MONTHLY ARCHIVES: August 2016

Persecuted

Posted on August 30, 2016 by Karah

2abdf4f7-8286-4af9-8794-5d94f18e58f2Pause

List what you’ve learned about the character of Christ-followers through the last few week’s devotions. Thank God for the ways you see Him building you into the person He has called you to be.

Think about a time when you were treated unfairly. What happened? How did you respond? Journal a few thoughts.

Read Matthew 5:10-12 in your Bible. Underline the phrase “persecuted for righteousness are blessed.”

“Those who are persecuted for righteousness are blessed, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.” —Matthew 5:10

Ponder these questions:

Persecution n. = To treat continually in a way meant to be cruel or harmful; especially to cause to suffer because of belief.

Consider the definition of persecution. Would you ever consider someone going through persecution to be blessed? Why or why not?

What is the difference between being treated unkindly in general and being persecuted for your faith in Christ? Which is described here? Explain.

Today’s Scripture passage describes persecution that comes into believers’ lives because they are living righteously. Why is it important to recognize that persecution is not the result of sin?

Persecution comes to God’s children because their lives contrast with the ways of the world. How does your life and the things that are important to you differ from the things the world values?

Respond

Instead of asking God to keep you safe and happy, ask Him to give you boldness and strength. The early believers prayed for this while under threat of imprisonment (Acts 4:23-31). Pray that you would live boldly for Him, even when it isn’t easy.

Set aside specific time to pray for believers around the world who are being persecuted. See www.persecution.org and www.imb.org/pray for prompts.

For learn more, read 2 Corinthians 11:23-27 and Philippians 4:11-12.

Behind the Story

Matthew 5:10-12 doesn’t promise that every wrong in the world will be righted immediately and that everyone who is treated unfairly will receive an earthly reward. Rather, these verses declare that those who are treated unfairly because of their faith in Christ will receive a heavenly reward.

The Point

Kingdom citizens will face persecution.


Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged , , , | Leave a reply

Peacemakers

Posted on August 23, 2016 by Karah

1440d26f-60dc-4989-814f-892730b0fc1bPause

Find a peaceful location inside or outside. Think about peaceful places in nature, then focus on the God who created those peaceful places.

Peacemaker n. = One who is actively involved in bringing reconciliation between those in conflict.

Mull over the definition of peacemaker above. Who are some famous peacemakers in history? How did they work to bring about peace and reconciliation? List a few ideas.

Now, think about your life. Who has been a peacemaker in your life? When has someone helped to bring peace and reconciliation when you were in conflict with someone else?

With those experiences in mind, read Matthew 5:9 in your Bible.

“The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God.” —Matthew 5:9

The peace discussed in this verse isn’t the end of a battle. It’s a sense of wholeness and harmony that can only be achieved through a relationship with Jesus.

Knowing this, what does it mean to be a peacemaker as described in this verse? Explain your answer.

Christians are peacemakers because they seek to reconcile people to God and each other. Others will see this and know that these people are truly God’s children. Who is a good example of this kind of peacemaking in your life? Why?

Respond

The only way for people to experience true peace and reconciliation is through a relationship with Jesus.

Those who don’t know Christ are at war with God. Who fits that description in your life? List two names in your journal.

Only the Holy Spirit can give a person peace with God, but peacemakers can show the way and assist people to understand how to be reconciled to God. What steps will you take this week to be a peacemaker in the lives of those people you listed above? Record two ideas in your journal. Pray that God would give you opportunities to follow through.

For further study, read Colossians 1:21-22 and Romans 5:10-11. How has God been a peacemaker to us? What is our part as peacemakers to others in this process?

Behind the Story

There are many kinds of peace, such as military, relational, and environmental, but the kind of peace in Matthew 5:9 is spiritual. A person at peace spiritually is a person at peace with God. The only way to be at peace with God is to become a child of God. People who have not been reconciled to God through the forgiveness of their sins are enemies of God (Rom. 5:10) and therefore are not at peace with Him.

The Point

Kingdom citizens are actively involved in bringing others to Jesus.


Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged , , , | Leave a reply

Pure Focus

Posted on August 16, 2016 by Karah

44326d24-eb2f-49b6-9f5b-27a217db3777Pause

Set aside distractions, such as electronic devices, and ask God to help your heart completely focus on Him during this time.

Take a moment to ponder the idea of purity. What kinds of things might you describe as being pure? What colors would you use to symbolize purity in a drawing? Record your response.

Read Matthew 5:8 in your Bible and underline the word pure when you read it.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

—Matthew 5:8

Ponder these questions:

Based on your understanding of purity, what does it mean to say that someone is pure in heart? Explain.

Purity means that something is undiluted, uncontaminated, and clean. Pure gold is 100 percent gold. So, to be pure in heart means that your heart is 100 percent focused on Jesus and His ways.

Are people naturally pure in heart? If not, how does someone become pure in heart? Explain.

None of us are naturally pure in heart. Our sinful flesh craves sin. But if we are believers, we have an inner desire for purity and holiness in our lives because the Holy Spirit lives in us. Christians recognize that they belong to God and single-mindedly pursue Him. Those who pursue God and His ways will experience His favor.

