All of the great men and women of the Bible started their lives as ordinary people. God didn't look for the best looking, the most popular, the smartest, the best educated, the best public speakers, the best leaders, the best behaved. Instead he chose those who were rejected by the world, the young, the uneducated, the worst of sinners and he equipped them do what he called them to do. David was a shepherd, Peter and Andrew were fishermen, Paul was persecuting the church, Mary was just a regular Jewish chick.
In Exodus chapter three God called Moses to rescue the Israelites from Egypt but Moses said, "I am nobody. How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt? God answered, "I will be with you" (verses 11-12). When that voice in your head tells you you're not smart enough, good enough, popular enough, talented enough to be called by God remember that God will be with you. That is the key, God is with you and helping you to do what he called you to do. He might be calling you to teach Kid's church, to write Christian music, to join the worship team at church, to talk to your school friends about your faith, to raise money for the poor, to visit the lonely - whatever is, he is with you and will help you.
God made us like him. When an artist makes a sculpture of someone, it looks like them but it is not them. When God made us in his image we look like him but we are not exactly the same (cause we are not God obviously). Unlike all the rest of God's creation, you have a spirit. How awesome is it that you are made like the creator of the universe. You are not pond scum or a bug, you are made like God. And God is love. He is fair, powerful, merciful, patient, forgiving, unchanging, generous, compassionate, fearless, eternal... I could go on all day. So, next time your inner mean girl tells you you are worthless, or stupid, or a failure... remember Genesis 1:27 - you are made in God's image.
I'm loving these studies in Mark with Elevate. There's a bonus game at the beginning.
One of the most beautiful verses in the Bible is John 11:35 "Jesus wept." He had just found out that his friend, Lazarus. Verse 38 says that he was "deeply moved." Just before Jesus died on the cross Luke 22:44 says, "And being in anguish, he began praying more fervently and his sweat became like drops of blood falling down to the ground."
These verses remind me that although Jesus was God's son, he was also fully human. He experienced big feelings of pain, frustration, anger, sorrow, love and joy - just like we do. Hebrews 4:15 says, "Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way. He was tempted in the same ways we are tempted, but he never sinned."
God is not an angry judge who sits on his throne in heaven wagging his finger at us. He is a compassionate God who sent his son to live with us and die for us. Jesus understands our pain, our anger, our frustration, our sadness. Talk to him about your big feelings - he understands because he walked a mile in our shoes.
I read this brilliant Christian viewpoint on Black Lives Matter by author and pastor Kai Nilson:
“I used the phrase ‘Black Lives Matter’ in a social media post earlier this week. As happens each time I use the phrase, someone asks, ‘Why not just say “all lives matter?”’ Here is my quick response: When one of my three kids gets hurt, it doesn’t make sense to say to them, ‘All my kids matter.’ In that moment, I embrace them and say , ‘You matter. Your pain matters. Your healing and return to health matters.’ That doesn’t diminish my love for my other kids. It expands my capacity to love as I live with another person’s pain.
Jesus did the same thing in his ministry. He didn’t say, ‘all people matter.’ He went to those who were hurting, who’d been denied a place at the table, who had been cast out of community and said ‘You Matter.’ Samaritans matter. Women matter. Tax collectors matter. Lepers matter. Did that mean he loved other people less? By no means. His life and ministry expanded the vision and capacity of his followers to love as they broke down the religious and cultural walls that had long divided people.”
Justice is important to God. Psalm 11:7 says, For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice. During his ministry on earth Jesus spent time with disenfranchised minority groups such as tax collectors, women, lepers and Samaritans.
Micah 6:8 says, The Lord God has told us what is right and what he demands: “See that justice is done, let mercy be your first concern, and humbly obey your God.”
I have a confession to make, I know that I have contributed (albeit unwittingly) to the problem because most of the people in the images on my website are caucasian. This has not been done deliberately, it's just that most of the images available are of caucasian people. I live in Australia in a richly diverse community. I will be making every effort to reflect that in the images I use in future and include people of diverse cultural backgrounds.
NOTE: It is complicated to use photos of Indigenous Australians on your website as you are required to get copyright permission and consent.
CHALLENGE: What are you going to do to be more inclusive and reach out to minority groups and the oppressed?
Short and sweet inspirations for Christian teen girls.