During these different times we will be using this page for teaching content and resources for our youth.
Rebel Youth is back on Zoom this Friday May 22nd!
Meeting ID: 997 2703 8563
Download Zoom here: https://zoom.us/support/download
God Works Through Our Weakness to Accomplish His Big Plans
This week’s devotion comes from the book: Do Hard Things, A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations by Alex & Brett Harris.
It is a book that we have recommended our youth reading while they are under (a now easing) isolation. The book can be bought from Koorong or there is a free version on Google Books.
The book challenges youth to “rethink what teens are capable of doing and becoming”.
The book starts off by saying:
“Most people don’t expect you to understand what we’re going to tell you in this book. And even if you understand, they don’t expect you to care. And even if you care, they don’t expect you to do anything about it. And even if you do something about it, they don’t expect it to last. Well, we do.”
Today’s devotion is inspired a few paragraphs on page 70 of the book, which comes under the heading: God Works Through Our Weakness to Accomplish His Big Plans.
“Everyone likes to feel strong and smart. That means as soon as we start to feel stretched or pushed past our limits, we hit the brakes, slam into reverse, and scoot back to our comfort zones. Who wants to risk feeling weak and stupid?
Alyssa Chua, a seventeen-year-old rebelutionary (a title the book has created for teens who rebel against societies norms and low expectations) from the Philippines, explained her pattern this way: “My comfort zone was the place where everything was just the way I wanted it to be; a situation where I never had to make extra effort or do something difficult; a place where I could sit back, relax, and enjoy myself.”
The problem, she told us, was that when she stayed inside her comfort zone, she was essentially refusing to surrender her life fully to God; she was avoiding the hard things He was calling her to do.
Alyssa now realises that stepping out of her comfort zone made all the difference. “Outside my comfort zone, I learned to lean on God for strength instead of leaning on the small pleasures of this world for comfort. Outside my comfort zone, I found that I could serve God more fully and use all of my talents unreservedly for Him.”
The book goes onto say on page 74 that “God loves to take stammering boys and shy girls (The book had talked about two examples along these lines) and use them to change lives for eternity. And its not about feeling strong; its about obeying God. Even When you are afraid.”
Paul the Apostle had his weaknesses. And he begged God to take them away. But God didn’t take them away. Instead, as Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Be What You Are!
Psalm 127:3 says (in the NLT) that
3 Children are a gift from the Lord;
they are a reward from him.
I want to encourage you all on a couple of brief points this week. The first point is that God says that you already are a gift and you already are a reward to your parents. Just by existing you are a very special thing to them. I understood this fully when Jeremiah was born. I realised that just by being him, he was a very special gift and reward to me and nothing he did or did not do would ever change that. That is who you are to your Mum.
This Sunday is Mother’s Day. So, I also want to encourage you this Sunday to be what you are! Be the gift and the reward that you already are. Try and find ways to express this to your Mums because they deserve it! The Bible teaches us to honour our Mothers (Exodus 20:12) and while we should be doing this always, its nice to take a day to especially honour them for who they are and for all that they have done for us!
This Sunday morning, we are having a Mother’s Day Cook Up on Zoom and all of our youth are invited to take part. It will just be a bit of fun, but the main point is that as a church we want our Mums to know they are special to us. Whether you can participate or not, be challenged to remind your Mum this Sunday that you love her, through word, deed and gift!
Dear Kids (of all ages) and adult helpers/Dads,
A few of our very capable St Stephen’s Dads will be assisting us with a cook-your-Mum-Breakfast tutorial starting at 8.45AM on Mother’s Day (via zoom, of course!). So, the idea is that you invite your mum to a home cooked breakfast (prepared by you!) followed by virtual church at 9.30am.Join us via zoom for this very special event.
