Monday, October 3, 2011

Living in Peace--and Quiet!

You hate it when a new family moves into the apartment above yours. They slam doors going in and out, no matter how late it is. You guess they each weigh two hundred pounds—your bedroom window actually rattles when they stomp around. They yell over their booming stereo, and you now need earplugs to sleep. You complain to everyone in the building and urge two of your friends’ moms to call the police. Eventually your complaints get back to the new neighbors, and the wife visits you. “I heard what you said about us,” she says. “I wish you’d come to us directly. We’ll turn down the music and be quieter. I didn’t know we were disturbing you.” Embarrassed, you mutter, “Thank you,” and close the door.

Try to live at peace with others. For one thing, not everyone will react as pleasantly as your upstairs neighbors. You could start a fight that lasts for months—or years. Gossip just stirs up trouble. “Don’t talk too much, for it fosters sin. Be sensible and turn off the flow!” (Proverbs 10:19 NLT) If there’s a problem, go peacefully to the person and express your concern. See if you can work out a solution together. You may avoid making an enemy—and gain a friend instead.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Miss Know-It-All

Makayla tried to like the girl who moved in next door, but she just couldn’t. Very soon she grew tired of hearing about the girl’s former (better) school, former (cuter) teacher, and former (cooler) friends. To Makayla, it seemed the new girl looked down on everything and everyone—including Makayla. When Makayla or her friends talked, the new girl tilted her head sideways and arched one eyebrow. She sniffed a lot and rolled her eyes. She was called Snooty Sara behind her back.

Before long, Makayla and her friends avoided the new girl. They were tired of the putdowns, her swaggering, the disdainful looks whenever they spoke. One day Sara bragged to the wrong person—their volleyball coach—about how great her former team was and how talented she was in particular. The coach just smiled, then she told Sara that she used to live near Sara’s hometown. She’d coached in a neighboring town before taking her current job. Her old college roommate had actually coached Sara’s former team—through one losing streak after another. Sara wilted in embarrassment as her lies crumbled. “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” (Proverbs 16:18 TNIV)

Don’t look down on others. Think of people as equal—or even better—than yourself. Then pride won’t creep in. Give snoot the boot!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Are You Prejudiced?

You learn about prejudice when your family moves. You never felt out of place while living in Texas, but when your family relocates to a small town in Minnesota, you’re the only Hispanic student in your school. Most kids ignored you. Some treat you like you have a contagious disease. A few call you names. Being the target of discrimination and bigotry is more hurtful than you would have ever guessed. Two years later, your family moves back to Texas. You absolutely love being “home,” but you’ve changed. From now on, you’re careful to never make another prejudiced comment. You learned first-hand the pain it can cause.

Certain people believe they are worth more than others. God’s Word, however, has strong words for such people. “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” (Romans 12:3 TNIV) God’s Word clearly says that your worth isn’t in your nationality or the color of your skin. Instead, judge yourself by the strength of your faith in God. That’s what really matters.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Anger Management?

What do you do with anger? You’re angry about things happening at home: a divorce, needing to move, having much less money. You hold in the anger at home, but it “leaks” out at school. First it’s in little ways with your friends. But when it increases and you snap at your teachers, you land in detention. In the end, the principal and guidance counselor decide you should attend “anger management” classes. The classes will teach you how to control your anger, how to keep it from making you blow up at people. At the class, you’re taught to explode in safe places, such as by hitting a pillow and screaming alone in your bedroom. The instructor wants you to transfer your anger energy into some other object.

Is that how the Bible says to deal with our anger? No. It doesn’t say manage it. The Bible is very clear. It says get rid of it. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” Ephesians 4:31 (TNIV) Noisy disagreements and fighting only lead to further trouble. Avoid them too. “Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels.” (2 Timothy 2:23 TNIV) You can’t do this alone. Give your anger to God. Ask him for help (many times a day, if necessary) until the anger is gone.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

True Value

When Jessica moved to a new town and started middle school, she studied the various groups of girls. Who would be her new friends? Only a couple people from her new Sunday school class attended her middle school. She liked both Teri and Elizabeth—they were fun and kind and friendly—but they definitely weren’t “cool.” On the other hand, Brit and Kayla were obviously the most popular girls. Boys swarmed around them. They invited Jessica to sit at their lunch table, and at first, Jessica was thrilled to be singled out. But the filthy language she heard there—and the nasty backbiting of other students—made her feel dirty. Jessica had a choice to make. Would she choose friends of excellent moral value with high standards? Or would she settle for friends with glitz but no character?

How can you learn to prize what God values? Read God’s Word and let it change your thinking. “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 TNIV) Choosing what God values will place you in the center of his will—and there’s no better place on earth to be!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Unity in the Family

Emily’s family had a really rough month! First her dad lost his job. When he couldn’t find another one that paid as well, they sold their large home with a pool and moved into a tiny house. Then her mom discovered she was expecting another baby. Emily was in turmoil—until one evening they had a family round table discussion about their situation.

“Loving God comes first,” her dad said, “and then loving each other. If we pull together, we can make this work.” The discussion that followed brought out different ideas for making money, cutting costs, and helping care for the baby when it arrived. There were many different ideas—but the family was like-minded about their purpose: loving God and loving each other.

Unity should exist among Christians. This doesn’t mean thinking exactly alike on everything. It means having the common goal of working together and serving one another, of being “perfectly united in mind and thought.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 TNIV) Being unified comes with the promise of a great reward: God’s presence in your life. “Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11 NKJV) Stand united!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Be a Peacemaker

Maybe your dad likes to pick fights. He fights with your mom, your older brother, his boss, and the neighbors. When he’s drinking, it’s even worse. You try to do everything he wants, but sometimes nothing is good enough. Things can be calm and peaceful one minute, and then within ten minutes of his arriving home, he’s shouting and fighting with someone. The only person able to calm him down is Uncle Mark. He stops by frequently, patiently listens to your dad, and helps him get things fixed around the house. You wish Uncle Mark could live with your family fulltime.

