Sunday, February 28, 2010

Found Grace

1 “At the same time,” says the LORD, “I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be My people.”
2 Thus says the LORD:


“ The people who survived the sword
Found grace in the wilderness—
Israel, when I went to give him rest.”
3 The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying:

“ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

(Jeremiah 31:1-3, New King James Version)

Found Grace

The Israelites found grace in the Lord. You may say, "Well sure they did; they were God's chosen people and they deserved grace." Right? Wrong! Israel never deserved grace, and neither do we. Here we are in the 21st century--Christians who have become the new Israel of God!

Do you feel worthy to be a Christian? Do you feel that God owes you something? Take a brief look at the nation of Israel, and you will see a far different story. They continually sinned against the Lord, and continually caused trouble and grief for Moses as He lead them through the wilderness.

We are no better today! We can seem ever so close to the Lord, and then, suddenly, we find ourselves saying and doing things that we know we will regret later. How can we sin so quickly when we seem so close to the Lord? How can God forgive us over and over?

That is grace! As a Christian teen, Jeremiah 31:3b is written for you as well as for the nation of Israel.

“ Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love;
Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.

What an amazing God. We do not deserve grace, but it is there. Do you feel you have sinned so greatly that God cannot save you? Remember, the Lord Jesus Christ came to save sinners, not the righteous. If you feel you are already righteous, then there is no need for a Savior? But, if you feel so unworthy that you do not deserve God's grace, then it is for you that Christ died!

Grace, greater than all our sins!

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Let Grace Be Shown

9 With my soul I have desired You in the night,
Yes, by my spirit within me I will seek You early;
For when Your judgments are in the earth,
The inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
10 Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the LORD.
11 LORD, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see.
But they will see and be ashamed
For their envy of people;
Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.
12 LORD, You will establish peace for us,
For You have also done all our works in us.

(Isaiah 26:9-12, New King James Version)

Let Grace Be Shown!

As a Christian teen, how do you respond to the wicked around you? What about your adversaries who seem bent upon your destruction?

I think these are some of the hardest things for Christians of all ages to face. It seems that the predominant theme today is revenge! But, is revenge God's way of dealing with our problems? Is it all right for a Christian to seek revenge or at the very least, wish evil to happen to their enemies?

While it may seem to be beyond us to respond in any other way, God tells us that He is the one who will seek revenge upon our enemies. We are to love our enemies and pray for those who seek our own hurt. How is that possible?

We come back to the word, "grace," do we not? Just as God shows grace to us, we must be show grace to our enemies. Now, lest you think I have somehow accomplished this feat, I must admit, that I struggle with this as well.

We do not have it within our own power to be gracious to our enemies! But, God does. So what is the answer? We must go to Christ, pray for our enemies, and pray that God will pour out His storehouses of grace upon us, and give us the ability to show grace to our enemies. It is a superhuman feat, is it not? But, wait a minute, the God we love and serve is superhuman, and He enables us to live above our own limitations. How amazing is that?

Now, look at what the Lord tells us in Isaiah 26:10.

10 Let grace be shown to the wicked,
Yet he will not learn righteousness;
In the land of uprightness he will deal unjustly,
And will not behold the majesty of the LORD.

Is that a problem for God?

11 LORD, when Your hand is lifted up, they will not see.
But they will see and be ashamed
For their envy of people;
Yes, the fire of Your enemies shall devour them.

They will be devoured by their own fire! And what about the Christian?

12 LORD, You will establish peace for us,
For You have also done all our works in us.

How amazing! Pray that God would help you to let grace be shown to your enemies. Then, stand aside and let the hand of God deal with them.

What an amazing God we have! What a friend we have in Jesus!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ornament of Grace

1 Hear, my children, the instruction of a father,
And give attention to know understanding;
2 For I give you good doctrine:
Do not forsake my law.
3 When I was my father’s son,
Tender and the only one in the sight of my mother,
4 He also taught me, and said to me:

“ Let your heart retain my words;
Keep my commands, and live.
5 Get wisdom! Get understanding!
Do not forget, nor turn away from the words of my mouth.
6 Do not forsake her, and she will preserve you;
Love her, and she will keep you.
7 Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
8 Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

(Proverbs 4:1-9, New King James Version)

Ornament of Grace

I cannot think of a Bible passage more relevant for teens than these verses from Proverbs 4. Solomon is retelling the advice that his own father had given to him. When you think of all of the many instructions that King David gave to his son, Solomon, it is interesting that these instructions were ones that Solomon remembered enough to include in his Proverbs.

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.

What was Solomon saying in these verses? Was he encouraging us to get all of the education we can? That is the world's view, is it not? Go to college; get a degree, and then you will have a life of success.

