Your Response Says Something About God

Posted by Melissa

After George Muller had watched God miraculously provide specific buildings to use as an orphanage, he received a letter from a neighbor listing several complaints against the orphanage. George was confused. Should he ignore the letter? Should he apologize? Should he remind the man of the amazing ways God had provided these very buildings? He did not know what to do. How do you respond when someone complains about you?

Read 1 Peter 3:16-17. Focus on verse 16.

Some people think that if they’re going to be unjustly accused, they might as well do the deed they’re being accused of, so they can at least enjoy the wrong for which they’re being punished. What do you think?

What do these verses say about that philosophy?

According to these verses, what are we to do with gentleness and respect?

What are the alternatives to defending your faith with gentleness and respect?

What accusations might come against a Christian who defends the faith?

What do you think it takes to keep your conscience clear? Explain.

What is one thing that tends to keep you from having a clear conscience?

If someone were making an accusation against you, what would he or she say? Why?

What is your attitude toward people who complain about you?

After George Muller received his complaint letter, he realized his neighbor’s complaints were justified, and he actually moved the orphanage to another location. He understood that the way we respond to the complaints of others represents Christ to them. Who has complaints against you today? Are they valid? Prayerfully consider how you should respond when others complain, argue, or pick fights with you.

However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame. —1 Peter 3:16

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Be Prepared

Posted by Melissa

Read 1 Peter 3:13-15.

Kamryn knew all the Bible answers to any question. She was invincible in any religious debate until she met Nick, an extremely vocal atheist. Determined to win him over, she immediately began slinging Scriptures his way. Not fazed, he calmly quipped, “I don’t believe in the Bible. What else ya got?”

Kamryn wasn’t ready to give a defense of her faith. She’d memorized the verses and answers she’d been told she should know, but she didn’t know what she believed well enough to explain it any other way.

Knowing the Word of God is huge, but we’ve also got to be able to think and speak outside of the box when defending our faith. God can and will give us the right words to say in each situation, but He also wants us to be prepared to defend our faith with words and actions that people unfamiliar with the Bible will understand.

That’s exactly what Jesus did. He quoted the Old Testament prophets to people who would understand them, but He also spoke in parables, using common, everyday themes that non-religious people would understand. He explained truth in such creative, unique ways that people who never darkened the door of the synagogue came looking for Him. They drank in His words. Not only did they understand Him, they believed Him. Will you be ready to defend your faith and make God’s truths clear to anyone who asks?

But honor the Messiah as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. —1 Peter 3:15

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God Doesn’t Leave

Posted by Melissa

The little girl stood crying for her father. She pleaded with him to come to her, but he never looked back. He walked out of her life . . . forever. I was 3 years old when that happened. My father had abandoned me.

Have you faced a similar situation? Have you ever felt hopeless or alone? Life can be hard. In fact, it’s a guarantee that at some point, you will experience crisis. The ultimate question is: How will you react?

Read Isaiah 43:1-7. Meditate on verse 2.

Why are these verses comforting?

What do these verses teach you about how God feels about you?

Which verse speaks to you most? Explain.

What do these verses teach you about God’s involvement in your life?

When you feel alone or abandoned as a result of events in life, do you cling to the promises of God? Why or why not?

No matter what is thrown at you in life, you can overcome. You must have faith and believe that regardless of what is going on or where it will lead, God will always be with you. Embrace the passage you studied today and live a life of victory. Learn, as I did, that though people may leave you, God will never abandon you. It is a promise He has given us, and God keeps His promises.

Deuteronomy 31:6 states that He will not leave you or forsake you. Know that no matter what the situation, no matter how intense the crisis is in your life, God IS there. He is always there. Give all of your fears, worries, and concerns over to Him. He can handle it! And more than that, He wants to. Whatever you face, wherever you go, God will be with you.

“I will be with you when you pass through the waters, and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire, and the flame will not burn you.” —Isaiah 43:2

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Get Up

Posted by Melissa

Your grandma’s death. Finding out your crush likes someone else. When your dad lost his job. You didn’t get tapped out for Little Chief. Think about the last crisis in your life that caused you to shut down. How did you respond? Why doesn’t life stop just because something bad happens?

Zone in on verse 7 as you read 2 Samuel 19:5-8.

Why was David grieving?

How was David behaving toward his people?