It’s very difficult to live with people who are quick-tempered. They seem to be looking for a fight—and they usually find one. As far as it depends on you, however, be a person who stops quarrels. Don’t add fuel to the fire—instead help put it out. The “fire” might be at home with a brother, at school with a best friend, or with someone on your soccer team. “Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Your anger can never make things right in God’s sight.” (James 1:19-20 NLT) Rather than adding your own anger to a fight, make it your goal this week to be a calming influence on an angry person. Be a peacemaker!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

It's Your Choice

The first week in her new middle school, Melissa watched kids quietly. She finally decided which group she wanted to belong to, and she planned how to get them to accept her. They finally did, but this group’s activities landed Melissa in trouble. One weekend everything blew up in her face. Finally Melissa prayed, “Lord, I guess I don’t know how to choose good friends. You can see into their hearts. Please bring me the friends you want me to have.” Melissa was lonely for a few weeks, but then she was paired in a flute duet with a girl she truly liked. Later she shared an assigned spot in the science lab with another girl who turned out to be a believer.

When you let God choose for you—whether it’s friends, clothes, or extracurricular activities—you’ll end up with God’s best. Be patient. Continue to pray while you wait. Don’t get in a hurry and settle for less than the Promised Land God has in mind for you.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Loving a Show-Off

Sarah had a kind and generous heart by nature, and she didn’t understand why other kids had trouble getting along—until Tiffany moved to town. Tiffany was in Sarah’s grade at school, and she attended youth group and Bible study every week. But she didn’t just participate like everyone else. She blew into the room, like a gust of wind that unsettled everything. She was loud, thought she knew it all, and was determined to change everything so it was done “right.” A bossy show-off—that describes Tiffany perfectly, Sarah thought.

Living in harmony with such an inflated ego strained Sarah’s patience. Sarah would have preferred avoiding Tiffany altogether, but she knew Jesus wanted her to be kind and loving toward Tiffany. Help me, Lord, Sarah prayed as she acted in kind ways, whether she felt like it or not. Over several months, Sarah’s heart slowly lined up with her loving actions. In the end, Tiffany became Sarah’s close friend.

“All of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.” 1 Peter 3:8 (TNIV) Being kind and loving toward one another isn’t just a good idea. It’s a commandment from God, and it applies whether we feel like being compassionate or not. Show love and kindness to others—it will come back to you multiplied many times over!

Friday, September 9, 2011

I Will Not Fear

Chloe was afraid all the time. Her single mom had lost her job, and she was often sick. Her dad moved clear across the country. Chloe was being bullied at school by three tough girls who followed her around. She kept quiet about it, not wanting to add to her mother’s worries. No matter where she turned—school or home—there was something for Chloe to fear. Then Amber invited Chloe to church. Chloe learned about trusting in Jesus as her Savior, and how everything was under God’s control. Now she didn’t have to fight her fears alone. She could trust God to work, free her from fear, and deal with the scary situations.

Sometimes, believers even brood about their fears. They forget something very important—connecting with God through prayer. “I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me, freeing me from all my fears.” (Psalm 34:4 NLT) Talk to the Lord. Tell him your worries and concerns. Thank him that he has everything under control—even the things that look out-of-control to you. Sometimes fears can make you feel lonely and cut off from God. What if you’ve prayed, but you feel like your prayers aren’t reaching heaven? Our emotions are poor judges of the truth. You may not feel God’s help, but keep on praying. Freedom from your fears will come. “In sudden fear I had cried out, ‘I have been cut off from the LORD!’ But you heard my cry for mercy and answered my call for help.” (Psalm 31:22 NLT)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

This Way--or That Way?

Have you ever been fooled? You think you’re making a good choice—a godly choice even—but it turns into a disaster? Suppose you’re thrilled when Kylie moves in next door. Kylie is everything you’re not. Where you’re timid, Kylie’s brave, ready to try anything. Where you’re shy, Kylie’s outgoing. She can speak to total strangers with ease. There’s always something exciting happening with Kylie around. You feel lucky that Kylie is your friend. Until . . . Kylie’s “try anything” attitude prompts her to shoplift some candy. When caught, her “outgoing” personality causes her to mouth off to the store owner. Both your parents are then called. Kylie seemed like such a great friend, but the results of that friendship are a disaster.

“There is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Proverbs 14:12 (NLT) So how can you know if you’re on a wrong path—when it appears okay? First, check it out with God’s Word. There may be guidelines or a commandment concerning your situation. What about the times there isn’t a specific Scripture to go by? (There are no verses telling which brand of running shoe to buy or which band instrument to play.) In those cases, find a trustworthy, godly person and ask for advice. Don’t rely on your own understanding. Let God lead you.

Friday, September 2, 2011

False Accusations

Have you ever accidentally made false charges against anyone? It’s easy to do. You can see or hear something, think you know what’s going on, and you pass it along. That happened to Elizabeth. She was walking by her neighbor’s home when Mr. Jones ran out of the house. He raced to his car, squealed as he backed out of the driveway, and tore off down the street. Mrs. Jones came out on the front porch looking upset, but her husband was long gone. Elizabeth, embarrassed, hurried home. She told her sister that Mr. Jones was driving like a maniac, like someone who’d been drinking. She also reported that Mrs. Jones was really upset with him. Maybe they were getting a divorce.

That night at supper, Elizabeth repeated her story. Her mom scowled, then replied, “You’ve made some serious charges. And you couldn’t be more wrong.” Elizabeth’s face grew warm as her mom explained what had happened. “Mrs. Jones called and asked us to pray for her husband’s father. They got a call this afternoon that he’d had a heart attack. You witnessed Mr. Jones racing off to the hospital, hoping to see his father before he went into surgery.” Ashamed of the rumor she’d started, Elizabeth hung her head.

