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“What If?” Week 3— What If We Prayed? (2/26/17)

Happy Last Monday of February!

Last night was our last night of our “What If?” Series. GEN122 led us in a powerful time of worship before we got into the message— “What If We Prayed?”

2 Chronicles 7:14NIV says, …if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turnfrom their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Before digging into the verse, we watched this video from Casting Crowns called, “What If His People Prayed?”.

The answer to the question, “What If We Prayed?” is answered with an incredible promise— God will hear us from Heaven, heal our land, and forgive our sin. God, the Creator of the Universe, hears our prayers and desires to heal our land (schools, communities, etc.) and bring revival.

We closed out the night by having the students take about five minutes of quiet time to see what they felt was on God’s heart for our March Madness Outreach event that begins next week. Some of the students had their requests written down on the white board and several students even prayed some pretty incredible prayers in front of the group. You can check out some of the written requests below:

We created a daily devotion for the youth to take home for the week that went along with 2 Chronicles 7:14 that you can check out at the end of the post!

Have a great week and don’t miss March Madness!

-Pastor Dustin

REFUEL DEVOTIONS FOR 2/25-3/4

We encourage all of our students to take time to “Refuel” on a daily basis. “Refuel” is referring to our prayer and devotional time with God. Life has a way of draining us so It is vitally important that we take time daily to spend time with God to “fuel up” on his presence! A healthy, strong, and thriving relationship with God begins here!

REFUEL instructions: Read the entire verse each day. Hopefully, you’ll be able to say the verse from memory by the end of the week! Each devotion will look at a different part of the verse to see how it relates to us and how it applies to our lives.

Text for the week: 2 Chronicles 7:14NIV

 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

Day 1: If my people…

These three words are really powerful. God is calling us, “his people”. If you have a relationship with Jesus, you are considered part of God’s “people”.

We all want to belong and have a group of people we can connect to. As you go through your day today, remember that you are part of God’s people. Believing this can help you stand strong against peer-pressure, and take away your desire to do things just to fit it with your friends. You don’t have to earn God’s love to be considered his “people”. Jesus died for you on the cross so that you could have a personal, life-long, and eternal relationship with him.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God,

Thank you for giving your life for me on the cross so that I could have a relationship with you, and thank you for considering me to be part of your people. I ask you to help me today to stand strong against temptation and peer pressure so that people can see your love and light in me.

In Jesus Name,

AMEN!

If you have never committed to having a relationship with Jesus but would like to do so, please consider praying the prayer below and then talk to Pastor Dustin, Lydia, or one of your Tribe Leaders at youth so they can help make sure you have a clear understanding of what it means to have a relationship with Jesus.

Dear Jesus,

Thank you so much for dying on the cross for my sins. I believe You died on the cross, was buried and rose again. I trust in You to forgive me for all of my sins. I receive this free gift of eternal life through faith right now.” AMEN.

Day 2: …who are called by my name

Not only are we God’s people as we learned yesterday, but we are also called by his name. Think about it this way: When people call us, they call us by our name. We respond when people call us by the name we were given because that is how we identify ourselves.

It is important that we also understand and believe that we can now identify not only by the name we have been given here on earth, but also as a child of God! Being called by God’s name also means that we have available to us the things associated with his name like: victory, freedom, God’s blessings, and being able to face any obstacles we face in life.

Take a few minutes today to think about or write down some of the things that you struggle with. Some of those things could be things like: low self-esteem, doing things that you know don’t please God to fit in with your friends, struggling with your school work, feeling inadequate, etc. Unfortunately, the things we struggle with can keep us from living life to it’s fullest potential like God created us to do.

Anytime you struggle with something today and throughout the week, remember that you are called by God’s name! You are an overcomer and champion because God has called us to be his people by his great, powerful name! Go and live today with confidence knowing that God has given you everything you need to conquer the tasks and situations that lie ahead.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God,

Thank you for thinking enough of me and loving me enough to call me by your name and giving me access to your blessings, freedom, and victory. I ask you to help me to remember that you have given me everything I need to live my life for you and overcome any obstacles that I may face. Thank you for loving and believing in me!

