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What Does God Want from Me This Year?
O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. MICAH 6:8
It's a brand-new year.
Let's see if we can start the year by figuring out what God wants.
Are you supposed to date that boy? Get a job? Go on that missions trip this summer? Think of something you really want to do, and let's filter it through the Word of God.
The good news is that God keeps things pretty simple for us. We tend to complicate things as human beings, thinking we need to know exactly what God wants us to do.
God is our Father. He loves us, so he keeps it simple. What does he want from us? It's right there in the Bible verse at the top of the page. Choose what you will, but follow these three precepts from Micah 6. If anything you want to choose violates even one of those three commands, then you are outside of God's will. Simple.
1. "Do what is right." Do only what is good for everyone. We are not to harm others, be it emotionally, physically, or even while joking. So whatever you might choose, be certain that no one is harmed.
2. "Love mercy." Since you have been forgiven a great deal, you should show the same measure of forgiveness to others. That's what mercy is: showing compassion or kindness even when the other person doesn't deserve it.
3. "Walk humbly with your God." This means we understand God's plan is better than ours. He is God, and we are not, so he gets the final say in all matters. Dating a nonbeliever? Not debatable. Dressing immodestly? Not an option. Being part of a church? It's essential–no ifs, ands, or buts. To not follow God's precepts is to vainly challenge his lordship.
So, that question you had about what to do. What's the answer?
Use Micah 6:8 to make all your decisions this year. Memorize the verse, and invite God to bring it to your mind often.
Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. JAMES 1:27
Today, I (Dannah) noticed someone.
She was a sweet older lady sitting on a park bench, and for some reason God drew me to her like a magnet. I didn't know why, but I was supposed to make a beeline for her.
After awkwardly talking about our nails, I told her I thought God wanted me to encourage her with hope. She began to weep. She was, in fact, a believer in Jesus but was really discouraged. She had just been asking him if he saw her.
He did. And I got to tell her so.
How often do I walk by people in need and ignore them? How often do you?
Our verse for today is God's simple instructions. He tells us what true religion looks like (the word the writer James uses for religion refers to the outward practice of religion observable to others–how we act). Again God keeps things simple for us. Through James, God is saying, "I want you to take care of the downtrodden, and I want you to avoid the pitfalls of this world. That's what it looks like to love me and to follow me." It's no easy thing to meet the needs of other people. People have a lot of needs! Would we even have any time for a job or sports or to get our homework done if we were constantly dropping everything for someone in need? Probably not. But we can keep our eyes and hearts open to find the person (or people) God wants each of us specifically to help. God has a way of showing us when we ask him to!
The other way we show God we love him is by avoiding the corruption of this world ... and that's not easy either. Cheating, lying, tricking our teachers or parents or friends, stealing, violating any law, escaping our responsibilities. . . . The list of how this world's corruption can be tempting goes on and on. But the bottom line is that we're called to avoid those pitfalls. It's simple, but not easy. That's how God rolls. And that's why we need to stay close to God to receive the help we need to show genuine religion.
Take the first step: notice someone in need.
BIG ACTION STEP: Do something about it. DG
Meet with Me
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. Later Simon and the others went out to find him. When they found him, they said, "Everyone is looking for you." MARK 1:35-37
God wants to hang out with you. Seriously. Just like you can't wait to hang out with your friends? God wants to hang out with you.
One of my favorite books is My Heart—Christ's Home by Robert Boyd Munger. The lead character (meant to be "everyman"–you and me) invites Jesus into his heart and asks him to make a home for himself there. Jesus asks for a tour of the man's home and heart, but the man suddenly wants to clean up before Jesus can sneak a peek. In his home, the man has embarrassing magazines, food that tastes like greed and selfishness, an unused workshop, and things rotting in the closet.
But the living room is cozy and inviting, and Jesus immediately expresses a liking for the space. He offers an invitation–every morning he will be waiting for the man in an overstuffed chair by the fireplace. This chance to meet one-on-one with Jesus every day is thrilling–and for a time the two meet daily. But slowly the pressures of the man's schedule begin to crowd out the time he has available to meet with his houseguest. One day while rushing out the door, the man catches sight of Jesus sitting quietly by the fireplace. Sheepishly the man enters the room and apologizes, realizing Jesus has not missed even a single day waiting for him. And then Jesus utters a profound line: "You have forgotten that this hour means something to me also."
Have you, like I sometimes do, begun to believe you are the only one who benefits from meeting with God? We get so "busy" with life that we don't even realize that God is missing that time with us like we are missing that time with him.
Here's the fix. Jesus prayed early, according to today's verse. The early morning is the ideal time to meet with God–before phones ring, friends text, or bacon starts sizzling. Go peek in that living room right now. I know you'll find him waiting. Every morning. He is there.
Make it a goal to get up earlier to do these devos and read the Scriptures included ... all year long.
Even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many. MATTHEW 20:28
"Everybody can be great ... because anybody can serve.... You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love."
