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Jesus And Culture Week 3, Devotion 2

Your devotion today is different than previous days. It’s kind of an assignment. But it’s a cool one.

Put this down, pick up your Bible or Bible app, and read Matthew 25:31-40. It won’t take you long at all. 

Finished? Good . . . 

When it’s all said and done, don’t you want to be able to say that you cared for those who most needed it? Then stop goofing around. Go and do it. Today. Now. What are you waiting for?

Seriously . . . Let today be the day that you begin to make a difference in the lives of those who most need it. It’s one of the many ways God is waiting to work through you.

Let today be the day you begin to make an impact on your world. 

Jesus And Culture Week 3, Devotion 1
“On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.”  Matthew 9:12

What would you say about a doctor whose office was only open to those who were feeling awesome? “No sick people allowed,” the sign on the front door might say. What kind of reputation would this doctor have? Not a very good one, right? Especially among those who were sick . . .

Now, compare this to the way some Christians act. Don’t some Christians approach the lost and the needy the same way?

“Yikes! Sick people!”

If you didn’t know better, you might think that Jesus’ mission was for Christians to form close-knit social groups that keep out those people who are different than them. Kind of like a doctor’s office where no sick people are allowed.

The good news? There are a ton of Christ-followers who don’t see the world this way at all. Maybe you’re one of them. Most Christ-followers seek out the lost, the outcast, the sad, the lonely . . . the people who most need to hear and experience the love of God. Most Christ-followers are like the doctor who looks for the sickest people, those most unable to take care of themselves and most in need of a cure.

That’s your challenge. Look for those people who are the most in need of Jesus’ love. And be the one who shows it to them.

Jesus And Culture Week 2, Devotion 2

Your devotion for today is a little different. There’s no verse to read. Only a challenge.

Here’s your challenge:

Identify someone in your school who is valuable to God but whom the world has cast off to the side, and to follow Jesus’ example and make it a point to reach out to this person.

This is to help you understand a basic truth about your relationship with God. The truth is this: it will never ever be enough to read the Bible and not put it to work in your life. God gave us the Bible so we’d know Him and His ways. The idea is that knowing God transforms you. But you have to be willing to partner with God to actually live out His ways in your world. You have to make the effort. 

Make it a point to reach out to someone in your school. Follow through on living life in this culture as Jesus would live it if He were you. I can’t wait to hear how it goes!

Jesus And Culture Week 2, Devotion 1

“Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Mark 10:43-44

Jesus wants you to be a slave to everyone in the world.

Not really. Not really at all. But, if you read Mark 10:44 and take it at face value, you might get that impression. So if that’s not exactly what Jesus means, what is He saying?

Jesus is speaking about status. He is speaking about entitlement. He is speaking about how we too often think of ourselves a lot more than we should. In Jesus’ day, slaves had zero social status. What little legal standing they had was more about viewing them as property than it was with viewing them as individuals. Slaves were nobodies. Their “wants” never came before anyone else’s.

Often when Jesus taught, He made it a point to use a rhetorical tool called “hyperbole.” Basically it’s a fancy way of saying that He exaggerated things to make His point. That’s a little bit of what’s going on here. See, you’re extremely valuable to God. You’re no lowly slave. And Jesus doesn’t want you to ever be a doormat, or to let people abuse or mistreat you. That’s not it at all. Jesus’ point in saying that we should be like slaves is to strike at our pride, and the way the world says we should pursue greatness.

Jesus wants us to always be looking to put other’s interests first. He wants us to never think too highly of ourselves, or feel like we’re entitled to a position over anyone else. He wants us to have the heart of a servant. He wants you to serve others without regard to what you get in return.

And if you do this, you’ll have a major impact on the world around you, all for the sake of making Jesus known. 

Jesus And Culture Week 1, Devotion 3

“Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” ¾ John 15:20-21

There are moments in your life where you will experience some tough times because you choose to take a stand based on your faith in Christ. Maybe you’ve already experienced this. As we’ve already discussed, this is to be expected. It shouldn’t be something that catches you by surprise.

When you find yourself being treated harshly for doing nothing other than trying to live out your beliefs, it’s easy to get angry or upset at the person or people who are making you feel so rough. But if you take a step back for a second and try to understand where these people are coming from, you may actually find yourself feeling compassion for them instead of frustration. Don’t believe me? Take another look at the words Jesus spoke in the verses above.

Catch that last part? Jesus gives the reason people sometimes treat you badly just because you are a Christ-follower. Did you catch it? 

It’s sad isn’t it? People mistreat you because they don’t know God. They don’t know Jesus. They have either rejected God, or have never fully been told of God’s amazing plan to make everything right between Him and humankind. They’re acting out of hate and ignorance. And before you judge them, keep in mind . . . without Christ in your life, you’d be as lost as they are.

So next time someone makes you feel small, or stupid, or left out because of your faith in Christ, resist the urge to resent them. Instead, pray that they might come to know Jesus the way you do.

Jesus And Culture Week 1, Devotion 2

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

In our lesson this week, we talked about some examples of what it looks like to “love the world.” The purpose of this devotion is to encourage you to pick up this thread and go a little deeper. After all, one of the steps in learning how not to love the world is recognizing what it looks like.

Spend some time today with your eyes wide open, looking around you for examples of how you and others demonstrate love for the world, identifying more with culture than with Christ. 

Take photographs. Take notes. Draw pictures. Do whatever you have to do to record what you see.

Then, spend some time thinking about any areas in your life where you show more love for the world than you do for Christ. Pray to Jesus asking Him to help you see these areas and to give you the strength to turn away from them. Trust Him to be faithful in helping you.

Jesus And Culture Week 1, Devotion 1 

“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.” John 15:19

If you’re in the US reading this now, you’ve got it pretty lucky. Or, better yet, you’re pretty blessed. After all, when the world rears it’s ugly head and lashes out at you for standing up for your faith, it might cost you some cool points but it doesn’t cost you your life. For many teenaged Christ-followers around the world, taking a stand with Christ means risking their life. The hatred the world shows them is true hate. Hateful hate.

But does that make the ridicule or the torment you face because of your faith any less real? No. It doesn’t. 

Here’s the deal: In His sovereignty, God chose for you to be born and raised exactly where you were. He chose this path for you. God chose for you to live where you live because He wanted to you use to impact the culture you’re surrounded by. And if you truly take up His call to be the person who impacts culture, you will most definitely run into the world’s hate. And while it might not be as bad as it is in other parts of the world, it’s still hate. And it still hurts.

But if you find yourself constantly on the defense of your relationship with Christ, guess what? You’re doing it right! You’re living your life as a child of God. And by doing so, you’re living exactly as Jesus commanded you to live. Which is a pretty cool place to be.

The world isn’t your friend. But that’s OK. God has claimed you as His. And that’s pretty much all that matters. 

Posted January 23, 2014 by sotpyouth

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Facts & Dreams

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