In Jesus Name,

AMEN!

Day 3: …will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways…

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the phrase “to humble ourselves” means to not be proud or haughty : not arrogant (thinking more of yourself than what you should). Humbling ourselves before God basically means that we are putting God’s will and ways above our own.

When we pray, we are admitting and reminding ourselves that we need God to help guide us through life. We are asking him to show us his desire for our lives as well as asking him to show us the things in life that may not be pleasing to him. This is when it is important to humble ourselves since most of us don’t like to admit that there may be things in our lives that shouldn’t be there. What we need to remember is that admitting that there are things in our lives that aren’t pleasing to God doesn’t mean that we’re a bad person. It simply means that we need God’s help and strength to help us become more and more like him.

What does it mean to seek God’s face? This means that we are looking to become more like him and to know him and his plan for us more each day. Think about playing hide n’ seek. The seeker looks everywhere to try and find those hiding from them. God desires us to look for him and spend time worshipping him and being in his presence. The awesome thing is that God doesn’t hide from us the way people do when we play hide n’ seek. Things and situations in life may make it a little harder to seek God sometimes, but he promises that we will find him when we seek him! (Jeremiah 29:13-14).

The last part of today’s portion of Scripture tells us to turn from our wicked ways. Like we already said, this doesn’t mean that we are horrible people. It simply means that we all have things in life that aren’t pleasing to God. “Wicked ways” is referring to the sin that is in our lives.

Do your best to commit to praying to God today. If you’re not sure where to start, consider starting with something simple like asking God to help you to become more like him and show you the things in your life that aren’t pleasing to him. Make a list of things in your life that may not be pleasing to God. Some of these things could include: talking back to your parents, saying or doing things around your friends that you know are wrong to try and fit in, gossiping, bad language, cheating on tests, etc.

Prayer for Today:

Dear God,

Please help me to put your desires above my own this week, and help my desires for my life to become the same as yours. I ask you to help me seek you more and spend more time in your presence. I also ask that you would help give me the strength and desire to let go of the things in my life that are not pleasing to you.

In Jesus Name,

AMEN!

Day 4- then I will hear from Heaven…

Think about the six words above for a moment to let them sink in… God will hear us from heaven! Have you ever had times in your life when you felt like no one heard you, or felt like nobody cared about what you were going through? The answer is more than likely, YES! When we humble ourselves, pray to God, seek his face, and let go of the things in life that aren’t pleasing to him, God hears us from his throne in heaven. God, the Creator of the universe, listens to us! We don’t have to be perfect for God to hear our prayers. We learned in Day 3’s Refuel time that we simply need to be willing to allow God to show us the things in life that aren’t pleasing to him (keeping us from drawing closer to him). As you go through today, be encouraged that God hears and listens to our prayers when we come before him with a humble heart and a desire to become more like him!

You may feel like other people in your life may not care to listen to what you have to say, but remember that you are created and loved by a God who loves you unconditionally and listens to every word that you say!

Prayer for Today:

Dear God,

Thank you so much for caring enough about me to hear and listen to me! I ask you to help me remember that you hear every word that I say even when life is tough and it feels like you aren’t around. Thank you for loving me!

In Jesus Name,

AMEN!

Day 5— and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

God not only hears our prayers, but he does something about them when we come to him with the right attitude, and seek his will above our own. 2 Chronicles 7:14 was actually God’s response to King Solomon’s request that God would remember his promises to the Israelites, protect them from their enemies, and forgive them when they fall into sin.

It is incredibly encouraging to know that God doesn’t just hear what we say, but he also delivers on his promises. 2 Chronicles 7:14 also gives us some responsibility as God’s people. As God’s people, we have a responsibility to pray for our friends, communities, and country. Our faithfulness and prayers to God not only benefit us but those around us as well!

