Monday, August 8
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying,
“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
and before you were born I consecrated you;
I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”
Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am only a boy,’
for you shall go to all to whom I send you,
and you shall speak whatever I command you.
Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”
Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me,
“Now I have put my words in your mouth.
See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down,
to destroy and to overthrow,
to build and to plant.”
We’ve read this passage often when we look at God’s love for youth. This passage is so powerful because it shares the trust that God has for youth. God didn’t believe that being a young person disqualified a person for service. God issued a call to Jeremiah even though Jeremiah was a teenager.
If we think about this deeply, we’ll understand what a risk it was for God to call Jeremiah. God wanted Jeremiah to share God’s word with the country of Judah. Over time Jeremiah witnessed the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem and the terrible exile of the people of Israel.
Jeremiah tried to avoid God’s call by sharing that he was only a youth. Look at verse six, “Truly, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy or youth.” However, being a young person was not a reason not to receive a call from God. Look at how God responded in verse 7, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy or youth’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you.”
As you pray today, pray that we at Chain of Lakes will value youth in the same way that God did in this passage. Also pray that the church worldwide will have the courage to issue a call to youth to serve.
Tuesday, August 9
When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him. The Jews who were with her in the house consoling her saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
Often we think that involving youth is a complicated process. We look for the right ministry, or person, or technique to keep youth involved in the church. Though having the right ministry, person, or technique is important, even more important is the level of care that congregations display for youth.
In this story Jesus shared deep care for Lazarus. In verse 35 Jesus wept. His tears revealed his care.
Congregations are called to care for youth in the same way. Youth ministry in a church starts with the personal care that adults have for youth.
Today as you pray, pray for a particular youth in our congregation. Think about this youth for a moment. What are the youth’s needs? With what is the youth struggling with? Pray for that youth. If you don’t know the youth’s needs or the youth’s struggles, take some time over the next month to get to know the youth.
Just taking time to show care is one of the most important things you can do for youth ministry at Chain of Lakes! Pray that our congregation will always share deep care for youth and children.
Wednesday, August 10
Happy are those
who do not follow the advice of the wicked
or take the path that sinners tread
or sit in the seat of scoffers,
but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law they meditate day and night.
They are like trees
planted by streams of water,
which yield their fruit in its season,
and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
In this passage the Psalmist shared a powerful metaphor of faith. In verse three he wrote, “They are like trees, planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”
This metaphor of a strong tree is what we want for all people. We pray that no matter what happens to a person, that person will stay planted in streams of water, yield their fruit in the right season, and their leaves will not wither.
Today as you pray, pray that every youth who attended Vacation Bible School this past week will grow to be this type of tree.
Pray for each one of the youth who attended Vacation Bible School: Addie, Aiyanna, Annette, Audrey, Camden, Danny, Eastyn, Eli, Emily, Henry, Kendel, Landon, Lexi, River, Sinclair, Skylar and Trenton.
Thursday, August 11
1 Samuel 3:1-21
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”
Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
Just like in the story of Jeremiah we read a story of a youth who was called by God. God called Samuel to be his follower. In his life Samuel went on to help choose Saul and David to be kings—Samuel was one of the most important prophets in the Old Testament.
Not only was Samuel young, he was mentored by an adult. Look at the start of this story. “Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli.” (1 Samuel 3:1) Samuel received a call from God, but needed Eli to help him know that it was God who was issuing the call. Samuel couldn’t have known that God was calling him if he hadn’t had Eli.
Do you know of a youth to whom you could be an Eli? A youth who you could mentor, someone in whom you could take a special interest. That youth could be a part of Chain of Lakes, or the youth could be someone in your neighborhood.
Think how powerful we at Chain of Lakes would be if every youth had an adult mentor in the church!!
Today as you pray, pray for mentors for youth. Pray that many adults could be an Eli to young people.
Friday, August 12
People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them, and when the disciples saw it, they sternly ordered them not to do it. But Jesus called for them and said, “Let the children come to me, and do not stop them, for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.”
In Jesus’ day children were viewed as property. They had no legal rights and were not viewed as fully human. This is why Luke started out this story by using the word, “even,” “People were bringing even infants to him that he might touch them.” It was shocking to people that Jesus would touch infants.
We know that in Jesus’ eyes infants were very important.
Today as you pray, pray that our world will respect and teach children in a similar way to Jesus. Pray for a world where children don’t suffer from poverty, physical and sexual abuse, that children receive a quality education.
Children were especially important to Jesus; pray for a world that shares this value!
Saturday, August 13
After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias, and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on his outer garment, for he had taken it off, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them, and though there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.
This was a story that was shared on the last day of Vacation Bible School this past week at Chain of Lakes.
We can imagine the frustration of the disciples as they tried to catch fish. They threw out their nets the entire time, but had caught nothing.
Jesus gave the disciples hope in their fishing. He encouraged them to throw the net to the other side of the boat. Suddenly the net was swamped with fish—153 of them. There were so many fish that for a while it seemed that the boat might be swamped under the water.
We can take many lessons from this story. One lesson is persistent. We can practically hear Jesus say, “try something new if your way is not working.”
We can take this lesson and apply it to youth ministry. Sometimes it takes a lot of patience to connect youth and even children to church. We throw our out net symbolically for a long time, but nothing comes into the net.
“Try something new,” we can practically hear Jesus telling us. “Who knows, you might catch 153 youth!”
Do you have a story of being in a church that tried something new with youth and was very successful? Please share.