Encouragement for Teens

Playing Favorites – Teen Tuesday

favorites

You probably already know about favoritism from your experiences at school, in your neighborhood, and maybe even in your family. You can tell when someone is clearly the teacher’s pet! Or when someone is treated with great respect—or just a little.

Judging Others

I just love this true confession written by a teen who looked inside his heart and learned to accept others and not play favorites or show partiality. As you read it, ask yourself, “Am I an unfair judge?”

A new kid came to our school last year, and he was a little on the heavy side.
No one gave him a chance to show what kind of person he was;
instead, everyone judged him by his weight. Unfortunately, I did too.
Later in the year, many of us got to know him better, and he turned out to be really cool.
I felt so guilty about the way we acted earlier, and I wish we hadn’t judged him because of his appearance.

I’m sure everybody has treated someone unfairly at one time or another.
And most of us can be kind of shallow and sometimes judge people by how they look. But God is never shallow.
He cares about all of us—not because of what we look like, but because of who we are… 

You can thank God for the unique way he’s made you and for the way he’s made other people too. —Spencer  1

Accepting Others

There’s no doubt that playing favorites causes mountains of problems, hurt feelings, and broken friendships. It’s no wonder that James boldly says in James 2, verse 1, “Believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.” It’s like James is saying, “Do not show partiality! Do not play favorites!” In plain language, he is telling us, “Stop it!”

Instead, be kind and compassionate. Your acts of mercy and your kindness are proof that you follow Christ. As a child of God and a believer in Christ, you have experienced God’s mercy. Therefore you can and should be merciful toward others.

RESPOND

Jesus, thank You that You love me—yes, me!—just as I am. Thank You for helping me to love all people the same and to be merciful to those who need some help. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Living Your Faith (NEW RELEASE!) will help your tween daughter, age 8-12, understand what God’s Word is saying and how it applies to everyday life.

REFLECT

“If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing right.” (James 2:8)

Why is showing favoritism wrong?

  • It is the opposite of what Jesus told us to do.
  • It results from evil thoughts.
  • It insults people made in God’s image.
  • It comes from selfish motives.
  • It goes against the Bible’s definition of love.
  • It shows a lack of mercy to those less fortunate. It is sin.  2

REMEMBER

 

 1 “Unfair Judges” in God’s Words of Life for Teens (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2000), p. 15.
2 Grant R. Osborne, ed., James (Life Application Bible Commentary) (Wheaton; Tyndale House, 1992), p. 52.

Managing Your Money – Teen Tuesday

money

Have you ever saved any money in a piggy bank at home or a savings account at a bank? Maybe your parents give you an allowance. Maybe you sell crafts or jewelry you’ve made. Maybe you even get birthday or Christmas money from your grandparents… Sweet!

Where’s Your Heart?

There are a lot of ways you can earn money. Jesus wants us to focus our hearts on heaven, not on earth, where our worldly treasures are. He wants us to know that everything we have on earth will one day be gone, and those earthly things cannot do anything for us in eternity, in heaven. The truth is, we won’t even need those earthly treasures in heaven!

Jesus gives us a principle to live by in Matthew 6:21: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” In other words, if your treasure is in heaven, that’s where your heart will be!

Just a note: It’s not wrong to make or have money. In fact, there are many commands in the Bible that tell us to work hard, take care of our family’s needs, earn money, use it wisely, and give to the poor. But we are definitely not to love money.

Where to Spend & Save

Whatever money you have, you are responsible for its use. You have decisions to make about what to do with your money. The Bible says, you need to…

  • Manage it—know where your money comes from and where it goes.
  • Give some of it at church.
  • Keep your eyes, ears, and heart open to good causes and to people in need.
  • Save some of it.
  • Spend some of it—for gifts, for something special you’ve saved up for.
  • Include your parents in your plans and decisions. They have years of wisdom and experience in managing money. They have probably even learned a few things the hard way and will be happy to guide and guard you.

In your heart, focus instead on what you already have. Give thanks from your heart to God for how He has blessed you. Pray from your heart each day—and often through the day—for your challenges and for others. And open your heart as you live in a world where most people have less than you have.

RESPOND

Jesus, thank You for teaching me that what money I have, I must take care of and use carefully. Help me to think—and pray—before I spend. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Living Your Faith (NEW RELEASE!) will help your tween daughter, age 8-12, understand what God’s Word is saying and how it applies to everyday life.

REFLECT

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

Do I pray about saving and spending in a wise way?

