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Coming Soon

Life App, Week 1

Love Is....

1 Corinthians 13:4-8a

Love others because God loves you.

In the book of 1 Corinthians, Paul reminds us:

Love is patient. Love is kind. It does not want what belongs to others. It does not brag. It is not proud. It does not dishonor other people. It does not look out for its own interests. It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. Love is not happy with evil. But it is full of joy when the truth is spoken. It always protects. It always trusts. It always hopes. It never gives up. Love never fails.

Let’s see how this truth might play out in someone’s life today.

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When Lucy took a summer job at the library, she imagined what it would be like.

Little kids would sit quietly at story time, enthralled by the books she read. She’d use her expertise to help people locate books with the online catalog. She’d grow an educational vegetable garden in the courtyard, and the whole community would help.

“It’s going to be perfect!” she exclaimed as she proudly opened the Staff Entrance door on her first day.

But within minutes of starting her job, Lucy’s perfect plans went awry.

Mr. Rush, the tall, gangly librarian, waved her over. “Lucy!” he cried, juggling a tall stack of books. “Pick a book for story time and get started.”

“Sure!” said Lucy, catching the heavy load of books. She sorted through the stack and quickly chose her own childhood favorite. Then she hurried to the story room and opened the door.

Immediately, she was hit by a wave of shrieks and shouts. Kids were running wild, as a few parents sat in the back, busy on their phones.

Lucy took a deep breath, and in her best librarian voice said, “Shhh. Quiet, please.” No one heard her.

“Sit down, okay?” she called out.

Still, no one paid any attention.

At last, Lucy shouted out: “HEY!”

And finally, the wild bunch stopped and stared at her.

Lucy was ruffled, but tried to smile. “That is not how we behave in the library!” she said firmly.

A mom sitting in the back texting on her phone didn’t even look up. “C’mon, they’re kids. Loosen up.”

Lucy frowned. “Everyone sit. Okay?”

She finally corralled the kids in a half circle and opened the book. “If you give a mouse a cookie—” she began.

The texting mom pinned Lucy with an icy glare. “A cookie?!” she exclaimed. “Are you kidding me?”

“What?” asked Lucy, completely confused.

The mom actually put down her phone. “You’re teaching my children that sugary, processed foods are a positive thing!” she accused.

“It’s just a book—” Lucy tried to point out.

“I don’t see you raising any kids right now, missy,” said the mom, cutting her off.

“‘Missy?’’” cried Lucy, jumping to her feet. “I’ve taken two college-level child development classes!”

Lucy was relieved when story time was finally over and she was assigned to help with the library catalog. The main reading room was perfectly quiet.

“Ahhh,” sighed Lucy in relief.

“Can you help me, young lady?” asked a scratchy voice. “I need to find something.”

Lucy looked up to see an elderly gentleman squinting at a computer screen. She hurried over.

“Of course!” she said. “What do you need? War and Peace? A Brief History of Time? Something on fiber supplements?”

“I lost the pointer thingy,” exclaimed the man. “Trying to move my ace of spades.” He pointed to the screen, where Lucy saw a game of Solitaire in progress.

“You can’t play games on here!” she warned. “This computer is for looking up books!”

The elderly man blinked in surprise. “But . . . my computer at home got one of those virus things.”

Lucy glared. “I should ask you to leave!”

Huffing, Lucy went to find Mr. Rush. As she cut past the DVD shelves, she spotted two middle school guys with bike helmets looking through the disks and munching power bars.

“You can’t eat in here!” she told them.

The guys guiltily stashed their food. Sweat ran down their faces. “Uh, sorry,” one of the guys apologized. “We had a long ride over.”

Lucy wasn’t in a mood for excuses. “I’m taking your names. If this happens again, you won’t be allowed in.”

She stalked away to the circulation desk—but before she could bring up all the rule-breaking, Mr. Rush handed her a flyer about the summer reading program.

“One hundred copies, please,” he requested.