That is not what Solomon meant, was it? We do not gain wisdom from the teachings of this world. Wisdom comes from God, alone. Does that mean it is wrong to go to college? Of course not! But, in every aspect of our lives, even as Christian teens, wisdom from God should permeate our very being!

So, what do we gain from getting wisdom?

8 "Exalt her, and she will promote you;
She will bring you honor, when you embrace her.
9 She will place on your head an ornament of grace;
A crown of glory she will deliver to you.”

There is our word, "grace." Wisdom will place on our head an ornament of grace, and wisdom will deliver to us a crown of glory. Amazing! It sounds so easy, does it not? Why, then, do most people, even professing Christians, waste so many years chasing after the things of this world?

I challenge you, as a Christian teen, to think seriously about this. What motivates or drives you? Are you motivated by the desires and pleasures of this world, or are you motivated to gain wisdom from the Lord, so that it will be an ornament of grace on your head?

Interesting question, isn't it?

God Bless You,
Linda

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Life!

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.
21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.
23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

(Proverbs 3:19-24, New King James Version)

Life!

What is life? I am sure that I questioned that more in my teen years than any other time of my life. What is the meaning of life? Are we just here by chance, and have the duty to live as good of a life as we can? Why, then, is it so hard to do the right thing, and so easy to just go along with the crowd?

19 The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;
20 By His knowledge the depths were broken up,
And clouds drop down the dew.

We are part of a plan! We did not come here by accident or by chance. The LORD by wisdom founded the earth, established the heavens, created the earth, and populated it with people.

So what happened? Our world often does not seem to reflect God at all. Man sinned! God gave man a free will, and rather than choose God, he chose sin. Because of that choice, everyone of us are born sinners, with no hope of rebuilding a relationship with God.

Ah, but God was not circumvented by man; He had a plan!

21 My son, let them not depart from your eyes—
Keep sound wisdom and discretion;
22 So they will be life to your soul
And grace to your neck.

Through the blood of Christ, the only sinless man to ever live, the God Man, our hope was born. Christ did what we cannot possibly do! He made a path for us back to God. Only through Christ can we keep sound wisdom and discretion, and through Christ we have life for our soul and grace for our neck!

How does that change our life while we are on this earth? Where is the hope in the middle of despair?

23 Then you will walk safely in your way,
And your foot will not stumble.
24 When you lie down, you will not be afraid;
Yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet.

Peace! Only through Christ is there peace! In Christ we walk safely and will not stumble, as Christ is with us 24/7. Even when we lie down, our sleep will be sweet and we will not be afraid.

It almost sounds like a fairy tale, does it not? And they lived happily ever after! But, this is no fairy tale; this is real life in Christ.

Does that mean we will no longer have troubles while on this earth? Of course not! The earth is filled with sin; the effects of that sin, the sin of others and the sin in our own hearts, will plague us until we draw our last breath. So where is the peace?

We go back to Proverbs 3:19.

The LORD by wisdom founded the earth;
By understanding He established the heavens;

We are not left to flounder on our own. God has a perfect plan for our lives. Everything that happens to us is allowed by God for a purpose greater than ourselves. God, however, gives us life through the Lord Jesus, and gives us peace, knowing that nothing we can ever do will take us away from the plan that God has made for each and every one of us. We are safe in the arms of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!

As if that is not enough, as Christians, we look forward to a life after our earthly death, that will be eternal. Eternal perfection! How amazing is that!

Go to Christ. As a teen, facing all of the pressures you do, the answer is still Christ. He, alone, will give you life!

God Bless You,
Linda

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grace and Glory!

10 For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
Than dwell in the tents of wickedness.
11 For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

12 O LORD of hosts,
Blessed is the man who trusts in You!
(Psalm 84:10-12, New King James Version)

Grace and Glory

What a beautiful promise from our Lord to His people. As a teen, is your experience like that of the Psalmists in Psalm 84:10? Where is your heart? Are you fast pursuing a life in the fast lane, desiring to be accepted by the "in" crowd, or would you rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord?

If you are a Christian, I challenge you to rethink your goals. Why? Look at the next verse.

For the LORD God is a sun and shield;
The LORD will give grace and glory;
No good thing will He withhold
From those who walk uprightly.

Who can make such a promise to you? The world is filled with darkness and hate; their "love" is only for a moment. The only true love people of the world have is for themselves. Those are harsh words, are they not?

We understand, as Christians, that there really are only two classes of people in the eyes of God--the saved, and the unsaved. Is anything worth drawing you away from God for all eternity?

