7 Days of Thankfulness Challenge

Stuffed PPT.009

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Here at Grace Students we want to help you have an attitude of gratitude like the Bible talks about in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 – so join us in taking the #7daysofthankfulness challenge! Here’s how it works:

Every day this week (including tonight, Sunday), post a picture on Instagram/Twitter/Facebook with the theme for that day, #7daysofthankfulness and tag us (@gracestudentswoo on insta, @gshighschool on Twitter) so we can see it. That’s it! We just want to help you not be blind to the blessings of life!

Sunday – Post a picture of your squad

Monday – Post a picture of your favorite part about school

Tuesday – Post a picture of your family

Wednesday – Post a picture of one of your favorite possessions

Thursday – Post about one of your followers

Friday – Post a picture of you doing your favorite hobby

Saturday – Post something about why you are thankful for God

For each post, let us know why you are thankful for that person or thing! Get started! #7daysofthankfulness

(P.S. miss a day? No worries! Just start off wherever you’re at!)

#GRACESTUDENTSLIVE UNANSWERED BIG Q’S – WEEK 3

The Big Q

Big Q #1: How do I know if God is real?

This question I think everyone has wrestled with, even if you have been a believer for years. “Does God really exist?”

As I was talking to one of my friends about this question, he said something that struck me hard: “When you look at a painting, you think of a painter.”

We are wonderfully and creatively made. God has created you in His image; He is the painter, you are the masterpiece. Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (NLT)

I love this verse, because we can look at ourselves and see God exist because He made us.

The same is with the world around us… The sunsets, when the leaves change, and when the flowers bloom… that is God working and forming beauty. Psalm 19:1-4 says:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
    the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
    night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
    no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
    their words to the ends of the world.” (NIV)

When you look up in the sky and see the stars, or watch a sunset or sunrise, how can you not realize that something bigger than us must have made this all?

Finally, God shows His existence by the law that we all have written on our hearts. Romans 2:14-15 says:

“[Those] who do not have God’s written law, show that they know his law when they instinctively obey it, even without having heard it. They demonstrate that God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” (NIV)

You and I each have within us a sense of right and wrong. When we see injustice, we are angered. When we see pain, we know something’s not right. When someone hurts us or someone we love, we want to see it stop. Where do you think that comes from?

It comes from God. Ever had that tap on your shoulder telling you to stop when you’re about to do something wrong? That’s God. Ever been compelled to do the right thing even when it doesn’t make sense? That’s Him again! God is truth, and there is absolute truth in this world. He made it, and we have it written on our hearts.

God’s creation screams His name and our conscience urges us that there must be something bigger than us. Even for the most logical of people, it takes more faith to believe that all of this is random than it does to believe in a God who made it all.

Big Q #2: Why do bad things happen to good people?/ Why is there evil in the world?

This is a great question! This question is super relevant now because of what was going on in our world with ISIS and the attacks on Paris. We don’t understand why bad things happen in this world and why they sometimes happen to the people close to us.

Maybe this same question came to you:

You didn’t plan for you parents to get the divorce…

You didn’t plan to get an injury your senior year…

You didn’t plan for your girlfriend or boyfriend to break up with you…

You didn’t plan for someone to pass away…

We never plan for the worst to happen, and when it happens it’s hard to see what God is doing. Many of us have asked, “How can God let bad things happen?”

What I would say about this question might be tough to hear: We will never fully know the answer to this question this side of heaven. That’s hard for me even to type out, but it’s true.

So here are three things to always remember when times get tough.

1. God is good!
In the good times, God is good. In the bad times, God is good. In the rough times, God is good. In the stressful times, God is good. When nothing is going right in your life, God is good. God is good all the time and all the time God is good. Remember that! God is good and He can bring good about in any situation. Romans 8:28 tells us that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NLT)

2. God is all powerful
God holds the whole universe in His hands. He is a bread giving, water walking, graving robbing, miracle working God. How many times in scripture do we see God controlling the storms, bringing miracles to His people? God is all powerful, he controls everything on this earth. He is never surprised when sometimes happens on His earth. Even when life seems chaotic God is in control. Isaiah 55:8 says:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways.” (NIV)

God has a greater understand than us, a higher perspective than us, and a more knowledge than us. He perceives things that we cannot, so we can trust that He is control.