Lucy sighed and mumbled to herself. “Making copies is a job for a high-school intern.” She stepped into the back room and lifted the copier lid. A book was already face-down on the glass.

“Who left this?” she wondered. “So inconsiderate.”

When she picked up the book and saw was a Bible, she almost laughed. “Who needs to copy the Bible when you can just get it on your phone?”

As Lucy tried to smooth a bent corner, though, she couldn’t help noticing the open passage: “First Corinthians . . .” she read, and then began to skim over the familiar passage. “Love is patient. Love is kind. . . . It is not proud. . . . It does not easily become angry. It does not keep track of other people’s wrongs. [Love] never gives up. Love never fails.”

Lucy stared at the page. She’d heard these verses at a wedding before. But now she started to see what they meant. All morning, she’d been more worried about rules and being right than about the people who needed help.

Taking a deep breath, Lucy went to fill two cups with cold water. Then she retraced her steps to the DVD section. The middle-schoolers started to duck away, but she called out, “Wait! I’ve got some water for you. And could I help you find a movie?”

After Lucy set the guys up with Napoleon Dynamite, she found the elderly gentleman, dozing in an armchair.

“Sir,” she asked.

Startled, he jerked awake. “What? Huh? I’m leaving . . .”

“No, wait,” said Lucy. “The computers are free right now. As long as no one’s waiting, you can play. I’ll reconnect the mouse for you.”

Once the elderly gentleman was happily set up with a new game, Lucy tracked down the mom and her kids—who were running through the stacks, still shrieking.

“Um, hi?” said Lucy. The mom glanced up, guarded. Lucy plunged ahead. “I’m Lucy. I want to start an organic garden in the courtyard, and I bet you’re the perfect person to advise me. Want to bring the kids outside so we can take a look?”

“Oh . . . ,” said the mom. “Well, I guess. Sure.”

As Lucy steered the rambunctious kids into the courtyard, she finally felt some of the tension leaving her body. It wasn’t her job to make sure everyone followed every rule perfectly. But it was her job to show God’s love to each person who came to the library, no matter how frustrating they might be.

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When do you find it difficult to show love to others?

Take a few minutes and share. There are all kinds of times showing love can be difficult! Sometimes you’re just tired or disappointed. Sometimes a friend or family member is annoying or asks you to do something you don’t want to do. Sometimes someone is actually rude or mean to you. The truth is, we don’t always have it in ourselves to respond with love— in a patient, kind, giving way. But the awesome thing is that God can give us His love for others! He loved us first, and when we ask, He will give us His love to pass on to the people around us. Pray for each other, that any time you’re tempted to act in an unloving way this week, God will remind you to ask for His love to give to others.

Coming Soon

Life App, Week 2

The Apostles Are Treated Badly

Acts 5:17-42

Choose joy no matter what's going on.

After God came to live with His people through His Holy Spirit, His followers like Peter and John found new boldness to share the good news about Jesus everywhere they went. Other men and women and kids began to believe in Jesus. The new believers shared everything they had: their food, their homes, their money. They encouraged each other and cared for people who were sick and hurting. God even performed miracles through them since His Spirit was inside them.

One day outside the temple, Peter healed a man who couldn’t walk. “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk,” Peter commanded. And the man jumped right up!

But while the man who had been healed was thrilled, the religious leaders were not. They taught people to follow God by obeying lots of rules. But the apostles were teaching a new way—to follow God by putting their trust in Jesus. People listened, and many were becoming Christians. So the leaders arrested Peter and John.

“By what power did you do this?” demanded the high priest.

“You can’t be saved by believing in anyone [but Jesus],” Peter told him.

The leaders were surprised by the boldness they saw in Peter and John, and they finally let the men go with a warning.

“You must never speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again!” the high priest ordered.

But Peter and John and the other believers refused to stay silent. Through God’s power, the apostles healed many people. Crowds began to gather as people traveled from outside Jerusalem to be healed. Many became believers and took the news back home.

