AUTHOR ARCHIVES: Teeny

God’s Love

Posted on October 1, 2013 by Teeny

Read 1 John 4:19-20. Ask yourself:

According to these verses, what is the relationship between God’s love for us and the way we love others? Why is that important?

If you had to write these verses in your own words, what would you say? Jot down your ideas in your journal or in the space below.

  •  

How well do you think you live up to these verses? Explain.
What keeps you from fully obeying these verses in your daily life?

The Point

You can’t be a follower of Christ and hate the very people He created in His own image. You don’t get to hold grudges. You don’t get to pick and choose who you love and who you don’t. Followers of Jesus are meant to be salt and light to the entire creation, including those who are easy to love and those who aren’t.

Take Action

It’s easy to love people who are a lot like you—people you understand. It’s not easy to love people you don’t get or really don’t like. Who are the hard-to-love people in your life? Why?

How will you choose to love those people in Jesus’ power this week? List a few concrete steps you’ll take to do so.

“Our sin nature includes a natural preference to a warm huddle of people just like us.” – Ed Stetzer 


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A Generous God

Posted on September 24, 2013 by Teeny

In his 1843 novel, A Christmas Carol, writer Charles Dickens created the literary character Ebenezer Scrooge. He was a stingy, greedy, cold-hearted, rich man who hated Christmas and everything that brought others happiness. He had tons of money, but was unwilling to share it or any kindness with anyone else. The character quickly became well-known throughout the world. Today, the term “Scrooge” has even come to mean a complaining, stingy miser.

Many people see God as a lot like Ebenezer Scrooge, in control of so many good things, yet unwilling to share them with humanity, despite our great need. Scripture, however, tells quite a different story.

Read Matthew 7:7-12 in your Bible.

  • What characteristic of God do you see in these verses? Explain your answer.
  • What are believers encouraged to do in this passage?
  • Does this passage mean that if you ask God for something, you’re guaranteed to get what you want? Why or why not?
  • Read verse 12 again carefully. Where have you heard this statement before? What do you think it means? What would it look like to practice that in real life?

The Point

God is generous. That is His very character. He has shown His generosity to us by making a way to save us from our sin and inviting us into eternal life with Him. His generosity is all around us: He guides and directs our steps; He does not turn His back on us; He never stops pursuing us despite our sinfulness.

Take Action

Evaluate your life. How generous are you? With your money? Your time? Your opinions about people? Take some time to think it over. Then, list three ways you’ll allow God be generous to others because God has been generous to you.

Behind the Story

This passage does not imply that we will get whatever we ask God for if we’re persistent about it. The passage assumes that the person asking, seeking, and knocking is seeking God’s will above all else. The word “it” in verse 7 doesn’t refer to a particular item or thing the person requested; instead, it means that God will give you what He deems best.


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Constructive Criticism

Posted on September 17, 2013 by Teeny

Consider Tyne Daly’s quote and the definition of criticism below.
“A critic is someone who never actually goes to the battle, yet who afterwards comes out shooting the wounded.”—Tyne Daly, actress

criticismnoun
• The expression of disapproval of someone or something based on perceived faults or mistakes

1 Now, read Matthew 7:1-6, focusing on the first two verses. Ask yourself:

  • What do these verses have to do with criticism?
  • What are the key words in this passage?
  • What do you think Jesus meant when He advised His followers not to judge others?
  • Should believers never confront the sin of others? Why or why not?
  • What’s the difference between holding someone accountable and condemning someone? Explain.

The Point

As believers, we are supposed to be the gracious presence of God to those around us, but we aren’t to turn a blind eye to their sin. Jesus isn’t saying we should never confront sin; He is saying we should do so in humility, recognizing our own sinfulness and need for grace. Our words shouldn’t condemn, but rather draw others closer to Christ.

Behind the Story

The word translated “judge” in these verses was a Greek word that can imply to analyze or evaluate, as well as to condemn or avenge. Believers are clearly called to discern (analyze and evaluate); but judgment—in the sense of condemnation or avenging—belongs solely to God.

