The purpose of these devotions is to provide a resource of thought-provoking inspiration for youth leaders. The meditations are intended to open a group meeting for adults. Board meetings might take place online or in-person, weekly or monthly or quarterly. Regardless of specifics, an opening devotion serves to orient the group around the task at hand, emphasizing the importance of putting our minds on God first and foremost.
Modern Day Epistles
Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
-1 Thessalonians 5:11
I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.
-1 Corinthians 16:21
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
While reading someone else’s mail is not generally encouraged, in a sense we do a lot of it when reading the New Testament. Paul’s epistles offer us wonderful words of hope, encouragement, and guidance in our lives as Christians. However, the term “epistle” means that originally these were letters with specific intended audiences. For the apostle, those audiences were churches or people that he had met and worked with in the course of his missionary journeys. Paul wrote letters to advise, teach, and encourage these various groups. Some of the epistles speak to very particular issues and occasions. Some are warning or reprimanding, while others are especially gracious and loving. It is likely that Paul had the help of a scribe to whom he dictated his messages, and many of the letters were written while Paul was under arrest.
Regardless of the circumstances in which they were written, though, Paul’s epistles are divinely inspired, each word given by the Lord. They emphasize the love and grace of God. The letters communicate messages of joy and hope to people who are physically far from him. Paul wrote in order to convey his care and to encourage others in their faith. He wanted to explain and clarify Christian teachings, Christ crucified and remind the churches that they were loved by him and, more importantly, by God.
As we approach our vocation to minister to young people, the epistles remind us that God provides us with various opportunities to encourage and communicate with teens. In modern times, communication might include emails, social media posts, text blasts, and video chats. We lead discussions and devotions with youth in person, when possible. But it’s also critical to keep up with them outside the walls of the church, especially considering the recent necessity of remote interaction and contact-free contact. We need to keep in touch with students and encourage them, now more than ever. We want to convey our genuine care and remind youth of God’s presence.
In the many ways we do this, we can prayerfully recall that we are messengers of God’s truths and the Gospel of Jesus. As Paul did, we provide uplifting and encouraging notes to those we serve and to those with whom we serve.
Questions to Consider
- How do you communicate with youth? How do you stay connected with teens?
- Why is it important for young people to hear from us, in and out of official church events?
- In what ways can Paul’s epistles can serve as models for your communication?
Precious God, Thank you for your word, given in the Bible. As we read the instruction and encouragement found in the epistles, inspire us to teach and motivate those you’ve entrusted to our care. Please give us opportunities and methods to communicate with young people. May they know our authentic care and allow us to share your messages with them in wonderful and effective ways. Thank you for your constant presence and love. In Jesus’ name, Amen.