Tag Archives: Free Devotions for Teens

Evergreens

29 May

Read: 1 Peter 4:12-19

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season…”

Psalm 1:1-3a NASB

Watering plants is innately relaxing.  Now imagine that you’re blessed enough to have the job I found myself with: four hours a day watering all the plants for a local nursery.

Of course, not every plant needed to be watered every day.  Some of them (particularly the trees) could go a couple of days without any trouble.  There were, however, a few which would readily have taken water twice a day.  These were the evergreens.

If you’ve ever tried to raise an evergreen, you know that it is an exceptionally needy plant.  If they don’t get enough nutrients, their waxy green needles turn a brittle brown.  If they don’t get enough sunlight, their waxy green needles turn a brittle brown.  If they don’t get enough water, their waxy green needles turn a brittle brown.

If, however, you provide your evergreen with all of these ingredients, it will stay a vibrant green or blue even through the hardest winter freeze, the strongest winds, or the deepest floods.

What’s my point?  As Christians, we often encounter difficulties and find ourselves asking why we aren’t weathering them any better than our unsaved friends.  We know that in Christ we are “ever green”, but we just aren’t capable of demonstrating that level of resilience… and wonder what went wrong. 

The truth is that, much like evergreens, if we get the proper care and nourishment through Bible reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers, we show forth God’s glory even in the toughest circumstances.  But if we don’t… watch out!  If you want to withstand the storm, you have to take time to prepare for it.

Challenge:  Are you spending enough time with God?  Your willingness to do so now can make a big difference in your ability to face life’s challenges in the future.  Take the time, this week, to carefully examine your spiritual practices and make adjustments where necessary!

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The Rummage Sale

22 May

Read: Matthew 25:14-30

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

James 1:17 NASB

A quick look around the nursery was sufficient to see that we had too much plant material on hand.  The season was nearing an end and, without enough room to plant the remaining trees and shrubs on our own lot or to successfully over winter them in the greenhouse, we had no choice but to begin marking down the product.

We placed each discounted plant in an area of the nursery marked with red tape, their new prices or the percentage discount prominently displayed on each one.  Many of the plants saw discounts far beyond half off (you’ve heard that saying: “If it ain’t half off, it ain’t on sale”).  It was not ideal, but we felt that we had little choice… and our customers did enjoy the newfound treasures!

I saw plenty of these healthy, but dilapidated-looking pieces of greenery come through the check stands with their $40 price tags crossed out and $5 scrawled in its place.  Anyone who knew what the nursery had originally paid for these plants would have been impressed by such discounts… but even this was insufficient to please a few rare customers.

I was working this “rummage sale” area one afternoon when a lady approached me.  “I want to speak to a manager about getting a discount on these.  They look a bit ragged.”

I quickly explained that it was for this very reason that they had already been marked down, but to no avail.  After failing to reach the manager about the possibility of an even deeper discount, I suggested that we speak with the assistant manager.

“I already talked to her,” my customer replied.  “She said no, so I want to talk with the manager.”

Sadly, when this could not be arranged, she left the store… without the plant in question.  It was an amazing price, but apparently, not amazing enough.

Unfortunately, oft times we as Christians behave in a similar manner.  Seeing the good gifts that God has already given us, the great deal offered at His expense, we seek even more.  While there is nothing wrong with doing so, we must keep in mind that what God has already offered is of phenomenal quality… even when it doesn’t come in the type of packages we expect!

To reject His gifts on the grounds that they aren’t exactly what we would have chosen for ourselves is foolish.  Instead, we must seek to take advantage of all that He offers us… and turn it again to His service!

Challenge:  Don’t let what you wish you had keep you from accepting God’s best for you.  Remember that all good things are a demonstration of His love and can be used in His service… even if they aren’t exactly what we’d hoped for!

Ask the Mechanic

15 May

Read: Hebrews 4:13-16

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin.”

Hebrews 4:15 NIV

 

Working retail affords you the opportunity to meet all sorts of people.  Some of them are entertaining, encouraging, and just plain fun to be around.  Others, however, have a unique ability to talk down to nearly everyone.  And for some reason, our service center mechanic seemed to attract more than her fair share of these.

While the “you’re-a-woman-and-can’t-possibly-know-enough-to-fix-my-lawnmower” attitude offended her, there was very little she could do about it.  Instead, each time she found herself confronted by such a customer, she would refer them to her manager.

After attentively listening to the customer’s description of their problem, he would explain that he didn’t know how to mend the merchandise in question… but if they wanted to talk to someone who did, they could ask his mechanic.  One way or another, they always ended up back at the service center, looking her in the eye.