REMEMBER

Teen Tuesday – Growing Your Girl In God’s Wisdom

wisdom

If you’re like most people, you need wisdom just about every time you turn around! When someone says or does something that hurts you, you need wisdom to know what to do or say— or what not to do or say! When you are invited to go somewhere or do something that your parents would not approve of, or when you’re not sure what to do, you need wisdom to know how to answer. You need wisdom for so many things—and you always will.

Happy to Hear It

Well, you’ll be happy to hear that James has some lessons and great advice for dealing with your tough times and trials. (And don’t forget, you can always ask your parents what to do about your problems.)  Read James 1:5 and fill in the blanks below.

“If any of you lacks __________________, you should ask __________,

who gives generously to _________ without finding _________,

and it will be _________ to ________.”

Help is on The Way

When you ask, your blessing will be wisdom that comes from God—which is always perfect. God knows you need help, and He enjoys giving it to you. As verse 5 tells you, all you have to do is ___________!

RESPOND

Lord Jesus, when I’m confused and worried about what to do, please remind me to pray—to just ASK You for wisdom! I love You, Jesus! Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Living Your Faith (NEW RELEASE!) will help your tween daughter, age 8-12, understand what God’s Word is saying and how it applies to everyday life.

REFLECT

What exciting truth do you learn in verse 5 about God’s response to your prayers?

REMEMBER

Teen Tuesday – Counting Our Blessings

blessings

One reason I love the book of James is that it has a lot of lists that help us with our daily trials and challenges. In James 1:3-12 you’ll see a list of benefits or blessings or lessons that come from going through trials. Let’s look at two (look up these verses and fill in the blanks below)!

Blessing #1 (verse 3) Perseverance

“…you know that the ____________ of ____________ __________ produces [or develops] _______________.”

“Perseverance” is a long word that describes the strength God is building in you when you face tough times. God is right there with you to help you! Perseverance gives you what you need to hang in there until you make it through your problem, until you make it to the end.

Do you know the children’s story called The Little Engine That Could? You probably remember that the engine had a tough time pulling the train up steep hills. But he persevered. As he chugged along, he kept saying, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”

My friend, God gives you His power and grace so you can say, “I know I can make it through this problem”—because He is producing perseverance in you.

Blessing #2 (verse 4) Spiritual Growth

“Let perseverance _______________ its __________ so that you may be ____________ and ____________, not lacking _________________.”

Has anyone—maybe a parent or older brother or sister— ever said to you, “Why don’t you just grow up?”  Well, James is telling us that when we let perseverance finish its work in us, we grow up spiritually. When you do your work chores or when you practice your instrument or sport over and over, you are experiencing the blessing of becoming “mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

God does not ask you or any of His people to understand our trials. But He does want us to trust Him and His wisdom and His plan for us. When you do this—when you trust God with your problems—you will find joy in Him, joy in His promises, and joy in His perfect will for your wonderful, special, unique life!

RESPOND

Lord Jesus, You already know I’ve got problems! Help me to face them and to persevere through them. I want to grow up in my love for You and my family. I love You, Jesus! Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Living Your Faith (NEW RELEASE!) will help your tween daughter, age 8-12, understand what God’s Word is saying and how it applies to everyday life.

REFLECT

After reading James 1:1-12, how can these verses help me live out your faith?

REMEMBER

Teen Tuesday – Taming My Tongue

Taming My Tongue

I can never read James 3 without laughing out loud. That’s because of a super crazy lesson about taming the tongue my two daughters experienced in their Sunday school class at church. Pastor Eric was leading the kids in his class through James, chapter 3, and he especially wanted them to learn how awful the words they speak can be.

So off Pastor Eric went to the supermarket, where he made a curious purchase in the fresh meat department. He bought a huge, slimy, bloodred, five-pound cow tongue!

Ewww!

And sure enough, at church on Sunday, Pastor Eric unwrapped the cow tongue and passed it around to everyone in the class. He told the kids to look at it. To smell it. To touch it!

I’m sure you can image the responses. “Ugh!” “Gross!” “Nasty!” A few kids even said, “I’m going to throw up!”

I’m guessing Pastor Eric was smiling and fist-pumping in his heart, thinking, “Yes! Point made!” Then he had the group open their Bibles, and they all read and discussed how terrible the tongue is—and the damage their words can do to others without taming their tongue.

Every Word

The Bible teaches us that every person alive has a big problem with their mouth and their words. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing…this should not be.” (James 3:10) But God’s Word also tells us what do to about our tongue—and how to tame it (see the Respond section below).

