He Didn’t Wait

Posted on September 27, 2011 by Melissa

I’ll wait until ________ . Fill in that blank. I’ll wait until I’m good enough. I’ll wait until I get things a little more under control. I’ll wait until I’m old enough, better looking, or know exactly what I’m doing.

What’s the problem with that line of thinking?

Read Romans 5:6-8. Pay close attention to verse 8.

What do these verses teach you about the timing of Jesus’ arrival here on earth? Why is that important?

In these verses, which words describe us?

Why didn’t Jesus wait until we were good enough before He came?

How does Christ’s sacrifice prove God’s love for us?

Have you experienced that love? Explain.

Romans 5:6-8 reminds us that God’s grace is never overdue. His timing is perfect! It’s a mystery, isn’t it, to think that Jesus would die for such sinful, messed up people? But Paul says that’s the reason we are to rejoice in the gospel.

The fact is, Jesus didn’t wait until people had it together to come and rescue us. He didn’t wait until we were good enough, had cleaned ourselves up enough, or even realized that we needed rescuing. He came to us when we were at our worst, before we even knew we needed a Savior. He died for us while we were still dead in our sin so that He could raise us to life with Him! He offered His love and forgiveness without condition. And He still offers that love, forgiveness, and hope today. Have you experienced it?

But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us! —Romans 5:8

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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God is Intimately Involved

Posted on September 20, 2011 by Melissa

Think about a moment when you were humbled. Maybe you were standing in the midst of some of God’s most beautiful creation and realized His greatness. Perhaps you realized the limits of your abilities in a humbling and slightly embarrassing display witnessed by half the school. How did you feel? What did you learn—about yourself and humility?

Read Philippians 2:5-11, focusing on verses 7-8.

What do these verses teach you about Christ’s character?

Verse 8 says Jesus “humbled Himself.” How?

Why was Jesus’ earthly life a humbling experience for Him?

In your own words, define the word “servant.” Why is that a fitting description of Jesus? Explain.

How did Jesus serve others by living among us and sacrificing Himself?

When is it most difficult for you to be humble or to serve someone else?

What did Jesus receive because of His obedience to humble Himself?

The Bible teaches that Jesus was with God the Father in the beginning and that throughout eternity, He has been equal with His Father (John 1:1-3; Phil. 2:6). In today’s Scripture passage, we begin to understand that Jesus humbled Himself by taking on flesh and becoming like us. Then He went to the cross and died a sinner’s death so that we could be redeemed. Thank God today that Jesus was not content to remain in heaven but became a servant for you. The God you worship isn’t a God who stands far off from you. He’s intimately involved with your life because of Jesus.

Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross. —Philippians 2:7-8

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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Hold His Hand

Posted on September 13, 2011 by Melissa

Your friends forgot to include you in their weekend plans. Maybe your parents forgot to pick you up after school. Whatever the situation, you felt abandoned and forgotten. But have you ever felt abandoned by God?

Read Psalm 37:23-26. Zone in on verse 24.

What promises did the psalmist proclaim for God’s people in these verses?

What was the condition for these promises?

How have you seen God’s guidance in your life?

In what areas of your life are you having difficulty trusting that God will come through for you?

Psalm 37 is all about how God will come through for His people. Earlier in the passage, the psalmist had encouraged readers to trust in God’s provision and seek His leadership in their lives. All of these promptings imply a quiet assurance that God will act in His good timing. In today’s passage, the psalmist outlines the tender care God shows to those who seek and follow Him. He guides their steps, holds their hands, and never allows them to be discarded or disowned. He upholds them and meets their needs. That is what God will do for you. So when He seems far away, take heart! He promises to come through for those who put their trust in Him.

Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, because the Lord holds his hand. —Psalm 37:24

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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God Will Take Care of You

Posted on September 6, 2011 by Melissa

Do you ever feel like you’re wandering around with no direction in life? Maybe you’re not quite sure why you’re taking certain classes this year. Or maybe life just doesn’t seem to make much sense in general right now. You might be trying to make big decisions, like where or if you’ll go to college or what to do after graduation. Maybe you just want to know if your crush feels the same way about you. Whatever the circumstances, uncertainty can be scary.

Concentrate on verse 7 as you read Deuteronomy 8:1-10.

According to these verses, why did God lead the Israelites on a 40-year journey through the desert?