“The news of Jesus . . . it’s already spreading!” exclaimed John.

But the religious leaders couldn’t see the joy. Instead, they saw that people were following the teachings of Jesus instead of their own strict rules.

“Preposterous!” exclaimed the high priest. “I won’t stand for it. Throw them in jail!”

On the orders of the high priest, Peter and his friends were arrested and thrown in prison. The apostles encouraged each other to stay strong as they settled into the corners of the damp, chilly prison.

Late that night, an angel appeared! The door swung wide open, and the angel led the men out of their cell.

“Go!” the angel told them. “Stand in the temple courtyard. Tell the people all about this new life.”

“Gladly!” cried Peter.

“You don’t have to tell us twice,” agreed John.

Early the next morning, the apostles returned to the temple courtyard and continued to share the news of Jesus with great joy.

The high priest, however, hadn’t heard the news. He sent soldiers to bring the apostles from jail—but the guards returned alone.

“Where are the men?!” demanded the high priest.

The captain of the guard gulped. “The jail was locked. The guards were in place. But when we opened the doors, er . . . there was no one inside.”

“No one inside?!” exclaimed the high priest.

Just then, a man raced in, out of breath. “The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courtyard,” he gasped. “They are teaching the people.”

“WHAT?!” cried the high priest. “Bring them here.”

The captain and his officers rounded up the apostles and brought them back to the high priest.

“We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name,” he hissed.

Peter and his friends didn’t back down. “We must obey God instead of people!” said Peter. “You had Jesus killed . . . but the God of our people raised Jesus from the dead. . . . We are telling people about these things. And so is the Holy Spirit.”

The religious leaders were so angry they wanted to put the apostles to death. But a leader named Gamaliel stood and ordered that the apostles be taken outside while he spoke.

“Think carefully!” warned Gamaliel. “We’ve seen lots of leaders whip up crowds, but when they die, their followers scatter. So leave these men alone! Let them go! If their plans and actions only come from people, they will fail. But if their plans come from God, you won’t be able to stop these men. You will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

The high priest and other leaders grumbled about it, but they couldn’t deny that what Gamaliel said was true. In the end, the high priest ordered that the apostles be released—after a painful beating.

The apostles paid a high price for speaking about Jesus. But each day they returned to the temple courtyard to teach. Though Jesus’ followers continued to face danger, and even death, they chose to find joy in sharing the truth about Jesus everywhere they went.

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What’s the most difficult thing in your life right now? Take a few minutes and share with each other.

Your tough thing might be something that seems small—like a bad haircut or a bad grade on a spelling test. Or it might be bigger, like a friend who’s moving away or a family member who’s really sick. But no matter how big or small your problem is, you can actually choose joy in the middle of it. That doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be happy, or that your difficulties will just disappear. But it does mean that God can give you peace and strength to face it, just like He did for Peter and his friends in prison. Pray for each other, that God will help you choose joy right now and throughout the week ahead.

Coming Soon

Life App, Week 3

Don't Worry

Matthew 6:26

You can have peace because God is in control.

In the Book of Matthew, Jesus tells us:

“Look at the birds of the air. They don’t plant or gather crops. They don’t put away crops in storerooms. But your Father who is in heaven feeds them. Aren’t you worth much more than they are?”

Let’s see how this truth might play out in someone’s life today.

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Most of Colin’s friends had one or two siblings. But in Colin’s family, it was just him and his mom and dad. They went on cool vacations together to places like the Grand Canyon, and both of Colin’s parents came to every single one of his basketball games to cheer him on together. They had even set up the spare bedroom for family gaming session of Mario Epic and their other favorite video and board games.

For a long time, Colin’s parents had talked about opening their home to a kid who needed a family. Colin thought it was a pretty awesome idea—but it just hadn’t happened.

Until one day, right before summer basketball camp started, his dad said, “Colin, all the paperwork cleared. A boy named Elijah is coming to stay with us.”

