Good News Youth Devotional

By Marcus Harden

Colossians 1:24-2:7 “…continue to live in him…”

It’s 2020. For many of us, it doesn’t seem to be off to a good start. Parents are out of work; schools are closed; high school seniors aren’t getting to walk for graduation; loved ones are getting sick and/or passing away. Perhaps it’s safe to say we’ve all been going through stages of grief in our own ways during this unprecedented pandemic. And, when the winds and waves are rough, it can be tempting to settle for any voice that tries to tell give us meaning and purpose. Truth is there are many people and things whispering all kinds of messages into our ears and when the stakes are high, it is easy to listen to those whispers in the madness.

Consider the context of our text today. There were some false teachers speaking into the Colossian church. These teachers were trying to set aside Jesus’ work for us through His life, death and resurrection. His ministry was not enough in their philosophy. They believed that, on top of this grace received through faith—in order to truly be fulfilled—believers had to learn the hidden secrets of their teachings and follow their man made rules. They had to worship angels and understand dreams (Col. 2:18, 20-23). Do you know that modern hymn, “In Christ Alone… my hope is found?” Yeah, not for these teachers—Christ alone was not enough.

Yet in the midst of uncertainty, Paul whispered a different message to Christian believers: “…continue to live in Him, being rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith” (Col. 2:6). Paul says keep growing in your faith. Keep on the journey with Christ. Christ is your strength and portion, Christ gives you purpose, and Christ is enough. During this time when we are looking for comfort and hope in a pandemic looking for purpose and fulfillment in a new normal, may we remember to be guided and encouraged by the gospel of Christ alone. Don’t waste this moment chasing after the silly pleasures and secrets of the world. Use this time as an opportunity to grow deeper roots, to build good spiritual practices and maturity, to walk ever closer to Jesus.

Good News Prayer: God, help me to put my trust in You alone. Define me and give me purpose. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Discussion Question: What does putting trusting in Christ alone mean for you personally? What do you need to turn over to God?

Go one step further: “Walk of Faith”

Good News Youth Devotional

Colossians 1:15-23 “…now, he has reconciled you…”

By Douglas Hinton (Pastor at the Hempfield Church of the Brethren (PA))

The book of Colossians is found toward the latter half of the New Testament between Philippians and Thessalonians. In six short verses, Paul lays the foundational truth of who Jesus was, what He did, and what was accomplished through His death on the cross. Paul states that Jesus was the image, or icon, of the invisible God, meaning the exact representation. He further states that by Jesus, all things were created and hold together. Jesus was the firstborn from the dead and is the head of the church. And here’s the thing: the fullness of God…His very presence, essence and life, dwelt in Christ on the cross – reconciling all things on earth and heaven back to Himself through Christ’s blood. Blood=life of a being. In order to make things right between all of creation and God, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, gave up everything so that we can have a life of peace with God. If Immanuel, God with us, stood before you and I, would we recognize Him, follow Him, do as He did? Jesus built a bridge between God and man through His life and death. How are we being called to continue the work He begun?

Good News: Jesus bridged the gap between God and us – we need only accept His gift!

Discussion Question: What does it mean in your life for Jesus to build the bridge between God and you?

Go one step further: Who do you need to bridge the gap with? Ask God to bring someone to mind in prayer: maybe a parent, teacher, friend, or sibling. Start the conversation, seek forgiveness, follow Jesus and bridge the gap.

Good News Youth Devotional

By Linetta Ballew ( Assistant Director, Brethren Woods Camp & Retreat Center (VA))

Colossians 1:1-14 “…we have not stopped praying for you…”

Today we begin to read someone else’s mail. What we call Colossians was originally a letter, sent by Paul who was in prison, to the church in Colossae, a small and insignificant city in the Lycus Valley, about 100 miles from Ephesus. Even though Paul had never been to Colossae to meet with the church there, he begins his letter by telling them that he, and Timothy, “our brother” (vs. 1) and partner in sharing the Good News, have been praying for them and thanking God for them because they “have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven” (vs. 4-5).