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
Consider some of these amazing studies of human behavior as it relates to serving others. The results are stunning:
Cornell University discovered from a test field of hundreds of retiree volunteers that fewer health problems were reported than from retirees who do not volunteer.
Over a course of nine years, Dr. Larry Scherwitz at University of California-San Francisco found that men who frequently used the words I, me, my, and mine were far more likely to suffer heart attacks. Those words themselves are not dangerous, but they are indicative that the subject feels isolated from other people and thus focuses on himself more.
Dr. David McClelland from Harvard took saliva samples from students before and after having them watch a film featuring Mother Teresa caring for orphans in Calcutta, India. After the film, students registered a tremendous increase in salivary immunoglobulin A, an antibody designed to protect the human immune system. Just thinking about doing good makes us healthier!
We are created in the image of the living God–created to draw life by giving life to others. Thank God this world is bigger than you and me, right? There are places to go and things to do ... and life to be gained.
Sign up to volunteer somewhere. Take a friend with you–someone who needs an immunity boost!
Go against the Flow
Don't copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God's will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. ROMANS 12:2
Crowds are unbelievably influential. Pontius Pilate was swayed when crowds demanded the thief Barabbas be released and Jesus crucified. Even recently, crowd hysteria allowed one group of protesters on Wall Street to gain enough influence that "Occupy" groups cropped up in over eighty- two countries. Of course, not everyone knew just what the group was occupying. One protester, when asked, said, "Everyone, let's just sit here and wait for nothing to happen, so that eventually something happens."
Public opinion is not always sensible. Miley Cyrus's nineteenth birthday party landed on YouTube, with Miley making a comment about smoking "too much *#! weed." One site conducted a poll: Do you think Miley Cyrus gets unfairly criticized? Of the site visitors who responded, 81 percent said, "Yes! It's unfair!" Thirteen percent said, "No, she's a role model and should act as such." This left 6 percent of the population undecided. The poll is neither scientific nor is the website very respectable, but the statistics were telling nonetheless. People simply do not have much of a foundation on which to build opinions.
Paul urges us in Romans to gain a foundation. There are two places we can build. We can build on this world, but we already know from both Jesus' parable about the wise and foolish builders (see Matthew 7:24-29) and the story of the three little pigs that if we build on a firm foundation we will have much greater success. The foundation for our opinions and decisions must be formed by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Our minds will then be transformed so we not only know what God says, but we are also aligned with his thoughts. His will and his passions become our own when we are made a new creation!
Will the crowd always be wrong? Not likely. But chances are if "everyone is doing it," "it" deserves prayer and a second look. Better cross crowd mentality off the list of good decision-making tools!
Think about an area of your life where you stand alone in a decision or an opinion. Avoid being confrontational or prideful–in fact, you may even want to keep your opinion to yourself. Be sure it is based on biblical truth rather than a desire to be different from everyone else.
Get out of Your Comfort Zone
"Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn't it be better for us to return to Egypt? ... Let's choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!" NUMBERS 14:3-4
Extroverts are people who are fueled by spending time and interacting with others. Introverts are drained by stimulation and need more alone time for their batteries to recharge. Dannah and I are both introverts. I have a distinct strategy at parties. I head for the quietest corner of the room and hang out with whoever joins me. My husband, Jonathan, however, is a true extrovert and flat out works the room. If you have been at a party with Jonathan, you know he was there! I am learning to be much more intentional in social situations, thanks to Jonathan's influence. I don't want to miss out on any God appointments!
Yes, God has a strategy too. His plan is to keep us on our toes so we can do all of the amazing things he has prepared for us. Though he provides plenty of time for recharging, his plan does not include letting us get too comfortable. Why? When we settle into comfort zones our growth is stunted. God uses trials and challenges to conform us more into his image. But, if we're not careful, when we face challenges, we can end up like the Israelites in today's Scripture.
When God led his people out of Israel they discovered that they had left one challenge (slavery) for another (homelessness). Disobedience had landed them in both predicaments, but God loved them and promised them a rescue with great honor at the end of the road. They should have known they could trust God. He had already done some pretty miraculous things to keep his promise.
In today's Scripture, God was leading the Israelites via the long route to the Promised Land. In their stubbornness, they couldn't see it. "We should just go back to Egypt!" they kept crying. I'm sure you know the rest of the story–instead of accomplishing the purposes God had planned for them, most Israelites died homeless and dispirited in the desert.
Make a "bucket list" today of three risks you would like to take for God before leaving high school–three ways you can leave your comfort zone–and begin to look for ways to fulfill that list! SW
Stake Out Your True Real Estate
When you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God's guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. EPHESIANS 1:13-14
One day you will be ready to complete one of the most exciting transactions of your life–purchasing a house. When you go to buy that house, one of the first things you will do is make your first payment toward the house. You will write a check for $1,000 or $2,000 as Earnest Money. This is a cash promise that you will keep your part of the deal. If you back out on the sale, you'll lose the money. The check is not held until the sale is finished, either. It is cashed! You "own" rights to the house, although you don't get to occupy it right away.