What was wrong with David’s behavior?

What strong words did Joab offer?

What was David’s response?

When faced with life’s tragedies, do you shut down or choose to move forward? Explain.

What are some ways to move forward?

In today’s Scripture passage, David was overcome with grief that consumed him. Though Absalom’s betrayal had been painful, his death was even more overwhelming. Unfortunately, David was so lost in his sorrow that he forgot his responsibilities as king. Joab wasn’t being insensitive or cold when he told David to get up. He was just reminding the king that his duties as the ruler of Israel had not changed.

Grief can be crippling. Crisis in any form can make you numb, but the key is to move forward. Take things one breath, one step, and one day at a time. It won’t be easy; in fact, it may seem impossible at first, but with God’s loving arms around you and a support system of your brothers and sisters in Christ, you can do it.

“Now get up! Go out and encourage your soldiers, for I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will remain with you tonight. This will be worse for you than all the trouble that has come to you from your youth until now!” —2 Samuel 19:7

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Trust Issues

Posted by Melissa

What would happen if you constantly lived your life in fear? What if worry consumed your every thought and action? The answer: defeat. You would be living a defeated life, which is not what God desires for you. Uncertainty can cause fear and worry, but what counteracts those emotions?

Read 2 Samuel 15:24-26. Pay close attention to verse 26.

What was David’s reaction to his current situation?

Was he trusting God or giving into his fear and worry? Explain.

When you are faced with a life crisis, what is your response? Why?

Do you trust God to get you through it? Why or why not?

How have you exhibited trust in God during tough times?

How have you tried to fix things yourself rather than trust God during tough times?

David completely trusted God’s plan for his life. Though his future was extremely uncertain, he understood that God knew what was best. David showed great faith in his decision. He was ready to embrace whatever the Lord had in store for him.

Uncertainty is a part of life. We never know what the future holds, but we know who does. God sees the big picture and knows what is best for us. Even in hard times, you must remain strong and dependent upon God for guidance and direction. There will be times when it seems all hope is lost, but never lose faith. Hold firm to what you know is true. Trust the God who has never deserted you and never will. God has an amazing plan for your life. Trust Him to get you where He wants you.

However, if He should say, “I do not delight in you,” then here I am—He can do with me whatever pleases Him.” —2 Samuel 15:26

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For Such a Time

Posted by Melissa

Think about that person in your life who stands with you through everything. Maybe it’s your best friend, a teacher, your student minister, your camp counselor, or your mom or dad. Maybe you have more than one person who fills that role. How does it feel to have these people with you through the midst of life’s storms? Take a moment to imagine how difficult it would be to weather a storm of life without those people in your life.

Read 2 Samuel 15:19-22. Don’t miss verse 21.

What was happening in these verses?

Who was Ittai?

Had he been with King David for long? Explain. (Notice verse 20.)

What did David tell him?

What was Ittai’s response to the king?

How do you think David felt when he realized he had such a loyal subject during that tough time?

What do these verses teach you about how God uses people in our lives to comfort us through times of despair?

Who is a person in your life whom you know God has placed there just for you? Take a moment and thank God for him or her.

Ittai was a foreigner, yet his devotion to David was obvious. Imagine how encouraging and comforting Ittai’s words must have been to David. When everything was going wrong, David had a friend who was willing to stand beside him through it all. Know this: God is always with you, but often, He puts other people in our lives to help carry the burdens of tough times. Look for and embrace the people He has placed in your life for tough times.

But in response, Ittai vowed to the king, “As the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether it means life or death, your servant will be there!” —2 Samuel 15:21

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He’ll Be There For You

Posted by Melissa

Have you ever been betrayed by a close friend or loved one? In situations like those, the betrayal cuts deeper and hurts more. Think back to that time. How did you feel? Angry? Vulnerable? Alone?

Read 2 Samuel 15:1-4,10-14.   Focus on verse 13.

Who was Absalom?

What was Absalom trying to do to his father, King David?

How do you think David felt when his son’s plot came to light?

Why is it so hurtful when a friend or family member betrays you?

During times of betrayal, how can you trust and rely on God to get you through it?

What are some ways you can cling to His mighty arms through hard times?

In today’s passage, you read the story of Absalom trying to overthrow his father. Absalom’s scheme was clever and deceitful, and many people joined him in his attempt to double-cross his dad. David was probably heartbroken over his son’s decision to take such drastic action against him, yet through it all, David had a heavenly Supporter.