Paul and Timothy “have not ceased (stopped) praying for you” (vs. 9) and he outlines specifically what they have been praying for. First, they have been asking that the Colossians would be “filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (vs. 9). This knowledge and wisdom and understanding is not an end to itself. Instead, like good soil, they are praying secondly that it will produce “lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him” (vs. 10), as the Colossians continue to bear and grow good fruit among themselves and throughout the whole world. Their third prayer is that they may “be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power” so that they will “be prepared to endure everything with patience” (vs. 11). And finally, Paul and Timothy have been praying that the Colossians will continue to remember the hope of the Good News they have through Jesus Christ and will keep on “joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” (vs. 12).

Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Practical, worthy living. Spiritual strength to endure. Hope and joy. These are the promises made to, and the signs of, those who have been “rescued…from the power of darkness and transferred…into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (vs. 13-14).

Good News: Even when we feel small and insignificant, because we are part of the family of God, by the grace of God, we are remembered in prayer, rescued, transferred, redeemed, and forgiven.

Discussion Question: Do you know someone who prays for you and thanks God for you? Someone who never stops praying for you? What do you feel like you need most for the coming day or week – knowledge/wisdom/understanding? worthy living? spiritual strength? hope and joy?

Go one step further: If you know someone who never stops praying for you, reach out to them today to say thank you for remembering you. Share with them what you feel you need most right now so they can be praying specifically for that.

Consider who God might be calling you to remember in prayer and give thanks for. Choose a creative prayer reminder (like a photo of that person placed where you’re sure to see it, a post-it note on your mirror or fridge, a task or location that’s part of your daily routine, or an object you’ll carry with you) to prompt you to pray.

Check out some Simple ( and Creative ( Prayer Ideas from 24-7 Prayer, including ideas for Praying on the Move (

Good News Youth Devotional

By Bethany Hoffer (Director of Youth Ministries at the Palmyra Church of the Brethren (PA))

1 Peter 5:1-14 “clothe yourselves with humility towards one another…”

Have you ever been criticized for something that you believe in or made fun of for the way you feel called to live out your faith? I think this happens to all of us at some point or another if we take our faith seriously. It can be difficult in these moments to keep calm and refrain from biting back. 1 Peter is a pastoral letter of encouragement to continue to live in the way of Christ even in the midst of suffering and persecution. Christianity was relatively new and certainly wasn’t the most popular way of life. It countered many aspects of the pagan culture, the societal norms. Following Jesus was not an easy way of life. Peter was writing to encourage them in their faith, to inspire them to stand strong in the face of adversity, but to do so with humility. “Clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another.”
Humility can be hard! We don’t want to be perceived as weak or foolish. But in reality, humility is the opposite of these things. It requires strength and wisdom. Humility allows us to let go and to trust that God will take care of whatever the issue may be. May we be filled with the strength and wisdom to be humble in the face adversity.

Good News: Even in the midst of our struggles, God cares for us and offers strength and support.

Discussion question: When have you suffered because of your faith? What helps you to remain humble in the face of adversity? How can we help each other to “clothe ourselves in humility”?

Go one step further:
An important aspect of humility is recognizing our own faults and shortcomings, rather than judging those of others. Practicing mindfulness helps us to center and calm ourselves. The more that we practice mindfulness, the slower we will react in moments of anger or frustration, giving us time to remember humility.
(there is a graphic on this page with easy to follow steps)

Good News Youth Devotional

By Jen Scarr (Pastor at the Trotwood Church of the Brethren (OH))

John 16:1-15 “The Spirit of truth…will guide you into all truth…”

In a world full of people crying out “Fake News!” It can be hard to discern between what is true and what is false. What information is trustworthy? What information should be scrutinized?
Jesus knew that after his death and resurrection there would be a lot of misinformation and doubt over what happened. The gospel of Matthew tells us that after the resurrection, a rumor was circulated that the disciples stole Jesus body and just told everyone he came back to life. Our four gospels have four different accounts of how it all went down. How are we supposed to know what really happened? What is true? Here in our scripture today, in the last conversation Jesus has with his disciples, Jesus promises to send a Spirit of Truth. This spirit, the Holy Spirit, would help lead them toward what was true.