Do you have a request or promise that you are waiting on God to deliver on? If so, remain faithful and believe that God will deliver, make sure you are remaining humble, seek God’s will , and spend time trying to get to know him more (praying, reading your Bible, worshipping him, etc.)

God’s got you covered and he will come through for you! As you wrap up your devotions for this week, I hope that you will commit to take responsibility to praying to God to heal not only your heart, but also the lives of those around you. Your school, friends, community, and country need God to move in their hearts, and 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that the movement starts when we humble ourselves, pray, seek God’s face, and turn from our wicked ways! Be a world changer and pray like never before this week!

Prayer for Today:

Dear God,

Thank you for loving me enough to forgive my sins. I also want to commit to praying for my friends, schools, communities, and country so that they can also experience the love and freedom that comes only from a relationship with you! I will pray. I will change my world with your help!

In Jesus Name,

AMEN!

 

 

 

“WHAT IF” Week 2— What If We Got Over Ourselves and Ignored Social Cliques? (2/19/17)

Hello #teamawakening family!

Welcome to the update from week 2 of our “What If?” Series. Our worship time was really encouraging as many of the students worshiped with their eyes closed and hands raised without being asked to do so!

The message was, “What If We Got Over Ourselves and Ignored Social Cliques?” A clique can be defined as— a narrow, exclusive circle or group of persons; a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them. Unfortunately, cliques are everywhere. While there is nothing wrong with having a group of people that you share common interests with and hang out with, it is important to remember that we are called to show God’s love to everyone and not just those in our group. The hard thing is this— talking to someone outside of our group of friends can many times mean risking our own standing with our circle of friends/clique.

We looked at the story of Peter and Cornelius in Acts 10-11 to see how God opened Peter’s eyes to view others in a whole new way. Peter was a Jew, and Jews viewed Gentiles (anyone who did not follow Jewish customs) as unclean and unworthy. We picked the message up with God sending an angel to speak to Cornelius (a Gentile). Acts 10:1-8NIV says,

At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion in what was known as the Italian Regiment. 2 He and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. 3 One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, “Cornelius!”

4 Cornelius stared at him in fear. “What is it, Lord?” he asked.

The angel answered, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. 6 He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.”

7 When the angel who spoke to him had gone, Cornelius called two of his servants and a devout soldier who was one of his attendants. 8 He told them everything that had happened and sent them to Joppa.

This Scripture shows us the first point we discussed last night…

1.  God Doesn’t Pay Attention to Social Labels

The truth? God died for the sins of the WORLD and not just a select few people or group of people. Anyone who desires and commits to surrender their life to Jesus has eternal life in and through him! Sending his men to Peter was a social risk for Cornelius as he knew what Peter and the Jews thought about Gentiles. Cornelius disregarded the social risks that this situation presented because he was hungry to gain a better understanding of Christ. God also sent an angel to Peter. Acts 10:9-16 says,

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance.11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds. 13 Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”

14 “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”

15 The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

16 This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. 

Peter’s first response was, ABSOLUTELY NOT! God quickly shows him that nobody is unclean or beyond God’s love because we are all created by a God who loves us all unconditionally, and Peter realizes the second point we talked about last night:

2.  God Loves the Outsiders Just as Much as the Insiders.

The first things out of Peter’s mouth when he met Cornelius was, “You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile. But God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean. 29 So when I was sent for, I came without raising any objection. May I ask why you sent for me?” (Acts 10:28)

Once he met Cornelius and heard his story, Peter realized that Cornelius wasn’t all that different from him. The same is true with us. It’s easy to believe that we have nothing in common with people who aren’t in our group of friends, but in reality, we’re pretty similar. We all have a desire to belong, feel self-worth, and be accepted. The main difference between us and the people we are trying to reach is that we have a relationship with Jesus and they don’t. However, that can all change when we get over ourselves, ignore social cliques, and love people like Jesus.