People often jump to conclusions, many of them false. When you see something that makes you curious, don’t try to be a mind reader. Don’t assume bad motives or reasons for what people say or do. Then you’ll be less likely to make false accusations. Wrong thinking and guess work (like Elizabeth’s) lead to making false charges. Instead, pray about things you see, and give people the benefit of the doubt. Then others will do that for you! “Keep far away from falsely charging anyone with evil.” Exodus 23:7 (NLT)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Success--God's Way

Have you ever been in this situation? You’re in band, and for your fund-raiser, you have to sell at least ten boxes of candy. There’s only one problem: you hurry home every day to care for your mom, who’s recovering from some surgery. You also watch your little sister and cook supper. There’s little time to go door to door, selling candy. Two days before the deadline, you’ve only sold one box—to your dad. “Lord, I really need help here,” you pray. “I trust you to show me what to do." You put your box of candy by the front door to remember to take it back to school on Monday.

But on Sunday, two ladies from church visit your mom, and when they leave, one lady asks about the candy. You explain about the fund-raiser, and the lady buys two boxes. That night, about an hour before bedtime, the doorbell rings again. Four people from church stand there. “We understand you’re selling candy,” one of the men says. “Do you have any left?” You nod, too surprised to speak. When they leave fifteen minutes later, your box is empty.

God will make a way for you to succeed, even where there seems to be no way. “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” (Proverbs 16:3 TNIV) Whatever job you need to do, give it to God. Trust that he will give you his ideas to reach your goals.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Baaa, Baaa, Black Sheep

Sheep aren’t very smart—and neither are we sometimes. Sheep wander off, get lost, and fall off cliffs. They require constant watching. Each of us has drifted away like a silly sheep. We have left God’s well-marked paths to follow our own wrong ways.

Maybe you were raised in a Christian home, went to church faithfully, and were home-schooled until sixth grade. Then you go to public school. You expect the kids to make fun of you, but instead they invite you to games, parties and movies. You know your parents wouldn’t approve of the movies you’re seeing, but you don’t want to look judgmental. Anyway, the movies are pretty funny. Like a wandering sheep, you stray off a godly path.

At one party, when someone produces some pills and other drugs, you nearly fall off the cliff. You come to your senses, though, and call your dad to pick you up. “I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands.” (Psalm 119:176 NLT) He’s there in ten minutes. Sobbing in the car on the way home, you tell your dad what happened. At home, your dad leans over and hugs you hard. “I’m so glad you called,” he says.

If you’ve wandered off the right path, it’s never too late to go home.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Believing God

Can you identify with Jamie? She had a hard time believing anyone. She’d heard her older brother declare he never took drugs—then watched him be arrested for drug abuse. Her dad had promised he’d be there forever—just a month before he walked out without explanation. So when her mom promised one weekend that she’d take Saturday off and go with Jamie to an amusement park, Jamie muttered, “Yeah, I’ll believe that when I see it.” Her mom was hurt that Jamie didn’t believe her. It didn’t seem fair. She hadn’t done anything to lose Jamie’s confidence or make Jamie distrust her.

Even more so, God deserves our trust, and he wants us to believe him. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV) You don’t just have faith (or trust) by itself. You have faith IN something or someone. The most reliable place to put our faith is God.

People will let you down. Sometimes it’s on purpose, and they make promises they don’t intend to keep. Most often, people don’t mean to disappoint you—they’re just imperfect human beings. Put your trust in God instead of people. He will never let you down.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scatter Some Seed Today

Have you ever felt like Amber? Her grandma fell and broke her arm. Grandma loved a clean house, and Amber knew she’d appreciate having someone clean it for her. With her cast, it was too hard for Grandma to drag the vacuum around or scrub out the tub. To be honest, Amber wished she didn’t have to spend her Saturday cleaning Grandma’s house. However, because she cared, she went anyway.

Several hours later, with the house sparkling, Grandma and Amber sat in her porch swing eating ice cream and laughing about things Amber had done when she was younger. Grandma also shared some stories about her own childhood, things that surprised Amber. By the time Amber had to leave, she hated to go. The joy and laughter far outweighed the energy she’d spent cleaning.

When you give to someone in need—whether it’s money, your time, or your talents—you are planting a seed. If you give just a little, the blessings you get back will be little as well. If you give a lot, the harvest of gratitude, joy, and peace will be huge. “Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop.” (2 Corinthians 9:6 NLT) Be generous—scatter your seed far and wide! Then enjoy your bumper crop of blessings.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Power-Packed Words

Morgan’s mom used words as weapons, and Morgan often felt the sting. Sometimes she was called stupid or lazy. At other times, her mom made nasty predictions about her. “You’ll never amount to anything,” her mom said, “and I knew it from the moment you were born.” But Morgan made two decisions. (1) With God’s help, she wouldn’t be like her mom. She’d learn to speak kind words and be encouraging. (2) She’d concentrate on her teacher’s words instead: “You have such a lovely smile, Morgan.” “You worked very hard on this lesson, Morgan.” “I look forward to seeing you every day, Morgan.” Morgan soaked it in.

“The tongue has the power of life and death.” (Proverbs 18:21 TNIV) Morgan decided to “choose life” by taking in the life-giving words of her teacher and trying to be like her. Remember, “Gentle words bring life and health.” (Proverbs 15:4 NLT) You—and you alone—control what comes out of your mouth. Choose your words to bless others.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Fooled by Flattery

You have been best friends with Sara for three years, but when Britney moves in next door to you, things change. Every time Sara calls you, Britney is there. Britney now rides to school with you too. You wish you could be best friends with them both. Britney is so sophisticated, and she thinks you’re the cutest girl in your class. She also gushes about your parents being cool, your house being neat, and your baby brother being adorable. Soon Britney is running in and out of your house as if it were her own. However, a month later things began to disappear from your home: your dad’s watch, money from your mom’s purse, a DVD. You are horrified to realize that things turn up missing after Britney has visited. You were so flattered by Britney’s praise that you didn’t see the real reason behind it.

Unfortunately, there are some phony people in the world. Like Britney, such people are looking for people to use. “These people . . . boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”(Jude 16 TNIV) Sincere compliments from a friend are wonderful! But wise up—and don’t be fooled by phony flattery.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Settle Down!

