Joel Russow has written a new four-part Bible study for teens based on Colossians 3:12-15. Here he introduces the four parts, with several WELS teens sharing experiences that relate to his theme and messages.
1. REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE IN CHRIST.
“What changed in the past month?” I asked, after a major hurricane roared into town and ruined the community and church. The people’s laughter indicated that so much had changed! I asked a follow-up question, “Who hasn’t changed in the past month?” Together we remembered that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
What has changed this past year? Your laughter or heartache might indicate that so much has changed. The year 2020, the teenage years in general, the canceled plans for the 2020 WELS International Youth Rally all reveal so many changes. But the Bible reveals a Savior who remains the same and who abides with us through all changes. His Word reminds us all who he is and has us remembering who we are in him.
Your future is in God’s hands
I have always loved to sing. The year I started high school, there was one group in particular that I dreamed to be a part of—the choir. I was nervous to try out, but I was confident in my abilities. I prayed to God that I would do my best and hopefully get in.
The day came to audition. As I stepped through the door of the choir room, I took a deep breath. I could do this. I was instructed to sing a song I had been practicing for weeks. I also had to sight-read a piece of music. A few days later, we had a group audition. I felt anxious, but I held on to the hope that I had gotten in.
We needn’t worry what the future holds, because that future is grounded in Christ.
A few days later, the ominous sign with the results was posted. I pushed through the crowd, but as I neared the posting, I didn’t know what to think. What if I didn’t get in? I slowly brought my finger up to the sign, and it followed along as my eyes scanned each line, looking for my name. I didn’t see it. My heart pounded. My vision blurred.
I didn’t know what to think. I felt alone in my sorrow, seeing people pass who had gotten in. Why hadn’t I? I wanted to feel happy for them, but I was so disappointed in myself. Was I really any good at singing?
I talked to my friends and family. They encouraged me and helped me realize that it was alright. I heard stories of how other people didn’t get in, and it made me feel less alone. One of my teachers told me, “When God closes one door, he opens a window.”
Isn’t this so true? We often feel like we have our whole lives planned out; we are the ones who decide what will happen; we are in charge of the outcome. And what do we do when it does not turn out the way we want it to? Is our first instinct to turn to God, to trust that he has our futures in his hands? I think that God wants us to remember who we are—children of God. He loves us and wants the best for us. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’ ” (Jeremiah 29:11). This life is full of uncertainties, but we are destined to be in heaven with him.
I do not know what I want to do with my life. But what I do know is that God will guide me where he wants me to be. He will be with me every step of the way. We needn’t worry what the future holds, because that future is grounded in Christ.
2. RELAX. THE PRESSURE IS OFF! WEAR WHAT CHRIST HAS GIVEN YOU TO WEAR.
Did you ever take swimming lessons? Learning how to float on your back can be quite unnerving. The instructions I received were to lean back fully, to remain perfectly still, and to relax completely. A few mouthfuls of water later, I floated on the wisdom of those words.
Are God’s instructions for unnerving moments and worrisome times in our lives any different? He teaches us to trust him fully and lean not on our own understanding. He assures us that he fights for us and we need only to be still and to relax. He comforts us in his gracious work for us and through us.
Trusting God through life’s storms
Ever since I was nine years old, I have really gotten into the sport of fishing.
I remember one specific fishing trip out on a boat that helped change my view of God. I was about 12 years old. It was a great day for fishing, slightly cloudy with a light breeze over the lake. My dad and I checked the radar. There was a little rain above our location, but that was it.
My dad, my uncle, and I packed our fishing gear and headed out a couple miles in my grandpa’s boat to a good fishing reef. We drifted and caught a few keeper walleyes and some rough fish while jigging. All of a sudden, the wind started to pick up. We pulled anchor and started to head back. But before we knew it, we were caught in a storm. We had life jackets, which we definitely needed, but we also had God alongside us to guide and protect us. The wind was whipping across the water, sending whitecaps over the bow of the boat. The clouds got dark, blocking the sun and sending drenching rain upon us. The waves came higher and higher. At one moment, the bow of the boat sunk in between two huge waves, and I thought we were going down.
But God was watching over us, just like he always does.
We pushed forward through the waves. As we moved ahead, the waves got smaller and the rain lightened to a drizzle. We reached the other side of the lake, and the bright sun broke through the clouds, sending golden rays across the lake and crafting a beautiful rainbow in the mist of the storm behind us. It wasn’t until then that I realized God’s awesome power and love. Soaked and shivering, I sat in the boat as we cruised back to the fishing spot, contemplating the abounding love and protection God provides for us each and every day of our lives.
God was watching over us, just like he always does.
My fears of the storm caused me to doubt God when I needed him the most. But the fact of the matter is, we always need God. And he is always there for us. This event reminded me of the incredible importance of putting my trust in him. It’s God who gets us through our daily lives. He saves us from our sins. The Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts. He shows grace, mercy, love, and protection to us throughout our daily lives. We just need to trust that he will guide us through our lives and get us where we need to go.
So, when storms come in your life, just trust!
3. REJOICE! EACH OF US IS UNIQUELY EQUIPPED BY CHRIST TO SERVE CHRIST.
Complete the statement: I will gladly boast about my _________________________________.
Our first reaction is probably to answer, “Strengths!” Our God is a good and gracious giver. He has given each of us unique abilities, strengths, and talents to use to his glory and in loving service to others.
He opens our eyes to see how even weakness and hardships become opportunities to rejoice.
But the Christian also answers, “Weaknesses!” (2 Corinthians 12:9). God uses weakness and hardships too. He teaches us to rely on his sufficient grace. He opens our eyes to see how even weakness and hardships become opportunities to rejoice.
4. REFUEL SO YOU REMEMBER, RELAX, AND REJOICE IN CHRIST.
“I’m thirsty.” Sweaty play in the hot sun or toilsome labor in the scorching heat can leave you thirsting for satisfying refreshment. As a child, I remember spotting cold soft drinks in the refrigerator. I can hear my mother warning, “Don’t drink that. That will only leave you thirstier. Drink water instead.”
My mom knew what would quench my thirst. But I still slurped down the soft drink and then scurried back outside. It wasn’t long until I stumbled back inside, thirstier than before. My mother was waiting with an ice-cold cup of water.
He refuels us to remember, relax, and rejoice in youth and evermore.
Where are you looking to quench your thirst? This world of sin and sorrow leaves us thirsting for satisfying refreshment. Sin, stress, loneliness, and loss dehydrate our souls of rejoicing, relaxing, and remembering who we are in Jesus.
God gives us what will quench our thirst. Our Savior has cups, wells, springs of refreshment and refueling promises ready to deliver in his Word. He renews us in the new life he gave us in the waters of Baptism. He strengthens us in the forgiveness he won with his body and blood that he brings to us in the bread and wine. Take in more of Jesus through his Word and sacraments! He refuels us to remember, relax, and rejoice in youth and evermore.
Learn more about Russow’s teen Bible study at wels.net/youth-ministry.
Authors: Multiple authors
Volume 107, Number 09
Issue: September 2020