The same is true for you. No matter what betrayal or difficult experience you’re currently muddling through, God hasn’t left you and never will. God will always be there for you, especially in the tough times. He is a true Friend who will never betray your trust or lead you astray. Your Heavenly Father will stick with you through everything—the good, the bad, and the ugly. You can rely on His love, strength, and guidance to help you. But you have to choose to do so. Have you?

Then an informer came to David and reported, “The hearts of the men of Israel are with Absalom.”
—2 Samuel 15:13

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In The Storm

Posted by Melissa

Read Matthew 7:24-27.

STORMS. They come in all varieties and intensities. In 2005, the world witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina as it hit the Gulf Coast. Many people died, and the damage was immeasurable. This tragic event is proof that weather is unpredictable. The only certainty is that storms will come.

Life is the same way. We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but we hope for the best. Storms in life are not something any of us like to think about, but the fact is, they’re inevitable. We don’t get a free pass out of the tough times of life. We never know how intense life’s storms will be or how long they will last. It’s a harsh reality, but if you’re not in a storm of life right now, you’re headed for one.

Don’t let that freak you out! Jesus told us exactly what to do in today’s devotion passage. In these verses, He told the story of two houses: one built on rock and the other with a foundation of sand. When storms came, the house built upon the rock stood strong. The house built on the sand didn’t fare so well.

The point? You must set your foundation on the Rock—Jesus. He is your source of strength and protection through the storms of life. No matter how bad they get, He will keep you firmly planted. Know Scripture, have an active prayer life, go to church, read the Bible, and develop a strong relationship with your Savior. Don’t put your faith in the shifting sands of the world. Go to the Rock!

“The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded that house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock.”
—Matthew 7:25

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Talk About It

Posted by Melissa

Think about the last time you were overwhelmingly happy. What happened? On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest, what would you rate the level of your joy? How good did you feel?

Read Psalm 32:1-5, reading verse 1 aloud.

Why is David happy in this psalm?

When have you felt the joy of confessing a sin and having God forgive it?

What do these verses teach you about God’s attitude when He forgives our sin?

According to this passage, how did David feel before he confessed his sin? Why?

What happened when he admitted his sin to God?

What sin do you need to acknowledge before God so you can experience this kind of joy?

David was joyous when he wrote this psalm, not because he’d gotten everything he wanted or everything seemed to be working out for his benefit. He was joyous because he had experienced the joy of God’s forgiveness. The weight of his sin had been almost unbearable. Just consider the phrases he used when he described how he felt when he was trapped in that sin. He groaned; his strength was drained. His sin was an unbearable burden, and when he admitted it to God, God took it all away. David was happy and joyous because he was free.

You can experience that freedom, too. Just confess your sin to God and let Him lift the weight. Do you know the joy of God’s forgiveness? What sins are keeping you from experiencing it? Tell Him. It’s worth it.

How joyful is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! —Psalm 32:1

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Sin Isn’t A Mess You Can Clean Up On Your Own

Posted by Melissa

Clean sheets. Clean clothes. A clean room. What do those three things have in common?

Clean sheets are comforting and refreshing after a long day. Clean clothes feel good, especially if you’ve been dirty and sweaty. A clean room is just peaceful. So what about a clean heart? What does that feel like? What does it even mean? And why is it important?

Read Psalm 51:10-13. Memorize verse 10.

What does David ask God to do?

What is a “clean heart” and a “steadfast spirit”?

Would you describe yourself as having either? Why or why not?

Why is it important that David came to God and sought His forgiveness?

Do you need God to create a clean heart in you? Why or why not?

David had come to the point where he knew he couldn’t live with his sin anymore. He couldn’t control it; it was overwhelming his life. And he realized that he couldn’t clean up his sin-wrecked life or his heart on his own. So he came to God, asking Him to forgive and renew him.

We spend a lot of time trying to forget, hide, or overlook our sin. When we do recognize it, some of us like to try to clean the mess up ourselves. The problem is, we can’t. Only God can renew us; only He can create clean hearts that are focused on Him and His work. Stop trying to clean up the mess sin has made of your life. Give it all to God; He wants to make you new. And He’s the only One who can.

God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. —Psalm 51:10

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