Who is this God? He is a sun and a shield and He gives grace and glory. As a matter of fact, He will not withhold any good thing from those who walk uprightly.

It is not an easy time to be a Christian, but it is the only life that matters. Go to Christ, cast all of your sin and misery before Him, and He will implant you with a heart toward God. It will not be an easy journey, but it is the only journey that provides peace and light for all eternity.

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Love Psalm

1 My heart is overflowing with a good theme;
I recite my composition concerning the King;
My tongue is the pen of a ready writer.

2 You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.
3 Gird Your sword upon Your thigh, O Mighty One,
With Your glory and Your majesty.
(Psalm 45:1-3, New King James Version)

A Love Psalm

This beautiful Psalm is a Psalm of Love! Take the time to read more of this Psalm of praise to God written by the sons of Korah. Verse 1 tells us, that this Psalm is about the King, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Oh that we, today, would direct our love toward the Lord Jesus as did this Psalmist! Do we love the Lord God with all of our hearts? Look at the attributes this Psalmist gives to Christ.

You are fairer than the sons of men;
Grace is poured upon Your lips;
Therefore God has blessed You forever.

Do you view the Lord Jesus Christ this way? He is fairer than the sons of men, and His grace is poured out for us who in no way deserve His love.

True love! Isn't that what you want for the rest of your life? You want that one person who will give himself/herself totally over to you, and you will reciprocate with all of your love. You are looking for a lasting relationship. Ah, marriage is a great gift of God, and a Christian spouse, is a wondrful blessing of God.

However, your marriage will not be a happy one unless both of you love the Lord Jesus Christ more than you love each other! To love the Lord above all is the only means to even begin to know how to love your spouse. It sounds contradictory, does it not?

But think of it. How can you know the love of another unless you have first experienced the love of Christ to you, and your undying love to Him?

Grace is poured upon Your lips.

Now that is true love! Do we deserve the grace of God? No! And yet, He pours His love out to us.

Amazing love, how can it be?
That Thou my God dids't die for me!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, February 22, 2010

Ashamed!

5 At the evening sacrifice I arose from my fasting; and having torn my garment and my robe, I fell on my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God. 6 And I said: “O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens. 7 Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been very guilty, and for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plunder, and to humiliation, as it is this day. 8 And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.
(Ezra 9:5-8, New King James Version)

Ashamed!

Poor Ezra! He came back to Jerusalem with such hopes and dreams of rebuilding the temple. His people had been in captivity, with just the poorest of the land left in Jerusalem. But, when he returned, what did he find? Even the people left in the land had turned their backs on the Lord.

“O my God, I am too ashamed and humiliated to lift up my face to You, my God; for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has grown up to the heavens."

As Ezra looked back over time, he saw a people who continually turned their backs on God. Finally, when God had enough, His people were cast away, and overcome by neighboring countries. First Israel, and then Judah fell because of their great sin against God. Now, when Ezra had hopes of helping to restore the faith of his people, he found that even those left in Jerusalem had rejected God. Would he find grace from God?

Have you ever felt that your sins are too great for God to forgive? I am sure that is exactly how Ezra felt. Do your sins seem to pile up and pile up until any hope of rescue from God is completely lost?

So, what did Ezra do? Ezra fell before the Lord God of all Heaven and earth and prostrated himself in sackcloth and ashes. You see, Ezra understood one important thing. God did not call the "righteous" to repentance. If you feel you are good enough for God, or have some merit in yourself that God will accept, then there is no hope for you!

God calls sinners to Himself. He calls those who see their own worthlessness before a pure and holy God who cannot even look at sin. These are the ones for whom the Lord Jesus Christ died; these are the ones who experience the amazing grace of God. Jesus' perfect and sinless blood was shed on behalf of sinners who have no righteousness of themselves. Though they formerly could not approach God, now through the shed blood of Christ they have a way to God.

I encourage you today to never lose hope! God is your help and your only salvation. The same God that Ezra worshiped is our God as well. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever!

Go to Him! He will save you now!

God Bless You,
Linda

Monday, February 15, 2010

Awesome God

8 So Moses made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped. 9 Then he said, “If now I have found grace in Your sight, O Lord, let my Lord, I pray, go among us, even though we are a stiff-necked people; and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us as Your inheritance.”
10 And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
(Exodus 34:8-10, New King James Version)

Awesome God

I love looking at some of these Old Testament passages; we gain a better understanding of who God really is by reading them. I am sure that as a Christian teen, many of you have heard and sung the song that begins, My God is an Awesome God. What does that mean to you?

Did you know that it is God, Himself, who first told us that He is an awesome God?

