This is the last of the devotionals. It has #49-64.
Just to let you all know, my new blog is at YouthOvercomingtheWorld.blogspot.com. Feel free to enjoy all the posts on this one, though
Alberto practically leaped into the car after church. Moments before, he’d been praising God and learning how to follow Him and be more like Jesus. Now, he had a game to get to.
“I’m glad Coach didn’t mind me coming late,” he told his dad before biting into a hastily prepared sandwich. ‘It was one thing when we had warmups at 1, but this game starts at 1.”
He looked at his watch – he should have said “started,” since they would get there after 1. Oh, well, he would only be a little late. And, he’d worn his uniform under his church clothes. The last time he’d come like that, his coach had jokingly asked if he needed a phone booth to change in.
“I’m glad you’re honoring God – the way you act on the field plus things like this show how much you love Him,” his dad pointed out.
He remembered how Sandy Koufax had refused to pitch in the World Series on a Jewish feast day – and then he came back to win the Series for them. This game wasn’t that crucial. But, as Alberto stretched and prepared to enter, he praised God for letting him come. No matter what happened, he knew God would reward him somehow for choosing to honor Him.
“Aren’t you missing something?”
“Like what?” Alex waved his hand over the many things he had put out on the counter. “I’m making chocolate chip cookies,” he told his younger sister, Tatiana, “and I’ve got a lot to do.”
“You heard Mom say she needed help, but you’re not doing it right. What’s that verse? Be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only?”
Alex rolled his eyes. “Look, I am making chocolate chip cookies like you wanted for your birthday. I’m following the recipe, I’ve got the batter ready to mix-“
Tatiana blurted, “Don’t you think these would help?” She held out the bag of chocolate chips.
Alex’s face felt warm. “Yeah. I guess it would be kind of hard to make chocolate chip cookies without those.”
“What good does it do to hear something if you don’t do it?” Tatiana shook her head as he took the bag and started pouring the chips in.
“I guess it doesn’t do any good.” Alex realized he should thank her. “Thanks for helping. This is a lot to keep track of. I’m sure I would have figured it out soon – well, once I looked at the directions.” He thought he would have looked at them, anyway. “I do know how to bake cookies. I just need to apply what I know to whatever each recipe calls for.”
“Twelve days yet? My birthday will never get here!”
Barry couldn’t help but laugh at his brother, who was almost eight, as he gazed at the calendar while Barry checked his homework before school. “You’ve stared at that calendar every morning for the last two weeks. While I’ve got a couple tests next week and my report on the bald eagle. Which is fitting. Isn’t there a verse about mounting up on wings like eagles, Dad?”
“Right; Isaiah 40:31 is a mini-chorus we sing, too. You’re looking forward to our vacation next weekend as a break as much Benny is as a birthday present,” their dad said. “Life goes a lot slower for him at his age. But, that verse shows no matter how life gets – if it’s really crazy and packed with stuff or really slow and mundane, we can wait on God. And, He will renew our strength to get through it when we do.”
“Some of these names are really weird.”
Little Sherry looked at the list of Old Testament Books that her big brother was trying to memorize. “Teacher said that wasn’t really a name,” she said as she pointed at “Ecclesiastes.”
I know,” Shaun said, making a funny face at her. “But, even prophets like Malachi – names have really changed since then.”
Their older sister, Lucy, pointed out, “It’s ironic that one of the key verses there is ‘I am the Lord; I change not.’”
“I’m glad God doesn’t change; we’ve lived in three different places since I can remember,” Shaun remarked.
“That verse isn’t just about stability – but that is important, I’m so glad with all that goes on God’s always there for us,” their mom said. “It goes on to say because He doesn’t change, His people don’t get destroyed when they keep turning away from Him. Once He declares someone saved because they trusted Him to save us, He’s not going to say they aren’t.”
“That’s the best stability we can have – knowing God is there for us no matter what,” Lucy agreed.
“I’m not going,” Hayley told the stunned youth leader.
The teen didn’t feel like sharing her many conflicting thoughts. She wasn’t thinking of others, yet she knew she should since she’d promised to help with face painting. She suffered from anxiety, but she knew she should ask for help. She worried about being bored, yet she knew she enjoyed it…
Why was their leader knowing on the door of her neighbor and fellow youth group member?
“Great, thanks, I’d love to,” her ten-year-old neighbor practically shouted.
Heyley’s mouth flew open; now, she felt jealous, too. Why was she getting to go, and even get paid a few bucks, when Hayley was supposed to?
“Oh, yeah,” Hayley realized later. “I turned it down, didn’t I? And, Abby’s mom let her go. But, I’m older and more experienced, and all she has is… well, she tries hard and has a humble attitude,” Hayley reasoned.