Good News: The Spirit of Truth Jesus sent to the disciples is meant for you, too! When called upon, the Spirit will help guide you toward what is true.

Discussion question: When has the Spirit of Truth helped you? Or when might the Spirit of Truth come in handy in the future?

Go one step further: Journal Practice: Take a sheet of paper and finish this sentence: “Something I know to be true is….” Feel free to write as much as you wish. When you feel like you’re done with that sentence move on to this one: “I know that what I wrote earlier is true because….”

Good News Youth Devotional

By Colin Scott (Youth Coordinator at the Mechanicsburg Church of the Brethren (Pa.))

John 15:12-17 “Love each other.”

Recently, we have all been challenged by what it means to “do church” or “be the church” when we cannot physically gather together as the Body of Christ. It takes greater effort and more energy to maintain meaningful relationships with, and to care for, those we are used to seeing regularly. And yet, Jesus’ command that we “Love each other” as He named us “friends” and prepared to sacrifice Himself for us is as relevant now as ever! I imagine that each of us can think of someone in need of an encouraging word, a listening ear, or a prayerful thought. How we choose to creatively live out Jesus’ example of sacrificial, selfless love in times of uncertainty and adversity has AWESOME potential to bear fruit – fruit that lasts. This is an unexpected chance to form new, lasting relationships. Let’s decide to thoughtfully continue building loving community by reaching out selflessly as a friend to those who may need support, hope, and reassurance. The possibilities for connections we make today are endless as we obey Christ’s direction to “Love each other.”

Good News: Jesus has chosen each of us as His friend and sacrificed Himself for us. Jesus tells us to choose to love each other selflessly.

Discussion question: What obstacles might we have to overcome to love each other as Christ commands? How might sharing Jesus’ sacrificial love look for us, practically, today?

Go one step further: Find your church directory, identify a member (or family) in the congregation who could use a friendly or thoughtful note, and mail them an encouraging greeting. Challenge yourself by choosing someone new, and maybe someone who you do not know well, each week and see what “fruit” is produced through these new relationships.

A message of hope

My dear friends in Christ Jesus:

As Paul wrote to the church at Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you” (1:3). During these days of physical distancing, I so much miss traveling throughout the church and seeing you in person.

The disruptions caused by COVID-19 have unfortunately become our routine. The uncertainty of what may come tomorrow and in the days ahead makes us anxious. And the physical separation required right now makes it more difficult to provide the community support that comes so naturally for us as the body of Christ.

COVID-19 is affecting some of us very personally, and we fear that will increase as time goes by. Let us continue to undergird each other with fervent prayer.

In these days of uncertainty and concern, I especially want to thank our pastors, who have been beacons of hope and encouragement. They are reflecting the resurrection hope of Jesus to their communities. Through creative pastoral leadership, they are helping all of us discover different ways to be Jesus in the neighborhood. 

In these last weeks, we all have been forced to make major changes in our lives and in our communities of faith. To support pastors and other church leaders, staff of the Church of the Brethren have been working to quickly provide many resources. You can find the latest information at the Church of the Brethren website, Please check the site frequently and subscribe to Newsline; information is being updated constantly in this rapidly changing time. 

The need is great, and this is an opportunity for the church to offer the cup of cold water and mutually support one another in our common ministries of Jesus Christ. The Church of the Brethren staff is committed to that end.

As disciples of Jesus Christ, we live in the hope of the resurrection. Even with death comes new life. None of us knows what tomorrow will bring, but what we do know is that we can come together as the body of Christ to support the needs of our neighbors—those nearby and those far away. As Brethren around the world support each other with prayer and other expressions of love and care, we all feel the deep fellowship of our global Church of the Brethren.

Thank you for that fellowship, which remains strong even though we are apart. May God’s love and strength be with you.

All my gratitude and hope,

David A. Steele
General Secretary

(Read this issue of eBrethren.)

Good News Youth Devotional

By Rebecca House (Youth Pastor at the Pleasant Valley Church of the Brethren (Va.))

John 15:1-11 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.”