Going Deeper

So, how do you put this into practice in real life? Consider Jesus’ example. He often had some pretty harsh things to say to the religious leaders of His day—and even to His own disciples. For more, read:

  • Mark 8:33
  • Mark 12:24
  • John 4:1-26
  • John 8:1-11


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Always Together

Posted on September 10, 2013 by Teeny

Think about things that should always go together. Now, list as many as you can think of. Don’t worry! We’ve started the list for you.

  • PB&J
  • Baseball and hot dogs
  • Salt and pepper
  • (make your list in the comment below…)


Now, read Luke 2:36-38. 
Pay close attention to verse 37.

If you were describing Anna and her devotion to God, what would you say?
Could the same be said of you? Why or why not?
How would you define fasting? Why?
According to verse 37, what did Anna do while she was worshiping at the temple?
What is the relationship between fasting and prayer? Is fasting just abstaining from something or should you also devote time to prayer when you’re fasting? Explain.

The Point

Fasting isn’t just about not doing something. For Christians, it should be closely tied to prayer and studying God’s Word. The purpose of fasting is to draw near to God, better understand His purposes, and discern His will.

Take Action

Anna was faithfully devoted to God as she waited for Him to fulfill His promise to Israel. What are you waiting for God to fulfill in your life? How can you spend that time focusing on God and serving Him? List a few ideas below.

Week In Review

Take some time today to think over all the things you’ve learned in your time with God this week.

The motivation behind your giving, praying, and fasting matters. Are you doing those things because they’re expected or get a lot of attention?

We have a tendency to want to measure our righteousness by the things we do for God. In what areas of your life have you noticed that kind of attitude?

In light of the Scripture you’ve studied this week, what changes do you think God is calling you to make?


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The Truth About Fasting

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Teeny

Read Matthew 6:16-18.

“We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting . . . There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with Him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have cancelled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that priority.” —J. I. Packer

What things in your life get between you and God?

What things in your life might you need to set aside for awhile in order to focus on God and His will?

Just the Facts

A few notes from today’s Scripture passage:

Like prayer and giving, fasting isn’t to be done as a way to garner attention or show how righteous you are. If it is, that worldly honor is the only reward you will get.

When fasting, followers of Christ shouldn’t make a big show of it. In verse 18, Jesus’ instructed believers not to give any outward indication that they were fasting. They were to go about life as they would normally without making a big deal of their fast.


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Earnestly Seek Him

Posted on August 27, 2013 by Teeny

Read Psalm 145:17-21 below.

In your Bible, underline all the characteristics of God you learn in this passage. Circle all the things these verses say He will do for those who truly seek Him. Put a box around David’s response to God’s actions in his life.

“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and gracious in all His acts. The Lord is near all who call out to Him, all who call out to Him with integrity. He fulfills the desires of those who fear Him; He hears their cry for help and saves them. The Lord guards all those who love Him, but He destroys all the wicked. My mouth will declare Yahweh’s praise; let every living thing praise His holy name forever and ever.”

—Psalm 145:17–21

Journal

Spend the next 10 minutes thinking, praying, and writing about these verses in your journal. Write about what these verses teach you about God, prayer, and what the motivation behind your prayers should be. End your time by journaling a prayer to God, expressing your desire to know Him more and see His will at work in your life and the world around you.

 

earnest—adjective

• resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction • in earnest: occurring to a greater extent or more intensely than before

seek—verb

• attempt to find (something)
• attempt or desire to obtain or achieve (something) • ask for (something) from someone


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The Lord’s Prayer

Posted on August 20, 2013 by Teeny

Read Matthew 6:9-13 in your Bible. Even though it’s a familiar passage, read it carefully, like you’ve never read it before.

 

Think about it
Verses 9-10 focus on God: His kingdom, His name, and His will; verses 11-13 focus on our needs: physical needs, forgiveness, and overcoming temptation. When Jesus gave His disciples an example of how to pray, He clearly made God’s will a priority over our own needs. Does your prayer life reflect that?

 

Take Action
Consider each of the phrases from Jesus’ Model Prayer below. How will you make each of them a reality in your life this week?

“Your name be honored as holy”
How will you honor God’s name in your words and actions today? (comment in your journal or below)

“Your kingdom come”
How will you make God’s kingdom evident in your world through your obedience?

“Your will be done”
How will you focus on God’s will and purpose rather than your own this week?


