This is a youth sermon I recently gave:
I want to start with this verse: “Steep your life in God-reality, God- initiatives, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” (Matthew 6:33)
Think about your schedule. Here’s mine at the time being for a school day: Wake up, occasionally say a morning prayer for 5 minutes or less, spend about an hour getting ready, 25 minutes eating breakfast, and off to school for 7 hours. I get home, sit on my phone texting or checking up on social media, eat a snack and by then, 45 minutes have gone by and I go to swim practice for an hour and a half. When back home, I shower and have dinner with my family, and by that time, it’s after 8. Depending on the amount of homework I have, I’ll be in bed between 10 and 12:30 for the most part. Before I go to bed, I complete my bible reading, but I’ll be honest: half the time I’m so mentally and physically drained that I just skim over the words and not comprehend it whatsoever. Just to tell myself I’ve read it and to be done.
Now, it’s plenty comforting to stare at the word of God and to be confident in that you’ve “read it,” but are you really getting anything out of it? I know in my case, I’m not. But it’s not like any of the things I’m doing during the day are bad: school, athletics, and homework. So… what do I need to do to change? Your mind and body can only do so much in a day. But luckily, there are weekends and days where you do have free time.
In those instances, motivation is key. But where does that motivation come from? Not everyone can willingly choose reading the bible over watching a movie, or talking to God over texting a friend.
Tuesday, May 26th, 2015: Middle of the night I was randomly woken up. Now I sleep straight through the night, every single night, so this was an anomaly for me. I had a bolt of energy and I could feel that my body wasn’t going back to sleep any time soon. I started to pray, and continued that for a while. At about 3:15 AM, I felt a need to write down my thoughts. Conveniently, my mom had left our laptop upstairs in my room, which never happens. I see that as a God thing. Anyway, I opened a Microsoft word document and began to pour out my thoughts and feelings. I will now quote from what I wrote at half-past 3 in the morning: “I believe that as humans, many of us are not naturally motivated to do things that do not come to ease for us. So that’s why there is God. Many times he calls us, directly or indirectly to do things that we might not even know. But here, I know it is God. He directly woke me up in the middle of the night and gave me the motivation to write this. The Holy Spirit filled my insides when It knew I was ready and gave me the strength and insight to write this.”
Prior to being awakened, maybe earlier that week, I asked God for motivation and direction. You won’t be motivated to make God a top priority without asking for His help. And just because you say a short and sweet prayer, doesn’t mean He will wake you up in the night to spend time growing nearer to Him, or even that he’ll give you bursts of energy to choose Him over other distractions. You may not even want to choose Him over distractions. It could be something as simple as playing a video game. Nothing bad, just entertainment; but any single thing you are spending more time doing that than being with God, is hindering your relationship with Him. Even things like homework. That consumes most of my time, and I make good grades because of it. But we just can’t let it consume us, so remember to thank God for even things like homework, not only in your prayer time, but while doing it. I try to let God in on every aspect of my life, including school, so think about long-term priorities as well as your short term priorities. These things are tough, it’s nice to leisurely live life, but that’s not what Jesus did. And aren’t we called to be Christ-like? You have to be the one to choose Christ or the world. Ephesians 5:11-16 says: “Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in darkness where no one will see.”
So there’s your free time. What about making God a priority in the business of the school week? My schedule is embarrassing. Along with reading some devotions during the school day that I didn’t mention, overall I spend about 20 minutes with God on the typical school day. A pathetic 20 minutes. Some of y’all do better than that and some not as much. 20 minutes is 1/48th of my time in the day, and that’s if I sleep for 8 hours. Outward appearances… hmmm… Choosing and putting on clothes, applying makeup; That consumes much of my morning time, probably about 45 minutes of it. Now in the morning I cumulatively spend about 5 minutes with God, or we can say on my inward appearance. So I spend much less time on my inward appearance than my outward. Makeup and clothes go away, as outward things do. When I die and am at the Golden Gates being judged, that’s not going to matter. It’s the amount of inward beauty I have that will matter. So why not spend more time on you inward appearance than your outer? Instead of a 5:45 ratio, what about a 35:15? Spend the extra 30 minutes studying the gospel and contribute to your eternity, rather than just your attractiveness for the day. I’m not saying that if you don’t have bed hair everywhere you go you’ll go to hell, but just be conscious and considerate of how you spend your time. 2 Corinthians 4:18 says: “There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.” So, is your day to day appearance more important or your destination for eternity?
