availability, and we thank Him that he genuinely wants to move in our lives. We learn in the book of James that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. That means that when we quiet the distractions around us and make the most of our time with Him. He can and will exceed our expectations. He wants us to come to Him. Jesus died for our sin and rose again by the power and grace of God so that we might have a relationship with Him. He did it all so that we might be connected to Him again. So, of course, he wants to hear from you! And He desires for you to let your walls down and welcome Him. Prayer is an attitude of the heart that is in a posture of openness. We want to confess our brokenness, express our hurts, and share our deepest desires with Him. The beauty of it all is that we receive His forgiveness, healing, and gifts in our lives as a result.

So, we know what prayer is. The next question is: how do we pray?

Jesus gives us an example of prayer in the book of Matthew. While it does not have to be a word-for-word copy, He displays an order and outline for us when we pray.

  1. We should remember we are His.
  2. We acknowledge His name as holy, and He can do anything.
  3. We align our hearts with His. We want to see His work done because it is perfect and for everyone’s good.
  4. We resize our needs to His measurement. All things come from Him and all we are promised is today.
  5. We recenter our gaze on the cross and forgive others. Remember that He first forgave us.
  6. We follow God into eternity and away from the enemy.

Is there a perfect way to pray?

Yes. Are you ready for the formula? It’s a genuine heart and an undivided focus on Him. That’s it. All you have to do is simply look to Him and be with Him. He is always near, and He loves to be with you. So be with Him. You may be surprised at what happens!

“When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say.”
Luke 12:11-12

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
Ephesians 1:7-10

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Ephesians 28:19-20


How difficult is it to share your faith?

Have you ever tried to share about Jesus with someone in your life? It can be nerve-racking! Yet, we are called to share the gospel with others. So how can we do it without freaking out?

Take a few seconds and recall all that you learned so far in this devotional. Look back at your notes.

It’s impossible for someone to share and teach others about something they know little about. A senior in high school who wants to apply to nursing school most likely cannot tell you about how to treat a patient yet. A kid with a home movie video camera cannot tell you all about creative storytelling and vision boards yet. In that same way, we have to know the gospel first for ourselves in order to share it. The good news is that you already have the tools. We are all broken. We needed rescue. God knew we couldn’t rescue ourselves. So, God came down in the form of Jesus. Jesus came and all of our sin was placed on Him. He was crushed for us to be brought to spiritual life. We have been forgiven and given life to the full!

When you come to faith in Jesus, your story becomes a story to share.

Your life becomes an incredible topic of conversation when you share with others what Jesus has done for you. And it is powerful. People cannot tell you that what you have experienced is not real. As we learned, when you live from the grace you have been given instead of for it, your life looks radically different. So, when you begin to walk in your new life in Jesus, people will be able to see the difference — and while they may question it, they cannot say it isn’t real. This should give you a ton of confidence and courage.

Your story is important.

Your background may be tough. Terrible. Horrible. But the path before you is well-lit. It is full of God’s love and mercy that will carry you through all the days of your life. The God who created the smallest atoms to the biggest constellations loves you. And when you put your faith in Him, your life will never be the same. And who wouldn’t want that for others? If you had the cure for a disease that someone has, of course, you would want to give them the cure! In that same way, our world needs healing, and you (yes, you) have the hope and healing that everyone needs. His name is Jesus, and He is in your heart.

Challenge yourself to think about the free gift of grace to you.

Take time to consider how you can live your life to the fullest from the freedom and joy you have received in Jesus. Ask someone about their thoughts on God today. Take time to listen to your friends and what’s on their hearts. Share with them the unique story you have and in turn, the hope you have. Step out of your comfort zone and be amazed at what God can do with your story.

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Scripture References

  • 2 Timothy 3:16
  • Luke 24:44-45
  • Hebrews 4:12
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