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Babble

Posted on August 6, 2013 by Teeny

Babble—verb
• talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way
• utter something rapidly and incoherently
Journal
Before you read today’s Scripture passage, spend some time in prayer. But don’t just bow your head and pray; open your journal and write out your prayer. Don’t be shy! Just pray as you would normally.

 

Read Matthew 6:5-8, focusing on verse 7. Then, consider these questions:

Look back at the prayer you just wrote in your journal. Would you describe that prayer as babble? Why or why not?

Evaluate your prayer life. What do you spend the most time praying about? Do you talk continuously when you pray? Do you pray just to hear yourself talk or because it makes you look good? Are your prayers about communicating with God or simply something you do to check off your to-do list of “good” Christian duties? Explain your findings.

 

Take Action
Set aside 10 minutes today to devote solely to prayer. Go somewhere private where you won’t be interrupted or distracted by other people. Spend some time talking to God, expressing your needs, fears, and desires, but also take time to sit still in God’s presence and just be with Him. Focus your thoughts on Him, His holiness, and His goodness. Seek to align your will with His will.


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We Belong To God

Posted on July 30, 2013 by Teeny

“God invites us to work in the world
to foster God’s purposes. Part of that call is
to acknowledge in our hearts and lives that
our very being and everything we have belongs to God, and we are caretakers
using ourselves for His Kingdom.

—Dr. William O. Avery

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7, focusing on verses 4-5. Read over the passage a couple of times, underlining what the Macedonian believers did in verse 5.

 

Ask yourself:
What does it mean to give yourself to the Lord?

When the Macedonians realized that their lives and all they had belonged to God, how did it affect how they lived and how they gave to others?

Does knowing that you are God’s and all you have belongs to Him affect your generosity? Why or why not?

 

Take Action
Read over the quote from Dr. Avery on this page. All that you have—including your life—belongs to God. How will you allow Him to use you in His kingdom work this week? List a few concrete ideas in your journal or the comment section below.


Evaluate your own generosity. Does your generosity reflect a deep understanding that your life is not your own? Why or why not? If your attitude doesn’t reflect God’s, what changes will you make today so that it does?

 

Going Deeper
If you want to gain a deeper understanding that your life is not your own, read 1 Corinthians 6:20 and Galatians 2:20. Take some time to journal about these Scriptures and your response to them.

 

Behind the Story
The Macedonians Paul referred to in this letter was probably a reference to Christian churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, cities located in the Roman province of Macedonia. The Macedonian believers were facing severe persecution, and in the midst of that, experienced a spontaneous, overwhelming desire to give to the churches in Jerusalem. Paul asserted that this joyful, willing attitude came from God and was an example of His grace at work. In Paul’s reasoning, God’s grace may not lighten our burdens or take away our poverty, but it will open our hearts and loosen our grip on belongings, money included.


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Motivation Matters

Posted on July 23, 2013 by Teeny

Question: What do all three of these things have in common?

A grand slam to win the game in the bottom of the
ninth inning.
An encore from the band at a sold-out concert.
A camper who gets tapped out for Little Chief or Belle.

Answer: They’re all things that get a lot of attention. For weeks to come, people will talk about these feats. There might be news coverage, and Twitter and Facebook will be teeming with comments on the topic.

Think about the last time you did something that got a lot of public recognition or attention. What did you do? Why? Was getting all that attention a motivating factor for you to do it?

 

Read Matthew 6:1-4 in your Bible.

What do these verses teach you about your motivation to give to others? Explain.

When have you done something good or even godly because you wanted people to take notice or applaud you? What do these verses say about that kind of attitude?

What does it mean to be a hypocrite? Are there areas of your life in which you’re being a hypocrite? Explain.

hypocrite—noun

• a person who claims to to have moral standards or beliefs to which his or her own behavior does not conform; pretense.


The Point
Jesus clearly expects giving to those in need to be a vital part of His followers’ lives. But motivation matters—and when we give, it isn’t about getting attention or making a name for ourselves. Instead, we should give quietly, out of a desire to please God.

 

Take Action
What are some ways you could put Jesus’ teachings about how to give into practice right now? List three ways you’ll do so this week.


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