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Hurting for Good?: No Touch-Backs!

“Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (1 Peter 3:9)

In yesterday’s passage, Peter told this group of Christians to live in harmony with each other, to give themselves away, to show sympathy and compassion, to live like close family.

In the very next verse, he seems to admit that families sometimes fight. Some of the angriest, meanest fights I’ve ever had were with the people closest to me. Brothers, especially, can be vicious to each other. If they’re going through hard times, they can really lash out.

Peter admits that even in this Christian family, there will be evil and insults done to each other. How should we respond? Don’t return the favor, he says. Take the hit, and let it go. No, more than that: Take the hit, and give back something good. Stop the cycle right now. That’s how a Jesus follower lives. That’s what we get rewarded for.

Think: Have you ever made the conscious choice in the moment not to “get even” in words or actions with someone who hurt you? How did that feel? What were the results?

Pray: Ask God for the maturity to stop the cycle of traded hurt and insults when it is in your power to do so.

Do: Look for an opportunity this week to hand a blessing to someone who says or does something hurtful to you.

Vote Now For Theme

Help pick a theme for Canada’s youth retreat weekends in 2011!
Each year, hundreds of youth gather in each province for a celebration called – Youth Together! The theme for the event changes yearly and this year YOU GET TO HELP PICK the theme! Sweet deal huh. This theme will be encouraged to be adopted by [...]

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Hurting for Good?: Hurting in Harmony

“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.” (1 Peter 3:8)

Peter is a writing here to a group of Christians, some of whom are being (or about to be) mistreated because they follow Jesus. He’s about to give them some guidelines for how Christians can live in an honorable way even when we’re going through hard times.

He starts with this: Treat each other right. No, that doesn’t go far enough. He really says, “Treat each other as close family.” It’s easy when you’re living through a painful season to excuse meanness. It’s easy to say to yourself, “Everyone will just have to understand how much I’m hurting; I don’t have the energy to be nice.”

What Peter will tell us this week is that’s exactly backwards. God can make our suffering count for something, especially if we’ll live like we’re His in the middle of it. So keep getting together with believers. Look for ways to show sympathy to others (not just yourself). Be compassionate and humble. Give them “family access” to your heart (and visa versa).

Think: Do you live in harmony with other Christians? When you’re hurting, do you get closer or pull away from your Christian family? Why?

Pray: Ask God to help you to treat the believers in your church the way this verse describes.

Do: Look up the word “harmony” in an online dictionary and write down the definition.

NEW Group Talks Added!

Do you like to get together and talk with your friends? NOT like the picture above though. That’s not even talking but we won’t get into that right now because it’s another conversation for some other time. Wanna talk about some deeper stuff than the # of kills you made in C.O.D or what drama [...]

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What Paul Prayed: Know Love?

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. ” (Ephesians 3:17-19)

I wanted to be a dad for several years before I actually got there. During that time, I paid attention to how other guys described the experience of being a father. I noticed that relationship pictured in movies and books. I had a certain knowledge of what it was like to be a dad. I could imagine it.

But when I held my son for the first time on the night he was born, I felt something completely unexpected. I’m not usually an emotional guy, but I was overwhelmed by powerful feelings of connection, protection, and love for 7 pounds of crying baby wrapped in a blanket. Honestly, it was weird and wonderful.

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have the power to “know this love that surpasses knowledge.” He wanted them to move past knowing about God’s love to experiencing it in their souls. To be rocked by that weird, wonderful love connection with our Father God is the key to filing our whole lives up with Him. It’s a knowing beyond words that leads to satisfaction with Him.

Think: Do you feel like you “grasp” Christ’s love for you, that you have experienced His overwhelming love in a way words can’t quite describe? If not, why do you think that is? Have you ever prayed this passage for yourself?

Pray: Thank God for His enormous love for you in Jesus — and that His love doesn’t change even on the days you can’t “feel” it.

Do: Pray this final passage for the 6 people on your list. (See the “Do” section for last Monday’s devo for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Give Me Power

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)

Another day, another power prayer. Have you noticed how all of Paul’s prayers for his Christians friends in Ephesus come back to the issue of power? He wants them to have supernatural sight to see the power they have from God. He wants them to have the power to keep Jesus in the center of their lives. And now he asks God to give them the power to somehow, some way understand Jesus’ giant love for them.

Most people don’t think of following Jesus as an experience that involves and requires great power. Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, right? To forgive as forgiven? To honor others above themselves like Jesus did? Isn’t Christianity all about giving up power?

No. Read that paragraph again. Following Jesus is all about giving up self — and that takes enormous power. Giving up self requires us to believe that we are loved by a Savior good enough and strong enough to provide everything we need while we’re not focused on ourselves. To understand and receive a high, long, deep, wide love like that takes off-the-charts power.

Think: Do you think of faithful Christians as powerful people? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for rooting and grounding you in love. Thank Him for the endless love of Jesus.

Do: Pray today’s passage for each of the 6 people on your list. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

What Paul Prayed: Give Me Power

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” (Ephesians 3:17-18)

Another day, another power prayer. Have you noticed how all of Paul’s prayers for his Christians friends in Ephesus come back to the issue of power? He wants them to have supernatural sight to see the power they have from God. He wants them to have the power to keep Jesus in the center of their lives. And now he asks God to give them the power to somehow, some way understand Jesus’ giant love for them.

Most people don’t think of following Jesus as an experience that involves and requires great power. Christians are supposed to turn the other cheek, right? To forgive as forgiven? To honor others above themselves like Jesus did? Isn’t Christianity all about giving up power?

No. Read that paragraph again. Following Jesus is all about giving up self — and that takes enormous power. Giving up self requires us to believe that we are loved by a Savior good enough and strong enough to provide everything we need while we’re not focused on ourselves. To understand and receive a high, long, deep, wide love like that takes off-the-charts power.

Think: Do you think of faithful Christians as powerful people? Why or why not?

Pray: Thank God for rooting and grounding you in love. Thank Him for the endless love of Jesus.

Do: Pray today’s passage for each of the 6 people on your list. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

Skateboarder Jumps Great Wall

What Paul Prayed: Knee Power

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” (Ephesians 3:15-17)

For the weekend, we jump to chapter 3 for another of Paul’s prayers for the Ephesians. First he gives us a glimpse of how he prays — on his knees. It’s amazing what actually getting on your knees does for your mind when you’re praying. You’re less likely to fall asleep than when you’re laying down, and you’re less likely to let your mind wander than when you “pray on the run.” Paul took his prayers for his friends seriously enough to make these requests on is knees.

Next, notice whom Paul prays to — the Father. And it wasn’t just the ritual greeting we sometimes use: “Dear Heavenly Father.” Paul knew that in praying, he was taking his best hopes for his friends not just “to the top,” but to the ultimate patriarch, the head of the family, the great and loving Father of us all.

So what did he ask? He wanted his friends to have God’s huge power to keep Christ living in their hearts through faith. Note he’s not asking God to keep them from losing their salvation. He’s asking that they’ll have the supernatural ability to always keep Jesus as the center of their lives.

Think: Why do you thing we need so much help from God to keep our focus on our Savior?

Pray: Ask God to help you take prayer seriously enough to really talk to the Father with reverence and focus.

Do: Pray this verse for the 6 people on your list. (See Monday’s “Do” section for details.)

Pakistan Flood 2010

God,
Our prayers and hearts are with the people in Pakistan as they are recovering from the flooding. We pray for clean water, food, warmth and shelter to be restored to those affected. Help relief workers to get to the people and places they need to. From an emotional/spiritual perspective, I pray for those dealing with [...]

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