Take a minute and think about how many times you’ve changed your mind already today. Now, thank God that He is not like you, constantly changing His mind and purpose. Ask Him to prepare your heart to meet with Him.
In your Bible, read Psalm 102:25-28. Then, consider verses 25-27 below. As you read, underline the words or phrases that point to God’s unchanging character.
“Long ago You established the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You will endure; all of them will wear out like clothing. You will change them like a garment, and they will pass away. But You are the same, and Your years will never end.”
• What do these verses teach you about God’s character? Why is it important that God never changes?
• If God never changes, what does that mean for His purposes or work? Explain.
God is unchanging. He established the earth, and He remains on His throne. He is unwavering about carrying out His divine work and will always remain true to His purpose.
Unchanging. Permanent. Steadfast. Immutable. That is who God is. He doesn’t change and isn’t led away by whims. He remains committed to His work and His purpose. Let the enormity of that truth overwhelm you today. Journal your prayerful response below.
Behind the Story
Written during the Babylonian captivity, Psalm 102 reflects a low point in the history of Israel. God’s Word was not being proclaimed and the temple lay in ruins. The psalm begins in despair. Recognizing his frailty and the momentary nature of his life, the psalmist cried out to God and found hope in God’s unchanging nature. Why is understanding God’s unchanging character important in today’s world?
Read James 1:17 aloud several times, carefully considering what the words mean. Then, paraphrase it in your own words.
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge for Girls, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission., Ridgecrest Summer Camps, Weekly Devotions | Leave a reply
You’ve seen these characters portrayed throughout pop culture in films and books. The reality, though, is that you know people just like them. Pride is at the core of who they are.
Read over Romans 12:13-16, paying close attention to verse 16.
How are you encouraged to treat others—especially those who create conflict with you—in these verses?
What does it mean to pursue hospitality? How will you do so this week?
With whom in your life are you not in agreement? What steps will you take so that you are?
How have you seen your own pride get in the way of resolving a conflict?
In a culture that tells you, “You’re number one in your life, and no one else matters,” pride is quick to jump in the front seat when you’re facing conflict with someone else head-on. In verse 16, Paul says three very important things that are extremely opposite of what you’ve been told:
• Live in harmony.
• Don’t be arrogant.
• Don’t be a know-it-all. Be humble.
Based on that, here’s a new and improved role you can play: drop the pride, take on humility, and reach out to the ones you disagree with. That’s bound to get people talking!
I didn’t think so. None of us look like that. All families are flawed—even Christian families. But what makes a healthy family is that Jesus is the foundation, the love is unconditional, and the forgiveness flows freely.
Read Romans 12:9-12, and zone in on verse 10.
What do these verses teach you about how Christians should treat other believers and non-Christians?
What does it mean to “show family affection” to others?
How can you outdo someone in showing honor?
How often do you display genuine love to those you know? Explain.
What does it mean to be fervent in the spirit? Are you?
How have you rejoiced in hope? Been patient in affliction? Been persistent in prayer?
What did God teach you through those times?
There wasn’t a specific rhyme or reason to Paul’s list of love in Romans 12. But one thing is for sure—he started by making a bold statement. I love how the New Living Translation phrases it: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them.” What he really means is: don’t be fake; instead, love others like you would your own family. It’s not as easy as it sounds, right? It is easier to avoid the unlovable and dismiss those you don’t like. But here’s what you need to understand: the love Paul talks about isn’t the kind you can produce on your own; rather, it’s the kind that can only come from Jesus and is funneled through you. Stop and ask God to give you that kind of love. Let it be your guide!
This is what I learned: unless it affects the moral character and integrity of someone or some situation, or unless it has an impact on God’s bigger story of eternity, then it’s probably not worth going to bat for.
Can you think of a disagreement you’ve put on your boxing gloves for? How about something you chose to walk away from? Go through those scenarios again. How could you have done things differently?