You pace back and forth across the living room, muttering under your breath. You can’t believe it. Both your best friends have been chosen for pep squad, but not you! Your cheers at tryouts were just as good as theirs! Why weren’t you chosen? Weren’t you pretty enough? Had you looked awkward or stupid? The more you fume, the worse you feel.

Not being chosen for pep squad is disappointing—but you’re allowing yourself to get emotionally troubled by keeping your mind stirred up. Two hours later, when you have a headache and upset stomach, you decide to get a grip. You pour your heart out to God, giving him your frustration and disappointment—and fear that your friends will now leave you behind. You let it go and allow Jesus’ peace to fill your heart, calm your emotions, and settle your thoughts.

Yes, it’s disappointing. But tryouts are over, and you still have all the good things in your life that you had before. God is in control, and he knows more about the situation than you do. Remember, “The LORD will give strength to His people; The LORD will bless His people with peace.” (Psalm 29:11 NKJV)

Monday, July 25, 2011

No Looking Back

Natalie’s best friend took cigarettes from her mom’s purse, lit up and offered one to Natalie. She didn’t want it, but she didn’t want her friend to think she was a baby. Within a month, Natalie was hooked. Her hands shook and she got headaches if she went too long without smoking. Finally, she decided she hated the smell, the taste, the cost, the sneaking around, and the headaches. It was hard, but she quit. Her best friend still offered her cigarettes, but Natalie walked away from the habit and didn’t look back.

The angels warned Lot’s family to run from the city and not look back. Lot’s wife ignored that warning and paid with her life. What’s wrong with looking back on a past you want to escape? It usually means you have a divided heart. You want to do God’s will, but part of you wants to keep your old habits. You can’t live with one foot in the world and one foot in God’s kingdom and be happy. When you decide to leave a sinful habit behind, make a clean break. Face forward. Don’t look back and take a chance of being trapped again. It’s not worth it!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Listen Up!

One day you notice a dark spot on your shoulder. How did you manage to get ink or marker there? You scrub till the skin is pink, but the spot remains. You forget about it, but a month later, you notice it again. It seems darker—and bigger. You scrub till it bleeds and cover it with a Band-Aid. Then one day you read an article in a teen magazine about skin cancer. It says to watch out for moles that darken or grow. You pray about it and go to talk to your mom. “Look at this,” you say, peeling off the Band-Aid. After consulting a dermatologist (skin doctor), you have the suspicious mole removed. It isn’t skin cancer—not yet. But getting advice from your mom and the skin doctor may have saved your life. Ignoring the problem could have been deadly.

When you have a problem, it’s good to share it with trusted others, like a parent, teacher, counselor, youth pastor, or doctor. Confiding in your best friend is fine, but your friend may not know what to do either. “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22 TNIV) It can be scary to share your problem with an adult, but it’s even scarier keeping it to yourself and not knowing what to do. People care about you and want to help. Let them!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Honoring Parents

Sophia’s mom died when she was only five years old, and when Sophia was eight, her dad remarried. Sophia liked Susan, her stepmother, except when she told her to do her homework or wash supper dishes. “You’re not my real mom,” Sophia said, “so you can’t tell me what to do.” When she complained to her best friend, Taylor, about it, Taylor only laughed. “You wouldn’t like washing dishes even if Susan was your real mom.” Sophia admitted Taylor was right. Even if her real mom was still alive, she wouldn’t want to do her homework or chores.

It’s not about whether you like doing what your parents ask. It’s about being obedient because you love God. What if you have a cranky parent who is hard to please? What if they rarely say “thank you” or give you encouraging words? Does God still want you to obey parents like this? Yes. Your parents’ attitude has nothing to do with it. It might seem unfair, but the Lord is pleased when you’re obedient in everything, no matter what. It’s certainly easier to obey anyone—parent, teacher, boss—who is kind and encouraging. But you can trust God to give you the strength to obey those in authority over you, no matter how they act. God will richly reward you for obeying when it’s hard.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Here Come the Plagues!

You’ve received a few warnings from your dad. “Limit your phone calls to ten minutes,” he says, “and then finish your homework.” You lose track of time, and an hour slips by. Dad warns you again about losing phone privileges, but you keep talking. Finally, Dad unplugs your phone and takes it away with him. You had several chances to obey the phone rule. When you refused, consequences forced you to obey.

God did the same thing with a very famous king. “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh is very stubborn, and he continues to refuse to let the people go.’” (Exodus 7:14 NLT) God gave Pharaoh many, many chances. In total, God unleashed ten crushing plagues against Egypt before Pharaoh finally obeyed. Don’t be stubborn like Pharaoh! Instead, be obedient to those in charge of you: parents, teachers, and pastors. It’s much easier to humble yourself than to have God humble you!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sharing the Love

Kayla’s Sunday school teacher said, “Your life may be the only Bible your friends read. What are they learning about God by watching you?” Kayla knew she didn’t do any really bad stuff—no drinking, no drugs, no smoking, no swearing. But did her unbelieving friends (none of whom went to church) learn anything about God’s love by being around her? From that day on, Kayla determined that her life and her actions would demonstrate God to her friends. She made a list of things she could do to show God’s love, forgiveness, and compassion in some form each day to a friend. Sometimes she gave a sincere compliment or a word of encouragement. Sometimes she helped a friend carry something or gave a hand with homework. Sometimes it was forgiving a friend instead of being mad.