Every day when you wake up, ask God to help you live in a way the blesses Him and helps people. One sure way to do this is with your words! These three steps will help you in taming your tongue:

Think before you speak.
Better yet, pray before you speak!
And if you get angry, don’t say a word.

Lord, I know how it feels to be hurt by something someone says, and I don’t want to do that anymore. Please give me words that are kind and encouraging to others. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES

Living Your Faith: will help your tween daughter, age 8-12, understand what God’s Word is saying and how it applies to everyday life. Pre-order a copy today (coming out in April) and receive 3 FREE GIFTS for your girl!

RESPOND

Here are two instructions from God’s heart to yours. Underline what these verses tell you to say—and not say—with your tongue.

  • “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
  • “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech.” (1 Peter 3:10)

REMEMBER

Ignoring Instagram – Teen Tuesday

Ignoring Phone

The mind is an amazing thing. It can carry on thousands of functions at the same time. Sometimes that’s good, and sometimes that’s not so good. For instance, when you check your phone while your parent is talking to you … that’s bad! There you are, right in front of them, and yet you’re thinking about something totally different.

Checking Out

What’s even more amazing than the mind’s capacity to wander is that your mom can tell when you’re not listening. How do they do that?! We think we’re clever. We nod at what we think is the right moment … yet they still catch us checking our phone.

Staying Focused 

Why is it so hard for us to focus? Here are just a few reasons. One is that we’re bombarded with entertainment, things, stuff. Phones have 100 different apps, games, and texting. Another is busyness. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against being busy. But we have to make time for others between extracurricular activities, practices, and hobbies.

Ignoring Instagram

When you’re with your family or hanging out with friends, the loving thing to do is be all there, both mentally and physically. This will take some concentration and effort on your part. But we’ll follow God’s Word—“Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10)—when we train ourselves to ignore Instagram (at least for our conversations with others) and devote our full attention on others when we’re with them.

RESPOND

Dear Lord, please help me put real energy toward giving my full attention to the people I’m with. I want to honor them. Amen.

RENEWING RESOURCES
A Young Woman’s Walk with God offers wisdom for teens on how to develop godly qualities and please God in the midst of peer pressure, school activities, and physical changes.

Print out this FREE Prayer for Living After God’s Own Heart PDF!

REFLECT
“Outdo one another in showing honor.” (Romans 12:10)

How often do I check my phone when I’m in the middle of a face-to-face conversation with my family or friends? Is this honoring the person I’m speaking with?

REMEMBER

Teen Tuesday: Dating “A-List”

dating

The choices you make about dating will be some of the most important ones you make in your life. That’s why you should make plans now for when you may date in the future. Wait to date until you’re ready to look for a life partner. But until then, let’s do some homework.

Make a list of ideal qualities for your future spouse.
You can find these in the Bible. God’s Word has a lot to say about a godly woman’s character (see Proverbs 31).
And about a godly guy’s character (1 Timothy 6:11). Take your time to read and study these biblical standards.

Next, ask for God’s help to allow you to spot these qualities
in the lives of the girls or guys in your church or youth group.

And last, remember to ask for your parents’ advice.
Then, with all this input, make your “A list” of things you’d like in a person you will date.

Keep your list handy when you’re ready to date. Refer back to your list when you start the dating process, when you meet someone, and when you think you’re in love. These godly standards will be a useful guide for choosing the right person to date.

Meanwhile, while you are waiting and looking, prepare yourself to match the qualities on your list. Allow God to work on your godly characteristics. And remember to be patient …some qualities take years to develop.

A PRAYER TO PRAY
Dear Lord, please help me control my personal purity. Give me wisdom to do what is necessary to keep myself pure in body, soul, mind, and spirit. I will wait patiently wait for Your best to arrive. Amen.

MORE ENCOURAGEMENT
If you wish to encourage your son or daughter about additional teen-life issues, you will find a great resource in A Young Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices or A Young Man’s Guide to Making Right Choices.

REFLECTION
“… pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” (1 Timothy 6:11b)

Teens: What’s on my “A-List” of dating qualities?
Parents: What qualities do I desire the most in the person my teen will date? Have I shared these qualities with my teen?

REMEMBER
Godly standards are a useful guide for choosing the right person to date.

How to Build a Better Prayer Life

Prayer

Teen Tuesday—

You’ve read it in the Bible. You’ve heard it taught at church. And you hear people talk about it. Yes, by this time you already know that you are supposed to pray. Well, don’t give up on faithfully talking with God. Three simple acts will help you move forward in developing a better prayer life.

