Friday, February 26, 2010

He's Got a Plan!

"‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’" (Jeremiah 29:11 )

Are you wondering what to do with your life? Do people ask you what you want to be when you grow up? Maybe you have no idea! But that’s okay—because God has a plan for you. And it’s a good plan! He plans for you to grow and thrive. His plans include good things like peace and welfare—not disaster and evil. He has plans to give you hope—something good to look forward to in the future. His hope is more than just wishing for something. Having God’s hope means you expect a good future and wait for it with anticipation, like a child waiting for Christmas.

You go to visit your aunt out west every summer, and you look forward to it all year. You know she has a good plan for your summer visit. You've experienced many fun things every time you visited there. Once you explored Indian ruins and met a Native American girl who showed you how to make turquoise jewelry. Once you went white water rafting with a guide and saw the most spectacular scenery. What would this summer’s trip be like? You had no idea, but you knew it was going to be good. You trust your aunt—and you’re not disappointed. When you step out of the car, you’re met with the news that you’ll be spending a week at horse camp, learning to ride—something you’ve always wanted to do.

Sometimes we find it easier to trust people we can see than to trust God. But God never lies, and God is love. We don’t always know or understand his long-term plans for our lives, but we know every idea God has for us comes from love. We can trust him. We can look forward to our future with joyful anticipation.

Be excited! The God of the universe has a very special, very unique life just for you.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who Did It?

Your family is having some tough times since your dad lost his job. It’s hard just paying the rent and buying groceries. When the overnight class trip to the state park is announced, you hear it with a sinking heart. The whole trip costs “only” $65, but you know it might as well be a million. You can’t ask your parents for it. You don’t want to see the embarrassment and hurt on their faces when they have to turn you down. Instead, you pray. “Lord, you know I’d love to go on this trip with my class. Could you show me a way? Please give me money for the trip.” You know that if God wants you to go, he can make a way.

Even so, when the answer comes, it astounds you. Your painting for the local art show wins first place, and someone offers to buy it—for $75! When your friends say, “Man, are you lucky!” you don’t just smile and agree. “It isn’t luck,” you say. “I prayed for money to go on the trip, and God did it for me.” You give God the credit. “Our mouths were filled with laughter, our tongues with songs of joy. Then it was said among the nations, ‘The Lord has done great things for them.’” (Psalm 126:2 TNIV) Pray for help, thank the Lord for his answers—and remember to tell others who made it happen!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Ain't I Grand?

Alyssa had no idea she was puffy with pride. She was just excited when her teacher decided to publish a two-page weekly classroom newspaper. Alyssa loved to write stories, she always got A’s in English, and she knew she was the best choice for editor. Alyssa wanted the newspaper done right. She told the teacher that she was the best person to be in charge. When Kylie was chosen as editor instead, Alyssa demanded to know why. Mr. Jackson shrugged. “Kylie’s grades aren’t as high as yours, but she works better with people. She listens to them.” In other words, Kylie wasn’t too proud to consider her classmates’ ideas.

How does God feel about the proud, overly self-confident person? “He mocks proud mockers but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.” (Proverbs 3:34 TNIV) Why is pride such a big deal? A haughty, stuck-up person finds it impossible to be kind, gentle, or forgiving. Pride also causes us to think we can run our own lives without God’s help. Even the devil—who started out as an angel in heaven—let pride ruin his life. (When he decided he wanted to be God himself, Satan was thrown out of heaven forever.) So does being humble mean you will crawl on the ground like a worm all your life? Absolutely not! “When you bow down before the Lord and admit your dependence on him, he will lift you up and give you honor.” (James 4:10 NLT) Be humble—and let God raise you up in his time.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Owning Up

We’re all tempted to lie when we get caught. Maybe you baby-sit your little brother Jake on Saturday while your parents work. While he watches cartoons, you close your eyes for a minute. An hour later you wake up to an empty room and blaring TV. There’s no Jake to be found. Running outside, you spot him at the picnic table, arranging flowers. “Oh, no!” you whisper. Jake has picked every one of your mother’s prize roses and is making bouquets from them. Later, when confronted by your mom, you say that you were outside with Jake, ran indoors when the phone rang, and by the time you got back outside, he’d cut all the flowers. Mom doesn’t buy it, and you feel guilty.

“The Lord detests lying lips.” (Proverbs 12:22 TNIV) So the next time you do something wrong, confess it instead of covering up. You’ll feel much better. Apologize. Make things right if you can. Then put it behind you and move on.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Take a Break!

Olivia wished she could get some rest. Middle school was harder than she’d expected. Her projects and papers took forever. Add to that practicing her flute, going to gymnastics lessons and piano lessons, baby-sitting on weekends to make extra money, and youth group—and she felt like she was going to lose it. The commandment to rest one day each week was given for our good. God knew if we didn’t get away from our duties to rest, we would simply come apart at the seams. If your mind is focused 24/7 on your schoolwork and activities, it leaves little time to focus on God and his Word. Cut back on activities until you have time to rest one day each week.

Jesus was also concerned about the apostles getting too tired. Once they were so busy that they weren’t taking time to rest. “Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’” (Mark 6: 31 TNIV) Someone once joked, “Seven days without rest makes one weak.” However, it’s true. You can’t be strong and exhausted at the same time. So follow God’s plan, and rest one day a week. If you do, you’ll enjoy the other six much more!