If your friends never read any Bible except your life, would they learn that “love is patient, love is kind”? (1 Corinthians 13:4 TNIV) Give to others what God has so freely given you. He’s devoted to your well-being, he forgives instead of getting revenge, he’s sympathetic to your problems, he’s patient, and he’s kind. Let God have control of your life so you can love others the way he loves you!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Worth Waiting For

Stephanie’s parents had separated, but not yet divorced. They were trying to work out their problems, but Stephanie feared that things were going from bad to worse. She helped out at home with her little sister and cleaning the apartment, and she prayed every night for her parents to be reunited. The eleven months she waited—praying every night and expecting God to work a miracle—were the longest months of her life. At times, she didn’t think God had even heard her. Yet she continued to look forward to her family being restored. At the end of eleven long months, when her parents were back together, did Stephanie think that waiting on God had been worth it? You bet! “The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him.” (Lamentations 3:25 TNIV)

In Webster’s dictionary, waiting is defined as “remaining inactive in one place while expecting something and looking forward to something.” Believers are waiting and expecting God to go to work for them, to work things out and make things happen that only God can make happen. “The Lord longs to be gracious to you; . . . Blessed are all who wait for him!”(Isaiah 30:18 TNIV) Whatever you’re facing, pray and wait for God to act.

Friday, July 1, 2011

The Tough Get Going

You’ve looked forward to middle school for two years. In middle school you can be on a gymnastics team. You’ve taken gymnastics classes since you were four years old, and you secretly dream of competing in the Olympics one day. But from the first day of practice, you’re so disappointed. The coach doesn’t like you for some reason. He criticizes you constantly, even though you know you’re better than anyone else who tried out.

A few weeks into practice, you see the coach give one of the girls a big hug, and you ask a team member about it. “You mean Rachel? That’s Coach’s kid. He’s determined that she’s going to be a gold medal winner or something.” Now you understand the persecution you’ve been receiving. Coach wants his own daughter to be the best. You pray about it, and you decide to stay on the team. You’ll just dig in and work hard, keeping your eye on your long-term Olympic goal.

There’s an old saying that “when the going gets tough, the tough get going.” That means persevering through trials and mistreatment. (Note: persecution means the trials you endure that are not your fault. Punishment for wrongdoing is not persecution—it’s just consequences for wrong actions.) “We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they are good for us—they help us learn to endure. And endurance develops strength of character in us.” (Romans 5:3-4 NLT) So be tough—and get going!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Big Price to Pay!

Ella’s parents were divorced when Ella was in fifth grade. Because Ella blamed God for not answering her prayer to keep the family together, she gave up living like a believer. She began to sneak out at night, skip church, and skip school. At first, the discipline at home and school was moderate: detention, being grounded, a tighter curfew. When Ella rebelled and continued to do whatever she wanted, the discipline was more harsh. She was expelled from school and no one trusted her. Finally she was badly injured in a car accident in which the driver was drunk.

Sometimes we don’t like to think of God as someone who disciplines us when we rebel and go our own way. “That’s not loving!” some people declare. Actually, the opposite is true. God disciplines us because he loves us, just as an earthly father corrects his kids to help them live a better life. If God didn’t love us, he’d let us rebel and do nothing about it. But he knows that the consequences of living a life without him will kill us. The Lord will do what’s necessary to convince you to get back on a path toward life. That’s because he loves you so much.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

In the Pits!

Joseph’s father loved him more than his brothers. His father also gave Joseph a beautifully colored robe. Joseph’s brothers were so jealous that they ripped off his robe and threw him into a deep empty well. Later, they sold Joseph as a slave!

Bella also felt other people’s jealousy. She had taken voice lessons for years, and she had the best voice in the seventh grade choir. She was careful not to brag or show off. Although no one was surprised when she won the lead in the spring musical, several girls were angry about it. During one of the rehearsals, a coil of rope was left where Bella would be sure to trip over it. She did—and sprained her ankle so badly that she had to quit the show.

What happened to Bella—and to Joseph—was totally unfair. They may have both asked, “God, why did you let this happen to me?” “Why?” is a question that God often doesn’t answer, at least not right away. He asks us to trust him instead, even when bad things happen. Later we may see the good that came out of the bad situation when we trusted God with it. That happened to Joseph. Being sold into slavery in Egypt put Joseph in a position to later save many lives during a widespread famine—including the lives of his brothers and his beloved father. While you wait for God’s outcome, He always gives you the power to overcome fear and discouragement.

We don’t live in heaven yet. Our world isn’t perfect, and neither are people. Sometimes bad things happen. But through it all, always remember: God loves you, and you can trust him. If you’re patient, he will bring amazingly good things out of any situation.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Don't Take that Bait!

Temptations to do something wrong come disguised very well. If you’ve ever tried to catch a fish, you know that the hook must be hidden inside something deliciously tempting to the fish. That worm—the bait—is perfectly suited to the fish. The devil treats you just like you treat that fish. He knows your needs and weaknesses. He chooses the perfect bait to tempt you. Be on your guard! Under every tempting bit of bait is a sharp hook designed to kill.

Friends can tempt us, without even meaning to. Maybe we’ve spent all our allowance, but a friend says, "Come shopping with me. Just put the clothes on your mom’s credit card." Or maybe we’ve decided that all that caffeine and sugar in our sodas makes us too jittery to sleep, so we give decide to give it up. Then we go for a pizza, and our best girlfriend decides to share her super-sized cola with us. It’s mouth-watering tempting! Both situations—shopping and sipping—look like fun. That’s the bait. And what’s underneath the wiggly worm? An invitation to overspend, go deep in debt, and get grounded. Or an invitation to be a nervous wreck, unable to sleep or study.

Some temptations served up by so-called "friends"—pressure to drink or take drugs—are easier to spot. Be strong and boldly say, "No, thanks." But also be on guard for those sneaky temptations, where the shiny bait disguises a hidden hook. Be alert—and don’t take that bait!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Perfect Gifts

We have all been given good things. Jasmine loved her new cocker spaniel. Hannah loved making apple pies with her grandmother. Michelle loved her new baby sister. Kayla loved having a day off without homework. Kelsey was grateful for her new jeans. Melissa loved her best friend’s laugh. Amber loved her dad’s sense of humor. Stephanie was grateful for passing her science test. Alexis loved sitting by the lake on vacation. Each girl was grateful for a different good gift, but each gift came from the same source: God above.

