THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 9
STARTING AT THE BEGINNING
Submitted by the Youth Group
The beginning of anything is always the hardest for me. The beginning of a new career, the beginning of a new semester, even the beginning of a simple devotional. As I sat down to type up what I thought would take me no time, actually ended up being my typing and deleting the first line over and over for half an hour. Something about the blank space in front of me is intimidating. Where do I start? What if I do it wrong? What is going to happen next?
I’m the kind of person who prefers “the middle.” It’s easier to start in the middle of something, when the path has already been set and you know exactly which direction to take. That’s where my prayer life lived for a long time, smack dab in the middle. I knew how to pray, and the words to say. I followed the direction that the “beginners” had already laid out before me. I was completely content with my prayer life…
Until the beginning of my career in youth ministry. If you’ve never spent time hanging out with a group of teenagers discussing their Christian journey, I highly encourage you to do so. Teenagers have a way of asking the toughest, most hard-hitting questions. All too often, I find myself fumbling over my words, astounded by the depth of the question, and responding with “I don’t know, let me try to find out.” This happened to me in my very first week in youth ministry, almost ten years ago. I still remember everything about it. The kid who asked. The details of the room. The nerves I felt being in a brand-new career, beginning my walk in ministry. I had just delivered a lesson on praying. Right around the time I was ready to wrap up, a student spoke up from the back…
“Mrs. Tiffany, I’ve prayed for plenty of things and haven’t had them happen. This scripture right here says that if I pray for something, it’ll be done. So why doesn’t that happen?”
That was the first time I took a closer look at my prayer life and realized I had jumped in at the middle, instead of starting at the beginning. It sparked a month long discussion in an old youth room about faith, and the importance of faithful prayer. That’s where I want to start in our contribution to the devotional as a youth group.
Prayer without faith is ineffective. We must first have faith that God will answer, before we can ever expect to receive one. As the Bible says in the book of James,
“When you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.” James 1:6
The “beginning” of a fruitful prayer life is to start with establishing faith. It is to remove all doubt. It is to believe the moment you speak the prayer, God is already moving to answer. This year in the youth ministry, we have been focusing on faith and what it looks like. We have been starting at the very beginning, trying to learn how to be faithful before we ever utter the words in prayer. In order to do the suggested activity for this devotional, I presented our youth with a piece of scripture and a question. I’m going to challenge those of you reading to do the same we did in youth ministry. Read the following scripture, and ask yourself the exact same question. Write down as many things as you can think of, and then come back to finish reading our entry.
“He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20
Question: Imagine if God moved all of the mountains out of our way right now. It can be any mountain, whether it’s lack of attendance, money, lack of time….whatever mountain you may be picturing. What would we do as a group without any restrictions? Without a single mountain in our way, what would YOU want to do?
At the end of this devotional, you’ll have the opportunity to see what our youth would love to see if there weren’t any mountains standing in our way. We will be spending the next several weeks focusing on the things beyond the mountain, rather than the actual mountain. We will be excitedly working for God, preparing to reach the things on the other side. Because the mountain? We know God will move it. There’s no reason for the mountains standing in our way to be our focus, because we know that they’re only there temporarily. We have told them to move, and we have faith, without doubt that they will.
God is already getting ready to move mountains at Good Shepherd. It’s only a matter of time.
Jesus said to them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?”
They said to Him, “Yes, Lord.”
Then He touched their eyes, saying, “it shall be done according to your faith.”
What we would love to see, the minute God moves mountains:
“Girl’s trip to Gatlinburg”
“More Feed the Need”
“Help the poor by giving the items they need to live and be healthy.”
“Help those in China in need by giving them money or going.”
“Youth hiking trips”
“Get our own bus!!”
“Go to Houston and help people who have lost a shelter and help provide food and clothes”
“Mobile feed the need…we could take meals and groceries to people’s houses”
“Go to Haiti for mission work without paying”
“Help every homeless person in the world”
“Serve everybody on the Earth”
“Girl’s lock in”
“More fun trips out as a group”
“Go back to Cedar Crest”