They gathered around an outside table at their favorite place, the Scoops & Smiles Ice Cream Shop.

Colin grinned. “Cool!”

“He’s nine,” his mom explained. “We’re going to turn the game room into a bedroom for him.”

Colin hadn’t really thought through that part of it. “Oh,” he said. “How long will he be here?” “Right now, he needs a place for a few weeks,” his mom said. “But it could be longer.” “How much longer?” Colin wondered.

“It depends on his situation,” his dad said. “Actually . . . we’d like to adopt him.”

Colin’s mind flooded with questions, but he couldn’t seem to ask any of them. All he could think to say was, “Where will we put the Playtendo?”

“In the basement,” his dad told him.

That afternoon, Colin helped his dad clear out the room and assemble a new bed. “What’s, uh, Elijah gonna do during the day?” he asked at last.

“Your mom is taking a leave of absence from work,” his dad explained.

“They pay her for that?” Colin asked in surprise.

“Nope,” his dad said. “But we’ll be fine. We’ll just need to cut back on the extras.”

Colin frowned. “We’re still going to OceanWorld next month, right?” he asked. “We’ll probably drive down to the lake for a few days instead,” his dad told him.

“Oh,” said Colin, disappointed. His parents hadn’t exactly promised OceanWorld, but he’d really been looking forward to it. “I still get basketball camp, right?” he asked.

“Of course,” his dad answered.

“And you’ll still travel to all my games?”

Dad sighed. “We just don’t know yet, Colin. This is all new for us too.”

“Yeah, well you got to choose,” Colin grumbled.

Even though Colin knew he ought to be excited about Elijah’s arrival . . . he still felt like his world was tipping upside-down. When Elijah arrived with a single duffel bag, Colin did his best to make the quiet kid feel welcome.

“I put this really cool wall hoop in your room!” he pointed out. “It used to be mine.” Elijah just shrugged and looked away.

“Wanna shoot some hoops in the driveway?” Colin asked.

Elijah stared at his feet. “I don’t really play,” he mumbled.

That was the most Elijah said all evening, before disappearing to his room immediately after dinner.

“He didn’t even say good night!” Colin exclaimed. “I’ll go check on him,” his dad said.

“But we were going to play a game—” Colin began.

His mom put her hand on Colin’s arm. “Elijah’s been through things we can’t even imagine, Colin. Give him time.”

Colin flopped down on the couch. “At least things will be normal at basketball camp,” he muttered.

But they weren’t.

Just a few minutes into the first set of drills, Coach Winter blew his whistle. “Johnson! Get over here!”

Colin hurried over to his favorite coach. “Hey, Coach!” he said.

Coach Winter smiled, but said, “I want you to practice with the second team.” Colin felt like he’d just been hit in the gut. “Second team?”

“We got a deeper bench this year,” Coach explained. “Some new kids. You’ll work your way back up.”

“Yessir,” Colin said, clenching his jaw and returning to the floor. Colin had been a starter on the team ever since he began playing. Now he’d been dropped down to practice with the second-string players. He felt like a heavy weight had landed in his stomach— and his playing showed it.

His coach called him over again at the break. “You okay, Johnson?” he asked.

“Yeah . . . ” Colin began, but then quickly confessed: “No. We’ve got this kid staying with us.He’smy,um…foster…”

“Foster brother?” Coach suggested.

“Yeah,” Colin nodded. “I guess.”

“You’ll be a great brother,” Coach assured.

“I don’t think he wants a brother,” said Colin. He didn’t want to look at Coach, so he dribbled the ball instead.

Coach watched Colin for a moment. “I moved in with my uncle and aunt after my folks died,” he said. “I was ten.”

Colin glanced up in surprise. “Oh. Wow. I didn’t know that.”

“It was a hard year for all us,” his coach confessed. “Really rough. And I already knew them. Elijah may take a long, long time to open up—but you gotta keep reaching out.”

Colin sighed. “I’ll try. I just . . . everything’s upside-down. Nothing’s working out like I thought.”