As Peter is talking with Cornelius, the presence of God falls on Cornelius and his entire household! (Acts 10:34-48) Peter then realizes the last point we talked about during the message:

3.  God Has a Plan For the Outsiders Too

Peter realized that God loved the Gentiles (outsiders) just as much as the Jews, and that he had a plan and purpose for their lives! What would happen if we went beyond the social cliques and reached out to the outcasts like Peter did? We could see those that we thought were lost causes in our churches worshiping God and thanking him for bringing us into their lives to help them realize that they were loved by him. What would happen if you could no longer tell what all of the different cliques were at school because God’s love tore down those boundaries? What if we went beyond our normal social boundaries like Peter and Cornelius did? I think it would look something like this…

What If…?

-Pastor Dustin

 

 

“What If?” Week 1— What If We Love Like Jesus? (2/12/17)

Hello #teamawakeningfamily!

We kicked off our new “What If?” Series last night. The night started off with a new game called “Pinch an Inch”. This is a game where each student receives a clothespin, and tries to pin it on someone else before the music stops. Any student that still has a clothespin stuck to them when the music stops is out. The game is over when only one student is left:) It was amusing to see 28 students running, twisting, and turning trying to avoid being “pinched”!

Our new series is “What If?” We’ve all asked ourselves a “what if” question before. What if I had only…? What if I had another chance? Etc. This series is going to look at three “What If?” questions, and last night, we looked at the question, “What If— We Loved Like Jesus?”

There were three things that we looked at that God’s love does:

1. God’s Love Unleashes Our Potential (John 20:19-21NIV)
19 On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

21 Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” 22 And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.

The disciples were scared for their lives after seeing Jesus be crucified, so they locked themselves in a room. Many of us are locked in a room as well. The only difference is that the rooms we are locked in are invisible rooms made out of fear. Many people become afraid to work towards achieving their full potential because they are afraid of what others will think, afraid to fail, and afraid to be alone in the process. We see in John 20 that Jesus did not criticize the disciples for a lack of faith or being afraid. Jesus encourages them, and let’s them know that he was sending them out to show the world his love with the same power and authority that he came into the world with.

What if we loved those around us like Jesus so that their walls of fear were torn down and their full potential in Jesus was unleashed?

2. God’s Love Does Not Condemn (John 8:1-11)
1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around
him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using
this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

The teachers and leaders humiliated and condemned this woman in front of Jesus and the crowd he was teaching. Jesus made it clear that they were all guilty of sin and in need of a Savior. Jesus showed unconditional love to this women instead of condemning her. Jesus DID NOT condone what this women had done (he told her to go and leave her life of sin). The love that he showed this woman showed her that he believed that she had worth, was important, and motivated her to pursue a better way of life!

What if we loved people like Jesus and showed them that they were loved and believed in by their Creator instead of condemning them and talking about them with other students?

3. God’s Love Never Gives Up (John 21:15-19)
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” he said, “you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my lambs.”

16 Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.”

17 The third time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love me?” He said, “Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.” 19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, “Follow me!”

Peter had messed up BIG TIME! He adamantly denied even knowing Jesus (in an earlier passage), and probably thought his ministry and plan for his life was forever damaged. What Peter didn’t realize was that Jesus never gave up on him! Jesus still believed that Peter could change the world. This passage in John 21 shows Jesus reinstating Peter. Peter went from completely caving in to peer pressure and adamantly denying Jesus to boldly proclaiming his life-changing love and freedom to others later in Scripture. You’ll actually find out from taking a look at the end of Peter’s life that Peter died being crucified upside down because he refused to be crucified the same way as his Savior, and he boldly identified himself with Jesus! It doesn’t matter how bad the mistakes are that we’ve made. What really matters is that God’s love is stronger than any problem, habits, or mistakes that we may struggling with.

People’s lives are RADICALLY transformed when they are introduced to the love of Jesus by those around them!

What If… We loved people like Jesus?

Be Blessed!

-Pastor Dustin