WEEK 1

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you” (Hebrews 13:5 NLT).

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8 NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • We all have terms and conditions-or expectations- for what life should like like. And then one day, life completely rearranges things on us.
  • Change and be a good or bad thing. However either way, we all struggle with it for a couple of reasons...
    • It forces us into the unknown. Until we know how things turn out, it can be pretty stressful. 
    • We lose perspective. It can feel like the end of the world. 
    • It causes us to realize we're not in control. We spend a lot of time trying to control outcomes.
  • So the question we need to tackle isn't, "How do we avoid change?" The real questions is, "How can we make it through change?
  • God chose a group of people, the Israelites, to be His people and wanted them to live differently than every other people group in the world. So he gave them a set of laws on how to live great lives while setting themselves apart.
  • Fast forward a few centuries when God entered the world as a real, flesh-and-blood person, Jesus. He shared the amazing truth that His love wasn't just for the Jewish people, but for the whole world. 
  • Jesus himself had not changed. He was the representation of the same God they had been following since they first encountered Him. 
  • To us, those changes seem awesome, but to the Jewish people at the time, they were unsettling. In the middle of change, you have no clue how things are going to turn out. 
  • Their circumstances had changed, but God's character hadn't changed one bit. 
  • Your circumstances will change, but His character never will
  • The best way to remember this truth is to keep it in front of you. It's important that we stay focused on the One who can stabilize and keep us balanced. 
  • How do we do that? If you think back, I bet you can remember a specific time when God came through for you. 
  • Take some time to think through your past and come up with a few specific memories of how God stayed the same when life didn't. 
  • Once you remember that moment or time when He showed up, write it down and put it in a place where you'll see it daily. 
  • Bottom Line: Life changes. God doesn't. 

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

HEAR // Take a walk outside and look at the nature around you. Whether it’s grass in your front yard, trees in your backyard, or a potted plant on the sidewalk, nature is all around us and constantly changing from season to season. Sometimes, this change is noticeable—like when you see leaves change colors during the fall. Other times, it’s more gradual— like when seeds in a garden slowly turn into vegetables over several months. Regardless if the change is fast or slow, there’s another thing all nature has in common: It will eventually fade. However, in today’s verse we learn that, unlike nature, God’s Word to us—His promises—never fade. This week, as you notice things in nature growing and fading, let it be a reminder that God’s Word and promises NEVER fade.

DAY 2

PRAY // Do you have a friend who’s constantly changing plans at the last minute? Or a family member who says one thing and then does something different? It can be incredibly frustrating to depend on people who are unreliable and change on a whim. However, it’s comforting to know that God’s not like that. The Bible tells us He is firm, unmovable, and reliable in His plans—forever. This week, spend some time in prayer, thanking God that you can count on His unchanging ways and unwavering plans.

DAY 3

LIVE // You’ve likely heard the phrase, “Seeing is believing.” And when all we SEE are the constant changes happening in our lives, it’s easy to BELIEVE that’s the way things are always going to be. We’ll always be on a roller coaster of change at home, at school, and on the sports team. By contrast though, the Bible tells us that what we see is fleeting. In fact, God urges us to build our lives around—and focus on—what we CANNOT see: Him and His goodness. This week, when difficult changes come your way, remember that your current season of life is temporary, but God and His love and goodness toward you are permanent.

DAY 4

TALK // If you are around people older than you long enough, you may notice they sometimes begin sentences with, “When I was your age,” referencing how much has changed since they were younger— from cars to TVs to phones. And while times certainly have changed through the generations and will continue to change, this verse reminds us God’s name and His fame have not, and will not, change. This week, talk to your Small Group Leader about how the world around them has changed since they were your age. Then, ask them to tell you about how God has NOT changed in that time, too.

DAY 5

LIVE // Has a friend ever lied to you? If so, that probably ranks up there as one of the more hurtful or upsetting moments you’ve experienced. When someone lies to you, much of what you thought about that person usually changes in an instant. Although we can’t always trust in the character of the people around us, today’s verse reminds us we can always trust in God’s unchanging ways. God never lies to us, tricks us, or changes His mind. The next time you’re tempted to bend the truth or change your mind about something you probably shouldn’t, look to God’s unchanging character as an example for how you should live. You’ll be glad you did!

WEEK 2

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 NLT).

“Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world” (John 16:33b NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • When life is subject to change, it’s only a matter of time before we encounter disappointments, let downs, and situations that aren’t good and aren’t changing back to the way we want them.
  • No matter what it is, all of our situations with negative change have one thing in common: They feel final.
  • When our new reality no longer matches what we expected, we can feel completely alone.
  • Whether you’ve been there yet or not—or you’re simply afraid that a current situation is headed that way—at some point we all face this question: What do you do when there’s nothing you can do?
  • Jesus confirms it’s not a matter of “if.” He recognizes we will have troubles. It’s inevitable for all of us. But that’s not the end of it. He says that even when we experience change and face trials, we can take heart because He has overcome the world.
  • Jesus is greater than anything we’ll ever face.
  • Yes, you will go through difficult changes and circumstances, but because of Jesus, that’s not the way your story ends. Because of His death and resurrection, Jesus has overcome the world, and that includes every trouble you will face.
  • “Take heart” is actually where we get the word “encourage." It was kind of like He was telling them, "Encourage yourself!"
  • So how do we do that? 
    • Remind yourself of what's true. God is with you. Your story isn't over. Jesus has overcame death. He can get you through this. 
    • Live like it's true. Trust isn't about what how you feel; it's about what you do
  • You can choose to live as if God is with you and He can be trusted, whether you feel that way right now or not.
  • Bottom Line: No matter what, God is with you.  

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

PRAY // Imagine walking down the street, picking up a small rock, and tossing it into your backpack. Then, as you see more rocks on the sidewalk, you put those in your backpack, too. Now, after walking around for a bit with those rocks, you’ll probably begin to realize that what started as manageable weight has now become more than you can bear. The same is true with our burdens. God has not called us to carry our burdens alone. In fact, He wants you to give Him EVERYTHING that burdens you. Are you carrying some burdens right now? Are you feeling weighed down by the changes happening in your life? Today, take those burdens to God through prayer. He’s there to help and wants to take care of you.

DAY 2

LIVE // Is there someone in your life who you can always go to for good advice? Maybe it’s a parent, teacher, coach, or your Small Group Leader. These are all individuals God has placed in your life to guide you, and they can be especially helpful during difficult times of change. On top of that, Jesus reminds us that God not only gives us people to guide us in this life, but He has also sent His Holy Spirit to be an Advocate—a helper—along the way. While people in our life will come and go, it’s comforting to know God’s Spirit will never leave. How would you look at times of change—changes at home, at school, or on your team— knowing you have an Advocate with you at all times?

DAY 3

PRAY // When was the last time you “cried out” about something? Maybe it was last year when you broke up with your boyfriend or girlfriend. Or maybe it was last week when you stubbed your toe on a chair (it happens). For some, crying out comes easily when they share emotional pain or stress. For others, crying out is more of a response to a physical injury—as opposed to an emotional one. No matter which way you tend to lean, when we go through struggles and seasons of change, the writer of this verse reminds us that crying out to God is always okay. In fact, Whatever uncertainties you’re facing today, cry out to God in prayer. Share whatever it is you’re going through, and be confident He will answer you.

DAY 4

HEAR // Has a thunderstorm ever caught you off guard while you were outside? At the very least, it can be an inconvenience, drenching you from head to toe. Sometimes though, it can be a frightening experience, especially when lightning is involved. During this time, our first thought is usually to seek shelter—fast! Similarly, in this verse Solomon reminds us that God wants to be that shelter for us as well. He is our refuge during our personal trials, and Someone we can run to when life’s unexpected thunderstorms catch us by surprise. Spend time today memorizing this verse or typing it into your phone so when seasons of change hit, you’ll be reminded to run to your place of safety.

DAY 5

TALK // Few things make us more afraid than the thought of the unknown—like starting at a new school or moving to a different town. While our circumstances could change in an instant, God urges us to not be afraid, but to face those moments with courage. Now, He tells us this not because things are always going to turn out the way we want. Rather, He tells us this because He will be right by our side the entire time. Do you have a friend who’s facing a difficult month or year? Reach out or him or her this week and let them know that you are with them— and God is, too.

WEEK 3

Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy.For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it [your endurance] grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing (James 1:2-4 NLT).