Next time, she would help when she promised to – she’d seen firsthand how God resisted her when she was too proud to seek help, and gave grace to the humble.
Destiny frowned as she read her Bible. She could tell her parents were leaving for some worldly place to party.
Once they hugged goodbye, before finishing homework, Destiny turned to a few of her favorite Scriptures. Verse about following Jesus.
“The disciples followed you when a lot of people around them refused,” she prayed out loud. “Just like the prophets before them.”
She didn’t suffer persecution like them. Thankfully, they supported her desire to follow and try to be like Jesus. She knew others suffered, though, and prayed for the persecuted church.
“You’ve done so much for me, Lord,” Destiny prayed. “I’m so thankful. It’s hard to follow you sometimes when my own parents don’t. But, I know you’re with me. You live in me now. And, the way I act might determine whether they come to know you or not.”
Yes, Destiny considered, it was hard. Anything could be an idol - placed ahead of God - if one wasn’t careful. She would simply keep trusting Jesus and trying to be like Him, so she could earn treasure in Heaven. And, hopefully, one day see her parents following Jesus, too.
“What’s that thing?” Bo shouted without thinking.
He didn’t know how he knew – but he thought he’d just seen a demon.
He pulled over quickly, his heart racing. He wasn’t sure how to describe the experience, but as he thought about it, he couldn’t wait to tell someone, anyway.
He didn’t want to wait for church – when he got home, he quickly called his youth leader.
He remembered lessons about spiritual warfare, and how real it was. He knew he had to change things in his life and turn back to God. What he’d just seen was way too scary for him. He’d never have imagined spiritual warfare would actually be visible to him – but it had been!
He wished he’d listened when the Holy Spirit – which lived in each believer – was telling him to stop turning away from God. As he finally went to sleep and awakened the next morning ready for church, he was glad for the reminder he’d had in talking with his youth leader. That God’s mercies are new every morning.
“That’s a cute dog,” Brooke told her new school friend Jordan. They were up in Alex’s room.
Jordan bounced the dog, which was actually a stuffed toy, a little and answered, “Thanks. I call her Katy after a dog we used to have.”
“Did it bark a lot?”
“She was never quiet! I still like to play with stuffed dogs sometimes,” Jordan added a bit sheepishly.
Brooke sensed Jordan’s unease. “That’s okay. I play with mine sometimes. The key is just to not worship the creature more than the Creator. If we praise God and thank him for gifts like our toys and let Him use them for His glory, then comfort objects like that are great. Like my uncle’s a police officer and they have them to help children who have been through trauma.”
“I know. Sometimes I pretend to talk to aa stuffed dog to release stress and help me figure how to say stuff, and I do its voice reminding me to talk to God about it, so I start praying.”
Brooke playfully patted the stuffed dog on the head. “That’s a very wise dog. We should make sure everything we have helps us walk closer to God.”
“Hey,” Phil complained to his older sister Darlene, “you ate all the chocolate!”
The youth leader couldn’t help but grin. Phil had just eaten all the Twizzlers they’d brought for snacks, much to Darlene’s chagrin.
“You know,” the leader told Phil and Darlene, “there’s a reason the Bible lists temperance as a fruit of the Spirit.”
The preteens said “tell him that” and “tell her that” at almost the same time.
“I know you don’t get treats like that often at home. But, sharing snacks like that is part of putting others first. We’re told to be filled with the Spirit. That means we should let the Spirit control us; and one way we do that is by letting God help us not to only think of what we want, but what others might want,” the leader said.
The siblings each told the other they were sorry.
“There might be others who wanted more, too. But, I’m glad you’re not staying mad. Part of of growing in Christ is learning to control yourselves, but so is learning to forgive and move on and not keep complaining about little slights,” the leader finished.
“Yeah, ‘cause we’re brothers and sisters in Christ now,” Darlene recalled. “That we we can have fun and bug each other sometimes, and still love each other.”
Melanie looked in awe at all the neat crafts.
Okay, it wasn’t like they were in a craft store. Instread, the youth were in a numble youth room on the top floor of the church. Still, it was a lot more than she’d seen in a while. And, everything was so new.
“I know you’d like to take it all home,” the youth worker told her. “But it’s for you kids to use up here. When we go to the craft store, you can pick out something to work your way toward by earning points for church attendance and such.”
“Since you asked nicely, you can pick out some of those beads.. and maybe one little animal or two,” another youth worker said.
“Thanks; it’s just all so new and exciting to be up here,” she explained.
“Sure; that’s normal. That’s why the Bible says to be filled with the Spirit – that’s a continually filling that comes from keeping your relationship with God strong,” the director complimented her. “Like following Him by asking politely and accepting what we say.”