 The truth was that though these customers felt that it was impossible for a female mechanic to have any real mechanical knowledge, she was a good deal more qualified than she may have at first appeared.  She had been working on engines since childhood, had taken each vendor’s repair course, and had been certified and recertified to work on the merchandise which we sold.  Our customers could not have been in better hands.

Unfortunately, as Christians, our attitudes aren’t often that far removed from those of these customers.  While we teach that God is all-knowing, we sometimes behave as though His position beyond the borders of our universe prevents Him from truly understanding and sympathizing with our human struggles.  How wonderful it is to be reminded that He cares so much for us that He took on our flesh and experienced these trials and tribulations just as we do!  Being the Creator of all things as well as having experienced life in human skin, He is duly qualified to deal with all of our problems!

Challenge:  Commit to reading the entire book of John.  As you do, think carefully about the human aspects of Christ’s life: the labor of a carpenter, the sore muscles He must have experienced after a long day on the road, His feelings upon being abandoned by His friends.  Make a list of all the ways in which the Master’s life and yours are similar.  You may be surprised at just how much He can sympathize with your situation!

Multi-Purpose

8 May

Read: 2 Timothy 3:16-4:8

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.”

2 Timothy 3:16 NASB

 

 We were in the process of remodeling the clothing department to give it a more “Western” feel.  All of our merchandise had been moved and reorganized and large wooden ramps and walkways had been installed.  A rustic boardwalk led down our jean aisle, drawing attention to the racks of cowboy hats nearby and faux driftwood signs identified each product.

I had volunteered my services during the remodel and had been assigned the task of helping to reset the boot department.  One of the clothing employees had already devoted hours to the project and every box had been neatly aligned with the edge of the shelving, large boxes at the bottom of the racks and small boxes at the very top.  Her greatest innovation, however, had been the carpet runners which now covered the length of the shelves, holding the display product in place.

In the rush to get the product off the floor and onto the shelves, the department manager had simply slapped merchandise back onto the shelves: ruining the professional look of the display.  Fortunately, by a stroke of luck, we discovered that she had not applied enough adhesive to the carpet runner.  The covering, weighed down by the boots, began to slide towards the edge of the shelving, eventually landing in a heap on the floor… and giving us the perfect excuse for reworking the display.

We immediately set about applying adhesive spray, one of us holding up the carpet runner while the other coated the backside with enough of the sticky aerosol to prevent an elephant from breaking free.  We realigned the runner on the shelving and Presto!

Pleased with the result, I turned to head back to my department.  As the light hit my glasses, I realized that we had applied almost as much adhesive to ourselves as we had to the display.  Dashing to the bathroom, I began soaping down my lenses.  To my great distress, the permanent adhesive did appear to be permanent.

I quickly ran to the break room, nearly mowing down one of our managers on my way.  We had a short discussion about what had happened and he told me to go coat my lenses in WD-40 and then wash them again.  I, of course, thought he was joking, but to my great surprise (and pleasure) discovered that it actually worked and the adhesive came right off!

The Apostle Paul tells us that God’s Word is very much like a spiritual version of WD-40: it’s multi-purpose and good for much more than we originally anticipate.  The same words that convict us of sin can also guide and heal us.  How nice to know that God has not only foreseen our needs, but also provided for them well in advance with His own multi-purpose product!

Challenge:  This week, read a single Bible verse each day.  Then, spend the rest of your devotional time prayerfully considering (and writing down) all of the lessons that can be learned from each verse.  You may be surprised at what you discover!

The Language Barrier

1 May

Read: 2 Timothy 1:13 – 3:4

“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.”

2 Timothy 2:15 NASB

My area of the country with its winding rivers and abundant farmland is home away from home for a large number of migrant workers.  Because this is not their native land, it is not surprising that a good many of them cannot speak its native tongue.  Factors ranging from the amount of time that workers have available to devote to language learning to the actual difficulty involved in acquiring a new tongue often hinder workers’ ability to communicate clearly with the natives.  I have to give credit to those of who are at least willing to try to learn English and cannot speak poorly of the Hispanic gentleman whom I found myself assisting on this particularly hot summer afternoon.

“Young man, can you help me?”  he enquired, approaching me as I stood stocking a shelf.

At first I was rather taken aback, recalling the blind man who had at one time made the same nearly impossible mistake.  A quick glance was enough to tell me that this gentleman was far from blind and that this error must stem from some other source.

I listened carefully as he awkwardly explained what he needed and I proceeded to assist him to the best of my abilities.  It wasn’t until later that it struck me that perhaps the reason for the odd manner in which he addressed me was due to an error on the part of his language instructor.  Was it possible that someone had informed him that any young person ought to be referred to as “young man?”