Take a look Genesis 13:8-12. Focus in on verses 8-9.
Why do you think Abram took the high road and worked to resolve the conflict quickly?
Do you work to resolve conflicts quickly? Why or why not?
Whom do you identify with more—Abram or Lot?
When you’re faced with a conflict, do you ever choose to be the bigger person? Why or why not?
Are you someone who seems to incite conflict or quell it? Explain.
Plotting out land ownership wasn’t a hill Abram wanted to die on. Even though he was the one in authority, Abram took the high road.
When things get heated, it’s easy to get mixed up in the hype. But being the bigger person is more than just forfeiting and letting the other person win. Abram was able to let it go because he knew God would provide for his future and bless his faith, regardless of the outcome. Do you trust God with the outcome of your conflict? Someone has to be the bigger person in a disagreement and let it go, or it can get ugly—really ugly. Let that person be you.
In a perfect world, we’d all get along. All the beauty queens who wished for world peace would get it. But since our world is extremely broken, conflict is inevitable. What matters the most is how we handle it—in front of believers and non-believers.
We know this: all people are created differently—with different passions, gifts, personalities, and talents; therefore, disagreements are bound to take place.
As you read through Genesis 13:1-7, what did you notice about Abram and Lot?
They were family. But, even more than that, they were extremely close, having lived and traveled together for a long time. Through poverty and trouble, wanderings and miracles, they were never separated. Not until their meddlesome herdsman started causing trouble did it put a wedge between them.
Whether you’ve known someone for five minutes or your whole life, trouble is bound to show up sooner or later. The question is: will you let it come between you? Will you let conflict drive you apart? Or will you let it go and hand it over to God?
The family of God has a strong bond under the leadership of Jesus. This month, we’ll talk about what Scripture says about conflict, how you should deal with it among believers and non-believers, and what your role is as a peacemaker in Christ’s kingdom.
Umm, probably not. Why? Because it simply does not make sense for your body parts to get mad at each other. Yet, believers are the body of Christ, and we often war against one another.
Read Ephesians 4:25-29, reading verse 29 out loud.
According to these verses, why should we speak the truth to one another?
Is it OK for a Christian to be angry? Why or why not?
How should we respond when we get angry?
In the verses that lead up to today’s passage, we are instructed to “put on the new self” (Eph. 4:24). What does that mean, and how does your understanding affect how you understand today’s passage?
Before you say anything, ask yourself these three questions: Is what I am about to say true? Do I really need to say it? Will the people who hear it be encouraged toward Christlikeness or discouraged? If you cannot say yes to all of these questions, you probably should keep your mouth shut. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have to say some difficult things—sometimes people need to be confronted in their sin. However, it does mean that you should do it with an aim of helping them to grow in Christ—not just to point out that they’re wrong.
Posted in Devotions, Girls | Tagged Camp Crestridge, Ephesians 4, Reprinted from ec magazine. © 2011 LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention. Used by permission. | Leave a reply
I love to watch buildings get demolished. It’s very exciting! You can sit and watch a building being built for an entire day, and the building site will basically look the same at the end of the day as it did that morning. But when a demolition crew takes down a building, it happens fast!
Read Romans 14:13-18. Focus on verse 13.
Describe the stumbling blocks referred to in the text. Can you think of other stumbling blocks?
What does the Bible say that people should stumble over? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 1:23.)
How has someone been a stumbling block to you in your journey of faith? How have you been a stumbling block to someone else? Explain.
Why is it a problem if you know something you’re doing is keeping others from growing in their faith and you choose to keep doing it?
Whom are we serving when we avoid doing something we feel is acceptable before God in order to not be a stumbling block for others? Explain.