What had He promised them?

How had God provided for the Israelites while they were in the desert?

Why did God allow His people to feel uncertain for so long? (See vv. 2,5.)

In what area of your life do you need to “observe the commands of the Lord” (Deut. 6:17) as you wait on Him?

How might God be using uncertainty in your life to draw you closer to Him?

In what situation is God calling you to trust in His provision?

The Israelites traveled the hot, arid land by foot, totally removed from the comforts of civilization, susceptible to attack, and without a way to grow food or find water—but God took care of their every need. We sometimes believe that accounts of God’s provision and protection are only found in Bible stories. But if you ask some friends who have been walking with the Lord for awhile, they can probably tell you how God has provided for them. God wants to lead you, guide you, and provide for you in all parts of your life. Let Him.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land with streams of water, springs, and deep water sources, flowing in both valleys and hills.
—Deuteronomy 8:7

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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Into Your Own Darkness

Posted on August 30, 2011 by Melissa

I feel so alone. How many times have you said those words? Maybe you really were alone and felt destitute and abandoned. Maybe you were in a room full of people, but you felt nameless, faceless, overlooked, and misunderstood in the middle of the crowd. Perhaps you said those words during a dark time in your relationship with God when He seemed far away and hard to reach. But is God ever really far away?

Read Psalm 139:7-12. Read verses 11-12 aloud.

What did David observe about the presence of God in this passage?

According to these verses, is God ever far away? Why or why not?

Is that comforting or disconcerting to you? Explain.

What attributes of God’s nature does the psalmist point out?

What do you suppose would make David want to hide from God?

Is there any secret sin in your life that you have attempted to hide from God?

In what dark situation in your life does God seem distant right now?

What steps will you take this week to seek God in that situation?

David is known as a man after God’s own heart, but Israel’s great king also dealt with some major sin during his life. In 2 Samuel 11, we read that he slept with another man’s wife, then had him killed! Yet in worship David proclaims that God is always near him and no matter where he goes, he can’t hide from God.

God is so invested in finding you that He will follow you into even the darkest places. Even in the bleakest moments of your life, take comfort that God is there. Is your family situation bleak? God is there with you. Have you run to busyness or sex or some other addiction to escape the pain you feel? God is there, too. No matter what your situation, it is not too dark for God. He is determined to seek you—and darkness is no obstacle for Him!

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me, and the light around me will be night”—even the darkness is not dark to You. The night shines like the day; darkness and light are alike to You.
—Psalm 139:11-12

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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God Knows You!

Posted on August 23, 2011 by Melissa

Read Psalm 139:1-6.

In the church I attended in college, a lot of parents used a series of questions to teach their young children about spiritual things. The first and most basic question is “Who made you?” The answer seems so obvious. Even 2-year-olds with grubby graham cracker hands can give the simple answer: “God.” But I think sometimes you and I need to be reminded of the reality of that truth: God created you.

Have you ever made something you were really proud of, like a painting or a collage? Maybe you’ve built something or written a story that you were excited about. When you create something, you know it better than anyone else does. You know the intricate details because you crafted it. That’s how it is with God. He created you, and He knows you in a way no one else can.

He knows your hopes and desires, your dreams and your fears. He knows your greatest talents as well as where you fall short.

In Psalm 139:1-6, David marveled at the God who knew his words before he spoke them, a God who even knew his thoughts. God knew everything about him, and David said that God had placed His hand upon him. God knew everything about David and still loved him.

That’s the same God who loves you. He knows everything about you and still loves you. He understands you in a way no one else ever will because He created you. Simply put, He loves you, and He wants to have a relationship with you that affects every part of your life. Let Him!

Lord, You have searched me and known me. —Psalm 139:1

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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For Good

Posted on August 16, 2011 by Melissa

Read Psalm 139:1-6.

In the church I attended in college, a lot of parents used a series of questions to teach their young children about spiritual things. The first and most basic question is “Who made you?” The answer seems so obvious. Even 2-year-olds with grubby graham cracker hands can give the simple answer: “God.” But I think sometimes you and I need to be reminded of the reality of that truth: God created you.

Have you ever made something you were really proud of, like a painting or a collage? Maybe you’ve built something or written a story that you were excited about. When you create something, you know it better than anyone else does. You know the intricate details because you crafted it. That’s how it is with God. He created you, and He knows you in a way no one else can.