Jesus is talking to his closest disciples, those he calls friends, shortly before he is going to be arrested. This is the last discussion he gets to have with them, and he tells them that they are all connected to him – and each other through him, like branches connected to a vine. He will continue to give them strength, all they need to is “remain in me, and I will remain in you.” If the disciples will continue to follow Jesus, even when he is not still physically with them, he will surely be with them. This is great news for us too! Especially in this time of physical separation from each other, from those we call friends, we can know that we are connected by something – someone – at a much deeper level than just physical presence.

Good News: Even when we feel alone, we can continue to follow Jesus’ way and remain connected to the One who will give us strength and peace and endurance.

Discussion question: What are some ways you can set aside time to get to know God better? What are some ways you can continue to show God’s love, either to those you are living with or those you are separated from?

Go one step further: Take the time to contact someone who is alone during this time. Send a text, give them a call, send a letter, or use your imagination to find another way. While you are connecting with that person, ask, “How can I be praying for you?” Then pray for them.

Good News Youth Devotional

By Eric Kauffman (Associate Pastor for Youth and Young Adults at Bufffalo Valley Church of the Brethren)

John 14:18 “I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you.

Have you ever felt like you just didn’t belong, or like nobody sees you, or would miss you if you were gone? Have you ever felt abandoned? Have you ever felt like something must be wrong with you?

You are not alone! Apparently even people who walked with the Son of God felt this way. As Jesus said these words, He was getting ready to die and apparently leave the disciples – which is why Jesus gave this promise. Jesus is comforting his disciples before he leaves, and part of that comfort is direction in what to do when he isn’t there to show them. Several times in this teaching time, Jesus says – “if you love me, you will do what I command… my command is this – ‘Love each other.’” This is NOT a condition that we must fill so God will love us. Jesus is giving direction and purpose even when we are in the pits of despair. We need to lift our eyes beyond ourselves and show love to others. In this time of social distancing and quarantine, showing love to others might mean a message, a quick note or comment, or maybe even a phone call. It’s amazing how reaching out to someone else lifts OUR spirits. We realize not only that we are not alone, but that we do matter to someone else. We can help someone else. In giving love, we experience love; even more, we experience God.

Good News: We can experience God even when we feel alone. By loving others, we experience love and we experience God.

Discussion question: How can you reach out to show love to someone today?

Good News Youth Devotional

By Tyler Goss

John 14:1-17 “…trust in God…”

The first verse of John 14 doesn’t quite have the same punch unless you consider the passage before it. Chapter 13 ends with Jesus saying, “yeah…not trying to point any fingers here, but…one of you is definitely going to betray me **cough, cough, Judas, cough**” and then, after Judas awkwardly slips out, you, as the reader, think, “oh, Judas must just be the one bad apple out of the bunch. Surely, no other disciple will abandon Jesus like that.” But then good ol’ Peter chimes in, “Jesus, I would die for you.” Jesus, not missing a beat, replies “Die for me? I tell you the truth, Peter—before the rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will deny three times that you even know me.” Or, as I like to think of it, Jesus says, “Die for me? Boy, please! You’re gunna turn your back on me before the rooster rolls out of bed in the mornin’!” Jesus’s closest friends don’t have his back when he needs them most. It’s like he’s saying, “friends…I can’t trust you.” But then Chapter 14 starts, and Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” Whoa! Wait up. Hold the phone. Did you catch it? You put the end of Chapter 13 right up against the start of Chapter 14 and it’s like Jesus is saying, “Friends…I can’t trust you anymore…but you can trust me.” We don’t have to be perfect to still trust in the Lord. We can come with our doubts, our insecurities, even our denials of Jesus, but Jesus still says, “Trust me.” You may say, from time to time, “Jesus, I don’t know if can follow you like I once thought I could”, and Jesus lovingly replies, “that’s ok…I’m still in it for you.”

Good News: You can bring your doubts and insecurities to Jesus and trust that he will still be there for you.

Discussion question: What does it look like to trust in God?

Go one step further: Check out this song, “I Have Made Mistakes” from The Oh Hello’s