Melanie be3amed; not because she got to take a few little things home, but because of that relationship with God helping her in relationship with others.
Claire perked up when her mom peeked in her bedroom door. She’d heard the phone ring and a lot of commotion. She knew something was up.
Once she saw Claire was awake, her mom came into the room. “Your grandma’s okay, but she fell and might have broken something. Dad and I are going to the ER to be with her. Aunt Wilma ijust got here to watch you.”
“Thanks, Mom. Tell her I love her and I’m praying for her.”
Claire remembered the Bible lessons on prayer. As she talked to God, she thought of a bunch of things. She asked that her grandma get better, that there not be a long wait in the ER, that the doctors and nurses have wisdom, and so on. She didn’t know if an ambulance was taking her, but she even prayed like she did if she heard one, that everyone pull over like they were supposed to to let them by.
She couldn’t believe how much there was to think about. And things kept coming to her throughout the night and next day till she heard all was okay.
“No wonder the Bible says ‘pray without ceasing,’” she pondered. There is always something to pray about and so many situations to pray for.”
“Actually, it’s yours – our insurance paid for it,” the bank teller told Ray at the counter.
Ray smiled. He’d told his children that he was returning the extra $20 the ATM machine had mistakenly given him. They understood – they expected it since he’d always told them to be hnoest.
“I know you say that, but it’s not mine,” Ray told the grateful teller. He handed her the $20 back. “I expect people to be honest with me. Someone might need to see a good example. Most of all, God wants us to be honest and not take anything that isn’t ours.”
Ray smiled as he left the bank. God might not reward him till he got to Heaven, but the good feeling he had at doing the right thing was worth it all.
“Dad,” one of his kids called out as he got in. “Guess what? Mom just opened a card from Grandma; she gave us $20. Isn’t that great?”
“It’s more than great,” he said as they hugged. “It’s God at work. Even if He hadn’t rewarded us this way, He would have in other ways. Who knows who our honesty may have helped.”
Phil felt bad as the Sunday School teacher held the paper close to his eyes. "It's so sad you can't see well," the boy said sorrowfully.
"Thanks. God has given me a lot of great gifts, though," the man replied.
Isn't there anything they can do?
No, and glasses don't help since my problem is behind my eyes." After a pause, the teacher added, "I trusted Jesus to save me from my sin, though. So one day I'll be able to see perfectly in Heaven. I'm glad you think about others, though. It's important to put others first. And, maybe you'll grow up to be a doctor and help people like me."
That idea excited Phil. He came from a poor family and hadn't thought of being a doctor. But, he also knew God could do anything. Even if he wasn't a doctor, though, he could still have compassion.
(@did I do Uncle Tim with magazine article inspiring him? – could be separate)
The lush green grass stood out like a jewel. The color on the home team's caps seemed to shine much brighter than the faded one he had. The smell of hot dogs excited his taste buds like that of a thousand cookouts.
Sandy had never even seen a baseball game in color - his family had an old black and white TV. Everything seemed to spring to life here, even though he'd seen and smelled the things before.
He also recalled something from church.
The pastor had said the new life which came from trusting Jesus as Saviour was like having God open your eyes to things you'd never seen, and making His creation seem much greater.
Sandy recalled trusting Jesus to save him. It was true. God had opened Sandy's eyes to so much. Things were much clearer to him as he sought God's wisdom. And, just like the splendor of that first game live and in color, after years of black and white, there was something so much greater about creation when seeing it through the eyes of faith in God's great design.
"Wait, that's from the Bible?"
"Yes," Lucas’ friend said. "Jesus says we are the salt of the earth for a few reasons.
Lucas was amazed. He had heard the saying that someone was the salt of the earth all his life, but had never known that the saying came from the Bible.
"I wonder what other common sayings are from the Bible."
That's one added benefit when you start to read it. You'll see how much of language comes from God's word itself.”
“Jenny, bring me my Bible,” the older lady said.
Jenny smiled. Her grandma couldn’t walk, but she still had so much love for God.
Jenny sat on her grandma’s lap and proudly opened to the place her grandma asked her to. “I’m getting good at this,” she said. Then, she asked, “Grandma, why don’t my mom and dad like Jesus?”
“They just want their own way, just like we all do. They can’t understand how I can have such faith when I’ve been crippled for decades.”
“I know how. ‘Cause Jesus gives you real joy.”
“That’s right. That’s why the Bible says ‘No man taketh your joy from you.’ That’s why I’ve always taught you to pray,” her grandma said. “God will remind you of all the good things you have. And one day, since I know Him as Saviour, I’ll be running around like you.”