People often think they make their own good things happen. Far from it. “A person can receive only what is given from heaven.” (John 3:27 TNIV) Every day we have so many things to be thankful for, so many good gifts in our lives. Do we deserve any of it? No. In fact, even though we were born sinful, God chose to offer his very best gift to each of us. “The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23 TNIV) When you accept that gift—when Jesus becomes your Savior—it blesses both the giver (God) and the receiver (you)! Every day God showers us with wonderful gifts. What should be our response? “Praise the LORD! Oh, give thanks to the LORD, for He is good!” (Psalm 106:1 NKJV)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Building Up

You’re not usually a quitter, but you feel like quitting now. You’ve been sick with a viral infection for a month. The infection is about gone, but you’re overwhelmed by a month’s worth of schoolwork to catch up on. There are two projects to do, whole chapters to read, book reports to write, and tests to take. You can’t even decide where to start. You know you’ll flunk for sure!

Your friend Morgan knocks on the door. “I’m here to help,” she says. Sitting down at the table, she makes a “to do” list of each assignment you have to complete. “I know you can do this,” Morgan said, “and I’ll come over every day after school to help. If we tackle three or four things on the list every day, you’ll be caught up in no time.” You smile. With your friend’s encouragement, you feel like you can succeed!

Some people prefer to tear others down, while others build people up. Some have a special gift for encouraging others, but it’s a quality all believers should develop. “Let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up.” (Romans 14:19 NLT) In practical terms, what does it mean to be an encourager? Speak only those things that are helpful. Study a person’s situation. What does that person need? Build them up in that area—and you’ll be blessed at the same time.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Calm Down--and Cheer Up!

Taylor didn’t like her life anymore. She didn’t like having a baby brother and complained about his noise at night. She detested their new neighborhood, which was full of old people. She argued with her mom about babysitting and with her dad about going to the mall alone. Taylor resented the household rules her parents made and questioned everything they asked her to do. One thing really puzzled Taylor though. Her new friend, Amanda, had stricter parents and more brothers than Taylor, yet she was always happy and made others smile too. Nothing seemed to bother her. How did she do it?

Amanda had learned to look for the good things in her life: loving parents, a happy home, good books, and good friends. It’s all about attitude (a girl’s beliefs and feelings about life.) You can choose a rebellious attitude, complaining and arguing about everything. This is what the Bible has to say about rebellious people: “These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.” (Jude 16 TNIV) Or you can choose to praise God for his wonderful care, and be thankful for your many blessings. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” (Colossians 3:15 TNIV) Choose a thankful attitude—and experience joy and peace.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Making Things Beautiful

It’s your first weekend in the new apartment, and you find it utterly depressing. You know lots of kids go through a divorce, but you had no idea it would be this hard. You haven’t even felt like getting dressed yet, and it’s mid-afternoon. Your hair is stringy, and all your eye make-up is underneath your eyes. You’ve seen more attractive raccoons. Dear God, help me, you pray. Get me out of this pit of depression! You wait for an answer to your prayer, but what you hear surprises you. Wash your hair. Put up posters and pictures of your friends. You groan at the idea of moving off your bed. You just don’t have the energy. On the other hand, staying this way isn’t helping.

You pray for strength and drag yourself to the bathroom. An hour later, after a shower, your hair is squeaky clean, your jeans and shirt are clean, and you’re tackling that dungeon of a bedroom. By suppertime, the multi-colored bedspread and curtains have brightened up the room, posters adorn the walls, and snapshots of your friends encircle your mirror.

We don’t always have control over what happens to us or what situations we find ourselves in. But we can always choose our responses. We can choose to make every place we occupy more beautiful: home, school, after-school job, wherever! You can also make yourself more beautiful no matter what you have to work with. One simple (free and easy) way to instant beauty is to stand up straight and SMILE. Nothing beautifies like a smile.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Life's Storms

You sometimes secretly feel guilty when watching the news and you see the horrible things happening in the world to other people: famine, earthquakes, wars, accidents, attacks, plane crashes… You quickly pray, Help those people! while guiltily glad it didn’t happen to anyone you know. And then came the storm and the boating accident. Four people from your church picnic drowned—including your dad. Even though it’s been a month, it still doesn’t seem real. Your mind won’t accept that he’s truly gone, that he won’t sail through the front door again, home from a business trip with candy in his briefcase for you.

But he is gone, and sometimes when it hits you, you can barely breathe. You know he’s in heaven and you’ll see him again some day. But each morning the loss hits you—and your mom—all over again. You read your Bible often through blurry tears these days. One verse—how Jesus came to heal the broken-hearted—has become something you and your mom cling to. You believe God’s Word is true, even though you don’t feel healed yet. You believe someday the pain will ease, then eventually go away—even though you’ll always miss your dad. In the meantime, the two of you take it on faith. "Thank you, Lord, for starting the healing process, even though we still hurt so much," your mom prays with you. "Jesus, give us strength to go on. Amen."

Today you may not be dealing with a painful loss, but you may know someone who is. Give them your hope. Show them that Jesus came to save them for eternity—but also to heal their wounds now. "He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted." (Luke 4:18 NKJV)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Spread the Love Around

We’re told to love others as we love ourselves, but you may find that loving your neighbor isn’t as easy as it sounds. You’ve always liked your neighbors, but then one summer the Carlsons move in next door. From the noise blaring from their house, you figure they have at least a dozen kids and six dogs. It turns out to be only five small children and two dogs, but you think it’s still too many. Your bedroom windows overlook the Carlson house, and you hate having your windows open now. You no longer hear the breeze blowing through the pines or meadowlarks chirping. Instead, noise and commotion—kids yelling and dogs barking—blast from the house next door till long after you go to bed. Loving these new neighbors will take a lot of work, you decide.