I don’t know why I like to watch things being demolished, but I do know that watching lives get demolished is no fun at all. Just like a building, a life can get demolished in a hurry. A careless comment here, a thoughtless remark there, or a “helpful” criticism every so often, and friendships that took years to build can fall apart in an instant. When you are tempted to exercise your “gift” of criticism, don’t. Our task as believers is to encourage and edify each other, not tear each other down. Believe it or not, your criticism can become a stumbling block in another believer’s life that causes his or her spiritual growth to stall or even stop. Don’t spend your time and your words creating pitfalls for other believers. Encourage and speak the truth in love when the Spirit leads you!
Sometimes after teaching someone something new, a strange thing happens. After working hard to teach your student the game, another person comes along, and the student becomes the teacher. Your student begins to teach the new person, then relentlessly criticizes him when he gets something wrong. Ten minutes ago your student had never heard of the game, and now he wants to act like an expert! Sadly, we sometimes act like that in the Christian life.
Read James 4:11-12, zoning in on verse 12.
The verses leading up to today’s passage are about humility. What does being humble have to do with the passage for today?
What are we really doing when we criticize and judge other believers?
Is being “a judge” rather than “a doer of the law” a good thing or a bad thing? (Hint: see James 1:22-25.) Why or why not?
Who is the “one lawgiver and judge” that James wrote about in verse 12?
What do these verses have to do with how we treat other believers?
When we criticize other believers, we are acting as if we are the judge, but there is really only one Judge—and He has been infinitely kind to us. The ground around the cross is level. We all stand there as sinners in need of a Savior. Make sure you keep that in mind when you stand in judgment of a fellow believer’s words or actions.
Have you ever watched preschoolers fight over something silly like a crayon or an old broken toy? One of them will pick it up, and the other one will swear that it is his. Then the shouting starts, followed by the screaming, then the pushing, and finally, the crying.
How did something so small get so blown out of proportion? The sad fact, though, is that we’re really not that different from the preschoolers.
Read Romans 14:5-12, making note of verse 10.
What kinds of disagreements were the people in this passage having?
Since we are all living (and dying) and eating (and not eating) for the Lord, what should our attitudes be? (Hint: See 1 Cor. 10:31.)
Why should we avoid criticizing and looking down on other believers?
What do you find yourself criticizing other believers about? Why? Is it really important, or are you making a big deal out of something insignificant?
In the Christian life, there are some things worth fighting for. Jesus is God. Jesus rose from the dead. God created all things. Jesus is the only way to salvation. God is three-in-one.
Be ready to stand firm on those things, but know that there are also things that we don’t need to fight over. Sometimes, we can make a big deal out of something insignificant. Many believers have lost good relationships and some churches have split because of this.
When you have a disagreement with another believer, search the Scriptures and ask the Holy Spirit to give you wisdom to distinguish between the things that are of first importance and the things on which you can agree to disagree.
I love to watch baseball. I love to watch big league games on TV and the Internet, and I love to go to the local stadium to watch the minor leaguers, too. But those are two very different experiences. The minor league games are great because the tickets are cheap, the seats are close to the field, and it doesn’t take a long time to find a parking space. But the minor league players are simply not good enough for the big leagues, and it would be silly to go to minor league games expecting to see major league talent.
Read Romans 14:1-4, thinking carefully about verse 1.
At the end of chapter 13, Paul had instructed believers to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” How does that instruction apply to these verses?
In these verses, Paul instructs us to accept believers who are weak. Why should we accept weak believers?
Christians are described as household slaves. Whose slave are we? Does it make you uncomfortable to think of yourself as a slave? Why or why not?
What do these verses teach you about treating others who aren’t as strong in their faith as you are?
Have you ever met another believer and been surprised by the way they acted? Maybe they only used a certain translation of the Bible or thought that watching TV or listening to rock music was sinful. While we ought to hold one another accountable and encourage each other toward Christlikeness, keep in mind that while as believers in Christ we are all walking the same path, not everyone is at the same level. Just like those minor league players shouldn’t be expected to play like big leaguers, new and immature Christians shouldn’t be judged for being immature. Instead we should come alongside them and encourage them to grow in their faith. Whom can you encourage today?