TAKE AWAYS: 

  • There’s a common thread that runs through every situation: When it comes to making a change, it’s easy to see we need to do something. But it’s really difficult to actually do what needs to be done.
  • Why is that? 
    • We're afraid to fail
    • We're afraid to stand out
    • We don't want to seem judgmental
    • We don't attempt change because it seems overwhelming
  • Making a change is possible. And it can benefit you even beyond the actual change itself!
  • During one of Jesus’ last talks with His followers, He told them that they would be His witnesses in their hometown and beyond—that they would take His message of grace, forgiveness, and the Gospel to the very ends of the earth. 
  • Jesus was telling them to make a change—to move beyond their comfort zones and out into the world.
  • When we push through the pain and struggle of any kind, including the struggle to change, we don’t just become better at that specific thing, we develop personal endurance.
  • It’s like you’re developing a muscle of endurance that will help you when you face any kind of change. And when you have this perspective, every change you face is another opportunity to grow, not just personally but spiritually. 
  • When it comes to change, our tendency is to focus on all the negative parts—all the trouble that comes with it. But when we see change as something that has a trickle-down effect into every area, we see that it’s more about becoming better than it is about being uncomfortable.
  • When we view change this way—the way God does—we recognize that it’s all about growth.
  • But James is telling them that, when we trust who God is and what He’s like, we can be sure that God is doing something in us, no matter how uncomfortable the change may be.
  • This so important for you to get at the stage of life you’re in. Life doesn’t become simpler as you move to new stages. It gets more complex.
  • And the strength you develop now will be the strength you take with you into your future. So when you pursue endurance in the face of change now, you’ll be better prepared for even bigger challenges in the future.
  • So instead of saying, “I’m working hard to change this one thing,” say, “I’m working hard to become a person who changes things.
  • Pick one area that you think you need to change or you believe God is calling you to change. Decide to think of it not as changing what you do, but as working on who you are.
  • Bottom Line: God can change the way you see change.  

DEVOTIONALS

DAY 1

HEAR // Have you seen something in nature completely transform? Think about a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, or a tadpole turning into a frog. It’s pretty incredible to think God is also in the business of transforming us. But instead of an outward change, today’s verse tells us God is most interested in transforming our inward being—our thoughts. God wants to focus on changing our minds and what we think about. Why? Because what we think about impacts what we say and what we do. This week, instead of letting your mind get overwhelmed with fear, doubt, or stress over what’s happening in your life, spend time this week filling it with God’s Word, allowing it to transform you from the inside out.

DAY 2

PRAY // Has there ever been a time in your life when you were so certain things were one way, only to find out that wasn’t the entire story? Maybe you thought your stepmom was terrible—until you really got to know her. Or maybe you thought switching schools was a bad idea—until you realized you like your new school more. It’s easy to rush to judgment before we have the entire picture. In those moments of uncertainty though, God invites us to lean into His perspective. In other words, He invites us to trust His understanding of the situation and His knowledge of the big picture. Is there an area of your life where you’re struggling to see the whole picture? Today, ask God to help you see things from His perspective.

DAY 3

LIVE // Going through difficult times is just that—difficult. However, we also know that learning how to handle those difficult circumstances can be beneficial for us—both now and in the long run. And the more we pay attention to what God is trying to teach us in those moments, the more equipped we’ll be to face other challenges down the road. You see, in a way, new challenges = new opportunities to grow. And when we take the time to change how we see difficulty—as opportunities to grow our character and grow closer to God—we’ll begin to see the good that seasons of change and challenges can bring.

DAY 4

PRAY // Do you have a favorite season of the year? Perhaps it’s one of the four seasons, such as spring or fall. Or perhaps your preferred season revolves around a certain sport or activity, like soccer or softball. No matter what your favorite time of year is, God has designated every activity—every unique season in our lives—for a certain time. And once that season is finished, it’s time for another to take its place. Instead of being frustrated about a particular season coming to an end in your life, pray and ask God to remind you that with each season comes with new challenges and new experiences—and the opportunity for newfound joy and excitement along the way.

DAY 5

TALK // What do you find yourself thinking about the most? Maybe it’s school and an upcoming test or project. Or perhaps it’s your friends, a hobby you love, or your favorite video game. During times of uncertainty though, it’s unknown outcomes that often consume our minds. What will the move from JV to Varsity bring? What if she breaks up with me? However, God tells us that we are to think about things that are eternal and lasting, not the temporary worries of this world. As you enter seasons of change, ask a friend or your Small Group Leader to help you keep your thought life in check and stay focused on the things that matter most.