HEAR // It’s easy to get caught up in making sure we love God. We do things like pray, read our Bible, and apply Scripture in our lives to show God that we love Him. And while these are great things to be doing, what if we also thought about what God has done (and is still doing) for us? The truth is, God loved us first and loved us before we ever did anything to love Him back. In fact, God’s love for us should be what matters the most. This message can be a breath of fresh air to those of us trying to be the best Christians we can be. And in the middle of all that trying, God says, “Hey, I love you.”
TALK // When was the last time you told someone that Christ died for them? Does that question make you feel guilty? (Psst, that’s okay.) It’s important for us to realize that Christ died for us and for our sins, but at the same time, he didn’t just die for you and me. Think of someone in your life that needs to hear this good news—a friend, family member, teammate, or coworker. Ask God to give you the chance to share this truth with them and the courage to follow through when the opportunity presents itself.
PRAY // The birth of Jesus is the ultimate act of God reconciling human beings to himself. In order to restore a healthy relationship between God and humanity, Jesus had to pay for the sins of the world. Thankfully, through His death and resurrection, we are forgiven and able to enter into a relationship with God. Today, pray and thank God for sending Jesus so that you could enter into a growing relationship with Him.
HEAR // When we sin and make mistakes, it’s common to feel like our actions have separated us from God’s love, but this isn’t true at all. Nothing we do today will make God love us any more or any less. Isn’t that a relief? God’s love for us is unchanging, even when we are at our worst. Know and trust in the truth that God loves you and nothing you do will ever change that.
LIVE // God gave us the perfect example of love in Jesus—who laid down His life for the sins of everyone. And while His example is a hard one to follow, there are simple ways you can lay down your life for your friends. Today, look for ways to love and serve the people around you. Try to spend less time thinking about how you can make your life easier and more time on how you can help others.
HEAR // What’s your favorite kind of music? Who’s your favorite artist? Everyone likes music, and everyone has a few tracks that they could listen to on repeat forever. There’s just something about the melody and the beat that catches our attention and keeps us listening. Music can also be a powerful way to connect with God. Is there a worship song you’ve heard recently that’s stuck with you? Look up that song on YouTube, Spotify, or iTunes. Turn it up. Sing along. And ask God to let the words sink in and change your heart.
LIVE // When we intentionally notice all we have been given—instead of being distracted by what we don’t have—it can move us from feeling frustrated to feeling grateful. Try making a list of the things and relationships you have that matter to you. Maybe for you it’s a sports team, a job, a roof over your head, a friend, a great school, or a family member. No matter what’s on your list, what would happen if you started seeing all of those things as gifts from God? What if you saw even your own life as a good gift from your heavenly Father?
PRAY // Sometimes we can get so stuck in a rut of emotions—in a funk or bad mood—that we start to think those emotions will last forever. It feels like we’re in a pit of despair and that there’s no way out. While it’s okay to feel down, God doesn’t want us to stay there. In fact, God wants to lift you up and set your feet on solid ground. Are you stuck in a funk, bad mood, or just feeling “blah?” Ask God to lift you out of the “pit” and refresh your mood, emotions, and heart.
TALK // When you were a kid, did you ever get scared when you were trying to fall asleep? Like maybe a shadow on the wall seemed huge—as if there were a monster in the room—and then you flipped on the lights and it ended up being something little like a teddy bear? Sometimes our emotions are like that. They feel big and overwhelming in the moment, but then we bring them to light by talking about them, and suddenly they’re not as big of a deal anymore. What emotions are weighing you down today? Ask God to help you move past those feelings, and then consider talking to a parent, friend, or Small Group Leader about what you’re going through.
PRAY // During really difficult and stressful days, sometimes just knowing that someone is there for you and has your back can help you make it through. When you have someone by your side who cares for you, life just doesn’t feel as overwhelming. God tells us that He is near to those who love Him, and that He rescues us when we’re in trouble. Take a moment and ask God to make His presence in your life known today, and then look for the ways He comes through for you.
HEAR // Have you ever heard something that bothered you so much it took everything in you to keep your mouth shut? We’ve all been there, and we’ve all wanted to open our mouths, speak our minds, and walk away with a “mic drop” moment. But at what cost? In those moments—when we’re tempted to speak our minds and put the other person in their place—God encourages us to speak the truth in love. When we hold our tongue we’re doing two important things: practicing self-control and valuing people above our opinions. The next time you have the chance to make your “mic drop” comment, ask yourself, “Am I about to speak the truth in love, or could this hurt our relationship?”
LIVE // Peace. It’s a nice word, but it doesn’t seem to find the way into our busy lives much, does it? Have you ever felt “at peace?” If you have, chances are it was when all of the relationships you care about were going well, when conflict—the opposite of peace—was nowhere in sight. God encourages you to do all that you can to live in peace with others. The truth is, conflict can hold us back from experiencing peace. Is there relational conflict keeping you from peace? What step do you need to take today to begin bringing peace to that relationship?
PRAY // When was the last time someone encouraged you when you really needed it? Maybe it was after a bad grade or after a rough night at home with your family. Encouragement in those moments can be game changers. As much as we love being encouraged, sometimes we forget that we can be an encourager to the people around us. Who could use some encouragement today? Pray for that person and then send them a quick text just to let them know you were thinking about them.
TALK // No one wakes up in the morning and plans to be angry and bitter all day. But if there’s someone in our lives who’s wronged us—and we haven’t forgiven them—then that’s exactly what we’re doing. When we refuse to forgive, it’s usually because we’re still holding something against someone. And holding a grudge against someone is a recipe for anger and bitterness. The truth is, forgiveness isn’t just for the person who wronged you, it’s for you, too. Is there anyone you need to forgive? A text, phone call, or conversation with that person might be the most important thing you do all day.
LIVE // Is it possible that you could be stuck because someone else has something that you think you deserve? Maybe someone got the trophy, got the grade, or got the boyfriend or girlfriend that you think should have been yours. Take a minute to write down one or two relationships where you feel frustrated—frustrated because they have what you want. What would it feel like to let go of that frustration? Ask God to give you the strength and courage to let go of that jealousy and frustration today.