He knows your hopes and desires, your dreams and your fears. He knows your greatest talents as well as where you fall short.

In Psalm 139:1-6, David marveled at the God who knew his words before he spoke them, a God who even knew his thoughts. God knew everything about him, and David said that God had placed His hand upon him. God knew everything about David and still loved him.

That’s the same God who loves you. He knows everything about you and still loves you. He understands you in a way no one else ever will because He created you. Simply put, He loves you, and He wants to have a relationship with you that affects every part of your life. Let Him!

Lord, You have searched me and known me. —Psalm 139:1

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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Know Your Destination

Posted on August 9, 2011 by Melissa

Weekends. Christmas. birthdays. summer vacation. What do these things have in common? All of them are moments we eagerly anticipate. We get so excited for these special days to come that sometimes, when they come to an end, it’s hard for us to get back to normal life.

There is a day, though, that we wait on with even greater expectation. It’s a day that will never end, and we’ll never have to get back to life as we know it now. It’s the day that Christ returns for His children—the day our eternity with Him begins!

Read Romans 8:18-25. Meditate on verse 23.

What does Paul say about our present sufferings?

How are we to wait for God’s glory to be revealed?

Are you waiting patiently? Why or why not?

Why do we need not be discouraged when we think of the state of the world today? Explain.

What can we look forward to upon Christ’s return? (v. 23)

Do you live in anticipation of the return of Christ? If not, what changes need to be made in your life?

God created the world in a perfect condition, but because of our sin, even creation is in a constant state of decay. Through this passage, though, we learn that we have hope that it will not always be that way. One day, Christ will return for His children! And when He does, it’s going to be great! No more pain; no more sorrow. There will be a new heaven and a new earth, and we, His children, will have glorified bodies. Until then, we wait patiently but eagerly, placing our confidence in Him. Be confident today. You aren’t forgotten. Wait with joy!

And not only that, but we ourselves who have the Spirit as the firstfruits—we also groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. —Romans 8:23

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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Change Your Perspective

Posted on August 2, 2011 by Melissa

Can you think of a time you wanted to give up? Maybe you were doing a school project, and the teacher assigned you to a group with the most difficult person in the class. Or maybe it’s your parents. They keep fighting, and even though you keep praying for them, you think they’d just be better off divorced. Whatever the case, we’ve all been in hopeless situations. Thankfully as Christians, we have a reason to not lose heart!

Read 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, then focus your attention on verse 17.

What does it mean that your inner person is being renewed?

How does that renewal happen?

How are our present troubles described?

What does Paul mean by the phrase “an incomparable weight of glory”? (See verse 17.)

What does this passage have to do with dealing with difficult times? Explain.

How can we keep an eternal perspective while we are living on earth? List some practical ways.

Are you in a hopeless situation? Where are you looking for encouragement? Why?

We all go through difficult times. Heartache, loneliness, and suffering are just a few of the things in this life that leave us feeling defeated and discouraged. No one is immune to tough situations, not even Christians. However, as believers, we must press on.

That’s what Paul taught in this passage. He said that even though we are beaten down on the outside, on the inside we are being renewed. God uses our temporary adversity to mold us and shape us into the image of Christ. What a glorious thing to know that in our suffering, we are being made more like Him! Instead of focusing on the difficult circumstances around you today, look to Jesus and keep your focus there. Your hope lies in Him, not your circumstances.

For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory.
—2 Corinthians 4:17

Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2010 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission.


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Local News Correction: Not Camp Ridgecrest for Boys!

Posted on July 27, 2011 by Phil

On Tuesday, July 26, 2011, a man was arrested on the grounds of Ridgecrest Conference Center in Ridgecrest, N.C., for an alleged incident that happened prior to arriving at Ridgecrest.

The Cumberland Country Sheriff’s Department reports that police were at Ridgecrest and arrested the man upon his arrival.

The arresting officer’s police report inaccurately identified the location of the arrest as Ridgecrest Boys Camp.

This man was not a counselor nor staff member of Camp Ridgecrest for Boys, CentriKid Camps, Ridgecrest Conference Center, or LifeWay Christian Resources.

LifeWay takes great precaution to assure that all staff are carefully interviewed and screened before beginning their employment.


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