Poor Moses; again and again he had to put up with a rebellious people. Again and again he found himself prostrated before God, crying out that God would be gracious to His people. As a matter of fact, that is exactly what is happening in Exodus 34. God's answer to Moses is rather amazing.

And He said: “Behold, I make a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation; and all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the LORD. For it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.

The definition of grace is unmerited favor. God's answer, then, definitely reveals the grace He showed to His own children. Has anything changed since that time? Do we serve a different sort of God? Can we see the work of the LORD in our lives and in the lives of the people around us who are professing Christians?

God is the same God that He has always been, yesterday, today, and forever! This same God can and will be gracious to you if you are His child. It is true that God did do great marvels with the people of Israel, and it is also true that God continues to do great marvels in the lives of Christians today.

We live in a totally selfish world where the only one who matters is number one! Even as Christians we wrestle with that, do we not? It is hard to really love other people--even the ones who are kind to us. But, it is practically impossible to love the ones who hate us and are constantly doing things to spite us. But, when God changes our hearts, He does amazing things in our lives. By His grace, He enables us to show grace to those around us who are totally undeserving.

What has God done in your life? Is He an awesome God to you?

These are good questions for us to ponder.

God Bless You,
Linda

Saturday, February 13, 2010

You Have Found Grace


12 Then Moses said to the LORD, “See, You say to me, ‘Bring up this people.’ But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, ‘I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.’ 13 Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people.”
14 And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
15 Then he said to Him, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. 16 For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth.”
17 So the LORD said to Moses, “I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name.”
(Exodus 33:12-17, New King James Version)

You Have Found Grace

In Exodus 33 we have a remarkable conversation between God and Noah. Noah, being a man, was filled with uncertainties about life just as we are. Basically Moses said, If I have found grace in your sight, then show me!

Have you ever felt that way? "If you really are my God, then show me; let me know you really care."

How did God respond? And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Then look at what Moses said, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here."

We could and should say the same thing. I don't know about you, by I do not want to ever go anywhere without the Lord. Think of all the things the Lord does for us. He speaks to the Father on our behalf, He guides us in the way we should go, He orders our life so that nothing happens apart from His will, He corrects us so that we maintain a straight path, and most importantly, He will bring us to glory to live with Him forever.

You cannot see God's safety net all around you, but if you have found grace in God's sight, He will live with you forever! How do you find that grace? Go to the Lord Jesus Christ, accept Him as your Savior, the only one who can pay the debt of your sins. Then God will say to you, too, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Oh the amazing grace of God; we are so undeserving of His love!

God Bless You,
Linda

Friday, February 12, 2010

Grace

5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
(Genesis 6:5-8, New King James Version)

Grace

We have just finished a series of teen devotions on the subject of Bible couples. I was pondering new topics, trying to think of what would be the most helpful for you, today's teens. In some ways you are like teens of all ages, but in others you are unique. The pressures and temptations you face in this time are so much greater than just a few decades ago. As I prayed about what God would have me do, I thought of the word, "grace." What does it mean, and how does it apply directly to you?

We will take a trip through the Bible, looking at the word, "grace" so that we may discover the depths of the grace of Christ that is available to all of His children today. How does this affect you? I invite you along for the ride, and pray that you will have a better understanding of what it means to be a Christian, as well as understanding what Christ either already has done, or can do for you.

Wickedness had become so rampant upon the earth, that God determined to destroy mankind. God had been so rejected by His own creation, that He had had enough! But, then what happened?

But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.

One man! In all of earth, God looked upon one man, Noah, who found grace in the eyes of the LORD. Because of the faith of Noah, God determined to save Noah, his wife, his sons, and his son's wives. One Man!

Are you important in the eyes of God? Does it really matter if you are faithful to Him? Does He even know that you are there? Do you feel like you are the only faithful Christian left? Oh, there may be others in the world, but in your world, among the people you live and befriend, are you the only Christian who desires to remain faithful to God?

Oh yes, it matters! The word grace is used here to illustrate the power of God that He is willing to use on your behalf. Though He would have destroyed every man, woman, child, and even every beast upon the earth, one person made a difference.

Some do not believe that the flood was universal. Of course, some do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and our Savior either. What does the Bible say? The Bible says that all of the earth was covered with water--not just a region of the earth, but all of the earth, all because of one person!

Ask God to keep you faithful to Him. You are one person, and may feel totally insignificant, but if you are a Christian, you are not insignificant. Your faith alone could be enough for God to save the entire world that He would have otherwise destroyed.

Grace! God's grace is there for you as a Christian, today, tomorrow, and every day after that!

What an amazing God we have!

God Bless You,
Linda