3 . Bad thing happens
Maybe you are asking yourself, “well if God is so good, why doesn’t he just take the evil out of the world?” If He did that on Saturday at noon, we’d all be gone. We won’t live to see it because we all have what the Bible calls sin. At the very beginning of the world God created humans with the ability to choose. Some choose to follow God and others do not. If God simply got rid of evil and made every person love Him, he would reduce all of us to nothing more than robots. He loves us enough to let us choose.

In times of heart ache, in times of sadness, in times of pain you can trust that God is a God who can turn tragedy into triumph. Jesus was the ultimate example of this. He did not wrong, yet died a criminals death on a cross, all for you and me. Only God could turn that bloody cross into an empty tomb – Jesus rose from the dead and made a way for all people to find peace, hope, and forgiveness in Him.

Bad things do happen in this world, but we have a good God who loves us and is in complete control, even when we don’t understand.

#GraceStudentsLive Unanswered Big Q’s – Week 2

The Big Q

Big Q #1 – How do you get out of a situation of peer pressure? What if my friends want me to date a guy but I don’t want to date him? What do I do?

Peer pressure is powerful thing. Sometimes it can be used for good (“Hey, wanna come with me to Kalahari?”), other times it can be less helpful (“Hey, wanna go smoke some cigs?”). The truth is, we are easily swayed by the people around us and what they say. It’s not always wrong to follow the crowd, but where should you draw the line?

The Bible says in Proverbs 29:25 that “Fear of man will prove to be a snare”. The big idea here is this: if you live your life just to please other people, you’ll never be happy – it’s a trap. Don’t let your life be ruled by the “fear of man”. It’s okay to listen to the people around you, but if you find yourself always doing what they say or being overly worried about what they might think if you disagree with them, you might be too concerned about earning their approval. Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 1:10 –

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”

At the end of the day, you only have one person to answer to: Jesus. Live His way, and live to please Him. Someday you’ll stand before Him and have to answer for how you lived your life – you won’t ever have to do that before your friends. You should absolutely have good friends and mentors who help you make decisions, but at the end of the day your #1 priority should be to live the way Jesus would want you to. Good friends will understand and support that.

Big Q #2 – My girlfriend wants to make sure we are sexually compatible before we get married. Is that legitimate?

TBH: Sex is awesome. It’s great, fun, enjoyable, and – surprise, surprise – it was created by God to be that way. He is the author of sex and made it to be something that brings fulfillment, intimacy, and pleasure to a marriage relationship between a man and a woman (Genesis 2:24).. but when it comes to having sex with someone your not married to, it’s sinful and destructive.

It’s easy to believe that sex is just physical, but it’s not. It’s emotional (girls, that’s why you become so clingy afterwards) and spiritual (that’s why you feel empty afterwards). Wanting to have sex isn’t sinful, but just because you have the desire to have sex doesn’t mean you need immediate fulfillment. Look at what the Bible says in Hebrews 13:4

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure”

Sex is made to be enjoyed within the context of marriage. That can seem like a bummer, or that God is trying to ruin your fun, but catch this: God’s plan for you is actually to have the best sex ever. I know it sounds crazy, but by not having sex that way God intended, you’re actually missing out on the best sex that you could have.

When it comes to making sure you are sexually compatible with someone before you pursue marriage, don’t worry about that. God’s best always comes about in God’s way. His plan for you is to enjoy the best sex ever within a marriage to someone who you love and trust. Anything short of that will just leave you with false intimacy, shame, and emptiness when you give your body to someone else. If you really want to make sure you have great sex in your marriage someday, practice self-control and purity now. You can trust God that He has the best in store for you.

Bonus Q – My boyfriend wants to have sex but I don’t want to lose him. What do I do?

Read above ^^^^

Special note from Billy Starkey –

“As a big brother in Jesus to you, I want you to know a few things if you’re in this situation:

  • You are a daughter of God and are worth so much more than that
  • Your boyfriend doesn’t really value you for you
  • He is selfishly more concerned with what he wants than what is good for you
  • He is not a real man. A real man would honor you and Jesus with your relationship
  • Finally, if he’s pushing you places you don’t want to go, you should drop him like he’s hot, even if he’s hot”

Come back this Sunday night for the 3rd and final week of Grace Students Live!