Respond

Examine your heart. What sin have you allowed to make it impure? What have you allowed into your life that takes your attention and affection away from God? Confess and repent of these things.

In your journal, list situations or temptations distract you from following Jesus with an undivided focus. Jot down ways you will choose to live for God when faced with those situations. Ask God to open your eyes to the way out of temptation He will provide.

For further study, read Psalm 51, focusing on verse 10. Notice who cleans the heart and purifies guilt. Read this psalm as a prayer, asking God to purify your heart.

Behind the Story

Another word for pure is clean. In Matthew 5:8 it is used to denote a cleanness of heart and describes the absence of dirt and grime from one’s life. We cannot achieve this kind of purity through our own effort; it only happens through the forgiveness of Christ. Only those who have experienced that forgiveness will be able to enter heaven and see God. Who in your life needs to hear about the forgiveness only Jesus can give?

The Point

Kingdom citizens have a single-minded focus on God and His way, removing anything that could corrupt or distract them from following Christ.


Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged , , , | Leave a reply

Mercy

Posted on August 9, 2016 by Karah

9b65f51b-b18f-4478-a444-6bb24dc11f33Pause

Take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned the last few weeks about what it means to be a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom. Thank Him for making a way for you to know and serve Him.

Reflect on a time when you received something you didn’t deserve. What was it? What emotions did you experience? How did you respond? Record a few thoughts below.

Now, read Matthew 5:7 in your Bible.

“The merciful are blessed, for they will be shown mercy.”

—Matthew 5:7

Answer these questions:

Mercy is a key aspect of God’s character. Ponder the definition of mercy. How has God shown mercy to you?

If you are a Christian, you have experienced God’s overwhelming mercy in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection on your behalf. How does knowing God has given you something you don’t deserve affect the way you live? Explain.

Since God has treated you mercifully, how should you treat others? Why?

Respond

If you are a believer, you have received God’s abundant mercy that you in no way deserved. Thank God for His mercy and grace toward you and praise Jesus for willingly laying down His life on your behalf.

If you have never responded to God’s merciful and gracious gift of salvation, made possible through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, do so today. Talk to a parent or a Christian you trust about the Gospel.

Prayerfully consider if there is anyone from whom you have been withholding mercy. Ask God to help you to show that person mercy, just as He has shown you mercy.

For further study, read Matthew 18:21-35. How does this parable explain mercy? Do you think the unmerciful servant understood the true meaning of mercy? Why or why not?

Behind the Story

Every believer has experienced this undeserved kindness from God by receiving forgiveness and eternal life, when what they deserved was eternal separation from God. Members of God’s family are “objects of mercy.”2 Because they have been recipients of mercy, God’s children understand it and, in turn, give mercy to others. A person who has not experienced mercy has a limited understanding of it and is less able to give this undeserved kindness to others.

Mercy n. = An act of kindness delivered to one who has no claim to that kindness.

The Point

Kingdom citizens are merciful because they have experienced God’s abundant mercy.

2Stuart Weber, Holman New Testament Commentary: Matthew, ed. Max Anders, (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2000), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Matthew 5 – The King Speaks His Heart (Part I)”


Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged , , , | Leave a reply

Hungry and Thirsty

Posted on August 2, 2016 by Karah

8948961c-b2eb-4f73-b177-8ff754ac918cPause

Think about a time when you were extremely hungry or thirsty. What was your mood? Describe how you felt, both emotionally and physically.

With that experience in mind, read Matthew 5:6, then answer the questions that follow.

“Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are blessed, for they will be filled.” —Matthew 5:6

People who are hungry or thirsty devote their time and energy to fulfilling those needs. Knowing this, what does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? Explain.

Continuing with the hunger metaphor, what might keep a person from experiencing spiritual fullness?

Matthew 5:6 tells us that those who follow Christ have a deep desire to see God’s standard established and obeyed in every area of life, particularly in their own lives. Who has been a good example of that kind of righteousness in your life? Why?

Respond

Evaluate your life. Do you exhibit a deep desire to live according to God’s standard and pursue righteousness? How does your life display that desire? If that desire feels faint, ask God to ignite your heart with a desire to obey Him in every area of your life.

If you have never had a desire for righteousness, that may point to a problem. Talk with your parents, pastor, or a trusted Christian mentor about why pleasing God should be important to Christians.

Look back at the verses you’ve read from the Beatitudes so far. Sum up what you’ve learned from each one. Notice how they build on each other to describe the journey of coming to know Christ.

For further study of what living righteously looks like, read the Book of James in the New Testament. If you’d like to study this more in-depth with a group, consider James: Faith Under Pressure by Pam Gibbs (LifeWay Christian Resources, 2011).

Behind the Story

In Matthew 6, Jesus specifically chooses hunger and thirst to describe a person’s desire for righteousness. This is not the pleasant hunger we experience when we smell our favorite meal. This is an uncomfortable rumbling in an empty belly, characterized by hunger pangs and dry mouth. This deep hunger produces a kind of focus and desperation that doesn’t exist otherwise—a truly spiritually hungry person will be determined to satisfy the deep spiritual belly ache.

The Point

Kingdom citizens desire to see God’s standards established and obeyed in every area of their lives.


Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged , , , | Leave a reply