  1. “Head for bed.”As soon as dinner is over start getting ready for bed. Finish your school work and wash your face and brush your teeth. Then check your schedule for the next day. Begin a “to-do” list for tomorrow and get into your pj’s. Next, set out your prayer notebook and Bible in the place where you will have your devotions the next morning. You see, you are on a mission to get up in the morning and meet with God.
  2. “Something is better than nothing.”If you are looking for the “sweet hour of prayer” and it’s not happening, try for something more realistic. Start with “a sweet five minutes of prayer.” Then, in time, as you begin to experience the joy of time spent praying, you will find that, little by little, you are spending more and more of time in prayer.
  3. “Desire to pray.” You already know you need to pray. You’ve probably learned some skills and practices that help you pray. Yet, if you never desire to pray, your knowledge and skills will mean nothing. Praying will never become a habit or a spiritual  discipline if the one main ingredient—your desire—is missing.

In A Young Woman’s Guide to Prayer, Elizabeth George draws from her own journey, the Bible, and the lives of others to reveal the explosive power and dynamic impact of prayer on everyday life. 

Teen Tuesday – Making the Right Choices

Choices

Give your servant a discerning heart…to distinguish between right and wrong.
1 Kings 3:9

You’ve probably been to a camp or retreat or youth meeting where there was a “sharing time,” a time when those who were brave enough recounted some of the choices they made in their past. Even though the teens who shared were no longer living back in their past, they could still see, remember, and taste the consequences of their choices — both the good and the bad. Their sharing may have included phrases like…

  • I wandered off the path…
  • I fell away from the Lord…
  • I got sidetracked in sin…
  • I lost my first love…
  • I strayed from the truth…
  • I made some wrong decisions…
  • I got in with the wrong crowd…

Well, you know what happened, don’t you? Somehow, at some time, for some reason, they  made a wrong choice. Maybe it was just a little lie. Just a little shading of what is right. Just a little bending of a rule. And eventually, as this happens again and again, there comes a day when making wrong choices becomes all too easy. By then, their life has become a mess.

I’m sure you already know your actions are a matter of choice. Sure, some choices are made for you. They are out of your control, and are made by those who are responsible for you…like your parents, your teachers, your coaches, and your youth leaders. But many choices each day — and almost each minute of the day — are yours to make. They are a matter of your will. You get to decide what you will or won’t do, how you will or won’t act. You make the choices, which means you can’t blame anyone else for what happens next.

As you prepare to make the tough choices, pray. Then make the choice God wants you to make—the one that leads you to living your life God’s way.

Drawn from A Young Man’s Guide to Making Right Choices by Jim George. Young men will enjoy Jim’s balance of biblical insight, personal anecdotes, and candid forthrightness. Plus, they’ll gain the skills they need to make right choices in response to all the challenges that come their way.

Teen Tuesday—Where Are You Headed?

Headed

Going to school can get old with day after day trudging off to the same classes, only to come home and do homework. But I want to encourage you! The good habits and disciplines you develop during the next few years will lay the foundation for the rest of your life. Here’s my story….

When I was in high school all I aspired to was teaching office management skills. I loved my classes in that area and wanted to give to others what my teachers gave me. I wasn’t a whiz kid or a genius. I struggled to get B’s and had to work really hard to get A’s. So I wanted to help others who were average like me fall in love with something helpful and fun, something they could use every day to make a living.

Well, trust me, you’ll never know what the future holds! Only in time did I use the teaching part of my education…and then it was to teach the Bible! And only in time did I use the typing part of my office skills training…to write books. And only in time did my other office skills help manage our ministry organization. And, my friend, only in time will you realize God’s bigger picture for your abilities and passions, all to be revealed and grown as you work at being a faithful student today.

Please acknowledge the importance of “today” each day. Take advantage of today…and every day…and any and every opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t waste or hate these critical years—years that can move you steadily down the road to success.

  • Today’s good decisions give you the freedom to choose greater opportunities tomorrow.
  • Today’s good habits give you greater discipline for accepting greater challenges tomorrow.
  • Today’s good attitudes equip you to run the greater race and win the greater prize tomorrow (1 Corinthians 9:24 ).

Drawn from A Young Woman’s Guide to Making Right Choices by Elizabeth George.  This book takes teens through the step–by–step process of making decisions that are life-affirming, godly, and wise in areas that include improving relationships.

© Copyright 2017
Elizabeth & Jim George


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