Coach nodded again, and they sat in silence for a moment.

“There’s a verse that helps me a lot when things aren’t making sense,” Coach offered at last. “Jesus once said something about the birds. They don’t make any plans. They don’t know what’s going to happen or how they’re gonna eat. But God gives them food anyway. And in God’s eyes, we’re worth way more than the birds.”

Colin thought about it for a moment. “So . . . God’s got this.”

“For you. For Elijah. For your whole family,” agreed Coach. “You can be sure of it.”

Colin took a deep breath. He couldn’t control Elijah. Or his parents. Or the fact that there were some really great players on his team. But he could choose to keep going— and trust God with the outcome.

“Thanks,” he said at last. “That helps.”

His coach clapped a hand on Colin’s shoulder. “Now get yourself out there on the court. And tomorrow, bring Elijah for the morning.”

“Oh, he doesn’t play,” said Colin.

“You mean: he doesn’t play yet,” Coach said with a grin.

Colin smiled in spite of himself and ran out on the floor. Nothing in his circumstances had changed, but he felt relieved and ready to focus for the first time in days.

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What do you think it looks like to have peace? Take a few minutes and share with each other.

It’s easy to think of peace as something on the outside. You’re sitting in a quiet place with no worries, nothing you have to do, no one who’s hard to get along with. But the truth is, your life doesn’t look like that. There are places you have to go, distractions, homework, and practice that are demanding attention, siblings and classmates who are hard to get along with. True peace doesn’t come when all those things stop. Instead, true peace is something that God gives you on the inside, no matter what’s happening around you. Share with each other something that you’re anxious about right now. Then pray for each other, that God will give you peace in the midst of those situations, through His Spirit living inside of you.

Coming Soon

Life App, Week 4

Simeon at the Temple

Luke 2:22-35

When you need to wait, ask God for patience.

When Jesus returned to Heaven after God raised Him to life, God sent the Holy Spirit to work in the life of every believer. But God’s Spirit had already been active since the very beginning.

When God created the heavens and Earth and all was still dark . . . the Spirit of God hovered over the waters.

God’s Spirit worked through men like Gideon and Samson and King David.

And later, years before the birth of Jesus, God’s Spirit spoke to a faithful man named Simeon.

Simeon made a regular habit of talking with God and listening to what He said. He spent time in the temple too, listening to the promises of God as Scripture was taught.

“The people who are now living in darkness will see a great light,” the priest read aloud. “They are now living in a very dark land. But a light will shine on them.”

One day, as Simeon prayed, God’s Spirit gave him a strong, clear promise: “You won’t die before you see the Savior of the world.”

Simeon was overwhelmed to receive such an incredible promise. “Thank You, God. Thank You!” he cried, full of joy. But God had given no specific time.

Simeon must often have wondered, “Is it today, God? Soon? I can’t wait!”

But years passed. “It’s been so long,” said Simeon. “But I trust Your promise. Please help me wait.”

At last, Simeon became an old man. “You remember what You promised, right? About seeing the Messiah?” prayed Simeon. “I’m still pretty excited. Please help me be patient.”

One day, God’s Spirit prompted Simeon to go to the temple courtyard. Simeon rose to his feet as quickly as he could. “My creaky knees were going to stay in today,” he admitted. “But if You say so . . .”

Just a few miles away, in Bethlehem, a young couple named Mary and Joseph were preparing to take their brand-new Baby to the temple to be dedicated to God. “Jesus may be God’s Son,” said Mary, “but right now He’s a Baby. And He still needs to be burped!”

Mary and Joseph set out on their short trip while Simeon made his usual trek to the temple. When he arrived, he was greeted by friendly faces.

“Good morning, Simeon,” said a priest. “You are faithful to come so often.”

“It gives me great joy to worship God,” said Simeon. “He has promised a Savior to rescue us!”

“Well, yes,” said the priest. “Someday.”

Simeon grinned. “God has promised that I won’t die until I get to see the One He has chosen to save us.”