My customer very well may have been attempting to be polite, acting upon the advice of a trusted advisor, but the form of address he used was incorrect.  In the same manner, it is easy for us as Christians to rely upon others’ understanding of Scripture rather than our own. In doing so, we sometimes find ourselves acting upon misinformation.

Not everyone who teaches within the Church does so with a clear or full understanding of God’s Word.  It is for this reason that Paul taught individual believers to diligently study the Scripture for themselves.  Not only does this practice enable us to ensure that the doctrine which we are applying in our own lives is sound, but also ensure that the doctrine which we are sharing with others is correct and accurate.

Challenge: This week, pay careful attention to the Scripture passages from the Sunday Sermon, your weekly Bible study, and your daily devotions.  Then, apply the 20/20 rule, reading at least the 20 verses preceding the passage and the 20 verses following it.  You may be surprised at what proper context has to teach you!

Just So You Know

24 Apr

Read: Ephesians 4:1-32

“I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it.  Indeed, you are still not ready.  You are still worldly.”

1 Corinthians 3:2-3a NIV

 

I picked up the phone and tucked it between my shoulder and my ear as I began sorting the paperwork management had left on our desk.  “Nursery, this is Anna.”

“This is one of your customers.  My name doesn’t matter,” replied the woman on the other end.  (I was rather taken aback by the spy-like response.)  “I was just calling to let you know that I have a bunch of peach trees that are just giving me a bumper crop this year!”

Smiling, I leaned back in my chair.  “I’m glad to hear that.”

“Yes, well, I wanted you to know because years ago, someone out there informed me that peach trees don’t grow from peach seeds.  I wanted you all to know in case you’re laboring under some mistaken idea that they don’t, that they do!”

“Well, yes ma’am, peach trees do grow from peach seeds.”  I frowned, puzzling over which employee could have made such an elementary mistake.

“Well, someone told me that they don’t and I just wanted to make certain that you don’t go on giving out misinformation to your customers.”  With that, she hung up.

I laughed as I returned the phone to the wall, imagining how the conversation might actually have gone:

“I just planted some peach pits and I need to know what I need to do to get them to grow,” my customer could have explained.

“You probably won’t be able to.  It’s difficult to get a peach tree to thrive in our climate and growing one from seed is next to impossible.  Besides, pollination will affect the variety of peach that grows from the seed.  It may not have the same quality as the peach from which it came,” my imaginary employee would have replied, clearly sympathetic, but less than hopeful.

Either way, the question would not have been one of peach trees growing from peach seeds, but of whether it was possible to grow such a tree successfully in our area.  Unfortunately, the Corinthian church wasn’t much different.  Paul had given them clear instructions regarding God’s plan for His people.  But just as my customer had failed to remember her early botany lessons, the Corinthians had failed to recall the Apostle’s spiritual lessons.  Instead of adding virtue to their salvation, they continued in sin… and the Apostle found himself repeating what should have been quite clear.  The problem wasn’t one of understanding how salvation was obtained (through the seeds of faith), but of nurturing it properly as it grew.

Challenge:  Are you nurturing your faith properly?  This week, take time to prayerfully consider how you are (or aren’t) growing in Christ.  Then, commit to creating the proper environment for your faith to thrive!

That’s 30% Off

17 Apr

Read: Matthew 18:7-11

“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.  Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

Romans 14:12-13 KJV

 

My time in retail has afforded me the unique “privilege” of meeting at least a few customers who seem to think that illiteracy is a prerequisite for holding a job as a cashier.  It’s almost as if they assume that since you’re working a minimum wage, blue collar job, you must have dropped out of high school before your junior year.

I’ll admit that it doesn’t take long to grow irritated when an already busy day is punctuated by such customers.  Handing me a clearly marked discount tag, then proceeding to tell me what the tag says isn’t the best way to make a friend… nor is staring at my computer monitor and criticizing every price reduction it displays.

While occasionally, such a customer does catch something that the cashier or the computer missed, more often than not, they succeed only in holding up an already packed line.  I can’t count the times that a customer has complained about product pricing only to discover that the computer (and the cashier operating it) is a better mathematician than they are.  (For example, 30% off an $80 product is not $50!)

It is a strange thing, but often, we as Christians make the same mistake with each other that customers so frequently make with cashiers.  We catch a fellow believer in what we perceive to be a failure (at least by our own calculations) and immediately set about correcting them.

While it isn’t inappropriate to do so, there are times when our calculations are far from correct.  Instead of being a help, we become a hindrance and a source of stumbling for someone who already was following the Spirit’s lead.  Like my customers, we would be better off double checking our “figures” before informing others of their shortcomings.  When we do, we’re sure to be both a help and a friend!

Challenge:  This week, concentrate on removing stumbling blocks rather than erecting them.

 

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