It’s Not the Easy Way

APRIL 24

MATTHEW 5:43_Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy.

How “it hath been said,” is your natural inclination. Love who you like, and hate who you don’t. That’s as natural as heat in summer. I won’t say it’s the easy way, because neither of these emotions is easy. Between the two, hate may be the easier. Easy because it is based on self-centered selfishness, which comes naturally. Hate requires no self-sacrifice. Hate thrives on grudge-holding. Just be plain hard-hearted. No open heart surgery necessary.

Hate is deadly. Spiritually, hate places a barrier between your spirit and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Emotionally, it keeps hormones out of sync, fluctuating between rage and depression. Physically, hate is a strong contributor to keep the body from healing itself.

Love is neither natural nor easy. Recovery from The Great Surgeon’s open-heart surgery results in true love. Once you succumb to more of Jesus and less of you, the door opens to The Great Transformer. He fills you with love. You cannot manufacture it on our own. You open the door, Jesus fills you up.

The effects of love in your life spiritually, emotionally, and physically are 180 degrees from the effects of hate.

PRAYER

Loving God, I don’t want to live the easy way. I want to live the loving way. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ always loves—He will teach me!

Trust Required

APRIL 21

MATTHEW 5:42_Give to him that asketh thee…

Give all you can. Keep one thing in mind – you can’t give what you don’t have. Don’t steal or go into debt to give your loved ones what they want.

If your friend has a need, and you have the means to meet it, feel free to do so. The key word in that sentence is free. A transformed heart is a free heart. You should feel good about giving – not depressed.   

You may be saving your money for a rainy day,. Your friend’s rainy day has come. Your friend asks you for help. Part of the depth of this teaching is trust. Can you trust that if Jesus taught love as an action – then it is? Giving is action – not talk.

Youth should always discuss this kind of action with parents or guardians. God can teach you through their advice. Listen and learn. They have lived much longer than you and know more about giving.

One time Jesus sent His disciples out to teach and heal the sick. They would be gone for several days. He specifically told them in Luke 9:3 (KJV), “And he [Jesus] said unto them [disciples], Take nothing for your journey, neither staves, nor script, neither bread, neither money; neither have two coats apiece.”

Jesus said the people who received the disciples into their homes would provide for their needs. Trust was a requirement.

It turned into a beautiful blessing for both parties.

PRAYER

Heavenly Father, I want to trust Your teachings. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                                                                                                             

Christ’s teachings require trust—They will bless me!

Time and Mercy

JANUARY 21

MATTHEW 5:7_Blessed are the merciful…

What will you look like if you become merciful? Suppose someone has ridiculed and scorned you because you made a choice for moral purity. When that person falls into immorality there is depression, possibly despair. Will you come with mercy? Will you offer a kind word? Words of hope? Will you lay aside the pain done to you? 

There is no bondage quite like immorality. Immorality afflicts the heart and soul. The damage can cause deep destruction. The damage inside the heart and soul spell b-e-t-r-a-y-a-l. This is more than betrayal to someone else’s heart but includes betrayal to your own heart. Most of all God’s purity plan has been betrayed. People in moral bondage need mercy. Immorality comes with guilt. Guilt causes that heart and soul destruction.

True mercy, like that of Jesus, brings with it freedom. To offer mercy without freedom is to place a Band-Aid on a deep wound which requires stitches. A Band-Aid will not stop you from bleeding to death. 

Mercy involves giving lots of something we tend to hoard for ourselves – time.

PRAYER

Merciful Jesus, Help me be merciful and give my time. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.                    

Christ is true mercy—Mercy requires my time!

To Know Jesus

JANUARY 1

MATTHEW 5:1_And seeing the multitudes…

Jesus sees multitudes. That’s an awful lot of people! Bigger than a crowd!

Several instances in Jesus’ life have prepared Him for the multitudes. It is obvious He has been born. To know Jesus you must take a look at His birth. Talk about unconventional! Talk about amazing! Conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of a virgin?

To know Jesus you must also get to know the God of the Impossible.

Jesus’ birth was questioned, ridiculed, and scorned. He grew up with that – a part of daily life. Being honored and acknowledged as the Son of God was not a part of His daily life. 

So, if you were not born in accordance with the status quo, don’t let it depress you – it is not something you caused or can change. Besides, you share very good company. Jesus is an overcomer. He can help you become one as well.

Throughout this year you will learn a lot about how God planned life and His views on things like marriage. God’s plan is perfect. It can save you unnecessary hurts in life.

There is power in living according to God’s plan. 

PRAYER

Dear Heavenly Father, Help me to be sensitive to the pain of others and to be careful about decisions I make.  In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ loves me—Unconditionally!

We All Have Baggage

OCTOBER 29

MATTHEW 7:14_strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life…

If we had to be baggage-free to enter the strait gate, there would be no need to enter. After all, we’re already living free so what’s there to gain?

We all have baggage. Bags filled with broken pieces of our hearts, hopes, and dreams. Some baggage we choose of our own free will. Other baggage is inflicted upon us by the circumstances of life. They came with the life package—a life we live in a dark and sinful world every moment of every day.   

The difference in the sizes of our baggage depends upon how we deal with them. The wide gate allows for a lot of baggage. That is why it is wide. The path is broad so we don’t have to drop off any bags. It is the designed path for those who have been subdued by the world—to accept its darkness as if there were no other choice. It is for those who don’t want to check their bags at the gate because the bags contain their pain relievers. Some may be for physical pain, but the majority are for pains of the soul. The spirits of darkness work to keep us depressed and discouraged. Life doesn’t have to be that way—there is hope!  

Colossians 1:27 (KJV), “To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

PRAYER

Lord Who Reigns, Only You can truly relieve the pains of my life. In the powerful name of Jesus, Amen.

Christ is the pain reliever—I will make Him mine!