The priest stared into Simeon’s weathered face. He didn’t want to dampen the man’s excitement . . . but many generations of Israelites had waited for a Savior without seeing Him.

“I hope you do see Him sometime,” said the priest. “I hope we all do.”

Just then, a man’s voice caught the priest’s attention. “Excuse me. We’ve come to dedicate our Son?”

The priest and Simeon both turned to see a young woman with a wide- eyed infant tucked in her arms. It was Mary, and Joseph beside her.

“This Boy . . .” began Mary. “His name is Jesus.”

Instantly, Simeon’s heart leapt. This was why God’s Spirit had brought him here today! He knew without a doubt that this tiny Child was God’s Son—the One chosen to set things right.

“Please,” asked Simeon, “may I hold Him?”

The priest furrowed his brow in surprise, but Mary smiled and held out her Son to Simeon.

“Of course,” she said.

Simeon stared down into the Baby’s dark eyes. He had waited so many long years for this moment. At last he lifted his eyes toward Heaven.

“Lord, you are the King over all,” he prayed. “Now let me, your servant, go in peace. That is what you promised. My eyes have seen your salvation. You have prepared it in the sight of all nations.”

Mary and Joseph stared in amazement. Around them, people stopped to listen, awed. Simeon was speaking something only God could have told him.

“This baby is a light to people who aren’t Jews,” continued Simeon. “It will be the glory of your people Israel.”

“You’re saying God will make the whole world right through Jesus!” Mary marveled.

Simeon nodded as he fixed his gaze on her. “Yes. This child is going to cause many people in Israel to fall and to rise. God has sent him.” Mary nodded as she tried to take it all in. But Simeon’s face grew serious.

“I need you to hear this, too,” he told her. “Many [people] will speak against him. . . . A sword will wound your own soul too.”

Gently, Simeon placed the Boy back into Mary’s arms. “I . . . see,” she said. “Thank you.”

Joseph wrapped his arm around Mary, and with a final look back at Simeon, they turned to follow the priest. Simeon watched them leave with a deep sense of peace in his heart. Though some of the words God had given him were difficult, every moment of his patient waiting had paid off.

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What are some things you’ve had to wait for this week? Take a minute and share with each other.

Sometimes it’s small, like waiting for the microwave to finish heating your meal. Other times it’s bigger, like waiting to get your braces off, or waiting until you’re old enough to stay home by yourself or watch a certain movie. Waiting patiently is hard work! It’s not something that’s easy for most of us. But God is ready and waiting to give you patience by the power of His Spirit. When you think you just can’t wait any longer, take a moment to ask Him for patience. Pray for each other, that God would help you be patient in the things that you shared, both big and small.

Coming Soon

Life App, Week 5

The Good Samaritan

Luke 10:25-37

Be kind to everyone.

Jesus was such an a Teacher and Storyteller that people followed Him everywhere to listen—mountainsides . . . marketplaces . . . synagogues . . . lake shores.

Many people simply wanted to soak in what Jesus said. But the religious leaders searched for ways to trick Jesus . . . and make themselves look better.

One day as Jesus was teaching, a legal expert jumped up to put Him to the test. “Teacher,” he inquired. “What must I do to receive eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” Jesus responded. “How do you understand it?”

The legal expert could rattle off the answer in his sleep. “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,’” he recited. “‘Love him with all your strength and with all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as you love yourself.’”

Jesus knew the legal expert only wanted to be right—and to do the least he could to get by. “You have answered correctly,” Jesus told him. “Do that, and you will live.”

Still, the legal expert wanted to look impressive by pushing the point. “And who is my neighbor?” he asked.

Jesus could see the man’s heart. So He chose to answer with a story. If He told us the same story today, it might sound something like this.

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A man was hiking down from Jerusalem to Jericho, all by himself. The road was so dangerous it was often known as “The Way of Blood,” but the traveler decided to brave it anyway.

