12/4/2020 - Junior High Devotional

Devotional 1

Read: Luke 1:26-38

Main Idea: God is inviting us to step into his calling on our lives. 

It's Christmas time! Christmas time often brings specific themes and values to mind. During this season you may hear sayings like “it's better to give than receive” or “peace be with you” These were two things that my mother focused on when I was younger. Looking back I think it may have had something to do with my excitement for gifts and the way I showed it. I should ask her. 

When we think of Christmas we often think of specific themes. Giving is better than receiving. God showed his love by sending Jesus. There is peace in a silent night. All of these things we have heard. What is interesting is that although Christmas is among the most loved holidays, it also has some of the least impact on the rest of our lives. It’s something that happens once a year that everyone gets excited for, but when it’s over life goes back to normal. 

Christmas is always at the end of the year. It is the final major holiday that we spend together with our friends and family. This Christmas I want us to go on a journey of discovering how the birth of Jesus can actually both end our year well and also launch us into the new year. What I have found is that Christmas is both the best end and start to the year. We can gain much from the story of the birth of Jesus and the beautiful love that is seen throughout it. 

Today I want to tell you a story about the time that I learned how to hear the voice of God. In the gospel of Luke, we see that Mary hears the audible voice of God through the angel Gabriel. An experience that reveals her purpose. What we can learn from this story is that when we listen to the voice of God we actually find our purpose. Mary found her purpose through hearing the voice of God. But how do we know we are hearing the voice of God?

In February of 2016 I found myself in a bit of a dilemma. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I was trying to understand what God wanted for my life, what I wanted for my life, and what my parents wanted for my life. I was in my first year in college and wasn’t sure what I wanted to pursue as a career. Or even as a calling. I didn’t know what my purpose was. At first I thought I wanted to go into nursing school, but then on a mission trip I saw a surgery that changed my life. As a result I learned that blood and the human body were not things that I wanted to be around for the rest of my life. I’ll stick to the operation game and let the pro’s do the real work. 

During this time I had been praying trying to seek guidance from God. I prayed night and day, asking God what I should do with my life. And after A while, I began to have ideas, but I wasn’t convinced it was God who was speaking to me. I started thinking “what if I pursued ministry by becoming a Pastor?”. But then immediately would change my mind. How could I be a pastor? I mean I was a skater kid who didn’t even own a button down shirt. How could I be a pastor? But the thought continued to nag at me so I decided to reach out to someone. 

I chose to reach out to my friend Robell. Robell is one of the funniest, smartest, and wisest friends that I know. At the time, he was about to graduate with his degree in religious studies and he was also the Religious Vice President of my school. He seemed like the perfect person to ask! Robell took me out for coffee and began telling me a story. “One day I walked into the biology building by myself. I was late for class so I was hurrying through the lobby when all of a sudden I heard a voice. The voice said ‘Robell I want you to be a pastor’. I stopped and looked around for where the voice had come from but saw no one. So I continued walking. Then again the voice spoke “Robell I want you to be a Pastor. So I looked around again and saw that no one was there. I thought I was going crazy, but I was late for class so I didn’t have time to think about how I was crazy. Then I heard a voice for a third time…”

At this point in the story I began to feel discouraged. I felt discouraged because I was NOT hearing voices. There was no audible voice calling me by name and telling me to be a pastor. All I had was a small idea. I definitely was not having a moment like Robell. 

In my discouragement I interrupted his story by saying “really? You heard the actual voice of God?!” 

To which Robell replied with great enthusiasm “NOPE!”

I was shocked. I didn’t understand what Robell meant. Robell continued, “man that would be crazy if that happened. I don’t doubt that it is possible for god to speak to us, but that's not how I heard the voice of God. No, I chose to become a Pastor because I felt God leading me through my passions. I love telling stories and talking about Jesus. I chose to relinquish my future for God’s future for me, and as a result I’ve chosen to pursue being a pastor.”

Now that made sense to me. The reality was I wasn’t hearing the audible voice of God, but I was hearing something in my heart. A nudge here. A tug there. Something calling me to ministry. 

As I write this I am sitting in my office as a Youth Pastor at Crosswalk in Redlands California. My decision to step into the future that God was calling me into is why I am sitting here today as a Pastor. 

The Christmas story teaches us something incredibly important. The question is not whether or not God is speaking to us. The reality is that God is speaking to all of us. No, the question is will we choose to respond to the voice of God. God’s voice may not always be audibly, but his language transcends sound. The way he communicates is through the passion in your heart. What the Christmas story teaches, especially in the life of Mary, is that the future our hearts long for are possible when we choose to follow the voice of God. 

2020 has been a crazy year with crazy events. But as we end this year and look towards the new year, may we be reminded this Christmas season that God always makes the first move. Jesus has done everything for us already. All we have to do is choose to follow the voice of God in our lives. Although this year has caused much noise, God is still speaking to us, calling us into his future for us. May we choose to step into the future God has for us.

Author: Andy Palomares, Youth Pastor at Crosswalk SDA Church

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