First, you need a change of heart. “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32 NKJV) Over the next week, you work out a strategy. Twice you offer to baby-sit the kids, you accompany the older ones to the neighborhood pool, and you take them all to your church’s Vacation Bible School for a week. Through these acts of service, you actually grow to enjoy your new neighbors. Do you suppose that was God’s plan all along?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Put Out the Fire

Brianna knew about anger. She loaned her new bike to her best friend who promised to take extra good care of it. It was returned bent and crumpled. Her best friend had left the bike in her driveway, where her dad backed his truck over it. The frame was bent, and the red paint was scratched. Even though her friend offered to get it fixed, Brianna was furious. She wanted to call her friend names and scream at her. Instead she bit her tongue. For an hour, Brianna ranted and raved to herself about her irresponsible friend. When she calmed down, she knew she had a decision to make. Would she punish her friend by venting her anger or giving her the silent treatment? Or would she forgive her and drop it? Brianna called her friend, made arrangements to get the bike fixed, talked about school for a few minutes, then hung up. She still hated that her bike was damaged, but she was glad she’d kept her friend.

Christians don’t lose their emotions when they get saved, but you don’t have to continue giving in to a bad temper. “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.” (Ephesians 4:31 TNIV) Don’t just stop there. After dealing with your anger, take things one step further. “Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12 TNIV) Ask God to change you from the inside out. He will!

Friday, May 27, 2011


You hate going to school and beg your mom to homeschool you. You’re smart enough, but there’s so much fighting near your school. Hotheaded members of rival gangs rage against each other, making the neighborhood dangerous for everyone. Your biggest fear is getting caught between a couple of warring students on the way home from school. The gang members yell threats at each other and make convincing predictions of what they’ll do to each other. You just want to get far away from them and their rage.

Some people believe that respecting God’s instructions and avoiding sin will be boring. But it’s not boring—it’s safe. “The path of the upright leads away from evil; whoever follows that path is safe.” (Proverbs 16:17 NLT) Hotheads stir up trouble. A wise person tries to make peace. Do everything in your power to avoid hotheaded, rebellious people. Your life will be better for it!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Asking and Receiving

Gabby had always had a hot temper. She hated being told what to do—by her parents, her teachers, her older brother, her youth pastor. She didn’t really mean to, but arguing words flew out of her mouth before she thought about it. She was tired of the consequences of shooting off her mouth: detention after school, having her allowance taken away, getting socked by her brother. Then she read a verse in the Bible: “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” (James 1:19 TNIV) Gabby correctly figured that if God wanted her to be slow to speak, God would give her the power.

How can we know what God’s will is? We can find God’s will in his Word. It’s spelled out for us in his commands and needs to be stored in our minds and hearts. There is one more important step in seeing your prayers answered. You must have faith (or believe) that God answers prayer. “Without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6 TNIV) Find out what God wants you to do—then be confident that He will help you to do it!

Monday, May 23, 2011


You’ve been a believer since you were eight years old. Since you were home schooled, most of your friends are from church or other home school families. When you start middle school in fifth grade, you’re shocked and hurt by the kids who make fun of you. They ridicule your longer skirts, your “What Would Jesus Do?” bracelet, and the kittens on your notebook cover. They call you a baby—and worse. You grow to fear going to school.

When you finally confide in your dad, he helps you find the courage God has given you. “I know that you stand firm in the one Spirit … without being frightened in any way by those who oppose you.” Philippians 1:27 (TNIV) He helps you learn how to “stand firm.” From then on, you face their comments with a calm assurance, knowing God will save you from the effects of their attacks. Your calm, unwavering attitude also has an effect you didn’t expect. Your attackers grow uncomfortable, back down, and eventually quit. They even begin to treat you with respect.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Terrific Trade

Hailey had been obedient as a small child, but when she was eleven, it suddenly became harder. She felt her mom was too picky about cleaning her room and limiting TV and phone time. Even though Hailey kept most of her irritation to herself, her stomach often hurt. When she finally decided to obey willingly instead of reluctantly or with irritation, the upset stomach disappeared.

Being obedient is good training for life. . If you’re obedient to your parents when you’re a child, it’s easier as an adult believer to be obedient to God’s Word and live a happy, abundant life. Obedience has to be learned. Even Jesus had to learn to obey—did you know that? “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8 NASU) Being obedient—especially doing something we really don’t want to do—will bring a form of suffering. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever suffer as much as Jesus did on the cross, but obedience will cost you some mental pain or emotional discomfort. The suffering usually results from not getting your own way about something. Be ready, stand firm, and you’ll come through on the other side of it—victorious! The more you learn to respectfully obey, the easier it will become. Then the turmoil and conflict will be replaced with joy and peace—a terrific trade!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sticks and Stones

Insults, shameful comments, criticisms—all are words intended to hurt you. If you have a verbal abuser in your home, school, or neighborhood, you know how those remarks can wound your heart. They can even make you feel sick. Often no one else is around to hear the cruel words, and there is no one to comfort.

Michelle was overweight, and people teased her or criticized her about it. “Oink! Oink!” the neighbor boy said when she walked by. “Blubber body!” the kids at school called her. “Michelle, you’ll never slim down if you eat all that ice cream,” her mom lectured her. “Don’t you want to look pretty like your big sister?” Grandma asked her. An old nursery rhyme says, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Words may not make you bleed, but they definitely hurt—badly. In fact, abusive words can take far longer to heal than broken bones or cuts.

If insults have wounded you, go directly to Jesus with your hurt. He himself said he was sent to heal the brokenhearted. (Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1) Ask him to heal your heart from the pain caused by scornful words. Believe it or not, God can comfort you better than any person on earth. In fact, the Holy Spirit is called the “Comforter.” Comforting is one of his most important jobs. “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.” (John 14:16 KJV) God says you are worthy, valuable, and made in his image. And God loves you just the way you are!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Those in Need

Your youth group wants to spread that message to the kids in the homeless shelter in your city. You’re excited to go for the first time. You envision playing games with kids happy to see you. Or maybe you’ll read stories to an eager group of toddlers. Maybe they’ll let you make cookies in the kitchen with some of the children.