Now think about how buying a home is similar to God's redemption of you. God built you, but before he could occupy his own home, another tenant (sin) did a number on you! You were no longer quite the showpiece he designed, stained now by selfishness and its consequences, but God had a plan. He bought you back.
Look how Paul parallels this in Ephesians 1:13: "When you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit." The Holy Spirit is God's earnest money, a promise paid and cashed in advance! Though we are still in these old bodies, the Holy Spirit lives within us, and he is already in the process of fixing us up, because we already belong to him.
You have been purchased. A deposit has been made as a mark of God's intentions to honor his contract, and the deposit has already been paid in full. Today's passage in Ephesians says a lot of things have been done in advance for you. You were raised with Jesus (see Ephesians 2:5-6), so you already have new life. There is a spot with your name on it right next to the throne of God, so you are already part of God's family. You truly are owned, loved, provided for.
If you have professed Christ as your Savior, take some time to meditate on this powerful truth: I am already dead to sin, living a new life, and have been given my inheritance in heaven. If you have not taken the big step, ask yourself why not. Talk to a Christian you trust about any doubts or concerns you may have.
Excerpted from THE ONE YEAR DEVOS for TEEN GIRLS by DANNAH GRESH. Copyright © 2013 by Dannah Gresh. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted August 19, 2013
I read some devotions alone and others I read with my teen daughter. First of all, I was thrilled to see that Dannah and Suzy talked to 100 college girls to get their input on the top topics that they had dealt with in high school. I'm sure this input helped them relate well to teens.
I loved the interesting stories! Dannah and Suzy share their own stories and lots of examples from the Bible and pop culture (one was about the inventor of Jelly Belly jelly beans). Each story was tied to Scripture and then ended with an Action Step that could be lived out. I found the devotions to be stimulating and challenging, encouraging me to go deeper in my faith. This book should be read by adult girls too!
Here is what my daughter said about the devotions that she read:
I liked the devotions. They told the truth -- they were accurate real-life stories. They are stories that can help girls with everyday problems.
I loved the Action Steps. The challenges make you want to do them (like hang out with a friend, from "Friends Aren't What They Used to Be"). Another Action Step tells you to do one small thing, but that inspired me to do something big instead -- I want to help missionaries in China. I'm going to get with a friend and try to make that project happen!
So, in closing...we loved this book! Every mom and daughter and teen girl youth leader needs to get it!
Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
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Posted August 8, 2013
This devotional is set up like most devotionals, gives a scripture and then a devotional that applies to the scripture. The devotionals have to do with issues teen girls face. I like this devotional and the advice given is biblical and nothing that I as a parent would find offensive. However, both my teen girls tried this devotional and just "couldn't get into it." They didn't find it interesting or helpful, maybe we personally covered the topics very well at home that they didn't find anything new or helpful. I would recommend this devotional to anyone who has teen girls and looking for a way to bring up certain topics for discussion.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 2, 2013
This devotional is a great read for Christian teen girls in today's society, struggling with finding their place in church, evangelizim, dating, and much more! Dannah and Suzy help focus in on tough subjects girls today have to deal with. Explaining topics simply, and giving the Word of God as the basis for every devo.The devotions are long enough to enjoy and learn from, but short enough to slip in on a busy day! Each devotional starts with a short passage of the Bible, then explains a subject. And ends with and Action Step challenging girls to do something about their life. The whole book really challenges girls to push forward, and dig deeper in God's word so that they too can share their faith.
Topics (such as, honoring parents, debt, and media) are explained in a few days showing scriptures for each one, and encouraging girls to do what the Bible says about them. They leave debatable subjects ( wuch as, tattoos, body piercings) open, sharing the scriptures, then recommending you ask your parents about them. I liked that they allowed you to decide upon the subject yourself, instead of just telling you what they think is best.
I loved that they shared from their own experience, or a true story of another person. They shared very inspiring stories, that made you want to be like those people. Ambitious for God, crazy for Jesus, and longing to learn more.
I was personally blessed by it as well! So many things in it were explained simply to me. I loved that they challenged you to read your Bible more. It shocked me when they showed the statistics for how many Christians today actually read their Bible. I was moved to read and study my Bible more, share my faith, give to others, and honor my parents more.
Posted July 31, 2013
booksbysteph says "Perfect for Daughter/Mother Bonding"
Great devotional for the teenage girl. Mothers may want to read this with their daughters. Together, you can talk about that day's topic on a more personal level.
While you can read this book on each specific day, you can also flip to days that coincide with anything happening in your life you need guidance with. The Index gives the title of each topic for each day so you can easily find a specific topic.
Each day starts with a real life story and sag ways into the Biblical meaning of it. At the end of each day is an Action Step, so it would be best to read this devotional in the morning. The Action Step allows you to put what you read into action.
Still, when I imagine this devotional, I see a mother and daughter reading and discussing before bedtime. Intimate time the two of you can share together. You can always do the Action Step the following day.
Until next time, live life one page at a time!