Interaction at school: What do you talk about? What do you think about? When I think of times where I’ve brought Jesus into conversations, a few instances pop into my mind. But if I was to compare it to the list of other things I talk about, Jesus wouldn’t be at the top. Not to say that I talk about bad things, but not necessarily things that will impact me further than in life. I remember a sermon Scott Foster preached a while ago about writing your story. He discussed how your life is like a book and everything you do is filling up the pages. With that, I picture God flipping through the pages of my book to see how much of Him I actually put in my life. Your conversations illustrate where your priorities lie. I try to make a point of saying “Praise God” when something good happens instead of something like “Thank goodness”, because it brings God into it. Or emphasizing “One nation under GOD” in the pledge of allegiance and “GOD bless you” when someone sneezes. These are little steps to begin to incorporate Christ into your everyday talk.
Talking about God is almost as important as talking to God. I spend much more time communicating with friends and family than with our Creator. Granted He knows everything that has happened, but the thing is, He also knows what will happen to us, and that’s a conversation we can’t have with friends and family. I like to pray about anything and everything. I thank Him for my blessings and ask His hand of strength on those who need it and I ask for Him to give me the courage for whatever He has in store for me. Not always will you find the words to pray. If a silence comes up in your conversation to Him, it’s not a flaw. It’s better to be honest in your prayers than to tell Him what you think He wants to hear and fill in the gaps with meaningless words. God wants a relationship with you, but you have to be the one to seek it. His door has always been there, but you have to be the one to open it.
Now stop a minute (Wait 30 seconds). In 30 seconds, my mind can wander a lot. Honestly, it can range from when I will see Josh next and when I will eat next, to “Man I would never wear that outfit” and “What an idiot”. I imagine this is common. But just because it’s “common” doesn’t at all justify it. I’ve found that as I study the bible and talk to God more, my thoughts revolve more around Him. Also, when you aren’t focused on a specific task at the moment, it’s always a good time to close your eyes and say a prayer, no matter where you are. Lastly, I’ve subscribed to multiple daily devotions in which I get during the day that I can turn my attention to when I see my mind start to slip away. These devotions draw my attention to a good place and allow me to think deeper about things that wouldn’t have crossed my mind on my own.
Your spiritual gifts: Whether it be administration, discernment, evangelism, exhortation, faith, giving, serving, mercy, pastoring, or teaching, (I gave a spiritual gifts test prior to preaching this, you can find lots of good tests on Google to see what yours is!) God has a purpose for you. We don’t all have them all, that’s why we need each other. You’re not alone in this, but your part makes a difference in His kingdom, if you let it. Christ is counting on you to. These things discussed are made possible with these God-given gifts, so don’t abandon yours, embrace it. Let your gifts be used to glorify Him. My top ones were faith and pastoring/evangelism. So that’s why I’m here sharing my faith with y’all. What will you do to further His kingdom?
Pray with me now: Gracious Father, I know that all good things come from you. And I thank you for this; I thank you for the opportunity to ask from you so that we can become better doers of your will. I thank you for the motivation you gave me to strengthen my relationship with you, and for everything you have planned for everyone else. Please help us, Lord, to make the decision to spend time with you so that we can learn more of you. Be with those of us who are not motivated in you, and I ask that their eyes may be opened up to the everlasting satisfaction of the relationship with you. Use us, God, to be eye openers for them through you. And in Jesus’s name I pray, Amen.
Now that prayer was written by me on that May 26th night at exactly 5:00 AM. I didn’t know what it would be used for or where I was getting the words to write it, but God did. And when you make God a priority, things fall into place like that. Enhance your inner beauty rather than outer. Talk about God. Talk with God. Have your thoughts revolve around Him. Choose Christ over the world. Make Him a priority. And use your spiritual gifts to do all these things. I assure you, He is counting on you to. I pray that you will be motivated to incorporate God into your everyday life and make Him more of a priority than He is now.