Three hours later, you head home, silent in the back seat of the teacher’s car. Yes, you got to play some games, but the kids weren’t what you expected. Four of them asked you if you knew where their mommy was. Two begged to come home with you, and you had to peel one little girl from your leg. You look down at the round yellow smiley face pin on your jacket that says: "Smile! God loves you!" But you wonder…

It’s hard to look at some of the conditions in the world and see God’s love in it. But when man was first created, God gave human beings free choice. Human beings fail at loving others. They fail often, and they can fail badly. Without God’s love in our hearts, none of us can love anyone very well. Yes, people fail us. But God never does. Stay close to him. He is love—and he will love others through you if you let him. Keep giving to those in need. Let them see God’s love in you.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Getting It All Out

You know from many years of Sunday school that believers are supposed to “do everything without grumbling or arguing.” (Philippians 2:14 TNIV) And yet, some days you feel so frustrated that you’re ready to explode. Sometimes it’s little things: your sister drinking all the orange juice or your best friend forgetting to return your favorite shirt. Sometimes it’s big things: your mom yelling at you for no good reason or an unfair grade on a test. You bottle up your feelings, pretending things are great. When you pray, she feel like a phony.

You have a wrong idea about being honest with God. He’s the one person to whom you can always tell the absolute truth. If it weren’t all right to be totally honest with God, would David have written these Psalms? “O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning.” (Psalm 5:1 NLT) “Give heed to me and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted.” (Psalm 55:2 NASU) And in Psalm 142:2 (TNIV), David says, “I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.” Being totally honest with God about your feelings is good. It isn’t the same as grumbling about your life to everyone you meet. It’s just sharing your feelings with him so you can sort them out together—and he can help you in each situation. Talk to God. He cares.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Whole Truth--and Nothing But?

Maybe you have two friends. They both tell you the truth, but one feels warm and caring, while the other girl’s “truth” cuts deep. When you all try out for the track team, Girlfriend #1 says to you, “You’re a natural for long distance running. You hardly broke a sweat running the mile!” Fake Friend #2 also speaks the truth. “You know, your short legs are stubby, so don’t even think about hurdles. You’ll fall flat on your face.” Both girls spoke the truth, but only one spoke the truth in love.

What are some signs of growth in believers? They speak words of truth, but in a loving manner. They aren’t brutal, then claim, “I’m just telling the truth. Don’t be so touchy.” Their love is also honest. “Love must be sincere.” (Romans 12:9 TNIV) No faking allowed! True Christian love is open and genuine, not two-faced and phony. A growing Christian backs up her loving words with action. “Let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 NKJV) As you grow, let love guide you—in your thoughts, words, and actions.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Solid as Rock

Michelle’s sixth grade year was one long trial after another. In church camp the summer before, she was challenged to be bolder in her faith. So she decided to “come out of hiding.” Until now, she never mentioned church at school. She didn’t explain why she skipped certain movies or didn’t dress in the popular tight tees and mini-skirts. Michelle just tried to be nice and blend in. She never had to defend her faith—because no one knew she had any. Then in sixth grade, she wore her cross necklace and “What Would Jesus Do?” tee-shirt. She got noticed—and teased. When Michelle took stands on issues, she was often alone. But this was her attitude throughout: “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” (Psalm 27:13-14 TNIV) She put her trust in God and focused on him instead of those who ridiculed her. Eventually, two girls told Michelle they were Christians too, and Michelle made two excellent friends.

Friday, May 6, 2011


You’ve been a believer since you were ten years old. You truly love Jesus more each year, and you talk to him often. Jesus is your constant companion and best friend as you move with your military dad from place to place. You love the Lord, but there are times you just don’t want to do what Jesus says. You don’t always want to obey your dad, especially when he barks at you as if you’re one of his soldiers. You don’t always want to give part of your allowance in the offering plate; sometimes you want to buy something for yourself with all the money. But you know that if you really love Jesus like you claim, you’ll obey what he tells you to do.

Jesus made it very plain. “If you love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15 TNIV) Obedience and love go together, whether we like it or not. Don’t tell Jesus (or others) that you love the Lord if you’re not willing to do what he tells you to do. “Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. Anyone who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” (John 14:21 TNIV) When you obey the Lord, he pours out such love on you. As you grow in this love, something wonderful happens. Obedience becomes a habit—and a joy!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Enemies: Whatcha Goin' To Do?

When it was time for the Israelites to leave their slavery behind in Egypt, God did a marvelous thing for them. He caused their former owners, the Egyptians, to like the slaves so much that they gave the slaves whatever they wanted to take with them! God can make even your enemies so pleased with you that they want to help you.

You wish your enemy would do that! You’re sick of being picked on at school. You have no idea why Jason, the class clown, has singled you out, but he’s made fun of you all year. You tried ignoring him, as your teacher suggested. You stood up to him and demanded that he stop it, like your dad suggested. You’re tempted to call him names back, like your best friend suggests. Finally, you give up and do what you should have done in the first place: you pray. You ask God to change Jason’s heart and cause him to be friendly to you. Every time he picks on you, you pray again. Slowly, over a matter of weeks, Jason stops making fun of you. One day when you drop your books, you’re astounded when Jason stops and picks them up for you.

God can change the hearts of people.

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Do This...

Nicole’s older sister Steph caused constant turmoil in the family. At sixteen, Steph demanded to run her own life. She rebelled against everything: going to church, her curfew, doing homework, and any rule their parents set. In high school, she’d made new friends, and these friends liked to party. Nicole shared a room with her sister, who often dragged in reeking of alcohol and cigarettes. When Steph’s boyfriend dumped her, Steph was stunned and hurt. Nicole heard Steph pray for God to bring him back. When it didn’t happen, she blamed God and continued to rebel. Nicole shook her head. How could Steph expect God to hear her prayer—even if he wanted to help her—when she continued in her sinful and rebellious lifestyle?

Nicole’s sister is no different from many people. They rebel against the Lord’s instructions, but when an emergency strikes, they expect God to answer their prayers anyway. He won’t. “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable.” (Proverbs 28:9 TNIV) God has made it clear throughout Scripture. He won’t help rebellious people. If you’re cherishing certain sins in your life, deal with them and get it out of your life. Then you’ll be in a position for God to hear your prayers.