Here’s some important things to note:
Your shopping list (Best to get these before Sunday at 8.45am!):
Oranges for Juice or Fruit Juice
Coffee and Tea
Equipment needed (also good to do a quick check and make sure these are available):BBQ
Kettle / Coffee Machine
Juicer (if your mum likes fresh juice)
Here’s your zoom link:https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83719301703
Meeting ID: 837 1930 1703
John 11:35 has the shortest verse in all of the Bible. It tells us simply: “Jesus wept”. The context is that Jesus’ friend Lazarus had died. When Jesus arrived he planned to raise Lazarus from the dead as a powerful exhibition of his power and mission before going to Jerusalem to die on a cross. Even though Jesus knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead, when he saw the scene of mourners for Lazarus that his heart broke.
Death was not what humans were made to do. Its one of the consequences of human sin entering into the world. Jesus’ heart broke because death and crying were examples of everything not being as they were supposed to be. Jesus was 100% God, he was also 100% human. In John 11 we see both his divinity and his humanity moved to tears.
There are a few important lessons for us from this story but I will focus on one important point. Even though Jesus knew everything was going to be okay, he knew he would raise Lazarus from the dead he still allowed himself to feel the pain of the moment.
At the moment you might keep telling yourself that everything is going to be okay, and while I’d encourage you to keep doing that, don’t feel like you aren’t allowed to experience and express hurt and grief. This year isn’t turning out the way many of us planned but even though we know God is in control and that ultimately everything will be okay, remember Jesus’ tears and know your pain is okay and that God sees it, understands it and cares for you.
2) Buy and read this awesome book for teenagers called:
Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations
3) Make some Easter Cupcakes! Take a picture and send to Chris and he will upload it here!
4) Make the scene of Jesus’ death and resurrection on Minecraft. Look below for some inspiration!
5) Watch some Bible Project Videos on Youtube!
A Time to Rest.
In Exodus chapter 20 we find the 10 Commandments given by God to Moses for his people. The fourth of these commandments says “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy”.
You can find more information on the Sabbath here but in summary – God commanded his people to have a rest every week. Did you catch that? One of God’s big 10 commandments is to, at least once a week, stop working and to put their feet up.
At the moment we are in somewhat of an enforced Sabbath. Being stuck at home poses some of its own challenges but one of the things we can and should be doing at the moment is…. absolutely nothing. A break is a good chance to embrace inactivity, silence and rest and allow the lack of “stuff” going on to be a reinvigorating force in our lives: physically, emotionally and spiritually.
I’m not saying you now have a Bible verse that stops you helping your parents when they ask you to do things around the house, and if you have any assignments that need doing – DO them! But in the natural gaps that will appear on your timetable in the next few weeks, I’d like to encourage you to stop, pause and rest.
Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God.”
With all the extra chances to be still that we have at the moment, we should take them and use them to acknowledge God in the stillness. To remember he has it all under control and that we can trust him.
Have a Happy Easter!
My Shield and My Great Reward
In Genesis 15:1 we are told that Abram (not yet renamed Abraham) received God’s word in a vision. God said to him:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield,
your very great reward.”
The times we are living in at the moment are really challenging: being stuck at home all the time, important things are being cancelled, trying to do schoolwork via technology, being worried about what is happening in the world. Perhaps you know someone who has COVID-19 or someone who is more at risk.
It is a good time to remember that God says to us “Do not be afraid”. It is okay to be scared sometimes and to be worried. It is okay to feel frustrated and even angry. But God’s message to us is to not let those negative emotions consume us totally. We are able to do this by looking to him as our shield and reward.
Our Shield: God is our protector. When we come to him, the negative things of this world are blocked away. This sometimes happens in the physical realm, but not always. Most powerfully he protects us spiritually.
6 tells us to “put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your
stand against the devil’s schemes.” The devil is scheming to use this
time to kill your joy. He wants to steal your resolve, your love and
your hope. But a part of the armour of God that protects us is the
“shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows
of the evil one.”
Our very great reward: One of the greatest things I ever realised was that the best thing about being a Christian was God himself. Because of what Jesus did for us, we get to reconnect with the one true God, the creator of the universe. God is our very great reward.
The world can take away many things from us. At the moment it is taking away our plans for this year and our ability to be with people physically. But the devil and the world can never take God away from us. He is our very great reward now and will also be our very great reward in the future where we will spend an eternity with him and his people. We look forward to that day described in Revelation 21 when:
“God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
God is still our shield and our very great reward.