The Inspired Volunteer

A blog to inspire the Youth Volunteers of Shepherd Church

Lesson Help: March 1 — February 28, 2017

Lesson Help: March 1

What is the point of purity?

The word “purity” tends to bring to mind a blank canvas free of blemish or a filtered glass of water poured directly out of a Brita pitcher. We tend to call things “impure” that contain non-natural substances that either distort a substance’s original taste or distort an image from being viewed in its original form.

However, what if “purity” was actually something different from what we may originally thought? What if “purity” was obtained by adding something instead of viewing purity as something obtained by merely removing everything? I contend purity is obtained by doing both, adding and removing. Adding to our lives an intense desire to know Jesus and removing any distraction that thwarts our attention to achieve anything else.

Hebrews 12:1-2 says: “…let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith…”

God commands two actions, “strip off” and “run.” The motivating passion behind a person’s desire to avoid distraction (sin/temptation) is their overwhelming desire to know Jesus! To seek to avoid sin and temptation without a desire to know Jesus leads to self-righteousness, and to seek the Lord without removing sin and temptation leads to stagnation. Trying to know Jesus and experience His joy and fulfillment without, simultaneously, trying to remove sin and temptation is like peddling a bike with the brakes on.

Check out another example of this two-part path to purity the apostle Paul gives young Timothy:

2 Timothy 2: 22: “Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace.”

In your groups, split your time discussing both actions. 1) Ways to know Jesus 2) Distractions that suck our time and energy. One of Satan’s biggest tools to keep us from experiencing Jesus is not to make us bad, but to make us busy.

So, eliminating distraction may look like the following:

  • Deleting your Instagram app for a week.
  • Blocking time-wasting websites (ESPN, News, YouTube).
  • Not taking your phone to bed.

And adding actions that help us know Jesus may look like the following:

  • Start a Bible reading plan on YouVersion app
  • Kneel next to your bed and pray for 3 minutes before going to sleep
  • Stopping for 30 seconds sometime before the school day starts and pray.
  • Sit in silence for 1 minute and think about Jesus.
Lesson Help: Feb 22 — February 17, 2017

Lesson Help: Feb 22

I’m lonely…now what?

The goal for this week’s group time is to help the students understand that friendships are created and sustained by each person taking initiative to encourage, listen to, and be honest with, the other person. So often we become apathetic in our friendships and begin to treat others like medicine, only going to them when we need support and forgetting about them when we are feeling good. Putting forth effort to show the other person you genuinely care about them as a person is the key to sustaining close friendships. However, we cannot control whether someone reciprocates our caring actions. So, in those cases, hold on to the hope of knowing no act of care towards another is wasted and move on to find someone else who will appreciate what you have to give.

The other aspect of creating and sustaining healthy friendships is allowing others to serve you. Nothing is more annoying than the person who rejects the help of others because they feel they do not deserve it. For example, when others try to do things for them they often say things like, “No, No, let me do that for you!” Or, “Thank you for this, but you should not have done this!” And, “Thank you for the gift, now I feel like I need to do something for you in return!” This type of hyper-humility is a way of revealing how unlovable you feel. I get it, you may not have been raised to know your worth and most likely acts of service in your childhood home were used as tools of manipulation. So, remind your students they are worthy of love because they are created in the image of God and He loves them!

Not only do friendships strengthen us to deal with life’s struggles, but they give us an opportunity to give of ourselves and experience greater joy. Giving of ourselves for the good of another is what gives our lives meaning. After all, that was Christ’s mission, not to be served but to serve.

Lesson Help: Feb 15, 2017 — February 10, 2017

Lesson Help: Feb 15, 2017

What Do I Do When I Am Hurting?

The goal for this week’s group time is to get students to realize that praising God for who He is and what He has done gets us through difficult circumstances. Minimizing the pain of a circumstances or belittling a tragedy only leads to frustration and disillusionment. God’s word never instructs to ignore pain and hurt, but rather to praise God in the midst of it. Jesus even expressed grief by weeping over Lazarus’ death (Jn. 11:35). However, after Jesus wept he opened his following prayer with, “Father, thank you for hearing me” (Jn. 11: 41).

Sadness and joy complement each other by one causing the other to shine. Its sadness that makes the joyous feelings be felt more intensely.

For example, furniture must go through a rough sanding process before it will take a new stain. When others see newly finished furniture they see only the shimmering coat of shellac, but only the craftsman remembers the harsh stripping and sanding done beforehand.

The feelings of sadness should never be rushed through for the purpose of getting to joy, because wading in the waters of pain makes the warm dry towel of joy afterwards feel all the more comforting. Just as a young child gets indigestion after racing to finish his/her broccoli to get to the ice cream course, so numbing ourselves to pain causes us to be calloused to joy.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds of God will: “Always be joyful, never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”

Instead of seeing sadness as the antithesis of joy, see it as the ore from which joy is mined. At first glance the untrained eye may see only dirt and rock, but a skilled miner devotes time to work through the convoluted ore to extract a valuable metal. The same is true with hurt in our lives, patiently allowing others to empathize and remaining obedient to Christ through it all allows the Almighty Craftsman to cultivate within us a mature and Christ-like heart that only pain could produce.

So as your students express hurt and seek a solution to quickly rid themselves of their ill feelings, empathize with them and remind them of the goodness of God, then watch how over time God turns their greatest pain into their greatest passion.