He set off with a fresh water skin, a sturdy walking stick, and new sandals, ready for a smooth trip. But robbers were hiding in the large rocks that lined the lonely road. They grabbed the man and took everything he owned, even his clothes. Then they beat him up and left him lying by the side of the road, nearly dead.

“Help!” he gasped. But there was no one to hear.

The hot sun sizzled, but the man was too weak to haul himself into the shade of the huge rocks nearby. After what seemed like hours, he finally heard footsteps—and a voice, growing louder.

“Well, yes, I did win the People’s Choice Sermon Award this year. And the last six years—”

Lifting his head, the injured traveler could see a man wearing a slick suit and polished wing-tip shoes, talking on a shiny ePhone.

“Help . . .” croaked the wounded man. “Help!”

The new traveler, a preacher, glanced up in surprise—and then quickly pretended he hadn’t seen the injured man. Crossing to the other side of the road, he continued chatting on his phone.

“But let’s not talk about my sermons . . .” he said smoothly. “Let’s talk about me! And all the lives I’ve changed!”

“Please . . .” begged the injured man.

The preacher was already gone, leaving the traveler still lying by the side of the road. Alone.

The injured man waited in the heat, barely conscious, desperate for water.

At last, he heard footsteps again, and a hearty voice singing the latest top worship song. A worship leader approached, rocking skinny pants, a jean jacket, and square-rimmed glasses.

The injured man could no longer lift his head, but he gasped, “Water . . . please . ”

Even though the worship leader spotted the man out of the corner of his eyes, he crossed to the far side of the road and lifted his gaze skyward, still loudly singing a worship song.

“Help . . .” pleaded the wounded traveler.

The worship leader had passed by, and the injured man lost all hope. In fact, he didn’t think he could make it another hour when he heard something new . . .

Through the haze, he could see a man riding up on a motorcycle. But even as he opened his mouth to call for help one last time . . . he stopped.

The man approaching was a Samaritan!

The Jews considered Samaritans to be enemies. The Samaritans believed differently, and even made a safe place for Jewish outlaws. The wounded man

ow desperately hoped the Samaritan wouldn’t see him.

But instead of passing by, the Samaritan braked sharply in a cloud of dust.

As the wounded man cowered, the Samaritan hopped down from his bike and stopped to examine the traveler.

“Oh, thank goodness you’re alive!” exclaimed the Samaritan. “Just look at you! Who did this? Where are they? No, don’t waste any energy with a single word. I’ve got this. You’re in good hands.”

Though the Samaritan continued to chatter, he worked hard the whole time, pouring oil and wine on the traveler’s cuts and scrapes, and wrapping them in clean bandages.

“Someone needs to do something about this road,” he noted. “It’s all the rocks. Bad guys are drawn to those big rocks like a moth to a flame. Now hold still, I’m going to lift you up onto my bike . . .”

The Samaritan took the traveler directly to an inn, and watched over him all night. In the morning, he went to the innkeeper.

“You take care of that man, all right?” he instructed. “As long as he needs it. And charge every penny to my debit card right here.”

++++++

When Jesus was finished telling the story, He looked directly at the legal expert.

“Which of the three do you think was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by robbers?” He asked.

The law expert couldn’t avoid the truth. “The one who felt sorry for him,” the expert said at last.

Jesus nodded. “Go and do as he did.”

The legal expert had been looking for ways to show kindness to the least number of people. But Jesus’ story made it clear: God wants us to be kind to every single person we meet.

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It’s easy to be kind to your friends and family.

(Okay, let’s be honest—it’s easy to be kind if they’re not annoying you!) But it’s much more difficult to be kind to people who look and act and think differently than you. Take a minute and together make a list of people you know or see sometimes who are different from you. You don’t need to be best friends with all these people, but you can still find ways to be kind. Together, make a new list of ways that you could be kind, whether it’s a smile, an encouraging word, or stepping up to help. Pray for each other, that God would show you creative ways to be kind to everyone you meet, no matter who they are.