What’s Really Important to You?

It’s your first month at your new school.  You’ve finally found some friends to hang out with.  All of you eat lunch together almost every day.  You have a lot of classes together.  One week everybody ends up having a free Friday night.  So, you asked your parents and they agreed that you could have your friends over for the night.

Each person shows up at your house and your first place to hang is your room.  Your friends think your room’s an awesome place.  “Look at this clock! Now THAT rocks!” shouts one friend.  “Guys, check out these posters!” says another.  “Aw! You’ve got that awesome new game for your Play Station!”  “Where’d you get that cool jacket?!”  “What’s this? A Bible? Whoa. Alright.  What’s over there?  What are all the trophies from?”  Your friends spend what seems like forever checking out the stuff in your room.  But that’s the really cool part: It’s YOUR room and you’re the one who gets to decide what stays and what goes.  And you really like all the stuff you’ve collected, earned, or been given.  It feels really good to know that your newest friends like your stuff too.

Read the Book:  Philipians 3:7-14.  (Suggestion: The group leader sets the stage for the group members: Help them to imagine receiving a letter from a mature Christian who cares about the growth of your group.  If your Bible’s not too huge or heavy, try holding a piece of paper behind it while you read the passage to the group, as though you’re actually reading a letter to them…or, if you’ve got extra time, write out the passage like a letter would be and hand it to a group member to read to the group.)

Suppose, during the night your friends stayed over, while you were telling stories by flashlight on the floor in the middle of your room, a scent began coming into the room.  Right in the midst of a huge laugh, one friend nearly chokes while taking in a big breath.  “AAACK! That’s smoke!” You shine the light at the bottom of the door and can see the smoke.  When you touch the door, it’s not yet warm, so you open it.  “Oh no! Your house is on fire!  Let’s get out of here!” yells a friend.

You look at your friends.  You look around your room—YOUR room, your stuff…It could all be gone that night!  You have only moments to get out.  You decide to take something with you.  You consider all the things, trying to choose what’s most important to you…Finally, you choose _____________.  (What would you choose?)

Lots of things in our lives can become special to us, even really valuable.  What three things would you consider most important to you right now?  (Suggestion: The leader could ask group members to turn to a neighbor and share responses to this question.  Allow two minutes—one minute per person.)

In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he tells exactly what is most important to him.  He basically says that everything else that he ever considered important was like the scum you’d scrape off the bottom of a dumpster.  Why? Because he had learned and had chosen that knowing Jesus Christ and choosing to follow Him was (or is) the thing that NOTHING else could compare to.

Paul knew that he wasn’t anywhere near being like Jesus…yet!  But he chose to make that his life’s motivation and goal.  He was determined to let go of whatever he had and whoever he’d been in the past.  He chose to do whatever it would take to reach the goal: knowing Jesus and becoming like Him.

You have lots of things that you could consider important to you.  Each one of us, however, ultimately must decide what place Jesus will have in our lives.  What will it be for you? Some variety of dumpster scum or knowing Jesus as your Lord and first priority?

Prayer Activity

Checking Your Stats

Ask group members to sit or stand with a partner (perhaps someone he or she has previously shared with).  Have pairs respond to the following questions with one another:

1.   Right now in your life, if you were to say what percentage of importance Jesus has in your life, what would you say? Explain why. (Example: 50%–sometimes I care, sometimes I don’t; 85%–I’m trying to make Him an important part, but admit that other things get in the way sometimes.)

2.  How would you like this percentage to be different?  Explain (Even if you’re not concerned about its change, share why you’re not.)

Ask partners to pray for one another, focusing on each other’s relationship with Christ and guidance in choosing what’s most important.  Depending on the level of openness within the group, the Leader may want to gather the group as a whole and allow for sharing and praying aloud together.

©1998 Kat Kreations/Kathi Isbell for Jr. High Connection ’98 – Friday Night Devo

History in the Making

You’ve been there—history class.  The teacher has the class open its books to page “whatever” and begins an overview of history, going on about how this one guy did all this stuff…and how that affected some other people …and then in another sort of related setting, the same dude made something happen that set the stage for a major world change.  And of course, by now, you’re looking around the room, drawing on your shoe, searching for that piece of gum you had in your pocket, wondering how long until the end of class…

After what seems like forever, you hear bits and pieces of what your teacher is saying.  Now some of the names and events are starting to sound familiar.  You think you’ve heard something about a few of them on T.V. or on those short news blips on your favorite radio station (which usually makes you punch up a different station with music playing!).  You decide to listen a little more.

Your teacher keeps describing people and events that have shaped history.  Soon you hear the name of somebody you actually know.  The next one noted is a lady in your neighborhood, your good friend’s aunt.  Then, you’re completely blown away!  People you’re related to are mentioned!  You look around the room—not noticing it before, but everybody’s got that same “What’s going on?!” look.

Your teacher steps to the center front of the classroom and looks right at you…looks directly at the girl next to you…Makes eye contact with every single person in the room.  And then, your teacher, seeming to drill right into you with some sort of x-ray vision, asks, “What difference are YOU going to make?”

Read the Book:  Joshua 24:1-15.  (Suggestion: A group member reads 24:1-2a, and then has four group members each read a paragraph or 2-3 verses in 24:2b-13.  The group leader finishes the passage by reading 24:14-15.  Oh, when you read it, put some life into it.  Treat the account as more than a reading in history class.)

Every choice we make is significant in some way and has an effect on our future, either immediately or after some time.  But the choice that Joshua asked his people to make impacts every moment of the rest of life here and all of life beyond this world forever.

Maybe this is the first time you’ve heard that you even have this choice to consider.  Maybe you’ve heard it, made it, but never followed through with it.  Or, you may have made it and been doing your best with God’s help to live it.  Wherever you are, listen again to that choice you have and the challenge to live it out:

“Now fear, honor and completely respect the Lord.  Be completely faithful in serving Him.  Those things that have been like idols or gods to you, that you worship, throw them out with the garbage and serve the Lord.  But if that’s not what you’d like to do, then choose for yourself today: Who will you serve? Will it be the gods that you and everybody else have served?  Will it be the things or people that society idolizes and says is most important?  Or can you say and live the same statement Joshua made back then: ‘As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord’?  What’s YOUR choice?

Prayer Activity

Have YOU Got a Story?

Have group members gather in a circle.  Ask everyone to think of at least one way that God obviously did something in his or her life and/or his or her family’s life over the past ten years or more.  Allow 1-2 minutes for group members to think.  Then, the leader models by briefly (one sentence or phrase) sharing one way he or she has seen God at work.  Encourage group members to speak out at any time a thought comes to their minds, letting each other hear how God has been a part of their own history.

Voicing My Choice

Ask each group member to choose a partner then stand or sit with that partner.  Tell pairs they will have 5 minutes to tell each other how they choose to response to the challenge: “Choose for yourself today: who will you serve?”  Encourage them to be raw and honest with one another, then to pray for one another.  Perhaps, you’ll want to have the partners hold one another accountable even beyond this time together.

 ©1998 Kat Kreations/Kathi Isbell for Jr. High Connection ’98 – Friday Night Devo