#GraceStudentsLive Unanswered Big Q’s – Week 1

The Big Q

Big Q #1 – What is the difference between King James and NIV? Why don’t we read the KJV?

Here’s something you maybe didn’t know about the Bible: it wasn’t written in English.

In fact, long before the English language was ever uttered, the Bible was written over the course of 1,600 years in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. What this means is that the Bible you and I read today is a translation from those original languages into the language we use today, English.

This is where we get different versions of the Bible. You’ve maybe heard of a few of these: The King James Version (KJV), the New International Version (NIV), the New Living Translation (NLT), the English Standard Version (ESV), or the Message (MSG). The reason all these different versions exist is that there is no one way to translate from those ancient languages to English. Some versions translate word-for-word, taking each word and translating it directly into English. Others translate phrase-for-phrase, taking each phrase and translating it into an English phrase that retains the same meaning and close wording. Others sit somewhere in the middle of those two.

Now, this doesn’t make the Bible any less trustworthy. 2 Timothy 3:16 says “All Scripture is God-breathed” – this means that the Bible is literally the Words of God, no matter what language you read it in (that’s why we use the term “Word of God”). Since there is no one way to translate the Bible from Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek into English, many (even most) of these versions of the Bible are helpful and beneficial to read!

The version a person reads usually comes down to one thing: preference. Some read the KJV because it’s what they grew up on, what their parents read, or what their church uses; basically, they prefer it because of tradition. The reason we don’t use the KJV often (those we do use it at times) is because it was written in 17th century English, making it difficult to understand for someone not familiar with words like “thee”, “thou”, and “ebenezer” (don’t ask). Reading the Bible in the KJV can be helpful and if you like it and understand it, go for it! But there is nothing “holier” about reading the Bible in the KJV – if anyone tells you that you can tell them that they should go learn Greek and read it in that (just kidding – that wouldn’t be nice)!

If you’re new to reading the Bible, we suggest you start out with the NIV, NLT, or even the Message. For the most part, these versions read the way you and I talk today. The point is, read a version of the Bible you understand, and read it a lot! You can get the Bible on your smartphone with the Bible App and Grace Church has daily readings from the Bible available at everydaywithgod.com. Check those out!

Big Q #2 – How can you be sure you are doing what God called you to do?

Sometimes in life it’s hard to know what to do next.

Where should I go to college, what sport should I play, who should I date, what should I eat for lunch… so many questions, so little answers. It’s easy to get paralyzed by those choices and be stuck, not knowing which choice to make. It’s a great idea in these situations to find out what God wants you to do, but that can leave us with even more questions in the end. Here’s a few things to remember when it comes to what God has called you to do:

1 – Keep it Simple

It’s easy to get over-complicated here. The truth is, God gives us a lot of freedom on what we do in life. If you are a follower of Jesus you have the Holy Spirit living inside you and He will help guide you in making decisions. There’s a great principle here that you can count on: The Holy Spirit will never lead you to do something that contradicts the Bible. If you feel like you should do something but you know it isn’t in line with what the Bible says, that’s not the Holy Spirit leading you and it’s not the right choice. If you have two choices and one of them involves you lying, you can know for sure that the choice to lie is not the one God is calling you to. In Matthew 22:35-40, Jesus sums up what Christianity is all about: loving God and loving those around you. Make sure you do those things and ask God to lead you and you’ll be off to a good start. This is a great reason to spend time reading the Bible too!

– Pray

In Philippians 4:6 we learn that we can ask God anything. A great way to learn about God’s will for your life is to ask Him! Prayer is simply talking to God. You can do it whenever, however – you don’t need to kneel down by your beside, cross your hands and close your eyes. Ask God questions at your locker, during study hall, when you wake up, before you go to bed. Just ask Him!

3 – Ask for Help

Don’t be afraid to ask someone who’s been there before for help. Ask your Grace Group Leader, someone on staff, your parents, or just an older Christian what they think. Getting godly counsel is a great way to learn what it is that God has for you to do.

– Don’t make it about you

This is the most important part. Proverbs 16:3 says this: “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.” Remember that your life isn’t about you getting what you want. That’s really no life at all. Make your life about what God has for you and he will set you on the right path.